It takes around 6-6.30 hours to reach Jaisalmer from Bikaner by road. This is the golden city of Rajasthan, the ‘finally dream come true’ place to enjoy the golden dessert, the red poppy sunset, the vigorous culture.. This city is surely magical.
Places to visit in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan:
Patwa Haveli or Patwon ki haveli, was built by the famous merchant Patwa. The biggest and richest merchant of their time in this region, the mansions are still standing tall, with the honey gold colored crafted work on the outer walls, which is called Jafri work in local language. The inside walls have different look in every rooms, the accountant office, the kitchens, living rooms; these havelis (Mansion) were no lesser than the king’s palace. What made me speechless was the explicit art work, the particularized architecture, the fine technicalities used to build these mansions. There are five havelis built for five brothers (entry fees for each Havelis are separate, RS. 10/20 for the first Haveli, RS. 50 for the other 4 each for Indian Passport holders) the rest of the 4 havelis are partially inhabited by locals, mostly merchants. The other buildings on these lane has the same mandatory art work (it’s kind of a law imposed by the local government, even if someone is thinking of renovation, the outer walls have to have the closest replica of the Jafri work only, nothing else), of course the same old exclusively hand crafted art work cannot be expected, but the golden shade and the machine made craft has to be almost close to the real one.
From Patwa Haveli, through these narrow lanes, at about 10 minutes walking distance is the Jaisalmer fort, which is also called,
“The Golden fort”- Jaiselmer Fort:
In Rajasthan, every palace is kind of divided into 2-3 parts, one part is open to tourists for visiting purpose, one part may be resided by the royal family or kept closed for any special royal occasion, and a part of the palace is converted to a heritage property/ hotels offering tourists a luxury stay and experiencing royalty to a large extent, also some of the palaces are promoted as a venue for grand royal wedding or which is termed as destination wedding now a days. Now the interesting thing about Jaisalmer fort is, a portion of it is still resided by local people just like centuries back when a city was existing and used to be inhabited inside the fort, this fort is still kept alive by the locals who are staying here for centuries. And many households living inside the fort offers home stays to tourists, then there are small food joints to relish the golden aura of the entire place with some chilled beers or coffee.
(Entry fee: Rs. 50 for Indians, Rs. 250 for foreign nationals) extra charge for photography, otherwise it’s strictly prohibited inside the palace. That’s disheartening I know!!
A huge artificial lake, and radiating almond coloured temples are peeking high on it. From main entrance to the ghat, it’s 7-8 minutes walking distance (on a bright sunny day, which usually is most of the days; please carry sunhats, umbrella etc). Boat rides are also available on the lake but the same is enjoyable only in the early evening.
** boat ride may cost rs. 50 to 100/200 for Indian tourists, otherwise no entry fee required.
Post lunch, some exciting evening programmed can be well thought of.
Desert Safari in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan:
The epic sand dunes, for which this barren land has allured countless curious minds for ages is a “not to be missed”. From the main city, the desert is about an hour’s drive away. The desert safari on camel’s back or on camel cart, is about 30 minutes, and then tourists are given some time on their own by the guide (who are usually the owners of the camels), followed by back to the starting point where you started your ride. While on the back of a camel, first 5-10 minutes of the ride, is preserved for the camel to get adjusted with the weight of it’s riders, as the lumpy ride is slow at first, and then like a jumping spring dance, the camel starts running all of a sudden. However once more or less steady with this absurdly running ride as a rider, you can start looking around (as its desert’s look you are here for), and the concrete road is long gone! There are dusty blonde sands all around, golden sparkling sand dunes resting on their chin. And the fiery sun peeking in between the two sand hillocks, softening its glow by the end of the day. The rise of the full moon nights on the desert after a burning day is mesmerizing. When the days are flaming, the moonlit nights on the contrary opt to be lustrous Silvery and chilled, on these barren land .
*** Mostly the hotels have the facility to arrange the desert safari (either a Camel ride- 2 people per camel & a camel cart ride – 6 people in a cart // both will cost around 500-700 pp) followed by a cultural evening show at any of the dessert camp varying from 3* to 5*. The camel riders also charge a little extra and will take you to Thar Desert (consider this one of their business tricks), a little interior to the desert and I think the same can be agreed with a little bargain. As that part of the dessert is quite animated.
Camp stay in Jaisalmer Desert & Cultural Show in the desert Camp: Jaisalmer:
Around the desert there are many lodges built like dessert camps for night stay (varying from basic to 5* category camp stays. The starting price can be Rs. 5000 per room per night), those camps organise the cultural shows, serving some snacks to the guests (Pre-booking required to enjoy evening shows for tourists who are not staying in those camps). Starting the freezing evening under the open sky with Rajasthani folk songs, after which boosting the nightfall by elegant dancers makes the evening flawlessly beautiful around the warming fire.
** Stay in Jaisalmer: 2-3 nights stay is necessary in Jaisalmer. I will say make it at least 3.