Jaisalmer Fort - things to do in the golden fort!

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the world's largest fully preserved fort which is still a living fort. Built in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal, the fort derives it's name from two words - Jaisal and Meru. Jaisal came from the king himself and Meru is the name of an unassailable mythical mountain of the Gods in the Himalayas. Before the British came, Jaisalmer was a part of the Silk Route and an important stop-point for the travellers and merchants.

Jaisalmer Fort is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with all the other hill forts of Rajasthan, like Chittorgarh Fort. Due it's yellow colour which glows like gold in the morning and evening, it's also known as the Golden Fort or Sonar Qila.

jaisalmer fort sunrise golden photogrpahy photo
Jaisalmer Fort at surise, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer Fort wall

My visit to Jaisalmer Fort

I decided to start my day at dawn and from a hill right across the hill where Jaisalmer Fort is located. It gave me the perfect shot of the fort, and also put the fort in perspective to the rest of the town. Over the last few hundred years, Jaisalmer has expanded far beyond the much smaller town that it used to be when housed within the fort, yet the fort remains central to almost everything in the present day Jaislamer.

It was peak summers and within minutes of sunrise temperatures soared above 35 degree Celsius and so I dropped the plan to walk to the fort, and instead continued in my jeep. After an exiting drive through the empty narrow lanes of the city, I was at the gate for my third visit to the fort over the last six years.

Jaisalmer Fort: Travel video

One of the things I love to do is showcase the cities I visit through short videos. If you like the video, do subscribe to my channel here :)






Over the next several hours I explored the lanes and by lanes within the fort - something I had done before, yet something that I can simply keep doing over and over again. So what is about Jaisalmer that makes it so interesting? What keeps bringing me back to it again and again?


Top things to do in Jaisalmer Fort

Well, to answer these questions, here's a guide on Top things to do in Jaisalmer Fort.

1. Walk through the lanes and get surprised

This is actually true for any place that you are exploring, especially if it has an old town where people walk on the streets, and conversations are possible. Jaisalmer is a goldmine if you love to talk to strangers on the streets.

cow streets jaisalmer fort

This time the most fun conversation was with a temple priest who invited me home after a short chat for tea, after apologising profusely why he invited me for tea and not opium. Well, opium isn't exactly legal, though it's openly consumed in a traditional way in many nearby villages, so tea is the only option left.

2. Explore Jain temples

The fort has numerous temples, and most of them are predictably Hindu temples. However, the most beautiful temples here are the Jain Temples, especially the Parshwanath temple.

jain temple jaisalmer fort

Do make a visit to one of these to enjoy the intricate carvings on the stone. Additionally, also visit a cafe close by with a terrace overlooking these temples. The view from top is even more beautiful. I can recommend Desert Boys Hostel which is located right next to the temple, and this is how these temples look like from the top!

3. Vistas from all corners of the fort

Now, this is something new that I discovered only this time - you can walk almost the entire periphery of the fort and it's quite an interesting experience. At any point of time you can always walk into the town through one of the connecting roads, while rest of the time you can just walk all around and enjoy the view of the town outside the fort.

jaisalmer fort sunrise golden photogrpahy photo
Looking down at the city outside the fort

4. Fort Palace

Partially built over the hawa pol (air gate), the Palace is conveniently located right at the entrance to the fort and is also a living museum.

The fort has many sections and you can actually spend quite sometime exploring it. Most of it also indoor, and gives you respite from the heat outside. The two key areas are Raja-ka-Mahal and Rani-ka-Mahal. I would also strongly recommend taking the audio-guide - it's free of cost but you need to deposit Rs 2000 as guarantee.

5. Shopping

Now this is something that only tourists do, but even I must admit that it's tempting to shop within the fort complex.

Jaisalmer is well known for camel leather goods, and you can buy some really innovative products made with it, including coin pouches made with camel testicle and penis.

Things to do at Jaisalmer Fort
Leather bags at Jaisalmer Fort

However, since all this shopping is exclusively for tourists, the prices are inflated and require a fair bit of bargaining. However, my favourite are these leather travel bags :)

6. Sound of Ravanahatha

Do you know anything about an instrument called Ravanahatha? If the answer is no, a great place to enjoy its music is right at the gate of Jaisalmer fort.

It's is an ancient bowed, stringed instrument with a rustic sound, which makes it even more ideal for the deserts. I don't quite know why, but the you will find many inside the fort playing the instrument and you can sit with them and listen for as long as you like. Just be nice and leave some tip too :)

Practical details

Reaching Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is well connected by rail as well as roadways. The nearest airport is at Jodhpur which is about 5 hours away. Jaisalmer's airport is ready as well and flights are expected to start soon.

Fort Tour
I know that not everyone enjoys travelling solo like me and the convenience of doing a well-organised is certainly non-debatable. Here's one tour that's worth checking out.


Stay at Jaisalmer
My absolute number one recommendation for a stay at Jaisalmer would be Suryagarh, located about 15-20 minutes from the fort. It's one of India's most luxurious hotels and most recently I also shot an episode on travel blogging with Discovery India there.

However, if you are a budget traveller, I would recommend you to stay within the fort itself. It's quite a unique experience to stay within a loving fort and the prices are actually cheaper there. However, if you are visiting during the peak season (winters), do book in advance as places get full fast.

Here are some places to stay:


jaisalmer fort golden light sunset photo
Jaisalmer Fort at sunset

Comments

  1. Yes amazing journey. Have you seen 'Patvo ki Haveli' ? During your this journey. If you interested in Mid history of India (from 7th century to 19th) your most welcome on my blog. Thanks for sharing our nation's historical places and contributing 'Incredible India'

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    1. Of course, I did visit the Patwaon ki Haveli...and love that place! Do search for it on the blog and you will find a photo-story on that there :)

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  2. So beautiful and great to read about Jaisalmer Fort.
    Amazing pics. Thanks for the video :)

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  3. Looks like a fascinating place to explore with so many small streets, it looks very very exotic for me as I am French. I always enjoyed discovering such places full of History.. Now I will need to put Jaisalmer on my bucket list!

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  4. Nice elaborate post Siddhartha. I have been to a few places in Rajasthan, but somehow missed out on Jaisalmer. Will bookmark this for my next trip to the most colourful part of India!

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    1. I think that's because its a bit away from the other popular places in Jaisalmer. I travelled a lot in Rajasthan as a kid, but saw Jaisalmer much later :)

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  5. I'm kinda sad not being able to go there when I was in Rajasthan last year. I only visited Jaipur, and loved the place... but Jaisalmer loooks absolutely beautiful. Love how the city looks from the fort!

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    1. Jaipur is great too! However, Jaisalmer is something completely different...it's far away in the desert, and absolutely enigmatic. Maybe you come visit next time you are in India :)

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  6. Jaisalmer Fort looks really massiv! I love that you can walk the whole periphery of the fort, that's something you cannot always do. The views are so great! You are very talented with the camera as well!

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    1. That's true, most forts blocks those areas. Since this is a living fort, that space is used by kids for playing too...even though it's a little dangerous...

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  7. Jaisalmer was one of our favorite cities we visited while in India and this posts brings back such awesome memories! Wandering through the fort and the town felt like something right out of Arabian Nights. You have some beautiful photos that capture the light perfectly at sunrise and sunset on the fort. Thanks for a nostalgic walk down memory lane!

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    1. I am glad you made it to Jaisalmer! You can't help but fall in love with it :)

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  8. never never heard this place. but it looks amazing! atmosphere sound very special there and your post really helped me to understand better the place. love it, thanks!

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    1. Thanks Rocio! The place is indeed amazing...glad you enjoyed the article :)

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  9. I have always wanted to visit India since I was a child and grew up listening to my grand parent's of their sweet time spent there. Not sure if being a Pakistani I will even be able to go to India and see these beautiful ancestral places of mine :(

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  10. Jaisalmer like many other cities of Rajasthan is fascinating and provides a peep into the rich history and culture of Rajasthan. The Jaisalmer Fort is a really wonderful place to get lost in. We loved every moment when we were there and would love to go back and explore every nook and corner.

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  11. I’ve been chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites for a while now, so would love to visit Jaisalmer Fort. The gold glow of the fort in the morning is incredible – I’m not usually a morning person but would definitely get up to witness sunrise. Clever to watch it from the hill across from the fort – great tip!

    The Jain Temples looks incredible, though I totally agree that one of my favorite things to do in places like this is to just wander the streets, chat to strangers, and see where the roads lead. Thanks for this post, and the recommendation to stay in Suryagarh. Huge help!

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  12. rajasthan is a historical places in india , and you have share nice information

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  13. Really, an old historical place . I visited jaipur and rajasthan and i will be here in my coming trips.
    www.travelnfoody.com

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  14. Absolutely in love with this place and all the credits goes to your blog. Jaisalmer apparently seems more fascinating and i am planning to visit there for my upcoming vacations. i have been to Rajasthan before but somehow i missed my visit to Jaisalmer but i am surely going to make it this time. Thanks for such an amazing blog. Keep Sharing.

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  15. check out this for Rajasthan
    Royal Rajasthan Tour Package
    http://www.letourstoindia.com/tours/royal-rajasthan-tour-package/

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  16. Hi Everyone
    Once again I have one interesting link for you.
    That belongs to “Golden Triangle Tour Packages”. Visit given link below.
    "http://www.letourstoindia.com/tours/golden-triangle-tour-packages/"
    You will really like it.
    I will surely be there for providing you other interesting links in future

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  17. Really Awesome Blog .. Well Design with informative content.. Thank you so much this post.

    ReplyDelete

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