Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, the "Golden City", is located on the westernmost frontier of India in the state of Rajasthan. Close to the border with Pakistan, the city is known for its proximity to the Thar Desert. A desert safari in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer is an unforgettable experience.

The city is dominated by the Jaisalmer Fort. Unlike most forts in India, the Jaisalmer Fort is a living fort. There are shops, hotels, age old havelis (homes) inside the fort area. The fort is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Get in

By plane

Around 285 km away, Jodhpur is a nearest airport to reach at Jaisalmer. Pre-paid taxis are available to reach at Jaislamer from Jodhpur, which costs more than ₹4000. Jaipur is nearest international airport to reach at Jaisalmer (around 562 km). It is connected with important Indian cities and major cities in abroad.

A military airstrip has recently been opened to limited civilian flights. A new, dedicated airport is also planned.

By train

There is a direct train service from Delhi. Delhi-Jaisalmer Express "Shalimar Exp", departure time at 5:30 pm, reaches Jaisalmer at 11:30 am the next morning. When arriving by train you will pass the station of Pokharan, India's nuclear testing area. The train does not leave from the Station New Delhi next to the Backpacker-Ghetto "Main-Bazar", but a 15 min auto-rickshaw ride north from the Dehli Jn - Station.

By bus

Bus or car-taxi from Jodhpur or by bus from Bikaner is available. A daily bus runs to and from Jaipur. Ordinary and Deluxe buses of private companies and Rajasthan Roadways run from Mount Abu, Barmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ahmadabad to Jaisalmer.

There are various deluxe and semi-deluxe buses available at regular intervals for Jodhpur. Rajasthan State buses also connect Jaisalmer city with some neighboring cities. The ticket charges are around ₹2-₹3 per Km.

By car

Various tour operators and travel agencies offer chauffeured car-taxi services; these are charged on a per km, per day basis. You can plan to take one to arrive into the city or take one for sightseeing in and around the city.

There are many car rental services in Delhi which can provide chauffeur driven cars to Jaisalmer.

Approximate road distances from various destinations are -

Destination Distance
Agra 800 km
Ajmer 440 km
Bikaner 330 km
Jaipur 570 km
Jodhpur 300 km
Mumbai 1140 km
New Delhi 800 km
Udaipur 575 km

By camel

Another option is to arrive by camel; Jaisalmer is famous for camel trips. The most grueling is the 14-day trip from Bikaner. When booking a few days in the desert on a camel, remember to shop around in order to get the quality you pay for.

It is really a fun experience to wander around on a camel, as you can cover most of the locations which cannot be covered with a vehicle.

Get around

See

One of the most magnificent attractions is the Jaisalmer Fort known as the "Sonar Kila" due to the yellow stone it was built out of.

Jaisalmer Fort or Sonar Kella

There are numerous lookouts (at least five) within the fort that give a great view out across the city and desert.

A tour of the royal section of the fort is available from a starting point just to the right up the stairs as you enter the main square of the fort). The audio tour is quite short, doesn't tell you very much information, and has advertisements in it - not a must, the view is what you come for. They do charge ₹100 extra per camera. There's little you'd want to take a photo of except the view from the roof, the highest part of Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer Sand Dunes or Sam Sand Dunes
Sam Sand Dunes, located 40 km west of Jaisalmer

Do

Just chill, Jaisalmer is a lovely and very relaxing place. Plan at least two days and add time you want to have in the desert. Go for a stroll, visit the palace and do the camel safari (trips available from a few hours to 14 days). If you do not feel remotely attracted to camels, try a jeep safari into the desert to see the scenery and watch the sun go down. Below the fort are several magnificent havelis with intricate stone carving. Several can be visited for minimal charges and are well worth seeking out. It is more comfortable to wander in the city before 9AM when there is not many tourists, less shops opened/hassle and still fresh air.

Camel safari is organized by different tour operators and travel agents in Rajasthan. Most of the camel safaris are organized in Bikaner, Osian, Jaisalmer and Pushkar. This camel safari trip can be of 2 to 7 days and if someone wishes to extend it, it can go up to one month. Short trips give a glimpse of the desert to the tourists. Jaisalmer is the land of desert and most of the camel safaris start from this city. In most of the trips, one camel is allotted to one person and a camel cart is also provided with the group which carries all the food material, tents and other stuff. Typical operators for desert/camel safari in Jaisalmer are:

Buy

You are in Jaisalmer, it means items are made of camel leather, embroidery-silk and cotton. Most of the works are done locally or by the 'widows' of villages. There is a shop inside fort just opposite the 'German Bakery' which has got good collection of the handcrafted garments and bedsheets, silver jewelry, Antiques (knives, swords, utensils etc.). Within the fort there is an amazing silver artist named Roop Kashore. His custom, hand made rings are worth checking out. Local advice is to seek out shops outside of the fort for better value and service.

Eat

Lots of local eateries which offer sumptuous lunches and dinners for a measly ₹20.

Drink

Drink delectable bhang (marijuana) lassi at the government authorized shop close to the entrance of the fort. The original bhang shop, open since 1977, is now known as The Lassi Shop. The bhang from the new government shop is weaker and has been known to cause stomach ailments in travelers. It is best to purchase from The Lassi Shop, featured in Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations." The Lassi Shop is west of the entrance to the Fort while the newly authorized government shop is located to the east of the entrance to the fort.

Packs of bhang-infused cookies and chocolates are also available for takeaway, and can be savored on trips into the desert to great effect. A word of caution: It can take a while before you get high from bhang, hence you should not take multiple drinks in quick succession. Excessive consumption of bhang dehydrates the body and one can experience effects like high sweating, anxiety, increases palpitation, hallucinations etc. These effects varies from person to person and depends on the amount of bhang consumed, to overcome the adverse effects of high bhang consumption drink plenty of water with glucose (not for diabetic patients) and have food along with bhang (try not to take bhang in empty stomach). Not more than a glass should be consumed by first timers unless you want to spend next day holding your bed trying not to fall.

Sleep

Outside the city

Stay safe

Jaisalmer is very safe city and security is high as compared to other cities in Rajasthan. Though it is very near to Pakistan border, visitors are not allowed to wander around border areas.

Unlike other cities, Jaisalmer has narrow lanes which are always crowded with hawkers and shoppers. Most of the times, people on motorcycles or scooters drive in erratic way. So be careful while walking on such lanes.

Don't eat any dairy products from street hawkers or vendors.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, January 23, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.