June 2008
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Jaisalmer, enjoy the desert

Climate: Summer- 42° C to 25° C, Winter- 24° C to 7° C
Best time to visit: October to March
Altitude : 486 meters
Clothing : Summer light tropical; Winter: light woollen

Jaisalmer is a wonderful tourist destination in the state of Rajasthan. The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy located in the harsh Thar Desert. Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156. He hailed from the Yadav and Rajput kin group. His Yadav descent can be traced back to the Mahabharata and the Rajputs were famed for courage and gallantry. On advice of a local hermit Eesaal he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometres northwest.
Jaisalmer’s strategic location on the camel train contours, between India and Central Asia, brought it great wealth. The Jaisalmer Rajputs brimmed their treasure chests with immoral gain, won through cattle maneuvering and by more orthodox methods such as imposing excise duties on the caravans, which passed through their kingdom to Delhi.
Far from the noise and pollution of cities, Jaisalmer is an exciting tourist destination that offers historical forts and majestic havelis. Situated amid the picturesque and harsh Thar Desert, Jaisalmer city commands a premiere position among the various tourist attractions scattered all over the desert land of Rajasthan. The Jaisalmer city is visited in large numbers, both by Indians as well as foreign tourists. The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival, held in Jan/Feb every year, when the city reverberates with the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms. There are folk dances and several innovative competitions and contests, including a turban-tying contest, longest moustache competition and the famous camel races which can really charge up the atmosphere. The Desert Festival comes alive with the foot tapping beats of Dhap, Ghoomar, Gair among a host of other traditional dance forms, in accompaniment with several musical instruments like sarangi, matka and minla. The Gangaur festivities are also major crowd pullers.
Jaisalmer has a very hot and dry climate (you really can’t expect anything else from a city located in the desert) and is very hot in daytime during the summers but as the night falls, typical of the deserts, the temperature cools down dramatically.


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Places to See:
Jaisalmer Fort: Made of sand stones and locally known as Sonar Quila, the Jaisalmer Fort is a dominating structure amidst sands. The awesome splendour of a commanding and exotic fort that seems to rise out of a desert haze with its yellow sandstone walls and bastions bathed in a golden hue in the afternoon sun looks incredible. The golden hued fort stands about 80 meters over the city and houses an entire township within its huge ramparts. This magnificent fort, with its 99 bastions, is probably the planet’s only living fort, with about a quarter of the old city’s population dwelling in it.
Havelis: Jaisalmer is known for its havelis (mansions). The merchants built magnificent mansions (Havelis), all carved from wood and yellow sandstone. The Salim ji ki haveli and Nathmal ji ki haveli are known as the most striking. Intricately latticed and with conspicuous facades, the havelis are quite unique.
Gadi Sagar Lake: A scenic rain water lake with beautiful shrines. Like many such lakes, a good spot for picnics and for boating. This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is surrounded by small temples and shrines.
Lodurva: The ancient capital of the Bhattis with Dilwara style paintings scattered all around the ruins. “Toran” or the ornate arches at the main entrance and splendid carvings are noteworthy.
Amar Sagar Lake: Amar Sagar is a small and beautiful lake cum Oasis and is adjacent to a 17th Century palace called the Amar Singh Palace. The Amar Sagar is a five story high haveli and is famous for its murals. Wherever you go in this haveli, you will notice beautiful murals. Beautifully carved Jain temples add to its splendour.
Wood Fossil Park Jaisalmer: Located around 16 Km from Jaisalmer near the Barmer road. Fossil trunks lie scattered in this park. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. Covering about 10 sq. Km of bare hillside, the Fossil Park contains 25 petrified trunks, in total.
Tazia Tower: During Moharram, beautiful ‘Tazias’-ornately decorated bamboo, paper and tinsel replicas of a bier, are carried out in procession by Muslims. Each storey of this five-tiered tower has a carved balcony.
Sam Sand Dunes (42 km): The ripples on the wind-caressed dunes, that create an enchanting mirage, are a delight for a trigger -happy photographer. Various cultural programmes are organised against the backdrop of these fascinating sand dunes. Camel rides on the sand dunes are an unforgettable experience, as is the sunset. One can spend an enchanting evening on the sands watching the sensuous snake dance of the Kalbeliya gypsies and listening to the full-throated folk songs of the Manganiyars.
Desert National Park: The landscape of the Desert National Park is dominated by rolling sand dunes and scrub covered hills. The prominent fauna of the park includes black buck, chinkara, desert fox and the great Indian bustard. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the Desert National Park. One also hear the morning call of the grey partridge.

How to get there:
Air: Jaisalmer is connected with Jaipur as well as other major cities.
Rail: Connected through a rail connection with Jodhpur (300 Km).
Road: There are frequent deluxe buses to Jodhpur and Bikaner. 18 hrs drive from Delhi, 14 hrs from Jaipur, 6 ½ hrs – Bikaner, 5 hrs- Jodhpur.

Places to stay:
– Gorbandh Palace (3 Star Hotel): An actual desert retreat, yet close to the havelis and the fort.
– Fort Rajwada (4 Star Hotel): Located on the Jaisalmer-Barmer link road.
– Heritage Inn (3 Star Hotel)
– Narayan Niwas Palace (Heritage Hotel): An actual 19th century palace.
– Taj Rawal Kot (4 Star Hotel): This hotel gives a great view of the city.
– Himmatgarh Hotel (2 Star Hotel): Situated right outside the fort.
– Jawahar Niwas Palace (Heritage Hotel)
– Hotel Rang Mahal (Heritage Hotel): Located around 2 kilometers from the railway station (link)
– Hotel Killa Bhawan: Located in the Jaisalmer Fort
– Nachna Haveli (Heritage Hotel): Inhabited by the same family for 300 years.
– Mandir Palace (Heritage Hotel): This hotel is more than 2 hundred years old.
– Jaisal Castle (Heritage Hotel): An elaborate haveli (link).

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