Jaisalmer India is located in the Thar Desert in the northwest state of Rajastan near the border with Pakistan. Historically, the city was a primary stop for camel caravans traversing the desert laden with goods bound for Persia, Arabia, Egypt, and further into the interior of Africa. As such it was once a rich city, and two of the main attractions within the city are from the period when great wealth was accumulated from the camel caravans. The massive Jaisalmer Fort, one of the largest in the world, was built in the twelfth century to protect the camel caravans and the wealth amassed from the levies on them.
Numerous merchants built havelis, elaborate and ornate mansions with their wealth. These mansions can be found throughout the state of Rajastan, where many are today museums. However, in Jaisalmer, most of the mansions are still inhabited by the ancestors of the people who built them. Both the fort and most of the havelis are built of the golden sandstone that gives the city its nickname “Golden City” and the fort “Golden Fort.” The fort and the havelis are major tourist attractions in the city, as are numerous Jain temples. Many of these elegant temples are located on the shores of Gadisar Lake, a reservoir that supplies water for the city. Here, boat rides are available offering wonderful views of the fort.
As Bombay—now known as Mumbai—emerged as a major international seaport and trade by ships replaced trade by camel caravan, the glory and wealth of Jaisalmer India faded. It became a truly remote backwater when India was partitioned and the border between what is now Pakistan and India was closed in 1947. It was subsequently bypassed by tourists who primarily visited the more famous area to the east called India’s Golden Triangle, which consists of the three cities of Agra, New Delhi, and Jaipur. This is where some of the most iconic monuments in India are located, including the Taj Mahal, the thirteeth-century Qutb Minar, and the Jantar Mantar—all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Since the 1980s, when adventure travel and ecotourism began to become popular, Jaisalmer India experienced a new boom thanks to its desert. Today, this is one of the country’s most popular places for adventures, especially with camel safaris. These safaris can be done as fairly easy day tours and excursions while staying in city hotels. More intrepid travelers will join safaris lasting several days, camping along the way. Safaris are available usually as all inclusive vacation packages, and range from budget backpacker type journeys to very deluxe trips that stay in elaborate campsites offering luxuriant soft beds, gourmet dining on traditional dishes, and cultural performances. These tents sometimes have several rooms, are carpeted with elegant Oriental rugs, have a full Western-style bathroom, and even private plunge pools.
While riding a camel is fun, it can be a bit arduous, and some travelers might want to choose a safari in a more comfortable four-wheel-drive vehicle. Either way, you can see wonderful desert sights even on a single day excursion. Only about 30 miles from the city are the famous Sam Sand Dunes. During the months of January, February, and March there are many desert festivals showcasing the dancing and performing arts of Rajastan, making this period the best time for safaris. In addition to dancing, you will see the people dressed in festively colored traditional clothing. There are puppet shows, camel races and other competitions, and general merrymaking. Some of the most entertaining events are held at the Sam Sand Dunes, within easy reach of the city.