Jaisalmer: Tales of the Arabian Nights

Rising from the heart of the Thar Desert, etched in yellow sandstone, this citadel city - Jaisalmer is like a resplendent jewel shimmering above the hard sand. The city is famous for its golden hued fort, the Sonar Kila, which houses the entire township within its ramparts. Remote Jaisalmer is India's most exotic and unusual town. It grew as a result of its strategic position on the trading route between India and Central Asia bringing great wealth to the city. This tiny jewel in the desert was once the capital of the Bhatti Rajputs and still has remnants of ancient caravan sarais. The city has an enchanting cob-web of narrow lanes dotted with some lovely havelis, three beautifully carved Jain temples and five interconnected palaces. Just outside the fort is the main marketplace - Manak Chowk.

No trip to Jaisalmer is complete without a trip to the most picturesque dunes of Sam. The ripples on the wind-caressed dunes create an enchanting mirage. Various cultural programmes are organized against the backdrop of these fascinating sand dunes; and, exciting camel safaris give you the real feel of the desert on camel back.

Visit the city's magnificent havelis or merchant's houses, each richly decorated and carved from golden yellow sandstone - Patwon-ki-haveli (House of the Brocade Merchants) is the largest and most elaborate of the famous havelis of Jaisalmer. The Nathmalji-ki-haveli (The Mansion of Nathmalji), the last of the great havelis was built in the late 19th century. End the morning with a visit to Gadisar Lake the large natural oasis that attracted Rawal Jaisal to this site. Later, you will visit the Jaisalmer Fort, built in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal. This is the second oldest fort of Rajasthan after Chittor, and one fourth of the population lives inside the Fort. You will also experience a camel ride to visit the Royal Cenotaphs of the Rawals in Barra Bagh, where the rural were cremated. This is also the best spot from which to watch the spectacular desert sunset, and photograph the fort.

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