Jaisalmer is magical and outstanding, not least because it was built by yellow sandstone that has given it its nickname The Golden City. Even if Jaisalmer did not make it to my India: Top 10 places to visit, it is one of my favorite places in India.Soon after its creation in the 12th century, Jaisalmer became an important trade center along the Silk Road. Tons of silk, opium and spices passed through Jaisalmer throughout the centuries. Today, it attracts visitors mainly for three reasons: 1) the location (in the middle of the stunning Thar Desert; great for desert and camel safaris) 2) Jaisalmer fort (India’s last remaining living fort) and 3) architecture (exquisite havelis and elaborate Jain temples). The Jain temples, constructed between 12th and the 16th centuries, were indeed very impressive. Some 11th century manuscripts written on palm leaves are kept in the temple complex, too. Tip: be aware of the odd opening hours if you are interested in visiting the temples! We spent two nights in Jaisalmer and loved the fort as well as the city outside the fort. Most of our time was used in walking along the ramparts and tiny streets inside the fort. It felt quite magical and amazing to witness locals, tourists and cows mixing so peacefully. The fort of Jaisalmer reminded me of another fortified city called Bukhara in Uzbekistan, also located along the old Silk Road.Even if we spent most of the time inside the fort, we did walk to the city outside the fort to visit the famous havelis. These 19th century mansions are true pearls and so elaborately carved. Some were open for visits, some weren’t. We also made some great purchases: a bag made of camel skin (we regret of not buying more of those wonderfully handmade bags!!) and silver jewelry. Indeed, shops and bazaars were very well-equipped, making Jaisalmer a great place to buy souvenirs. After all, who wouldn’t be fascinated to revisit the Silk Road trading experience…!?
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: We slept at Suraj Haveli, which is a 500-year old haveli run by a friendly family. We had the Maharaja room, the biggest, and well, what can I say. It was an extraordinarily beautiful room but there were no amenities. It felt like sleeping in an abandoned house. At night we could hear haunted dogs barking. It was a full moon, the sounds were weird, and had a camel caravan arrived in front of our door, we would not have been surprised. Nothing was spooky, but it felt sort of mystical. Well, I guess authentic places feel that way for one reason: they have an old soul! (http://hotelsurajjaisalmer.webs.com/)
Secondly, the first night we ate at a random restaurant inside the fort and it was so disgusting that we left after taking the first bite. The second night we ate at Trio, outside the fort, and it was amazing. Definitely one of the best meals we had in Rajasthan! We ate at the terrace, the musicians were playing and the dinner came to less than 10€ for both of us. Wish I could relive that moment.
Note: This is the 18th post about our trip in Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and Bombay in March-April 2008. Previous posts are:
Part 1. Arrival in Delhi: first impressions
Part 2. Eight cities of Delhi
Part 3. Road from Delhi to Agra
Part 4. Visiting Agra and Taj Mahal
Part 5. Fatehpur Sikri: what a pearl!
Part 6. Neemrana Fort-Palace: the magnificent 15th century palace
Part 7. Breathtaking Amber Fort
Part 8. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 1.)
Part 9. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 2.)
Part 10. Hotel Pearl Palace in Jaipur
Part 11. Samode Palace: live like a Maharaja
Part 12. Shekhawati: the Haveli Hub
Part 13. Enchanting Hotel Mandawa Haveli
Part 14. Karni Mata Temple (WARNING: includes images of rats)
Part 15. Subtle charm of Bikaner
Part 16. Bhairon Vilas: sleep like a Prime Minister
Part 17. Fort Pokaran: ideal oasis in the Thar Desert
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