Camel Riding in the Sand Dunes
A desert safari is a cultural bonanza for any traveler who wants a taste of tradition in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer, also known as the Golden City in India, is a wonderful place to step away from the city bustle and experience life on the desert. Spend your evening in the Thar Desert as you engage in conversations with the tribal communities. Whether you’re taking in the heritage of ancient Jain temples or gorging on home-cooked delicacies at a gypsy village, enjoy a magical evening with picturesque sunset views.
Explore the Spiritual Heritage
You cannot miss out on the grand lineage of ancient Jain temples that surround the Old Fort in Jaisalmer. Witness a cluster of centuries-old sandstone monuments, with their floating spires and stunning sculptures. Delicate examples of filigree art can be seen at one of the most sacred temples in Jaisalmer –the Parsvanath Temple at Lodurva. The temple displays a unique ornate ceiling that preserves a beautiful sculpture of a four-bodied demon, dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara.
Visit the Old Fort
The historic ruins of the Jaisalmer Fort, the second oldest in Rajasthan, lure travelers to to learn about their astounding heritage. This sandstone fort that stands proud on the Trikuta Hill is defended by 99 turrets inhabited by more than 4000 people. While you pass through the gargantuan gates of the Sonar Quila, you can catch a glimpse of the local culture in the winding gullies and get lost in the maze of temples that surround the fort. Whether you grab a souvenir from an age old store or enjoy a chat with a skilled artisan, this is a charming place to visit.
A Rendezvous with Ghosts
If you’re a curious explorer, you must include a visit to the ghost town of Kuldhara on your ‘to-do’ list. You can wander around the sandstone ruins of an abandoned village, located 18 kilometers from Jaisalmer. According to the legend, the village was once a prosperous settlement, a flourishing estate of the Paliwal Brahmins. However, oppressed by high taxes and distressed by the ruler, people abandoned the village without leaving a trace of their existence. Nobody knows where the inhabitants of the village went to, however, the eerie backdrop and intriguing ruins of Kuldhara have made it a popular site for tourists to visit.
Admire the Gadisar Lake
Built in the 12th century, this beautiful catchment was built to conserve water as a result of the admirable effort made by a king who envisioned a prosperous life in the desert. The Gadisar Lake was established as a rain water harvesting system to channel water into the arid city of Jaisalmer. Today it has become a popular spot for tourists to enjoy a boat ride or engage in a bird-watching experience. Enjoy some gorgeous sights while visiting the Gadisar Lake, from the golden hues of the lake to the shadows that fall upon some ancient shrines that stand ashore.
Raid the Bazaars of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is a colorful city brimming with activity in the narrow lanes where a lively crowd awaits. With the rich blend of culture and craft, in the streets of Jaisalmer you’ll find a mix of mirror-worked skirts, hand embroidered jootis, chunks of silver jewelry and so much more. Take home vividly colored puppets or try bargaining with the merchants for a piece of intricate wooden art at the bustling market of Jaisalmer. If you’re looking for something unique, make your way to Hari Om Jewelers where you will come across miniature mementos like rice grains engraved with painted vistas or ornaments depicting imperial scenes.
Sample the Local Food
Despite the scarcity of water and agricultural boon, Rajasthan is one of the most popular culinary destinations in India thanks to preserving a unique cuisine of its own. If you’re in Jaisalmer, in the streets you can sample non-vegetarian delicacies like Lamb cooked in red chili peppers or gulp down a glass of cool thandai-like Lassi to quench your thirst. Whether you’re gorging on wholesome dal bhaati or nibbling on sweet ladoos, Jaisalmer is a wonderful place to savor a rich assortment of flavors.
By Naintara Gurung