Located on a sandstone ridge looking out from the heart of the Thar Desert in the western portion of the Indian state of Rajasthan sits Jaisalmer, known to many as “The Golden City”. Dominated by the presence of the Jaisalmer Fort with a history dating back to at least the 11th century, Jaisalmer is a mystical place with an almost otherworldly feel that gives one a distinct impression of being ripped straight out of the pages of Arabian Nights. Jaisalmer is a perfect setting for simply relaxing in the middle of the desert, and is well-known for the palaces, camel and jeep safaris, and the majestic stone buildings scattered throughout.
In many ways, Jaisalmer resembles nothing more than a giant sand castle in the middle of the desert, surrounded by centuries’ worth of history and culture. From the crumbling havelis with their intricately carved stone work to the fort itself, slowly sinking into the hill over the years, this is an exotic city in every sense of the word. Traditionally a major headquarters for the caravans going to the desert, the partition of India in 1947 transformed Jaisalmer into nothing more than a backwater nowhere on an international border where skirmishes between India and Pakistan created an atmosphere no one wanted to visit. Eventually a canal was built and roads soon followed, and Jaisalmer transformed into a tourist destination once the government realized the potential. These days, it is an oasis in the middle of the desert, earning his nickname from the golden hue of the buildings and the surrounding sands. It is very easy to come to Jaisalmer and feel as though you have stepped back in time to the days when the fort city was first built by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal. The beauty of the Jain temples offer some of the most unique backdrops against the desert skyline imaginable, and despite the remoteness of this desert town, the trip is well worth it.