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Top attractions in Jaisalmer

View of the city from Jaisalmer Fort
Image courtesy: ©Dmitry Rukhlenko/Getty Images

Long ruled by maharajahs, Jaisalmer is one of the many vibrant cities of Rajasthan. Dotted with palaces, forts, temples and the famous sand dunes, the city speaks of its history through the walls. Here are the top attractions of the golden city of Jaisalmer that should not be missed.

Fort Palace

Towering over the fort’s main square is the former rulers’ elegant seven-storey palace. Highlights of the tour include the mirrored and painted Rang Mahal, a gallery of finely wrought 15th-century sculptures donated to the rulers by the builders of the fort’s temples, and the spectacular 360-degree views from the rooftop.

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer’s fort is a living urban centre, with about 3000 people residing within its walls. It is honeycombed with narrow winding lanes, lined with houses and temples – along with a large number of handicraft shops, guesthouses and restaurants.

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The biggest fish in the haveli pond is Patwa-ki-Haveli, which towers over a narrow lane, its intricate stonework like honey-coloured lace. It’s all very impressive from the outside; however, the first of the five sections, the privately owned Kothari’s Patwa-ki-Haveli Museum, richly evokes 19th-century life and is worth paying entry for.

Jain Temples

Within the fort walls is a maze-like, interconnecting treasure trove of seven beautiful yellow sandstone Jain temples, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. The intricate carving rivals that of the marble Jain temples in Ranakpur and Mt Abu, and has an extraordinary quality because of the soft, warm stone.

Sam Sand Dunes

The silky Sam Sand Dunes, 41km west of Jaisalmer along a good sealed road, are one of the most popular excursions from the city. The band of dunes is about 2km long and is undeniably one of the most picturesque in the region. Some camel safaris camp here, but many more people just roll in for a beautiful sunset. The place acquires something of a carnival atmosphere from late afternoon till the next morning, making it somewhere to avoid if you’re after a solitary desert experience.

Thar Heritage Museum

This private museum has an intriguing assortment of Jaisalmer artefacts, from turbans, musical instruments, fossils and kitchen equipment to displays on birth, marriage, death and opium customs. It’s brought alive by the guided tour you’ll get from its founder, local historian and folklorist LN Khatri. Look for the snakes and ladders game that acts as a teaching guide to Hinduism’s spiritual journey.