The Ultimate Travel Guide to Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer Fort is located in Jaisalmer of Rajasthan. It is one of the living forts of the world. Living fort is the one in which a part of the city population lives inside the fortification. Around 1/4th of the population of Jaisalmer lives within the fortification of the fort. For more than 500 years, the fort was the city. Which means, the entire city was inside the fort? In 17th century, due to increase in population, settlements were formed outside the fort.
Jaisalmer Fort is the second ancient fort of the state and was built in 12th century. The fort was designed to be built with yellow sandstone for a reason. During day, the sandstone camouflages the fort and blends it with the desert sand. This is one of the reasons to why the fort is also called as the Golden Fort or Sonar Quila. The fort is located on top of Trikula Hill making it easier to scan a large part of the desert region for approaching enemies while, the attacking enemies find it a hard time to pinpoint the fort. This confusion and strategic location of fort made it invincible during many wars. In 2013, UNESCO declared this fort as a heritage site along with a few other forts in the state.
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What is Inside the Jaisalmer Fort?
The fort is 460m long and 230m wide and, stands 76m above average sea level. The fort has four majestic gateways and one has to pass through any one of those gateways to reach the citadel. The Raj Mahal Palace inside the fort is the main structure of the fortification. It was the royal residence of the king of Jaisalmer.
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Inside the fort, there are seven Jain temples, which were built between 12th and 16th century. All the temples were built using yellow sandstones. The temple dedicated to Sambhavanatha has more than 600 idols and numerous ancient scriptures in it. Laxminath temple is a Hindu temple built for the worship of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
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During the ancient times, many wealthy merchants lived in villas of ornate sandstones and havelis. You can find many such havelis, which are more than hundred years old. Tourists are welcome to explore certain havelis to spot decorated windows, balconies, archways and much more. Some of the havelis are turned into museums and most of them are used as residence of locals.
Shree Nath Palace is another architectural marvel to spot here. The structure is famous for intricate ceiling carvings, wood works and so on. It is said the former Prime Minister of Jaisalmer lied in this structure.
Top Things To Do In Jaisalmer Fort
1. Walk through the ancient lanes and enjoy the culture of the land.
2. This is the best place to enjoy opium. Although illegal, the locals consume opium openly in and around the fort region. If you think opium is too much for your vacation, choose tea.
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3. If you are planning to dine, choose any restaurant that has a terrace. You would enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the structures inside the fort.
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4. Get an audio guide to explore the entire fort. The guide is completely free. However, you need to pay a deposit amount before hiring it and it will be refunded upon returning the guide.
5. There are a few shops in the fort and you can try shopping for souvenirs. Top souvenirs are camel leather articles, traditional clothing and so on.
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6. Enjoy the culture of the land by listening to the local music. The locals use a musical instrument called Ravanahatha. This stringed instrument is used by many locals, who sing inside the fort region.
Staying Inside The Jaisalmer Fort
If you are looking for luxury accommodations, you ought to choose hotels and resorts that are located a few minutes away from the fort. If you want to stay inside the fort, you ought to settle with budget accommodations. The chances of finding a decent accommodation during winter are very less due to the demand of accommodation in peak tourism season. Pre-book your accommodations if you are visiting in winter.
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Where To Eat in Jaisalmer Fort?
There are numerous eateries inside the fort, which serves international and local cuisines. Cuisine of Jaisalmer is quite different from that of the other cities of Rajasthan. The ingredients are limited and the cuisine depends mostly on exotic spices and meat. You can choose to dine inside the fort in any of the eateries or luxury restaurants outside the fort.
How to Reach the Jaisalmer Fort?
The Jaisalmer Fort is located five hours of car drive away from Jodhpur airport. This is the nearest airport to the fort. You can also hire buses to reach Jaisalmer from Jodhpur. Once inside the fort, it is best to walk around the fort or hire rickshaw and enjoy the ambience. The nearest international airport is located in Udaipur. Usually people choose to fly into India via Delhi international airport and fly to Jodhpur from Delhi.
Jaisalmer railway station is very close to the fortification. You can find cabs or auto rickshaw from the station to the fort. You can find buses and private taxis from various destinations like Jodhpur, Barmer, Jalore, Jaipur, Bikaner and others to Jaisalmer.
When to Visit Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer is the desert region of the Rajasthan and it would not be a surprise that summers are the worst time to visit this region. Summer starts in March and ends in June. The summers are hot, humid, sweaty and dehydrating. This is the leanest season of the year.
Monsoons are light and less frequent here. Showers start in July and ends in September. Since you need to spend most of your time outside the hotel, exploring the region, rainy season can be hindrance to your vacation. The best way to enjoy the region is by visiting in the winter season, which is the peak tourism season. Winters start in October and ends in February. The temperature is mild and the region is pleasant to explore. The fort will be fresh as the recent showers would have cleaned it up well.