Jaisalmer city, located in the heart of Thar Desert in Rajasthan is nicknamed the ‘Golden City’ due to stunning golden yellow sandstone structures & monuments. Jaisalmer and nearby area of Sam Sand Dunes has lots of interesting attractions to offer and we spent 3 days exploring Jaisalmer & Sam Sand Dunes on our 9-day family road trip through marwar region of Rajasthan. Here is my list of must do things in Jaisalmer.
Desert Safari at Sam Sand Dunes – The beauty of the great Indian Thar desert can be experienced at Sam sand dunes. To be sure, one cannot enter the main area of the protected Thar desert but the commercial desert safari camps are located around the sand dunes on the edge and offer luxury tent stay, bonfire, camel rides in the dunes. It’s quite a touristy thing in my experience and especially after spending a beautiful night inside the wadi rum desert in Jordan, this was a bit of letdown. However, my kid who experienced sand dunes and camel rides for the first time was overjoyed. So this experience can be purely had for the novelty factor of seeing desert, sand dunes and camel rides.
Paragliding at Sam Sand Dunes – There are many commercial paragliding operators on the way to Sam Sand dunes from Jaisalmer town and its an adventure activity which is fairly safe and most age friendly.
Visit Abandoned village of Kuldhara – The abaondoned village of Kuldhara (abandoned since 19th century) is located in between Sam Sand Dunes and Jaislamer town. It’s a conserved village now and it’s a eery feel to visit it even during daytime, with only goats roaming around the broken down hutments and rubble.
Stroll around in Jaisalmer Fort – The Jaisalmer Fort has a unique character, being a living fort. From the times of its founding, the ruler allowed citizens to live & work inside the fort and the fort grew organically, with jain temples, houses and shops inside it. Today, it makes for an interesting stroll inside the fort, visiting the jain temples, its claustrophobic narrow but colourful streets and many shops. We took almost half a day to roam inside the Jaisalmer Fort and enjoy the views of the city below from it. The Jaisalmer Fort is famously called ‘Sonar Kella’ or Golden Fort due to the stunning golden yellow hues of its sandstone structure, which shines brilliantly in the sunlight and changes shades through the day.
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Visit Gadisar Lake – A beautiful serene lake by the edge of Jaisalmer old town, it’s the perfect place to chill out in the evenings or mornings.
Stroll around in old town Jaisalmer – The old town of Jaisalmer is interesting and alluring, with its yellow gold sandstone facades, colourful street art and everyday life. From a goat & cow eating in the middle of the road to ladies sunning themselves after a bath or doing puja, it’s a delight to walk around the narrow streets of old Jaisalmer town.
Drink Bhang lassi from Government authorised shop at Jaisalmer Fort – This is one of the few places in India, where Government authorised bhang lassi is sold and it’s a must have!! How does it feel afterwards? well, that depends from person to person and I wasn’t affected at all!! (as testified by the husband!!). The Bhang Lassi shop is located on the right side of the main entrance to Jaisalmer Fort.
Recommended Read: Visiting Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India
Evening entertainment of Rajasthani Puppet show at Desert Cultural Center – The indigenous art of puppetry in Rajasthan has been revived at the Desert Cultural Center in Jaisalmer and it’s a delight to watch the puppet show of 1 hour.
Recommended Read: Things to do in Jhunjhunu, Shekhawati, Rajasthan, India
Where to Stay in Jaisalmer
There are varied options on Jaisalmer from luxury to budget stays. One of the most interesting options to stay is inside the Jaisalmer Fort; there are many homestays and B&Bs. However, please be aware that if you are having a vehicle along with you (like we did on our self-driving holiday through Marwar), parking facility is not available inside the fort. We opted to stay at mid-budget Hotel Mystique which was located around 500 meters from the Jaisalmer Fort and in the heart of the town. We found the hotel rooms to be neat & clean and the staff was super courteous and helpful in guiding us on sightseeing the city & avoiding tourist traps. The rooftop restaurant has decent food and the owner himself interacts with the guests many times there. It cost us xxx for 3 days 2 nights stay here.
How to reach Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer can be reached by Rail, Air or Road. The nearest railhead is Jaisalmer station. The Jaislamer Airport is located 5 km from the city, however, it is a military airport with only limited chartered flights. The best way to reach is via road through National Highways 11 and 125. We did a road trip through Marwar, and reached Jaisalmer from Jodhpur; the road condition is excellent with many road side restaurants & eateries (having hygienic conveniences). There are also buses plying to Jaisalmer from other cities of Rajasthan (Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, etc) and one has to look up latest schedule on internet for same.
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