India as we all know is diverse. Not just in culture, religion, people and languages but also in terrain. Based in Mumbai and often had the opportunities to travel Delhi, I have had good taste of the city life in India. I have got my picture clicked doing a handstand at the vast white salt desert. I hiked the mountains of Himachal Pradesh. I Drove through the lush green forests of Karnataka. I left my footprints on the beaches of goa and also cruised the lake forests and backwaters of Kerala. Now, Before I fly to the islands of Andaman or step out to explore the living root hanging bridges, caves and waterfalls of the unexplored east, I packed my bags, booked my flight tickets and made my way to the Majestic sand dunes of Jaisalmer.
The main cities (Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaipur) of Rajasthan are all painted in white, blue and pink and so as you’ll notice Jaisalmer is gold. (both literally and figuratively) Let me elaborate just a little further. The entire town is built on sandstones. Golden sand dunes are at a close proximity. Also, a humongous sand castle standing at the edge of the town which is really hard to miss and hence the name – The Golden City. And yes, this town is small. Yes, it can be covered in three days or four days maximum and yet I spent one whole week here. I Explored all the things to do in Jaisalmer at my own very pace while fully enjoying the laid-back vibes of this desert town. Following are the answers to most of the questions you would have in your mind which i have elaborated in the form of my day wise itinerary.
6 Amazing Things to do in Jaisalmer
1. The Border Tour (Day 1)
I left for the half day border tour as soon as I checked in. This tour can be divided into Longewala war museum and the Tanot Mata temple.
- Longewala War Museum
This museum is unlike any other. Here, I learned something about the major 1971’s war and its heroes. I saw their battle plan. I Examined the guns that were used in the battle. From pistols to semi-automatics to rifles to machine guns. From 9mm shells to the huge 133 mm shells which were fired from the tanks. Also, destroyed jeeps and tanks of the opposition which were captured during the war are on display where you can take few photos.
- Tanot Mata Temple
Leaving from the war memorial around 5 pm (closing time) I made my way to the Tanot Mata temple which is about at a 30 kms distance and just reached in time for the 6 pm aarti. (held every day) And to be honest, it was one of the most blissful experiences I have had in my entire stay at Jaisalmer.
Not just that, numerous bombs have been dropped in the proximity or in the premises itself during the war and all of them went unexploded, so the story goes. Also, probably a couple of those unexploded bombs are on display in the temple premises itself which I unfortunately did not see. This temple really is a miraculous temple. Wouldn’t you want to visit?
“Focus on the Journey and not the destination. “(some proverb) Which is true to some extent (probably more) in this context. There’s no doubt how much the war memorial and temple had to offer but I must also stress on the roads which led us to it. Imagine this – you’re driving on an empty highway. It starts with the barren and deserted landscape on both sides of the road. Moving on, the massive windmills, hundreds of them appear and then disappear and appear once again. Notice the Shepherd with his flock of sheep. The wild camels. The typical round huts made of clay and broken red brick houses, giving you a complete village feels. Running short on time, I did not stop over for pictures or videos. So, when I say it was an instagrammable worthy and beautiful road, you just have to take my word for it. Also, most certainly the landscape photographers would be delighted to be here.
Note * Jaisalmer – war museum – temple – Jaisalmer. All in all, its 300kms tour which also takes about 6 – 8 hours. So, a car or a taxi would be a good option.
Foreign nationals are not permitted for this tour. Probably because of its close proximity to the border. (10 – 15 kms)
2. Gadisar Lake (Day 2)
Gadisar lake is best visited during the golden hour especially at the crack of the dawn. Since, I’m not a morning person I went to the lake a couple of hours before the dusk. Just 15 minutes’ walk from the Jaisalmer fort through those narrow alleyways. This lake had such calm and serene vibes. I spent my time scouting for a good composition angle, photographing tons of pictures and also did some bird watching. You could also go for the boat ride for a small price.
3. Bada Bagh – Sunset Point (Day 3)
Bada Bagh or Vyas Chattri is known as the sunset point of Jaisalmer. Although its more on the outskirts of the town about 10 – 15 kms. I spent few hours here, watching the yellow red ball go down and finally setting behind the huge windmill. After wasting most of my day, an evening was well spent. Just make sure you have enough layers on you. Since its on the outskirts its much colder.
4. The City Tour (Day 4)
The havelis, temples, canon point, Jaisalmer fort and gadisar lake are all the attractions in the city. Since I was done and dusted with gadisar lake, I did the remaining ones on the day 4 of my journey.
- The Havelis (Patwoan ki Haveli, Salim Singh ki Haveli, Nathmal Ki Haveli)
Salim Singh ki Haveli and Nathmal ki Haveli are more than partially occupied so I instead went for Patwoan ki Haveli. It’s a palace turned into museum. I am not a fan of museums but I have a completely different opinion about this one. From the game of ludo to coins, from jewelleries to weapons, from refrigerators to pasta makers all from the 1800s. Also, hiring a guide for a small fee wouldn’t be a bad idea. Go deeper into the history of the Kothari Family who owned the Palace and how all of their wealth was unaffected even after the Mughal and British invasions.
- The Temples
One thing I missed doing in Jaisalmer is 5:30 am aarti at Laxminath temple. But I did visit the Jain temples, where you can marvel at the architecture and its intricate designs.
- Canon Point
If you wish to see the Jaisalmer city skyline then this is the place. Also, there a lot of cute cafes right next to this point where you can relax, enjoy your food, the skyline view and of course an amazing sunset. I sure did.
- Jaisalmer Fort
Jaisalmer fort is a huge and stunning sand castle. Made me feel that it has popped out of some fairy tale book. Also, it’s an Unesco world heritage site and one of the few living forts in the world. Things to do here? Canon point, Jain temples and Raja ki Haveli are all part of the Jaisalmer fort. Moreover, like me, you could window shop all the crafts, leathers and jewellery or actually buy them if you like. Stroll its narrow alleyways and watch people with their favourite instrument perform. But the best thing you could do here is actually live inside the fort. I had my stay at zostel which is indeed inside the fort premises. You could do the same or maybe search some options out in the bar below.
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5. The Desert Safari. (Day 5)
Desert safari is what every traveller or tourist comes to Jaisalmer for. This is what I came for. This is what its known for. Although this tour was much more than that. I started off with the ghost town, made my way to an unknown oasis and finally rode a camel to the dunes.
- Kuldhara Village
Kuldhara village also known as the ghost town or the haunted village, its tale is a popular one. To give you the short synopsis, the local ruler Salim Singh had some disputes with the Paliwal Brahmins who were the residents of the Kuldhara Village. Because of it the residents were forced to abandon the village in the dark of the night, cursing the town and the ruler. No soul has been able to live here since. I do not know how true the haunted stories go but I can tell you about my experience. What I saw was a lot of broken houses, pile of bricks and a small temple amidst them. Basically, nothing but ruins and a perfect place to capture your Instagram story. #hauntedvillage.
Sometimes the offbeat path you take in life leads you to the most breath-taking waterfalls, sometimes a glorious sunrise or in my case an oasis in the middle of nowhere. It’s not the kind of an oasis you’ll find between the dunes but amidst the barren land of the desert. But yes, it was much bigger than I expected. Much calmer, quieter than I expected.
- Sand Dunes
When we say sand dunes of Jaisalmer or the thar desert only people can think of is Sam sand dunes. As it’s the only the part which is commercialised. Too much commercialised rather. But the thing is that, thar desert is spread out across 200000 kms and its more than just Sam sand dunes.
Which is why I and my other traveller mates going for the lesser known Khuri sand dunes. The empty desert (literally, not exaggerating) spreads out as far as the horizon. Some scattered windmills placed at some distance. I found the tallest of the dune, stood and watched one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. With the sunset, the temperature dropped quickly, dropping till 4 degrees, what better way to spend the night than to light up some bon fire, exchange travel stories with your group till the clock hits 12. Sleep inside a tent or if you don’t mind freezing to death then out in the open under the blanket of stars. Waking up I saw the sunrise from behind the dunes. Equally beautiful as the sunset earlier putting an end to this tour.
6. Horse Safari (Day 6)
Did you ever ride a horse by yourself? Out at the countryside? In a barren landscape? With Windmills right over your head? While admiring yet another gorgeous sunset? Well, this concluded day 6 and final day of my journey. It was yet another amazing and raw experience that you don’t get to live every day.
Horse safari and all the points above is everything Jaisalmer has to offer. Let me know which was/is your favourite thing to do in Jaisalmer?