Jaisalmer, the golden city in the desert, lies in the extreme west of India. This is the gateway to the western borders and also for the unique topography of the Thar desert.
Built as per the traditional Rajasthani style on a hilltop, the Jaisalmer fort is a world heritage site. It has become famous as the Golden Fort or Sonar Kella after a famous Satyajit Ray story turned into a movie. When the yellow sandstones of the fort wall glimmer in the rays of setting sun, it does look like a golden treasure.
Still a substantial population lives inside the walled old city. Some of the exquisite examples of traditional architecture of the region could be seen in highly ornate havelis here.
Situated just outside the city, Bada Bagh is a garden-tomb complex, which houses the chhatris or royal cenotaphs of the Jaisalmer royal family.
This is also a great spot to watch sunsets.
There are some very interesting attractions near the city of Jaisalmer, including the Desert National Park and the Akal Wood Fossil Park. Some 20 kilometres from the city lies the mysterious town of Kuldhara, where hundreds of families supposedly left their homes in the middle of the night, never to come back. There are also war memorials and museums and the famous Tanot Mata temple near the Pakistan border, which is maintained by the Border Security Forces.
Winter is the best time to visit Jaisalmer. The desert city is connected through domestic flights from Jaipur, Delhi, and Mumbai. There are also direct trains between Delhi and Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is well connected through roads to other cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur and Bikaner.
(Photographs by Amitava Nag)