Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is
Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions
in the region. Founded on what was the cross - road of lucrative trade
routes, this remote settlement came to be celebrated for the valour of its
rulers, and for the aesthetic sense represented by their palaces and
havelis. The rich merchants engaged stone - craftsmen who worked
delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with
sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful
balconies. Today, these veritable art - museums are still inhabited, and
their colourful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort
firmly on the world tourism map.
The golden - yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta Hill. Within its walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Seen from outside, the sight must be almost identical to what was seen by merchants on their overland camel caravans to central Asia. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity.
The fort stands almost 30 metres over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring.
It is approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoot Pol and Hawa Pol. Also, within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries.
Being part of the Desert Triangle and the venue of Desert Festival, the place is accessible by rail, road and air and has tourist accommodation ranging from high budget to low budget. The city is also covered by the "Palace on Wheels" a train-cum-road package, which needs no description. This place too witnesses large flow of tourist traffic in winters.