Jaisalmer, the golden city



Jaisalmer, the golden city
Jaisalmer is unlike anything we have seen so far. We drove 300 km from our previous stop in Jodhpur through the Thar desert that borders with Pakistan. The area is flat but greener than we expected it to be as it has rained quite a lot in the last week. We had fun driving through huge puddles of sand coloured water and creating little desert tsunamis. Then all of a sudden, there it was. When arriving in new cities, we would always drive through the rather ugly outskirts of the city. These suburbs would always have extended far beyond the old city and would be full of truck shops littered with tyres and small restaurants built a little too quickly. Not with Jaisalmer ! All of a sudden there was this gigantic sandcastle lost in the Thar desert ! Straight out of The Thousand and One Nights.



The fort is still very much alive with more than 4000 people or a quarter of the old city's population living in old houses and havelis or traders houses. Streets in the fort are narrow and we were bumped into by cows on a few occasions ! Jaisalmer got its name "golden city" because of the colour of its sandstone buildings in the warm sunset. Despite the monsoon season, we had a glorious sun for the whole of the three days we were there.



A "jalli" or window used by women to see without being seen.


Centuries ago, Jaisalmer had a strategic location on the camel routes between India and Central Asia or an East-West route. Its fort was built in the 12th century. With this wealth, local people built magnificent houses or havelis decorated with wood and sandstone carvings.  Most of the more recent buildings have retained the traditional style giving the whole place a wonderful architectural homogeneity. A real open air museum.  When sea trade and the port of Bombay developed this land route, just as most others, Jaisalmer started to decline. Partition in 1947 put Jaisalmer in the North Western corner of India with no more links with Pakistan, just a few hundred km to the west.




Around the fort, there is an even more interesting small town with as many beautiful buildings but also a lot less souvenir shops and less touts. The "hello, one pen" brigade is everywhere especially just before or just after school ! Here we found a souvenir for just Rs 5 (US$ 0.10) ! No bargaining required here.




Driving out to the little village of Khuri to watch the sun set over the desert dunes.


The royal chhatris (small domed Mughal kiosks) housing cenotaphs (cremation grounds) at Bada Bagh, north of Jaisalmer.


Beautiful decorative work on the entrance door of a Haveli in Jaisalmer


We are doing well !

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