Jaisalmer or ‘Golden City’ is a fascinating place that intricates people. The town that lies close to the border with India’s longtime rival Pakistan is hot, humid, mysterious but still gets many visitors year-round. On top of the hill, rests a beautiful massive Fort offering stunning views over the city. Find out which are the 10 things to do in Jaisalmer!
1# GET LOST INSIDE THE JAISALMER FORT
First thing on everyone’s list coming to Jaisalmer is exploring the Fort. It’s free to enter and has no opening or closing times. Unlike many other forts in India, here lives an entire community. Explore the streets, observe the locals or buy some souvenirs like rugs or handicrafts. You will see lots of small streets filled with locals and tourists. Go on the roof of the Fort and taste a delicious masala chai while overlooking the city.
2# VISIT THE JAIN TEMPLES INSIDE THE FORT
Jainism is one of the main world religions that originated in India. Jain temples are devoted to different Jain spiritual mentors and attended by devotees and gurus. The ultimate purpose of Jainism is the deliverance of the self from rebirth, attained through the elimination of collected karma. There are seven Jain temples inside the Jaisalmer Fort, all of them correlated through vast corridors. You will recognize them by the yellow sandstone and the intricate engravings and spires.
3# TAKE A BOAT AT GADI SAGAR LAKE
Gadi Sagar is an artificially created lake for water conservation, requested in the 14th century, by Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of Jaisalmer. A beautiful cenotaph rises from the middle of the lake while ghats and temple shrines surround it. Go in the morning as the glow of the sun is better for pictures and take a boat to see the views. Or go in the evening and watch the sun going down.
Are you looking for some souvenirs? There is a market with many Rajasthani Handicrafts so you might find something beautiful to take home.
4# ENJOY A TRADITIONAL JAISALMER DINNER WITH A VIEW OVER THE FORT
While some of the tourists choose to book accommodation inside the Fort, I highly recommend you to book one outside, near the Old City. So you will have great views over the Fort all day long but especially at night time. Almost every accommodation has a rooftop restaurant, so a dinner with a Fort view is a must while here.
Jaisalmer kitchen is incredible and what you should definitely try is the famous KER SANGRI – a traditional slow-cooked vegetable dish made with sangri beans and dried ker capers. And no dinner should be complete without a GHOTUA LADOO, a traditional sweet, made with khoya, besan, and sugar. Remember, you can only taste these delicious treats in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
5# VISIT THE BADA BAGH CENOTAPH
Not far away from the city lies the beautiful Bada Bagh Cenotaph, which means a big garden. Still, the place is anything but a garden, sitting in the middle of the desert. Beautiful Cenotaphs rise from the golden sand: each one created between the 17th century and the 20th century, in the memory of the leaders who passed away. At some point, the construction of a cenotaph was correlated with bad luck, therefore was stopped. You will need no more than 20 minutes for a visit, but the site is beautiful and quiet. Hire a tuk-tuk to get you there or visit it on your way to the Thar Desert.
6# SPEND THE NIGHT IN THE THAR DESERT
A Camel Safari is one of the 10 things to do in Jaisalmer. The best time to go on a camel safari is between October and March when the sand dunes cool down, and the weather remains pleasant for a ride. The only downside is that it can be chilly during the night if you choose to spend the night under the stars. Hop on the camel, and explore the golden dunes of the Thar desert. Finish the day by witnessing the sunset and watching the stars after enjoying a delicious dinner and a masala chai!
TIP. Book a camel safari through your accommodation or find a tour that suits you at one of the agencies near the Fort.
RELATED: You can go on a camel safari from Jodhpur as well. Interested in what to do in Jodhpur? Read more here: 11 THINGS TO DO IN JODHPUR, INDIA
7# VISIT THE HAVELIS
Jaisalmer is also known for Havelis: a traditional home town inhabited by several families which holds wall compounds, two courtyards and fountains. The Mughal aristocracy built them in the 17th and 18th century. Nowadays some of them were turned into hotels and some of them into tourist attractions. You will find Havelis everywhere in the city: beautiful from outside, but a visit inside should definitely be on your top things to do in Jaisalmer. It gives a glimpse of how the rich people of Jaisalmer lived in those days. Always visit the rooftop for scenic views over the city.
8# WATCH THE SUNSET FROM DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS
There are many ways to watch the sun going down in Jaisalmer and surroundings:
- You can easily find a restaurant or a cafe inside the Fort from where you can savour a drink and watch the sunset over the city.
- Take a boat on the GADI SAGAR Lake and enjoy a beautiful sunset from a different perspective.
- Head to one of the rooftop restaurants outside the Fort, try the delicious KER-SANGRI and wait for the sun to go down.
- Go on a night camel safari and enjoy a fantastic sunset over the Thar Dessert.
9# DISCOVER THE STREETS OF JAISALMER
One of the best ways to experience and feel Jaisalmer is by walking through it. Discover narrow lanes, roaming cows and dogs, charming architecture, friendly people and local art shops.
RELATED: THINGS TO DO IN VARANASI, INDIA
10# KULDHARA ABANDONED VILLAGE
About 18 kilometres away from Jaisalmer you will find Kuldhara, an abandoned Indian village. It used to be a prosperous place 300 years ago. The legend says that the prime minister of the state fell in love with a young woman living here and forced her to marry him. He told the villagers if they will not accept, he would increase the taxes. Instead of obeying, the villages left their homes and disappeared. No one was able to settle down in Kuldhara ever since. Usually, on your way to the Thar Desert, you will make a quick stop to see this small little village, but you can do it on your own, by hiring someone to take you there or renting a motorscooter.