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Please call 1-559-446-0499 or email brij@indiatravelerusa.com to a North India Rajasthan journey with Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is situated very near to the border of India and Pakistan in western part of Rajasthan. The area of Jaisalmer is about 3 square miles. The average summer temperature is around 41.6 degree C in daytime and 25 degree C in the nights. The average winter temperature is 23.6 degree C in daytime and 7.9 degree C in the nights. The average annual rainfall is less than 6 inches.

The area surrounding Jaisalmer is mostly a sandy wasteland in the heart of the great Indian Thar Desert. An interminable sea of sand dunes and sandy hills, of all shapes and sizes, some rising up to a height of 150 feet, surround the golden city. In the east the hills are covered with log bushes and in the west they have tufts of long grass. Water is scarce, and generally brackish; the average depth of underground water is about 250 feet. There are no perennial streams, and only one small river, the Kakni that spreads over a large flat ground, and forms a lake called the Bhuj Jhil after flowing a distance of 28 miles. The climate is dry and healthy. Throughout Jaisalmer area only crops like Bajra, Jowar, Motif and Til etc. can be cultivated while the crops of Wheat and Barley etc. are very rare. Because of scant rainfall there is virtually no irrigation.

Jaisalmer town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Most of the ancient aristocratic mansions (Havelis) and temples are finely sculpted. It has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District.

The majority of the inhabitants of Jaisalmer are Bhatti Rajputs, who take their name from an ancestor named Bhatti, a famous warrior from the time when the tribe was living in Punjab. The clan was driven southwards and found a refuge in the Indian desert. They made the desert their home. Deoraj, a famous prince of the Bhatti family, was the founder of the Jaisalmer dynasty who took the title of Rawal (ruler). Legend has it, that Lord Krishna – the head of Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of Yadav Clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled, when in 1156 CE Rawal Jaisal, a descendant of Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, founded the city of Jaisalmer. Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of Deoraj in the sixth generation established the city of Jaisalmer and constructed the original Fort when he moved from Lodhruva, his older capital that is a little more than 9 miles in the south east. In 1294 the Bhattis enraged the Sultan Alauddin Khilji so much that he sent a powerful army that ransacked and captured the fort and city. The women folk inside the fort committed the first Jauhar (preferring to commit suicide by jumping in raging fire instead of being captured by the enemy) in the fort's history. For some time after this incident the city was quite desolate. Sultan Firozshah Tuglaq raided and laid siege of the fort consequent to a Jaisalmer prince raiding his encampment near Anasagar Lake in Ajmer. This led to the second sack of the fort. The second and last Jauhar inside the fort costing the lives of thousands of warriors in the battle and of the women folk in the fort.

The next important ruler was Rawal Sahal Singh, who made a peace treaty with the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. During this period the Jaisalmer Rawal rulers were at the height of their influence and power. This period did not last under the later Rawals and their influence and territory rapidly declined. In 1818 Rawal Mulraj established relationship with the British East India Company. Maharawal Saliyahan, born in 1887 succeeded him on the throne of Jaisalmer in 1891.

Their major rivals for the control of forts, waterholes, cattle and camels were the two powerful Rathore Maharajas of Jodhpur and Bikaner. They fought many battles to control the lucrative silk route. Jaisalmer’s position was strategic because it was on the traditional trade route used by camel caravans of Indian and Asian merchants. The route linked India to Central Asia in the north and to Persia, Arabia, Egypt and Africa in the west.

Medieval period: Because of its inhospitable location in the middle of a desert, Jaisalmer escaped direct conquest during the Islamic invasions in India. The later Rawals were diplomatic and agreed to pay a reasonable annual tribute to the Islamic Sultans of Delhi. During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, the Bhattis raided a caravan carrying Sultan’s treasure and provoked him to attack. The local ballads still sing the praises of Jaisalmer folk who defended the fort for seven long years until the Islamic enemy forced a breach in the ramparts. Facing certain defeat, the warriors went out of the fort to fight until death while the ladies performed Johar – self-immolation to save their honor. Once again the Jaisalmer Rawals raided the camp of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlak near Anasagar Lake in Ajmer. This siege also lasted very long and led to another Johar in Jaisalmer fort. Jaitsimha’s son, Duda was killed in this attack. His descendents ruled Jaisalmer for another 200 years. Mughal Emperor Humayun had to fight a battle with Lunakarna, a descendent of Duda. His son, Mughal Emperor Akbar, started a policy of reconciliation with Hindu rulers, he married a princess from Jaisalmer. During the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, Rawal Sabala Simha, assisted him in his campaigns in Peshawar frontier and had very good relations consequently.

Jaisalmer was one of the last states to sign a treaty with the British. The present descendent of the former ruling family is Brijraj Singh. Even though he does not rule any more, he is very influential because of the public welfare projects financed by his family. In olden days the Rawals grew rich by charging a duty on the caravans that passed through their territory. When the British developed Mumbai (Bombay), the land route through the desert was not used any more. Some trade routes to the Sindh remained functioning in the British Raj. After independence, because of the wars with Pakistan, Jaisalmer once again gained strategic importance and became a center of supplies to the army posts on the Pakistan border nearby. The Rajasthan Canal brought water into this desert area and revived the economy of the region. With modern roads and railway tracks, Jaisalmer is well connected with all cities of Rajasthan and Punjab in the immediate north. When Jaisalmer City as a whole was declared a preserved Unesco World Heritage site, tourism became a major contributor to the economy of the city. Jaisalmer is famous for its cobbled streets, strewn with palaces, forts, temples and Havelis. Almost every house, here, is exquisitely carved, having filigreed workmanship in stone all over the facades. These mansions date back from twelfth to fifteenth centuries. Jaisalmer is called the Museum city. The old city was completely encircled by wall but much of it is now pulled down sadly for want of building material in recent years. The massive golden fort, which is the essence of Jaisalmer, is entered through First Gate. The Bhatia Market is the shopping area right below the hill. The banks, offices and several shops are also located near the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.

Jaisalmer Fort was constructed in 1156 by the Bhatti Rawal Jaisal. It is located on Trikuta Hill and is a silent witness to history’s many fierce battles. Its massive ramparts turn to a magical honey-gold color during the dawn and dusk. The famous art film director, Satyajit Ray was inspired to make a film called Sonar Kila or the golden fort after viewing this majestic fort. This is the only fort in the world that has never been completely deserted in its entire history. Even now about a quarter of the population of the city lives inside the ramparts of the Fort. The Raj Mahal (royal palace), the seven Jain Temples including the most interesting ones dedicated to 16th. Tirthankar (Original Jain teachers) Shantinath & 23rd. Tirthankar, Paraswanath, and the Hindu Lakshmi Nath Temple are the main attractions inside the fort. The main Havelis (aristocratic mansions) in Jaisalmer are:

  1. Patwon-ki-Haveli was built by Guman Chand Patwa and his five sons. This was an affluent merchant and banker family that had over three hundred trading centers as far away as Afghanistan and China. This ornate five-storied complex took fifty years to complete. This is the largest, the most magnificent and elaborate of Jaisalmer Havelis.
  2. Salim Singh-ki-Haveli was built by the scheming Prime Minister, Salim Singh in 1815. It has a beautifully arched roof capped with blue cupolas and ornately sculpted brackets in the form of peacocks.
  3. Nathmalji-ki-Haveli was also built by a Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Its facade is a riot of intricate ornamentation with flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, a bicycle and even a steam engine used as decorative motifs.

Gadsisar Lake is the only rain water lake. It is adorned with an arched gateway. Many small shrines and temples are festooned all around the lake. It is an ideal picnic spot, famous for boating.

The nearest airport is Jodhpur 308 Kilometers or 191 miles away. Jaisalmer airfield is used by Military. Jaisalmer is connected with Jodhpur by regular train service and a well maintained highway.

Excursions from Jaisalmer:

Devikot (40 Kilometers or 25 miles)
Ramdeora (150 Kilometers or 93 miles)
Sam Sand Dunes (42 Kilometers or 26 miles)
Lodhruva (17 Kilometers or 11 miles)
Bada Bagh (6 Kilometers or 4 miles)
Wood Fossil Park (17 Kilometers or 11 miles)
Desert National Park (40 Kilometers or 25 miles

Rawal rulers of Jaisalmer
Rawal Lon-Karan from 1530to 1551
Rawal Maldevfrom 1551 to 1562
Rawal Harraj, first Jaisalmer ruler in Mughal Period from 1562to 1578
Rawal Bhim Singh from 1578 to 1624
Rawal Kalyan Das from 1624 to1634
Rawal Manohar Das from 1634 to 1648
Rawal Ram Chandra from 1648 to 1651
Rawal Sabal Singh signed a treaty with Mughal Emperor Shahjahan from 1651 to 1661
Maharawal Amar Singh was honored by Mughal Emp. Aurangzeb w. Maharawal from 1661 to 1702
Maharawal Jaswant Singhfrom 1702to 1708
Maharawal Budh Singhfrom 1708 to 1722
Maharawal Akhaya Singh from 1722 to 1762
Maharawal Mulraj Singh II (Protectorate of Brit.East Ind. Co. in 1818) from 1762 to1819
Maharawal Gaj Singh from 1820to 1846
Maharawal Ranjit Singh from 1846 to 1864
Maharawal Bairi Sal from 1864 to 1891
Maharajadhiraj Maharawal Salivahan Singh III from 1891 to 1914
Maharajadhiraj Maharawal Sir Jawahir Singh from 1914 to 1949
Maharajadhiraj Maharawal Girdhar Singh from 1949 to 1950
Maharajadhiraj Maharawal Raghunath Singh (Indira Gandhi abolished titles etc.)from 1950 to 1971
Mehrawal Brijraj Singh from 1982 to Present

Special Luxury Tent Accommodation:

The Serai - 14 One thousand square feet tents and 6 luxury tent wall enclosed suites with dip jacuzzi jets pool

4-star Hotels:

Suryagarh Hotel - 62 rooms

Gorbandh Palace Hotel – 67 rooms
Taj Rawalkot Hotel – 31 rooms

3-star Hotels:

The Royale Jaisalmer - 21 rooms
Pleasant Haveli - 9 rooms
Hotel Victoria - a small boutique hotel
Hotel Fifu - 11 rooms
Hotel Akashdeep - 16 rooms
Hotel Kila Bhawan - 6 rooms in 3 town houses built in to Fort walls
Hotel Shreenath Palace - 5 room haveli inside the Fort walls
Hotel Garh Jaisal - 7 rooms inside the fort
Hotel Shahi Palace - 15 rooms 10 minutes walk from Fort gate
Renuka Hotel & Ratan Palace Hotel- 2 sister hotels with 19 rooms in old town outside Fort
Hotel Bharat Vilas - 5 rooms
Jawahar Niwas Hotel – 22 rooms
Hotel Rang Mahal – 53 rooms
Heritage Inn – 51 rooms
Himmatgarh Palace – 40 rooms
Mirvana Nature Resort – 30 rooms
Hotel Fort Rajwada – 65 rooms
Hotel Narayan Niwas – 43 rooms

Distance from Jaisalmer in Kilometers and Miles:

Agra: 802 Kilometers or 498 Miles
Delhi: 793 Kilometers or 492 Miles
Jaipur: 570 Kilometers or 354 Miles
Ajmer: 439 Kilometers or 273 Miles
Jodhpur: 308 Kilometers or 191 Miles
Udaipur: 574 Kilometers or 356 Miles
Bikaner: 333 Kilometers or 207 Miles
Barmer: 153 Kilometers or 95 Miles
Kota: 640 Kilometers or 397 Miles

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