Jaisalmer is a small town in the state of Rajasthan. The town is named after its founder Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king. It is also called as the "Golden City of India" because of the yellow sand and yellow sandstone used in the town's architecture giving a golden tinge. Jaisalmer is located at around 575 km west from Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan. It is situated near the border of India and Pakistan in West Rajasthan and is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District. Jaisalmer has an average elevation of 229 m and covers an area of 5.1 sq km. The climate is dry is hot summers and pleasant winters. Average rainfall is 209.5 mm. Jaisalmer is just about entirely a sandy waste and forms a part of the Great Indian Desert. The west is covered with log bushes and the east with bunch of long grass. Water is scarce and there are no permanent streams, except one small river, Kakni, which flows at a distance of 48 km. It also forms a Lake Orjhil "The Bhuj Jhil".
Known as SONAR QUILA, rising from the sand , the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. Its simply a magic, the bastions envelops a whole townships that consist of palace complex various security sources and the havelis of rich merchants carved with an incredibly light touch, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route, from where the ancient caravans passed en-route passing all the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non source full kingdom.
This is one of the largest and most elaborate Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments, two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well as some mirror work. The most elaborate and magnificient of all the Jaisalmer havelis. It has exquisitely carved pillars and exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the apartments of this five story high haveli is painted with beautiful murals. Patwon-Ki-Haveli is the largest and most elaborate haveli in Jaisalmer. This five-storeyed building extensively carved and is notable for its jharokhas (balconies). In the early 19th century, the family of Ghuman Chand Patwa, an extremely rich patwa (trader of brocades and expensive embroidery) began construction of this mansion, an effort that took half a century.
This tank, south of the city walls, once held the town water supply, and befitting its importance in providing precious water to the inhabitants of this arid city, it is sourrounded by small temples and shrines. The beautiful yellow sandstone gateway arching across the road down to the tank is the Tilon-ki-Pol, and is said to have been built by a famous prostitute, Tilon . When she offered to pay to have this gateway constructed, the Maharaja refused permission under it to go down to the tank and he felt that this would be beneath his dignity. While he was away, she built the gate , adding a Krishna temple on top so that king could not tear it down.
Sam Sand Dunes, 42 away km from Jaisalmer, is the most popular excursion to see the total sandy bush less desert. It has a truly glorious stretch of sweeping sand dunes. It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset, and many camel safaris spend a night at the dunes. The best way to see this and other sights around Jaisalmer is to take a came safari. The standard trip lasts for 4 days and three nights, and offers the opportunity to explore the area in authentic and leisurely fashion, with entertainment by folk performers, visits to villages, and chatter from colourful guides thrown in. However you can also day trip and go by car. Hordes of tourist arrive just before sun set. Camels can be hired easily and you may be able your favourite picture with a lone camel on a desert track and the setting sun in the backdrop. Despite the tourist throng the place has not lost it magic. The desert festival held sometimes in February each year is a big draw and it is full of fun, colour and laughter, cultural events and competitions.
Wood Fossil Park Jaisalmer
Location: 17 K.M. from the main Jaisalmer city near Barmer Road
How to reach: Take a cab or share an Auto-rickshaw
Importance: Fossil remains of Jurassic era till 130 million years ago
If you are done with history then Akal Fossil Park is the place to be. For, it takes you beyond History. It takes you back to the prehistoric Jurassic era, which is, hold your breath, 180 million years back! It is a fossil park where stood a forest 180 millions years ago. Then the area submersed in to the sea and the tree trunks got preserved in the form of fossils.
The fossil trunks lie scattered in this park. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. Covering about 10 sq. Km of bare hillside, the Fossil Park contains 25 petrified trunks, in total. The 21-hectare preserved area of the park lies about 17 Km from Jaisalmer on the road to Barmer. If you happen to be a Conservationist or a Geologist by chance, try to get there early. Get there before tourists come pouring in. You will have to seek prior permission in order to study the remains.
Location: 17 K.M. from the main Jaisalmer city near Barmer Road.
How to reach: Take a cab or share an Auto-rickshaw.
Importance: Fossil remains of Jurassic era till 130 million years ago.
If you are done with history then Akal Fossil Park is the place to be. For, it takes you beyond History. It takes you back to the prehistoric Jurassic era, which is, hold your breath, 180 million years back! It is a fossil park where stood a forest 180 millions years ago. Then the area submersed in to the sea and the tree trunks got preserved in the form of fossils. The fossil trunks lie scattered in this park. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. Covering about 10 sq. Km of bare hillside, the Fossil Park contains 25 petrified trunks, in total. The 21-hectare preserved area of the park lies about 17 Km from Jaisalmer on the road to Barmer. If you happen to be a Conservationist or a Geologist by chance, try to get there early. Get there before tourists come pouring in. You will have to seek prior permission in order to study the remains.
ENTERTAINMENT IN JAISALMER
Jaisalmer has a lot of options for entertainment. Because of its rich composite culture it boasts of various songs and dances. If you are not a culture vulture then you can opt for modern centers of entertainment such as Cinema theatre and discotheques.
Rajasthani folk music has a long history. It is very soothing and earthy. Traditionally rulers had bards in their courts that sang tales of the heroic deeds of kings. Though the tradition is long dead nevertheless these ballads called "Rasos" can be heard even today. The legend of King Prithviraj Chauhan and his bard Chand Bardai who composed the Prithviraj Raso, a ballad, which details the brave deeds of Prithviiraj though exaggerated at times, is well known.
Rajasthani folk dances are an eye-catching sight. People of Rajasthan must be given the credit to save their heritage for this long. Lissome women wearing colorful clothes decorated with mirrors and embroidery, balancing a column of brass pots on their heads, sway in time to the music of a traditional melody. During your stay, you will notice that, Rajasthan is a place where every thing is very earthy and close to the masses. That is why folk culture here is very flourishing. Some of the popular folk dances in Rajasthan, which are a great source of entertainment are Bhavai, Chari, Ghair, Ghoomar, Kacchi Ghodi where a dancer wears a costume resembling a horse, Kalbeliya, performed by the women of the snake charmer community and Teerahtali, where women perform with 13 cymbals tied to their limbs.
PUPPETRY IN JAISALMER
Want to try something different, go for the Puppetry show one of the evenings. Puppetry is a traditional art form and source of entertainment in Rajasthan. Tales from the epics, folk tales and social commentary are conveyed through the medium of colorful puppets. The most famous among these is the depiction of Mahabharata, the grand epic. These little puppets are also popular souvenirs for tourists who visit Rajasthan on an Indian Holiday.
SHOPPING IN JAISALMER
Your Jaisalmer trip would be incomplete if you don't buy some typical Jaisalmer goods as souvenirs for your near and dear ones. A number of traditional Rajasthani handicrafts are available in Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is famous for embroidery, Rajasthani mirror work, rugs, blankets, antiques and old stonework. There are lots of shops but try to venture in government owned and operated ones. This will save you extra dollars that would have gone in the pockets of guides in the form of commission. If you want to buy fabrics such as Tie-dye and other fabrics, try the government operated Khadi Gramuddyog Bhavan. Shop for exquisitely carved wooden boxes in tiny curio shops. Traditional rugs, hand woven blankets and shawls in typical Rajasthani color and weave are also available. Don't miss to buy souvenirs for your dear ones. In that case, Mirror work, embroiders article silver jewelry, Trickles and Curios are must buys of Jaisalmer. The shopping spots are within the fort and include Sadar Bazar, Sonaron ka Bass, Manak Chowk, Pansari bazar, Gandhi Darshan, Seema gram, Rajsthani Govt. shop and Khadi Gramuddyog Emporium. Apart from these popular markets, you also have the option to for occasions such as Rakhi, Diwali, Navratri and Holi.
MUMAL & MAHENDRA – AN IMMORTAL RAJPUT LOVE STORY
I am at the top of a small hillock where once was aMedhi(small palace) belonging to a girl called Mumal or Momal who was from Lodhruva, Jaisalmer. A broken wall, small platform and a single window are the only remains of this monument which was earlier named as Kak Mahal. Below I can see a dry river bed, where, once upon a time gushed in full swing, a river by the name of Kak.
During thosetimes theMedhihad beautifully carved windows, a scenic garden, many mazes, fake ponds and other illusions. It has witnessed the love story of Mumal and her lover Rana Mahendra which stood the test of the time.
Mumal was an extremely beautiful Rajput girl whose beauty and charms were famous not only in Jaisalmer but also far and wide. She wanted to marry someone who would win her heart with his bravery and intelligence. Mumal, along with her seven sisters and attendants would weave a web of magic in Kak Mahal to test them. Several kings and princes tried their luck but in vain. The reputation of this palace, and of Mumal’s dazzling beauty soon became a legend. Once Rana Mahendra Sodha, the ruler of Umer Kot in Sindh (now in Pakistan), reached the banks of the river while hunting. He too was attracted by the magical Kak. From the window of her palace Mumal saw Mahendra and his friend resting by the river bank, so she sent water and some refreshments for them. She invited them to rest in the palace till next morning. Like others, Mahendra also had to cross the labyrinths and other hurdles to reach the palace. He was an intelligent and courageous man which led him to succeed in reaching the palace, unharmed. Mumal was very impressed and decided to accept him as her consort. Mahendra spent the night at the palace and returned to Umer Kot in the morning. Eventually their love blossomed. Mahendra found a camel which was fast enough to cover long distance from Umer Kot to Kak & back in few hours. Each night Cheetal, the camel, used to take him to spend time with Mumal and they would return to Umer Kot by dawn. He could not keep his mind off Mumal and would keep humming (Come with me to my Umer Kot, Oh Mumal). One day, when Mahendra’s family got to know of his love for Mumal, they ordered to break the legs of Cheetal. That night another camel was arranged for him by his friends. The camel was not as fast and experienced as Cheetal. Mahendra didn’t have any option and started his journey. After a while he whipped the camel in order to make her go fast. The camel started running. In the dark Mahendra couldn’t figure out the direction and the result was that he reached Barmer instead of Jaisalmer. At the same time atMedhi, Mumal kept waiting for Mahendra and started playing games with her sisters. One of her sisters Sumal dressed like a man. Time passed and they were tired and sleepy. Sumal slept in man’s attire with Mumal on her bed. At Barmer, on realizing his mistake, Mahendra raced towards Jaisalmer and when he reached Kak Mahal, he mistook Sumal as Mumal’s paramour. Disgusted, he left his riding cane besides Mumal’s bed and returned to Umer Kot. He was highly distraught that Mumal had cheated on him. Mumal pleaded Mahendra to forgive her but he ignored her requests. To prove her innocence, Mumal set a fire and jumped in it. When Mahendra came to know of this, he rushed to the place where Mumal was already in flames; he joined her to be consumed by the fire along with Mumal.