Sights in Jaisalmer
Golden Fort, Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Kilar, or the Golden Fort, looks like a child’s giant sandcastle. But this is in fact the ultimate in desert forts, dominating the landscape for miles around from its spot at the top of Trikuta Hill. Go to the Golden Fort Page.
Patwon ki Haveli, Jaisalmer
One of the remarkable things about Jaisalmer is the havelis, or mansions, built by its wealthy merchants and nobles in the 19th century. They are famed for their exquisitely carved sandstone facades-a feat of stone-carving not matched anywhere else in India. Go to the Patwon ki Haveli Page.
Gadisar Lake, Jaisalmer
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 surrounded by small temples and shrines.
Go to the Gadisar Lake Page
Gyan Bhandar, Jaisalmer
Gyan Bhandar is situated in the center of the city; it was originally established as an adjunct to the famous Jain temples. But over the years it has accumulated a wealth of historical treasures. Some of the oldest manuscripts in the country are preserved here. Founded in 1500 by Acharya Maharaj Jin Bhadra Suri, this small underground vault houses priceless ancient illustrated manuscripts, some dating from the 11th century. Other exhibits include astrological charts and the Jain version of the Shroud of Turin: the Shroud of Gindhasuri, a Jain hermit and holy man who died in Ajmer. In a small locked cabinet are the images of Parasnath made of ivory and various precious stones, including emerald and crystal.
Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer
The third of the great havelis is the one built by the scheming Prime Minister, Salim Singh, in 1815. What makes it unique is the way it is narrow at the base, but suddenly flares out its cantilevered upper story. The haveli has a beautiful arched roof, capped with blue cupolas and superbly carved details. Do not miss its elegant peacock brackets.
Lodhruva Jain Temple, Jaisalmer
The ancient Bhatti capital of Lodhruva lies just 16 miles from Jaisalmer. You can still see traces of the ruins of the city in the desert, but the one monument that is intact is the Jain Temple of Parshvanatha. Rebuilt in the 17th century, its ornate torana archway is perhaps the finest example of its kind in Rajasthan. Inside the temple is a Kalpavriksha, a representation of the Celestial Tree, with its carved copper leaves, believed to have the power to bestow any favor asked of it by a devotee. Nearby is the bed of the River Kak that has now run dry. Legend associates it with the star-crossed lovers, Prince Mahendru of Amarkot and the beautiful Princess Moomal who lives on the banks of the River Kak. Separated by a tragic misunderstanding they were reunited too late; weakened by their travails they died in each other’s arms. That day the River Kak, they say, dried up in sadness and has not flowed since.
Mool Sagar, Jaisalmer
Maharawal Moolraj II built the Moolsagar complex in 1815 AD. You will find numerous wells, the Moolsagar Garden and a splendid Raj Mahal built on its premises. Maharaja Moolsagar was known for his patronage to art and artisans and that becomes pretty evident when you come across some great murals on the palace walls. He definitely had a considerable influence on the wazirs and land-lords. Therefore his patronage to the art and architecture was resonated among his nobles and subjects. It was mainly due to his efforts that so many lovely palaces and structures were built in that period which was influenced by both the Mughal and Rajput schools of art.
Nathumal ki Haveli, Jaisalmer
Even more beautifully carved is Nathmalji ki Haveli, built by a Prime Minister of Jaisalmer as late as 1885. Its facade is a riot of ornamentation: flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, as well as a bicycle and even a steam engine! It was carved by two brothers, Hathu and Lallu, each of whom completed one side of haveli. You can see how the whole looks perfectly harmonious but the right and left side differ in their details. Also, extraordinarily, the building was carved out of boulders-not dressed stone-and you can see the raw boulder faces in the fascinating rooms inside. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior, while mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the Nathumal ki Haveli.
Tazia Tower, Jaisalmer
An architectural tribute to the history of Jaisalmer is Badal Vilas, also known as Mandir Palace, the current residence of the Royal Family. This multi-storied structure, also referred to as the Cloud Palace, is located near Amar Sagar Gate and consists of a complex of buildings with elaborately carved facades. Rising out of the Cloud Palace is the Tazia Tower, a multi-tiered tower built by Muslim stone-carvers. Tazia Tower was built in the 20th century as a gift to the people and rulers of Jaisalmer. Presently, part of the palace is used as a hotel and restaurant, though it still retains many of the galleries and paintings of the bygone era.