The golden fairy tale Jaisalmer
After a visit to the Khuri desert next adventure waited for me and Louise. The city Jaisalmer, founded 1156, often is referred to as the golden city. It is a city located just 100 kilometers from the Pakistani border, surrounded by desert. Central in this fairy tale city is a fort, which from a distance looks very much like a sand castle. Inside the walls of the fort people are still living their lives. The maze of narrow alleys makes it easy to loose yourself for a few hours but there is only one way out so that is not a problem at all.
On our first day in Jailsamer we actually started by travelling a bit outside the city to the ghost town Kuldhara desert village. The story tells that when a prime minister from Jaisalmer, about 200 years ago, decided to marry a lady from this village against her and her familys will, the whole village fled one night. It was said this lady was extremely beautiful and was the daughter of the head of the village.
Jailsalmer was a very wealthy city, once the home to many rich merchant families. The most wealthy families lived in mansions of extraordinary architecture. We visited one sandstone haveli called Salim Singh-ki, built about 300 years ago. Part of it is today a museum, another part of it inhabited.
Salim Singh-ki haveli used to belong to a prime minister called Salim Sing. A grumpy man showed us around this magnificent house. The most interesing fact is that the construction aimed to confuse intriguers in all possible ways. For example stairs had different hights and where curved in ways which would confuse unwanted visitors. Doors where small and narrow to just allow for one person at the time to enter. For display was many different objects, mostly in silver, used in the daily life of the family. Among those where many different kind of keys, for example below scorpion key. The highlight though was the amazing view over the fort from the top section.
After a day of sightseeing around Jaisalmer and its fort we where brought to a view point for seeing the sun set and the colors of Jaisalmer changing. We where taken to a place not that well know by tourists where we where accompanied by a man playing an instrument called Chikara. Some local boys joined us as well for this magic moment.
Our second day we managed to get some alone time for just strolling around inside the fort. Having a guide and a driver is very nice and comforting but sometimes it is relaxing to just stroll around aimlessly on your own. And so we did on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve. We strolled the narrow alleys inside the Jaisalmer forts and, despite warnings from our guide, we visited some vendors as well. As a traveller you know you will get overcharged but ofcourse that does not stop one from shopping 😉
Inside the walls are a set of Jain temples (I did not know before visiting Rajasthan but Jainis is a separate religion practiced throughout India). We visited two of them. They where made by red sand stone and contains sculptures and decorations that are extremely detailed and beautiful. The best part though was the “after Jain temple beer” on one of the many rooftop terraces, watching the desert landscape in the distance and slowly seeing the surrounding buildings turning into gold. Behind me & Louise on one of the bottom pictures you see a glimpse of the Jain temples 😀
Posted on February 24, 2013, in India and tagged Backpacking, desert, havelis, India, Jain temples, Jaisalmer, Kuldhara, Photography, Photos, Rajasthan, Salim Singh haveli, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.