Jaisalmer lies about as far west in India as anyone can get. It is incredibly isolated, hot, and dry. What is it that draws people to this city, just a few miles from the Pakistani border? It is known as the ‘Golden City, a magnificent place. The city’s centre is dominated by a huge fort that sits on top of a hill overlooking the sun-kissed homes. Tourist hotspots for jeep and camel safaris are the nearby sand dunes. Jaisalmer is the ‘Golden City of India’. There are many unique places that you should look into your jaisalmer tour package to jaisalmer package to visit and things you can do in Jaisalmer.
How to get to Jaisalmer
Jodhpur to Jaisalmer: The local bus from Jodhpur cost 450 rupees. It took less than five hours to reach Jaisalmer.. 400 rupees bought us individual seats and a natural aircon (aka a window). You can rent a car to be chauffeured for as low as $40.
Jaipur to Jaisalmer: Another option is a sleeper coach from Jaipur. This is a 9-hour journey in a small pod. Close a curtain or a glass door to enjoy privacy in a 6ft cushioned bed with windows and A/C. The overnight pod costs 800 rupees and saves you money on accommodation.
Stay in Jaisalmer
One of the most beautiful spots on my entire India trip was where I stayed. The rooftop cafe at Pleasant Haveli Hotel offers the most amazing views of the city and Jaisalmer Fort. Breakfast was very affordable at only a few dollars. As I looked out at the city, I enjoyed a large breakfast and a smoothie each morning. Our stay was comfortable and calm thanks to the modernity of the hotel and rooms.
Jaisalmer’s top things to do
1. Jaisalmer Fort
Visit the Jaisalmer Fort is one of the top things to do when you arrive in Jaisalmer. Unlike many other forts in India, the Jaisalmer Fort is open to all that can cost upwards of 800 rupees ($12-14). It is not unlike any other neighbourhood except that it is within a historic fort. There is no closing time or opening, and there are no guards. It’s a peaceful environment inside.
A fort would usually be crowded with tourists, guards and tickets, but it feels more like a community here. The entire fort was open to our curiosity as we toured the gem shops and marvelled at the intricately woven textiles. Although shopping wasn’t a popular activity in Jaisalmer, many crafts and textiles are available throughout India. They were also beautifully made in Jaisalmer.
It’s not difficult to find a cafe or restaurant with a spectacular view of the fort’s edge. We tried too but didn’t find anything special. What we enjoyed was watching the sunset over the ‘Golden City.
Jaisalmer offers a private tour that takes you through the city, showing you the best Haveli’s and giving you a detailed tour inside the fort. While it is fun to explore the area independently, an English-speaking guide can make the experience even more enjoyable.
2. Jain Temple
The Jain Temple is located inside the Jaisalmer Fort. There are many in India, but I have only seen the Jaisalmer Temple. It would be best if you went to the Jaisalmer Jain Temple closest to you, as they may not all be as intricate and detailed as this one. Amazing details can be found within the temple’s multi-level, multi-roomed interior. For what seemed an eternity, I studied one wall and couldn’t understand why the person was carving this fantastic piece of art. The temple is home to hundreds of Buddhas.
Although it is hidden from the main parking lot, you will find it near the main entrance. There are many signs and helpful shopkeepers who can direct you to the correct place. Although the Jaisalmer Fort can be a bit confusing, it is worth trying to find your way around. Jain Temple is one of Jaisalmer’s best attractions.
An early morning tour takes you through Jain Temple, explaining the meaning and history behind the artefacts. This tour is short and easy, making it an excellent way for you to begin your day. The cost is also very affordable at less than $15.
3. Bada Bagh
We hired a motorbike from the centre of the city and started our journey towards Bada Bagh. To reach the temple site, it took us only 15 minutes to drive towards the wind turbines. Bada Bagh means “big garden”.
We arrived at mid-morning and found that not one tourist was there. The entrance fee was only 100 rupees. Bada Bagh is a cemetery. Jaisalmer’s founder ordered a dam to build a water tank at the site. This meant that it was the only area of green in the region during certain seasons. This is why Bada Bagh is located in the middle of a vast desert. It was named Bada Bagh or the ‘Big Garden’. Atop the hill, the Maharajah constructed a cenotaph for his father. Many cenotaphs were built after him for other important figures. A cenotaph can be described as a tribute statue or small temple dedicated to a relative who has died. This was one of the most unusual things you can do in Jaisalmer.
Explore Bada Bagh was peaceful. It was a wonderful place to think about life, death and India.
4. Gadi Sagar Lake
We woke up at dawn, hoping to see some colour and good vibes around Gadi Sagar lake. However, we also wanted to get away from the harsh Jaisalmer sun. Unfortunately, the sunrise was short-lived. We watched older men relax by the lake, play with the stray dogs, and then saw the vast catfish get some chapati from locals.
The temples are almost floating in the water. It is almost as though they are floating. My opinion is that Gadi Sagar Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Jaisalmer to see the sunrise. It could also be amazing to watch the light from the fort’s walls.
5. Rooftop Café
There are many options. It is harder to find a cafe within a building than to take in the view from the top. The Hotel Pleasant Haveli was a great choice for our stay. It had a lot to offer, including a variety of delicious food and colourful couches. A must-do activity in Jaisalmer is to eat dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants.
Cafe the Kaku was another favourite of mine. It had beautiful views and was a great spot to launch a drone.
Gaji’s Restaurant was within the fort, as was Kuku Cafe. Both had fantastic views and great coffee. Jaisalmer’s friendly staff is a constant. You can always expect a smile from them, no matter where you are. It’s easy to find a great view every night in Jaisalmer. This is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in Jaisalmer.
6. Haveli Hunting
A haveli is a mansion. Rich people build them in style. Haveli’s have beautiful exteriors that are stunning to behold. Jaisalmer has many Haveli’s. We were asked to pay for entry, but we decided that the view from outside was sufficient. There are many Haveli’s all over the city, but my favourite was Patwaon-Ki-Haveli.
7. Camel Safari at the Sand Dunes
You will likely be offered a camel safari in Jaisalmer while you are exploring and reviewing the Golden City. This is the most visited tourist attraction in Rajasthan’s western region. The Sam Sand Dunes, located in the Desert National Park on the outskirts of Jaisalmer, offer the ideal landscape for slow-paced trekking or escaping the city.
Three days and two nights spent sleeping under the stars in the sand dunes on my camel safari. It was one highlight of my three-month stay in India. It was extremely hot and isolated. This is what made it so amazing. Sambu, our guide, started a fire using sticks that he found before each meal. It was amazing to see how Sambu made chai, curry, and chapati from scratch in the heat. This is my top recommendation for things to do in Jaisalmer.
You have a variety of options to go on a Jaisalmer camel safari. There are three options for you to choose from: a half-day, overnight or three-day trek. It all depends on what you prefer. It is best to only go on multiple day trips if you are really adventurous. Although it may be uncomfortable and hot at times, it is very enjoyable. Below are some of the top options for booking your own camel safari, depending on your desired length of stay in the desert. Half-day tours can cost less than $30, while overnight treks vary depending on the quality of the camping or sleeping arrangements.
There are many other Havelis, temples, and even a ghost village. The only thing I could do in Jaisalmer was to see everything, and the camel safari took me a few days. These sights were what I chose to see.