Jaisalmer, also known as the Golden City of Rajasthan, is often overlooked by most people traveling through this state. But those who do go all the way to the West find themselves in one of the most beautiful places to visit in entire Rajasthan.
Jaisalmer is right next to the Pakistan border and the climate can be pretty unforgiving at times with temperatures rising up to 45°C. But this gem of a city should be on everyone’s radar!
Go on sunset tour through the vast Thar desert, relax in the comforts of an authentic havelli or sip some tea on a roof top terrace overlooking the city. There are so many unique and epic things to do in Jaisalmer and I guarantee that you’ll immediately fall in love with this city!
IF YOU’RE PLANNING A TRIP TO RAJASTHAN YOU’LL WANT TO CHECK MY 2 WEEKS RAJASTHAN ITINERARY INCLUDING 31 OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT IN THIS STATE.
10 Unique Things To Do In Jaisalmer – The Golden City of India
Jaisalmer was one of the last stops on my 2 weeks road trip through Rajasthan and it quickly became my favourite city in India! I came here after spending a couple of days in Jodhpur and when I first arrived into town the first thing I noticed was how clean Jaisalmer is compared to other cities in India!
Jaisalmer is located in the middle of the Thar desert, the Great Indian desert, and almost all of the buildings and temples are made out of finely sculptured sandstone. This is also how Jaisalmer got its nickname of “The Golden City of India”: the architecture of both the fort and the town below reflects a golden-yellow light.
How to reach Jaisalmer
I’ll go through 2 different options for you, one where you’ll depart from Jaipur, the main capital of Rajasthan and one where you’ll leave from Jodhpur.
During my time in India I did not take public transport myself. I was visiting at the start of May and was warned about the scorching heat so I opted to get a driver to drive us from city to city during those weeks.
From Jodhpur it’s an average of 4,5 hours driving by car and both cities are connected by National Highways. If you prefer this option you should be able to get a private transfer for around €31.
Book your private transfer: Jodhpur to Jaisalmer
There are two busses each day that drive from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer and you take it on the Main Pal Road in Jodhpur. There’s one at 5.45am and one at 2.45pm and it takes around 5 hours to reach the town of Jaisalmer.
There’s an average of 9 trains that run from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer on a daily basis and the approximate time is 5 hours. There’s also a sleeper train but I don’t recommend it cause it’s only 6 hours of driving so you won’t be able to get a decent nights sleep.
From Jaipur to Jaisalmer it’s a 10 hour drive by car and important to mention is that not a lot of private drivers do this route due to its length.
The journey from Jaipur to Jaisalmer is smoothly covered by a bus in 9 hours. The time to travel is dependent on India’s traffic, roads and climatic conditions. There are 6 sleeper busses to choose from and prices start from 600INR.
Why you should visit Jaisalmer
The Golden City of Jaisalmer will transport you back in time as soon as you arrive. In the blink of an eye you’ll be immersed in the local culture and you’ll feel like you’re starring in ‘Arabian Nights’.
The fort of Jaisalmer is believed to be one of the only living forts in the entire world as nearly one fourth of the old city’s population still resides within the fort.
Compared to other cities in Rajasthan Jaisalmer is a lot less hectic and dirty. It’s the perfect place to unwind near the end of your trip through Rajasthan!
When to visit Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is located deep into the Thar desert and known for its big temperature differences. During the day it can get scorching hot while in the evenings the temperatures can drop.
The best time to visit Jaisalmer is during its Winter season from November to March. Sightseeing and other outdoor activities like camel ride, desert safari are more enjoyable during this time as the temperature remains between 5°C and 24°C. I can vouch for that since I visited during May and had to deal with temperatures rising up to 45°C.
Where to stay in Jaisalmer
During my visit I had the pleasure of staying at the Suryagarh Jaisalmer and ever since then I have been recommending this hotel to absolutely everyone! It’s my dream to go back one day and stay at this beautiful fortress again.
MY FULL EXPERIENCE INCLUDING A LOT MORE DETAILS & PHOTOS – SURYAGARH JAISALMER.
Below you’ll find some other favourites of mine divided into a luxury and budget category.
- WelcomHeritage Mohangarh Fort – Mohangarh Fort is not only one of the best heritage hotels in Rajasthan, but it has been the top choice for several Bollywood movie shoot locations over the past couple of decades too.
- Hotel Jaisalkot – Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service at Hotel Jaisalkot. It offers its customers, what no other property can – a chance to go back in time.
- WelcomHeritage Mandir Palace – The Badal Vilas is a part of the exquisite WelcomHeritage Mandir Palace, which was built for the royals. The Palace can pass as a piece of art that stands as a testament to the talent of the local artisans.
- Garh Meera – A Sensational Boutique Hotel – Garh Meera is a great choice for travellers looking for a budget accommodation in Jaisalmer.
- Moustache Jaisalmer – It’s a beautiful property situated right below the fort and the cafe offers amazing food with a view.
- Kanak Jaisalmer – A luxury camping experience that is as rooted in the culture as it is ravishing in its appeal.
- Exotic Luxury Camps – Camp is located in a very peaceful location surrounded by sand dunes and guests can enjoy the feeling of complete seclusion and escapism from the outside world.
- Beyond Stay Mirage Camps – Explore the splendour of Rajasthan with nights in handmade Swiss luxury tents in one of the most beautiful corners of the Thar.
Epic things to do in Jaisalmer
1. Jaisalmer Fort
The Jaisalmer Fort is one of the very first places that you should visit during your stay in Jaisalmer. As I said before this is one of the last “living forts” remaining in the world and over a quarter of the original population still lives here.
Most forts in India are heavily guarded and require an entrance fee but not this one. The Jaisalmer Fort is completely free to visit and since it’s actually a city inside a fort it’s always open.
Make sure to make your way up for sunrise to get the most spectacular hazy view over the city. If you’re not a morning person then go here for sunset and you’ll see with your very own eyes why Jaisalmer is called ‘The Golden City’ of India.
If you want to learn more about the actual history and not just wander around without further explanation you should opt for this 5 hour private city tour! Not only will you visit the Jaisalmer fort but you’ll also visit some of the most beautiful Haveli’s!
It’s important to say that the Palace inside the fort is not free to visit. It’s open from 9am to 6pm and costs INR 250 for non Indian visitors.
- Opening hours – 24/7
- Entrance fee – free
- How to get there – You can simply walk up to the fort or have a TukTuk drive you up.
- Things to do around Jaisalmer fort – Street shopping, trying out all of the different eateries.
- Duration – 2 hours to a full day
RAJASTHAN IS FILLED WITH STUNNING FORTS & PALACES AND I WROTE A DETAILED GUIDE WITH TONS OF PHOTOS & DETAILS – THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FORTS & PALACES IN RAJASTHAN
2. Gadisar Lake
The Gadisar lake, also known as the Gadi Sagar lake, is a manmade reservoir in Jaisalmer and used to be the only source of water for the city.
We came here in the early morning and tried to beat the heat and the crowds. For me it was one of the most magical and unique places to see in Jaisalmer. The temples look like they’re floating on the water and local fisherman are relaxing near their small boats.
The banks of the Lake consist of shrines, temples, ghats and Chattris and you can either indulge in a boat ride or simply enjoy a leisure walk.
It’s one of the top things to do in the early morning in Jaisalmer!
- Opening hours – 24/7
- Entrance fee – Free. Boating charges: row boat INR 10, paddle boat INR 50, Shikara INR 100 for a 30 minute ride.
- How to get there – Gadisar Lake is only 15 minute walking from the Jaisalmer Fort and it’s a great idea to visit both places on the same day!
- Duration – 2 hours
3. Jain Temples
Constructed by Jain Hermits, the Diwala style Jain temples of Jaisalmer are ancient temples, which were built during the 12th century. They are considered among the best and most beautiful Jain temples in the entire world.
What I loved most about these Jain temples is the amount of detail that goes into its architecture. The walls are covered with beautiful figurines and carvings of people and animals.
One of the most famous Jain temples can be found in the Jaisalmer fort, the Astapadhi Temple. It’s a little tucked away in the many, many alleys of the fort but there are multiple signs throughout the city pointing you in the right direction.
Visiting the Jain temple is by far one of the best activities in Jaisalmer!
- Opening hours – Every day from 7am to 12pm
- Entrance fee – INR 10 (+ INR 50 for a camera fee)
- Duration – 1 to 2 hours
4. Bada Bagh
Visiting Bada Bagh, also known as the Barra Bagh Temple, is a garden complex and one of the more unique things to do in Jaisalmer. It’s located on a hill top, around 7 km northwards of Jaisalmer so it will require some driving.
It features a series of royal cenotaphs or chatris of Jaisalmer Maharajas. All of the cenotaphs here have a beautifully carved ceiling and elegant equestrian statues of rulers.
It’s a beautiful places in Jaisalmer to visit for sunset!
- Opening hours – Everyday from 9am to 6pm
- Entrance fee – INR 100
- How to get there – As this is a very famous tourist attraction of Jaisalmer, you will easily find a cab or a rental vehicle to drop you to the foothills. Besides, there are regular bus services to transfer you between Ramgarh bus station and Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer.
- Duration – 1 hour
5. Thar Desert
Jaisalmer is located in the heart of the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert which also forms the natural border between India and Pakistan.
Visting the Thar Desert or enjoying an overnight in the Thar Desert is one of the top things to do when visiting Jaisalmer.
You can go for a camel ride along the Sam sand dunes or enjoy a bonfire dinner underneath a starlit sky.
Often your hotel can organise a tour for you and I highly recommend doing so!
- Things to do at the Thar desert – desert camping, desert safari, paragliding, camel rides.
Kuldhara is an abandoned village 17km from Jaisalmer and was originally founded in the 13th century. And about 300 years ago, it used to be a prosperous village of Paliwal Brahmins under the state of Jaisalmer.
Kuldhara also has the reputation of being a haunted ghost town. According to the legend the prime minister of the state desired to marry the daughter of the village head and he wasn’t taking no for an answer. He even threatened the village with grave consequences if they did not adhere to his wish. But instead of obliging to his wish the entire village moved out of their homes and by the next morning Kuldhara had become deserted. Before they left they put a curse on the town one will ever be able to settle in their village thereafter.
And to this date, the village remains barren; left almost the same as its inhabitants had left it centuries ago.
- Opening hours – Every day from 8am to 6pm
- Entrance fee – Free
- Duration – 1 hour and Kuldhara is 45 minutes driving from Jaisalmer.
7. Rooftop views over Jaisalmer
Finding a beautiful rooftop is probably one of the easiest things to do in Jaisalmer. Both inside and outside of the Jaisalmer fort there are so many cafe’s and nearly all of them come with stunning rooftop vista’s.
Imagine sitting there, sipping on a cup of tea and in the mean time the sun is setting and the entire city is covered in a golden hue.
8. Tazia Tower
The Tazia tower can be found at the Badal Palace complex and is especially known for its stunning architecture. The tower consist of 5 floors, each holding a significant insight into the royal families it has been home to.
The mesmerizing tower of Tazia was constructed in 1886 AD. It was built as a gift to the royal Hindu ruler of the time.
- Opening hours – 8am to 6pm
- Entrance fee – Free
- How to get there – The Tazia tower is located in the centre of Jaisalmer and easy to reach on foot.
9. Stay inside of a fort/palace
One of the best and most unique things to do in Jaisalmer is spending the night in a fort such as the Suryagarh Jaisalmer. As soon as you arrive you feel like you’ve been transported to another world. One wear maharaja’s ruled the land and where every evening is a celebration.
This hotel is located a little outside of the centre of Jaisalmer and perfectly knows how to combine the old traditions with a more modern feeling.
Saying you’ll feel like absolute royalty when staying here is an understatement. And for me it was one of the main reasons why I fell head over heels with this beautiful region in Rajasthan.
- Things to do at Suryagarh – Enjoy a traditional Thar Dinner, a cultural evening with Mehboob Khan, a signature Thali dinner at the Courtyard.
- Things to do around Suryagarh – The Silk Route exploration, Thar Desert exploration, Dinner on the dunes, Breakfast with peacocks and so much more
All of these excursions and activities can be organised by Suryagarh Jaisalmer.
A Haveli is pretty much a townhouse or mansion that can be found throughout entire India. They were the elaborate homes of Jaisalmer’s rich merchants and usually they had very detailed exquisite exteriors.
There are 3 Haveli’s in Jaisalmer worth mentioning and visiting:
- Patwon Ki Haveli – This was the first Haveli in entire Jaisalmer and it’s not just 1 simple haveli but a cluster of 5 haveli’s.
- Salim Singh Ki Haveli – It has an Arabian Night’s structure which blossoms on the top.
- Nathmal-Ki Haveli – This haveli has two identical looking parts.
Typical as with pretty much all buildings in Jaisalmer is that they are carved from yellow sandstone. All of them have lavish patterns and they pretty much just use all of these decorations as a way to show off their wealth.
Exploring the haveli’s is one of the top things to di in Jaisalmer as they are the pride of Jaisalmer architecture and a part of the national heritage.
- Opening hours
- Patwon Ki Haveli – Open everyday from 9am to 5pm
- Salim Singh Ki Haveli – Open everyday from 8am to 6pm
- Nathmal-Ki Haveli – Open everyday from 8am to 7pm
- Entrance fee
- Patwon Ki Haveli – INR 100 (+ INR 50 camera fee)
- Salim Singh Ki Haveli – INR 15 (+ INR 50 camera fee)
- Nathmal-Ki Haveli – Free
- If you only have time to visit one Haveli I would suggest to go for the Patwon Ki Haveli.
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