The Golden City
|Type of Tourism||: Heritage Tourism|
|Area||: 5.1 sq. km.|
|Population||: 58,286 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 225 meters (738 ft)|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Languages spoken||: Rajasthani, Hindi, English, Urdu|
|Telephone Code||: India (02992), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 345001|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter.|
|What to buy||: Camel Leather Products, Silk and Cotton Embroidery, Bandhani, Handcrafted Garments and Bed Sheets, Blankets, Rugs, Shawls, Woven Jackets, Jooties, Jholas, Puppets, Silver Jewelry, Antiques (Swords, Knives, Utensils etc), Hand Made Rings, Rajasthani Mirror Work, Bead Work, Old Stonework, Carved Wooden Boxes, Trickles and Curios, Oil Lamps, Crystals and Rare Mineral Specimen – Zeolite|
|Food Specialties||: Ker Sangri, Bhanon Aloo, Kadi Pakora, Murgh-e-Subz, Vegetable Kebab, Mint Sauce, Naan, Tandoor Thali|
|Local transportation||: Auto Rickshaws, Bicycles, Government and Private Cabs, Buses, Palace on Wheels, Camels|
Jaisalmer, the largest district of the state of Rajasthan is positioned in a rectangular shape in the heart of the Great Indian Thar Desert. Christened after the famous Rajput King Raja Jaisal, Jaisalmer is the administrative headquarter of the district of the same name. The word Jaisalmer means, "The Hill Fort of Jaisal". The dazzling yellow sand of the Thar Desert that gives a golden yellow hue to the city as well as its surroundings, has bestowed upon it a nickname “The Golden City”. Enclosed by Bikaner on its north, by Pakistan on west and south west, by Jodhpur and Barmer on south and again by Jodhpur and Bikaner on east, Jaisalmer District is bounded by 471 kilometers of International Border.
Ornamented with several historical forts, Havelis and Jain Temples; the city of Jaisalmer; once a sleepy desert hamlet, today beckons thousands of both Indian and International tourists. The glorious history of regal Rajputs, well preserved rich cultural heritage, extremely delectable traditional cuisine, ethnic textiles, folk dances & music, festivals and desert safaris of Jaisalmer knit a unique magical charm that leaves the visitors thoroughly magnetized and spellbound. Jaisalmer Fort, the second oldest fort in the state of Rajasthan is the living witness of innumerable battles and the emblem of the rise and fall of various kingdoms. Other than the fort, the Havelis like Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, Patwon Ki Haveli, Salim Ji Ki Haveli and Jain Temples make Jaisalmer a must visit tourist destination of Royal Rajasthan.
History of Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer, the habitat of Bhati Rajputs belonged to the dominion of Gurjar - Pratihara Empire and was reined by Bargujar Kings till 11th century. Deoraj, a revered prince of Bhati family founded the Jaisalmer Dynasty and the title ‘Rawal’ commenced with him. The sixth descendant of Deoraj – Rawal Jaisal constructed the Jaisalmer Fort in 1156 AD and laid the foundation of the city Jaisalmer on Trikuta Hills. He also shifted his kingdom from Lodhruva to Jaisalmer.
In the year 1293, Ala-ud-din Khilji attacked and ransacked the city and the fort, which remained deserted for some years. The residents of Jaisalmer - Bhatis migrated to various places which now belong to Pakistan and settled there assuming the name Bhutto. After many years, Rawal Sahal Singh as a feudatory of supreme Mughal Emperor ‘Shah Jahan’ enlivened the Jaisalmer State and brought it to the height of power.
Again, the glory of Jaisalmer Kingdom faded away which was recovered by Rawal Mulraj who was anointed to the throne in 1762 AD. Once again the fortunes of Jaisalmer were lost and as a result Mulraj had to enter into political relations with British East India Co. in 1818. Maharawal Salivahan was the successor of Rawal Mulraj who gained the reigns in 1891, at the age of 4. The chief enemies of Jaisalmer were Rathors of Jodhpur and Bikaner who fought to get the possession of Jaisalmer as it functioned as an important station on the trade route between India and Central Asia, Arabia, Egypt, Africa, Persia, and the West.
Jaisalmer never suffered the direct Muslim invasions due to its geographical position inside the Thar Desert. Yet, there were some battles against Mughals when Jaisalmer lost his kings and princes like Raja Jaisimha for instance. Later the Rawals of Jaisalmer agreed to pay the annual tax to the Delhi Sultanate which established peaceful relations with Mughals. The great Mughal Emperor Akbar married a Jaisalmer Princess. During the British Raj, Jaisalmer signed a treaty with them and retained its princely status.
When Bombay port was established and the traditional land trade routs were replaces by more convenient sea routs, Jaisalmer lost its importance on the world trade map. After independence, Jaisalmer was abdicated as a drought prone desert until Indo Pak disputes bestowed strategic importance upon it and an army supply depot was established there. Later, Rajasthan Canal, road networks and rail routes were built and the remote Jaisalmer got connected to rest of the Rajasthan. The state government then developed it as a leading tourist’s destination and anointed it to its present status.