Jaisalmer Fort

The piece de resistance of the lively Thar desert is a magnificent structure built from yellow sandstone, called the Jaisalmer Fort. Perched atop the Trikuta Hill (triple peaked hill), this imposing fort seems to rise straight from the desert and its gleaming stone fade gives the impression of it being an extension of the magnificent Thar. The magic of this architectural marvel is best witnessed at sunset when the whole fort seems ablaze as it reflects the light from the setting sun, earning it a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The fort is known for its elaborately carved structure called Raj Mahal, the residence of the erstwhile royal family and the beautiful Jain and Laxminath temples it is home to. The fort also piqued the interest of Oscar winning Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who featured it in one of his films Sonar Quila or the Golden Fortress.

 

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Jaisalmer Fort

Kuldhara

On the outskirts of the city of Jaisalmer lie the ruins of the abandoned village of Kuldhara that have captivated the minds of travellers for centuries. Back in the 1800s, the village used to be a prosperous town but, it said that after some unfathomable tragedy, the town was abandoned overnight. Legend says that no one saw the inhabitants leave the village and no one knows the reason for the mass exodus. Since then, no one has been able to settle here. The many stories of how a region of almost a thousand residents simply vanished, makes it a top priority for history buffs and thrill-seekers alike. A walk through this desolate, abandoned village in the desert with its houses, roads and a temple is an experience that takes you back in time. Some interesting water conservation techniques have been unearthed amongst the 200-year-old ruins, a remarkable feat in such a water-scarce desert terrain. The abandoned houses of the village are often used as film sets. Tourists can explore the village on camel rides that are easily available throughout the tourist season.

Kuldhara

Nathmal-ki-haveli

This haveli is a perfect example of the beautiful fusion of Islamic and Rajputana styles of architecture. Built by two architect brothers in the 19th century, who started the construction from opposite ends, this palace has similar but non-identical left and right facades. This choreographed asymmetry adds to the architectural beauty of the haveli. Miniature style paintings and mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone were used for decorating the inner chambers of the mansion. The life-size elements are now situated at the entrance and appear to be the guardians of this historic monument. It is easy to see that in erstwhile Jaisalmer, the haveli was the centre of all regional activity as it is now camouflaged amongst various modern houses and narrow lanes, all of which lead to the haveli. Although the haveli is partly-inhabited, you might get a chance to visit the first floor which has paintings beautifully decorated using gold leaf.

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Nathmal-ki-haveli

Patwon-ki-haveli

In the narrow lanes of the main city of Jaisalmer, lies the magnificent Patwon-ki-haveli, known for its pretty paintings, intricate carvings and a grandiose style of architecture. The entire complex is not a single haveli but a cluster of five smaller beautiful havelis. The first among these havelis was commissioned and constructed in 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa. There are a few paintings and mirror artwork that adorns the inside walls of this grand mansion. To cater to the visitors interested in the rich cultural history of the area, one of the sections has been converted into a museum that houses several artefacts from the early 19th century. The hardwork and aesthetic skills of the local Rajasthani craftsmen can be seen in every corner of this haveli in the individual depictions and theme on each and every arch. Although the whole building is made in yellow sandstone, the main gateway of the Patwon-ki-haveli is in brown color.

Patwon-ki-haveli

Akal Wood Fossil Park

A researcher's delight, the Akal Wood Fossil Park in Jaisalmer will take you back to the prehistoric era. A 21-hectare reserved area, the park has been classified as National Geological Monument of India and is located about 17 km from Jaisalmer. The area used to be a forest about 180 million years ago. Over a period of time, the entire region was submerged under the sea and the tree trunks on display here today, are the fossil remnants of that era. The wood fossil park houses several logs that date back to the period and have been protected from the elements under a tin roof. About 25 numb trees, along with centuries-old fossils are housed at the park and tell the tale of centuries gone by. Right at the entrance, you can also stroke the fossil of an ancient red-wood tree trunk, which has been placed to let visitors get a preview of the staggering amount of history documented in the park. Standing in the middle of the desert, which once used to be a lush forest that was later submerged, one can marvel at the long and eventful history of this planet.

Akal Wood Fossil Park