Jaisalmer is a glittering city in the desert state of Rajasthan and a popular tourist attraction of India. Decorated with yellow sandstone castles set against golden sand, the city is known as the ‘Golden City’. Founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156, Jaisalmer exudes a primordial vibe and narrates stories of valor of the Rajputana warrior kings. Besides hosting tourists from across the globe, the city fortifies our country along the India-Pakistan border.
Jaisalmer translates to ‘the Hill Fort of Jaisal’, and is embellished with a vibrant history, colorful attire, and kaleidoscopic culture. It is popular for its picturesque sand dunes, iconic forts, and sprightly camels. Jaisalmer Fort, Sam Sand Dunes, Bada Bagh, Desert National Park, the Jain temples, and numerous Haveli are prominent tourist attractions of Jaisalmer.
The ancient Akal Wood Fossil Park, unearthly Kuldhara Village, and reverential Longewala War Memorial are among the offbeat places to visit in Jaisalmer. Experience the assorted culture of Rajasthan and explore its rich heritage by visiting the best places in Jaisalmer from the list below.
Top Places to Visit in Jaisalmer
01. Jaisalmer Fort
Built with honey-colored sandstone amidst the golden desert, Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest forts in the world. Popularly known as the Sonar Quila or Golden Fort, it emanates the elegance and valor of its royal rulers.
Housing temples, Havelis, residential complexes, shops, and restaurants, the fort is nothing short of a town itself. Around 3000 people live in the fort to date, making it the only living fort in Rajasthan. In 2013 it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 'Hill Forts of India' category. It is a major tourist attraction in Jaisalmer.
Built in 1156 by Bhati Rajput ruler Rao Jaisal, the founder of Jaisalmer, the massive structure is situated atop Trikuta Hills at a height of 250 feet and is secured by 30 feet tall walls on all sides. The fort had strategic lookouts to keep an eye across the surrounding plains, still it had been raided multiple times. You can enjoy panoramic views of the glowing Jaisalmer city from these lookouts.
As you walk through the buoyant lanes, you can imagine the Rajputana way of life and how life has progressed from those times of war. The major attractions of the fort include Raj Mahal, Laxminath Shrine, the Jain temples, and its four gateways.
Among the many mysterious places in Rajasthan is the Kuldhara Village. Located around 20 kilometers from the city, it is one of the most haunted places to visit in Jaisalmer.
Though abandoned centuries ago, it is frequently visited by curious tourists. The desolate village amidst the wide expanse of the desert is considered haunted and has remained uninhabited for over 200 years.
It is maintained as a heritage site by the Archaeological Survey of India to preserve the legends associated with the village and its eerily beautiful appearance. Locals of neighboring villages narrate how it was once a prosperous village, home to Paliwal Brahmins.
According to folklore, the inhabitants left Kuldhara overnight and cursed it. There have been stories of paranormal activities on the barren lands that have fascinated tourists for years. The ruins of symmetrically laid brick houses are calm but the sad air around them gives a queer vibe.
The intricately carved Jain Temples are a group of seven ancient temples situated inside the Jaisalmer Fort. Renowned for their splendid Dilwara style architecture, these temples are a prominent pilgrimage of Jain followers and also among the top spiritual places to visit in Jaisalmer.
Built in the 12th century, the temples are decorated with animal and human figurines carved in yellow sandstone. Dedicated to the seven Tirthankaras (Jain hermits) Rikhabdev, Sambhavanth, Chandraprabhu, Parasnath, Shitalnath, Shantinath, and Kunthunath, these temples offer a tranquil and spiritual experience to all visitors.
The exquisite detailing comprising frescoes, carvings, and mirrors adds elegance to the stunning structures. The temples are archeologically significant and they house ancient manuscripts and texts in a small library, known as Gyan Bhandar founded in 1500.
Situated around 40 kilometers away from the city, Desert national park is a natural reserve for desert animals along the India-Pakistan border. Encompassing around 3100 square kilometers, the park is among the largest wildlife reserves in India.
Nature enthusiasts can witness an interesting ecosystem of desert flora and fauna at the reserve. Unlike the other lush green parks in the state, Desert National Park is parched and blemished with rugged rocks and sand dunes.
Animals such as camels, desert fox, chinkara, wolves, desert cats, hedgehogs, and Blackbucks live comfortably in their natural sandy and arid habitat. Besides cacti and other thorny desert plants, many indigenous and migratory birds can also be spotted.
The rare Great Indian Bustard along with eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel, and vultures inhabit the region. The park is also home to around 40 species of reptiles and ancient fossils dating back to around 180 million years. You can hop onto a jeep and enjoy an exciting desert jungle safari at the park.
An oasis on the outskirts of the arid Jaisalmer city, Gadisar Lake is man-made and dates back to 1400 AD. It was built near the Jaisalmer Fort by Raja Rawal Jaisal as a reservoir to supply water to the residents of his city.
As the water was scarce in the desert region, the lake was considered holy and is surrounded by several shrines. It still collects and holds rainwater throughout the year and is a popular place to visit in Jaisalmer.
You can enjoy splendid vistas of the parched desert surroundings from the several watchtowers around Gadisar Lake. Witness the picturesque sunrise and sunset with your family and loved ones, or spend some quiet time all by yourself enjoying the tranquil scenery.
Some fun activities such as boat rides, watching local and migratory birds, visiting the nearby shrines and feeding fish can be enjoyed at the lake. A stroll along the banks of Gadisar Lake is a soul-soothing experience.
Situated 40 kilometers from Jaisalmer, Sam Sand Dunes is a popular tourist destination amidst the desert. Beautiful dunes rising as tall as 30 to 60 meters from the billowy golden sand stretches, the place offers an insight into the rustic village life of Rajasthan with several engaging activities.
Colorful tent resorts and a carnival-like celebration awaits you on this breathtakingly splendid stretch of dunes. Most tourists drop by to witness the mesmerizing sunrise and sunset views at the Sam Sand Dunes.
You can enjoy a desert safari, camel ride, dune bashing, camping, bonfires, folk dance, and music amidst the beautiful views of the golden desert. You can spend the night singing and dancing with fellow travelers or watch the stars under the night sky.
A must-visit place to visit in Jaisalmer for historians and architects, the imposing Badal Palace complex houses the five-story Tazia Tower. Characterized by intricate carvings, the tower is a replica of the mausoleum of various Muslim imams.
Far from traditional Rajputana architecture, the tower was constructed by Muslim craftsmen in 1886 AD as a gift to the then ruler of the city, Maharawal Berisal Singh.
The craftsmen designed the tower in the shape of a Tazia, which is a religious symbol holding significance during Islamic festivals. Elaborate balconies, carved walls, and ceilings adorn the five floors of the tower.
The Badal Palace is the present-day residence of the Royals and is a cluster of exquisite Rajputana structures. You must visit the grandiose palace to witness the architectural excellence of the artisans of those times.
The first Haveli to be constructed in the city, Patwon ki Haveli, is also known as the Mansion of Brocade Merchants. Renowned for its architectural brilliance, it is the largest mansion in the city and one of the prominent places to visit in Jaisalmer.
Located in a narrow street, it is a group of 5 small Havelis with intricately carved windows and balconies. Commissioned around 1805 by a wealthy trader and banker, Guman Chand Patwa, the Havelis were completed in around 50 years and were built for use by the five sons of the Patwa family.
The five Havelis were inhabited by the Patwa trader and his family and the artifacts and stonework exhibits give visitors a glimpse into their sumptuous lifestyle.
Later, when their fortune started dwindling, they left the city, and the first Haveli was sold to Mr. Jeevanlalji Kothari and renamed Kothari’s Patwa Haveli. Controlled by the Archaeological Survey of India, the Haveli is ranked among the top three in Jaisalmer and is a distinguished architectural and historical site.
The resplendent interiors are embellished with exquisite wall paintings, decorative mirrors on walls, and intricately carved balconies, gateways, and arches. It is one of the most visited landmarks of Jaisalmer, popular among tourists for its elaborate latticed façade. You can enjoy panoramic views of the surroundings from around 60 balconies on the premises.
Bada Bagh translates to ‘Big Garden’ and is a collection of Cenotaphs of the famous rulers of the region. Located just 5 kilometers away from the city, Bada Bagh is a beguiling place to visit in Jaisalmer.
The relics are a testimony to Rajasthan's legendary past set near a garden in the desert. Construction of the cenotaphs was started in the 17th century with the first one built as a tribute to Maharaja Jai Singh II by his son.
The work continued till the 20th century and several other structures were dedicated to the valiant members of the royal family. Bada Bagh is seemingly built on a garden that existed on the site, hence the name.
Locally referred to as ‘Chattris’ due to their dome shape, the cenotaphs are built of yellow sandstone. They are varying in size and some of them are elaborately carved while some are plain.
The date of construction and the name of the ruler they are dedicated to is inscribed on each of them, and some have detailed descriptions too. The area is close to a dam and is popular among tourists for its striking beauty.
Established in 847 AD, the Tanot Mata Temple is dedicated to an incarnation of Goddess Hinglaj Mata. The temple is highly revered by the locals and even the Indian Army. Located in Tanot village, it is among the must-visit places in Jaisalmer.
The temple is situated near the India- Pakistan border and has witnessed the war between the two countries at the Longewala war site in 1971. As reported by the Indian soldiers there was heavy shelling from the other end and they were surrounded by around 3000 bombs but none around the temple blasted. Locals and soldiers in and around the temple were safe.
The temple since then is maintained by the Border Security Force, and the unexploded bombs are securely stored at the premises. The Vijay Sthamba built by the Indian Army within the temple premises commemorates India’s victory over Pakistan.
A grand celebration takes place in the temple every year on December 16th. You can also visit the nearby museum to witness exhibits from the war. There are several interesting stories about the temple’s mystical powers and the deity’s charm.
11. Windmill Park Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer Wind Mill Park was developed by Suzlon Energy in 2001. It is India’s largest operational onshore windmill farm with the highest capacity installation across the world.
The windmills are located near the Yamuna River and you can enjoy picturesque views of the Vindhya Mountains and the Himalayas as you drive to the park. Equipped with modern windmills to generate electrical power, the park is among the fun places to visit in Jaisalmer.
It houses the entire range of massive windmills owned by India over years. Tourists throng the project site to catch a glimpse of the astounding views of the surroundings and enjoy fun activities such as camel riding.
Located 17 kilometers from the city, The Akal Wood Fossil Park on Barmer Road is among the most intriguing places to visit in Jaisalmer. Popular among archeologists and historians, the park is frequently visited by curious tourists, including enthusiastic kids.
It was declared as a prominent National Geological Monument of India in 1972, as it is strewn with fossils from the prehistoric era. The park sprawls over 21 hectares of land, featuring fossils of wood logs, petrified trunks of non-flowering trees such as Redwood, Deodar, Chir, and exposed tree trunks. These are preserved using iron grills and covered by tin sheets.
You can also witness ancient fossils of Petrophyllum, Equisetitis, and Ptyllophyllum species dating back to around 180 million years, belonging to the early Jurassic period. Fossils and footprints of Pterosaurs were found at Thaiyat.
The fossils of gastropod shells in the area indicate the presence of a sea in the days of yore, and the climate wasn’t as dry as it is today. The park was excavated and maintained by the Geological Survey of India till 1985 and is now maintained by the Forest Department of the Government of Rajasthan.
13. Khuri Jaisalmer
Located around 50 kilometers from Jaisalmer, Khuri is a charming village in Rajasthan. The place is ideal for travelers interested in an offbeat experience in the desert state.
Situated in the Desert National Park, the village sports a vast expanse of golden sand dunes. There are desert resorts, campsites, lodges, and guest houses to accommodate travelers of all types, including those on a budget.
They offer authentic Rajasthani food and entertainment options such as folk dance, music, and bonfires. Khuri is the best place for a grand holiday experience amidst nature and offers other activities as well for a complete holiday experience.
Khuri was ruled by Rajputs for over 400 years and has around 100 dwellings of natives. They have sustained their traditional ways of living in clay-and-dung walled huts to conserve the ecosystem with minimal consumption of the already scarce resources, making Khuri an eco-tourism spot amid the arid region.
You can unwind and enjoy the rustic village life of the colorful desert state. Indigenous wildlife like the Desert Fox, Mongoose, Nilgai, the Great Indian Bustard, Peacocks, and Chinkaras, can be easily spotted in the area.
Traveling in Rajasthan is bound to leave you intrigued, and you will be curious to dive deep into the culture of the region. Desert Culture Centre and Museum is a popular place to visit in Jaisalmer to explore more about the rich cultural heritage and craftsmanship of Jaisalmer.
The museum displays varied collections of ancient currency, traditional instruments, rich collections of traditional ornaments and jewelry, daily use cookware, utensils, and other artifacts.
Royal textiles, hunting gear, armor, and artillery are also exhibited at the museum. You can marvel at the rare exhibits from the bygone era and later watch the traditional Rajasthani puppet show, known as ‘Kathputli’.
15. Indo-Pak Border
Jaisalmer is situated near the India-Pakistan border. You can acquire prior permission from the Indian Military Forces to visit the border. The visit is bound to become a lifetime experience as you fill up with the highest level of patriotism in the area.
Watching the brave soldiers guard the Longewala and Tanot border posts is an enthralling experience. The thrill of meeting these brave hearts who battle the scorching sun and keep the country safe even when they are bearing extreme temperatures of around 50 °C, is beyond any other feeling on the planet.
The Indian border fence and BSF watchtowers can easily be observed along with the famous border pillar number 609, which is situated near the Line of Control in the ‘No Man’s Land’ on the India-Pakistan border.
An architectural jewel crafted by two Muslim jewelers, Nathmal ki Haveli is one of the prettiest places to visit in Jaisalmer. It was constructed under the aegis of Maharawal Berisal in 1885 CE, as the residence of the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Diwan Mohata Nathmal.
According to folklore, the architects of the monument were brothers named Hathi and Lulu. Both of them were jewelers by profession, and each worked on one facet of the Haveli. The result was a stunningly beautiful Yellowstone building.
Interestingly, the building isn’t symmetrical as the front has three stories while the rear is two-storied. Also, the pattern on both sides isn’t identical but impressively resplendent. The architecture is a delicate blend of Rajput and Islamic styles.
You will be astonished to look at this magnified piece of intricately designed jewelry. The design is precious with carved windows, illustrious balconies, and walls engraved with images of birds, cattle, elephants, flowers, horses, steam engines, and soldiers.
Jaisalmer has been an integral part of Rajasthan’s history and resplendent stately residences of eminent personalities of those times add to the heritage of the state. Salim Singh ki Haveli is located in the heart of the city and a major tourist attraction.
It was commissioned in the 19th century by the then Prime Minister of the state, Salim Singh, and had been built over the remains of a 17th century Haveli. The front of the building resembles a ship's stern and hence it is also referred to as Jahaz Mahal.
This 300-year-old edifice is popular as the most beautiful Haveli in Jaisalmer. It has been built using strong iron rods unlike the other popular cement and mortar structures from those days.
You will be mesmerized by the architectural elegance of the five-floored mansion. Two carved elephants grace the entrance and the arched roof is shaped like a peacock.
Famous for its exquisite architecture, the Haveli has 38 delicately carved balconies, each designed distinctively. The walls and interiors adorn imperial paintings, exuding sheer elegance.
You can imagine the entertainment scenes of aristocrats and royal courtiers in that era as you walk through the beautiful Moti Mahal inside the Haveli premises.
Vyas Chhatri is part of a collection of cenotaphs built-in golden sandstones on the northwestern edge of Jaisalmer. It was built to honor Sage Vyasa, who compiled the 300,000 verses of the epic Mahabharata.
These cenotaphs are dedicated to the learned Brahmins of the town and are built higher than the other cenotaphs at Bada Bagh, which were dedicated to the members of the Royal clan.
The grandest Chattri with the most exquisitely designed dome and pillars belongs to Sage Vyasa. It was built at the highest point towards the north of the structure. The place was a cremation ground for Brahmins and the members of the Royal family of Jaisalmer.
You can enjoy an astounding bird’s-eye view of Jaisalmer from the Chattris situated at a height. The place is also popularly referred to as Sunset Point and is among the most captivating tourist attractions of Jaisalmer. Vyas Chhatri offers awe-inspiring views of the sunset over the city of Jaisalmer and is a popular spot among photographers.
19. Mandir Palace
Flaunting its two-century-old exquisite architecture, Mandir Mahal is an elegant residential palace of the royalty. The palace has now been transformed into a heritage hotel and boasts of being the most well-serviced hotel in the city.
Retaining the medieval charm of the palace, the hotel has been equipped with modern amenities by the Welcome group to offer the best of both worlds to their esteemed clientele.
Founded by Maharawal Moolrajji, the palace has been expanded over time. The most recent portion was built by Maharawal Jawahir Singhji and is known after him as ‘Jawahir Vilas’.
The palace allures tourists looking to catch a glimpse of exquisitely carved exteriors, ornate hanging balconies, and royal canopies. The palace also houses the Badal Vilas translating to ‘Villas in the Clouds’.
It is the highest structure in Jaisalmer and is popular for its fascinating craftsmanship. You can enjoy panoramic views of the beautiful golden city from the tower.
To transform the Mandir Palace into the heritage hotel it is today, its rooms have been renovated, maintaining the ancient ambiance to offer a truly royal experience to the guests.
You can enjoy modern facilities such as internet access, a swimming pool, badminton court, laundry service, and fun recreational activities in the heritage hotel’s air-conditioned rooms and royal suites.
Old silver furniture and an in-house museum allow you to experience the luxe lifestyle. You can also enjoy desert safaris and cultural performances organized by the hotel. The hotel restaurant serves authentic Rajasthani cuisine in addition to flavors from across the world.
Established in 2015 to salute the heroes of our nation, Jaisalmer War Museum is dedicated to the warriors of 'Battle of Longewala'. Located in the military station on the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur highway, the museum lauds the bravery of the Indian Army during the India-Pakistan war in 1971.
Planned by Lieutenant General Bobby Mathews and elaborated by Indian Army's Dessert Corps, it was inaugurated on 24 August 2015, which was the Golden Jubilee commemoration of the war in 1965.
Popularly known as JWM, the museum is the most recent addition to the must-visit places in Jaisalmer. It houses an Honour Wall dedicated to gallantry award-winning soldiers who have received the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.
You can visit the two information display halls and the audio-visual room to witness tanks, guns, and military vehicles owned by the Army. Visitors are filled with a sense of patriotism and pride watching the display of trophies, laurels, and vintage equipment of the Indian soldiers.
You can watch a movie about the battle fought by Maha Vir Chakra winner Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri and the soldiers who fought alongside him. Streamed in the audio-visual room, the movie displays the sacrifice of our soldiers. You can also spot murals of war equipment and soldiers who have laid down their lives for their motherland.
Other Prominent Places to Visit in Jaisalmer
The golden sand adds a shimmer of natural grandeur to Jaisalmer, and the colorful lives of locals add to its beauty. The exciting desert safari is a must-try in the city, but there are several other activities you can try.
Among the prominent places to visit in Jaisalmer are Amar Sagar Lake, Pachpadra Lake, Ramdevra Temple, Shantinath Temple, Chandraprabhu Temple. You can explore the rich heritage of the city at the Jaisalmer Government Museum and Thar Heritage Museum. The Khaba fort, Pokhran fort, and Surya Gate move you to imagine the regality of lives in those times.
You can also spend time at the famous markets of Jaisalmer including Bhatia Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Sonaron ka Bas, Pansari Bazaar, Manak Chowk, and Seema Gram. These markets sell exquisitely handcrafted traditional silk fabrics and sarees, gold and silver jewelry, camel leather products, mirror work embroidery, and tie-and-dye fabrics known as Bandhej or Bandhani.
One of the most memorable experiences in Jaisalmer is enjoying a royal meal at the picturesque rooftop restaurants around the stunning locations of the city. You can also try yummy Rajasthani delicacies and street food in Jaisalmer.
Pyaz ki kachori, Gatte ki sabzi, Dal Baati Choorma, Ghotua Ladoos, Ker Sangri, Mirchi Bhajiya, and Rajasthani Laal Maas are some must-try dishes. Kesariya Thandai, Bhang Lassi, and Makhania Lassi are refreshing local drinks that offer respite from the hot and arid climate of the region.
The medieval trading center of Jaisalmer has evolved into an engaging tourism spot in Rajasthan. Full of surprises and a horde of things to do in Jaisalmer, the city welcomes tourists from across the world. You can soak in the vibrant culture of Rajasthan traveling through this city.
The best time to visit Jaisalmer is during the annual Jaisalmer Desert Festival. It is a grand celebration of the rich heritage of the city. You can attend the festival to enjoy cultural performances including folk dance and music.
You can also participate in fun competitions such as Turban tying Competition, Ghoomar Dance Performances, Moustache Competition, Panihari Matka Race, Camel Decoration, Camel Tattoo Show, and Camel Polo Match. Jaisalmer is the city to create memorable stories in the sand and relive the lives of the royalty.