If Jaipur is the pink city and Jodhpur the blue city then Jaisalmer is truly the golden city of Rajasthan. Jaisalmer is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert, which we strained to see from the walls of Kumbhalgarh Fort. It’s renowned for its extremes of weather and lack of water. So it’s a little strange that we arrive in rain and find our Jaisalmer camel safari cancelled for 24 hours. It does give us the opportunity to discover Jaisalmer and her secrets without delay though.
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We arrived after another marathon journey on Indian trains and set off. We easily found the Titanic Hotel, checked in and headed into the city inside the fort. It’s an ongoing ecological discussion as to whether to stay inside or outside the walls of the fort. The space inside the fort is much smaller, plus, considering it was built in 1156, the water and waste structures weren’t built to support the 21st century.
From whatever angle you view it, Jaisalmer fort is breath taking.
See it in the right light and you’ll understand why Jaisalmer is known as the Golden City.
We’re still in one of Rajasthan’s biggest tourist areas, but somehow it’s much quieter than Jodhpur and Jaipur. This is the furthest east that we will journey in India on this trip, we’re relatively close to the border with Pakistan, although not as close as we were in Wagah. It certainly feels remote.
Most of the city of Jaisalmer, including the glorious old havelis, the train and bus station and places to eat and stay are outside of the fort.
We are in Rajasthan, we’re in Hill Fort country, so of course we have another fort to see and this one is spectacular.
The fort is constructed of a golden coloured sandstone which blends in with the colour of the desert, or shines like gold depending on the light.
Inside the fort are a myriad of tiny winding alleys, tiny stores crammed with fabrics, cushions and mementos I want to buy in bulk. It feels touristy, but not overwhelming. It’s so gloriously colourful.
Everywhere we turn there is colour. Whether it’s the honey gold of the sandstone, or the painted doors. India is like this, everywhere there is colour.
Inside the fort are 15th and 16th century Jain temples, that we the outside of – their opening times change regularly and our schedule doesn’t allow for the visit this time. We do, however, manage to see inside the palace.
Our ticket includes a compulsory audio guide, although there is an additional 100 INR fee for cameras. The palace is seven storeys with virtually all of it open to the public. The audio guide is intense and takes a full 90 minutes to listen to. It’s a rabbit warren of rooms and connecting corridors that feels huge and which gives us great views over the interior of the fort and the surrounding countryside.
Outside Jaisalmer Fort
Outside of Jaisalmer Fort we limit ourselves to wandering around the streets, spying the gorgeous sandstone havelis. (A haveli is a traditional townhouse or mansion in India). They’re truly beautiful.
Ha. Of course we don’t just limit ourselves to wandering around. Seriously. There’s some amazing food here and of course we’re going to try it. There are two dishes that we’ve been told to try while we’re here. And try them we do.
Food to try in Jaisalmer
Our first dish is Ker Sangri. Oh. My. God. Seriously. You have to come to this city to try this. Ker Sangri is a Rajasthani Desert dish. It takes the product of the desert – sangri beans and berries and turns them into a delicious dish. It’s spicy, tasty and so, so moorish.
Our second must try dish is Kadhi Pakora. Here deep fried gram flour pakoras are served in a sour yellow yoghurt gravy. Oh. My. God. Again. This too is worth traveling to Jaisalmer for.
We eat Ker Sangri and Kadhi Pakora for each meal in Jaisalmer, apart from the mutton curry group meal we share with our fellow guests at the Titanic Hotel. We’ve not see these dishes anywhere else on the menu in India so we are indulging while we can.
So there you are. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Jaisalmer, where we have taken a Jaisalmer Camel Safari and where we met Del Boy and the Trotters. There was glorious Jaisalmer fort – another gorgeous Rajasthani fort and the amazing foods of Jaisalmer. Now having explored the Golden City, we’re off to the Blue City of Rajasthan – Jodhpur.
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