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Visit Jaisalmer: The only authentic desert destination in India

You don't need o plan a trip to the Middle East to enjoy a desert safari. As you can do that in my hometown of Jaisalmer

Enjoying camel safari at a sand dune area of Jaisalmer

India, the 2nd most populous country in the world, and also a fast-growing global economy, which has no shortage of holiday seekers who now are very much interested in planning international holidays, with friends & family.

And if you just check major travel portals like Via, Booking, Expedia from India, you will find tour packages for Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore marked as best selling tours.

Well, that’s great that globalization has brought some money in people’s pocket (if not all) so that they can now plan holidays outside India, & among all other destinations, Dubai (UAE) is rated as the best one, for 1 particular reasons.

Flights & Visa are available at dirt cheap rates

You can get a flight from Delhi or Mumbai for Dubai for as low as $180 and tourist visa for $82.75. And thanks to the world famous Hop on Hop off bus tours, city sightseeing is way cheaper nowadays.

I asked a few questions on Quora.com & Tripadvisor to share your best Dubai holiday experience, something that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. The most common reply was the desert tour of Dubai desert area.

In this tour, which in Dubai is commonly referred to Dune bashing with bbq dinner, one enjoy’s an 8-9 hour tour which starts from pick from the city by 2 pm, then an hour ride of quad bikes, 1 hour dune bashing or jeep safari at sand dunes, and finally belly dance show with dinner. Here is a video from Dubai desert campsite, just in case you want to know more.

desert camp programs at Dubai (UAE)

No doubt it’s amazing…

So, with some little research, I can now say that one of the best holiday experience in Dubai (UAE) is the jeep safari & programs at desert camps. Well’s that a good news for me and my neighbours, as we are from Jaisalmer, which is the only authentic desert destination in India.

Welcome to Jaisalmer Rajasthan

Now when someone thinks about tourism in India (Asia), they get an image of Taj Mahal, Palaces of Rajasthan (they are amazing, & I will share a post on this soon), busy streets of Delhi & Mumbai, hill stations of Himayalas, etc.

But only a fraction of them thinks of desert holidays in India, and it’s our fault (including me). All major Indian tourism publications don’t promote desert holidays, but when you will go through this post, I’m very positive that you will be interested to visit Jaisalmer on your next trip to India.

History of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is in the Thar desert (India) which is the 18th largest desert area in the whole world. It’s spread across western parts of India & eastern Pakistan.

The available written history of Jaisalmer is from the 9th century when there were continuous battles between the Yadav’s & Bhati Rajputs (2 different clans) to make this desert land their home.

In the 12th century, Rawal Singh formed his kingdom and named it as “Jaisalmer”, which he and later his generation ruled till India’s independence of 1947.

During Rawal Singh & later his family rule, Jaisalmer saw the construction of the Golden Fort in 1156 AD, and even today, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the biggest Live Castle (25% of city population lives inside) in the whole world.

Image of Jaisalmer Golden Fort

Why should you visit Jaisalmer?

The same reason why travel to Dubai.

Enjoy a desert holiday, which Jaisalmer is blessed with many desert dunes area & the two notables ones are Sam sand dune and Khuri Sam dune.

Sam (SSD) is more popular among travellers as here there are more than 50 desert camps who organize safari tours (camel, jeep, quad bikes) and by evening they present a 2-hour musical dance show, Not as the one in Dubai (Belly dance). This one is known as Kabila Dance & here is a video of it.

And Khuri, on the other hand, is less crowded and offers a desert village tourism where travellers love to enjoy camel safari, prefers to stay in villages rather than desert camps & taste local home made food. Here is a video from Khuri, Jaisalmer.

Apart from the desert dunes, camps, camel/ jeep safari, Jaisalmer also offers stunning artictural marvels like:

List of tourist sites in Jaisalmer

Haveli’s (mansions): Inside the Jaisalmer Fort, you will find a half dozen haveli’s which is a local term for mansions. These havelis are 300 to 600 years old and were the residence of Jaisalmer royal family & court members.

Some of the notables ones are:

  1. Patwon Haveli
  2. Salim Singh Haveli
  3. Nathmalji Ki Haveli
  4. Raja ka Mahal

Check out this video on Patwon haveli.

Gadisar Lake or Gadsisar Sagar Lake: This is an artificial lake built around the 15th century to store rainwater. The main attractions of this lake is the architecture built around it.

You will find many Jain/ Hindu temples with amazing stone carving over here & as per me, this is my second favourite spot to capture a sunset in Jaisalmer, 1st being the sand dunes.

Chhatri (Cenotaph): Chhatri or Cenotaph are built in Rajasthan to remember someone. And in Jaisalmer, there are 2 such sites.

First one is Bada Bagh or Bara Bagh which was built by the Jaisalmer royal family to remember their 1st King Rawal Singh. And the second one is Vyas Chhatri, which is built for Ved Vyas, the writer of an epic book in India “Mahabharat”.

Jaisalmer War Museum: As Jaisalmer is a border town, and was also a battleground 1971 Indo-Pak war, the Indian government has opened this beautiful museum, 10 km outside Jaisalmer.

Here you will find Captured arms, ammunition, Tanks from 1947-48, 65, 71, & 99 wars. Plus, there is a nice cafeteria + souvenir shop and no entry fee for here.

For more information on Jaisalmer tourism, you can read my Jaisalmer tourism guide for 2018, which I wrote for a local firm. And if you are planning to visit Jaisalmer then you must plan a trip here from October to March, as in summers (April to August), most desert camps & desert safari activities are closed.

How to reach Jaisalmer?

Jaisalmer is connected with major Tier 1 cities of India like Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai etc so train ride are easily available. Some regular trains for Jaisalmer are:

  1. Ranikhet Express (15014) from New Delhi
  2. Delhi Jaisalmer Express (14659) from New Delhi
  3. Bandra Terminus Jaisalmer (22931) from Mumbai & also Ahmedabad

From 2017, Jaisalmer Airport was open for public but only from October to March & direct flights are only available from Jaipur & New Delhi.

But in my view, one must plan a road trip to Jaisalmer, as more than 70% of travellers who visit Jaisalmer are keen to explore Jodhpur too.

Jodhpur (The Blue City of Rajasthan) is just 4-5 hour away from Jaisalmer and here you can visit the 2 major city attraction, which are Mehrangarh Fort & Umaid Bhawan Palace.. You can check my friend blog post on these two tourist sites at jatinchhabra.com/category/jodhpur

Jaisalmer to Jodhpur distance at Google maps. Google map link https://bit.ly/2KO1JYx

In my view, you need to give 3 days/ 2 nights time to explore Jaisalmer and add 2 more days if you are also interested to explore Jodhpur.

For more details on how to plan a tour for Jaisalmer, you can visit https://santramholidays.in/jaisalmer/tour-packages/ and if you are interested in a walking tour of Jaisalmer with me, then feel free to connect via the social media links in author section. And finally, a beautiful video from Jaisalmer by a good friend Jason Billiam.

and this one is from his camel safari tour at sand dunes.

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