Jaisalmer: the golden city
We arrived at 5am after a dusty AC Sleeper class train journey from Jodhpur. Think desert landscape with sand coloured buildings. The city definitely had a Disney’s Aladdin feel about it! We only stayed one night in the fort and one night in the desert. I would love to go back and do more exploring though, the city inside the fort is pretty small. Jaisalmer is surrounded by the Thar Desert, one of the driest places on earth. It’s an enchanting place with narrow streets leading to sandstone temples and magnificent havelis.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hotel Paradise and I couldn’t think of a better choice! The hotel is in the palace part of the fort which was formerly used to accommodate the royal guests. We were told it was over 400 years old! We were welcomed by Captain Chandra who we discovered was a very influential man in Rajasthan and friends with the Maharajah. He showed us a picture of himself looking very regal with his prize winning camel at the Pushkar Camel Fair. We booked our camel trek with him straight away and he showed us two rooms to choose from. We went for the second cheaper choice as the first was way to big for just us two girls. We had a little step balcony with a view out across the city. All the rooms are centred around a garden courtyard and there’s a terrace where you can order food and drink. We paid 1550 rupees for one night and 1600 rupees (per person) for the camel trek.
Where to eat
As we were stayed inside the fort for just one night we went to Jaisal Italy right inside the fort gate. We ate outside on the terrace on floor cushions with a fantastic panoramic view. We shared pasta and pizza (not very Indian I know). Gaji’s Restaurant is recommended on Trip Adviser however we didn’t have time to go there.
What to do
Jaisalmer is famous for it’s beautiful havelis, the most famous is the Patwon Ji ki which is a collection of five havelis. You can also visit the Gadsisar Lake (I didn’t get to enjoy it that much due to falling off a motorbike!) I thoroughly recommend booking a camel trek in the Thar Desert. We stayed in the desert one night on beds beneath the full moon….
So after sending 30kg of luggage home Fran and I decided we needed to refill our backpacks. Jaisalmer is a fantastic place for shopping! The beautiful narrow lanes lead to wonderful little shops. It can be quite pushy with the shopkeepers calling you inside but we were used to it by this point. As we were going to Jodhpur’s RIFF festival in a few days I needed some nice dresses, I found a lovely shop owned by a mother and her son and bought pretty much a new wardrobe! I wore the orange dress on my camel trek the following day. You’ll find lots of pretty leather bags to buy as well as books, beautiful bed covers, jewellery and ornaments.
How to get there
Train – We took a midnight train from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer taking around 6 hours. We travelled sleeper class which I wouldn’t recommend as we woke up covered in dust! Nor do you receive any blankets or a pillow. Fran and I were wedged into the middle bunks between two families who woke up at 3am to eat breakfast.
Buses – There are many buses which will take you to Jaisalmer from all over Rajasthan. We took a bus out of Jaisalmer going back to Jodhpur which we booked at Yogi’s (our guesthouse in Jodhpur).