Located 575 km (357 miles) west of the state capital, Jaipur, Jaisalmer means “the Hill Fort of Jaisal”.
Jaisalmer was founded in the 12th century by Maharaja Jaisal Singh of the Bhati Rajput clan. It is sometimes called the “Golden City of India” because the yellow sandstone used in every architectural building gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area.
Jaisalmer was once a flourishing trade centre, strategically located on the busy caravan trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Its earlier rulers grew rich by looting gems, silk and opium from the caravans, but by the 16th century Jaisalmer had become a peaceful town, whose wealthy traders and rulers vied with each other to beautify their austere desert surroundings with splendid palaces and havelis. the 18th century, with the growth of sea ports at Surat and Bombay (Mumbai), Jaisalmer’s importance dwindled. But the buildings from its golden age still stand, clustered around a magnificent fort.
Today Jaisalmer is a World Heritage Site and a gateway to the Thar Desert. The city is filled with many artistic structures and monuments of local historical importance. It is dominated by the Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Qila (Golden Fort). However, most tourists come to Jaisalmer to go on a camel safari through the nearby desert dunes which can be an unforgettable experience. A few quiet days spent wandering around the town and the surrounding desert can be a wonderful way of unwinding from the chaos of larger Indian cities.
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