I went to Jaisalmer on a self-guided photography tour last year and I can assure it is by far one of the most beautiful cities I have seen. The architecture of Jaisalmer fort and its surrounding areas are spell bounding. Jaisalmer is also called ‘Yellow City’ as it was built with yellow limestone. Some of the spots I visited during my photo tour in Jaisalmer are mentioned below.
Jaisalmer fort is one of the largest forts and perhaps the only living fort in the world. From the moment, you enter the city you can see this large monument covering a major part of the city. You can also choose to stay inside the fort as a large of hotels ranging from budget to luxury operate inside the fort. When I went to Jaisalmer, I was shocked as this fort was unlike any other fort I have seen as people still live inside it and once you enter the fort you will feel that you have gone back in time. The inside of the fort functions like a small town surrounded by huge walls of the fort as there are hotels, restaurants, shops, buildings, temples and houses of people. Each and every infrastructure is made of yellow limestone, which gives a distinct golden look to it. There are also many rooftop restaurants and hotels from which one can also get panoramic views of the whole city. There are no entry fees on visiting this fort. You will only pay entry fees if you chose to visit the Fort palace.
Fort palace is a part of Jaisalmer fort and towers over the fort’s main square. An entry fees is required to enter the fort palace and you can also opt to hire a guide if you want. This is the part where Kings and Queens used to live.
Patwon ki Haveli:
Patwon ki Haveli comprises of five havelis, out of which the first haveli is the largest and worth visiting. The havelis are famous for their architecture as the interior rooms are decorated with gold, fine wall paintings, beautiful balconies, archways and gateways. It is located quite near to the Jaisalmer fort, around 800m.
Street and architecture photography:
Jaisalmer has beautiful lanes and by lanes with amazing architecture, which makes it excellent for street and architecture photography. Take a walk through narrow lanes inside Jaisalmer fort with colorful handicraft shops with a camera in your hand and start shooting and you will be rewarded with some memorable pictures. Local people are generally welcoming and I never had any problems. Also, the streets leading to patwon ki haveli is very good for photography.
Gadisar lake is man-made lake built for the purpose of water conservation. There are numerous temples, shrines, cenotaphs and ghats surrounding this lake. A walk around the lake is recommended in order to get some amazing views from all side. There are few tourist boats available and one has to stand in a queue and wait for their turn. The cenotaphs in the middle of the lake adds to the overall beauty and they can be reached with the help of boats.
Bada Bagh means big garden, is a series of royal cenotaphs or chhatris dedicated to the Maharajas of Jaisalmer state. The cenotaphs are yellow in color as they are made of yellow limestone. Bada bagh is about 8 kms from Jaisalmer and the only way to reach is by hiring a tuk-tuk or car. It is better to book your vehicle for a round trip as Bada bagh lies in a deserted area and you will not find any mode of transportation on your way back. Entry fees is required to enter Bada Bagh and there are separate charges for camera. There are guides available who will show you around, even though I did not want one, I had to take as they were very insisting and wouldn’t leave me alone. I did a mistake as I did not book a round trip and the guide dropped me back to Jaisalmer on his motorcycle, for which I had to pay 300 rupees. This was the most expensive part of the trip as it cost me 800 rupees altogether.
Jaisalmer is a very small city and if you have GPS, it should be very easy to navigate. Ola or Uber does not operate there and auto rickshaw or tuk-tuk is the mode of transportation. Fooding is very expensive compared to other parts of India, as one thali would cost around 250 rupees. Meanwhile, accomodation is very cheap in Jaisalmer, because they make their money through desert safaris. While booking desert safari, be very careful as I was cheated by some guys and hence, I could not visit sand dunes. I was convinced to book a non touristy desert safari as Sam sand dunes is extremely dirty and over crowded. What, I did not anticipate was that I would be the solo person on that trip along with a 15 year old camel driver, without any type of arrangement. Nevertheless, I decided to leave the trip half way and told them to send a car, so that I could return back, which they obliged. Also, I am partly at fault as I should have done my homework before. S0, before going to any overnight desert safaris, check how many people are going and what arrangements are being provided.
When to visit
Jaisalmer gets extremely hot during summer as it is located in the middle of Thar desert. So, October to February would be the ideal time to visit.
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If you are interested in knowing more about Rajasthan, visit my other blogs on Jodhpur street photography, Jodhpur sightseeing, Jaisalmer street photography, Pushkar mela photography, Udaipur and Jaipur.