Visiting Jaisalmer City in The Thar Deser, India.
About the Golden City of Jaisalmer and ways of travelling there i.e. by Car or Railway. Jaisalmer is a small Indian City located way out in the Thar Desert and only a short distance away from the India - Pakistan Border. The City is named after Rao Jaisal who created the yellow sandstone Fort and City in 1156. This fort was built on quite soft sandstone and clay foundations and these are becoming rather fragile - there was no cement involved when it was erected and the
leaking drainage system is now infiltrating the whole structure and weakening it.
There is a good well-surfaced road between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer - the trip takes around 4 hours - however there is very little except desert and scrubland on most of the trip. A car and driver will probably cost between
3200 Rupees and 3500 Rupees (plus a tip). Apart from convenience one distinct advantage of this method is you can work out several places on the outskirts of Jodhpur to stop off at and visit on the way - for instance go via Osian to see it's old temples and then on via Phalodi.
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Indian Railways. A service exists on Indian Railways which links Jaisalmer (JSM) with Jodhpur (JU) although it is quite a slow trip so probably best to take an overnight sleeper compartment.
*Re-check the following for any changes* Train 4059 starts at Delhi (1740h) and goes via Jaipur (23.57h) and Jodhpur (0515h ) to arrive at Jaisalmer at 1100h. Another train 4810 goes from Jodhpur
at 2300h and arrives at 0500 - both these trains run daily. Jaisalmer's railway station is just 2kms outside of the City. Going the other way train 4060 returns to Delhi via Jodhpur at 1715h and 4809
goes to Jodhpur overnight at 2315h.
Tourist Buses. These run frequently - again mostly from Jodhpur - and are a low cost way to get about. Our only comment is from what we were told by several people staying at our hotel who used this service -
they were distinctly unhappy for several reasons not least the lack of room and the continual noise - and were certain they would not use tourist buses again in India.
Flying to Jaisalmer. Currently there are no commercial flights going anywhere near Jaisalmer with probably the nearest commercial airport miles away at Jodhpur. One internal service to Jaisalmer was due to
start in 2009 - flying 3 times a week - but this never really "took off" apparently due to lack of passenger interest. For what it's worth the airport is located around 9kms from the City.
Hotels and Guesthouses in Jaisalmer. There are lots of places available to stay at whilst on a tour to Jaisalmer many of which advertise themselves on the Web. The options are either staying within the city fort area or perhaps staying just outside
Jaisalmer Fort's walls. One of the big problems up in Jaisalmer's Fort is that the drainage system is failing - this causes water to seep into and weaken the Fort's foundations - the
problem is exasperated of course if many tourists are staying there. Therefore you might consider NOT staying inside the Fort, but use an hotel or Jaisalmer
guesthouse instead (which are clustered around the outside of the Fort's walls). Quite a few of the hotels and guest houses have roof-top restaurants so you get great views of the Fort.
Getting around and about in Jaisalmer.
The town is quite compact with everything sort of clustered around the Fort's walls - the streets
are really interesting to wander through - lovely old houses and havelis to look at as well as the normal bustle of a typical Rajasthan town - especially in
front of the Fort's main gate where the Manik Chowk bazaar is located. We found little problem with touts and begging etc. especially compared with some Indian
locations like Agra and we generally enjoyed our 5 days holiday at Jaisalmer. Due to the proximity of the Indian / Pakistani border there is a huge amount of
military activity - army lorries here there and everywhere and often you can hear and spot Indian Air Force jets whizzing about. Actually on the trip up from
Jodphur by road the desert is not nearly as empty as it might appear - especially nearer Jaisalmer you can see many tanks and other essential military stuff playing about.
There is no charge to go in, however at the entrance gate you will usually find someone selling loaves of bread (don't pay the initial asking price which can be as much as 200 rupees - ludicrous - around 50 rupees for 2 loaves is plenty). You need this bread as once at the lake's edge if you go left a short way to the rocks you can then feed the many huge fish - these fish will actually take the bread out of your hand.
There is much more about touring in India via our India Travel and Touring Guide Home Page.
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