Rising from the sands of the Thar Desert like a golden mirage, there’s something quite magical about Jaisalmer. Founded in 1156 it was an important defence and trade town for centuries on the camel caravan routes between India and Central Asia.
Despite now being on the tourist trail it maintains the character of a frontier town. The massive fort is still inhabited and its jumble of havelis with intricately carved facades, Jain temples, palaces and myriad shops are embraced by thick yellow sandstone walls and 99 sturdy bastions. The medieval lanes are a real labyrinth and you are bound to get lost, along with a few meandering cows that seem to have the same problem. The locals are friendly and will point you in the right direction, though possibly via a diversion to their shop.
In recent years Jaisalmer has become a victim of its own success. The presence of visitors who demand a plentiful supply of water in the many guest houses and small hotels has caused a drainage problem that is causing the fort walls to crack and crumble. For this reason, we only use accommodation outside the fort and these tend to be larger resort style hotels, or camps further away, but we hope this will help to protect Jaisalmer’s heritage.