Jaisalmer is a
region of southwestern Rajasthan state in western India. It lies
in the southern part of Thar Desert. Region includes the
present-day Jaisalmer District. It is bounded on the north by
Jangladesh region, on the east by Marwar region.
Jaisalmer is almost entirely a sandy waste, forming a part of
the great Indian desert. The general aspect of the area is that
of an interminable sea of sandhills, of all shapes and sizes,
some rising to a height of 150 ft.
Those in the west are covered with log bushes, those in the east
with tufts of long grass. Water is scarce, and generally
brackish; the average depth of the wells is said to be about 250
ft. There are no perennial streams, and only one small river,
the Kakni, which, after flowing a distance of 28 m., spreads
over a large surface of flat ground, and forms a lake orjhil
called the Bhuj-Jhil. The climate is dry and healthy. Throughout
Jaisalmer only raincrops, such as bajra, joar, motif, til, etc.,
are grown; spring crops of wheat, barley, etc., are very rare.
Owing to the scant rainfall, irrigation is almost unknown.
The majority of any inhabitants of
Jaisalmer are Bhati Rajputs, who take their name from an ancestor
named Bhatti, renowned as a warrior when the tribe were located in
the Punjab. Shortly after this the clan was driven
southwards, and found a refuge in the Indian desert, which was
henceforth its home. The Maharajas of Jaisalmer trace their lineage
back to Jaitsimha, a ruler of the Bhati Rajput clan. Deoraj, a
famous prince of the Bhati family, is esteemed the real founder of
the Jaisalmer dynasty, and with him the title of rawal commenced. In
1156 Rawal Jaisal, the sixth in succession from Deoraj, founded the
fort and city of Jaisalmer, and made it his capital as he moved from
his former capital at Lodhruva (which is situated about 15 km to the
south-east of Jaisalmer).
The major opponents of the Bhati Rajputs were the powerful Rathor
clans of Jodhpur and Bikaner. They used to fight battles for the
possession of forts, waterholes or cattle. Jaisalmer was positioned
strategically and was a
halting point along a traditional trade route traversed by the camel
caravans of Indian and Asian merchants. The route linked India to
Central Asia, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West.
During the Islamic invasion of India, Jaisalmer escaped direct
Muslim conquest due to its geographical situation in the desert
region. The Rawals of Jaisalmer agreed to pay an annual tribute to
the Delhi Sultans. The first siege of Jaisalmer occurred during the
reign of Alauddin Khilji. It was provoked by Bhatis' raid on a
caravan filled with reasure. According to local ballads, the Bhatis
defended the fort for seven years until the enemy army forced
beached the ramparts. In 1294, the Bhatis so enraged the emperor
Ala-ud-din Khilji that his army captured and sacked the fort and
city of Jaisalmer, so that for some time it was quite deserted.
Bhatis, facing certain defeat, proclaimed the rite of jauhar.
Later, Sultan Ferozshah also sieged Jaisalmer after the rulers of
Jaisalmer raided his camp at Anasagar lake near Ajmer. The siege led
to another jauhar. Jaitsimha's son Duda perished in the attack.
Duda's descendants ruled over Jaisalmer for about two centuries.
Duda's descendant Lunakarna had a fight with Humayun when the latter
passed through Jaisalmer en route to Ajmer. Mughal emperor Akbar was
married to one of the Jaisalmer princesses.
Later, Jaisalmer was ruled by a noble called Sahal Singh, whose
reign marks an epoch in Bhati history in that he acknowledged the
supremacy of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The Jaisalmer princes
had now arrived at the
height of their power, but from this time till the accession of
Rawal Mulraj in 1762 the fortunes of the state rapidly declined, and
most of its outlying provinces were lost.
In 1818 Mulraj entered into political relations with the British.
Jaisalmer was one of the last states to sign a treaty with the
British. During the British Raj, Jaisalmer was the seat of a
princely state of the same name,
ruled by the Bhati clan of rajputs. Maharawal Salivahan, born in
1887, succeeded to the chiefship in 1891.
The present descendant of the ancient dynasty is Brijraj Singh.
Though the country is under the governance of the Government of
India, a lot of welfare work is carried out by him and his family.
The Royal Family still commands a lot of respect from the people.
Origin of name
Jaisalmer is named after its founder Rawal Jaisal (see History). "Jaisalmer"
means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal". Jaisalmer is also called as the
Golden city of India because the yellow sand gives a
yellowish-golden touch to the city & its surrounding area.
Jaisalmer is located at 26.92° N 70.9° E. It has an average
elevation of 229 metres (751 feet).
Jaisalmer is situated on the border of India and Pakistan in West
Rajasthan. The area of Jaisalmer is 5.1 km². The maximum summer
temperature is around 41.6 °C while the minimum is 25 °C. The
maximum winter temperature is 23.6 °C while the minimum is 7.9 °C.
The average rainfall is 150 mm. Jaisalmer is almost entirely a sandy
waste, forming a part of the great Indian desert. The general aspect
of the area is that of an interminable sea of sandhills, of all
shapes and sizes, some rising to a height of 150 ft. Those in the
west are covered with log bushes, those in the east with tufts of
long grass. Water is scarce, and generally brackish; the average
the wells is said to be about 250 ft. There are no perennial
streams, and only one small river, the Kakni, which, after flowing a
distance of 28 m., spreads over a large surface of flat ground, and
forms a lake orjhil called
the Bhuj-Jhil. The climate is dry and healthy. Throughout Jaisalmer
only raincrops, such as bajra, joar, motif, til, etc., are grown;
spring crops of wheat, barley, etc., are very rare. Owing to the
scant rainfall, irrigation
is almost unknown.
While Jaisalmer may always have been remote, it is filled with many
artistic structures and monuments of local historical importance.
Jaisalmer's medieval mud fortress and walled township make it a
popular tourist destination. The surrounding desolate landscape
evidences a stark, austere beauty. Camel safaris through the nearby
desert dunes are popular with tourists; competition for business is
fierce. 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.
Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, it is situated on
Trikuta Hill and had been the scene of many battles. Its massive
sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, turning to a
magical honey-gold as the sun sets. The famous Indian film director
Satyajit Ray wrote a detective novel and later turned it into a film
- Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) which was based on this fort.
This is a living fort and about a quarter of
city's population still live inside the fort. The main attractions
inside the fort are: Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the
The main havelis in Jaisalmer are:
Patwon-ki-Haveli: Built by Guman Chand Patwa (and later by his five
sons), a wealthy merchant and banker who had over three hundred
trading centres from Afghanistan to China. This ornate five-storey
complex took fifty years to complete. This is the largest, the most
magnificent, and the most elaborate of Jaisalmer havelis.
Salim Singh-ki-Haveli: It
was built by the scheming Prime Minister Salim Singh in 1815. It has
a beautifully arched roof capped with blue cupolas and carved
brackets in the form of peacocks.
by a Prime Minister of princely state of Jaisalmer. Its facade is a
riot of ornamentation: flowers, birds, elephants, soldiers, a
bicycle and even a steam engine.
Desert Culture Centre & Museum
Jaisalmer Folklore Museum
Excavated in 1367 by Rawal Gadsi Singh, it is a scenic rainwater
lake surrounded by small temples and shrines.
Bhattiani Sati Rani
Bada Bagh Panorama in the afternoon
Desert National Park
Sam sand dunes
Akal Wood fossil Park
This is held over three days in Jan/Feb every year. This is the best
time to visit Jaisalmer to witness many performing arts like
Kalbelia dances and folk songs and music.