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This article is about the municipality in Rajasthan, India. For its namesake district, see Jaisalmer district. For the historical region and state, see Jaisalmer state.
View of the Jaisalmer Fort in the evening.
View of the Jaisalmer Fort in the evening.
Nickname(s): Golden city
Jaisalmer is located in Rajasthan
Location in Rajasthan, India
Coordinates: 26°55′N 70°54′E / 26.92°N 70.9°E / 26.92; 70.9Coordinates: 26°55′N 70°54′E / 26.92°N 70.9°E / 26.92; 70.9
Country  India
State Rajasthan
District Jaisalmer
Founded by Rawal Jaisal
 • M.L.A. Chhotu Singh Bhati
 • Total 5.1 km2 (2.0 sq mi)
Elevation 225 m (738 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 65,471
 • Density 13,000/km2 (33,000/sq mi)
 • Official Hindi[rajasthani]
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 345 00x
Telephone code 02992
Vehicle registration RJ 15
Website jaisalmer.rajasthan.gov.in
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hill Forts of Rajasthan
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii
Reference 247
UNESCO region South Asia
Inscription history
Inscription 2013 (36th Session)

Jaisalmer About this sound pronunciation  (Rajasthani: जैसलमेर), nicknamed "The Golden city", is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres (357 mi) west of the state capital Jaipur. It is a World Heritage Site. It was once known as Jaisalmer state. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (great Indian desert) and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of Jaisalmer District.

Origin of name[edit]

Jaisalmer is named after Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king who founded the city in 1156 AD.[1] "Jaisalmer" means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal". Jaisalmer is sometimes called the "Golden City of India" because the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area.


Jaisalmer District is located within a rectangle lying between 26°.4’–28°.23' North parallel and 69°.20'–72°.42' east meridians. It is the largest district of Rajasthan and one of the largest in the country. The breadth (East-West) of the district is 270 km (170 mi) and the length (North-South) is 186 km (116 mi). On the present map, district Jaisalmer is bounded on the north by Bikaner, on the west & south-west by the Pakistani border, on the south by Barmer and Jodhpur, and on the east by Jodhpur and Bikaner Districts. The length of international border attached to Jaisalmer District is 471 km (293 mi).


For the history of the region, see History of Jaisalmer.
Portrait of Maharawal Jaisal Singh inside Jaisalmer Fort.

The majority of the inhabitants of Jaisalmer are Bhati Rajputs, named for Bhati, who was renowned as a warrior. The ruling family of the erstwhile Jaisalmer State belongs to Bhati Clan of Yadu[2] Rajputs of Chandravanshi (Lunar) race who claim descent from Lord Krishna,the deified hero who ruled at Dwarka.[3] In 1156 Rawal Jaisal,[1] the sixth in succession from Deoraj, founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer,atop Trikuta Hill and began to levy taxes on the camel caravans travelling along the nearby route. Laden with exotic spices and precious silks, these trading caravans were en route to cities like Delhi or Sind, but had to pass directly through Jaisalmer. This strategic location continued to serve Jaisalmer well, as it lay right on the two main routes connecting India with Persia, Egypt and farther west. He later made it his capital as he moved from his former capital at Lodhruva (which is situated about 15 km (9.3 mi) to the north-west of Jaisalmer). In 1293, the Bhattis so enraged the Sultan of Delhi 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.Some Bhatti's from the Royal family migrated to Jaisal (Now in Pakistan), a place near to Chiniot Distt and some migrated to Talwandi, now Nankana Sahib in Distt. Nankana Sahib (Punjab, Pakistan) and others settled in Larkana (in Sind, Pakistan)under the name of Bhutto. In Nankana Sahib, the Bhatti Clan can be traced from the lineage of Rai Bhoe and Rai Bular Bhatti. After this there is nothing to record until the time of Rawal Sahal Singh, whose reign marks an epoch in Jaisalmer's history in that he acknowledged the supremacy of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Following the collapse of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Jaisalmer, like the rest of Rajputana, became subservient to the Marathas,[4] until it came under the protection of the British East India Company following the British victory in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. In 1818, the Rawals of Jaisalmer signed a treaty with the British, which protected Jaisalmer from invasion provided it was not the aggressor and guaranteed the royal succession.

The Maharajas of Jaisalmer trace their lineage back to Jaitsimha, a ruler of the Bhati Rajput clan. 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 foreign merchants. The route linked India to Central Asia, Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West.

Panorama of Jaisalmer from top of Maharaja Palace
Kuldhara Village, Jaisalmer

Medieval period[edit]

In the 13th century, Jaisalmer escaped direct Turkic conquest due to its geographical situation in the desert region. The Rawals of Jaisalmer agreed to pay an annual tribute to the Turkic Sultans of Delhi. The first siege of Jaisalmer occurred during the reign of Alauddin Khilji, the Turkic Sultan of Delhi. It was provoked by Bhatis' raid on a caravan filled with treasure. According to local ballads, the Bhatis defended the fort for seven years until the enemy army forces breached the ramparts. Bhatis, facing certain defeat, proclaimed the rite of jauhar. Later, Sultan Ferozshah also besieged 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.

Princely Jaisalmer[edit]

Main article: Jaisalmer State
Flag of the princely state of Jaisalmer
Facade of a mansion in Jaisalmer
Royal Cenotaphs at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
Sand Dunes Camels

On the eve of British Raj in India, Jaisalmer was subservient to the Marathas,[4] until it came under the protection of the British East India Company following the British victory in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. In 1818, the Rawals of Jaisalmer signed a treaty with the British, which protected Jaisalmer from invasion provided it was not the aggressor and guaranteed the royal succession. 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. The present descendant is Brijraj Singh.

Traditionally, the main source of income was the levies on the caravans. However, the glory of Jaisalmer faded when Bombay emerged as a port and the sea trade replaced the traditional land routes. The partition of India in 1947 lead to closing of all the trade routes on the Indo-Pak border and rendered Jaisalmer a drought-prone desert backwater on the international border. Ironically, skirmishes between India and Pakistan gave Jaisalmer a strategic importance and made it serviceable as an army supply depot. Later, the Rajasthan Canal served to revive the surrounding desert areas. Roads and railroads were then built, knitting the hitherto remote town with the rest of Rajasthan. Later, the Government of Rajasthan decided to promote Jaisalmer as a tourist destination.

Geography and climate[edit]

Sand dunes near Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer has an average elevation of 229 metres (751 ft). It is situated near the border of India and Pakistan in West Rajasthan, and covers an area of 5.1 km2 (2.0 sq mi). The maximum summer temperature is around 41.6 °C (106.9 °F) while the minimum is 25 °C (77 °F). The maximum winter temperature is usually around 23.6 °C (74.5 °F) and the minimum is 7.9 °C (46.2 °F). The average rainfall is 209.5 millimetres (8.25 in).[5] Highest ever recorded temperature was 48.0 °C (118.4 °F)[6] and the lowest ever recorded temperature being −5.9 °C (21.4 °F).[7]

Jaisalmer is almost entirely a sandy waste, forming a part of the Thar desert (great Indian desert). The general aspect of the area is that of an interminable sea of sand hills, of all shapes and sizes, some rising to a height of 150 feet (46 m). 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 feet (76 m). There are no perennial streams, and only one small river, the Kakni, which, after flowing a distance of 48 kilometres (30 mi), spreads over a large surface of flat ground, and forms Lake Orjhil ("The Bhuj-Jhil"). The climate is dry and healthy. Throughout Jaisalmer only raincrops, such as bajra, jawar, motif, til, etc., are grown; spring crops of wheat, barley, etc., are very rare. Owing to the scant rainfall, irrigation is almost unknown.


Climate data for Jaisalmer
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 23.7
Average low °C (°F) 7.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 1.5
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.3 3.5 2.8 1.5 0.5 0.4 0.6 14.4
Source: WMO

Climatological information is based on monthly averages for the 53-year period 1948–2000.

Distances: Bikaner (330 km or 210 mi), Barmer (150 km or 93 mi), Jodhpur (293 km or 182 mi), Jaipur (568 km or 353 mi), Ahmedabad (636 km or 395 mi), Agra (802 km or 498 mi), New Delhi (874 km or 543 mi), Mumbai (1,177 km or 731 mi).


Bada Bagh and windmill farms of Jaiselmer

Tourism is a major industry in Jaisalmer. The Government of India initiated departmental exploration for oil in 1955–56 in the Jaisalmer area.[8] Oil India Limited discovered natural gas in 1988 in the Jaisalmer basin.[9]

Musicians and dancers are also a major cultural export from Jaisalmer to the rest of the world. Merasi (formerly manganiyar, a derogatory term meaning "beggar"[10]) musicians have played the world over, and Queen Harish,[11] the dancing desert drag queen, is touring the world and has featured in international movies.

Jaisalmer is also known for its leather messenger bags, made from wild camels native to the area.


Some of the famous schools at Jaisalmer are:

1. Golden Era Public School, Indira Colony, Jaisalmer 2. St Paul Senior Secondary School: CBSE Board 3. Emmanuel Mission Senior Secondary School: CBSE Board 4. Maharshi Vidya Mandir: CBSE Board 5. Kendriya Vidyalaya Senior Secondary School Air force: CBSE Board 6. Kendriya Vidyalaya Senior Secondary School Dabla: CBSE Board 7. Army School, Army Station: CBSE Board 8. Airforce school Senior Secondary School: CBSE Board 9. Montessory Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 10. Swami Vivekanand Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 11. Govt Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 12. Govt Girls Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 13. Karni Bal Mandir Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 14. Adarsh Vidya Mandir Gandhi Colony : Rajasthan Board 15. Adarsh Vidya Mandir Bhatia Bagechi : Rajasthan Board 16. Gandhi Baal Mandir Senior Secondary School: Rajasthan Board 17. LITTLE HEART SECONDARY SCHOOL- MAJDUR PADA 18. Nehru Bal Mandir, Jaisalmer 19. Rajasthan Bal Bharti, Jaisalmer 20. Tagore Public School 21. Kidzee Genius 22. Euro Kids

Some of the famous colleges at Jaisalmer are:

1. SBK Government Post Graduate College, Jaisalmer 2. Government Girls Post Graduate College, Jaisalmer 3. MAA DURGA S SANSTHAN (W) TEACHER Training COLLEGE, Jaisalmer 4. Chandrawati Engineering College, Jaisalmer 5. Govt Polytechnic College, Jaisalmer 6. Ramdev Teacher Training College, Jaisalmer 7. Govt STC college, Jaisalmer 8. Jagtamba College Of It & Management 654; Main Rd Gandhi Colony Jaisalmer 9. Govt ITI College Jaisalmer

Event Destination[edit]

Jaisalmer is major and one of the most preferred event organizing destination in Rajasthan. Rodies(India's famous T.V. show), Balika vadhu, Maharana pratap, and several movies were shot in various locations and famous fort structured hotels of Jaisalmer.[12]


Road sign to Bikaner (right) and Jaisalmer (left)

Jaisalmer is the terminus of a broad gauge branch railway of Indian Railways, which joins with the main system at Jodhpur. The Palace on Wheels has a scheduled stop at Jaisalmer. The train from Delhi to Jaisalmer via Bikaner is planned to be scheduled in a forthcoming railway budget and will save 280 km and 12 hours for a round trip. The survey of the new Jaisalmer-Barmer-Bhabhar (towards both Kandla and Ahmedabad) rail line has been accomplished and may be approved soon. This proposed route will not only connect Barmer, Jaisalmer, and Gujrat but also develop the infrastructure for industry, tourism, transport, and socioeconomic growth, while likewise providing strategic benefits for the defense forces.[13] Due to this linking, Jaisalmer and Barmer will be connected directly to the southern and eastern parts of India.

Previously, Kingfisher Airlines provided flights during the time of the Desert Festival; however, due to an expired license, this service has been discontinued.[14] There are no other known regular air services. Jaisalmer is highly connected by road; many sleeper and sitting buses ply the routes between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, Jaipur, Barmer, Bikaner throughout the year.


As of the 2001 India census,[15] Jaisalmer had a population of 58,286. Males constitute 57% of the population and females 43%. Jaisalmer has an average literacy rate of 64%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 73%, and female literacy is 50%. In Jaisalmer, 16% of the population is under 6 years of age.


The bulk of the population, as pastoralists, lead a wandering life, grazing their flocks and herds. Large herds of camels, horned cattle, sheep and goats are kept. The principal trade is in wool, ghee, camels, cattle and sheep. The chief imports are grain, sugar, foreign cloth, piece-goods. It suffered from famine in 1897, 1900 and other years, to such an extent that it has had to incur a heavy debt for extraordinary expenditure.


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. Prices range wildly and one has to bargain for everything, hotel rates included. Jaisalmer is known for huge mark-ups which range between 400% to 500% depending on the product. So buying shawls, carpets, jewelry etc. can be a very time consuming and nerve rattling 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.[16]

Visitor attractions[edit]

Jaisalmer Fort[edit]

Sign in Jaisalmer Fort in Rajasthan

Built in 1156 by the Bhati Rajput ruler Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort is situated on Meru Hill and Named as Trikoot Garh had seen the scene of many battles. Its massive sandstone walls are a tawny lion colour 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 Laxminath temple.

Jain heritage of Jaisalmer[edit]

Jaisalmer has been enriched by its Jain community, which has adorned the city with beautiful temples, notably the temples dedicated to the 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath, and 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanath.

Jaisalmer boasts some of the oldest libraries of India which contain rarest of the manuscripts and artefacts of Jain tradition. There are many pilgrimage centres around Jaisalmer such as Lodarva (Lodhruva), Amarsagar, Brahmsar and Pokharan.


  • Desert Culture Centre & Museum
  • Jaisalmer Folklore Museum
  • Government Museum
  • jaisalmer fort palace museum
  • jaisalmer fort outsidre and insidery


Gadsisar Lake
Gadsisar lake, Jaisalmer
  • Gadsisar Lake – Excavated in 1367 by Rawal Gadsi Singh, it is a scenic rainwater lake surrounded by the small temples and shrines of Amar Sagar. Earlier, this lake was used to be the main water source of Jaisalmer. Due to an increased water demand for agriculture, the lake is increasingly threatened to dry out.[17]

In neighbourhood[edit]

Ganga Sagar
Remains of houses in Kuldhara – The deserted village of Rajasthan

Desert Festival[edit]

This is held over three days in January/February every year. This is the best time to visit Jaisalmer to witness performing arts like Kalbelia dances and folk songs and music.

See also[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Sonar Kella (1974) (Golden Fortress) Satyajit Ray's Bengali film, based on his eponymous novel featuring his creation, the detective Feluda, was based in Jaisalmer and surrounding areas.[18]


Further reading[edit]

  • Bhati, Hari Singh. 2002. ANNALS OF JAISALMER: A Pre-Mediaeval History. Kavi Prakashan, Bikaner.
  • Gahlot, Sukhvirsingh. 1992. RAJASTHAN: Historical & Cultural. J. S. Gahlot Research Institute, Jodhpur.
  • Somani, Ram Vallabh. 1993. History of Rajasthan. Jain Pustak Mandir, Jaipur.
  • Tod, James & Crooke, William. 1829. Annals & Antiquities of Rajasthan or the Central and Western Rajput States of India. 3 Vols. Reprint: Low Price Publications, Delhi. 1990. ISBN 81-85395-68-3 (set of 3 vols.)

How to reach[edit]

By Air:
Jaisalmer is located 300 km (190 mi) from Jodhpur airport.
Civil airport has been constructed in Jaisalmer and soonly inaugurated.

By Rail:
Jaisalmer has daily connectivity with Bikaner, Lalgarh, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Pali, Jaipur, Alwar, Rewari, Gurgaon, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Muradabad, Kathgodam, Kashipur & Ramnagar. The weekly train connectivity with Abu road, Lucknow, Gaya, Varanasi, Mughalsarai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Surat & Mumbai. Occasionally special AC super fast trains or express trains available on Diwali, Deshhara, Winter leaves, Christmas, New year & Desert festival (during peak seasons) from Jaipur & Delhi. Jaisalmer is also one of the major station in the journey by India's most luxurious train "Palace on wheels"

By Road:
Jaisalmer town lies on Highway No. 15.It has luxury Mercedes volvo bus connectivity with Delhi as well as Ahmedabad. Many buses of RSRTC and also many private Bus Operators ply from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Jaipur, Barmer,Udaipur, Bikaner,Mt Abu, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Pune and other cities of India.


  1. ^ a b Balfour, Edward (1885). The encyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia:. Original from Oxford University: B. Quaritch. p. 406. 
  2. ^ Indian Encyclopaedia - Google Books
  3. ^ District Jaisalmer- History
  4. ^ a b http://books.google.co.in/books?id=D_v3Y7hns8QC&pg=PA13&lpg=PA13&dq=jaisalmer+marathas&source=bl&ots=Ker1zbnAs2&sig=WWpk6lMpMMPodD1xf9xrG1Hhz90&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QvBYVPqmFM-9uASH34GYAg&ved=0CD0Q6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=jaisalmer%20marathas&f=false
  5. ^ "India Meteorological Department – Weather Information for Jaisalmer". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Heat wave across north, Sriganganagar at 49 degrees". Zeenews.india.com. 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  7. ^ http://www.imd.gov.in/section/climate/jaisalmer2.htm
  8. ^ http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/planrel/fiveyr/2nd/2planch18.html
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/desert-drummers, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, "Desert Drummers", Caravanmagazine.in, 1 August 2013
  11. ^ Sandip Roy, Special to The Chronicle (2008-07-05). "Queen H A R I S H". Queen-harish.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  12. ^ goldencastleevents.com
  13. ^
  14. ^ Kingfisher Press Statement on 31 December 2012: http://www.flykingfisher.com/media-center/press-releases/statement-from-kfa--mumbai-december-31st-2012.aspx
  15. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  16. ^ "Show Map The Sun City – Jaisalmer". The Indian Backpacker. December 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Jaisalmer, Rajasthan by Don't Complain Travel
  18. ^ "Sonar Qila". Financial Express. 9 January 2004. 
  19. ^ Jaisalmer Photos

External links[edit]