The majestic sandstone Jaisalmer Fort dominates the skyline of the ancient city of Jaisalmer. It’s a place to see grand palaces and elaborate temples, peek inside humble homes, shop for textiles and dine on tasty Rajasthani food. Built by the Bhatti Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort dates back to the 12th century. Today, this village within a city is home to thousands of residents and presents a fascinating insight into Rajasthan’s lively Marwari culture.
Enter this architecturally impressive monument via the towering gateway on its eastern side. Follow the winding pathway that leads through a series of gates to Dusshera Chowk, the fort’s striking central courtyard. Check out the elegant balconies, intricate latticework and shuttered windows of the courtyard’s surrounding buildings. Watch women dressed in colorful saris and men in bright turbans passing through the courtyard on their way to the fort’s maze-like village.
Stroll around the warren of lanes and spot luxurious honey-colored havelis, many established by wealthy merchants. Discover shops packed floor-to-ceiling with books, handicrafts, saris, rugs and wall hangings. Engage in conversations with the shop owners and learn about life inside the fort. Find quaint guesthouses, art galleries and restaurants serving aromatic Rajasthani curries. Visit exquisitely decorated Jain and Hindu temples.
Walk on the fort’s ramparts to enjoy uninterrupted views of the city, Gadisar Lake and the surrounding desert. Experience the fort from the outside too. Admire the 99 bastions and look for the Jaisalmer flag hoisted high above the palace on Dusshera Chowk. A great time to be here is at sunset, when the fort walls change from a soft ochre to a honey-gold color. As night falls, a series of floodlights cast an enchanting light over the entire fort.
The fort sits atop Trikuta Hill in the heart of Jaisalmer. It’s a short walk from Jaisalmer’s popular tourist areas such as Manak Chowk and Sadar Bazar. Jaisalmer train station is about a 10-minute drive away and easily reachable via auto-rickshaws and taxis.
Jaisalmer Fort is open daily and has an admission fee. Bargaining is common practice when buying goods at the fort’s shops.