Jaisalmer Fort, the Golden City and camel treks
Jaisalmer Fort in west Rajasthan is nicknamed the Golden City because the fort is made of sandstone, which looks gold in the sunset.
It's a small town with a population of around 78000 people. Some live in the fort, some live in the town at the foot of the fort. The towns location is in the Great Indian Desert (Thar), mostly a sand desert.
The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, with a fort on the hill top. Inside the fort, there's a palace and some awesome temples.
Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. As the fort is in daily use by locals it has a lively atmosphere and it feels a bit like a time machine to walk through the narrow streets.
To be honest, Jaisalmer is nothing less then magic. In the Jaisalmer fort there are plenty of guesthouses, and that ads up to the experience.
The entrance road to the city alone is already stunning. Out of nowhere, it seems the fort rises in the desert.
Camel trekking in the Jaisalmer desert
Camel trekking in the desert is one of the attractions of the town. Many guesthouses and hotels offer trekking around Jaisalmer.
Typically a trekking means you drive to a nearby village, get a camel and do a few days in the desert. You will experience the sand desert as it is and find that although it looks at first quite empty, there's plenty of people living here too.
Sitting on a camel is at first a weird experience, the animals smell heavily and in the heat of the day it seems not really an attraction to go on trekking. However, within 15 minutes you and the camel smell alike so you won't smell it anymore. And the slow but steady pass of the camel makes you sleepy. The heat was intense, sunscreen and a hat (or in my case a scarf) are essential. Water was brought with us. But once the camel was walking it felt cooler.
At the end of the day, the guides will set up camp and cook a local meal. Trekking can be 2 to 10 days depending how much time and money you have. Such a trekking is absolute worth to experience some of what the local population has been doing over the centuries.
To keep costs low, it's good to hook up with a few people.
Although Rajasthan has many interesting and exciting places, I felt the camel trek was the highlight of my journey in the state.
Getting there and stay
Jaisalmer is 265 km west of Jodhpur. You may want to bring your tent as there are not a lot of places to stay on this route. However, some locals may offer you shelter for the night for a few rupees.
Other transport goes either by taxi or bus. There are buses to many cities including Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ahmedabad and Udaipur. Alternative you can travel by train in luxury in the Palace on Wheels to Delhi. There is no airport.
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There are at least two good reasons to visit Jodhpur: the majestic Umaid Bhawan Palace and the Mehrangarh Fort. The fort is a must visit, even if you have seen plenty of them already, this one beats them all, easy!
Pushkar, the city of Brahma is a tourist attraction not only for the centuries old temple of Brahma but also for the annual Camel Fair which attracts thousands of visitors.
The 4th city in Rajasthan is Bikaner with palaces, a fort and the famous Karni Mata Temple.
The wealth of Udaipur is legendary. Few places in India have more palaces on such a small area as Udaipur. That alone makes a visit more then worthy.