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Jaisalmer

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Rajasthan is the Land of Kings - Maharaj and Rajputana warriors, fortresses and palaces, lakes and fountains dotted with gardens. There are famous places like Jaipur with its Palace of the Winds and "Udaipur" with fabulous white Palace.

Around 600 km to the west, hidden deep in the dry steppes of the Thar desert, is another jewel: Jaisalmer, the "Golden City". Gold is the color of the mighty fortress, a list of towers and three rows of walls that rises from the heart of this small but densely populated city - which has once been similarly fortified.
This is the last "living fortress" of India, which means that there are still about 2000 people in the interior of the citadel. Once upon a time, there was a royal enclave of Jaisalmer Maharajas, as evidenced by the seven-story palace and the complex of Jain temples dating back to the 12th to the 15th century.
Jaisalmer is a city of stone, mostly within the fortress, where even the roads are covered with cut stone. The local yellow sandstone, which has given him the nickname "The Golden City", is still mined in the area and exported all over the world. It is especially appreciated for street and floor coverings.
On the way to Jodhpur, they have many careers that provide food for the local population. In striking contrast to the strong fortress, all the main buildings are sophisticated and delicately sculpted (both inside and outside) of golden sandstone. Balconies, doors, and facades are dotted with geometric and natural motifs that form true filigree laces where the stone stands out in balustrades, columns, screens, and ornaments. Flowers, peacocks, elephants, and even bikes appear sculpted in bas-relief or as free-standing statues.
Stonecutters and woodcutters have perfected this tradition for more than 800 years. With its walls, typically dotted with round towers, Jaisalmer's "Golden Fortress" offers an impressive view of the city and the surrounding landscape.
Along the labyrinth of narrow streets below the fortress are the "havelies", the homes of wealthy merchants. Situated around patios, they are nicely adapted to the local climate: during the hottest months the air enters the yard by natural convection and circulates upward, ventilating the four or five floors through the many balconies and windows. The coolest rooms are located in the shaded base of the building, while the open terraces above it catch the evening coolness. And when the season of heat goes away, the upper rooms become preferred.
Three of the "havelies" are particularly well-known: Salem Singh Ki Haveli and Nathamal Ki Haveli belonged to Jaisalmer Maharaj's Vaziers, while Patwon Ki Haveli, which is open to visitors, is a complex of five houses built by a wealthy merchant in 19 century. To the southeast of the city is the Gadi Sagar reservoir - a large artificial lake with a reservoir of the 14th century, surrounded by exquisite temples and tombs of saints.
Jaisalmer was founded by Bhatti Rajput and named after Rawal Jaisal, who built here a fortification in 1156. The city controlled the trade routes that traveled between India and today's Pakistan, as well as those traversing the Himalayas on their way to Central Asia and China.
Camel caravans carried gold, jewels, silk, salt, carpets, perfumes, spices and opium, and Jaisalmer's maharajas took their share of taxes. This provoked the jealousy of other regional rulers, especially the Delhi Sultan, Alauddin Khilji, who had taken an eight-year siege, culminating in 1294 with a "Jauhar" ritual whereby women ritually self-extinguished at the stake and their husbands they go to fight to the death. Later, in the 17th century, the city took over the sovereign power of Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and flourished as never before.
Jaisalmer has long resisted the British rule of India before he succumbed to him in 1818, but by then, with the development of Bombay as a port, he was already suffering from strong competition in maritime trade. The division of India in 1947 closed the border with Pakistan, and Jaisalmer faded, playing the role of only the army stronghold.
Only recently has he resurrected to life as a valuable tourist destination and the last stop on the Jodhpur railway route. Now a few of the "havelies" are turned into luxury hotels, and the city is full of craft shops, restaurants, teas, and street performers.
Jaisalmer is the starting point for desert safaris, and the three-day Desert Festival designed to attract tourists is held every year in February and offers a rich program of folk music, dance, theater, puppet shows, camel races, and popular races for tying and for the best mustache. This event brings to Jaisalmer popularity and income that can be invested back into preserving its exceptional
architecture.
Interesting: The historic water reservoir of the city, called Gadi Sagar, was built in 1367. Over the centuries it formed a complex of beautiful temples and sanctuaries, some of which became islands by the swelling of the waters.
When to go there: From October to March. The desert festival is in February. From April to June, temperatures rise to 46 ° C, and large rainfall is from July to August.
What to look for: Local crafts include carving on stone, carpet, embroidery, and also making mirrors and camel leather bags.
Helpful Tips: When you visit a Jain Temple, you need to remove your shoes and everything made of leather, including belts, bags, and wallets.


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