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Tazia Tower, Jaisalmer

Location: Near Badal Palace in the heart of Jaisalmer
How to reach: Take an auto-rickshaw or a rickshaw
Attractions: Minarets and architectural fusion
Timings: Early morning till 5 P.M.

Located in Badal Palace complex near Amar Sagar Pol in the heart of Jaisalmer. You can walk to this place while you visit the city. These were the homes of the former royal family. The Tazia tower is a 5-storied structure where each story has significance in its own. On each floor there is a balcony famous for their individual designs. This was built by Muslim craftsmen and is based on the shape of Tazia. Good for photography.

Tazia Tower of Jaisalmer is one of the major tourist attractions. If you have done with the various Rajputana architectures scattered in the city, Tazia tower will come as a welcome break to you. Tazia is actually the replica of Mausoleum of various Imams. They are made of wood, thermocol and colored papers. The architects gifted it to the then royal patrons.

Tanot Mata Temple, Jaisalmer

Situated 120km North West of Jaisalmer city is Tanot in Thar Desert of Rajasthan. You will find sand dumes all along with small bushes. You can see herds of sheep & goats on the way. Beautiful landscape.Total desert.Nice to see Indira Gandhi Canal full of water after Ramgarh. You can see vegetation & farms near the canal. It is very near to Pakistan border. Last civilian point in India on border. Tanot Rai Mata Temple is an old temple with a history of India Pakistan war of 1965. Hundreds of shells fallen here did not harm the temple. Some bombs are in display at temple. Maintained & managed by Border Security Force of India. Keep food & water with you. very little population. Till Tanot mata temple you do not need the permission but for the border post, permission is must…

Sam Sand Dunes, Jaisalmer

Sam Sand Dunes, 42 away km from Jaisalmer, is the most popular excursion to see the total sandy bush less desert. It has a truly glorious stretch of sweeping sand dunes. It is best to be here at sunrise or sunset, and many camel safaris spend a night at the dunes. The best way to see this and other sites around Jaisalmer is to take a came safari. The standard trip lasts for 4 days and three nights, and offers the opportunity to explore the area in authentic and leisurely fashion, with entertainment by folk performers, visits to villages, and chatter from colourful guides thrown in. However you can also day trip and go by car. Hordes of tourist arrive just before sun set. Camels can be hired easily and you may be able your favourite picture with a lone camel on a desert track and the setting sun in the backdrop. Despite the tourist throng the place has not lost it magic. The desert festival held sometimes in February each year is a big draw and it is full of fun, colour and laughter, cultural events and competitions.

There is no point coming to the Thar Desert if you don’t go for the Desert Safari. That is why Sam sand dunes are becoming the major attraction in Jaisalmer. This is the closest place from where you can lose yourself in ‘the Great Thar Desert’. Sam has a truly magnificent stretch of sweeping dunes, with sparse or no vegetation. The best way to get here, of course, is on camelback.

Salim Singh Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer

The Salim-Singh-ki-Haveli, at the eastern end of the city, is a magnificent edifice that, like a wild flower, blossoms at the top. The haveli has the most astoundingly superb craftsmanship. The two upper storeys, called Rang Mahal and Kanch Mahal, had to be demolished to prevent a possible collapse. However, some historians opine that the Rawal saw through Salim Singh’s scheme to rival the glory of the fort. Whatever may be the case, even the surviving structure has unsurpassed splendor. Particularly noteworthy are the rows of peacocks below the jharokhas (projected arched balconies).

Patwaon Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer

Location: In a narrow lane near Patwa Complex
How to reach: Take a rickshaw, better if you walk the distance
Attraction: Architecture and miniatures, balconies
Timings: Early morning till 5 P.M.

The Patwon Ji ki Haveli is an interesting piece of Architecture and is the most important among the havelis in Jaisalmer. This is precisely because of two things, first that it was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and second, that it is not a single haveli but a cluster of 5 small havelis. The first among these havelis was commissioned and constructed in the year 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest and the most ostentatious. It is believed that Patwa was a rich man and was a renowned trader of his time. He could afford and thus ordered the construction of separate stories for each of his 5 sons. These were completed in the span of 50 years. All five houses were constructed in the first 60 years of the 19th century.

The havelis are also known as the ‘mansion of brocade merchants’. This name has been given probably because the family dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. However, there are theories, which claim that these traders made considerable amount of money in Opium smuggling and Money-lending.

This is the largest Haveli in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. This haveli is presently occupied by the government, which uses it for various purposes. The office of the Archeological Survey of India and State art and craft department is situated in the haveli itself.

Nevertheless, even after these encroachments and abuse you can find a good amount of paintings and mirror-works on the wall. The other important aspects are its gateways and arches. You will notice individual depictions and theme on each and every arch. Although the whole building is made yellow sandstone, the main gateway of the Patwon Ji ki Haveli is in brown color.

Ossian, near Jodhpur

65 Kms from Jodhpur, lies ruins of an ancient city called Ossian. This city is famous for Brahmanical and Jain temples, which belong to 8th and 11th century. Surya or Sun temple and the Sachiya temples are famous for their beauty. The shikhar of Sachiya temple is clustered by two rows of turrets, an ambulatory and a large assembly hall with an elaborate ceiling. This town which was once a great trading centre is an oasis and houses an abundance of peacocks. The largest of the 16 Jain and Brahmanical temples is dedicated to Mahavira, the last of the Jain tirthankars. In the same area the Surya temple has fascinating images of Durga, Surya and Ganesh. The sculptural intricacy of the Osian temples rival that of any of the famous temples of the country, be it the Sun Temple of Konark, or the Hoysala temples of Karnataka.

Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, Jaisalmer

Location: In the heart of Jaisalmer
How to Reach: Take a rickshaw or just walk the distance
Attraction: Architecture and miniature
Timings: Early morning till 5 P.M.

Nathmal Ji ki haveli was commissioned to serve as the residence of Diwan Mohata Nathmal, the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Maharawal Beri Sal commissioned the construction of this Haveli. The architects of this haveli were Hathi and Lulu who happened to be brothers. There is a very interesting story regarding its construction. It is said that the two brothers started building different facets of haveli simultaneously. In those days there were no such instruments, which could keep a track on continuity and thus when this building came up finally it had irregular shape.

Barring that, this haveli is still considered the best in Jaisalmer in terms of grandeur. There are other minute details worth appreciation. For example there are two Elephants made of yellow stone. These life-size replicas have been put in front of the main entrance so that it looks as if they are guarding the Haveli. Other than these, there are pictures engraved on pillars and walls. These consist of Horses, Cattle, and depiction of Flora among other things. But the most interesting aspect of this haveli is the drawing of modern amenities such as cars, fans etc. It is said and believed that the Architect brothers dint see these things ever in their life and engraved it with mere help of their descriptions given by people who had seen it.

Thus the architecture present in this haveli is quite different from the one popular in other parts of Jaisalmer. The workmanship of Jaisalmer havelis is an amalgam of both Rajput architecture as well as Islamic art that was imported via the traders’ caravan through the desert.

Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer

Location: In the very heart of Jaisalmer
How to reach: Better to take an auto-rickshaw or a rickshaw
Attraction: Architecture, miniatures and Bazaars
Timings: Early morning till 5 P.M.

Jaisalmer Fort is one of the largest forts in the world. It is situated in Jaisalmer city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, from where it derives its name. The fort stands proudly amidst the golden stretches of the great Thar Desert, on Trikuta Hill, and has been the scene of many battles. Its massive yellow sandstone walls are a tawny lion color during the day, fading to honey-gold as the sun sets, thereby camouflaging the fort in the yellow desert. For this reason, it is also known as the “Golden Fort”.

Jaisalmer Fort is a monument worth visiting and worth retaining in your conscious mind. Like various other cities of Rajasthan, in Jaisalmer too you will find different facets of its own glorious heritage. Though you can find historical monuments scattered all over the city, the Jaisalmer Fort will immediately command your attention. Made of sand stones and locally known as Sonar Quila, the Jaisalmer Fort is a dominating structure amidst sands.

The city is said to be founded by one Raja Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput ruler, in approximately 1156 A D. Legends go by that he did it on the behest of a local hermit named Eesaal. The raja choose Trikuta hill as the new site for his fort as his earlier adobe at Luderwa(16 k.m from present Jaisalmer) was too vulnerable to his comfort. But it should always be kept in mind that these legends are most of the time product of conscious minds that are very vulnerable to the oriental exaggeration.

Jaisalmer fort is the second oldest in Rajasthan. Two hundred and fifty feet tall and reinforced by imposing crenellated sandstone wall 30 feet high; it has 99 bastions, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647. Wells within the fort still provide a regular source of water. Even today, you will find that nearly one fourth of the old city’s population resides within the fort. If you are a student of cross-cultural merging, the subtle fusion of Rajput and Islamic architectural styles, visible in this fort, will catch your fancy. Ganesh Pol, Akshya Pol, Suraj Pol and Hawa Pol are a must see. Fort have 4 gate first is Akshya pol, second Surya pol, third is ganesh pol and last is hava pol. (pol means gate ) you can not see a gate from another is locate in turn because kings time they use elephant to break the gate so when elephant turn he lose his power and unable to break.

The fort has five palaces called Sarvottam Vilas, Akhai Vilas, Gaj Mahal, Rang Mahal and Moti Mahal, all interconnected behind the seven-storied façade. The Rang Mahal, built by Mool Raj II, has some exquisite murals painted on arches and spandrels. From the balconies one can get a terrific view of the mammoth ramparts guarding the small city. Balconies at the Gaj Mahal are also breathtakingly beautiful.

 Maharaja’s Palace

Fort has seperate residential area for Maharaja (the King) & Maharani (the Queen). Maharaja palace has bed room, a room with throne, a open area where king sits with his cabinet, a museum having dresses, beds, swords etc. You can see a dreess worn by one of the king who was 7.5 feet height & 4 feet width.

 Jain Temples

Location: In the Jaisalmer Fort

How to reach: Take a rickshaw or share an auto rickshaw

Attraction: Dilwara style paintings, Architecture
Timings: Early morning till 12 noon

The antiquity of these temples is reflected from the architecture of the temples. Jain Temples situated in the Jaisalmer Fort are a must visit site in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. You will find these temples to be very old and high pilgrimage as well as archeological value attached to them. These are a group of Jain temples dating back 12th and 15th centuries and are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankars (Hermits). On the walls of the temples, you can find animal & human figures, carved in famous Dilwara style.

The Jain temples in the Jaisalmer Fort are dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Shambhavdev Ji, the famous Jain hermits known as ‘Tirthankars’. Like all other structures in Jaisalmer, these temples are craved of yellow sandstones. The beautifully carves decorations on the wall will give you divine peace. The Astapadhi Temples that are situated in the same complex are a must visit too.

The temple complex is open through out the morning till 12noon, for the visitors. So try to get up a bit early or you might miss this splendor. The campus also contain Gyan Bhandar library. Well if you are a student of comparative archeology or otherwise, the library will prove to be a good place to prowl as it contains some of the rare manuscripts available in India.

This tirtha is situated in the fort on the hill adjoining Jaisalmer town that is a distance of 140 miles from Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Here in the temple we have an idol of MULANAYAKA Shri Chintamani Parshvanath Bhagavan. It is white in complexion, about 150 cms in height and in Padmasana posture. There was a time when the town had many wealthy Jain Saravakas in it. A beauty that will make us spell-bound is found in the Jain architectures of Jaisalmer. Architects have not left any space on any stone on which art carved on it cannot be shown. Again, the yellow stone of this area is very hard and carving art on it is no small a matter.

In the whole country, Jaisalmer is the only place in which artistry is visible not only in temples but also in balconies and porticos of houses in all subtlely. There are about seven thousand Jina idols over here, seven libraries with rare palm-leaf manuscripts; there are eighteen Upashrayas. The idol of Shri Chintamani Parshvanath Bhagavan is simply majestic. At the entrance door there are hundreds of art-pieces on the two attractive pillars; there are inner apartments, Gudhamandapas, festival pandals and Bhamati in which there are Shrungarachowkis of 51 Shrines. In the Gabharas there is an anointed idol of MULANAYAKA Bhagavan. The unique and majestic idols of period earlier that the 14th century are uniquely artistic. On the second day of the bright half of falguna in V.S. 1263, there was a fall down of the idol and it was shifted, brought here and ceremoniously installed. There are references of installations in V.S. 1459 and 1473, as well.

Gadi Sagar Lake, Jaisalmer

Gadi Sagar, a man made reservoir built in 1156 AD, is one of the most favorite tourist attraction in Jaisalmer. It was originally constructed by the King Jaisal and later it was reconstructed by Maharaja Garsi Singh in 1367 AD, making a new name ‘Lake Garsisar’. During the Rajput clan period, it was the only resource for the drinking water in Jaisalmer.
The lake is marvelously placed in a picturesque surroundings and an imposing sandstone entrance known as Tilon-ki-Pol opens to the lake. A grand Krishna temple is also placed at the gate. The banks of the Gadi Sagar enclose superbly maintained gardens, temples and majestically carved Chattris.
During the imposing festivities of Gangaur festival, the Gadi Sagar livens up with illuminations and the eye catching processions. This lake is a stopover for many migratory birds on their way to lakes in Kerala. The tourists can enjoy the exciting boating in this lake.

Kumbhalgarh Fort

Location
Its location had always been Kumbhalgarh’s greatest advantage. Because it was virtually inaccessible in the 15th century, Rana Kumbha of Mewar built this great defensive fortress on a 3,500 feet (1,100 meters) high hill overlooking the approaches from Ajmer and Marwar. Today, precisely because it is within easy reach of Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, and Pushkar-yet off the well trodden tourist routes-Kumbhalgarh is an attractive destination.

History
In Kumbha’s time the kingdom of Mewar spread from Ranthambore to Gwalior, including vast tracts of present-day Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Mewar’s rulers became patrons of all that was best in Indian martial and fine arts, architecture, and learning. Of the 84 fortresses defending Mewar, 32 were designed and built by Rana Kumbha. Of these, Kumbhalgarh with its 36-kilometer long wall and soaring towers is the most impressive. Kumbhalgarh stands on the site of an ancient citadel dating back to the second century AD belonging to a Jain descendant of India’s Mauryan emperors. It defined the boundaries between Mewar and Marwar and became a refuge for Mewar’s rulers in times of strife. Its steel gray ramparts encircle the fertile Shero Mallah Valley, with ancient monuments cenotaphs, ponds and flourishing farms. Kumbhalgarh fell only once in its history, to the combined forces of Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh of Amber, and Raja Udai Singh of Amber, and Raja Udai Singh of Marwar.

Tourist Attractions

A priest is still employed by the present Maharana to care for the shrines of his ancestors. And twice a day the Pandit’s family makes the stiff uphill climb to the castle to light the sacred lamps before vermilion-daubed images of Hanuman, Chamunda, and Ekling. There is an octagonal room in which Rana Pratap was born, apart from, the hall in which his grandson Prince Karan entertained the future Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, the beacon tower from which a flame summoned Mewar’s chieftains to war. The austere chambers, the vast reservoirs kept full by elephant relays, the simple garden court for the royal ladies, the easily defendable narrow staircases all declared that this was primarily a warrior’s hideout, not a palace for princely pomp and show.
The imaginatively designed Aohdi nearby belongs to a descendant of one of those great warrior families, the Rathores of Ghanerao, who enjoyed the distinction of having the only hereditary seat among the premier nobles of both Mewar and Marwar. The Aohdi’s castle-type cottages provide comfort and privacy for those seeking a peaceful retreat, plus a base for horse safari and trekking enthusiasts.

Horse lovers and adventure seekers can enjoy the thrill of riding and camping in the Reserve Forest around Kumbhalgarh. Each group is accompanied by experienced sawars. Horses, tents, food and fodder are provided by the Aohdin on prior notice at a very reasonable cost compared to a hacking holiday in Europe or America.

A hazardous, barely jeepable track takes you to the 586 square kilometer Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary. The main attraction here would be panther, sloth bear, wild boar, four-horned antelope or crocodiles, “scientifically bred” in the lake.

The Crocodile Farm has a guesthouse belonging to the Forest Department and overnight stays are possible. Good forest cover, jungle berries, fruits and nuts, water grasses, algae, and fish provide sustenance for thousands of flamingoes, sarus cranes, spoonbills, painted storks, cormorants, purple heron, egrets, duck, and rosy pelican in winter. One also finds plenty of chakor partridge, crow pheasants, jungle warblers, golden orioles, gray jungle fowl, and the usual peacocks; parrots, pigeons, and doves.

How to Reach (North of Udaipur, East of Jodhpur)

By Air
Nearest airport Udaipur (84 kilometers), and Jodhpur (102 kilometers). Follow the directions ‘By Road’ after reaching Udaipur/Jodhpur.

By Rail

Falna is the nearest junction through which trains from Mumbai. Ahmedabad, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Ajmer pass. It is recommend for  coming to Udaipur or Jodhpur first and then drive a 4 wheeler or 2 wheeler from these cities to Kumbhalgarh fort.

By Road

Many Rajasthan Roadways passenger and deluxe buses pass through Kumbhalgarh from Ajmer, Pushkar, Udaipur, and Jodhpur. If you are driving yourself, following directions may come handy:

From Udaipur: Kumbhalgarh sanctuary is located on Udaipur – Ranakpur highway. Ranakpur is one of Jain religions ‘teerth’ and even if you do not follow Jainism, it’s a temple worth a visit. You will be pleasantly amazed looking at the sculpting, carving with magnificent details on white marble. These carvings cover every inch of the temple, from pillars, to walls to corridors to ceiling. When you start from Udaipur, you want to drive to North -West of Udaipur to get to Kumbhalgarh. If you are staying in city then major landmarks you would pass through are chetak circle, sukhadia circle and fatehpura. You want to drive towards a place called ‘iswal’. Iswal is about 11 kms from Udaipur. On Iswal make a right turn toward Kumbhalgarh sanctuary. Follow the directions on the road. Please do note, road is not good all the way and be careful of stray buffalos, cattle and other domestic foul on the road.

Fort entry ticket RS.10/- (for Indian).

ENTRY TIME: 0800 hrs to 1800 hrs.

Duration 2 to 3 hrs.

The Kumbhalgarh Fort is quite a climb, make it a point to wear your sports shoes when heading here and carry plenty of liquids.

For interested parties, a Light and Sound show is organised here in the evenings between 1845 hrs to 1730 hrs. Ticket is Rs. 100/-.

Attractions at Kumbhalgarh Fort:

1. Massive Entrance, Ram Pol:The massive entrance gate of the fort is known as Ram Pol.  This gate itself is a symbol of the sheer grandness of this fort.

2. Nearby Temples that include Ganesh Temple, Swami Narayan Temple, Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple, Vedi Complex etc:After entering through the main entrance, you come across the group of temples at both sides of the main entrance. At the left hand side there is a Ganesha Temple and a Swami Narayan Temple. At the right hand side, there is a Vedi Complex, Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple, Parsvanath Temple etc. Many of these temples were built during the reign of Rana Kumbha.

3. Palaces that include Kumbha Palace, Badal Mahal and the Birthplace of Maharana Pratap:There are mainly three palaces inside the fort at different heights. A road from the main entrance leads towards the palaces along the Ganesha Temple and Swami Narayan Temple. After passing through a gate known as Pagda Pole, you come across the first palace, Kumbha Palace. This palace, two storeyed edifices, consisting of two rooms, a corridor and some open spaces, are now in a highly ruined state.

Near Pagda Pol, along the Kumbha Palace, there is another mansion known as Jhalia ka Malia or the Palace of The Queen Jhalia. This is the place where Maharana Pratap was believed to be born. The traces of old painting can still be seen on the wall.

Badal Mahal or The Palace of Clouds was built by Rana Fateh Singh and named so because of its situation at the highest point of the fort. The palace had a separate section for males and females. In the female section, there were stone windows with jalis, so that the queens and other ladies could see the court proceedings and other events in privacy.

4. Temples beyond the entrance gate that include Gole Rao Group of Temples, Jain Temples etc:Beyond the entrance gate, about 2 kms away, there are many temples scattered in the fort area. If you are lacking of time, then better to click them from the top of the Badal Palace. If you have time, you can walk on a paved road going along the Vedi Complex and Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple. Located in the middle of hilly terrains and surrounded by thorny bushes, these temples are a perfect place to spend some moments.

There are about 360 small and big temples scattered inside the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Of these 360 temples, about 300 temples belong to Jain Deities and about 60 temples belong to Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Things to do:

  1. Sit on the top of Badal Palace and see the expansion of wildlife sanctuary and the fort area:Badal Palace is situated on the top of the Kumbhalgarh Fort. Roof of this palace offer an excellent view of Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary spreading over the Aravali Hills.

2. Click the pictures of The Great Wall of India:The outer wall of this fort is believed to be the second longest wall after the Great Wall of China. They are about 36 kms long and about fifteen feet thick. (However some sources say it is only 15 kms long now). From the top of the Badal Palace, you can click many good pictures of this Great Wall of India.

3.Locate numerous temples from a higher point: At the top of the Badal Palace or any other higher point, you can check your knowledge about the temples and other monuments inside the fort, by simply locating them in that wilderness.

4. Walk on the massive wide walls of the fort:Not all forts in India are as grand as Kumbhalgarh Fort and only few of them provide an opportunity to walk on the outer walls. Kumbhalgarh Fort is mightiest and grandest and you can also walk on its 15 feets thick outer walls near the main entrance beyond the Vedi Complex.

5. Admire this fort from the view point:About one km before to the main entrance of the Kumbhalgarh Fort, you will find a notice board pointing towards the Kumbhalgarh Fort View Point. That point provides an excellent outer view of this grand fort and its mighty walls.

6. Enjoy Sound and Light Show:Every evening the Kumbhalgarh Fort is illuminated with flood lights and a special Sound and Light show starts at 6.45 PM on the story of Rajput Royals.The show is only in Hindi language and organised by The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp. The ticket cost is INR 100 per person for the Indian Nationals (Perhaps INR 250 for the foreigners). This 45 minutes show is highly recommended , provided that you are planning to stay there in the night.

7. Trek to Ranakpur Jain Temples:The best way to explore the wildlife sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Fort and Ranakpur Jain Temples. If you have time, please try this trek once, and to experience the best try it with Youth Hostels.

Where to Stay?

There are very few hotels (about 8-9) in Kumbhalgarh area and they are basically high-end heritage hotels or resorts. So from a backpacker’s point of view, those hotels are very expensive. It is better to stay in Udaipur and have a one day trip to Kumbhalgarh to return back by evening.