Jaisalmer is a city in Rajasthan, India. It is sometimes referred to by the epithet “The Golden City”. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert, and has a population of about 78,000. Its strategic position along the camel routes of trading Indian and Asian merchants once made it into a prosperous oasis. When Mumbai grew into an important harbour city, Jaisalmer lost its importance as a merchant city. When the country was divided in 1947, trading through Pakistan was stopped, and along with serious drought, the story about Jaisalmer was about to end. However, the skirmishes between India and Pakistan proved Jaisalmer to have a strategic position. The Rajasthan Canal revived the desert. Roads and railroads were built, bringing the city together with the rest of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is the geographically largest state in northwestern India. It borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 342,239 km² (132,139 sq mi; in India also expressed as 3.42 lakh sq km).
The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert and the termination of the Ghaggar River. Also one of the oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, which cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu and the world famous Dilwara Temples. In contrast to the vast Thar Desert it has two national tiger reserves, ‘Ranthambhore’ and ‘Sariska’ and ‘Ghana Bird Sanctuary’ at Bharatpur.
A military airstrip has recently been opened to limited civilian flights. A new, dedicated airport is planned. As of end of 2014 it’s still not open, so flying to Jaisalmer is still not possible.
There is a direct train service from Old Delhi. The Delhi-Jaisalmer Express, departure time at 17:30 (from Delhi Jn station) via Jaipur, Jodhpur and Pokharan (India’s nuclear testing area) reaches Jaisalmer at 11:30 next day. In the other direction the train leaves Jaisalmer at 17:15, reaching Delhi Jn at 11:15 next day. This train has 2AC, 3AC, Sleeper and unreserved classes. It is very often 3-5 hrs late. Once you get to the station, it is about a 40 Rs auto ride to the center of town as of Jan 2013.
In addition there is a daytime slow train (unreserved, stopping at all stations) and a night express train (with 3AC, Sleeper and unreserved classes) between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur.
Every Sunday the luxury train Palace on Wheels stops at Jaisalmer.
Bus or car-taxi from Jodhpur or by bus from Bikaner. A daily bus runs to and from Jaipur by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) .
Various tour operators and travel agencies offer chauffeured car-taxi services; these are charged on a per km, per day basis. You can plan to take one to arrive into the city or take one for sightseeing in and around the city.
There are many car rental services in Delhi which can provide chauffeur driven cars to Jaisalmer.
Approximate road distances from various destinations are
|New Delhi||800 km|
Another option is to arrive by camel; Jaisalmer is famous for camel trips. The most grueling is the 14 day trip from Bikaner. When booking a few days in the desert on a camel, remember to shop around in order to get the quality you pay for.
All pictures by the author
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