The outskirts of Jaisalmer are no less than Jaisalmer when it comes to splendour. Want to loose yourself in the desert, come to Sam Sand dunes. Stay in the camp in solitude and just look at the sun setting behind the horizon. Or else you can also opt for Khuri sand dunes if you want yourself to get pampered by Rajasthani hospitality. Listen to local folk music and enjoy authentic Rajasthani cuisine. Visit Lodurva, the ancient capital of the Bhattis and appreciate the Dilwara style paintings scattered all around the ruins.
If you are a history freak then opt for Amar Sagar or Bada Sagar and live the rich cultural heritage once and forever. Want to wind the clock backward! Visit Fossil Park and let your geological part take the initiative. Are you a conservationist? You can try your hands at the Desert National park or opt for Phalodi if you prefer extreme solitude. There is so much to see and explore in Jaisalmer!
Amar Sagar Lake
Location: 7 K.M. in the western outskirts of Jaisalmer
How to reach: Hire a cab or share an Auto-rickshaw
Attractions: Lake and a Palace
Amar Sagar is a small and beautiful lake cum Oasis and is adjacent to a 17th Century palace called the Amar Singh Palace. Maharawal Akhai Singh built this palace in honor of one of his predecessors Amar Singh. Next to the palace are pavilions with a large stairs leading down to the Amar Sagar Lake. This haveli has been constructed in the pattern of apartments. The Amar Sagar is a five story high haveli and is famous for its murals. Wherever you go in this haveli, you will notice beautiful murals painted with delicate efforts.
You can find many of wells and ponds in the surrounding which have a royal air about them. There is an old Shiva temple in the complex itself. Amar Singh built this because he was supposed to be an ardent follower of Lord Shiva, a Hindu God related to destruction.
Bada Bagh Jaisalmer
Location: 6 Km off the Jaisalmer city on Ramgarh Road
How to reach: Take a cab or hire a Rickshaw
Attraction: Garden and Cenotaph
Bada Bagh, which literally means 'Big Garden', is located on the Ramgarh road. It was commissioned by Maharawal Jait Singh in the early 16th century and completed by his son Lunakaran after his death.
The site has three different things to watch, a garden, a tank and a dam. In the vicinity itself you will find Govardhan Stambh (pillar). This pillar was constructed to commemorate the construction of the Dam and the tank. In the local dialect the Dam and the tank are known as Jait Bandh and the Jait Sar respectively. It is believed that these are based on the name of the man who constructed them. The Jait Bandh is a dominating structure. It is about 1,200 feet in length and 350 feet in width. If you observe it closely you will notice that this has been built out of solid blocks of stone. The same material has been used for the construction of well as well as the tank.
Other interesting monuments in the vicinity are the Cenotaphs. These cenotaphs also known as chattris and were constructed by the various Bhatti rulers. One cenotaph has been erected for each ruler. The oldest among them is the cenotaphs of Maharawal Jait Singh who reigned from 1470-1506. This tradition was discontinued when in 1947, one of the prince died of a mysterious disease. This was taken as a bad omen and thus this tradition came to its end
Desert National Park Jaisalmer
Location: 40 K.M. from Jaisalmer
When to Visit: From November to March
How to Reach: Hire a cab or take a Bus ride
Activities: Jeep safari, Camping, Bonfire and bird watching
The Desert National Park is situated in the Indian state of Rajasthan near Jaisalmer. The Desert National Park is a protected sanctuary. The park is considered not only the largest in the state of Rajasthan but among the largest in India. The catchments area of the Desert National Park is around 3100 sq. km. The desert is a harsh place to sustain life and thus most of the fauna and flora live on the edge. Nevertheless this place attracts large hoard of migratory birds due to its close proximity to Bharatpur.
The great Indian Bustard is a magnificent bird and can be seen in considerably good numbers. It migrates locally in different seasons. The region is a heaven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many Eagles, Harriers, Falcons, Buzzards, Kestrel and Vultures. Short- toed Eagles, Tawny Eagles, Spotted Eagles, Laager Falcons and Kestrels are the most common among these.
The substantial part of the park is on a landscape, which comprises of lakebed of extinct salt lakes and thorny scrubs. It is a wonder in itself that how come living organisms flourish in these harsh conditions. Similarly, a considerable area of the Desert National Park consists of sand dunes. If you really want to explore the magnificent wildlife at the Desert National Park in Jaisalmer then the best way is by setting out on an adventure-filled jeep safari. And yes, don't forget to carry a really good pair of binoculars and any of Ultra Zoom SLR cameras.
Wood Fossil Park Jaisalmer
Location: 17 K.M. from the main Jaisalmer city near Barmer Road
How to reach: Take a cab or share an Auto-rickshaw
Importance: Fossil remains of Jurassic era till 130 million years ago
If you are done with history then Akal Fossil Park is the place to be. For, it takes you beyond History. It takes you back to the prehistoric Jurassic era, which is, hold your breath, 180 million years back! It is a fossil park where stood a forest 180 millions years ago. Then the area submersed in to the sea and the tree trunks got preserved in the form of fossils.
The fossil trunks lie scattered in this park. Fossilized tree trunks are of various sizes with the largest being 13 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width. Covering about 10 sq. Km of bare hillside, the Fossil Park contains 25 petrified trunks, in total. The 21-hectare preserved area of the park lies about 17 Km from Jaisalmer on the road to Barmer.
If you happen to be a Conservationist or a Geologist by chance, try to get there early. Get there before tourists come pouring in. You will have to seek prior permission in order to study the remains.
Khuri Sand Dunes
Location: In the outskirts of Jaisalmer, 40 K.M. southwest from the main city
How to reach: Take a camel safari or any powerful SUV
Attractions: Camel safari, Mud houses and Desert solitude
Khuri sand dunes are slowly picking up in the must visit charts of tourists. If you find Sam sand dunes a bit crowded then you can very well opt for Khuri sand dunes. Situated just 40 K.M. off the town, Khuri is a must visit for tourists seeking solitude in the desert. It is a peaceful place with houses of mud and straw decorated like the patterns of Persian carpets.
The Khuri sand dunes offer you a memorable experience in the land of the Rajputs. Enjoy the ride on camel back and let the place itself take you to its mesmerizing heights. Get closer to the local way of living with a close view of thatched straw roofs, camels, narrow streets and the local bazaar. At the night, organize a campfire with the fellow tourists (if any) and listen to the songs of 'Kalbeliyas'.
You can also try Rajasthani cuisine for a change and just keep looking on sand dunes as it changes its hue during different parts of day. And say adieu to the sun as it sets behind the crimson red sand dunes.
Location: Outskirts of Jaisalmer, 16 Km from the city
How to Reach: You can hire a cab or auto rickshaw
Importance: Jain temple ruins, Kalptaru and Peacocks
Lodurva is the ancient capital of Bhattis Rajputs and was once a flourishing city but lost most of the splendor when the Bhattis shifted their capital to Jaisalmer. Nevertheless this place is a major tourist attraction and attracts a lot of attention due to ruins of Jain temples. The most mesmerizing experience will be the peacock dance amid exotic Lodurva ruins. Yes, Peacocks are a great pull and they are in plenty here.
Lodurva is also known for its Jain temples. The temples are made of bright yellow sandstones. Though in ruins, the splendors of these Jain temples are clearly visible. You will find temple walls decorated with the pictures of Lord Parsvanath, the 23rd Jain Tirthankar. The beautiful Jaali works make these temples a piece of marvel. You will notice the splendid and dominating arch in the main temple building. These arches are typical of the Dilwara style of temple architecture.
Location: 8 K.M. off Jaisalmer on the way to the Sam Sand dunes
How to reach: Take an auto-rickshaw or hire a cab
Attraction: Wells and paintings on walls
Situated 8 K.M. west of Jaisalmer, this is another pleasant, but rather neglected, small garden and tank. It belongs to the Royal family of Jaisalmer and was originally built as a cool summer retreat. The major attraction of this place is a Shiva temple, which is said to be constructed out of just two large blocks of sandstones.
Maharawal Moolraj II built the Moolsagar complex in 1815 AD. You will find numerous wells, the Moolsagar Garden and a splendid Raj Mahal built on its premises. Maharaja Moolsagar was known for his patronage to art and artisans and that becomes pretty evident when you come across some great murals on the palace walls. He definitely had a considerable influence on the wazirs and land-lords. Therefore his patronage to the art and architecture was resonated among his nobles and subjects. It was mainly due to his efforts that so many lovely palaces and structures were built in that period which was influenced by both the Mughal and Rajput schools of art.
Sam Sand Dunes
Location: In the outskirts of Jaisalmer, 42 K.M. from the main town
How to reach: Jeep or any other 4 wheel drive SUV or Camel back according to your convenience
Famous for: Sand, sands and only sands
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 loose 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.
Join a camel caravan at Jaisalmer on your Rajasthan tours and ride along the breathtaking crests and troughs. Enjoy the romance of solitude as your camel takes you deep in the hearts of the Thar Desert. Put yourself in the camp and experience the sun setting behind the horizon. Organize a bonfire with the fellow tourists in the night and enjoy the rustic and earthy music and dance of Rajasthan.
In the month of February/March, this whole place turns into a cultural hub. The desert festival organized amid these dunes is the showcase of Rajasthani culture as a whole. Open-air cultural extravaganzas, puppet shows, folk dance performances, camel races, competitions and general festivities mark this annual event that is held with great pomp and show at the Sam Sand dunes in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.