Popularly referred to as the ‘Golden City’, Jaisalmer is located in the far westernmost side of the state of Rajasthan. The city resides next to the border of the country of Pakistan and the mighty and popular Thar desert. The city spreads the colour of golden and honey through its beautiful stretches of dunes and castles. The city is adorned by beautiful lakes, temples and Havelis that have existed for centuries. Hence, if you are an avid admirer of history and architecture then you are definitely in for some treat. Jaisalmer is to be perfectly enjoyed by sitting on top of a camel or in a jeep where you can ride through the sand dunes. One also chooses to layout a camp for themselves while enjoying the glittering sky and the beautiful land. A beautiful amalgamation of rich heritage and culture can be seen through the city of Jaisalmer.

1. Khuri Sand Dunes

Located at a distance of 40 kilometres in the southwest region of Jaisalmer are the popular Khuri Sand Dunes. The dunes are one of the most pristine spots etched in the middle of the famous Thar desert. The Thar desert houses numerous dunes that offer a perfect opportunity for tourists to either camp or opt for a desert safari. If you want to enjoy a thrilling desert safari then you can enjoy it on an SUV. The ride is extremely adventurous and adrenaline-pumping just like a roller coaster ride. Many tourists enjoy sitting beside a campfire in the middle of the dessert. The locals there play traditional songs of Kalbeliyas that will certainly help you enjoy your outing to the Khuri Sand Dunes. Another great way for tourists to enjoy the Khuri Sand Dunes is by opting for a camel ride. The colourfully dressed camels provide a greater and better view to admire the surroundings. A camel ride in the morning is even more divine as you get to catch the beautiful sunrise and its rays spread out on the sand dunes. Apart from camping in the middle of the dessert or opting for a camel ride, tourists can also visit the local markets and shop some souvenirs to take back home. Do not forget to try out some delicious Rajasthani delicacies while you are at the Khuri Sand Dunes. If you are planning to stay for a couple of days at the Sand Dunes then you can spend your days in the huts made of mud and straws.

The best time to visit here is in the middle of October to March. The weather during this period is fairly moderate. Do not visit here during the summer months as it will be unbearable for you to survive the heat. It is also said that the temperature during those months rises up to 50 degree Celsius. During the months of October, you can easily opt for a desert safari.

Khuri Sand Dunes

2. Lodarva

Once the capital of the state in western Rajasthan, Lodarva was known to be ruled by the Bhatti Rajputs. In the twelfth century, the founder of the new Jaisalmer, Rawal Jaisal who was also a part of the Bhatti Rajput clan. He lived in Lodarva before shifting his capital to Jaisalmer fort on the Trikuta Hill. He stayed in Lodarva because its location was on a trade route through the Thar desert that made it vulnerable to attack. Lodurva was later attacked by prestigious Afghan conquerers  Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century CE and then by Mohammad Ghori in the next century. The town today has become a popular site among tourists. Visitors love checking out the Lodurva’s architectural ruins and Jai temples.  The temples of Lodurva showcase some of the finest and intricate craftsmanship that has been performed on yellow stone. 

The Parshvnath Temple in Lodurva is the oldest and the most impressive temple among the rest. The temple has been decorated with carved figures of animals and humans. On top of it is a small dome which is crowned by an amalaka (segmented stone disk with ridges on the rim) and a water pot that contains a lotus flower. The Parshvnath temple was destroyed in 1152 but was reconstructed in 1615 by Seth Tharu Shah. While touring the temple do not forget to visit the Kalpavriksha which is a mythical tree, situated inside the arena.

Another famous Jain temple of Lodurva is the Rishabhnath Temple. It is located near the ruins of the palace of Moomal. The temple was constructed in 1479. Shambhavnath Temple is marked as the third most important Jain temple in Lodurva. It has been dedicated to the Jain Tirthankara Shambhavnath.  Other famous places that you can visit in Lodurva include the Hinglaj Mata temple, Chamunda Mata temple, and the old temple of Shiva. If lucky you will also be able to spot some beautiful peacocks around these temples.


3. Khaba Fort

The famous Khaba Fort is located at a distance of 25 kilometres from the Sam Sand Dunes and around 35 kilometres away from the city of Jaisalmer. The fort is a ruined citadel that is set amid a barren desert village in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Despite that, many tourists love visiting the Khaba fort when visiting Jaisalmer. It is known that the Khaba Fort is a cursed village of the Paliwal Brahmins. They abandoned this place 200 years ago due to reasons unknown to anyone. The fort’s current structure is completely ruined. But one can still spot the ruins of the homes of around eighty families that used to live. The Khaba Fort dates back to the 13th century AD and is known to be once an important part of Kuldhara, the village that was inhabited by Paliwal Brahmins. 

Once when the Khaba Fort was the Sarai Fort, the traders who entered Rajasthan through the Silk Route trade stayed inside the fort for the night. Only when they paid taxes, they were allowed to go ahead for trade. The architecture of the fort once belonged to the Paliwal Brahmins of the Kuldhara village. They fled the town in the 19th century leaving the whole town deserted. The stairs at the fort entrance lead to the main spot of the entire village and the surrounding area. You can also choose to walk the quiet streets of the fort towards the Kuldhara village that stretches from the foot of the fort. This entire experience is for the people who wish to explore the horrors that are associated with this place. 

A small museum inside the fort that displays ancient artefacts can also be visited. In the form of visitors, the Khaba Fort also sees many peacocks and peahens. They can be seen enhancing the beauty of the place with their presence in the morning.

Khaba Fort

4. Desert National Park

The Desert National Park is located near the town of Jaisalmer. The entire park covers an area of 3162 sq km, making it one of the largest parks in the country. Its covers a huge area, starting from Jaisalmer up to the India-Pakistan border. The National Park is home to various exotic animals and birds. This includes species such as the chinkara, blackbuck, sand grouse, desert fox, cat, desert gerbil, fringe-toed agama eagles and blue bull. The park consists of a few sand dunes as well. Apart from that, you will also be able to spot some thorny bushes, cacti and a few desert plants as well. The best way to enjoy the Desert National Park is by going on an adrenaline-pumping and fun-filled jeep safari ride. The entire experience of witnessing it while on the jeep safari is a must-have experience. Due to its close proximity to the Thar desert, it is assumed that the national park will have a non-existent or harsh flora and fauna. But that is not true for the Desert National Park. The park has numerous birds wandering around the arena. Many migratory and resident desert birds can be spotted. One of the rarest species of birds, the Great Indian Bustard can be found here too. Tourists will also be able to spot various eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel, vultures, Short-toed eagles, tawny eagles, spotted eagles, laggar falcons and kestrel can also be seen here. These species can be seen continuously trying to fight the harsh environment in order to survive. Apart from the birds, the desert park also has a collection of fossils of animals and birds. Some of these have been estimated to be more than 180 million years old. A few 6 million-year-old fossils of dinosaurs have also been found in the region.

Desert National Park

5. Khuldhara

Located 17 kilometres away from Jaisalmer is Khuldhara. The village is popularly known as the most haunted village of India. The now-empty streets of Kuldhara now lie completely in ruins. According to many stories, this village was the home of around 1,500 Paliwal Brahmins. Their entire community was known to be residing there for more than five centuries. But during one night, the entire population that included the population of around 85 villages, vanished overnight in the dark. It is said that once they left, they put a  curse on the village that still haunts it. Even till today, nobody knows where the villager went. For centuries, people have been estimating and cooking up stories to find out what the reason might have been behind the villagers leaving overnight.

Rumours say that Salim Singh who was the evil prime minister was known for his illegal practice of collecting tax in the village. He had set his eyes on a girl of Paliwal Brahmins and decided to marry her without any consent. Salim Singh had threatened the villagers that if his marriage didn’t happen then they will face the worse consequences. Instead of giving approval for the marriage, the villagers asked for some time and left their houses overnight. But before leaving they cursed the village that nobody will ever be able to inhabit the villages ever. Some stories even assume that since heavy taxes were levied on the Paliwal community, they had no option, but to leave and disappear from the harshness of the ruler. Even after so many years after this accident, the village is still said to be under the curse. As many residents of Jaisalmer have tried to stay in Kuldhara but haven’t been able to succeed.

Many strange and unnatural activities are said to frequently occur in this place. People from different part of the world especially visit Kuldhara to witness the dark and spooky side of the Rajasthan.


6. Barmer

Through its rich heritage and vibrant colours, the desert town of Barmer represents the true ethnicity of the state of Rajasthan.  It is located in the western part of Rajasthan that forms a part of the Thar Desert. It also shares its borders with Pakistan on the west and Jaisalmer and Jalore to the north and south, respectively. The historic town is said to have existed since the 13th Century. Barmer is known to reflect the vivid culture of Rajasthan through its colourful houses that have been further beautified with folk motifs and even more with its vibrantly dressed people that are said to be extremely hospitable. Barmer is also home to the famous Barmer Fort and also various ancient temples. The best way to enjoy a visit to Barmer is by travelling here in the month of March. The town is much more vibrant than most part of the year as you get to be a part of the Barmer festival celebrations.

Barmer is the third-largest district in Rajasthan that is also home to a major oilfield which has recently been discovered. Adding some more attraction to its cultural beauty are the camels walking along the barren terrain. You will also be able to spot many artisans busy in showcasing their rich crafts such as pottery, weaving, woodcarving, dance and music. Despite the harsh weather conditions, the town attracts numerous visitors around the year.

To avoid the searing summer desert heat, it’s best to visit Jaisalmer between the months of September and March. The best time to experience the full glory of the city is if you go during the annual Jaisalmer Desert Festival that is held yearly in the month of February or late January.