Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tourism of Rajasthan- miss anju pandey,kalyan


Tourism of Rajasthan
Rajasthan has several tourist sights, especially in ancient and medieval architecture. Places of interest are Mount Abu, Ajmer, Alwar(Sariska tiger sanctuary), Bharatpur (Keoladeo bird sanctuary), Bikaner, Jaipur (the Pink City), Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pali, Jaisalmar and Chittorgarh. Tourism was given industry status in 1992.

State Capital Jaipur
Population ('000s in 1991) 44,006
Area ('000 sq. km) 342
Females per 1000 males (1991) 910
Literacy rate (1991) 38.6
Ratio of urban population (1991) 22.9
Net Domestic Product (Rs. million at current prices in 1992-93) 229,360
Per Capita Income (Rs. at current prices in 1992-93) 5,035
Principal Language Hindi and Rajasthani

Rajasthan is located in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. It is bounded on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and on the southwest by the state of Gujarat. The Tropic of Cancer passes through its southern tip in the Banswara district. The state has an area of 132,140 square miles (342,239 square kilometres). The capital city is Jaipur.

In the west, Rajasthan is relatively dry and infertile; this area includes some of the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert. In the southwestern part of the state, the land is wetter, hilly, and more fertile. The climate varies throughout Rajasthan. On average winter temperatures range from 8° to 28° C (46° to 82° F) and summer temperatures range from 25° to 46° C (77° to 115° F). Average rainfall also varies; the western deserts accumulate about 100 mm (about 4 in) annually, while the southeastern part of the state receives 650 mm (26 in) annually, most of which falls from July through September during the monsoon season.

Rajasthan has a single-chamber legislative assembly with 200 seats. The state sends 35 members to the Indian national parliament: 10 to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and 25 to the Lok Sabha (Lower House). Local government is based on 30 administrative districts.

Archaeological and historical evidence shows a continuous human habitation of the area dating back 100,000 years. Between the 7th and the 11th century AD, several dynasties arose, with Rajput strength reaching its peak at the beginning of the 16th c. Emperor Akbar brought the Rajput states into the Mughal empire; by early 19th c, they allied with the Marathas. With the decline of the Mughals, the Rajputs gradually clawed back their independence through a series of spectacular victories, but, by then a new force to reckon with, had emerged on the scene in the form of the British. Most Rajput states entered into alliances with the British, which allowed them to continue as independent states, each with its own maharaja, subject to certain economic and political constraints. These alliances proved to be the beginning of the end of the Rajputs, and soon the extravagance and indulgence of the rulers led to the disintegration of the Rajput kingdoms.The present form of Rajasthan came into being after the Independence.

Society and Culture
The Rajputs (Rajputs) though representing only a small percentage of the population, are the most important section of the population in Rajasthan. They are proud of their warlike reputation and of their ancestry. The Brahman class is subdivided into many gotras, while the Mahajan (the trading class) is subdivided into a bewildering number of groups. Some of these groups are Jainas, while others are Hindus. In the north and west the Jats and Gujars are among the largest agricultural communities.

Aboriginal peoples in the Alwar, Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Dholpur areas include the Minas (Mewatis); the Banjaras, who are traveling tradesmen and artisans; and the Gadia Lohars, another itinerant tribe, who make and repair agricultural and household implements. The Bhils, one of the oldest peoples in India, inhabit the districts of Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur, and Sirohi and are famous for their skill in archery. The Grasias and nomadic Kathodis live in the Mewar region. Sahariyas are found in the Kota district, and the Rabaris of the Marwar region are cattle breeders.

The principal language of the state is Rajasthani, comprising a group of Indo-Aryan dialects derived from Dingal, a tongue in which bards once sang of the glories of their masters. The four main dialects are Marwari (in western Rajasthan), Jaipuri or Dhundhari (in the east and southeast), Malvi (Malwi; in the southeast), and, in Alwar, Mewati, which shades off into Braj Bhasa in Bharatpur district. The use of Rajasthani is declining with the spread of modern education, and its place is being taken by Hindi (the official state language of Rajasthan).

Hinduism, the religion of most of the population, is generally practiced through the worship of Brahma, Siva, Sakti, Vishnu (Visnu), and other gods and goddesses. Nathdwara is an important religious centre for the Vallabhacarya sect of Krishna followers. There are also followers of the Arya Samaj, a reforming sect of modern Hinduism, as well as other forms of that religion. Jainism is also important; it has not been the religion of the rulers of Rajasthan but has followers among the trading class and the wealthy section of society. Mahavirji, Ranakpur, Dhulev, and Karera are the chief centres of Jaina pilgrimage. Another important religious sect is formed by the Dadupanthis, the followers of Dadu (d. 1603), who preached the equality of all men, strict vegetarianism, total abstinence from intoxicating liquor, and lifelong celibacy.

Islam, the religion of the state's second largest religious community, expanded in Rajasthan with the conquest of Ajmer by Muslim invaders in the late 12th century. Khwajah Mu'in-ud-Din Chishti, the Muslim missionary, had his headquarters at Ajmer, and Muslim traders, craftsmen, and soldiers settled there. The state's population of Christians and Sikh is small.

The typical folk dance of Rajasthan is the ghoomar, which is performed on festive occasions only by women. The geer dance (performed by men and women), the panihari (a graceful dance for women), and the kacchi ghori (in which male dancers ride dummy horses) are also popular. The most famous song is "Kurja," which tells the story of a woman who wishes to send a message to her absent husband by the kurja (a type of bird), who is promised a priceless reward for his service. Rajasthan has made its contribution to Indian art, and there is a rich literary tradition, especially of bardic poetry. Chand Bardai's poem Prithvi Raj Raso or Chand Raisa, the earliest manuscript of which dates to the 12th century, is particularly notable. A popular source of entertainment is the khyal, a dance drama composed in verse with festive, historical, or romantic themes. Rajasthan abounds in objects of antiquarian interest, including early Buddhist rock inscriptions, Jaina temples, forts, splendid princely palaces, and Muslim mosques and tombs.

The spring festival Gangaur during late March to early April and the Teej festival between early and late August are important. The Teej welcomes the monsoon, when the state's many lakes become full. The Pushkar camel and cattle fair during mid-November, the Nagaur festival during late January to early February and the Koolyat Fair at Bikaner during mid to late November are well known fairs. The Desert Festival at Jaisalmer during early to mid-February is a famous modern fair.

Economy and Infrastructure
Rajasthan's economy is mainly agricultural; millet, wheat, maize (corn), and cotton are grown. Though parts of the state are extremely dry, and are covered by the Thar desert, the total cultivable area in the state is 27,465 thousand hectares, and the sown area, 20,167 thousand hectares. Tourism is also an important part of the economy.

Primarily an agricultural and pastoral economy, Rajasthan have good mineral resources. Rajasthan accounts for India's entire output of zinc concentrates, emeralds and garnets, 94% of it's gypsum, 76% of silver ore, 84% of asbestos, 68% of felspar and 12% mica. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar and elsewhere and copper mines at Khetri and Dariba. The white marble is mined at Markana near Jodhpur. The main industries are textiles, the manufacture of rugs and woolen goods, vegetable oils and dyes. Heavy industries includes the construction of railway rolling stock, copper and zinc smelting. The chemical industry also produces caustic soda, calcium carbide and sulphuric acid, fertiliser, pesticides and insecticides. The principal industrial complexes are at Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur and Bhilwara.

Having much arid land, Rajasthan needs extensive irrigation. It receives water from the Punjab rivers and also from the Western Yamuna (Haryana) and Agra canals (Uttar Pradesh) and from the Sabarmati and Narmada Sagar projects to the south. There are thousands of tanks (village ponds or lakes), but they suffer from drought and silt. Rajasthan shares the Bhakra Nangal project with the Punjab and the Chambal Valley project with Madhya Pradesh; both are used to supply water for irrigation and for drinking purposes. The Rajasthan Canal, renamed the Indira Gandhi Canal in the mid-1980s for the late prime minister, carries water from the Beas and Sutlej rivers in Punjab some 400 miles to irrigate desert land in northwestern and western Rajasthan.

Electricity supplies are obtained from neighbouring states and from the Chambal Valley project.

 There is a nuclear energy plant at Rawatbhata, near Kota. Rajasthan is well connected by rail, air and roads. Total length of roads was 77,347 km as on March 1999. Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Kota, Sawai Madhppur and Bharatpur are main rail junctions of the state. Regular air services connect Jaipur, Jodhpur and udaipur with Delhi and Mumbai.

Hotels of Rajasthan
The State has hotels of star and non star category catering to the needs of the tourists visiting Rajasthan. Besides it has resorts, restaurants and cafés which cater to the needs of all segment of travelers.


Tales of valor and poignant romance epitomize Jodhpur. In the arid landscape of Thar Desert Jodhpur is built around an oasis.

They say Rao Jodha, the founder of the city, evicted a hermit from the rocky ridge where the Mehrangarh fort stands now. Enraged hermit cursed that the land would be inflicted by drought and famine thenceforth. Hence the city became dry as desert.

But with its impregnable forts, landscaped gardens, ornate havelis, Jodhpur is a romantic city. Don’t rush. Explore it with poise. The city would grow on you.

How to go? Where to stay? Don’t worry if the questions scrambled your head ! Travel.mapsofindia brings you all.

Meherangarh Fort

Earlier called the Chintamani fort, the fort was built in 1459 by Rao Jodha the founder of Jodhpur on the summit of a steep hill called the Bakharchiriya or bird’s nest. The citadel was fortified by eight Pols or gates (now reduced to seven) regulating entry into the premises. The expansive ramparts of the castle span some 10km, and if you stand atop the fort, you do get a bird’s eye view of the city with its whitewashed homes. Bakharchiriya was an apt name for the hilltop on which the fort now sits, is perched on top of Meherangarh and from there you get a commanding view of the landscape. In fact from that vantage point, you can even sight the Kumbhalgarh fort situated a good 125 km away. The fort stands 122 metres above the plain and rises on sheer bare rock. It is fortified by walls ranging from seven to twenty-four metres in thickness, and rising upto a height of 40 metres.
Mehargarh Fort, Jodhpur Travel Guide

¤ The Main Poles or Gateways To Fort

would have presented a forbidding sight to any invading army with its maze of imposing towers at frequent intervals. Jai Pol, the main entrance to the fort was built in 1808 celebrating the great victory of Raja Man Singh over his great rival Jagat Singh of Jaipur. Also the doors of Jai Pol are embellished won by Raja Abhay Singh from Ahmedabad. The western gate of the fort is called the Fateh Pol (victory gate) which was built to commemorate an important event in Jodhpur’s history- the reclaiming of the fort from the Mughals by Ajit Singh in 1707. The Lakhna Pol, also called the Dedh Kangra Pol was added on in the 19th century, constitutes an important historical landmark in Jodhpur. It was built during Rao Maldeo’s reign in the 16th century, but it bore the brunt of the attack launched by the Jaipur army in 1807. It still bears the dents from the cannonballs launched at it by the aggressors. To the left of the Lakhna Pol is the Amrit Pol, also built by Raja Maldeo, on passing which you come to the original entrance of the fort which was built in 1459.

The then entrance consisted of a boulder, which had two holes in which were inserted wooden logs to provide a provisional barrier. Beyond the Lakhna Pol is the Loha Pol (Iron Gate) dating back to the 15th century, although the façade that you see today was again the contribution of Rao Maldeo in the 16th century. The handprints of 15 royal satis, Jodhpur queens who burnt themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands, are a chilling reminder to the barbaric custom, which was very much in vogue in Rajasthan. It was the considered an honour by the women themselves to sacrifice their lives for their menfolk. So much so, that when Maharaja Ajit Singh died in 1731, no fewer than six of his wives and fifty-eight of his concubines burnt themselves on his funeral pyre. and although sati was made illegal by the British governor general William Bentick in 1829, the last recorded case of sati occurred in Jodhpur as recently as 1953. Just next to it is the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate, one of the oldest gates in the complex. This gate is one of the oldest in the Mehrangarh fort, and on entering it you will come across a flight of stairs which takes you to the Moti Mahal, one of the loveliest palaces in the complex.

¤ Fort Temples

Nagnechiji Temple
To the extreme right of the fort complex is located the Nagnechiji temple, the family temple of the Rathore dynasty. The Nagnechiji idol was brought to Marwar in the early 14th century by Rao Dhuhad, and after Meherangarh was constructed the idol was placed there.

Chamunda Devi Temple

Adjacent to it is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, called the Chamunda Devi Temple. The idol of Durga was brought by Rao Jodha (the founder of Jodhpur) himself, but it was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1857. It was reconstructed by Takhat Singh who reigned between the years 1843 and 1873. The precincts of the fort house two tanks as well, which was the main source of water to the residents of the complex. The Gulab Sagar or Rose-Water Sea is the larger of the two and situated to the south of the complex. The other tank is called the Rani Talao or Queen’s Lake which, as the name suggests reserved for the ladies of the zenana (royal ladies).

Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur Travel Guide
¤ Moti Mahal

The Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace was built during Maharaja Sur Singh’s reign in the last two decades of the 16th century. Moti Mahal was where the king used sit on his throne and meet all his subjects. The size of the hall indicates that it must initially have been utilised as a Public Audience Hall. The alabaster throne which lies resplendent and one end of the room is magnificent to behold and the enire palace has a very ostentatious look to it with the entire ceiling covered with mirrors and gilt. It is has been very well maintained and the walls and ceilings are still sparklingly smooth. Its latticed screens and superb balconies are in many ways similar to the Anup Mahal in Bikaner, and both of these palaces by way of coincidence were built in the 1670s. The Moti Mahal is where every Jodhpur ruler since the founder Rao Jodha has been crowned. The red sandstone coronation seat or Sangar Choki is spectacular and so is the white marble facing which was added on by Bakhat Singh in the 1750s. The palace houses the royal palanquins, and silver howdahs (special seat for riding on elephants), one of which was gifted by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to Jaswant Singh. Other howdahs are resplendent with the flags of the nine Rathore states of medieval times, eight of them offshoots of Jodhpur itself.

¤ Khabka Mahal

Situated right above is the Khabka Mahal,which literally means sleeping palace. It has two main rooms; the Dipak Mahal built by the then Prime minister of Jodhpur and Chandan Mahal, which was the council room of the ruler, where he discussed the affairs of state with his ministers and held meetings with visiting dignatories. A picture by itinerant painter A.H. Muller depicts the great hero of Jodhpur in the 17th century Durga Das, carrying off the infant Ajit Singh, (who was to be the future ruler of Jodhpur to safety) to protect him from being slaughtered by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

¤ Jhanki Mahal

The Palace of Glimpses, as this palace is commonly known, is next door to Khabka Mahal. It is called so because it was from where the women of the royal household to take a look at the outside world. Purdah was strictly enforced by the Rajputs in medieval times and the women’s quarters were deliberately fitted with latticed screens to allow the royal women to peek outside without being observed themselves. Like the Moti Vilas (mentioned below), the sandstone jalis (latticed windows) were so fine as to look like lace from a distance. The Jhanki Mahal is virtually covered with mirrors where no doubt the royal ladies attended to themselves. Other interesting aspect of the palace is the numerous royal cradles you will find here, all of them exquisitely embellished. One of the cradles is actually motor-powered and was presented to the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1948.

¤ Phool Mahal

The Phool Mahal or Flower Palace which is right adjacent to the Moti Mahal is a more recent building, constructed by Abhay Singh (reigned between 1730-50) and was further decorated between 1873 and 1895. The best part about the palace is the wall paintings, which on close inspection reveal a distinct European influence. Hardly surprising because these decorations were carried out during Maharaj Pratap Singh’s reign, who was very much an Anglophile. The Phool Mahal was utilised as a Private Audience Hall and it depicts the many classical ragas (a pattern of notes of melody and rhythm) of Indian music on its walls.

¤ Daulat Khana Palace

Right beneath the Phool Mahal is the Daulat Khanaa place of great historical interest. The curios present here include heavy locks, liquor bottles wrapped in wet cloths to which the warriors drank to fortify themselves before an imminent battle, coin boxes, carpet weights, vanity boxes of the royal women and intricately decorated hookahs (long pipe for smoking tobacco). But what really stands out in the Daulat Khana is silk tent made of red and gold brocade which was made for the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, but captured from his son Aurangzeb by the Raja Jaswant Singh in the latter half of the 17th century.

¤ Moti Vilas & Sardar Vilas

Meherangarh Fort Jodhpur, India Travel GuideThe next two palaces you come across are the Moti Vilas and the Sardar Vilas. The unique feature of the Moti Vilas is its beautifully carved latticed screens. The detailing is so fine that from a distance you could be forgiven if you mistook the jalis (latticed screens) to be built out of lace. Neighbouring the Moti Vilas is a zenana court, built in 1640 and comprising of beautifully chiselled stonework. The Sardar Vilas located nearby is chiefly characterised by its exquisite woodwork. The doors and the panelling in the interiors of Sardar Vilas is marvellous to behold. Much of the woodwork is gold-plated and embellished with ivory. It also houses a splendid marble table, which was presented to it by the king of Kabul.

¤ Umaid Vilas

Next door to Sardar Vilas is the Umaid Vilas, which has a gallery of miniature paintings mostly belonging to the Jodhpur school. Earlier, the Jodhpur school was strongly influenced by Jain art, but later with Jodhpur establishing close ties with Delhi the Mughal influence began to dominate. The magnum opus of Umaid Vilas is a painting of Maharaja Pratap Singh painted by a Jodhpur artist called Amar Das. You will also find a portrait of Maharawal Jaswant Singh of Jaisalmer here. There are plenty of pictures of Rajas playing Holi (Hindu festival of colour) with their consorts, splashing colour on each other.

¤ Takhat Vilas

The Takhat Vilas is located above the Sardar Vilas and was added to the fort by Maharaja Takhat Singh who ruled between the years 1843 and 1873. The entire palace is laced with pictures painted on wet plaster depicting stories from the Krishna-Lila (the life and times of Lord Krishna the blue-god) and the legend of Dhola and Maru which is well known throughout Rajasthan.

¤ The Romantic Tale Dhola Maru

The story of Dhola and Maru is fairly typical of the tales of Rajput romance with love finally conquering all. Apparently a long time ago there was a small kingdom called Poogal in which lived a king called Pingal. One day he decided to have his infant daughter Maru married off to Dhola, the son of Nal, the king of Narwar and his good friend. So Dhola and Maru got married at childhood but before they attained adulthood Nal died, and not surprisingly his son Dhola forgot the marriage vows he had exchanged with Maru at birth. So Dhola got married again to Malwani, while Maru pined away for him as her father king Pingal sent umpteen messages to Dhola which he never received as his wife Malwani had all the messengers either arrested or bumped off.

But as they say ‘where there is a will there is a way.’ Maru got through to Dhola finally through a group of folk singers, and Dhola on learning about his first wife started off for Poogal immediately. However the cunning Malwani was not going to let the two childhood sweethearts meet if she could help it. As Dhola set off she sent word through a messenger that she had died and Dhola ought to hurry back. Dhola not oblivious of the ways of Malwani saw the lie for what it was and carried on. His journey to Poogal was uneventful apart from an inopportune encounter with Umar Sumar, the leader of a band of robbers who tried to persuade him that his wife Maru had been married off to somebody else. Umar Sumar was himself very keen on Maru, but Dhola was having none of it. He arrived at Poogal to a tumultuous welcome and Dhola and Maru were united at last. However the star-crossed lovers’ troubles were not over yet.

On the way back to Narwar, Maru was stung by a desert snake and died. Overwhelmed with grief Dhola decide to become the first ‘male sati’ in Rajput history by ascending the funeral pyre of his wife. But was saved in the nick of time by a yogi and yogini who claimed that they could bring Maru back to life. They played their musical instruments, and believe it or not these modern day seers actually brought back Maru to life, similar to what Jesus Christ did to Lazarus in the Bible. But the remarkable story doesn’t end here. Enter the villain of the piece Umar Sumar once again. He hadn’t rid himself of his infatuation for Maru and invited the gullible couple to spend an evening with them. However the couple’s fairy godmother was obviously working overtime and again they were warned of the dacoit’s evil intentions, this time by some folk singers. Whereupon the couple jumped atop their camel and made off for Malwa in double quick time. and like all Cinderella-endings, the couple along with Malwani lived happily ever after. When you visit the Takhat Vilas and see the murals depicted there remember the Dhola-Maru story- a legend repeated all over Rajasthan.

¤ Jaswant Thada Cenotaph

Travel to Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur, IndiaAs you peer over the high castle walls, you notice the Jaswant Thada Cenotaph. It was built in 1899, with all the rulers before him being cremated at Mandore, the previous capital of Marwar. Jaswant Singh who ruled Jodhpur from 1873-95, is worsipped in the city almost like a god and was credited during his lifetime as someone who possessed remarkable healing powers. His cenotaph is built like a temple and was worshipped like one by the public, and the stones with which it was constructed came from a quarry located at Markana, a village on the outskirts of Jaipur. The marble walls of the cenotaph are extremely thin, at some points only about six inches thick. Needless to add all the wives and concubines of Jaswant commited sati on his funeral pyre and their memorials are found alongside him.

¤ Other Attractions

The other major palaces in Meherangarh fortare the Sheesh Mahal and the Rang Mahal. Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace as the name suggests is resplendent with mirrors. Although not in the same league as the Sheesh Mahals you will find in Bikaner and Amber but it is still wotrh a look. The highlight of the palace are the wall paintings you will find of various Hindu deities. The most exquisite pictures are the ones depicting Krishna, Shiva, Parvati, Rama, Sita, hanuman, Ganesh, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga. The Rang Mahal too is laced with mirrors and ornamented with fine mirror work.

¤ Sileh Khana

Another place worth seeing while you are visiting the fort is the Sileh Khana or the armoury. Rajputs being a warrior tribe loved their weapons and they took great care of them. The Sileh Khana is bursting at the seams with all kinds of antique guns, maces, shields and ornamented swords. The armoury is similar to the Sileh Khana at Jaipur as far the variety of weapons go. The items include the sword of Rao Jodha called Khanda weighing over seven pounds. Also present are swords used by Tamerlane, the ancestor of the Mughals who sacked Delhi in 1398.

Umaid Bhavan Palace

¤ Construction of the Palace

The palace built by Maharaja Umaid Singh who ruled from 1911-47 was the last expression of princely architectural extravaganza during the British Raj. It was in 1925 that Umaid Singh went to London in search of an architect and commissioned the firm of Lancaster and Lodge to build the palace. The foundation stone was laid in 1929 at Chittar Hill- a sight dictated by astrological considerations. "Striking indeed is the impression of romance and dignity which this occasion conveys" said Col. Windham at the time of its inaugaration, adding while addressing the king "It conjures up both a retrospect of the past and a prospect of the future Your Highness."

¤ Chittar-ka-Bangla

Umaid Bhavan palace Jodhpur, IndiaIt took some 3000 people working round the clock some 15 years to complete and ranks as one of the world’s largest residences. The massive structure is also referred to as Chittar-ka-Bangla or Chittar Bungalow. The 347-room building was designed by Henry Lanchester, an understudy of Edwin Lutyens (who designed most of New Delhi) it contains two huge wings separated by a double dome 185 feet tall.

¤ Rajmahal

The primary entrance to the palace is called the Rajmahal, which contains the traditional Rathore coat-of-arms, bearing the sacred kite, an incarnation of the family goddess. Its symbol is omnipresent in the palace and as a mark of reverence, kite hunting is not allowed in Jodhpur. It houses several banquet halls and ball rooms where the monarch used to entertain his guests (usually European), a billiard hall and an imposing Durbar Hall.

and that’s not all. It has libraries panelled with teak, circular reception halls, magnificent double staircases, marble flooring, a swimming pool embellished with tiles depicting the zodiac. The wings include courtyards, staff offices and zenanas (women’s quarters), a cinema house and opulent royal suites. Suffice to say a visit to the palace will simply knock your breath away. The unique feature of the palace is that it is not mortared at all, but like the Jaisalmer fort it was built out of solid interlocking blocks of stone. The chunks of rock were cut from the Sursagar quarry located 13km away.

¤ Palace Served As A Military Base During Second World War.

During the Second World War even while the structure was unfinished, the palace became a military base for the allied troops. Christmas dinners for the entire military community were organised annually at the palace, with the Jodhpur royals playing a key role in keeping up the morale of the soldiers during the war. When Umaid Singh died in 1947, his son Hanwant Singh became maharaja but he too was killed in a plane crash five years later. While his heir Gaj Singh, who was only four at the time was being educated in England the palace remained unoccupied. One year after Gaj Singh returned to India, the then Prime Minster derecognised the princes and ended their privileges. Initially at a loss as to what to do with the palace, after much dilly-dallying Gaj Singh did what many other princes did as well-coverted his residence into a luxury hotel in 1977. Part of the palace, which was once the audience hall has now been converted into a museum.

Mandore Town

Distance : 8km north of Jodhpur
¤ Mondore Attractions

Mandore was the earlier capital of Marwar before Rao Jodha shifted base to Jodhpur deeming it to be more secure. Mandore was the capital of the Marwar area from the 6th to the 14th century and went under the name of Mandavyapur at that time. It was Rao Chanda who married a Parihar princess and settled here and the rulers were called the Parihar Rajputs. While the Mandore fort today is in ruins and does not even have a boundary wall, the Mandore Gardens over which the old capital of Marwar was situated are still delightfully exquisite. Built around the royal cenotaphs of the Rathore rulers, the gardens have beautiful trees all around, and are further decorated with shrubs pruned in all shapes and sizes along with fountains which dot the landscape.
Royal Cenotaphs
of all the royal chhatris or cenotaphs which were constructed out of dark-red sandstone, six stand out. The oldest ones belong to Raja Maldeo and Udai Singh constructed in the 16th century to the later ones of Sur Singh, Gaj Singh and Jaswant Singh I all built in the 17th century. However it is Ajit Singh’s cenotaph which was built circa 1724 which is the largest along with Jaswant Singh’s which was built around two score years earlier in 1681. Ajit Singh’s cenotaph in particular is a magnificent monument built as it is close-grained freestone.

Ek Thamba Mahal
The Ek Thamba Mahal was built by Raja Ajit Singh during his reign from 1707-24. This pleasure palace was quite possibly his retreat away from Jodhpur when he wanted to get away from it all. The palace amongst other things also houses a zenana (women’s quarters), signifying that the royal women accompanied him during his trips here. It also has a small but picturesque garden and the entrance to the palace via the Ajit Pol.

Hall of Heroes
is a huge hall with magnificent pillars and houses enormous figures of gods and the heroes of Jodhpur. It is also called the Shrine of 300 Million Gods.

Ravan ki Chanvari
A very interesting stone,which hascarved panels with an idol of Ganpati or Lord Ganesh (the god with an elephant-head son of Shiva the destroyer). Legend has it that Ravan, the demon-god who carried off Sita, the consort of Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana got married to a local girl from Mandore called Mandodri. The stone panel is a commemoration of the wedding. It also has an image of the sun god Surya. A stepwell nearby has an inscription 742 A.D. which was when it was built by Madh, the son of a Brahmin.

Panch Kund Mein Chhatri
These are some of the minor cenotaphs located a short distance away from the Mandore gardens. The Panch Kund also contains the cenotaphs of the ruling dynasty before the founding of the city of Jodhpur in 1459, when Mandore was the capital of Marwar. Not as impressive as the cenotaphs located at Mandore gardens, they are unmarked, yet they are worth visiting for those with a keen interest in the history of the place.

 Jodhpur Travel Guide

¤ The Great Jodhpur Legend

Umaid Bhavan, Jodhpur - IndiaLocated on the periphery of the Thar desert, Jodhpur is second largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. According to one fable when Lord Rama, hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana wanted to cross the ocean to rescue his wife Sita, who had been abducted by the demon-king Ravana, he was turned back by the Sea-God. Furious, Rama mounted his arrow to dry up the ocean forcing the Lord of the Sea to retreat. However the arrow once mounted had to be discharged, and Rama fired it into another body of water located in western Rajasthan, thus drying it up. This is the area known as Marwar or Marusthali or the land of the dead.

¤ The Challenging Climate of Jodhpur

Here the summer sizzles, the hot dry winds scorches the flesh, the winters chill the bone marrow and years pass by without rainfall. Like the mystery of the Bermuda triangle where a number of ships and planes have disappeared never to be found again; so too at Marwar countless caravans of camels have known to have vanished without a trace. This is the general topography of Jodhpur, which was once the capital city of the Marwar. Founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha of the Rathore dynasty, the place is not surprisingly named after him. Rao Jodha’s sixth son Rao Bika it may be mentioned founded the city of Bikaner some 30 years later, and extended the sphere of influence of the Rathores all across the Marwar region of western Rajasthan.

Quick bytes
Area :
75.50 sq. km
Altitude :
230 metres
Climate :
Summer 42.2°C (MAX) - 27.3°C (MIN) Winter 27.5°C (MAX) - 9.5°C (MIN)
Rainfall :
31 centimeters
Best Season :
October - March
Clothing :
Summer - Light tropical Winter - Light Woollen
Language :
Marwari, Hindi, English

¤ Jaisalmer Fort

If the Jaisalmer fort is known as an architectural masterpiece, the Jodhpur fort is no less and you can see it looming in the horizon long before you enter the city. The incline on which the Meherangarh Fort was built was known as Bakharchiriya or bird’s nest, and today the top of the castle presents a bird’s eye view of the entire city and its suburbs.

The circumstances, which led to the foundation of Jodhpur bears an uncanny resemblance to the founding of the other desert city of Jaisalmer. Like Jaisal who shifted his capital from Lodurva to Jaisalmer as his earlier capital was too vulnerable to invasions; so too did Rao Jodha move from Mandore to Jodhpur as the earlier city was not secure enough. and incredibly the advice once again came from a hermit who advised Rao Jodha to shift his base. If Jaipur is known as the ‘pink city’ then Jodhpur can be called the ‘blue city’ because its traditional homes are often painted in pale blue colour. According to one story, a few hundred years ago the Brahmins of Jodhpur had painted their houses in pale blue because they discovered that the colour repels mosquitoes. and till some time ago the colour blue signified that it was the residence of a Jodhpuri Brahmins.

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¤ Main Attractions in Jodpur
Being one of the fascinating destination of Rajasthan, Jodhpur is dotted with number of big and small attractions.

Umaid Bhawan Palace
The palace was constructed by Maharaja Umaid Singh. The main motive of constructing this palace was to provide occupation to his people during long drawn famine in the early 20 th century. This was a perfect example of early modern period architecture. Umaid Bhawan palace forms the grandest private royal houses of the world. Some portion of this grand palace has been converted into a luxurious hotel and a museum. » Mehrangarh Fort The Mehrangarh Fort is an architectural marvel, which stands proudly on a 125 m long hill. It spreads over an area of around 5 km and is one of the largest forts in India. The Fort was built in 1459 AD and stands as a reminder of the royal splendor and bravery of those times. This imposing structure, which overlooks the city of Jodhpur, has a good collection of royal accouterments on exhibition besides housing a number of charming palaces.

Jaswant Thada
Jaswant Thada lies quite close to the Mehrangarh Fort complex. It was built in 1899 AD in the memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and houses the cenotaphs of a number of Rajput royals. The main cenotaph has rare portraits of many Rajput rulers on display. If you travel to Jodhpur, this is a place you must visit.

Architectural Splendor of Jodhpur
Given the rough terrain it is not surprising that the architecture of the city was influenced by it. Desert architecture is noted for two distinct traits, the need to guard against the heat and to fortify itself against invasions. Fortifications tend to merge with the colour of the land, providing it with a natural camouflage.

The Meherangarh Fort
Fort at Jodhpur is such that the fort walls and the sheer basalt escarpment are not distinguishable, one from the other. Huge gates at the entrance are fitted with iron nails to prevent elephants from bringing them down. The palaces and the mansions within the complex are more delicately designed. The chief palaces you can see in the fort are the Phool Mahal, the Moti Mahal, the Jhanki Mahal, the Sheesh Mahal and the Sadar Vilas.

Nearby lies the Umaid Bhavan Palace (Built by the former Jodhpur Maharaja Umaid Singh), one of the largest residences in the world, and alongside it is the Ajit Palace the house built by Umaid Singh for his younger brother.

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¤ Excursions

Balsamand Lake and Garden (5 km)
A pretty lake built in 1159 A.D. A splendid summer Palace stands by the lake side surrounded by beautiful gardens. An idyllic spot for excursions.

Mandore (8 Km):
The former capital of Marwar, north of Jodhpur. Worth seeing are the old cenotaphs and caves in the crags, which once sheltered ascetics. The exquisite landscaped gardens come alive with peacocks and monkeys and the sprawling greenery of sacred peepal, banyan, bottle-brush, pomegranate, palm & plantains and bubbling fountains are a feast for the eyes. Set against a rocky wall is a pillared compound, housing the "Hall of Heroes" and "Shrine" of the 330 million gods.

Sardar Samand Lake (55 Km)
Rajasthan's village life comes into view on the way here. Chinkara and black buck might frisk past to break the monotony of the drive.

Guda Bishnoi (25 Km)
these are immaculately kept villages of the Bishnoi community-staunch believers in the sanctity of plant and animal life. Khejri trees and deer thrive in these village.

Balsamand Lake in Jodhour India
Mahamandir Temple (9 km)
Just nine kilometeres from Jodhpur lies Mahamandir temples which was constructed in 1812 A.D. The temple is beautifully carved out 84 pillars and has more architectural splendor. It was constructed in the year 1812 and carries delicate stone work.

Kailana Lake (11 Km)
This is an ideal picnic spot and is located 11 kms from Jodhpur. Spanning over an area of 84 sq kms, it is a charming picnic spot which offer spectacular view of the sunset.

Jhalamand Garh (10 Km)
Just 10 kms from Jodhpur is the Jhalamand Garh which was constructed as the 18 th centuary fort and carries a profound aura of regal family. You can have some scenic view of the Jodhpur town from the fort. The fort have around 18 rooms and since it has been converted into a heritage hotel, it provides Rajasthani and continental cuisine on request.

Luni Fort (35 Km)
Just 35 kms from Jodhpur, you have the popular Luni fort which is been converted into a heritage hotel. It has intricate Jharokas and have traditional paintings.

The other worthwhile excursion around the city is Osiyan. Situated about 60 km away from Jodhpur, it houses some of the most exquisite Jain and Hindu temples you will find in entire Rajasthan.

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¤ The Exquisite Interiors of the Palaces

The interiors of the palaces are superb, with the walls painted with a number of motifs in a rich mosaic of colours. The Sheesh Mahal in which tiny mirrors were embedded into the walls and ceilings was an idea, which the Jodhpur royalty picked up from the Mughal empire at Delhi. The stained glass windows let in the brilliant sunlight; while master painters executed beautiful miniatures which would sweep your breath away. Suffice to say that the fort at Jodhpur is one of the marvels of Rajasthan and an example of the skill of the stone carvers of Jodhpur. The grim façade of the fort contrasts greatly with the airy, lacy textures of the zenanas or women’s quarters. The Phool Mahal in particular is lavishly gold-plated and painted with medallions portraying former Jodhpur rulers. Painters visiting Jodhpur were extended all royal courtesies and patronage due to them. For the royal women who had to be shielded from prying eyes of men as purdah was very much in vogue, they often sat behind latticed screens and windows which were carved with almost lace-like fineness.

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¤ Arts & Crafts of Jodhpur

In their solitude, women became great patrons of art and really set the trend for the entire city of Jodhpur. Artists were hired to paint all the ceilings and walls, and embellish the pillars and arches. The fabrics they wore were hand-printed and were specially designed for them by master craftsmen. Rather like the ‘haute couture’ or high fashion of today. Family jewellers made the newer and more exotic jewels and they usually wore silver slippers decorated with multi-coloured threads and beads. Later Jodhpur became the epi-centre of western Rajasthan as far as enamelling of jewellery is concerned, and enamelled silver and gold ornaments for the neck called timniya are much in vogue here.

But, what really put the city on the map of the world was the invention of ‘Jodhpurs’ or riding breeches. Invented by Sir Pratap Singh, the most famous ruler of Jodhpur who reigned in the 1870s he was a keen horse rider. As his traditional pyjamas would get torn when he mounted his horse, he invented this item of clothing to meet his riding needs. Pratap Singh also invented the close-collared Jodhpuri coat, and Jodhpuri boots which became the staple dress at the court. Another interesting craft of Jodhpur is the painting of camel hide skins with gold to make small containers for storing asha, the precious liqueur that is a popular beverage in Jodhpur. Constituted of distilled rose or saffron embellished with crushed pearls and ground gold, with chunks of goat and sheep brains added on which are believed by the locals to be aphrodisiacs. Jodhpur cuisine is generally a question of making-do. With little chance of vegetables or pulses growing in the desert, dry meat preparations of venison or rabbit-meat are the favourites.

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¤ Dance & Music

Rajputs brought along with them dance and music to the desert. The instruments they play are housed in the Meherangarh Fort Museum, and on full moon nights you can watch balladeers playing their melodies, which can be enthralling for any visitor. Jodhpur is also home to several folk dance forms. Although different communities have their own distinctive dances, the most bewitching one is the tera talli dance. The women sit in a cross-legged position in tera talli and clash their cymbals loudly as they sway from side to side. As the beat quickens they place terracotta pots on their heads and in their mouths they insert a naked sword. The other electrifying dance is performed by snake-charmers, and is called the sapera dance. The other dance popular in Jodhpur as all over Rajasthan is the ghoomar which is performed on festive occasions by women in their homes.

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¤ Fairs & Festivals

The major festival held in the Marwar area is the Maand Festival which is held during the Hindu month of Ashwin (September-October). The festival goes on for two days and is devoted to music and dance, which provides a good opportunity to the folk dancers who congregate there to to display their skills and provide some lively entertainment to the public. The folk music has a romantic has a lyrical and romantic appeal to it. The music concentrates on the lives of Jodhpur’s rulers, the battles they fought along with other valiant heroes who are immortalised in their songs. The two day extravaganza is held at the fort and the beautiful Umaid Bhavan Palace. Other events at the festival are a camel tattoo show and polo. At Mandore a short distance away from Jodhpur lies a gallery of statues of belonging to the heroes of Marwar. In their honour, an annual fair is held called the Veerpuri Fair.

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¤ Shopping in Jodhpur
Jodhpur is considered a paradise for shoppers. Being a Rajasthan city, Jodhpur have famous Bandhini and Lehariya textile. It is a block prined textike and is available in number of range.

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¤ Getting There

Fly Away :
Major airport is 5 kms from downtown and is well connected with Indian airlines. Delhi and Mumbai are usually the major flights which connects Jaipur and Udaipur.

On Track :

The city is well connected by rail and with major cities in North and West India. Jodhpur junction is well linked to Delhi by the Mandore express, to Mumbai by the Ranakpur express and to Kolkata by Howrah - Jodhpur express.

On Wheels : Jodhpur is a well connected city and is linked to some of the major cities like Agra, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Mumbai and Udaipur.

Jaisalmer Havelis

¤ Salim Singh ki Haveli

Salim Singh ki Haveli: The haveli or mansion was initially occupied by the influential Mehta family of Jaisalmer. It was built around 1815, possibly on the remains of an earlier building of the late 17th century. The building was commissioned by the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh, a man with a reputation for Machiavellian cunning. His father Diwan Swaroop Singh, also Prime Minister of Jaisalmer in his time, was murdered as a result of a palace intrigue when the young Salim was a mere dozen years old. Salim took it upon himself to avenge his father’s death. As soon as he came of age, Salim eliminated all of Jaisalmer’s courtiers, princes and hangers-on with such dexterity that he was appointed premier by Maharawal Mool Raj.

Salim Singh ki Haveli in Jaisalmer, IndiaSalim built his eight storeyed pleasure palace and lived in it with his seven wives and two concubines. It is a magnificent monument with every structure carved with elaborate detailing. He demanded the best and got it; anything that did not please him was summarily rejected. The mansion boasts of 38 balconies, each with a different design. As you enter you are confronted by an imposing stone elephant, while the upper storeys of the building jut out proudly like a ship’s prow, which is why the haveli is also called the Jahazmahal or Ship’s Palace. The monument as a whole has the appearance of a great ocean liner, with a narrow base which widens at the top. It has a beautifully arched roof, topped with blue cupolas, and brackets in the form of peacocks.

As Salim Singh’s power grew so did his ambition, and he reckoned it was time he usurped the power of the maharwals themselves. He came up with a scheme to knock off the top two floors of the haveli and build a gateway from his house right upto the maharawal’s palace, but this proposal was nipped in the bud by the monarch himself. This incident marked an about-turn in his political fortunes for soon he was killed in one of the numerous court conspiracies he himself had encouraged for long. The Salim Singh saga was a classic illustration of the old maxim that ultimately ‘the schemer always falls into the pit which he digs for another’.

¤ Nathmal's Haveli

The haveli (mansion) was built circa 1885 for Diwan Mohata Nathmal, then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Designed by two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu, the haveli was ordered for Nathmal by the then maharawal Beri Sal. The sibling-architects worked in an unusual manner; each carved out one-half of the building developed according to the same plan. However, when the building was completed, the two sides turned out to be very dissimilar to each other though the haveli remains unsurpassed in Jaisalmer in terms of the quality of the work. Like the Salim Singh’s haveli (mentioned above), the entrance to Nathmal’s haveli is zealously guarded by stone elephants; and the entire façade is embellished with a slew of detailing – horses, elephants, soldiers, flowers and birds. There are also carvings of trains and bicycles, gadgets of the then new age which the artisans themselves had never seen but carved out of hearsay

¤ The imposing Interiors of Haveli

Another extraordinary part about its construction is that the main chamber is carved out of rock and the entire frontage of the first floor is carved out of one solitary boulder. The interiors of the havelis are decorated by beautiful miniatures. The workmanship of Jaisalmer’s havelis is an amalgam of both Rajput architecture as well as Islamic art that was imported via the traders’ caravan through the desert

Jaisalmer Haveli in Rajasthan, India
¤ Patwon-ki-Haveli

The five Patwa havelis were the first ones to crop up in Jaisalmer and are known locally as the Patwon-ki-haveli. The first was constructed circa 1805 by a merchant called Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest and the most ostentatious. Patwa was a man of considerable means, and for his five sons he built the elaborate five-storeyed complex which reportedly took 50 years to finish. 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’ as the family ostensibly dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. However, they reportedly made their fortune elsewhere; through opium trade and by moneylending.

¤ The Decor of Patwa Haveli

The unsung heroes as far as the Patwa mansions are concerned are the unnamed stone carvers who wielded the chisel with as much skill as a surgeon handles a scalpel. Every square inch of space has been carved exquisitely, with jali (latticed) friezes providing ventilation to the interiors as well as offering privacy to the women to look out without exposing themselves to Peeping Toms. The havelis are built in yellow sandstone with a different design on every window and arch. As you enter the haveli through its magnificent arched gateway, you come across its delicately carved yellow-brown frontage with as many as 60 balconies overlooking it. Another prominent haveli of Jaisalmer is the Nokhatmal haveli, which unlike the other mansions is a fairly recent addition to the city having been constructed only a few years ago.

Pokhran Town

Distance : 112km from Jaisalmer
¤ Location For Testing Nuclear Devices

Strategically located midway in the triangle between Jaisalmer, Jodhpur (172km southeast) and Bikaner (224km), Pokhran is a sparsely populated area consisting mainly of scrub and sand. This place suddenly hogged the international spotlight when the Indian government detonated nuclear devices here on 18th May 1974, ironically code-named ‘The Buddha Smiles’. Once again international attention was focussed on it on the 11th and 13th May, 1998, when five more nuclear tests took place underneath its sandy surface, code-named this time as ‘The Buddha Laughs’.
Pokhran Fort in Jaisalmer, India

¤ Pokhran Town Linked With A Great Legend

Interestingly this links back to a legend from the epic Ramayana where the god-king Ram once fitted his bow with a powerful arrow which generated great heat in order to dry up the seas of Sri Lanka. Cajoled not to do so, he instead fired it into the mythical river Saraswati which, according to one legend, flowed here. The river dried up as a consequence and was replaced by the barren desert.

¤ Pokhran Attractions

However, although an under-devoloped area Pokhran was once the capital of the Thakur (chief) of Marwar. The Maheshwaris (a trading community) built many beautiful havelis here which, like the Pokhran fort, are built in red and yellow sandstone. The windows and balconies are handsomely embellished with parrots, peacocks and elephants. The chief thoroughfare of Pokhran is the Gandhi chowk where women selling vegetables sit resplendent in their colourful Rajasthani dresses. Apart from the fort and the havelis thare are a few cenotaphs and temples which you can visit.

¤ Pokhran Fort

The yellow sandstone fort is over four centuries old and was constructed by the Marwar Thakur (local chieftain) Rao Maldeo who reigned from 1532-1584. Built with the remains of an earlier fort called Satelmer Fort, the Pokhran fort is well stocked with wells and grain stores and has a wonderful dining hall constructed in the second half of the 19th century. The wooden doors at the gateway were fitted with lethal iron spikes to guard against an elephant charge in case of an enemy onslaught. There is a small temple dedicated to the goddess Durga located in the second biggest courtyard of the fort, with stairs leading upto a zenana (women’s quarters).

¤ Pokhran Museum

The Pokhran Museum housed inside the fort’s premises is smallish and contains an assortment of weapons, paintings, pottery and the costumes which the Maharajas wore. Also displayed are the little games the royal family played during their leisure such as dominoes and dice.

¤ Palaces

The palaces housed in the fort, the most exquisite is the Phool Niwas or the Flower Palace with its latticed screens and delicately feminine arches, probably inviting the fantasies of innocent maidens gazing outside in yearning. The other palaces found in the fort are the Mangal Niwas, the Rani Mahal and the Hawa Mahal, which is a much smaller version of its namesake in Jaipur. The Pokhran fort is not as grand a fort as some of the others in Rajasthan and does present a slightly desolate look. However, as is the norm with most forts and palaces in the area, it has been converted into a hotel and provides very comfortable accommodation, which is not too heavy on the pocket either.

¤ Ramdeo Temple

The main temple in the area, it is located about 15km from Pokhran. The chief attraction of the place is the fair held biannually in the months of Bhado and Magh (August and February according to the Gregorian calendar), and is attended by pilgrims from all over Marwar and even other states like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Held in honour of the Baba Ramdeo, who is revered by Hindus and Muslims alike, the fair lasts for 11 days, the last day being an important day of worship. To Western eyes it may all seem rather quaint but there is no doubting the fervour of the participants. One of the highlights of the festival is a dance performance by women called Terahtal in which most women join in enthusiastically.

Pokhran Fort in Jaisalmer, India¤ Chhatris

Chhatris: Just a little way off from the fort you will come across some beautifully carved sandstone cenotaphs or chhatris. The colour of the sandstone is deep shade of red here which is unlike Jaisalmer where it is the colour of gold. Chhatri (which literally translates into English as ‘umbrella’) alludes to the pillared domes of the cenotaphs. The construction of chhatris as a tribute to royalty is very much part of Rajasthan’s rich architectural heritage. Mostly built to honour their kings they commemmorate queens too, especially when they have immortalized themselves by committing sati. Occasionally you might find chhatris in honour of wealthy merchants and other prominent members as well. Chhatris usually consist of series of pillars on a raised platform supporting a central dome, with possibly a few pavilions on the flanks. Pokhran is no different from other places in the state, and just outside the city gates you’ll find a generous number of cenotaphs – a fitting memorial to Pokhran’s rulers.

Jaisalmer City

Population : 43,400
Distance : 285 km from Jodhpur
STD : 02992

¤ The Founding of Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer, IndiaThe founder of Jaisalmer was Raja Jaisal (after whom the city is named) in the middle of the 12th century. Shortly after deposing his nephew as king, he decided to shift his capital from Lodurva to Jaisalmer, the former being too susceptible to invasions from the west. While searching for a site, he came across a triple-peaked hill called Trikuta, which became the site for the for the fort and Jaisal’s new capital.

¤ Jaisalmer Legend

The legend behind why Raja Jaisal chose this particular spot to found his new capital is intriguing. He came upon a sage called Eesul, the local Nostradamus who showed him Lord Krishna’s prophecy inscribed on stone nearby. He had predicted that one his descendants would found a settlement here. Jaisal needed no second invitation and, with the help of wealthy Jain traders, built a gilded fortress. Within its ramparts the Rajputs added their Hindu temples, Jains their shrines and along with the habitations of Muslim stone cutters, it became a truly secular centre.

¤ Monument Attractions

Most of the monuments of Jaisalmer were built between the 12th and the 15th centuries. The fort has a series of wonderful palaces like the Gaj Palace, the Sarvottam Vilas, the Junaand Rang Mahals to name but a few. The palaces are profusely ornamented and are a virtual treasure trove of ancient palm leaf manuscripts and treatises locked up in its vaults. The fort also contains a series of beautiful Jain temples, seven in all, linked by a protective chain. The most prominent among them are the Parshvanath Temple, the Rishabhnath Temple, the Shantinath Temple, the Shambhavnath Temple and the Chandraprabhuji Temple, all dedicated to different Jain tirthankaras (Prophets).

¤ Haveli Attractions

Jains facing religious persecution elsewhere in the middle ages migrated to the desert kingdoms of Bikaner and Jaalmer and added much to the splendour of these cities. Other architectural attractions of Jaisalmer include the havelis or mansions which proliferate the labyrinthine lanes of the town, and were described by one writer as "filigreed stone gems set in the desert." Built by wealthy merchants, these havelis have lace like facades fitted into an intricate combination of geometric patterns.

Jaisalmer Haveli, India Travel Guide¤ Garsisar Tank

Another important landmark is the Garsisar water tank, water being a very precious commodity in sun-soaked Jaisalmer.

¤ Bada Bagh

Nearby lie a number of marvelous temples, and an eloquent archway built by Teelon, a religious courtesan. Just a few miles away lies the Bada Bagh, housing a garden atop a water tank with a unique drainage system and a lovely mango grove, rather an oasis in the desert.

¤ Chhatris

Also in the suburbs of Jaisalmer lie the chhatrisor cenotaphs of the Jaisalmer royalty, a poignant tribute to a valorous people. and one of the most picturesque spots in the area is the Amar Sagar lake and palace, located about 7km away from Jaisalmer city.

¤ Desert Adventure
Sam Sand Dunes : But to our mind the most romantic spot around Jaisalmer are the pristine Sam Sand Duneswhich you cannot afford to miss if you are in the vicinity. Sleeping supinely on the silken sand with your face to the sky is a memorable experience. Slightly further away is

¤ Desert National Park

Desert National Park
, a wildlife sanctuary and home inter-alia to the endangered bird, the Great Indian Bustard. Lodurva , the ancient capital of the Bhattis, is not too far away either, while another desert town Barmer, is just a three hour drive away. and last but not the least you must visit Pokhran to make your trip to Jaisalmer district complete. A nondescript little town, it hit the international headlines when India conducted five nuclear tests here in May 1998. But don’t be fearful of the radio-active waste – just about the only thing you will find here is an old fort and museum, and a few temples and cenotaphs.

¤ Arts and Crafts of Jaisalmer

The arts and crafts of Jaisalmer reveal the vivacious character of the people and their celebration of life and beauty despite the harsh terrain. Textile printing, which is an important industry in the area is indicative of that, with special colour schemes, designs and techniques being the leitmotif. Jaisalmer and adjoining Barmer are renowned for their ajrakh prints (ajrakh is possibly a corruption of the Arabic word 'azrak' which means blue). Designed in blue and red geometrical patterns, they are very similar to the ajrakh prints found right across the border in Sind in Pakistan. The prints are used to make odhnis (long scarf), multi-coloured turbans, bedspreads and other household items. The odhni is a ten foot long, five feet wide garment worn by both Hindu and Muslim women.

¤ Tie and Dye Textiles

Tie and dye textiles called Bandhani are also very much in vogue in Jaisalmer as all over Rajasthan. The methodology is to draw the outline of the design on the fabric using a non-permanent dye which is then fastened with strings. The fabric is then pinched with fingernails and tie strings and then dipped in dye. Another craft which abounds in Jaisalmer is embroidery and applique work, especially zari (gold-thread) embroidery which is known locally as karchobi.

Jaisalmer, India Travel Guide ¤ Jaisalmer Jewellery

Jaisalmeris also love their jewellery, be it in the natural simplicity of the tribals whose ancient designs are often shaped like leaves, tendrils or flower buds, or the opulent ornaments of the ruling classes. The rulers of Jaisalmer (called the Maharawals) were strongly influenced by the Mughals, and their turbaned ornaments or jighas were studded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other precious stones. Ornamented turbans like that are still made by the jewellers of Jaisalmer.

¤ Carpet weaving

Carpet weaving was a skill that was brought to India by the Mughals in the 16th century, but indigenous weavers soon learnt the trade and weaved carpets and dhurries (rugs) comparable with the best in Persia and Arabia. Jaisalmer, because it was a vassal state of the Mughal empire, became an important carpet weaving centre of Rajasthan.

¤ Jaisalmer Paintings

Jaisalmer is also one of the most important centers as far as Rajasthani painting is concerned, which is characterised by striking, exuberant colours defined by strong, bold lines. There are no Leonardo Da Vinci’s here, but the paintings are of uniformly high quality and a distinctive style, with cool palettes, intricate drawings and a robustly conservative style full of passion summing it up if you get the picture.

¤ Jaisalmer Trade

But by far the most important export of Jaisalmer and the rest of the Marwar area are the jootis (leather sandals), made of sheepskin and embellished with intricate needle work. Pottery remains an important art in parched Jaisalmer and the narrow mouthed water pitchers in Jaisalmer are ingeniously conceived to reduce loss of water through evaporation to a bare minimum. The pitchers are deliberately constructed as a little porous to allow some liquid to escape which keeps the water within cool. Geologically, Rajasthan in general and Jaisalmer in particular comprises of myriad hard rocks, quartzites, marbles and granite which has allowed the stone-cutters to give full rein to their skill. This can be gauged from the splendid forts, palaces and monuments found in Jaisalmer and the beautiful sculptures found resplendent in its temples.

¤ Jaisalmer Fort

The most elegent architectural marvel is the Jaisalmer Fort itself, incredibly constructed from solid blocks of stone interlaced with each other. and the great talent of the silavats (stone carvers) is self-evident from the beautifully chiselled friezes, ornamental jalis (latticed windows) and plinths, pillars and cornices of the monuments. Some of the best examples of the unique jali work of Jaisalmer’s artisans can be found in the havelis or mansions of the city wherein the yellow sandstone surface has been converted into exquisitely soft ornamental designs. The silavat carvers are meticulous about their intricately created jali works. They select the stone to be carved carefully, sketch the design in charcoal and then chip away the unwanted stone.

¤ Badal Vilas

Jaisalmer, IndiaAnother stunning example of the high-quality work of the silavat artisans is the Badal Vilas, where they created a multi-storeyed Tazia tower, a replica of bamboo and paper towers taken out by the Shia Muslims on Moharram. Moharram is the festival when the Shia Muslims celebrate the martyrdom of Hussain, the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad, and tazia processions are taken out by them on the streets.

Today Jaisalmer is a bustling desert town with people living in houses built by their ancestors, and the fortress itself is a self contained township. Jaisalmer abounds in palaces and Jain and Hindu temples.

¤ Music & Dance

As with other areas of Marwar, music and dance play an important part of the lives of the people of Jaisalmer. There are three main groups of professional singers in the area namely the Langas, the Mangniyars, and the Dholiyas. The Langas perform mainly for Muslim patrons and the two instruments they play are the shehnai (a flute-like instrument played at weddings) and the sarangi (a stringed instrument). The Mangiyars, on the other hand, were wandering minstrels and have always had an intimate association with the Rajputs. It was their job to pep up their spirits before a battle and keep a watch over them on their death beds until the final rites were performed. The two musical instruments played by them are the morchang which is similar to a Jew’s harp, and a kamayacha which is a stringed instrument with a big belly played with a long bow.

¤ Fairs & Festivals

Principally there are two religious fairs celebrated in the Jaisalmer district; one is the Ramdeora fair which is celebrated twice a year at the famous Ramdeo temple located a short distance from Pokhran (see more about the Ramdeo fair under Pokhran). The second is Gangaur which is of course celebrated all over Rajasthan and with great gusto in Jaisalmer. Dedicated to the goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva (of the three gods who comprise the holy trinity of Hindu Gods, Shiva is the Destroyer), Gangaur is celebrated by married women who pray for continued marital bliss.

¤ The Enchanting Desert Festival

But the time when Jaisalmer really comes alive is during the desert festival which has been held annually every year since 1979 during the months of January-February. The soulful music of folk artists rends the air as ballad singers and puppeteers present the desert heritage of Jaisalmer in all its glory. The Langas and the Mangniyars are in their elements during the celebrations with their sarangis and their kamayachas, and if you have never seen a camel performing acrobatics or dancing a jig here’s your chance to do so – an extremely rare sight indeed.

Amar Sagar Lake

Distance :7km west of Jaisalmer
¤ Lake Attractions

Amar Sagar is a small but pretty lake adjacent to a 17th century pleasure palace called the Amar Singh Palace. It was built by Maharawal Akhai Singh (reigned 1722-61) in honour of one of his predecessors Amar Singh. Next to the palace are pavilions with a large jetty leading Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer, Indiadown to Amar Sagar Lake.

In close proximity to the lake are figureheads of various animals carved in stone. Located nearby are many wells and cenotaphs of the royal family as well as a large garden with a water tank in the middle known inevitably as the Amar Singh Tank. Being an ardent devotee of Shiva Amar Singh had a Shiv temple built in the complex – a tribute to the deity known as the Destroyer among the holy trinity of gods in the Hindu pantheon.

¤ Jain Temple Attractions

As Jaisalmer was located on the trade route with west Asia, there was a pre-ponderance of wealthy Jain businessmen in the city who constructed many fine Jain temples. Amar Sagar has as many as three, the most famous of which is the Adeshwar Nath Jain temple built by Patwa Bafna Himmat Ram in 1928. Located towards the rear end of the tank, the temple is carved in what must have been a fairly avant garde design at that time, with one projection made in ivory coloured marble.

There are two other Jain temples at Amar Sagar with ornately sculpted galleries and latticed walls surrounded by old step-wells. The lake usually dries up in the summer heat, but commeth the monsoon and it fairly brimmeth over

Sam Sand Dunes

Distance : 45 kms west of Jaisalmer

¤ Desert Adventure

Undoubtedly the most well known destination in Jaisalmer after the ‘golden fort’, the Sam Sand dunes are a tourist hot spot in more ways than one. 3km long, 1km wide and as much as half a kilometer high, the dunes are as treacherous as they are scenic. If you opt for a camel ride stay very close to your raika (guide) as only he can manoeuvre you through the quicksand, which has sucked many an unwary goat to its gruesome death. There is no vegetation here and the swirling winds are almost as intense as the khamsins (sandstorms) in the Sahara.

¤ Sam Sand Dunes-A Picturesque Spot

However, we don’t want to dissuade you too much from visiting the area – the Sam dunes are also the most picturesque spot around Jaisalmer, and perhaps the whole of western Rajasthan. Sitting there in the evening with the sun setting, listening to the ballads of the legendary lovers Moomal and Mahendra (see Moomal Ki Meri for details) on the jew’s harp or the narh (a traditional musical instrument), you might feel that time has come to a grinding halt. The silken smooth sands of Sam look like a tale out of the Merchant of Venice and camel safaris are much in vogue here. An overnight trip to the area is a must if you really want to enjoy all the sights and sounds, the ruins and the temples. Sleeping out in the open, stretched out on the sands while facing the twinkling sky is an out of the world experience. Many a tourist has fallen in love with the haunting beauty of the dunes – there is a definite aura of romance about it.

¤ Desert Festival Attractions

The Sam Dunes really come alive during the desert festival with a sound and light show, and gala spectacles of dance and music which wiil reverberate in your ears long after you have heard it.

Lodurva Temple Town

Distance : 16km from Jaisalmer
¤ History of Lodurva

Lodurva is the original capital of the Bhattis, before Jaisal built the Jaisalmer fort in 1156. The town of Lodurva is much older than Jaisalmer and was sacked several times, most notably by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century when he was en route to Somnath, and then by Mohammad Ghori in the next century. The latter invasion persuaded Jaisal to abandon Lodurva, and he shifted his capital to Jaisalmer, making Bhoj the last ruler of Lodurva.

¤ Main Attractions

¤ The Parshvanath Temple

The Parshvanath Temple is the main Jain temple which predates the temples of Jaisalmer just as the town itself is more ancient. The temple was destroyed in 1152, but was reconstructed in 1615 by Seth Tharu Shah and further additions were commisssioned in 1675 and 1687. Its Torana Dwar or main archway is probably the most ornate of its kind in Rajasthan and interestingly, the sentry outside is a Rajput, not a Jain. The inner sanctum of the temple contains an image of the prophet Parshvanath in black stone with a multi-hooded serpent canopy.

¤ Kalpavriksha(Celestial Tree)

Inside the temple complex is the Kalpavriksha or the celestial tree. A tree was once believed to have grown here, and when it died it was substituted by a true to life sculpture in an alloy of eight metals, making it an ‘eternal tree’ symbolising enlightenment. The copper leaves are believed to have the power to fulfil the wishes of any devotee. On the temple’s outer wall there is a low – relief carving on stone, reportedly inhabited by a black cobra who’s been living here for 400 years. Rumour has it that he comes out 10-15 times every summer and anyone catching a glimpse of it is blessed with good luck.

¤ Rishabhnath Temple

This is the second of the Jain Temples at Lodurva, located near the ruins of the palace of Moomal and the once gushing watercourse of the river Kak. The temple was commissioned by a wealthy Marwari Seth Sachcha and constructed in 1479. The Jain Kalpa Sutra (holy book) lists the qualities of Rishabdevaji thus: "That he was a man of great beauty, modest, clever and in complete control of his senses. That he lived 20,00,000 years as a prince and no less than 63,00,000 years as a king." Legend further states that he neglected his body for 1,000 years and then deeply meditated for three and a half days, depriving himself of all food and water. After which, according to Hermann Jacobi in Jaina Sutras, he reached the infinite. Rishabhnath is considered to be the first of the Jain fordmakers, whose symbol is a bull which also happens to be the meaning of his name. The bull – although not coincidentally – also happens to be an animal much revered by the followers of Shiva.

¤ Shambhavanath Temple

The third important Jain temple in Lodurva (as the name suggests) is dedicated to the Jain fordmaker Shambhavnath whose symbol is the horse. The whole temple complex is surmounted by an octagonal pyramidal roof, and a fortification wall nearby suugests that the community was apprehensive about defilement of their places of worship by aggressive Muslim and Hindu groups. A temple in each corner of the complex is dedicated to a different saints; Rishabhnath in the southwest, Parshvanath in the northeast, Ajitanath (whose symbol is the elephant) in the southeast and of course Shambhavnath (of the horse symbol) in the northwest. All these temples date back from 1618.

¤ A Romantic Story attached to Moomal ki Meri

Moomal was a princess who lived on the banks of the river Kak in a palace called Moomal Ki Meri, and the story behind the monument is both romantic and tragic. Apparently suitors from all over courted her, enchanted by her great beauty but she spurned them all. Mahendra, the prince of Amarkot, was also attracted to the lovely Moomal and managed to bribe her maidservant into revealing the secret entrance to the princess’s boudoir. Surprising Moomal one day in this manner, he managed to win her over, and they became lovers.

Mahendra would speed every night on his camel Cheekal to Moomal Ki Meri, and depart at the crack of dawn. Strife between the two kingdoms made their legal union impossible. One day Soomal, the princess’s sister wishing to see Mahendra, disguised herself as a wandering ministrel and waited with Moomal in her chambers. As fate had willed it Mahendra was delayed that night and the two sisters fell asleep in each other’s arms. Mahendra, when he finally arrived was incensed to see his beloved in what he presumed to be another man’s arms, and he flounced off never to return.

After many months of pleading and letters written in vain, Moomal set off for Amarkot disguised as a bangle seller. There she managed to seek an audience with Mahendra to play a game of chess with him. During the game she noticed that Mahendra’s eyes were wet and she asked him, "What makes you so sad?" Mahendra replied: "The birth mark on your hand reminds me of one whom I loved dearly but lost to another." Whereupon Moomal revealed herself and told him the truth. The misunderstanding over, they embraced each other passionately, but their separation had weakened both their hearts considerably and they died in mutual embrace. To this day the romance of the star-crossed lovers can be heard from the balladeers of Jaisalmer, and the ruins of Moomal Ki Meri lie on the sand drifts of the banks of the river Kak which has been dry ever since.
Juna Jain Tempe

Juna Jain Temple

Distance :42 km from Barmer
The chief claim to fame of Juna is a Jain temple which was built around the 12th or the 13th century. Jain Temple in Barmer is ascertained from an inscription carved on a stone pillar situated right adjacent to the temple. On the hilltop nearby is an old fort which encompasses an area of about 15 sq km. The fort is surrounded by a series of hills, adjacent to which lies a small lake. Between the mountain peaks is a small island known as Juna Barmer which houses a small well. At one time Juna was quite densely populated, but most of its inhabitants migrated from the area. It is believed that the emigres from Juna established the town of Barmer.


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