Home to the last “living fort” in India, Jaisalmer is an excellent jumping off point for desert safaris heading out into the Thar Desert and other camel-based excursions.
Jaisalmer Fort remains the greatest tourist draw in the area. Constructed in the mid-12th century by the Rajput leader Rawal Jaisal, this striking structure continues to house a considerable civilian population. In fact, more than a quarter of local residents live and work within its walls, making it a vibrant, bustling destination with roots stretching back nearly a millennium. Along with being unique in its active duty status, the fort is also one of the world’s largest ancient defensive structures.
Be sure to schedule plenty of time to wander through, atop and around its beautiful yellow sandstone walls (it is commonly referred to as the “Golden Fort”). The view from the top of the fort’s ramparts of the surrounding city and the desert beyond is truly remarkable; particularly at sunset and at night, when the lack of pollution and the typically clear skies make it a great place to indulge in a little stargazing.
Civilian aircraft is restricted in the area, but Jaisalmer is accessible by a direct train route from Old Delhi via the Delhi-Jaisalmer Express twice daily (note: this train does not leave from the city’s main station, but rather from the smaller Station Delhi Jn located a short distance away). Daily buses also run from Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaipur. If you’re willing to endure a taxing 14-day desert journey, it is also possibly to make the journey from Bikaner by camel.