Known as the Golden Fort due to its yellow sandstone, the Jaisalmer Fort is also famous as a living fort with its 2000 inhabitants still reside within its walls today. With 99 bastions along its fortress wall, a series of Jain temples and a splendid palace for the Rajput royal family, Jaisalmer Fort alone is already a worthy reason on its own for travelers to venture 776km west of Delhi into the Thar Desert. We had two full days in Jaisalmer, and planned to spend the entire first day at the fort. In the fort, there are attractions, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and a series of narrow lanes that would keep us busy for hours.
Some visitors would choose to stay the night at the fort. We decided not to do so due to the vulnerability of the ancient structure in coping with the negative impact caused by mass tourism. Studies in recent years discover that Jaisalmer Fort is in fact in danger of crumbling from inside. Many suggest the poor water supply and sewage systems hastily installed in the past 30 years and the water leakage from these systems into the fort foundation is the main threat for the fort, a sandstone structure that has withstood sandstorms and earthquakes for over 1000 years. Built as a desert structure in 1156 by King Rawal Jaisal, the structure of Jaisalmer Fort is particularly sensitive to water. The increase of regional rain in recent years and number of tourists staying inside the fort have made the matter worse.
It was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel to the main gate of the fort. From the parking lot, we could see part of the fort palace and the entry watch tower.
Beyond the watch tower we gradually moved uphill through a series of gates into the interior of the fort.
A series of four main gates: Akshya Pol, Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, and Hawa Pol formed the entry procession and defense network for Jaisalmer Fort.
Tourism has given the fort a second life in the modern time.
Through the last gate Hawa Pol (Gate of Wind), we would soon arrive at Dussehra Chowk, the main square in the fort.
Cow at Hawa Pol Gate.
Dussehra Chowk, the main square of Jaisalmer Fort, is flanked by exquisite buildings. This square was also the main arrival point for camel caravans back in the medieval times.
The most imposing structure at Dussehra Chowk is undoubtedly the royal palace.
Passing by the entrance to the palace, we decided to first visit the Jain temples (with limited opening hours) in the morning and left the palace for the afternoon.
We spent the entire day at the fort. As the day went by, more and more visitors arrived at the Dussehra Chowk.
From Jain temples to the palace, we spent much of the day wandering around the narrow lanes in the fort.
Around 2000 inhabitants still reside in the fort today, despite some buildings have been converted into hotels, cafes and souvenir shops.
Further away from the main attractions, we encountered a more domestic side of the fort.
Hindu images and touristic ornaments appear here and there in the small lanes in the fort.
Henna is popular among tourists coming to Rajasthan.
Lakshminath Temple is a famous Hindu temple in the fort.
After visiting the Jain Temples and royal palace, we went up to one of the 99 bastions. One Western tourist was playing a guitar, while several others sat along the edge of the fortification to enjoy the view of Jaisalmer.
From the bastion, we could see our hotel First Gate Home Fusion, including the rooftop restaurant and the balcony of our room.
After a long day of touring, we walked back down the same route where we came up in the morning.
The imposing view of the palace from the parking lot would stayed long in our memories.