Jaisalmer – The Golden city


We had a very early start the next morning, to catch our first local train to Jaisalmer. It was still dark when we boarded the Tuk Tuks at the hotel and left for the train station of Bikaner. The town was covered in a thick fog and the temperatures was very low. I was looking forward to board the train and get some warmth. Our guide told us that this train was going to be very crowded and for our safety we will highjack the luggage compartment and lock the doors. So we did. We got on, locked the doors behind us, sat down and didn’t make any noises. It was dark inside – no lights, the windows had metal bars all around and the heavy blinds were closed. My hands got cold very fast and I couldn’t stop shivering. The chairs were very uncomfortable and the journey felt like lasting forever, even if there are only about 350 km – the train goes very slow, it took over 6 hours to arrive. Suddenly, at the horizon, we got a sight of the Jaisamler Fort, shimmering in the sun, above the city.

It was so good to get out of the train and feel the warm weather. The sun was shinning and there was no more fog. Finally, we could leave our jackets aside and wear just tshirts.

It was my turn to have a single room in Jaisalmer, and I received a huge room with a nice view towards the pool. We had a modest cheap lunch at the hotel and then headed over to the lake, to see the sunset. There were a lot of people walking around or rowing boats on the lake. It felt very crowded but as soon as we started to walk along side, it felt like we left the people behind. The views were stunning but, as anywhere in India, there was a lot of dirt and a lot of cows roaming around too.


Near the lake there was a special cemetery, a place where priests were building their graves and then when they felt they were abut to die, they used to be berried alive by choice. On top of the hill looking over the cemetery towards the fort we had a cup of hot chai and then we wondered around a little bit until we returned to our Tuk Tuks to go to dinner.

IMG_6810We were taken to a beautiful haveli for dinner, right at the entrance of the fort – Nachana Haveli, Saffron Restaurant. A big table was set for us on the rooftop while a young boy and his father were singing folk Rajastani songs for us at their traditional music instruments. I had an exceptional Bharwa Aloo curry (stuffed potatoes with paneer, nuts and spices) followed by a very well made sweet lassi. I have to say that this was one of my favorite experiences along this trip. Because during the first trip in India I got sick eating chicken, this time I chose to eat only vegetarian dishes – and there is plenty to choose from, as North India is mostly vegetarian. 20141226_193624

Back to the hotel I enjoyed the privileges of having hot water and crashed, after a very long day.

IMG_6856The morning greeted us with more sunshine. After breakfast we headed back to the fort, this time with a guide, to visit it and find out the story behind it. You need to know that in Rajastan, all big cities have a fort. Each of them is different though and has a different story. IMG_6892

IMG_6924Firstly, Jaisalmer fort is made out of yellow sandstone walls which get a golden hint during the day, fading to honey at sunset, camouflaging into the desert. That’s why Jaisamler is also knows as the Golden City. In the past, the fort had a major role on the trading route and even today, the narrow streets are full of vendors trying to sell scarfs, clothes, shoes and jewelery. This is actually the only fort where people still live in and while visiting you can observe their daily life. Here, a woman is sweeping the stairs of her house; there, a child is playing underneath the freshly washed bedsheets; on the other side a man is rushing on his moped, carrying crates; across the road, another man is painting a Hindu god. IMG_6884



At the end of the tour, after the usual stop at the local guide’s friends’ textile shop, we get in front of the majestic Patwa Ki Haveli, where all of a sudden we began a tourist attraction for the locals. Everybody was photographing us, like we were some sort of VIPs. The guide told us that they are local people that haven’t seen Caucasian people before and that’s why.


At lunch we had Thali, a north Indian meal that consists of more dishes on a big round tray. A typical Thali includes Dal (lentils curry), vegetables, curd, pickle and rotis or chapatis, together with a sweet. You usually eat it with your hands, using the bread as a spoon.

20141227_135225After lunch we had free time to explore the town, so we divided into smaller groups and get lost into the narrow streets of Jaisalmer. IMG_6966


People are friendly with tourists, they ask where you are from and then they invent an aunt or uncle that lives in the same country as you. They have visited London, Paris, New York – hoping that you will buy something from them. Not this time tough.



Most of us decided to meet back on the roof of Saffron Restaurant, where we enjoyed a well-deserved beer while watching the sunset change the yellow of the buildings into gold.



Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.


    1. Thank you, it was quite an experience. it is the only fort in India where people still live in and it’s amazing to visit while inhabitants just do their daily chores.

  1. Joanna you sure seem to be all clued in on travelling in India. Love seeing my country through your eyes. And you do make it look authentic with your lovely clicks

  2. So, it’s the yellow sandstone plus the perfect colors of sunset that helps make Jaisalmer named as the golden city. Actually, I’m curious about the special cemetery where dying priest used to be burried alive by choice. That is really interesting knowledge I learned from your post.

    1. I have tried to find out more information about the cemetery too but I was unable too, all I remember is what our guide told us. Maybe Charu can tell us more? πŸ™‚

  3. Your photos tell a lot of story…I admire your passion to travel… It has been a dream to me to explore other places outside our country and explore their cultures and experience they fascinating tradition.. This City in India looks really amazing and the people are very hospitable too! It must be a very rewarding experience for you

    1. You should follow your dream and start traveling! You can explore first a country close to yours and then take over the world. It is such a wonderful feeling to meet new cultures!

  4. Wow, I could just imagine how difficult it must have been trying to finish carving those intricate details on the wall panels. The Oriental patterns were considered for the luxurious only back then. They are certainly the epitome of its ownerΒ΄s wealth.

  5. Oh the Golden City is beautiful and your pictures are exquisite it really makes me feel like I’m there! I’ve heard so many people say that the first time they had chicken is India it made them super sick! I’ll know not to touch it of I’m ever lucky enough to holiday there!

  6. This looks like a pretty great trip! really nice photos, what did you take them with? Pretty good quality!

  7. India is one place I am really eager to experience. My boyfriend has already been and he is head over heels in love with India, so much in fact that he wants to spend at least a year there when we do go together. That train ride you mentioned sounds a bit uncomfortable, but I guess that’s a part of the adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Wow, a year in India! That would be so awesome, you will have time to visit all India and experience different cultures and different languages in the same country.

  8. That is a beautiful story. This town is has a beautiful view, especially at night. I want to go myself. I know you had a good time and learned a lot.

  9. Absolutely gorgeous pictures!! I’m currently planning my summer holiday and not sure where to go but now I will add this to my list of considerations πŸ™‚

    1. I’m not sure India is great to visit in summer due to the high temperatures. I went once in December/January ad once in February. The weather was definitely better in February, warm but not very hot.

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