Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are visiting Jaisalmer, which is one of the most exotic and extraordinary cities of India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Jaisalmer is one of the most exotic and extraordinary cities in Rajasthan, if not all of India and this city is so remote that few tourists visit it at all. But nobody was disappointed when the photographer was there, because Jaisalmer has a medieval appearance and looks like a place from the legends of the Arabian Nights and it is often called the 'Golden City'.
Jaisalmer is one of the most exotic and extraordinary cities in Rajasthan, if not all of India and this city is so remote that few tourists visit it at all. But nobody was disappointed when the photographer was there, because Jaisalmer has a medieval appearance and looks like a place from the legends of the Arabian Nights and it is often called the 'Golden City'.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024

Jaisalmer – The city of sand

Jaisalmer nicknamed the 'Golden City', is a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan, located 575 kilometers west of the state capital Jaipur. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone and is crowned by the ancient Jaisalmer Fort and this fort contains a royal palace and several ornate Jain temples and the city lies in the heart of the Thar Desert also known as the 'Great Indian Desert' and has a population, including the residents of the fort of about 78,000.

Why is Jaisalmer famous?

Jaisalmer with its royal forts and palaces has the distinction of being the 'Golden City' of India. One of Rajasthan's biggest tourist destinations, Jaisalmer's charm, despite the rampant commercialization lies in its massive sand castles, forts and colorful bazaars.

One of India's most famous tourist destinations
Jaisalmer, a desert city in the heart of Rajasthan, is one of India's most famous tourist destinations. Known as the 'Golden City' because of its yellow sandstone buildings, this place is an exotic blend of culture, history and grandeur. Founded by Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal in 1156 and is home to some of the oldest living fortifications in India. Jaisalmer Fort, also known as the 'Sonar Qila', is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Built in 1156 AD, it is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan and is an excellent example of Rajput architecture. Inside the fort walls, visitors will find a number of palaces, temples and 'Havelis' that are open for exploration and the city is also home to a number of colorful markets and bazaars, such as the Sadar Bazaar, where visitors can find a variety of traditional Rajasthani goods. Jaisalmer is known for its hand-crafted textiles, metalwork and gemstones, so it is a great place to pick up some souvenirs.

Jaisalmer is also home to some of the most stunning desert scenery in India. Just outside the city, visitors can explore the Thar Desert on a camel safari or enjoy breathtaking views of the sand dunes at 'Sam Sand Dunes'. The desert is also home to a number of wildlife reserves and national parks, such as the Desert National Park and the Jaisalmer Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition to its many historical and natural attractions, Jaisalmer is also home to a vibrant cultural scene. Visitors can enjoy traditional Rajasthani music, dance and theater in the city's many theaters and performance venues and there are also a number of festivals that take place in Jaisalmer throughout the year, such as the 'Jaisalmer Desert Festival' and the 'Jaisalmer Folk Festival'.

Jaisalmer is a city like no other, with its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Whether you are looking for a luxurious desert getaway or an opportunity to explore Rajasthan's unique culture and history, Jaisalmer is the perfect destination.

Beautiful desert landscape and ancient forts and palaces
Jaisalmer, a city in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, is a popular tourist destination for its beautiful desert landscape and ancient forts and palaces. This city is best known for its 'Golden City' or 'Sonar Kella', as it is called, due to the yellow sandstone used in many of its structures. Jaisalmer is home to some of the most impressive forts and monuments in India, including the Jaisalmer Fort and the 'Patwon-ki-Haveli'. Built in the 12th century, the Jaisalmer Fort is the second oldest fort in Rajasthan and is one of the largest in the world. Inside the fort is a palace, temples and a number of other attractions. The city is surrounded by the Thar Desert, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including leopards, desert foxes and the endangered great Indian bustard. Visitors can explore the desert on a camel safari, take a jeep safari to the nearby sand dunes or explore the city's many ancient temples.

"The city is also home to some of the most vibrant festivals and fairs in India. The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is a popular event held every February and includes traditional music and dance performances, camel races and puppet shows. The city also plays host to the Pushkar Camel Fair, one of the largest camel fairs in the world. Jaisalmer is an ideal destination for anyone looking to explore India's culture, heritage and stunning desert landscape. With its beautiful monuments, vibrant festivals and stunning desert views, Jaisalmer is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors"

Jaisalmer, India
Jaisalmer was once the capital of Jaisalmer State. From the smallest cell to the palace and temples in the fort, the whole city is in the same golden mood. Even modern new buildings have to adapt. Emerging maritime trade and the emergence of the port of Bombay then brought the descent for Jaisalmer and the associated separation of trade routes to Pakistan, together with the shortage of drinking water, seemed to mean the end. In the Indian-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971, however, Jaisalmer's strategic position became topical again such as paved roads, railways and electricity now connect the city with the rest of Rajasthan.

However, the fascination of the city is slowly attracting more and more travelers because the very beautiful mansions of the merchants of Jaisalmer are called 'Havelis'. and some of these sandstone buildings are still in very good condition and the showpiece of the Havelis from Jaisalmer is the very finely crafted 'Patwon-ki Haveli'. located in its very narrow alley. One of his rooms is decorated with beautiful wall paintings and this mansion can be visited, but is unfortunately not in a good condition and another one is the Salim Singh ki Haveli was built about 300 years ago and is still partially inhabited today. Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the capital of a prince state the house stands directly below the hill and is said to have once had two more wooden floors and the aim was to make this manor house higher than the palace of the Maharaja.

However, this was opposed to the Maharaja and he had the two upper floors demolished without further ado and the 'Nathmal ki Haveli' was also the home of a prime minister and it was built in the late 19th century and yellow sandstone elephants guard the building and the front door alone is a work of art and sandstone has been used for domestic construction and housewares since prehistoric times and continues to be used.

"Jaisalmer is advancing in the Thar Desert and centuries ago, the city gained its great wealth through its strategic location on the caravan route between India and Central Asia. Merchants and residents built impressive houses and residences, which all are made of golden yellow sandstone"

An important trade route in India
A caravan is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defense against bandits as well as helping to improve economies of scale in trade. In historical times, caravans connecting East Asia and Europe often carried luxurious and lucrative goods, such as silks or jewelry and caravans could therefore require considerable investment and the profits from a successfully undertaken journey could be enormous, comparable to the later European spice trade. The luxurious goods brought by caravans attracted many rulers along important trade routes.

Many of the houses and temples of both the fort and of the town below, are built of finely sculptured sandstone and sandstone was a popular building material from ancient times. It is relatively soft, making it easy to carve and it has been widely used around the world in constructing temples, homes and other buildings and it has also been used for artistic purposes to create ornamental fountains and statues. All sandstones are composed of the same general minerals and these minerals make up the framework components of the sandstones.

The population of Jaisalmer
Unlike Jaipur and Jodhpur, with populations in the millions, Jaisalmer is very much a tourist town, with a population of about 80,000. In fact, a significant portion of the population is only there in the tourist season, four months out of the year and the rest of the time they go off to find work in larger towns in Rajasthan. Thus you can expect to see that the inhabitants are very intent on selling you things.

My unforgettable journey in Jaisalmer
"- As anywhere in India, try to stay calm and not get irritated, as getting angry never helps the situation and keep in mind that they can also be extremely friendly, chatty and genuinely helpful, so be positive when being in the city and have a good time. As an avid traveler always yearning for new adventures, I recently had the pleasure of visiting Jaisalmer, a remarkable city nestled in the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. With its stunning golden sandstone architecture, Jaisalmer seemed like a mirage of dreams and tales from Arabian Nights. Little did I know that this journey would leave an indelible mark on my heart and forever engrave Jaisalmer in my memories", the Photographer says.

"Stepping foot in Jaisalmer was akin to entering a different era altogether. The city's narrow winding streets, lined with intricately carved 'Havelis', which are traditional mansions and bustling markets, paint a vivid picture of ancient Rajasthani culture and its rich history. The prominent Jaisalmer Fort standing tall against the vast desert landscape, seemed like a fortress from a fairy tale, beckoning me to explore its secrets"

"- The vibrant costumes, graceful movements, and rhythmic melodies transported me to a different world, immersing me in the rich cultural tapestry of this mesmerizing city. Jaisalmer's charm extended beyond its alluring desert landscape. Exploring the narrow streets of the city, I stumbled upon the vibrant local markets, where the scent of exotic spices, colorful fabrics and intricate handicrafts filled the air. Walking through the maze of alleyways, I found myself tempted by the intricate mirror work garments and delicate silver jewelry, pieces of art crafted by local artisans. Each corner I turned revealed a hidden gem, a precious reminder of Jaisalmer's artistic heritage", the Photographer says again.

"- However, the true highlight of my trip lay within the walls of Jaisalmer Fort. As I ventured into its maze-like interior, I marveled at the array of beautifully sculpted Jain temples and the exquisite architecture that stood the test of time. The fort, bustling with life, housed numerous shops and dwellings and its vantage points provided awe-inspiring panoramic views of the city below. Wandering through its narrow lanes, I witnessed both locals going about their daily lives and travelers like me exploring the pages of history etched upon the sandstone walls. Perhaps what struck me most during my time in Jaisalmer was the warmth and hospitality of the locals. Their genuine smiles and heartfelt greetings created a connection that transcended language barriers and cultural differences. Whether sipping chai at a roadside stall or sharing stories with locals in the desert, I felt embraced by the city's generous spirit", the Photographer says again.

"The morning after my arrival, I embarked on a desert safari an experience that words cannot do justice to. Sitting atop a majestic camel as it leisurely strolled across the undulating sand dunes, I marveled at the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding desert. The ever-changing colors of the sand, from golden to tangerine, seemed like an artist's masterpiece"

See this video about the Jaisalmer Fort made by Desi Traveling.

"- With each passing moment, I fell deeper in love with the surreal allure of the desert. As evening approached, I found myself amidst the sand dunes, a renowned spot for watching the sunset. The fading sun cast a golden glow upon the seemingly endless horizon, creating a magical vista that left me in awe. To complete this enchanting experience, I was treated to a traditional Rajasthani folk dance performance accompanied by a meal with a family living in the desert"
, the Photographer says again.

"- After spending a week immersed in the beauty of Jaisalmer, the time came to bid farewell to this magical place. As I departed, I realized that Jaisalmer had become more than just a destination – it had become a sanctuary for my wandering soul. The city's rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, vibrant culture and the tranquility of its desert had left an indelible mark on my heart. Jaisalmer stands as a testament to the marvels of human craftsmanship, the resilience of nature and the irresistible allure of exploring the unknown. To anyone seeking a truly immersive and unforgettable adventure, I urge you to make the journey to this remarkable city – it will undoubtedly leave you with memories to treasure for a lifetime", the Photographer says again.

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Sweeping man in Jaipur

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More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of Jaisalmer. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.