The name Jaisalmer evokes utter magic and vibrancy of the desert. It’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The hostile terrain notwithstanding the warmth and colour of the people is simply overwhelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city while you can let your eyes caress the sloping sand dunes while you ramble your way in a camel safari.
This desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy within the Thar Desert. Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156 AD. Over the years the remote location of Jaisalmer kept it almost untouched by outside influence. In the 14th century AD. Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi besieged the fort for nine years in an effort to take back the treasure looted by the Bhatti Rajputs from his imperial caravan train.
When the fall of the fort was imminent the women of the fort committed Jauhar, an act of mass self-immolation, while men donned saffron robes and rode to their certain death. Duda son of Jaitasimha, a Bhati hero also perished in the battle. Duda's descendants continued to rule Jaisalmer. In 1541 AD they even fought Mughal Emperor Humayun, though their relations with the Mughals were not always hostile. Sabal Simha won the patronage of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his distinctions in battlefield, in Peshawar and thus earned the right to rule Jaisalmer.
In the days of the British rule, Jaisalmer was the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British Government. Ages have gone by and the monuments of Jaisalmer have withstood the buffeting winds of the desert all through.
Jaisalmer is a paragon of beautiful culture and harsh climatic conditions; these together leave a lasting impression on the visitors. The old city was completely encircled by a wall but much of it has sadly crumbled for want of building material in recent years.
The massive golden fort, which is the essence of Jaisalmer, is entered through First Gate; is a burrow of narrow streets with Jain Temples and old palaces. The main market, the Sadar Bazar is right below the hill. The bank, offices and several shops are also located near the Amar Sagar Gate to the west.