Sean-Paul Kelley of the Agonist has an entry on Jaisalmer, which lies in the middle of Thar Desert in Rajasthan. This was one of the major cities on the camel route to Persia before Mumbai became an important port city.

Built in 1156, the city sits along the old southern trade routes heading west out of India across Persia and into the Levant–finally the goods were shipped to Italy in exchange for European gold during the Italian Renaissance. Like the great merchants of Italy the Jains here in Jaisalmer built magnificent houses called havelis and temples intricately carved temples to rival those at Mt. Abu south of here. The city is a small oasis town amidst desert and adjacent the frontier with Pakistan.

The massive fort that looms above town was built by the Maharaja Jaisala in 1156 to ward off Muslim invaders from the West. It has 99 bastions, still holds 25% of the population and has a most stunning view from the top.

Inside the fort are two Jain temples dedicated to Rikhabdev and Sanbharanath respectively, and were built between 1156 and 1400. The Hindu temple is rather plain. Although the city is 20% Muslim I haven’t yet located the Mosque.

The city certainly isn’t as magnificent as Samarkand or Bukhara but it is a step above Dunhuang and Kashgar. [Jaisalmer]

2 thoughts on “Jaisalmer

  1. Jaisalmer is also the place where you get the best bhang in rajasthan, suppossedly.
    But its strange, what a lonely planet article can do to a place. i have a photo of a board outside a small hotel inside the fort is jaiselmer, that says ‘trust your oune eyes & ear bicouse we are new and not yet… in the bibel lonely planet. please give us chance'(sic). The entire place runs on the lonely planet guide. if you are in it, you have it all, if not, find a way to get into the next edition. A women did some mehndi for us and brought the price down, but said, “don’t tell anyone, my prices are quoted in the lonely planet”

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