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Jaisalmer Tours, Rajasthan
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Prime Attraction :
Jain Temples - Desert Festival - Jaisalmer Fort - Desert National Park
 
Jaisalmer, exotic, remote, and beautiful, is a bit of a paradox. Set so deep in the heart of the desert that one would expect barren near-desolation, this frontier town is today one of Rajasthan's best-loved tourist destinations. Local colour and warmth prevail over the inhospitable and forbidding terrain, imbuing the medieval town with a special magic.
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Jaisalmer was founded in 1156 AD by Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav clan and a Bhati Rajput, on a hill called Trikuta as the new capital of his territory. In medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt, Arabia, Persia, Africa and the West. The narrow streets in the old walled city still preserve a traditional way of life with craftsmen still working at the ancient crafts of weaving and stone carving, the making of silver jewellery and embroidery. And the stately, nonchalant camel is everywhere. Walking through Jaisalmer one ends up savouring the medieval glory of old Rajasthan, a marvellously rewarding travel experience.Winter is the perfect time to visit for it is then that Jaisalmer's Desert Festival, celebrated in January/ February. The desert seems to bloom in a thousand colours with the colourful costumes of the locals and the decorations on the camels. There are camel races and folk dances, craft bazaars and traditional ballad singing, a sound and light spectacle on the sand-dunes of Sam on the full moon night of Purnima; and all the colour and excitement of the best in Rajasthan - folk dances, exciting competitions and contests, especially the turban-tying contest , the light-hearted Mr. Desert contest and camel races enhance the festivities. Jaisalmer is a combination of culture and harsh climatic conditions, together amounting to a memorable experience for the visitor.
 
Prime Attractions
Jain Temples
This group of fine Jain temples were built in the 12 th to 15 th century, within the Jaisalmer Fort. They are beautifully carved and dedicated to Rikhabdevji and Sambhavnathji. The Gyan Bhandar, a library containing some extremely old manuscripts, is within the temple complex.
 
Desert Festival
 
In the midst of the endlessly undulating, stark yellow sands of the great Thar Desert, rises the golden sandstone city of Jaialmer, like a beautiful mirage, on top of the mythical Trikut hill. Once a year in winter, the empty sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the brilliant colour, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. The very rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture is on show here for a few days. Handsome Rajasthani men and tall beautiful women dressed in their brilliantly hued picturesque costumes dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy.
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The usual fair attractions are there - snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats, folk performers do brisk business. Camels, the lifeline of the desert, play a major role. Proud moustached villagers, dressed in their ethnic best come astride their picturesquely caparisoned camels to join in the camel dances and competitions of camel acrobatics, camel races and décor, camel polo, tug of war and the like.
 
The Langa and Manganiyar folk musicians, the brisk pace of Rajasthani folk dances like Gair, Dhyap, Gangaur, Ghoomar, Moria, Terathal, Rajasthani handicrafts are the other attractions at the festival.
 
Jaisalmer Fort
 
Deep in the heart of the Thar Desert is Jaisalmer, one of the last princely bastions in the region. The rich merchants engaged stone-craftsmen who worked delicately on the sandstone mansions they built, filling up facades with sculptural filigree, screen windows, delicate pavilions and beautiful balconies. Today, these veritable art-museums are still inhabited, and their colorful celebrations and festivals have placed Jaisalmer Fort firmly on the world tourism map.
 
The golden-yellow sandstone of Jaisalmer Fort, over 800 years old, crowns the Trikuta hill. Within it's walls, defended by 99 turrets, lies the old city, nearly a quarter of modern Jaisalmer. Once this desert outpost was an important gate for the trade route, and Jaisalmer grew wealthy on the proceeds. But the advent of commercial shipping relegated the town to relative obscurity.
 
The fort stands almost 30 mt over the city and houses an entire living area within huge ramparts. Walking through the narrow lanes is an experience worth savouring. It can be approached through Ganesh Pol, Suraj Pol, Bhoota Pol and Hawa Pol. Also within it are many beautiful havelies and a group of Jain temples dating from the 12-15 th centuries.
 
Desert National Park
 
It preserves the eco-system of the desert within it's confines. The Monitor lizards, desert foxes, porcupines, occasional wolves and black bucks, and the great indian bustard are found here, forming an ecological chain revolving around cactii and other hardy desert plants.
 

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