Sunset Point is not a trade name. It is the place where foreigners – and many natives too – ascend at the end of each afternoon to watch the sun set over the Thar desert and Jaisalmer. And when the star, which goes to bed at lightning speed, begins to scratch the horizon, the sandstone that makes up most of the houses turns gold and one understands why this town in Rajasthan is known as the Golden City.

Until very recently, Jaisalmer was visited by the most tenacious travelers of those who were visiting Rajasthan, perhaps the most touristic state in the Indian Union. It is 800 kilometers from Delhi, the federal capital. Which represents about 18 hours on a night train (luckily it is with bunks and you sleep a good part of the journey) or as many or more on the bumpy roads of the western Indian border. So the triangle of the beautiful Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur absorbed the largest flow of foreign visitors. That may change now that Jaisalmer airport has a direct flight to Delhi and the transfer issue is settled in an hour and a half.Rajasthan.

Jaisalmer boasts of having the oldest inhabited walled city in the world. It was built in the year 1156 and even today a part of its neighborhoods has permanent tenants. The imposing fortress with sloping walls is inaccessible to anyone who wants to attack it, especially considering that it is reinforced with 99 circular towers from which to watch over it. Logically, the walk inside the protected area is one of the great stars of the stay in Jaisalmer, and if there is no fear of losing the sandstone labyrinth, it is very romantic to do it at night, in the light of the moon (and the flashlight, that traps in the form of sinkholes are frequent).

Inside the walled enclosure there are not only palaces, museums, restaurants and hotels, but also some of the most spectacular havelis in Rajasthan. They are classic-style mansions, generally belonging to sagas of wealthy merchants. They have sumptuous halls, many of them full of mirrors not only to increase light, but also to give the appearance of wealth. From the discreet windows with latticework you can spy on the alleys, and the lively life that the walled enclosure presents.Patwon Ki, one of the most spectacular sandstone havelis in Jaisalmer.

Among the precious collection of havelis that can be visited, the most spectacular is Patwon Ki, which has some halls lined with gold, which gives it a resplendent appearance of a fairytale dwelling when the oblique light of the sun’s rays penetrates through the windows. openings. But there are many others. Most of them pay modest amounts for access, but there are still a few – generally those that are pending restoration – that facilitate free access. 

In any case, you have to climb up to the rooftops, from where you can enjoy beautiful views over the city. In several of them it will be inevitable to find a room that acts as a souvenir shop, but generally they are pieces of good taste and the pressure for the visitor to buy is slight or non-existent.

Salim Singh ki and Nathmal ki give a fairly accurate idea of ​​the opulence in which the Rajputs have lived

Salim Singh ki house.

Salim Singh ki and Nathmal ki are two more splendid houses in which toget a fairly accurate idea of ​​the opulence in which the most fortunate Rajputs (warrior caste and high on the social ladder) have lived in this part of India. The ornaments on the railings, the shutters, the arches, the stairs, the murals in the rooms, the interior fountains… everything to feel in the same environment as the hurried Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom but without the Temple of Doom.

One of the most common tourist activities in Jaisalmer is camel rides in the Thar desert. It can be a disappointing experience if you don’t choose a minimally solvent agency. If you opt for it, you have to clarify how many hours of walking, if it includes camping to spend the night in the dunes, what the agapes will be like… In short, so that it is not one of the frustrating moments of the trip.Camel rides in the Thar desert are a common activity among tourists.

A safer bet, completely different, is to go mid-afternoon to the Desert Cultural Center, a modest venue located on Gadisar Road, a short distance from the lake of the same name. A traditional Rajasthani puppet show is performed there daily. It is not necessary to understand the dialogues, it is the traditional fight of good against evil, the rescue of a princess, and so on. At the end of the play, customers can access the back of the stage, where the puppeteers gladly show the dolls and the ins and outs of the play. 

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