Jaisalmer – A backpacking trip to the Golden City of India(2 days – INR 2800)

Sunrise view at Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer

Have you had enough of visiting the beaches? Or are you too tired to trek somewhere in the mountains or the jungles? Are you looking for some different terrain? What about planning a holiday to one of the desert city of India? Waves of ripples in a vast expanse of sand dunes, the breeze containing the sand, the stunning sunsets and the sunrises, the coldness in the atmosphere, the countless stars, the sounds of hidden creatures and most importantly the peace in the surroundings. Oh yes, its “Jaisalmer”.

Sam Desert Jaisalmer

Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer 

Lying at the heart of the Thar Desert and known as “The Golden City”, Jaisalmer stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone and is crowned by the “Jaisalmer Fort”. Jaisalmer is unarguably one of the best travel destinations in India. Make a trip to the desert city of India and you will be left stunned by the beauty of it.

view from Topkhana Jaisalmer

View from Jaisalmer Fort

Jeep safari at Sam desert Jaisalmer

Jeep safari at Sam desert Jaisalmer

How to reach Jaisalmer from major Indian cities?

The cheapest and the most convenient way to reach Jaisalmer is via railways. Jaisalmer is directly connected to major Indian cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer directly by railways. What you can do is take a train till Jaipur/Delhi/ Jodhpur and from there another train or a bus to reach Jaisalmer. For train bookings, visit IRCTC.

Jaisalmer railway station Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer railway station 

For those who prefer road journey over railways, you can opt for a bus. Jaisalmer is directly connected to major India cities via roadways. For bus booking, visit Redbus/MakeMyTrip/Paytm.

How to reach Jodhpur from major Indian cities

How to get around Jaisalmer

Spots of tourist interest are distributed all over Jaisalmer and one has to be wise in choosing the mode of transport. Places like Bara Baag, Sam Sand Dunes, Khaba Fort, Lodurva, Kuldhara and Amar Sagar are far from the town and one would need their own transport to explore all these. What I would suggest you is to hire a bike for a day to explore the above places. Rest of the places are in the town and can be explored on foot.

auto rickshaw race from bangalore to jaisalmer

They drove auto from Bangalore all the way to Jaisalmer for a rickshaw race

There are various bike rental services in Jaisalmer, most of them are concentrated near Jaisalmer Fort Parking. The rates of a Bullet bike will be around 800-1200 INR per day and that of Activa/bike will be in the range of 300-500 INR per day. I hired an Activa from Royal Bikes Jaisalmer and would highly recommend them. Royal Bikes Phone number: +908769441033.

Activa on rent from Royal Bikes Jaisalmer

Activa on rent from Royal Bikes Jaisalmer

My journey to cover must see places in Jaisalmer

Abhi are you a full-time traveller? No, I am not!! I work in a software company. So how do I manage to travel so much? You know it’s all about priorities and for me its travelling and exploring new places. Finding and managing a way out isn’t that difficult if are dying to do something. Isn’t it ??

Onacheaptrip at Sam Desert jaisalmer

Me at Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Camel at Sam Desert

I had a function to attend at my hometown(Udaipur). So I took work from home option, and planned a visit to Jaisalmer as a weekend trip from Udaipur. I took a night bus from Udaipur to Jaisalmer (INR 450 – 11 hours) and which dropped me to Jaisalmer around 5:30 am. I wanted to experience the sunrise from Gadisar Lake, so I directly headed towards it.

Camel watching sunset at Sam jaisalmer

Sunset view from Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Abhi, so how many days are good enough to explore the town of Jaisalmer.  You know, there is nothing like enough😃!! But yeah, if you are short on holidays, I would advise you to at least plan 2 days for Jaisalmer. Let me put forward a 2-day itinerary to cover most of the must-see places in Jaisalmer.

Jaisalmer fort at night

Jaisalmer Fort Lightened up at night

local playing some instrument at jaisalmer

Day 1 – (Gadisar Lake – Bara Bagh– Amar Sagar – Jain Temple Lodurva – Kuldhara Abandoned Village – Khaba Fort – Sam Sand Dunes)

Day 1 itinerary of exploring Jaisalmer

Day 1 itinerary of exploring Jaisalmer

  • Gadisar Lake

You can kick start your journey to explore Jaisalmer by watching the sunrise at the Gadisar Lake. The sunrise which I was witnessed at this lake was just outstanding, one of the best I have seen in my life. The sunrise hues, the birds flying over the Chhatris and the peacefulness of the surroundings, what more could one ask for? Plan to reach the lake half an hour before the actual sunrise time as the sunrise hues are just splendid. Apart from the views, one can also enjoy boating at this lake.

Boating timings: 8 AM to 8 PM

Beautiful Gadisar lake

Sunrise hues at Gadisar Lake Jaisalmer

After spending time at the Gadisar Lake what you can do is hire a bike and plan to explore the nearby places of Jaisalmer and stay for a night at the Sam Sand Dunes.

  • Bara Bagh

Located around 6-7 kms from the main Fort, Bara Bagh is a treat for eyes and the lens. It is a garden complex which has a set of royal cenotaphs or Chhatris of the Maharajas of Jaisalmer. Entry fees to this Chhatris are on a higher side, so is it really worth a visit? If the photos below excite you, do make a visit otherwise you can skip it. Heard that the sunset views from these Chhatris is amazing but couldn’t experience it myself.

Entry Fees :100 per person

Bara bagh cenotaph Jaisalmer

Bara Bagh cenotaphs Jaisalmeronacheaptrip at Bara Bagh Jaisalmer

Me at Bara Bagh Jaisalmer

  • Amar Sagar

Located around 5 kms from the main town, Amar Sagar a nice artificial lake made to store the rainwater. Mostly the lake remains dried up, but the Jain temple at its one end is worth a visit.

Jain Temple Amar sagar

Jain temple at Amar Sagar Jaisalmer

  • Jain temple Lodurva

Located around 15 kms from the main town, lies the ancient city of Lodurva which is renowned as a prominent Jain pilgrim centre. Dedicated to the twenty-third Tirthankara Parshvanatha, the Lodurva Jain temple is an absolute splendour of bright yellow sandstones.

Jain temple Lodurva

Jain temple Lodurva

  • Kuldhara Abandoned Village

Once inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins, Kuldhara is now an abandoned village and has acquired a reputation as a haunted village. It is believed that Paliwals while leaving the village imposed a curse that no one would be able to re-occupy the village and hence those who tried to re-populate the village experienced paranormal activities, and therefore, the village remains uninhabited.

Entry fees/Parking fees: INR 50

Kuldhara Abandoned Village

Kuldhara Abandoned Village Jaisalmer

  • Khaba Fort

It’s literally in the middle of nowhere. Though there is nothing much to see in the Fort but the drive to reach this Fort is wonderful as you drive along the vast stretches of barren land. The view of the abandoned village below is great from here. The Fort is not visited by much tourists and most of the time you will find the entire Fort for yourself.

Entry Fees: INR 10

Khaba Fort Jaisalmer

Khaba Fort Jaisalmer

View from Khaba Fort Jaisalmer

View from Khaba Fort Jaisalmer

  • Sam Sand Dunes

Located around 40 kms from the main town, Sam sand dunes is one of the most beautiful desert dunes sites where one can find 30-50 meters’ tall sand dunes. I may write a separate post on this in future, but for now, let me put some important things that you shouldn’t miss doing.

  1. Do not miss the sunrise and sunset from the sand dunes.
  2. Spending a night in the open sky with a full moon in the desert would be an amazing experience.
  3. The dunes are huge and if you want some great shots, do walk away from the crowd.
  4. Spend a night at any of the camps which are located in the region and you will love the stay in the desert area.
  5. Try out the Jeep safari and the camel rides in the desert, in the offseason, the prices are very low and you can negotiate a lot.
  6. Avoid visiting the Sam Sand dunes on weekends especially on Sunday as it gets very crowded.
  7. A drive from Khaba Fort to Sam Sand Dunes is one that should not be missed in any case.

Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Jeep Safari at Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Desert Safari at Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Sunrise at Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer

Day 2 – (Jaisalmer Fort – Patwon Ki Haveli –  Tazia Tower/Mandir Palace – Nathmal Ki Haveli – Vyas Chhatri – Suli Dungri)

Day 2 itinerary of exploring Jaisalmer

Most of the places to visit on day 2 are nearby and can be easily covered on foot. Strolling around is always the best way to explore any town as you get to know more about the culture of the city.

  • Jaisalmer Fort

It is the prime attraction of the Jaisalmer city. It is one of the rare forts which is still inhabited by the locals. The main attractions inside the fort are Raj Mahal (Royal palace), Jain temples and the Laxminath temple.

The Jain temples are famous for their Dilwara style paintings and architecture that was predominant in the medieval era.  The temples are built out of yellow sandstone and have intricate engravings on them. Remember the temple opens only from 8 AM to 12 PM, so plan accordingly.

Jain temples Jaisalmer Fort

Jain temples Jaisalmer Fort

Apart from the temple, the view of the Jaisalmer city from old canon view and Tophkhana are just splendid, so don’t miss visiting them. You can roam around the thin lanes in the fort and take something home for your loved ones. The view of the sunset from this fort is splendid. At the night the entire fort is lightened up and is a treat to eyes.

Old canon Jaisalmer city view

Old canon Jaisalmer city view

  • Patwon Ki Haveli – Tazia Tower/Mandir Palace – Nathmal Ki Haveli – Salim Singh Ki Haveli – Vyas Chhatri

After exploring the fort, you can make a visit to the various Haveli’s, Tazia tower and the Vyas Chhatris. All these Haveli’s are dipped in an enchanting shade of gold and instantly draws your attention to the intricacy of its architecture. Vyas Chhatris are located at one end of the city and views of the sunset from the Chhatris is just splendid.

Entry fees: Patwon Ki Haveli – INR 100, Vyas Chhatri – INR 50, Nathmal KI Haveli – INR 50

Patwon ko Haveli Jaisalmer

Patwon ko Haveli JaisalmerTazia Tower Jaisalmer

Tazia Tower Jaisalmer

Vyas Chhatri at Jaisalmer

Vyas Chhatri at Jaisalmer

  • Suli Dungri

It is definitely one of my favourite place in the whole of Jaisalmer. Though the place has just a small temple, the view of the sunset from here is just amazing. Also, the view of the Jaisalmer Fort and the city from here are breathtaking. Stay till it gets dark so that you can enjoy the views of the lightened Fort and the city.

Sunset view from Suli Dungri Jaisalmer

Sunset view from Suli Dungri Jaisalmer

At Suli Dungri with local kids

At Suli Dungri with local kids

Best time to visit Jaisalmer

Just try to avoid visiting Jaisalmer in the summer months of March to June as scorching heat is prevalent in the whole region. The best months to visit Jaisalmer are from October to January as the weather is very pleasant in the daytime, though a bit cold at night. Visiting Jaisalmer in rainy season is a good option as well.

Camel ride at Sam sand dunes Jaisalmer

Stay and food options in Jaisalmer

In recent years, a hell lot of hostels have opened up in Jaisalmer with a price range from 100 INR – INR 500. So one has to be wise in choosing the same. Read the reviews of these hostels at HostelWorld and Booking.com before choosing one. Zostel Jaisalmer is located inside the fort with some awesome view from the terrace, book one if it fits your budget (around INR 400-500). The others I would recommend are Swan Hostel, Wonbin Safari and Moustache Jaisalmer.

I stayed at Wonbin Safari Hostel for 100 INR and would highly recommend them.

Wonbin Safari Hostel Jaisalmer

Wonbin Safari Hostel Jaisalme

For the stay in Sam Sand Dunes, you can check online for various options available and choose the one which suits your budget. I stayed at the Sunrise Desert resort (INR 750/night) which included a cultural program, dinner and breakfast.

Sunrise Desert camp Sam Jaisalmer

Sunrise Desert resort Jaisalmer

Sunrise desert tent room Jaisalmer

Sunrise desert tent room Jaisalmer

Cultural Festival at Sam Desert

Cultural Festival at Sam Desert

For food do not miss eating the Daal Pakwaan at HinjLaal (just outside the Fort). There is also a Bhang shop near Fort parking (government authorized ) if you want to give Bhang a try 😃.

Pakwan at Jaisalmer

Hinglaj Daal Pakwaan near Jaisalmer Fort

My Expenses: Udaipur – Jaisalmer– Udaipur (Bus – INR 900), Stay at Sunrise Desert resort (INR 750), Stay at Wonbin (INR 100 – 1 day), Food INR (500 – 2 days), Tickets for Bada Bagh, Patwon Ki Haveli, Kuldhara (INR 250), Bike rent (INR 400), Fuel charges – INR 200, Miscellaneous: INR 100

Total: INR 2800 (approx.)

with local of Jaisalmer

Though it was my 3rd visit to the Land of Desert, there is something new I experienced. And I am sure I am still left with so many things that are worth exploring in the Golden City. ” Keep bubbling over with abundant joy, peace and love. You may be the only well-watered oasis for someone going through a desert in their lives.” – Caroline

Jaisalmer Fort lightened up at night

Do follow me on Instagram as I am regularly posting travel posts and stories over there. Also, you can message me on Instagram if you want to join me on my next trip.

Looking to visit other places in Rajasthan? Check out the following posts:

Looking for some essential travel gear? Check out my blog post on What’s in my Backpack.

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