Jaisalmer is a medieval fortress town in the remote desert of Rajasthan. Because it was located on the caravan routes between Egypt, Arabia, Persia and India, it became an extremely prosperous town. By the 19th Century however, the opening of ports such as Bombay, caused the caravan trade to dwindle. After the partition of India in 1947, this remote desert area became a military area.
Jaisalmer fort was built in 1156 and is the second oldest in Rajasthan. Two hundred and fifty feet tall and reinforced by imposing crenulated sandstone wall 30 feet high, it has 99 bastion, 92 of which were built between 1633 and 1647. Wells within the fort still provide a regular source of water.
Today the fort has a population of merchants and shop owners living within its walls. Small, winding lanes are packed with houses, temples, and shops. Jaisalmer fort is alive with people going about their daily routines. Many tourists make it to this exotic town where camel safaris are popular as is the annual desert festival in February.
The Havelis or mansions built by the wealthy merchants in the 19th century are famed for their exquisitely carved sandstone facades. Today, many have been converted into shops or hotels. However, one has been preserved as a museum.