Standing tall and majestic, the Jaisalmer Fort needs no introduction to the world – a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and one of the largest forts in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort, also holds the unique distinction of being the ONLY LIVING FORT in the world – a distinction that remains unparalleled for this magnificent monument till date.
Built in 1156 AD by Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaisal, the Jaisalmer Fort is home today to over 3000 people who have been ‘living’ in the fort for generations. Granted residence by the ruler (and his subsequent generations), these people continue to live on and have blossomed their little world into a small town with shops, food stalls and markets.
Earlier this year, I got a chance to visit the fort and was in complete awe of the grandeur of the fort and the simplicity of people living inside who took great pains to ensure they did not cause any damage to the fort. Here’s a photo-tour of my walk through the fort and what can you expect on your visit:
Entrance to the fort:
Entrance to the fort is through the fort gateway. A well-built tarmac road leads you all the way to the fort gate and you can reach the gate either by tempos (autos) or by your own vehicle. Tempos and tourist vehicles are not allowed inside the fort to avoid congestion and the only exception is for handicap persons.
The walk from the fort entrance to main fort complex is about 20 minutes. It’s a slightly uphill climb and elderly persons may need help or take adequate breaks. The walkway is lined up with handicraft shops and makes the climb less tiresome.
Main fort complex:
The main complex at the fort is a large square bustling with tourist and local people and is full of handicraft and tea /coffee shops – a perfect to take a quick break after the long, uphill walk. The main complex also has a post office and local police post for any assistance. Note: Guides are also available here (and at fort entrance), so do check out if you feel the fort may be difficult for you to navigate.
Local handicraft stalls in main complex
Walking in the by-lanes of the fort:
The ‘city’ part of the fort is quite amazing and a photographer’s delight. Preserved in its old time glory, the beautiful heritage structure of the fort is impressive and it’s a treat to watch how the locals have adjusted and built their homes within the original structure of the fort.
Markets and handicraft stalls inside the fort:
Apart from the lovely homes, it is a delight to walk through the streets and explore the local markets and handicraft stalls set up by locals – from food, to train bookings (!) to wooden and art pieces – the fort offers great local shopping opportunity too. There are no separate market sections and hence one has to keep a lookout for these little shops.
A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)
Bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Jaisalmer (from fort rooftop):
The greatest attraction of the fort is its magnificent bird’s eye view of the Jaisalmer city and is a must see. An old canon at fort rooftop reminds you of the days gone by when the fort stood tall and strong protecting the city – it’s a great view and a small café at the fort rooftop is a lovely place to have a cup of tea before heading back.
Things to keep in mind while visiting the fort:
- Open: All days (but good to check with local hotel/ guide for public holidays)
- Entrance fee: Rs 250 INR for International visitors; Rs 50 Indian adult
- Address: Fort Rd, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
- Dress/footwear: It can be sunny and hot so good to carry water, wear hat, full sleeves and wear flat shoes for the long walk to fort entrance. Good to keep additional money for shopping inside the fort.