Jaisalmer Fort

sights / Military

Jaisalmer Fort information

Lonely Planet review

Founded in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisal and reinforced by subsequent rulers, Jaisalmer Fort was the focus of a number of battles between the Bhatis, the Mughals of Delhi and the Rathores of Jodhpur. The lower of the fort’s three layers of wall is composed of solid stone blocks, which reinforce the loose rubble of Trikuta Hill. The second wall snakes around the upper part of the fort, and between this and the third, inner wall, the warrior Rajputs hurled boiling oil and water, and massive round missiles on their enemies.

The Jaisalmer standard, which features a chhatri against a red-and-yellow background, flies at the top of the fort’s highest building, the palace.

You enter the fort from its east side and pass through four massive gates on the zigzagging route to the upper part. The fourth gate opens into a large square, Dashera Chowk, where Jaisalmer Fort’s uniqueness becomes apparent: this is a living fort, with about 3000 people residing within its walls. It’s honeycombed with narrow, winding lanes, all of them paved in stone and lined with houses and temples – along with a large number of handicraft shops, guesthouses, restaurants and massage/beauty parlours, just to remind you that you are in the age of 21st-century tourism, not the middle ages. Fortunately cars cannot drive beyond the main square. The fort walls provide superb views over the city and surrounding desert – it’s fantastic to stroll around the outer parts at sunset. From outside, the fort looks especially magical when it’s lit up at night under a clear sky full of stars.

Watch your bags and pockets as you wander around the fort – there have been some incidents of theft.