Exploring Jaisalmer The Golden City
The road to Jaisalmer cuts through the barren landscape, wiggling in the swirling heat of the horizon of what looks like the end of civilization. The terrain becomes arid further west, with sparse shrubby trees flanking the road. Approaching the city, the clusters of flat- roofed buildings become denser. There, rising above the skyline like a mirage in the desert stands a massive yellow sandcastle: Jaisalmer Fort.
During medieval times Jaisalmer City flourished due to its location along the camel trade routes between Persia and Asia, but the emergence of new maritime routes during the British colonial period threatened its economy. Independence and the hostile partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 put a halt on the caravan trade, exacerbating Jaisalmer’s decline, but in recent years tourism has helped to revive its economy, and the city has retained every bit of the romance of an exotic bygone era. Today, it is one of the most visited destinations in the state of Rajasthan and India as a whole. Built in 1156 AD by the Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, Jaisalmer Fort has been the stage for many battles between the surrounding kingdoms, including the Mughal Empire based in Delhi. With 3 layers of defensive walls, 4 enormous gateways and 99 bastions, Jaisalmer Fort is considered one of the largest and most impressive in the world.
The inside of the fort is a labyrinth of winding alleyways, quiet courtyards and elaborate family mansions called havelis, some of which are hundreds of years old. Jaisalmer Fort is a ‘living fort’ with over 3,000 inhabitants, and many Brahmins and descendants of families that worked for the Bhati rulers continue to live within its walls.
Copyright: The Tribe Press Agency – Photos Jimi Casaccia, words Sacha David
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