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Jaisalmer, Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer , Rajasthan
India's insider take:

This fairy-tale medieval fortress town surrounded by the Thar Desert is crisscrossed by labyrinthine streets. Its many havelis (private mansions) with beautifully carved sandstone facades hark back to the days when Jaisalmer was a major trading post. Jaisalmer Fort, which is on a hill in the middle of the Old City, is still inhabited, though much of its real estate is today dedicated to luring tourists. The entrance to the lofty Maharaja's Palace can be found in the main square just as you enter the gates of the fort, and the museum here is open from 9 am to 6 pm (from 8 am in the hot season). Look out for the clutch of Jain temples as you wander around the fort; the temples' compact network of intricately carved chambers is well worth visiting. Outside the fort, note the havelis, which can be visited for a small entrance fee. A few kilometers out of town are the striking domes of Bada Bagh, a memorial site for generations of maharajas dating back to the 16th century; today the domes are surrounded by a surreal landscape of wind turbines. Jaisalmer is also known for its camel safaris, which can range in length from a few hours to several days; ask at your hotel about booking.

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