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Which is better Jaipur or Jaisalmer?

Discussion in 'Rajasthan' started by Marieta, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. Marieta

    Marieta New Member

    My husband and I are both going to India, and one of the destinations we will be going to is Rajasthan. We would only be able to spend time at one destination, as we both like spending some time exploring a place rather than rushing to see two or three places.

    The two destinations in Rajasthan which we can not decide between are Jaipur and Jaisalmer. I would like to now which is better Jaipur or Jaisalmer?
     


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Marieta, welcome to the forum!


    Overview

    Are you a fan of ancient forts, temples and palaces? Does strolling through heritage sites seem like your ideal vacation idea? If you are, well, you've picked the two best destinations for truly understanding and experiencing the historical aspect of Rajasthan. Jaipur and Jaisalmer might be quite different destinations but they're both filled with interesting sights, of ancient architectural styles and culture that would let you take a glimpse of both the bygone and modern era. These two destinations are a bit distant from one another though and for those rushed for time, it might not be feasible to visit them both, given the distance.

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    Jaipur (Image from Chris Brown)

    There's Jaipur, the bustling capital of the state of Rajasthan. Most tourist circuits include the pink city of Jaipur, even being a part of the Golden Triangle Tour. Undeniably, Jaipur is the heart and soul of the state, with tons of heritage sites to explore. It was the first ever planned city of India and it shows, with the organised streets and the wide road infrastructures. It can be a bit chaotic, especially during peak tourist season, but it won't be as crowded like other metro cities in the country. Not only known for its attractions, Jaipur is also popular for bringing authentic Rajasthani cuisine to tourists as well as being able to expose them into the traditional cultures of the region.

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    Jaisalmer (Image from Saranya Ghosh)

    Jaisalmer is known as the golden city of Rajasthan, owing to the yellow sandstone structures here that certainly fit with the surrounding golden sands. It is located on the westernmost part of the state, close to the border with Pakistan. It is not usually part of the tourist circuit because it takes some time to reach it from the capital. However, don't disregard this off the beaten track destination because it has attractions that are uniquely found just in Jaisalmer. Now if you would like to explore the dunes of the Thar desert, this city is one of the best places for that as well.

    Jaipur and Jaisalmer - A Comparison

    1. Accessibility
    • Jaipur - Jaipur is easily accessible from the major cities of India. It even has its own airport, the Jaipur International Airport, just about 13 kilometres away from the centre of the pink city. It has direct flights to international cities like Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Dubai, Muscat, Sharjah and Singapore. It also has domestic flights to and from cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and many more. You can easily cover the remaining distance from the airport to the city proper by taxi or auto rickshaw. There are prepaid taxi counters within the airport itself and the rates would be acceptable since the distance isn't that long. Rickshaws are also widely available outside the airport but if you have plenty of luggage with you, it might not be a good idea to reach the city centre this way. Even the JCTSL Bus Stand is just 2.5 kilometres away from the airport and you can find plenty of buses here reaching to different points of the city. If travelling by land via public transportation, Jaipur is well-connected too. There are direct buses from Delhi to Jaipur, operated by the Rajasthan Roadways, ranging from Volvo, Express and AC Sleeper ones. You can also opt for private buses but their fare rates would be a bit on the higher side. There are also direct buses from Ahmedabad and Vadodara, cities in the state of Gujarat. Another good option is train journey, as the Jaipur Junction Railway Station is connected to major cities of India too, like Agra, Ajmer, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata and many more. Even with road journey, by taxi or car, Jaipur is merely five hours away from the capital, Delhi, and the roads are quite good. The only barrier would be the rush hour traffic which you can avoid by leaving early.
    • Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer still doesn't have its very own airport. You can still reach it by air though, by booking a flight to the Jodhpur Domestic Airport instead. This airport has direct flights from Amritsar, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. From the airport, Jaisalmer is still five hours away. You can cover the remaining distance by taxi but it can be very expensive. More economical options would be via bus or train. If travelling by bus from the airport, reach the Paota Circle first, about five kilometres away. There are plenty of buses here going to Jaisalmer, fares would be very acceptable, but journey duration can be as long as seven hours. You can also reach the Jodhpur Junction Railway Station, about five kilometres away, and board a train going to Jaisalmer, journey duration can be between seven to eight hours. If coming from Delhi, there are direct trains that ply to Jaisalmer from the Old Delhi Junction Railway Station. Train journey can be as long as 19 to 22 hours though. If you want to reach the golden city by bus, you need to reach Jaipur first, where there are direct buses for Jaisalmer. And if ever you're bringing a rented or hired car, journey duration can be very long, though this is a hassle-free way of reaching the city, especially if you hire a local driver.
    2. Best Time to Explore
    • Jaipur - Jaipur is best explored during the winter season. The months from October to February have the most pleasant temperatures, ranging between 25°C to 33°C. Humidity is very low during these months so you can enjoy sightseeing. Keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season so make sure you book rooms well in advance prior to reaching the city. The next season is summer, which isn't such a good time to visit the city. Temperatures can go beyond 40°C during the months of March to June. Though you could get good rates on hotels and other travel-related finances, it's best to avoid this season, especially if you're coming from a cooler country or region and is not used to high temperatures. The last season, the monsoon, extends from July to September. During these months, temperatures remain roughly the same, rainfall does occur but doesn't really affect much of the city. Humidity is still high but if you want to save some money on accommodations, then visit during this season.
    • Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer is also best explored during the winter season. These are the months of October to February with temperatures between 20°C to 30°C. During December, temperatures can get even lower and chilly. In the midst of February, the Desert Festival also happens, where colourful activities like camel games, handicraft exhibits and cultural shows can be enjoyed in Jaisalmer. This is the peak tourist season too, so make sure you book your room in a hotel in advance. Both the summer season, from March to June, and monsoon season, July to September, are off-peak tourist seasons. Humidity is high on both seasons though they do offer great discounts for budget travellers. Further, you can enjoy sightseeing with worrying about the crowds when you travel in any of the off-peak tourist seasons.
    3. Attractions to Visit
    • Jaipur - Jaipur has plenty of attractions that you can visit. Let us begin with the forts of the pink city, starting with the Amer Fort and Palace. This fortress slash palace is located on the outskirts of Jaipur, about a 30-minute drive away from the city centre. This is one of the main attractions of Jaipur, a fortress built by the end of the 15th century by Raja Man Singh, later renovated by Raja Sawai Jai Singh. It is usually reached by tourists by an elephant ride from the foothills of the hillock. The fortress is located upon a vast expanse of land, consisting of courtyards, halls, palaces and several gates. You can easily spend a whole day in the fortress slash palace and not notice that time has gone by already so make sure you plan accordingly. There's also the Jaigarh Fort, meant to be a protection fortress for the former fort. As such, it doesn't have opulent or luxurious structures inside, serving mainly as a military base. It does have one main attraction, the Jaivana, the world's largest cannon on wheels. Plus, the fort offers the best view of the former fort as well. The last fortress is the Nahargarh Fort, located just outside the city of Jaipur. Though it isn't as magnificent as the first fort, it does provide one with the best view of the city lights of Jaipur during night time. If you want to get an insight into how the maharajas of the pink city lived back then, a visit to the City Palace of Jaipur is a must. A unique blend of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture, this palace complex was built around the 17th century but renovations were added until the 20th century. Though the palace complex is open to tourists, the Chandra Mahal remains as the residence of the descendants of the royal family so it is off-limits for visitors, unless you pay for the higher fee of touring it. The Hawa Mahal is yet another must visit, with its different hues of pink, and its hundreds of small lattice windows, even the outside view is stunning. Equally interesting are its interiors, where you would find ramps instead of stairs and be cooled off by the ventilation system of it. You can also view the beautiful Jal Mahal, set amidst the Man Sagar Lake, although only from a distance. Boating facilities are restricted and entry to the luxurious palace is also banned. The Jantar Mantar can satisfy the astronomy buff in you, as it features working astronomical and astrological instruments built hundreds of years ago. The world's largest sun dial, the Samrat Yantra, continues to fascinate the tourists too as it can accurately tell time through its shadow. And if you still have time, make sure you venture into the Central Park, where you can relax after a busy day or two of touring the city.
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    City Palace of Jaipur (Image from Richard Moross)
    • Jaisalmer - The attractions in Jaisalmer are fewer as compared to the former city. You begin by visiting the Gadsisar Lake, a manmade water reservoir built by Maharwal Gadsi Singh during the 14th century. It is just a fairly small lake but it has some boating facilities that you can enjoy with your family. The views are quite stunning because the lake has these ancient structures surrounding it. Once done, you can enter the only living fort in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort or the Golden Fort. It is truly a fascinating attraction, as you find the locals moving around with the tourists. There are houses and shops, along with ancient structures like palaces and temples. Narrow streets line the fort area, which makes the experience of touring the ancient fort more authentic. On any time of the day, the fort seems to absorb the glow of the sun, even looking more golden as the sunlight rays hit it, so it's a must visit during day time. Make sure you visit the seven Jain temples within the fort complex. Noteworthy of mention is the Paraswanath Temple, the biggest of the seven temples and has exquisite stone carvings. These temples were built by the Jain merchants back when the city was part of the trading route in ancient times. Outside the fort, you can visit the Patwaon Ki Havelis, five wonderfully designed havelis, built by merchants as well. They have intricately carved doors and balconies, though the interiors seem to be lacking as some have been converted into shops by now. You can combine a trip for the three remaining attractions in one day. The first one is the Tanot Mata Temple, a sacred site, because it survived the bombing of the Pakistanis during the war. In relation, the Longewala War Memorial, about an hour away, is another must visit. This is the place where the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 occurred and memorabilia such as bunkers, tanks and other personal items of the soldiers were preserved here. If you love sites with quirky or eerie pasts, then venture further into the Kuldhara Abandoned Village, supposed to be one of the haunted sites of the state. During day time though, you can explore some remnants of the once thriving village near Jaisalmer.
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    Jain Temple in Jaisalmer Fort (Image from Bombman)

    4. Adventures to Try
    • Jaipur - Most tourists enjoy a thrilling ride in the back of an elephant to reach the Amer Fort and Palace. Not all tourists enjoy the idea of riding an elephant though but if you still want to see these majestic animals up close, you can reach the Elefantastic Elephant Farm, just on the outskirts of Jaipur. You can experience feeding, bathing and even painting the elephants cared for by the centre. The money you give would also go towards the meals per day of the elephants, which can cost quite a lot. A pricey affair but certainly thrilling is riding a hot air balloon. Sky Waltz in Jaipur offers such activity, twice a day during most days and once a day during summer days. You get to enjoy a bird's eye view of the city and be ready for the bumpy ride on the way down. You can also spot wild animals either in the Jaipur Zoo or Nahargarh Fort Wildlife Sanctuary. The former is more of a small zoological park with caged areas where you can spot the animals. The latter is more of an open-air wildlife area where you can indulge in a jeep safari or trekking trail. Many tourists also reach the Chokhi Dhani Village, which is a resort with a restaurant, cultural performances and other activities that showcase the heritage of the city. If you want to understand the intricacies of textile making, head on over to the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing. For breath-taking views of Jaipur, also try out paragliding and paramotoring, offered by some agencies around the city.
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    Jaipur Zoo (Image from Rijin S.)
    • Jaisalmer - Well, you can't visit Jaisalmer and not indulge in a camel safari. Many tour agencies and hotels offer a camel safari across the dunes of the Thar desert. Or you can opt for a more authentic experience by going for the locals. You're not only helping the small livelihood of the people, but you'd also be interacting with the people who truly live in the desert areas of the city. If you're really that adventurous, you can also try out a jeep safari instead, where you would be taken to the deeper and remote areas of the desert. Camping is another activity that you can try. Seeing the desert in the light of the moon is an experience like no other. Luxury camps are abundant around the desert areas but so are simple tented accommodations. By night time, these camps provide for cultural performances too for the enjoyment of the tourists. That's not all because you can also try thrilling activities like parasailing and paramotoring, seeing the desert of the Thar from a bird's eye view. Or if you want something a bit more laid-back, try out the village safari, exposing you to the way of life of the locals living in the arid desert area.
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    Camel Safari in Jaisalmer (Image from Vil Sandi)

    5. Hotels and Other Accommodation Options
    • Jaipur - Jaipur isn't only for the luxury travellers but also for the backpackers. There's a wide range of available accommodation options, ranging from budget to high-end ones. If you're truly tight on budget, try out Backpacker Panda or Roadhouse Hostels. You can get just bed accommodations here, which you'd share with other backpackers. Rates are all under Rs. 300 per night for a dormitory style room. Don't worry because these are safe hostels, garnering praises from guests all over the world. Hotel Grand Residency and Hotel Satkar have room rates under Rs. 1,000 per night and are also highly rated by former guests. These are basic hotels but they do have clean surroundings and hygienic practices. Hotel Moonlight Palace is yet another good option, with rates under Rs. 600 per night. The rooms here are charming, small, but have their own balcony and attached bathroom. For those who enjoy luxurious stays, you have plenty of five-star options too, with the likes of Rambagh Palace, The Oberoi Rajvilas and Le Meridien Jaipur. For mid-range options, try out Dera Rawatsar or Hotel Mahal Khandela.
    • Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer also has an assortment of staying options. If you want to stay within the fort area, but within a budget, try out either Dylan Cafe and Guest House or Ganesh Guest House. Both have guest house like facilities but service is impeccably good. Rates are all under Rs. 500 per night so still within budget. If you want hotels proper, Residency Centre Point or Hotel Qutub Villa have rates under Rs. 1,000 per night so can fit those in a budget but want higher standards. If you're looking for mid-range options, you can try out Hotel Pleasant Haveli or Hotel Sky Plaza, both have rates of under Rs. 3,000 per night. Five-star hotels like Suryagarh and Welcome Heritage Mandir Palace are good options for those who want a bit of luxury.
    6. Dining Experience
    • Jaipur - For authentic Rajasthani cuisine, nothing beats dining at Chokhi Dhani. Aside from the delicious Rajasthani thali, you can also enjoy the cultural shows you can watch and village activities that you can try in the resort slash restaurant. Natraj is another good option and unlike the former, it is located right at the heart of the city. They serve authentic Rajasthani thali for very affordable prices. If you want a more simple option, try out Rawat Mishtan Bhandar, which serves the best kachoris in the city, or Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar, for the finger-licking sweets that they serve. If ever you get tired of Rajasthani food, highly unlikely, try out restaurants with other cuisines. There's Baluchi, which offers Indian Fusion cuisine, twists on classic Indian dishes that you have loved. The Kalyan restaurant has a wide variety of Italian and Chinese dishes, plus offering a good view of the city with its rooftop area. For vegetarians, you can venture into Tapri or Hotel Anuraag Villa Restaurant for all your veggie meals needs. There are also many street food areas around the city, like at Raja Park, Bapu Nagar and opposite the Birla Mandir. With these street food stalls, you can try out pani puris, kulfis and man more local delights with just a few rupees in your pocket.
    • Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer also has restaurants that feature authentic Rajasthani cuisine. A favourite here is The Trio, with its traditional Rajasthani dining experience. Though on the higher side, you're assured of the quality of services and meals served to you. Desert Boy's Dhani is yet another must try, even better is that you'd be seated under the skies. Authentic Rajasthani dishes such as dal bhati churma and ker sangdi sabji. This is like the Chokhi Dhani of Jaisalmer as there are also cultural performances that you can enjoy here. If you're fond of dining with views, try out the Pleasant Haveli Rooftop Restaurant and Cafe The Kaku. For authentic Tibetan dishes, try out Free Tiber or Little Tibet. For your Italian cuisine needs, try out Jaisalmer Oasis Restaurant or First Gate Home Fusion.
    7. Stay Duration
    • Jaipur - You can spend at least four days in Jaipur to fully explore the sights in and around the city. Generally, the Amer Fort and Palace already takes a whole day to explore but you can combine the other forts of Jaigarh and Nahargarh as well at the end of the day. The main attractions in the city can be explored in two days time or up to three days time if you want to include the lesser popular sites. If you want to try out adventure activities as well, then allot another day for that. In total, four to five days would be enough for Jaipur. If you have a week to spare, you can enjoy sightseeing without being rushed.
    • Jaisalmer - If you just intend to visit the sights around Jaisalmer, you can explore it within two days time. The Jaisalmer Fort and surrounding sights can be explored in a whole day while the sights around the city, like the Tanot Mata Temple and Longewala, can be explored in another day. If you want to try out a camel safari or even camping, you need to allot another day or two for that. So it really depends on what you intend to do on just how many days you need to spend on the city.
    8. Excursions
    • Jaipur - Usually, Jaipur is combined with a trip to Agra and Delhi, named as the Golden Triangle Tour. This is the usual tourist circuit that first-time visitors to India partake in. It gives you the modern vibe of Delhi, the iconic monument of Agra and the heritage of the pink city of Jaipur. You can also combine a trip to Jaipur with the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary since they are not too far from each other. This is especially recommended if you're visiting during the winter as many migratory bird species can be spotted during that season. About four hours away from Jaipur is the Ranthambore National Park, where you can spot big cat species such as leopards and tigers. You can also combine a trip with Jaipur with Ranthambore, especially if you haven't tried a wildlife safari before. A bit of an off-beat destination is the city of Shekhawati, it has a number of small villages filled with ancient havelis that are decorated with ornamental frescoes. There are many excursions that you can take outside of Jaipur if you do have the time for more sightseeing.
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    Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Image from Koshy Koshy)
    • Jaisalmer - Very near to Jaisalmer is the city of Lodurva, under 30 minutes away, little known to many tourists. It has a number of Jain temples built during the reign of the Bhati dynasty. Richly ornate and carved, these temples serve the best example of the artistry of the Bhati era. For natural history lovers, reach the Akal Wood Fossil Park, under an hour away from Jaisalmer. This fossil park has collections of millions of years old fossils, including that of a forest which was once submerged under the sea. The city of Khuri is about 58 kilometres from Jaisalmer and is little known to many tourists. It has less commercialised sand dunes perfect for the solitary travellers who want time away from the busy city life. The excursions around Jaisalmer are also on the unknown path, perfect for those looking for one-of-a-kind experiences.
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    Lodurva Temples (Image from Prayash Giria)

    Conclusion

    So how do you choose between these two destinations? You should take a look into your interests and goals. If you like a more developed city, with better tourist infrastructures and easily accessible from the capital or other cities, then Jaipur might work well for you. If you have a few days to allot for the city, you can easily tour all of its attractions. But even with just as little as two days, you can still explore most of the city. If you like modernity, but still intermingled with culture and tradition, Jaipur can give you such experiences. Backpackers and luxury travellers alike can find their comfort zones in the city too as there's an assortment of staying options here.

    Jaisalmer is more of an unexplored tourist destination, as compared to Jaipur. The attractions here are truly unique but definitely not as maintained as the attractions in the pink city. You need to allot some time for travelling to and from Jaisalmer too, because it is located on the interior of the state. If you like less touristy destinations, Jaisalmer might be the best choice for that. Additionally, if you love adventure, you have plenty of options when in the golden city. A camel safari or jeep safari in the desert might be a very memorable experience for you. Even camping in the sandy deserts might be something of your interest.

    I hope this helps you!:)

    P.S.

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