This fort in Jaisalmer is home to thousands of families who have been living here for ages and are not even required to pay any rent. By Tanvi Jain

 

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Located in Rajasthan amidst the Thar desert, the medieval fortress of Jaisalmer, is till date home to as many as 4,000 descendants of the early inhabitants of the castle. The fortress is 20-storeys tall, and the dusty landscape make it appear like a golden castle.   

Built in 1156 by King Rawal Jaisal, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the Golden Fort or Sonar Quilla, stands atop a hill, has four gates and 99 turrets. To beat the scorching heat, the roofs are covered with three layers of mud. Moreover, the jaalis and jharokhas, allow the breeze to pass smoothly.  

 

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It’s because of yellow stone monuments like these, that Jaisalmer gets its title The Golden City. It’s been over 800 years since it was built, yet, the descendants of the earliest inhabitants continue to live here rent-free, because the land was given to their ancestors by the local kings, for their services to the kingdom back then.  

Gyan Bhandar library, the Raj Mahal, Laxminath temple, Jain temples, merchant Havelis, sculptures and motifs, classic of the Dilwar style, are some of the picturesque sites one can enjoy in the fort

 

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Among the narrow lanes and crowded courtyards, life in Jaisalmer still gives a reflection of the 12th century way of living. The fort used to be one of the essential stops on Silk Road training route that connected Asia with the West. Travellers carrying spices, silk, tea and valuable stones used to halt at the fort. And till date it has managed to attract same number of tourists with restaurants and rows of handicrafts, handbags, dupattas, and saris, displayed in the narrow lanes.  

Related: Visit Jaisalmer Fort: The City’s Living Monument & India’s Last Inhabited Fort