It was on the third day of our trip to Jaisalmer, that we had the chance to visit the Golden Royal Cenotaphs of Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer. After having spent the first night in a desert camp, experienced various things to do in the Thar Desert, visiting the haunted village of Kuldhara and having visited the Jaisalmer Fort. It was on the third day our stay that we decided to leave the comfort of hotel Raj Mandir inside the campus of Jaisalmer Fort and explore on the outskirts of the city. Almost 6 km out of the city of Jaisalmer lies the Bada Bagh. It’s the shining cenotaphs of the Royal family of Jaisalmer from across several generations.
Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
The name “Bada Bagh” or “Barabagh” as it is called in Hindi, means a big garden. Although the Cenotaphs stand in the middle of the desert and are completely deprived of any vegetation. But, when they were first constructed, a garden was constructed near them. Maybe the name “Bada Bagh” is derived from the reference to that garden. However, there is no trace of any garden nearby as of today. Nevertheless, it is a peaceful location where golden Cenotaphs rise from golden sand. Each one of these is created in the memory of a king or a queen who passed away. These cenotaphs are called “Chattris” in Hindi, pertaining to their tomb shaped structure at the top.
The Chattris at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
The tradition of building Chattris at Bada Bagh Jaisalmer started somewhere around the 17th century. And it continued till the 20th century. The first cenotaph is that of Maharaja Jai Singh II .He was the founder of Jaisalmer and ruled from 1688–1743. He did a lot of good work while ruling Jaisalmer, including the building of a dam. Which not only solved the water problems of the otherwise dry territory. But also helped create green patches of vegetation amidst the desert. Upon his death, his son constructed the cenotaph at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer to commemorate him.
Since then, it became a tradition to set up individual cenotaphs at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer for each of the king and queen who passed away. The last chattri was that of Maharaja Jawahar Singh. Although, this one remained incomplete. As his son died in the same year when he ascended to the throne and started the construction of the chattri. Somehow, due to his sudden death, the construction of the chattri was believed to be associated with bad luck. And since then the construction of the chattris at Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer were stopped.
The Chattris are all of different sizes. And they are mainly standing in two rows. It looks like the size of the chattris are directly proportional to the power quotient and popularity of the kind or the queen that they belongs to. Which means the more powerful the king, the bigger his chattri. On each chhatri there is a stone inscription dated and having the name of the royal persona that it belongs to. Some have descriptions as well.
How to reach Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer is located on a small hill just outside the city of Jaisalmer. Almost 6km from the city center. The entrance to the cenotaphs is from the bottom of the hill. There is an entrance fee applicable. Best way to visit Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer is by hiring a cab or renting a vehicle from the city of Jaisalmer for the full day. And then combining a visit to Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer along with other sites nearby like the Haunted village of Kuldhara, the Khaba Fort, the Amar Sagar Jain Temple, Vyas Chhatri and some other similar places. Best time of the day to visit Bada Bagh will be early in the morning or towards the evening. I am sure the sunset or sunrise views across the royal cenotaphs will be a site to behold.
Our experience visiting the Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
We reached the Bada Bagh towards the afternoon. After visiting the Amar Sagar Jain Temple and Khaba Fort. As we approached the cenotaphs, the first glimpse of Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer that we got was from the bottom of hill. It signed in the afternoon sun like an array of robust golden structure. We took our tickets and proceeded towards the cenotaphs, soon visiting them one after the other.
For once I wished the place was completely deserted when I visited, so that I could have all the royal beauty to myself for a while. But unfortunately, it was the main tourist session and there were lots of tourists around. Nevertheless, the royal structure of the Bada Bagh, particularly it’s golden structure rising from the golden sand, did impress me deeply. I found it to be a perfect place for snapping some beautiful pictures. However, the more I captured the place in my camera, the more I felt it was impossible to capture it’s complete beauty. From every angle that I clicked, it looked equally beautiful and royal. So, for a nature lover, or someone who loves these kind of royal architectures, Bada Bagh Jaisalmer makes for a perfect place to spend some time.
In short, if you are visiting Jaisalmer, I would strongly suggest visiting the Bada Bagh. Structure wise, they are definitely unique. And the most massive of the several cenotaphs that are present across Jaisalmer and nearby, including the Vyas Chhatri.
Tips on visiting the Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer
- Take a cab or hire a vehicle from the town of Jaisalmer.
- You can combine a visit to Bada Bagh along with a visit to the Khaba Fort, Kuldhara, Amar Sagar Jain Temple and other sites nearby.
- Wear comfortable cotton cloths as it is mostly hot here through the day, even in the winter months of December and January.
- Carry some water with you. There might be some vendors selling water bottles near the cenotaphs but they will charge you extra.
- Try to schedule your visit towards the morning or evening hours so that you can catch a glimpse of a beautiful sunrise or sunset across the cenotaphs of the Bada Bagh Jaisalmer.
- If you are a lover of photography, this is an excellent opportunity for you to click some awesome pictures of the royal structures.
- You require to take off your shoes while stepping on to some of the cenotaphs which stand alone, on the left most side of the entrance to the Bada Bagh, Jaisalmer.