Sleeping on rooftops in the city of sandcastles is a surreal experience and a taste of daily life for the locals of Jaisalmer. A middle-eastern-esque city dolloped out in the Thar desert, Jaisalmer resembles somewhere plucked straight out of Arabian nights.
As many explorers of the Golden Triangle do, I made my way to the Golden City via train from the Pink City of Jaipur. An easy train ride on sleeper class that took around 12 hours. The JSL express was my choice of train, and like most trains heading this direction it travels daily.
With temperatures in September soaring well past the 40 degree (celsius) mark, and dropping only as low as the late 30’s right before sunset, if you don’t have air-conditioning (aka locals and super-budget travelers) then you’re pretty much screwed.
There is one solution though – get creative and head for the rooftops!
Sleeping under the stars in Rajasthan
Despite being the hottest place during the day, the rooftops of Jaisalmer transform into the most pleasant by night – especially if a breeze happens to blow through. There’s something magical about sleeping under the stars in the desert, hearing the world go by around you and peeking out over the edges to see sleeping strewn across the nearby building tops.
Extreme Budget Travel in India
If you happen to search online for accomodation in all of Rajasthan, and order it by price, Jaisalmer is where you’ll end up. For as little as 50-1oo rupee a night, hoteliers and guesthouses will happily set you up a mattress (and a tent during different seasons) on the rooftop each night, and let you use their communal area and showering facilities during the day. Rooftop surfing is some of the cheapest accomodation in all of India, and can’t be done so easily in many other cities due to humidity, pollution, rain and monkeys (yep! you heard me.. no monkeys in Jaisalmer!)
Downsides to Roof Surfing in Jaisalmer
A once in a lifetime experience, this is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. There are some downsides though, taken from my own personal experience:
- If that breeze doesn’t come through, it can still be intolerably hot!
- The full moon is akin to sleeping with the lights on
- You don’t have a bedroom to rest in during the day (although some places provide comfy spaces you can rest)
- It is not always this hot and clear in Jaisalmer – from what I understand, they get a rainy season too, so check that out before you get your heart set on a night under the stars.
- I visited in September, which is both HOT and low season. I would expect prices to vary at different times of the year, and perhaps it won’t be so cheap during the tourist peak times.
Golden Marigold Hotel
I spent much of my time in Jaisalmer sleeping on the rooftops of the Golden Marigold Hotel, and enjoying the super cute chill-out space with fabulous views during the day. The staff here are exceptionally friendly and all too happy to help with anything, and even provided a fan-cooled room for us to store our belongings and take a nap during the day if needed. What I paid? 100rs per night. Check them out on Agoda here
Not Always Listed Online
Many of the guesthouses and hotels in Jaisalmer offer rooftop sleeping, they just don’t always advertise it on the reguar accomodation booking sites and apps. It never hurts to pop your head in and ask around, you’ll almost certainly find somewhere very quickly.
Sleeping on the rooftops in Jaisalmer was a unique and wonderful experience, and something I don’t think many travelers to Rajasthan even know about – definitely something worth trying on your next tip to Northern India and an authentic way to sample desert life in Rajasthan.
Have you slept on a rooftop before? Know of somewhere good to stay? I love hearing about unique places to sleep.. Let me know in the comments