When one talks about deserts in India. the 1st name that comes to mind is Rajasthan, which is somehow right & wrong too.
Rajasthan Desert comprises the three cities — Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur which is commonly known as the desert triangle. These three cities are entwined in such a way that they form a desert circle. The cultural and historical significance and the glorious hoary past of these cities have marked Rajasthan as ‘the most colorful desert in the world
Right, as you will find desert sites only in Rajasthan, & wrong as only 2/5 area of Rajasthan is desert, which is the western part of the state, from Pushkar to Jaisalmer, and comes under Thar desert.
Suggested Rajasthan Tour Packages
Thar Desert is 18th largest desert area in whole world, & is in both India & Pakistan.
In the India’s site, you will find many sand dunes that have wild vegetation. but still there are around 6 desert dune area, that are authentic desert sites.
When I use the term “authentic” I mean real desert sites in Rajasthan, where you will find sand dunes that are 20–50 meters tall, & many desert tourism related activities like Camel safari, Jeep safari, dune bashing, desert camping & in some places “Paragliding”.
Plus these deserts are some of the best places to capture sunset or sunrise, with your camera or mobile.
So, in this post of Deserts in Rajasthan, I’ve shared 7 authentic desert sand dune sites in Rajasthan, along with all the activities that you can enjoy here.
Best 6 desert sites in Rajasthan
1. Desert in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is one of the best city in whole Thar desert area of Rajasthan. Here you will find vast desert land and two prominent desert dunes sites of Sam sand dunes and Khuri Sand Dunes.
Both Sam & Khuri are blessed with 30–60 meter tall sand dunes, which attract travellers from all over India, especially from Gujarat
Along with these 2 dunes sites, Jaisalmer is a vary popular tourist attractions and its Golden Fort, also known as Sonar Quila is a must watch attractions, along with many other sites like Gadisar Lake, Amar Sagar, Jaisalmer War Museum etc.
And view below details on:
- Sam Sand Dunes
- Khuri Sand Dunes
Sam Sand Dunes (Jaisalmer)
Jaisalmer, is the best desert destination in Thar Rajasthan & the dunes here, Sam sand dune & Khuri sand dune, are quite popular among travellers visiting Jaisalmer.
Sam is around 45 km away from Jaisalmer city & dunes here you will find 30–60 meter tall sand dunes in a3- 5 km of pure desert area with very little vegetation.
The main area of Sam, which has no trees; just sand dunes, is the perfect place for travellers searching for a authentic desert holiday in Rajasthan.
How to reach Sam sand dune?
To reach here, you need to book a Jaisalmer to Sam taxi, that cost around Rs 1500–2000 (round trip) & takes like 40–50 minutes.
Once you are here, you can enjoy activities like:
- Jaisalmer Camel safari
- Jaisalmer Jeep Safari
- View of best sunset in whole India
- Dune bashing with Quad bikes
- Paragliding etc.
Khuri Sand Dunes (Jaisalmer)
33 km south of Sam sand dune & 45 km from Jaisalmer city, you will find an anther popular sand dune area by the name of Khuri Sand dunes.
Khuri is popular village safari destination in Jaisalmer, where travelers prefer to stay in small homestays & enjoy walks at sand dunes which are less crowded.
How to reach Khuri sand dune?
You need to hire a taxi from Jaisalmer & drive towards Khuri, which is 50 km south-west from the city.
You can also plan a trip like:
- Arrive in Sam in day 1 around 3–4 pm
- Enjoy & explore Sam & stay here for a night, at one of many desert camps
- Next day, arrive at Khuri, 45 minute drive from Sam, just before sunrise.
So with an above-suggested plan, you can explore both sand dunes of Sam & Khuri.
It’s no doubt, Khuri sand dunes are less filled with tourists, but it’s this isolated location that’s what makes Khuri such a temptation to visit.
2. Desert in Jodhpur
Jodhpur is 260 km east from Jaisalmer and is one of three top prominent desert regions in the Thar Desert. Though most region of jodhpur district has green vegetation, but you will find one marvel, that is now rated as the perfect dessert in Jodhpur Jaisalmer. Its:
Osian desert (Jodhpur)
The desert of Osian is quite close from Jodhpur, around 70 km and is famous for two temples (Osian Mata Temple & a Jain temple) along with the desert dunes.
At Osian sand dunes, you will find only a handful of desert camp, along with a few camel & jeep safari tour operators. Mostly these dunes are visited by travellers who are in Jodhpur & want to enjoy authentic desert safari activities, like Jeep Safari, Camel safari etc.
The remote surroundings of Osian make it a prime attraction for a peaceful night stay (in desert camps) as this dune area is less crowded in comparison to Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer.
How to reach Osian?
To reach Osian Sand Dunes, you can use public transport like Bus from Jodhpur or hire a private taxi. In a taxi, it will take between 1–2 hours to reach Osian, as its 67 km away from Jodhpur.
The best time to visit Osian is by 3–4 pm, as 1st you can visit the Osian Mata Temple & then go for camel or Jeep Safari.
Also checkout out Jodhpur taxi service if you are interested to hire a cab in Jodhpur to visit Osian.
3. Desert in Barmer
Around 160 km south of Jaisalmer, is the city of Barmer which is rated as the 2nd desert city of Rajasthan (Jaisalmer being 1st) where you will find a vast desert area. And the most prominent desert region here is:
The 3rd city in western Rajasthan which is famous for its sand dunes area in Barmer. And just 15 15-minute drive from Barmer, you will find Mahabar Sand Dunes.
Mahabar Sand Dunes is a small, but very beautiful desert area where you won’t find desert camps or safari tours, but it’s perfect for those travelers who either wants to drive their own SUV or bike on dunes and for travellers who are driving on Jaisalmer Ahmedabad route, as Mahabar Sand Dunes are on route.
How to reach Mahabar Sand Dunes?
You can either take an auto-rickshaw from Barmer city, which will charge around Rs 100–150 or book a taxi from Barmer and visit Mahabar Sand Dunes along with more nearby sites like Sanchal Fort, Mahadev Temple & Kushal Vatika Jain Temple.
Best time to visit Mahabar Sand Dunes is evening and at sand dunes, the sunset are simply stunning.
4. Desert in Nagaur
Nagaur is in central Rajasthan & close from both Jodhpur & Jaisalmer. Though Nagaur is mostly known for its Cattle farms but if you travel 45 km south from Nagaur city, you will comes across a village name Khimsar. Here you will find:
Khimsar Desert Sand Dunes
Khimsar is a small town in central rajasthan which lies between Jaipur & Jodhpur, and is just 45 km away from Nagaur city (closest railway station).
So once you enter Khimsar town, you will 1st notice a big solar panel unit from Reliance & a sand dune resort, which is the major attraction “Khimsar Sand Dune resort”
Unlike the above desert dune site, Khimsar is very remote and majority of travellers visiting Khimsar are the guests of this resort, who have maintained a dune area with village theme huts, and offer camel ride at a dune area which is maintained by them, as shown in the image above.
The surrounding area of Khimsar is flat desert area, but is full of rich wildlife like Desert Fox, Nigai, Blackbucks, Demoiselle Cranes, Partridges and other species in wildlife sanctuaries around this region.
How to reach Khimsar Sand Dunes?
Either you can hire a taxi from Jodhpur or Jaipur to reach Khimsar which will be a 2 to 4 hour drive, or you can catch a train till Nagaur railway station, which is 45 km north from the dunes.
There are some attractions close by like Khimsar Fort, Nagaur Fort and others, which you can visit close to Khimsar Sand Dunes.
5. Desert in Bikaner
Bikaner is a popular tourist city, in the middle of Thar desert & in western Rajasthan, which is famous for its Junagarh Palace, Karni Mata temple (where you will find more than 25000 rats) and the desert area just outside the city.
Like all other desert in Rajasthan, Bikaner to has a few sand dune area which aren’t very high, but is spread across a large area & quite famous for its camel safari & camping activities.
Plus, when you are in bikaner desert, do plan to attend the Bikaner camel festival in January and do visit the National Research Centre on Camels, if you wants to enjoy some time with camels, taste camel milk ice cream etc.
How to reach Bikaner desert dunes?
Most desert camps & safari tours in Bikaner are conducted in Raisar area, which is just 15 minute drive from Bikaner city.
To reach here, you can either use public transport or Bikaner taxi service for full day & explore all attractions of Bikaner city & from 4 pm to 11 pm, stay in the desert area.
6. Desert in Pushkar
Pushkar is one of the holiest cities for the Hindus & a major tourist destination of Rajasthan, surrounded by desert sands. The sand dunes here are not as spectacular as that around Sam sand dunes Jaisalmer, but they are rated as the best places to go for exploring the rural village in Rajasthan. You can go on a camel ride here, or drive around in a camel cart to explore unseen regions of the Thar Desert. The caretaker of the camel will be your guide & will share interesting facts about villages with you.
How to reach Pushkar desert dunes?
The nearest train station from Pushkar is Ajmer Junction (around 15 km away) which is connected with all major cities like Jaipur, Delhi etc.
And for travellers searching for desert near Jaipur, Pushkar desert is the best option as its just 140 km away from Jaipur, which you can cover in less than 3 hours, with our Jaipur Sightseeing Tour, and Jaipur to Pushkar taxi package.
Activities in the Pushkar desert
Every year, an annual festival is organized in Pushkar, which is rated as the biggest camel fair in whole world. It’s the Pushkar Camel fair or Pushkar mela & is planned in the month of November this year. And all year around, travellers from all over India & abroad visit this desert area (Pushkar) to enjoy a rural camel safari (ride) & later enjoy a dinner & dance program, either in a desert camp or in a village.