Perched on the edge on the great Thar Desert in the heart of rural India, the unique fort at Khimsar offers a wide range of experiences. The battle-scarred walls and turrets remind one of the glorious past of this place.
Khimsar is a small village situated around 92 km on the highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. The village of Khimsar provides an excellent starting point to explore the district of Nagaur, which lies midway between Jodhpur and Bikaner. There are good road connections from Khimsar to other important tourist destinations in the region including Jodhpur, Bikaner, and Nagaur.
On the highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner, an hour out of the Rathore stronghold, past the medieval temples of Osian with their stunning stone carvings, is the small township of Khimsar. Established by a scion of the house of Jodhpur, Khimsar was once a small kingdom. And though Jodhpur royalty claim it was never independent, the Thakurs of Khimsar claim that not only was it an individual entity, but that one of the visitors to their ancestral fort was Emperor Aurangzeb himself. The construction of the fort initially began in 1523 but the family moved in to the fort only during the 18th century after a new zenana or ladies wing was constructed. Thakur Onkar Singh, the present occupant of the fort, built a regal wing for himself in 1940s. The pride of Khimsar today is still that fort, 450 years old and currently home to the 18th, 19th, and 20th generations of the Khimsar thakurs.
Khimsar has an extreme climate with hot summers and cold winters. Temperatures during the summer months range between 42.2°C and 27.3°C, and between 27.5°C and 9.5°C during winters. Annual rainfall in this region is around 31-cm. Recommended clothing for the summer is light tropical while light woolens should work in the winter.
The fort architecture of Khimsar offers great heterogeneity. Originally, the fort walls, turrets, and stables were built solely for war, and were constructed around the beginning of the 16th century. Subsequently, by mid 18th century, the royal family moved in when a new zenana or ladies' residence was constructed. Finely carved windows in stone were constructed in this section for providing purdah or veil for the ladies in waiting. Thakur Onkar Singh, the present chief and the 17th direct descendant of Rao Karamsi (the original builder of the fort) built himself a regal additional wing in the 1940's. Today, this fort ranks amongst the premier Heritage Hotels of India.
Jodhpur is the largest city in the entire Marwar region and one of the most famous tourist destinations in Rajasthan. Major tourist attractions in the city include the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mahendragarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, and Mandore Gardens.
Osian is a small place situated around 27 km off Khimsar and known for its sixteen ruined Jain and Hindu temples. These temples date back to the eighth and eleventh centuries. The most important temples are the Sachhiyamata Temple and the Jain Temples. While the Hindu temples are in a dilapidated condition, the Jain temples are well preserved.
Nagaur is around 43 km away from Khimsar and famous for its cattle fair. Thousands of people bring camels, bullocks, and horses for sale. Camel races and other sporting events are organized at this fair.