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So named for the yellow stonework used in most of its buildings, the Golden City of Jaisalmer is an oasis of fine old architecture that rises from the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. Once a planned outpost, today the city is filled with superb old mansions, magnificent gateways, and the massive Jaisalmer Fort - also known as the Golden Fort - a daunting 12th-century structure that rises high above town. In addition to its palaces, temples, and fine old homes, the fortress boasts 99 bastions along with massive gates leading to its main square where you'll find the seven-story-tall, Maharaja's Palace. Started in the early 1500s and added to by successive rulers right up until the 19th century, the palace offers units open to the public including areas beautifully decorated with tiles from Italy and China and complexly carved stone doors as well as a number of Jain temples dating from the 12th to 16th centuries, each decorated with fine marble and sandstone images, palm-leaf manuscripts, and brightly painted ceilings. Be sure to also check out the well-preserved 1,000-year-old library, Gyan Bhandar, with its many 16th-century manuscripts and antiquities.