Founded in the 12th century, Jaisalmer grew to be a major trading post on the trade route from India to the West. The merchants prospered and invested their wealth in building beautiful houses and temples with the local sandstone. The subsequent growth of maritime trade caused a decline in the overland routes and these ceased altogether in 1947 at Partition, leaving Jaisalmer isolated in the Thar Desert and virtually cutting the city off from modern times until tourism brought it a new lease of life. Jaisalmer has been described as an 'outdoor museum' and the best way to experience its many treasures is on foot through the narrow streets with their elaborately carved sandstone buildings (below left). Jaisalmer is also a city of craftsmen and you can spend time visiting its many shops and outdoor market stalls. A popular excursion in the evening is to the Sam sand dunes to witness the spectacular sunset over the desert (below right).