Nicknamed the Golden Fort for the golden hues of its yellow sandstone façade at sunset, the Jaisalmer Fort is one of India’s few living forts. Located on a hillock in the heart of Jaisalmer, it is the soul of this desert city. Within its grand walls, it houses ornate merchant havelis (mansions), some of which have been inhabited for centuries, along with the Raj Mahal (royal palace), ancient temples, heritage hotels and a dizzying array of food and shopping options. It dates all the way back to 1156 AD, and unfortunately the age shows – the foundation of the fort is slowly weakening under the pressure of its local and tourist population. The World Monuments Fund has undertaken large-scale restoration work, and while a visit to the fort to explore the traditional Rajasthani way of life is a must, it is advised to stay outside of the fort so as to not encourage its haphazard hotel construction, a major drain on its resources.