Rising from the heart of the Thar desert like a golden mirage is
the city of Jaisalmer. A commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone
stands with all its awesome splendorr, dominating the amber- hued city.|
For years Jaisalmer remained untouched by the outside influences. The life within the citadel conjures up images of medieval majesty visible in its narrow lanes strewn with magnificent palaces, havelis, temples and of course skilled artisans and ubiquitous camels
The beautiful mansions built by Jaisalmer's wealthy merchants are known as 'havelis' and several of these fine sandstone buildings are still in beautiful condition.
Havelis in JaisalmerAlong the cobbled stone pathways of Jaisalmer, arise the havelis, the mansions of the Jain merchants who were as powerful in the court of the time, as they were adept in business. Their homes are poetry of sandstone, carved and pierced incredibly into different patterns, and though they are opulent and effusive, the result is in perfect harmony, and never offending the eye.
Salem Singh ki HaveliIt is at an unhurried pace that the havelis (houses of rich merchants) should be seen and admired. These havelis are the pride of Jaisalmer architecture, a part of the national heritage. Salem Singh haveli, at the eastern end of the city, is an Arabian Nights structure, which, like a wild flower, blossoms at the top.
Patwon ki HaveliNear the city centre is the Patwon ki Haveli, built by Guman Chand Patwa and his five sons, dealers in brocade, gold and silver embroidery with business stretching between Afghanistan and China. The five suites built between 1800 and 1860 are virtually the showpiece of Jaisalmer's legendary architectural wealth. The carving on stone far surpasses in beauty the work on brocade and gold.
Nathmal ki HaveliThe third haveli belongs to Nathmal, a later day prime minister who gifted it to the Rawal and was allowed to retain it. Built by two brothers in 1885, this haveli has two identical looking portions, which are in fact two different parts united by a commonfacadee. Look for the projected balconies, which seem to emerge from books of poetry. So ethereal and charming, the carving never looked better. A perfect example of jeweller's art applied to stone carving. The Muslim silavats (artisans) did a wonderful job here and left a marvellous legacy of craftsmanship excellent in detail and flawless in conception. If only for viewing these havelis a trip to Jaisalmer is more than amply rewarded.