The gorgeous mansions of
Jaisalmer's wealthy merchants are known
as 'havelis'. Their elaborate homes are
etched out in sandstone with infinite
details and pains, carved and pieced together
in different patterns. There is a perfect
harmony that characterizes them and they
are a treat for the eyes of the beholder.
Patwon-Ji-Ki-Haveli is one of the largest Haveli in Jaisalmer
and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and
is extensively carved. It is divided into six apartments,
two owned by archaeological Survey of India, two by families
who operate craft-shops and two private homes. There are
remnants of paintings on some of the inside walls as well
as some mirror work.
Salem Singh ki Haveli
Salem Singh haveli is an Arabian Nights structure, which,
like a wild flower, blossoms at the top. This haveli was
built about 300 years ago and a part of it is still occupied.
Salim Singh was the prime minister when Jaisalmer was the
capital of the princely state and his mansion has a beautifully
arched roof with superb carved brackets in the form of Peacocks.
The mansion is just below the hill and it is said that once
it had two additional wooden storeys in an attempt to make
it as high as the maharaja's palace, but the maharaja had
the upper storey torn down.
Nathmal ki Haveli
This 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 common facade. 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.