Salim Singh Ki Haveli
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.
This is one of the largest and most elaborate 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
My guidebook describes Jaisalmer as "a place that should exist only in the imagination." And this afternoon we found out why. As the day got on and the sun got lower we reluctantly left the cool of our fan for the Golden Fort. As we approached the walls and bastions from the dusty streets, we slowly started to get an idea of how large the fort is. But once we stopped through the First Fort Gate we were awed. Between the outside wall and inner wall is a large paved courtyard. The inner wall is massive with several bastions and towers from which boiling oil and missiles would fire down on any enemy that breeched the outer wall. Through the 40-foot Surya Gate you come to a 180-degree turn that leads through the equally thick Ganesha Gate. The paved ramp continued through the Hawa gate with the Maharajas Raj Mahal palace above. Winding streets lead through to houses, temples, shops, restaurants, and little boutiques. Its’ one of the only living forts in the world as over 300 families, one quarter of the city’s populations lives inside the fort. The fort has 99 bastions (lucky number?) that snake around the lower walls. Like Mehangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort was built in 1156 and maintained by fiercely independent rulers who accrued enormous amounts of wealth through imposing heavy levies on caravans passing through their territory. They made huge expenditures to create opulent palaces and impenetrable fortresses to protect them.
Sam dunes are some 40 odd kms away from the Jaisalmer city, as we had come from Jodhpur by car we drove straight to the Rajasthan Desert Safari camp for our desert experience. As soon as we arrived we were served some piping hot tea- most welcome as the camp was really cold what with a steady gust of wind blowing all the time! Quickly we got out our jackets and headed for the camel safari. We found out our camel's name was Bablu Bhai, who quickly dispensed us of our romantic ideas of a camel ride. Camels are all about snorts and farts really!! :O After a nice bumpy ride to the desert the guuy who owned the camel started regaling us with stories of how the camp owner hardly pays him enough and so expected some cash from us. This was the only irritating experience of this desert safari. We gave him some cash and asked him to please leave us in peace as we settled down on a nice dune ready to catch the sunset!
The sunset was beautiful however the pesty camel owner was back to take us to the camp. All the way he kept telling us he was expectig more money, however this time round we told him to just talk to the camp owner if he were not happy with his remuneration as we had already paid the same a heady amount for this experience.Once back, they had lined up a series of rajasthani dance and music performances some of which were truly fantastic!! As women danced with fire, coal and various other items neatly balanced on their head we watched dumbstruck. Truly amazing to be able to watch people who were so talented. We had our buffet dinner and settled by the bonfire till late in the night.
This is one of the largest and most elaborate 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. The intricate work on the walls of the Haveli are absolutely out of this world!! You can see a lot of this replicated in many houses across the city.
patwa was a wealthy merchant who had many trading centres from China to Afghanistan. His haveli is truly an embodiment of his wealth and sucess!! The 5 storeyed building with it's myriad chambers are definitely worth a trip across the country!
A lake in the middle of the desert!! You bet we were surprised!! What's more, it was a clean lake with loads of water, geese and boating!! We spent a very memorable new years eve evening here, a paddle boat ride for half an hour, a close encounter with geese in the lake and a memorable last sunset of the year 2008!
We went on a three hour camel safari. Got driven 40kms out of town with 8 other tourists(all Westerners) where we mere met by some locals and the camels. We spent an hour and a half on the camels(wouldnt want to spend any longer as you do get quite sore!). Went through sand, rocky bits and areas with houses.
Once we finished our camel ride, we took some photos as the sun was setting over the dunes, and were then cooked dinner which we ate by a campfire(all done for us). We sat under the stars and ate, while being told stories, both by the tour guide, and by the other people on the trip.
We used the company run by "Mr Desert"(in Lonely Planet books), who was Indias 'Marlbro man'. As soon as you get into Jaisalmer, you have people trying to sell you camel tours, but this one was very good! The office is just to the right of the gate to the fort(up the hill)
The fort is the biggest tourist attraction of the city, it houses a quarter of the population in this city, this effectively ensures that it is badly maintained, with cattle plying the narrow alleys as well as umpteen beggars!
There is a jain temple, the maharaja and rani palaces- now converted into a museum, loads of shopping and restaurants inside this fort. We visited the same last in this city, we liked the Mehrangarh Fort of Jodhpur more than this one.
Jaisalmer is a perfect place to try a camel safari. You can do a daytrip for some hours, a couple of days up to a several week trip to Bikaner to get the real caravan feeling.....
It is great fun, especially when you arrive from the desert and see the oasis of Jaisalmer on the horizont. ike a fatah morgana :-)
Oh, one little warning, if you are not used to spreading your legs it can get painful after a while....
All of these Havelis are within walking distance of each other. So after getting done with the Patwon ki Haveli we walked up to the Nathmalji ki Haveli. It's facade is a riot of ornamentation. However we didn't go in.