Enjoy travel to the havelis of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Visit Nathmalji ki haveli, Patwon ki haveli and Salim Singh ki haveli and unlock fascinating facts about Jaisalmer's historical past. Get mesmerized by the Rajasthan royal architecture that illustrate the grandeur and elegance of Jaisalmer havelis.

Jaisalmer Attractions
India - Rajasthan - Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer Havelis

Jaisalmer Havelis

¤ Salim Singh ki Haveli

Salim Singh ki Haveli: The haveli or mansion was initially occupied by the influential Mehta family of Jaisalmer. It was built around 1815, possibly on the remains of an earlier building of the late 17th century. The building was commissioned by the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh, a man with a reputation for Machiavellian cunning. His father Diwan Swaroop Singh, also Prime Minister of Jaisalmer in his time, was murdered as a result of a palace intrigue when the young Salim was a mere dozen years old. Salim took it upon himself to avenge his father’s death. As soon as he came of age, Salim eliminated all of Jaisalmer’s courtiers, princes and hangers-on with such dexterity that he was appointed premier by Maharawal Mool Raj.

Salim Singh ki Haveli in Jaisalmer, IndiaSalim built his eight storeyed pleasure palace and lived in it with his seven wives and two concubines. It is a magnificent monument with every structure carved with elaborate detailing. He demanded the best and got it; anything that did not please him was summarily rejected. The mansion boasts of 38 balconies, each with a different design. As you enter you are confronted by an imposing stone elephant, while the upper storeys of the building jut out proudly like a ship’s prow, which is why the haveli is also called the Jahazmahal or Ship’s Palace. The monument as a whole has the appearance of a great ocean liner, with a narrow base which widens at the top. It has a beautifully arched roof, topped with blue cupolas, and brackets in the form of peacocks.

As Salim Singh’s power grew so did his ambition, and he reckoned it was time he usurped the power of the maharwals themselves. He came up with a scheme to knock off the top two floors of the haveli and build a gateway from his house right upto the maharawal’s palace, but this proposal was nipped in the bud by the monarch himself. This incident marked an about-turn in his political fortunes for soon he was killed in one of the numerous court conspiracies he himself had encouraged for long. The Salim Singh saga was a classic illustration of the old maxim that ultimately ‘the schemer always falls into the pit which he digs for another’.

¤ Nathmal's Haveli

The haveli (mansion) was built circa 1885 for Diwan Mohata Nathmal, then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Designed by two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu, the haveli was ordered for Nathmal by the then maharawal Beri Sal. The sibling-architects worked in an unusual manner; each carved out one-half of the building developed according to the same plan. However, when the building was completed, the two sides turned out to be very dissimilar to each other though the haveli remains unsurpassed in Jaisalmer in terms of the quality of the work. Like the Salim Singh’s haveli (mentioned above), the entrance to Nathmal’s haveli is zealously guarded by stone elephants; and the entire façade is embellished with a slew of detailing – horses, elephants, soldiers, flowers and birds. There are also carvings of trains and bicycles, gadgets of the then new age which the artisans themselves had never seen but carved out of hearsay

¤ The imposing Interiors of Haveli

Another extraordinary part about its construction is that the main chamber is carved out of rock and the entire frontage of the first floor is carved out of one solitary boulder. The interiors of the havelis are decorated by beautiful miniatures. The workmanship of Jaisalmer’s havelis is an amalgam of both Rajput architecture as well as Islamic art that was imported via the traders’ caravan through the desert

Jaisalmer Haveli in Rajasthan, India
¤ Patwon-ki-Haveli

The five Patwa havelis were the first ones to crop up in Jaisalmer and are known locally as the Patwon-ki-haveli. The first was constructed circa 1805 by a merchant called Guman Chand Patwa and is the biggest and the most ostentatious. Patwa was a man of considerable means, and for his five sons he built the elaborate five-storeyed complex which reportedly took 50 years to finish. All five houses were constructed in the first 60 years of the 19th century. The havelis are also known as the ‘mansion of brocade merchants’ as the family ostensibly dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. However, they reportedly made their fortune elsewhere; through opium trade and by moneylending.

¤ The Decor of Patwa Haveli

The unsung heroes as far as the Patwa mansions are concerned are the unnamed stone carvers who wielded the chisel with as much skill as a surgeon handles a scalpel. Every square inch of space has been carved exquisitely, with jali (latticed) friezes providing ventilation to the interiors as well as offering privacy to the women to look out without exposing themselves to Peeping Toms. The havelis are built in yellow sandstone with a different design on every window and arch. As you enter the haveli through its magnificent arched gateway, you come across its delicately carved yellow-brown frontage with as many as 60 balconies overlooking it. Another prominent haveli of Jaisalmer is the Nokhatmal haveli, which unlike the other mansions is a fairly recent addition to the city having been constructed only a few years ago.

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