Tagged: Jaisalmer

{NEW POST}: Inside the world’s only LIVING FORT: Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Standing tall and majestic, the Jaisalmer Fort needs no introduction to the world  – a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and one of the largest forts in the world, the Jaisalmer Fort, also holds the unique distinction of being the ONLY LIVING FORT in the world – a distinction that remains unparalleled for this magnificent monument till date.

Built in 1156 AD by Rajput ruler, Rawal Jaisal, the Jaisalmer Fort is home today to over 3000 people who have been ‘living’ in the fort for generations. Granted residence by the ruler (and his subsequent generations), these people continue to live on and have blossomed their little world into a small town with shops, food stalls and markets.

Earlier this year, I got a chance to visit the fort and was in complete awe of the grandeur of the fort and the simplicity of people living inside who took great pains to ensure they did not cause any damage to the fort. Here’s a photo-tour of my walk through the fort and what can you expect on your visit:

Entrance to the fort:

Jaisalmer Fort Entrance Gate

Jaisalmer Fort Entrance Gate

Entrance to the fort is through the fort gateway. A well-built tarmac road leads you all the way to the fort gate and you can reach the gate either by tempos (autos) or by your own vehicle. Tempos and tourist vehicles are not allowed inside the fort to avoid congestion and the only exception is for handicap persons.

The walk from the fort entrance to main fort complex is about 20 minutes. It’s a slightly uphill climb and elderly persons may need help or take adequate breaks. The walkway is lined up with handicraft shops and makes the climb less tiresome.

Main fort complex:

The main complex at the fort is a large square bustling with tourist and local people and is full of handicraft and tea /coffee shops – a perfect to take a quick break after the long, uphill walk. The main complex also has a post office and local police post for any assistance. Note: Guides are also available here (and at fort entrance), so do check out if you feel the fort may be difficult for you to navigate.

Main complex bustling with shops and tea/coffee stalls

Main complex bustling with shops and tea/coffee stalls

Local handicraft stalls in main comlex

Local handicraft stalls in main complex

 

Walking in the by-lanes of the fort:

Fort square with 'homes' built inside the original fort structure

Fort square with ‘homes’ built inside the original fort structure

The ‘city’ part of the fort is quite amazing and a photographer’s delight. Preserved in its old time glory, the beautiful heritage structure of the fort is impressive and it’s a treat to watch how the locals have adjusted and built their homes within the original structure of the fort.

One of the houses inside the fort where you can take a picture for Rs 10!

One of the houses inside the fort where you can take a picture for Rs 10!

 

A local lady dries up clothes as I take pictures of her house interiors

A local lady dries up clothes as I take pictures of her house interiors

 

Markets and handicraft stalls inside the fort:

Apart from the lovely homes, it is a delight to walk through the streets and explore the local markets and handicraft stalls set up by locals – from food, to train bookings (!) to wooden and art pieces – the fort offers great local shopping opportunity too.  There are no separate market sections and hence one has to keep a lookout for these little shops.

Fort residents selling local wooden handicraft items outside their homes

Fort residents selling local wooden handicraft items outside their homes

 

More items - metal handicraft!

More items – metal handicraft!

A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)

A local market inside the fort (notice train booking window in the picture!)

Bird’s eye view of the beautiful city of Jaisalmer (from fort rooftop):

The greatest attraction of the fort is its magnificent bird’s eye view of the Jaisalmer city and is a must see. An old canon at fort rooftop reminds you of the days gone by when the fort stood tall and strong protecting the city – it’s a great view and a small café at the fort rooftop is a lovely place to have a cup of tea before heading back.

View from the roof of the fort

View from the roof of the fort

 

A small cafe at the rooftop

A small cafe at the rooftop

 

Things to keep in mind while visiting the fort:

  • Open: All days (but good to check with local hotel/ guide for public holidays)
  • Entrance fee: Rs 250 INR for International visitors; Rs 50 Indian adult
  • Address: Fort Rd, Khejer Para, Manak Chowk, Amar Sagar Pol, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 345001
  • Dress/footwear: It can be sunny and hot so good to carry water, wear hat, full sleeves and wear flat shoes for the long walk to fort entrance. Good to keep additional money for shopping inside the fort.

Mansion of Brocade Merchants: The Patwa Havelis of Jaisalmer

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The Patwa Havelis of Jaisalmer also known as Patwon Ji Ki Havelis are a cluster of five Havelis in Patwa Complex in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.  Dating back to the Eighteenth century, the Havelis are famous for their unique architecture and lavish lifestyle of the Patwas.

The city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India is no stranger to tourist attention. Alongside its other ‘touristy sisters’ in the state, Jaipur, Udaipur and Jodhpur – Jaisalmer is famous for its own set of attractions – the Jaisalmer Fort, Gadhisar Lake, Kuldhara Village  and Sam Sand Dunes. During my first trip to Jaisalmer this winter, I discovered the city has one more hidden gem – The Patwa Havelis.

The Patwa Havelis of Jaisalmer, also known as Patwon Ji Ki Haveli have an interesting history. Dating back to the Eighteenth century, Patwon Ji Ki Haveli is not one single Haveli but a cluster of five Havelis commissioned and constructed in the year 1805 by Guman Chand Patwa, a rich Jain trader and renowned man of his time. It is said that Guman Chand Patwa ordered separate stories for each of his 5 sons and hence the 5 separate Havelis.

Also known as the ‘Mansion of Brocade Merchants’, the Patwon Ji Ki Havelis got their name from the family as it dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidered dresses.  As the folklore goes, the Patwas were advised by a Jain temple priest that they would not be successful in their trade if they continued to run it from the city of Jaisalmer. True enough and despite repeated attempts the rich and powerful Patwas did not see much success whenever they tried to run their trade from the city. Finally, the Patwas left the city leaving behind the stunning Havelis in the hands of their caretaker.

The five Havelis stand in their splendour even today, albeit with minor encroachments and abuses. Looked after by the state Government, the Havelis are open to tourists and can be visited between 10 am to 5pm. The largest Haveli is run by the Government and houses the offices of Archaeological Survey of India and State Art & Crafts departments. The second Haveli has been turned into a Museum and charges a fee of Rs 100/- per person. The other three Havelis house shops & mini-emporiums and are frequently visited by international visitors.

Curious about the lifestyle of the Patwas, I decided to take a tour of the Haveli which has now been turned into a Museum. Built over three stories, this Haveli was nothing short of awe-inspiring glass work and architecture carved out of the famous yellow sandstone, a speciality of the state of Rajasthan. The entry to the Haveli itself is grand – intricate multi-coloured glasswork sets the perfect contrast to the yellow sandstone architecture, an indicator of the luxurious style of the Patwa family.

An exterior view of the Patwa Havelis – looking resplendent with its intricate architecture carved in yellow sandstone.

An exterior view of the Patwa Havelis – looking resplendent with its intricate architecture carved in yellow sandstone.

 

Stunning multi-coloured glasswork in the first room of the house which also houses the Temple

Stunning multi-coloured glasswork in the first room of the house which also houses the Temple

 

The very opulent drawing room looks quite western in its approach with a large table, chair, mirror table and a telephone.

The very opulent drawing room looks quite western in its approach with a large table, chair, mirror table and a telephone.

 

Life like statues depict the luxurious Patwa family lifestyle.

Life like statues depict the luxurious Patwa family lifestyle.

 

Dressing room used by women of the Patwa family, complete and intact with its jewellery and clothing including sarees and bangles…

Dressing room used by women of the Patwa family, complete and intact with its jewellery and clothing including sarees and bangles…

 

Interestingly, the kitchen was decorated as lively as other rooms in the house with colourful paintings on the walls…

Interestingly, the kitchen was decorated as lively as other rooms in the house with colourful paintings on the walls…

 

Children’s room with a crib, an attire worn by the children in the Patwa family and a toy cycle which caught my fancy because of its likeness to modern day tricycle…..

Children’s room with a crib, an attire worn by the children in the Patwa family and a toy cycle which caught my fancy because of its likeness to modern day tricycle…..

 

In addition to restoring the rooms, the Government has also preserved items used by the Patwas in their trade which are a must-see simply because of the quality of restoration and how good they still look.

A section of Museum with collection of coins and stamps used by the Patwa family in their trade.

A section of Museum with collection of coins and stamps used by the Patwa family in their trade.

A picture of the Patwa family

A picture of the Patwa family

 

An old picture of the Havelis

An old picture of the Havelis

 

How to reach Patwa Havelis:

The city of Jaisalmer does not have an airport. Best option to reach Jaisalmer is to take an express train from Delhi. There are many trains that connect Delhi and Jaisalmer but the ideal train to take is the Delhi-Jaisalmer Express which leaves from Old Delhi Railway station (DLI code) at 5pm and reaches Jaisalmer at 11.30 a.m. next day. Tickets can be booked via agents or Indian Railways website easily (www.irctc.co.in). The Jaisalmer station is a small station and there are autos and cabs easily available outside the station. The train journey takes approximately 18 hours and AC reservation (2AC or 3AC) is strongly recommended.

The Patwa Havelis are located in walking distance of the Jaisalmer Fort. After (or before visiting the Fort), you can ask a local person to guide you to the Patwa Havelis and walk approximately 10-15 minutes to reach the Haveli. You can also hire a local guide who will charge Rs 250 to take you through the Jaisalmer Fort and the Patwa Haveli.

Entry charges: Rs 100/- per person

Weather: Jaisalmer becomes very hot in the middle of the year and a sunscreen plus sun cap is strongly recommended as you walk through the city.

Refreshments: Water, tea and coffee are available easily as you walk through the market and not a concern.

Copyright: Post and pictures is copyright pinkbikersontherun. Please contact on yomegs@gmail.com for pictures/ repost permission.

 

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