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26 ~ Patwa Haveli + Nathmalji-Ki-Haveli : Jaisalmer

Merchant’s houses

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Note: Videos are "foggy" at the bottom for some unknown reason

Patwa Haveli



Wonder what is the correct entry price?


Jaisalmer is also known for the fairy-tale architecture of its magnificent historic havelis (mansions), located both inside and out of the fort. Many can be found in the narrow lanes about 10 minutes walk north of the fort.

In this area, the 19th century Patwa Haveli / Patwon-ki-haveli is the city's biggest and most important one. It's actually a cluster of five mansions built by a wealthy Jain trader and his sons. Kothari’s Patwa Haveli is particularly impressive, with its breathtaking intricate stonework and artwork, and has been converted to a museum. The entry fee is 250 rupees for foreigners and 100 rupees for Indians.


The magnificent havelis or merchant’s houses, each richly decorated and carved from golden yellow sandstone – Patwon-ki-haveli (House of the Brocade Merchants) is the largest and most elaborate of the famous havelis of Jaisalmer.


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Then the short walk to Nathmalji-Ki-Haveli.

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The builders

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Prem and one of his many local friends



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Finally got the angle and smile that I wanted.


The Nathmalji-ki-haveli (The Mansion of Nathmalji), the last of the great havelis was built in the late 19th century.

Diwan Mohata Nathmal, then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer built this Haveli in 1885. it was designed by two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu. An ethereal building, its construction has an unusual history associated with it; the two architect brothers constructed one half each of the building from the same plan. The two halves turned out to be absolutely dissimilar to each other and are joined together by a faÇade. There is no other building in Jaisalmer that surpasses Nathmal Ki Haveli in quality of workmanship even now. The entire building's faÇade has fine detailing and carvings. The main chamber of this mansion is carved out of rock and the entire frontage of the first floor is carved out of one solitary boulder. Its jharokas (balconies) and jaalis are carved exquisitely, like filigree. The Haveli's interiors are decorated with miniature paintings.


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It was just after noon when the tour of the Fort and old town finished and no, I didn’t visit the Government authorised Bhang (cannabis) shop but instead had a chai next door.

Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

You may be surprised to discover that bhang (marijuana) is sold openly in Jaisalmer. The renowned Lassi Shop (previously called the Government Authorized Bhang Shop), outside the first fort gate at Gopa Chowk, has been in business since 1977. It attracts a steady flow of curious customers who are served by the aptly named Doctor Bhang. There's a tempting array of bhang lassis (marijuana milkshakes) bhang cookies, cakes, chocolates and sweets, with potencies ranging from weak to strong. The safari packs, promising a smooth camel ride, are popular with travellers.

Do note: make sure you go to the original bhang shop, now called the Lassi Shop, next to Trotters Travel at the fort gate. The new "government authorized" bhang shop down the street is reportedly not as good. The owners apparently bribed the officials and took the government license.



Chai making


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Posted by bruceontour 23:58 Archived in India Tagged jaisalmer haveli jaisalmer_fort sonar_quila golden_fort patwa_haveli patwon-ki-haveli patwon_ki_haveli Comments (0)

25 ~ Pay no tax, no rent : Jaisalmer Fort

Graffiti with a difference

View India 18 - 19 on bruceontour's travel map.

Onto the Fort itself.

Standing 76m / 25 yards above the town, enclosed by a 9 km / 5.5 mile wall with 99 bastions, it certainly was an imposing sight.




Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

There aren't too many places in the world where you can visit a "living" fort but Jaisalmer, in the Thar desert, is one of them. The city's mirage-like yellow sandstone fort is home to thousands of people who have been residing in it for generations. The fort also has a multitude of shops, hotels, restaurants, a palace complex, old haveli mansions, and temples inside it.

Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal began building Jaisalmer fort in 1156, making it one of the oldest forts in Rajasthan. It eventually expanded to cover the whole hill and transformed itself into a city, which swelled in population during times of conflict. The fort survived many battles. However, its condition is now rapidly deteriorating due to illegal construction and poor drainage. Waste water has been seeping into the fort's foundations, making it unstable and causing parts to collapse.


Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Jaisalmer's ethereal sandstone fort, which resembles a massive sandcastle rising from the desert, is the city's focal point. The fort was built in 1156 by Rajput ruler Jaisal, who also founded the city at the same time. What really makes it unusual is that it's one of the few living forts in the world. Thousands of people reside inside its walls. It's also home to numerous hotels, guesthouses, temples, handicraft stores, restaurants, and the former maharaja's palatial palace. The palace is open to visitors for a fee, although it does get crowded and could be better maintained. Tickets cost 500 rupees for foreigners, including an audio guide. You'll need to pay 100 rupees extra to take your camera inside. It's pricey, so you may want to skip it!

Unfortunately, the condition of the fort is rapidly deteriorating, as drain water is seeping into its foundations. Hence, many people now choose to stay outside the fort in a hotel with evocative views of it.



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Poha, made up of flattened rice which is steamed and served with spices. Gently tempered with mustard seeds and fennel.


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Entered via the east Gopa Chowk, through the First Fort Gate (Akhai Pol), then up the ramp: Suraj Pol, Ganesh Pol, Hawa Pol and finally Rang Pol.




Suraj Pol

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Palace of the Maharawal


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Jain temples

One of the main attractions inside the fort is a stunning series of seven interconnected Jain temples that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Carved out of sandstone, the detail on them rivals that of the marble Jain temple complex at Ranakpur. You'll need to remove your shoes and all leather items before entering. The temples are open daily from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., although foreigners may only enter all the sections after 11 a.m. Timings are prone to changing, so do check first. Tickets cost 300 rupees for foreigners. Indians don't have to pay but there is a camera charge.


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Pagdi (Turban) is a Rajasthani headwear worn by men and made up of cotton (printed).


Pagdi and Mooch (Moustache) are the pride of Rajasthani men.


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Then a climb to the roof top for a great view over Jaisalmer.


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Instead of visiting the armory, Prem showed me where he lived and sipping chai from the roof top had a slightly different view of Jaisalmer below.

Prem is one of the 3,000 people who live within the fort. Looked like more than 3,000. Was told that they pay no tax, no rent. Now approximately 150 hotels and many restaurants are located within the fort dotted around the narrow winding alleyways.


Prem with his sister's wedding invitation

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Note: For some unknown reason, videos are "foggy" at the bottom.

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Palace of the Maharawal

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Palace of the Maharawal



Looking south

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Graffiti with a difference

In Jaisalmer, the unique practice of painting wedding invitations on house walls continues.

Caught between the expectations of the world to nurture the rich legacy and the growing aspirations of its youth to take a giant leap forward, Jaisalmer is holding on to many unique customs and traditions.

One of them is the practice of painting wedding invitations on the walls of the house. Tracing the remnants of the past, in the narrow winding streets of the Jaisalmer Fort – oldest living fort in India -- home to old havelis, exquisite stonework and a multitude of narratives, the painted wedding invitations make one of the most intriguing sights.

At the entrance of almost every house is painted Lord Ganesha - the deity invoked before embarking on anything auspicious – announcing the date of the wedding and inviting one and all. “In the case of bride's house, the girl's name is written first and then the groom's name while in the case of groom's house, its vice-versa,” says a middle-aged Anita, who is visiting her parental house, where a wedding has just taken place.

Standing against the backdrop of the colourful invitation her Vasu Family extends, Anita helpfully adds, “The trend of distributing cards began as late as some thirty years ago. Jaisalmer was a small city where everybody knows everybody and this was the perfect way of inviting people and spreading the word around. A family in one street would see it and then pass the message to the others living elsewhere.”

While some prefer to do simple crisp ones in Hindi, a few families pep it up with amusing one-liners. The residents claim it's a tradition that's specific to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan but something that cuts across different Hindu castes and sects living there. According to Tarachand Vyas, the practice runs common to Pushkarna Brahmins, Bhatias, Khatris, and many more. “I was born here in 1940 and have seen these invitations ever since. Marriages or saawas, as we call them, are an auspicious occasion and how do we forget Ganpati on such an important event. So, we call a local painter three to seven days before the wedding, to paint. And it's important to note that the invite stays on the wall till a new wedding is announced and replaces the old one.” Another local citizen chips in, “That's why our weddings used to be so huge, around 2000-3000 people and still are…”

Practiced for centuries, the tradition's popularity hasn't faded a bit. The younger generation considers it an integral part of their culture which is indispensable. “Wedding cards are there but nothing can replace the charm of these wall invitations. Our grandfathers did it, then our fathers did it and now we will do it,” says Prashant Acharya who works as a guide.





Posted by bruceontour 01:08 Archived in India Tagged jaisalmer jain jain_temple pagdi mooch jaisalmer_fort sonar_quila golden_fort Comments (0)

24 ~ Protect me from evil eye - Gadisar Lake : Jaisalmer

Day 6 : 7 chillis & a lemon

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What a brochure said about Jaisalmer“It is India’s most exotic and unusual town – a medieval looking place, straight out of the ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’. This beautiful city is situated inside a huge mud fort and grew as a result of its strategic position on the trading route between India and Central Asia bringing great wealth to the city. It is a tiny jewel in the heart of the Thar Desert – once the capital of the Bhatti Rajputs. Jaisalmer started as an important caravan centre and remnants of caravan sarais still exist.

It was part of the Silk route renowned for the textile, scarfs, antiques and silver jewelry.

Visit this perfect Rajput walled desert city which is like a golden jewel shimmering above the hard sand.”

Another 9am / 09:00 departure and Prem my local Guide was waiting for us at Gadisar Lake – the large natural oasis that attracted Rawal Jaisal to this site.



Here is the link to Tripsavvy:

Gadsisar Lake, also called Gadisar Lake, is a huge artificial reservoir that was built by Maharawal Gadsi Singh in the 14th century. It provided the only water supply to the city until 1965. The many small temples and shrines that surround the lake make it an inviting place to relax and spend some time. Migratory waterfowl are an added attraction in winter, along with numerous catfish in the water that love to be fed. Boats are available for hire too. The lake is situated on the southeast edge of the city.



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Buri nazar na lage. (Keep me protected from evil eye). This is very traditional. 7 chillis and a lemon.

Hindus believe that this device drives bad spirits out of the house. This special string of chilies and lemon is also hung in front of businesses for good luck.

Just hang a fresh string of chilies in the house, at the door or on the balcony, or perhaps carry a plastic ‘horn’, which looks like a chili, in your pocket as a lucky charm. Tradition dictates the chilies should be fresh, not dry, to ensure good fortune.



Traditional Belief (what people think) or Scientific (ancient) belief? After knowing the reason, all logics seems so simple. Our Ancestor are more scientific than us, they just hide the pure logic and attach it to religion.




Then on leaving walked up the bank and the view of Jaisalmer Fort, also locally known as Sonar Quila or more popularly nicknamed the Golden Fort due to the golden aura that seems to engulf the fort during each sunset.

While all Hindus are generally cremated and not buried, things change per state and belief depending on the village or town.
In the foreground was the cemetery where I was told the unmarried are buried as married Hindus are cremated.


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Posted by bruceontour 23:37 Archived in India Tagged jaisalmer gadisar_lake jaisalmer_fort sonar_quila golden_fort Comments (0)

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