Jaisalmer is famed to be the Golden city of Rajasthan thanks to the yellow sandstone architecture prevalent in all of its famous and not so famous buildings. One such famous building is the beautiful Patwonji Ki haveli which is not one but a series of 5 houses. The uniqueness of this homestead lies in the fact that it’s the first of its kind to be constructed in Jaisalmer in that era.
I chanced upon a visit here during a trip to Jaisalmer in 2013. Expecting a grand driveway to the cluster of Havelis, I was shocked to note its pedestrian approach. Its situated in a tiny congested lane of Jaisalmer that if you didn’t notice the architecture, you could have just gone past it.
Built completely out of golden sandstone, the jali work on the Jharokhas of the exterior is just exquisite. Infact the Jharokhas are all said to be dissimilar in design to add to the uniqueness of this structure. It took more than 50 years to complete it.
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The narrow lane is cluttered by several pavement shops which typically are peddling handicrafts of every hue. Some of the doorways have signboards for government departments including ASI and tourism related. I groaned in horror at the thought of some sarkari babu defiling these beautiful piece of history and culture. Shudder!!!!!
Putting such banalties out of my mind, I climbed up the staircase to enter a room that took my breathe away. Its jewel tones coupled with intricate mirror work on the walls and ceilings, literally stopped me in my tracks. As I stood gaping at the vivid hues, it struck us that the sandy desert monotone had been overshadowed by these interiors. Perhaps that was the intention of its creator – to escape the mundane tones and imbibe some life via colours and patterns in the decor.
Exquisite carvings on doors and pillars was a common sight here. I loved walking around the balcony of the open courtyard which allowed for a peek below and also in the next courtyard.
All the Havelis are interconnected and are a two storey affair. You have to marvel at the 60 interconnected balconies visible in the façade which I guess is a marvel in itself. When I climbed the upper floor I saw complete interiors of the rooms restored and barricaded to showcase yet preserve them from the tourists – I breathed a sigh of relief to note this.
I couldnt walk around in all the five havelis and had to be content to explore just two of them for this trip. Maybe next time I will peruse it more in detail. One thing is for sure, one cant leave Jaisalmer without visiting the Patwonji Ki Haveli.
Have you visited these Havellis? Have you heard about them? What did you think about them from this article?