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Havelis of Jaisalmer

Just like the Shekhawati region, Jaisalmer also has a wealth of architectural history and beauty in its numerous havelis. The havelis or mansions were made by wealthy merchants; the merchants let their imagination run over as money was no object; consequently each haveli is distinct and beautiful. These havelis are made of red sandstone that is typical of the Jaisalmer area.

The most famous of these havelis of Jaisalmer are

Salim Singh Ki Haveli

This is a 300 years old mansion. Part of it is still being used as a residence. Originally owned by Salim Singh, a former Prime Minister of the state of Jaisalmer, Salim Singh ki Haveli as it is now called, has an arched roof with beautiful brackets carved in the design of peacocks. This is Jaisalmer architecture at its best.

This haveli is an eight-storey building. It was built by Salim Singh as a pleasure palace to live with his seven wives and two concubines. Salim Singh pulled out all stops while making his dream house, to match his power and ambition. The monument’s upper story juts out like a ship’s prow, so it is also popularly called Ship Palace or Jahaz Mahal. The imposing monument has 38 balconies and a stone elephant at the entrance.

Nathmal Haveli

Built in 1885 for Diwan Mohata Nathmal, then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer, this haveli was made by two Muslim brothers Hathi and Lulu. They worked on the construction in an ingenuous manner: by building two halves facing each other from the same plan. The result was two halves extremely dissimilar and this haveli is a curiosity. Though it may sound dysfunctional, Nathmal Haveli is still occupied by the descendants of Diwan Nathmal. The haveli has detailed carvings of horses, elephants, soldiers, flowers and birds as well as bicycles and other gadgets which the artisans had not seen and carved out from description.


This mansion is actually a complex of five houses, built for five sons of Guman Chand, a trader of jewelry and fine brocades. These are also the first such mansions to be built in Jaisalmer. Standing resplendent in its opulence, Patwon ki Haveli is a landmark in Jaisalmer. The five houses are spread over five storeys and took 50 years to complete. Even though the haveli is made of stone, it remains cool even at the height of summer, due to the fine carvings that were designed for good ventilation.

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