If you are in Jaisalmer and, you will of course visit the Jaisalmer Fort or Sonar Killa. And once inside the fort, you simply cannot go back without walking a short distance to the five identical mansions also known as Patvon Ki Haweli. While most of your half day tour will be taken up in exploring the fort but do ensure that you have 60-90 minutes to explore Patvon Ki Haweli as well.
Legend has it that there used to be a wealthy trader named Guman Chand Patwa. He had five sons and for all of them he had got identical havelis made. The first of the houses is under Archeological Survey of India and ASI has ensured that the interiors of the house remain intact giving a clear indication of the lifestyle of the family inhabiting it. The house and the interiors have been well-maintained by ASI and visitors can explore it after purchasing tickets for admission. The havelis were built in the early 18th century and had taken 55 years for completion.
Made from yellow sandstone keeping to the picturesque look of the entire town of Jaisalmer, the havelis are examples of some of the finest craftsmanship. As I said, the first of the mansions has been converted into a museum and is being maintained by ASI.
We were spellbound from the first glance at the havelis, right from outside. The jharokhas and the windows visible from the lane outside give a clear idea of how beautiful the work of the craftsmen who built the structures were.
One didn’t need to be told that the families which resided in the havelis were rich. Right from architecture to interiors to the ceilings and the furniture, everything was modern, exquisite and way ahead of time in terms of design and planning.
The decor would make one wonder if the interiors are actually from current times and we are visiting the house of someone who has just stepped out for a while. Everything has been so well-maintained that it is difficult to believe that no one has lived here in decades. The master bedroom had things related to children like a paalna, a pram and even a tricycle.
The ceilings of the entire haveli are worth mentioning. The design of the ceiling is different in every room and each one has exquisite designs. Goes to show the standard of craftsmanship involved and one can easily imagine how much time it must have taken to create each design.
The interiors of the haveli is as if the house owners were there a minute before you enter the room. Everything is displayed in such a manner that I actually went into a trance like mood to imagine the family there, in front of me, everyone doing their own things,