Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jaisalmer keeping cool

Jaisalmer is located in the midst of the Thar Desert, on the western fringes of India's Rajasthan state, where temperatures can reach close to 50 degrees celsius in summer. The fortified city was founded in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal, whose descendants continue to reside in the main palace. All through the turbulent centuries of wars, drought, and relentless heat, the city has withstood all challenges partly from its unique design and architecture. The builders of Jaisalmer include the Bhati Rajput kings and nobles, the Jain merchants, and the common people from many other diverse communities. The main constructions in Jaisalmer date to the time of Maharawal Sabal Singh Bhati shown below in a portrait dated to 1690:
The homes, havelis, temples, palaces, and the massive fort are built mainly with the local yellow sandstone blocks, which are so intricately joined together that no mortar or cement was required to keep the walls and roofs standing!

The palaces, temples, and havelis are replete with beautifully carved jalis and jharokhas, filigree details, mosaics and blue tiles. The balconies jut out over the narrow streets to shield them from the harsh sun, and to draw in the breeze. The entire design of the ancient city is meant for keeping the inhabitants cool. The wooden ceilings of these buildings are coated with a local material made from limestone called muram, which keeps away the heat and prevents water seepage.

Jaisalmer also has many lakes and gardens and a slow meandering river named Kakni runs through the city, mostly dry in the summer, but providing a good location for many other towns and temples. Kakni loses itself in the sands after some distance.

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AVANTIKA RESORT Located on the main highway from Ahmedabad to the port of Kandla in the vibrant state of Gujarat