15.02.2013 ►Jaisalmer ►Mandir Palace

Published: 22.05.2013
Updated: 02.07.2015

As scheduled the driver came at 08:30h to Oshwal Bhavan in Balotra to bring us from there to Jaisalmer. A little bit wistfully we bade farewell from Swami Dharmanandji, who stayed there and would return to Delhi by train. We had a very good week with plenty of happenings and were already sure to miss him. At the end of our India Tour we would stay for one night again in ASK before leaving India. After a short, but cheerful good-bye we started to our next destination.

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Thar Desert between Balotra and Jaisalmer

The distance between Balotra and Jaisalmer is approximately 250km. The street was mostly in best condition, allowing fast proceeding. We came over Tilwara, village with railway station at the route Balotra-Barmer on the river Luni, and also passed Barmer, founded in 13th century, actually district capital and final destination of the route Delhi-Jodhpur-Barmer and of train #14659 Slip with which we had come from Delhi to Balotra. The journey was nice and took about 4 hours.

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Welcome to Jaisalmer!

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Jaisalmer Fort

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Jaisalmer Fort

After the welcome column on the street from Barmer we succeeded in a first view on the famous Jaisalmer Fort. Majestically it was enthroned on the 250m high hill behind the buildings of the main street. The latter swung in an ample arc around the hill giving already at the entry of the town an impression of the extent of the Fort. It looked like a crown of the town on top of the town glimmering golden in the sun. Because the sandstone is gleaming when touched by the sun Jaisalmer is also called “Golden City”. Near Hanuman Circle Road we found a hotel on the main street, suiting to us. The proprietor was born and raised in Jaisalmer, and we could very well communicate with him in English language because of his long working stays in Australia. But later more of this. After checking-in and refreshing we first wanted to explore the town.

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Statue of Mahatma Gandhis

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Placard in honour of, among other, Swami Vivekananda's 150. Anniversary on 12. Januar 2013

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Mandir Palace Jaisalmer, former palce of the ruling family, nowadays hotel

We left the hotel in direction of a circle around the corner where we encountered even two famous 19th/20th century Indians in form of a statue and a placard, Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda. The square ranges from the circle where two main roads are crossing to an imposing edifice, Mandir Palace, seat of the former rulers, since 16th century the ruler dynasty Singh. The whole spacious complex is still possessed by a Singh descendant, the grandson of the last Maharaja Hukum Singh. Raj Kumar Dr. Jitendra Singh transformed a part of it into a so-called heritage hotel (e.g. from palace to palace hotel) and made it a first-class tourist destination. Other parts were integrated in a museum accessible to public for a small entry fee.

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Entry to Mandir Palace

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Pigeons and ravens are flying around Mandir Palace Tower

Two buildings beside the hotel are museums. One is for weapons and objects of daily use from the pool of the ruling dynasty, and one for furniture and decorations from the old palace. Objects and design for a dreamy journey into a perhaps more glorious, but also more hierarchical past of the town, where the rich and mighty ones ordered palaces admirable still nowadays. They are reflecting the charm of former pomp and real decay, nevertheless building the foundation of a more or less modest income for the contemporary inhabitants, obtained by vast efforts and governemental support only.

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First inner courtyard

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View to second inner courtyard

After having entered the former palace, open resp. closed portals are guiding the visitor to the entry of the museum. Hotel staff is asking for the entry fee and the license to take photos, both moderate. They are doing it with similar seriousness, but more friendliness than the palace guard in the past. But rather at the same place. After having passed them, two inner courtyards in a row are visible. Both may optionally be closed by heavy portals. The parts of the building accessible from the second courtyard are a museum, nowadays.

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Bougainvilleas are flourishing along the backward part of the complex being a hotel nowadays…

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…and also along the part being a museum nowadays.

The walls overgrown by red flourishing Bougainvilleas, separated through a small passage are testifying how the sense for beauty has been conserved from generation to generation of the Jaisalmer rulers until present.  The whole complex gave the impression of being very well maintained. Involuntarily one may ask oneself how this is possible without being in command of the lavish staff resources of a maharaja. As there are many decaying remains just in Rajasthan, only representing fragmentarily their bygone beauty. This over the centuries grown and enlarged palace of the Singh family at the feet of the Jaisalmer Fort perhaps is symptomatic for departed brilliance, intermediate decline, and actual reanimation of the former buzzing commercial town at the outskirt of the Thar Desert, having seen better, but also worse days.

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Entry to the former residence of the mother of the actual proprietor, now part of the museum.

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Different proportions

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Beautiful details

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to the minimum

Apparently the ancestors here also were smaller in shape than the contemporaries. The tiling beside the door case is catching the eye after having passed the door. The few photos shown here is only a small choice. A broader presentation of photos with interesting motives of and insights in Mandir Palace is available at Flickr.com [1]

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Roof of Mandir Palace

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View from Mandir Palace roof to Jaisalmer Fort

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Buildings and Fort of Jaisalmer

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Time for a small break at the roof restaurant

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Sparrows' Hotel

After a small tea break we continued our walk in the town. We discovered the sparrows’ hotel when leaving the roof restaurant. This also appeared allegorical for the living together of humans and animals in town. The inhabitants did not take much notice of the sparrows, but left the prickly and hardly leafy bush as undisturbed retreat for them. The sparrows jumped without ostentation amongst the humans looking for something eatable before retiring to their natural dormitory..

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Nachna Haveli Saffron Restaurant

The front of this house is hiding its inner before the activities in the street:

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An inner courtyard with much greenery and red Bougainvilleas…

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…the reception of a hotel...

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…and equipment, perhaps stil in use not long ago.

In spite of the inviting atmosphere we wanted to continue our walk in town and went back to the street. There we saw a big, not much populated square with a group of cows in the middle. Nearly it seemed as if all forwent in a distance. Perhaps they really did.

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The cows in the midst of the square,

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two adult cows, two calves behind.

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A bull with a young bull are approaching the group.

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What is there on the floor, sheltered by the cows?

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More and more cows are approaching and forming something like a living protective barrier

In the midst of the square more and more cows are gathering. Nobody did disturb them, they hardly were noticed. A protective circle had been formed around two cows with their behinds leaning against each other. What did they hide so well from sight with their heavy bodies that even the photographer on the first photo did not consider it for a photo? It was a few days old calf, which they withdraw of view and protected with their bodies! It seemed almost that they had come to sniff at their addition to the family. Unchallenged by the buzzing activity around them. In the midst of the town.

Video: Jaisalmer Streetview

Slideshow: Jaisalmer Mandir Palace

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Sources
Photos by HN4U
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Balotra
  2. Barmer
  3. Delhi
  4. HN4U
  5. Jaisalmer
  6. Mahatma
  7. Mahatma Gandhi
  8. Mandir
  9. Oshwal
  10. Rajasthan
  11. Swami
  12. Swami Vivekananda
  13. Tilwara
  14. Vivekananda
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