“A real building is one which the eye can light and stay lit”, said Ezra Pound, a renowned expatriate American poet and critic. And the state of Rajasthan is one known for such buildings which are considered as an integral part of its traditional architecture. The aesthetic structures not only stand for their longevity and historical significance but also for the lively art of architecture they are endowed with. They bring to life the very statement of Arthur Erickson, ‘Whenever we witness art in a building, we are aware of an energy contained by it’. Such is the visual art of Salim Singh Ki Haveli, a spectacle that speaks for itself.
Salim Singh Ki Haveli is an edifice that is located at the heart of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, beside the hills backing the Jaisalmer Fort. Neglecting the traffic in the narrow roads of the city, a feasible ride in auto rickshaw will lead to the building which happens to be just a few minutes away from the Jaisalmer Railway Station.
This Haveli is constructed by a notorious Prime Minister of Jaisalmer – who was known by the name Salim Singh, over the remains of another Haveli which had existed earlier. Salim Singh was a shrewd and aspiring minister whose regime fell on the 15th century when Jaisalmer was the capital of the princely state. The minister is, in fact, believed to have designed two more stories above the 5 stories existing currently but the then Maharaja destroyed the top two tiers as otherwise they would have risen hand-in-hand with the Fort. But still, it remains a belief as it lacks any strong evidence to rely upon or authenticate.
This Haveli is no exception to the traditional Rajasthani architecture as it rightly serves to be a distinguished sample of the distinct art-style. As most of the Rajputana marvels, this Haveli also sports elegant balconies projecting from the stone walls. In total, there are about 38 elite balconies beckoning the visitors to admire its graceful and rich craftsmanship. An another aspect which this Salim Singh Ki Haveli shares in common with other Haveli’s of Jaisalmer is the tuskers that stand protecting the premises from the gates. Even though these statues are made of sandstones, they look realistic enough to generate doubts in the mind of any onlooker from a certain distance.
The Haveli also takes a sense of pride from its terrace which is bestowed with idols of peacocks. These peacocks are embedded with inspiration and privilege as they adorn the arch-shaped blue cupola roof. The front slant of the Haveli bears the resemblance to a ship and hence it is also given by the name ‘Jahazmahal’. Although, the interesting fact about this mansion lies in its walls as the stone walls are connected to each other by using iron rods and not cement or mortar.
The various other architectural marvels of this Haveli include beautiful stone carvings, sublime murals, transcendent frescoes and aesthetic rooms. Despite a portion of this Haveli being occupied by families, the Salim Singh Ki Haveli is open for tourist visits on all days from 08.00 am to 06.00 pm and the entry is fixed at Rs.20 per head. A visit to this Haveli will really prove worthwhile in the midst of an exciting tour to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.