Published: June 16th 2017
Geo: 26.9118, 70.9127
We decided not to rent bikes and instead spend more time in the fort and the old city. We hired a guide at the entrance of the fort &– ‘Sikh’. He was very good and provided very detailed explanations of the history of the fort; the main palace and the Jain temples that are within the fort. All are quite incredible. The fort was built in 1156 by the Rajput ruler Jaisala. It is called the Golden City because of the color of the sandstone used both in ancient times and today. To the untrained eye, it can be quite difficult to tell what is old and what is new unless it is not inhabited.
The ancient architecture is amazing with intricate carvings in the stone, beautiful balconiers and canopies, all of this golden sandstone. Much of the carving was done by muslim artisans even though Jaisala was Hindu. This is common throughout this part of India &– muslim and hindu lived quite well side by side until the early 20th century.
The Jain temples are exquisite. The carvings are incredibly detailed and tell the story of this very private religion. All nine of the Jain gods are carved out of
white marble that is polished to a high gloss that almost shimmers. There are seven Jain temples in the old fort but only two are open to the public.
In the old city there are two significant haveli&’s that are well worth seeing. Patwa-ki Haveli was built for five sons and each of the five haveli&’s are connected so there would be not need to go out into the street to go from one to the other. This would have been especially important for the women who were not allowed outside unescorted or uncovered. Two are now owned by the Indian government and are national monuments. Three are privately owned. All are very nicely maintained.
The Natham-ki Haveli was built in the 19th century by the prime minister of Rajasthan. His ancestors still occupy the building and allow visitors into one area where there are paintings guilded with real gold. The man who showed us around was the great, great, great grandson of the original PM.
We also visited Gadi Sagar &– this is a man-made lake that was originally built as the water supply for the city and was a recreation area for the various kings and their families. There are lovely
gazebo-like platforms in the lake for lounging &– one for the king; one for the princes and one for the women.
It was a good day of sightseeing. We also visited a jewelry store which has fabulous old jewelry which has been bought over the years from traders. Some of the pieces are really unique. Bigt hunks of turquoise, carnelian etc. Really beautiful.
Also visited a store that sells real Kasmiri shawls. Not to be mistaken for pashimini &– there is a HUGE difference. The Kashmiri shawls are made from the wool that comes just from the neck area of Kashmiri goats. The look and feel is exquisite &– along with the prices &– over $300. But, if you want the real thing &– this would certainly be worth it.
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