One of the legends goes like this : two of the architects working on the King’s Palace, started building this Haveli on their time off. The King couldn’t slumber peacefully in the afternoon if construction continued, so the two architects had nothing to do in the afternoon for a few hours. They would sneak away, despite the Prime Minister’s orders and had a personal competition going. You see, the architects were brothers from the same jeweller family and had always wanted to construct a Haveli of their own design. Since they didn’t have too much time between the King’s naps, they decided that each one of them would start at the opposite side of the Haveli and build inwards till the main entrance. There was no way for them to keep a close eye on things like stone relief work, window sizes, etc., so when they did meet in the middle, they realized that while the overall structure was sound, several details ( the story goes that there are 150 visual differences on the Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli facade, if you stand around and observe long enough ) were different.
The materials were sourced from the “extras” that the King’s Palace didn’t need. Eventually, the Maharawal Beri Sal found out and the Prime Minister took full responsibility for the wayward architects under his charge. Once the King saw the actual Haveli, however, he was so impressed that he gifted it to the Prime Minister Mohata Nathmal. Diwan Mohata Nathmal’s family continues to reside at the very same Haveli even today. They have an in-house shop that sells items like camel bone bowls, carved camel bone decoration pieces, etc.
Regardless of what legend about the Haveli you choose to believe, it was built in 1885 during the reign of Maharawal Beri Sal. And the Haveli belongs to Diwan Mohata Nathmal’s family. It definitely has a ton of visual differences on its facade and houses beautiful mirror work as well as paintings on the interior walls. It is claimed that the blue hues in the paintings are powdered lapis lazuli from Afghanistan and the red is powdered rubies. There is also talk of 1.5 kilograms of gold leaf work inside the Haveli but I was unable to see any – maybe I didn’t look carefully enough since the camel bone work was being aggressively shoved in my face and I wanted to leave.
Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli is located in Sadar Bazar in Jaisalmer. Depending on which professional guide you hire, you’ll get a different version of events. I prefer the most colorful ones of course.
The hosts are generous enough to not charge an entry fee but as a visitor, please do keep in mind that you are actually inside someone’s home. Enjoy the visual feast below! All images shot on the Google Pixel 7 Pro and edited in Adobe Lightroom for Mobile.
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