“The Golden City”
“the yellow sand and the yellow sandstone used in every
architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and
its surrounding area”..
• The fort & town of JAISALMER was founded by Maharawal Jaisal in the
year 1156 AD after having shifted his capital from Ludharva (18 Kms
away from Jaisalmer) to a safer place.
• The ruling family of the erstwhile Jaisalmer State belongs to Bhati Clan
of Yadu Rajputs of Chandrawasnshi (Lunar) race who claim descent
from Lord Krishna,the defied hero who ruled at Dwarka.
• The historical origin of Bahttis can be inferred from the couplet which
says that the Yadu Rajputs ruled and constructed Forts at
Kashi,Mathura, Pragvad, Gajni,Bhatner,Digam,Dirwal,Lodurva and ninth
• Jaisalmer was merged into the state of Rajasthan, there was no
important change in the area of the state.
• On October 6,1949,the region was given the status of an independent
district in Jodhpur division.
• Set in the arid plains of western Rajasthan, in the midst of the vast
Thar desert, the city of Jaisalmer is a living fortress, perhaps the
only one of its kind in India.
• There are many spectacular forts in India, particularly in Rajasthan,
reflecting a martial history of which the local people are self
• These forts have tremendous tourist potential, and proposals are
afoot to convert some into ‘heritage hotels’ or museums.
• To the visitor, almost every nook and corner of this richly crafted
town in the midst of the desert is fascinating, because a medieval
aura is still palpable in the streets, architecture and the traditional
society of Jaisalmer.
• Today this town consists of two major components:
The fortified upper citadel, elevated on a ridge, with more: than
400 houses, groups of temples and a palace complex,
the lower town, also fortified, set on the north-eastern slopes of the
ridge in the wind shadow of the citadel.
Location Jaisalmer , Rajasthan, India
Altitude 241.7m above mean sea level
CLIMATE & LOCATION
District JAISALMER has a very dry climate with very hot
summer; a cold winter and sparse rains.
The climate is extremely hot during summer with maximum
temperature reaching up to 49.2 degree Celsius and extremely cold
during winter with minimum temp. in the range of 1 degree Celsius.
RELATIVE HUMIDITY & RAINFALL
The average rainfall is only 16.4 cms as against the state average of
SOCIO-CULTURAL /LIFE STYLE
• Jaisalmer district is bestowed with art,
architecture, culture and traditions full of
color and music and thereby attracting
hordes of Domestic and foreign tourists.
• The folk music of desert is an outstanding
culmination of long traditions mixed with
varied social customs and inherent
concept of classical music revealing
the life of desert. Being in the neighborhood
the language, culture and traditions of the
people of the district are influenced by the
culture of sindh.
People are hardy and have great power of
tolerance. The people of the desert are very
jovial and friendly. More than 80% of the
population of Jaisalmer lives in
rural areas. Males go out to work and
females stay at home.
In the village most people live in huts
(Jhopri). These beautiful huts are made of
grass. These huts are cool in summers and
warm in winter. Every family has 4-5 huts.
Around the huts there are thorny bushes and
Some of the villages have stone houses.
Almost all villages have a pond or well for
drinking water. In most of the villages the
water is provided by the government
1. In the villages the main sources of income are
animal rearing and farming. Every family
keeps cows, goats, sheep and camel. When
there is good rain there is plenty of fodder for
2. The staple crops are ‘Bajara’ and ‘Gawar’.
People change their establishments in search
of fodder for cattle. The trees and bushes,
which are found in desert, have fruits and buds,
which are eaten as vegetables.
1. Khezada, Bavla, Lora, Rohida, Van, Phog, Kumbhar, Jal, Neem, Babul
and many other trees are to be found among sparse vegetation.
2. Orchards are luxury and can be seen occasionally in a very rare sport.
Grass-beds or lawns are never seen anywhere.
FESTIVAL OF JAISALMER
From the city, the annual sand dunes
festival is set up an hour’s drive into
the desert towards the southwest.
Indians come from all over the country
for this very popular three-day festival.
There are camel rides and races,
wrestling matches, beauty contests
(including one for best mustache), and
traditional singing and dance
JAIN HERITAGE OF JAISALMER
1. Jain community has enhanced the place Jaisalmer greatly.
2. It has festooned the city with marvellous temples, especially the temples
dedicated to 23rd Tirthankara, Parshva and the 16th Tirthankara, Shantinath
which all counts for the beauty of the Jaisalmer.
3. One can find the a typical of the
artefacts and manuscripts of Jain tradition
in the oldest libraries of India which are
possessed by Jaisalmer.
Amarsagar, Lodarva, Pokharan and
Brahmsar are the major places where
crowd of pilgrims can be seen.
• Most common building materials:
– Light yellowish sandstone for walls (0.45m or more in thickness).
– 50 mm thick panels of limestone used on upper levels for elements
on projecting wall facades.
PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN IN THE
TRADIONAL ARCHITECTURE OF
- The study focuses on the sandstone havelis (urban courtyard houses) of
the desert city of Jaisalmer, north-west Rajasthan, India.
- While the city has been much admired by contemporary Indian
architects, their understanding has been a Modernist one, based largely
on the idea of 'spatial organisation'.
Three distinct architectural schools, or shaili, are then identified. THE
SOMPURIYA SHAILI (the Sompuras are traditional temple builders)
has its roots in the medieval architecture known from surviving temples,
THE MUGHLAI SHAILI is influenced by the imperial Mughal style, THE
ANGREZI (ENGLISH) SHAILI brought an influx of western Classicism.
Architecturally, Jaisalmer fort consists of three layers of wall.
- The outer wall (the lowest) is composed of solid stone blocks.
- From the inner wall, Rajput warriors used to throw boiling water, oil,
- massive blocks of rocks on the enemies, when they got trapped
between the inner and the middle walls.
- The architecture of these forts is a blend of Islamic, Persian and
Indian styles of architecture.
The buildings are analysed at their various levels of organsiation:
- formal and spatial planning,
- composition of elevations (interior and exterior),
- architectural components and details.
Aedicules, miniature representations of buildings, play an important role
as compositional elements.
LAYOUT PLANNING & ARCHITECTURAL
STYLES IN JAISALMER
These were built of sandstone or marble and were endowed with
1. jharokhās (a type of overhanging balcony),
2. chatrīs (elevated, dome-shaped pavilions),
3. chajjās (projecting eaves or cover usually supported on large carved brackets) and
4. jālīs (perforated stone or latticed screen used for ventilation as well as decoration
Most of these forts had ingenious water structures designed for
harvesting and storage, including step-wells, elaborate reservoirs
•In its overall shape, Jaisalmer is an irregular polygon with a double line of
• It is a city within a city. The inner city is more protected with a stronger wall and is
set on top of a hill about 100 meters higher than the surrounding area. The city is
triangular in shape due to the shape of the hill on which it is built.
• The Royal Palace with the Royal Square forms the nucleus of Jaisalmer.
•The city structuring manifests itself in two strong ways :
the location of the Royal Quarters on top of the hill with the strong
secondly the dispersal of communities is affected by caste groupings making
distinct residential zones of different communities.
The market square with its bazaar structures in the lower city and the Royal Square
with the temples holds the upper city together. Streets act as linkages, activity and
• Narrow winding streets with
densely built construction on
• All Major streets were oriented
in the East-West direction at
right angles to the direction of
• The height of the building
compared to the width of streets
is large to create shaded cool
environment for the pedestrians
and other social activities on the
Plan of Jaisalmer town
The simplest town house consists of a single room, a verandah and a
courtyard. Larger houses of this type have another verandah over the
entrance and some houses have an additional room on one side of the
courtyard. These single storey structures are owned by the poorest
people and have been built in the peripheral areas of the town.
MIDDLE INCOME HOUSES
A two or three-storey structure,
this house type can be
considered the typical house of
Jaisalmer. It is similar to the
first house type in plan, with
the only difference that
additional rooms and small
enclosed terraces are located
at the upper floors. The front
part of the first floor has a
balcony projecting onto the
1. The most complex and
interesting residential buildings in
Jaisalmer are the haveli’s built by
the rich merchants or courtiers.
2. In these four or five-storied
houses, the courtyard is
surrounded by rooms or verandahs
on all sides.
3. There are underground rooms as
well, sometimes at two levels one
below the other.
4. The uppermost storey comprises
terraces enclosed by wind
pavilions and high parapet walls. In
some cases, the house is built
around two courtyards.
PLAN AND SECTION OF A TYPICAL HAVELI IN JAISALMER
Public spaces in Jaisalmer may be classified according to their types. The
major categories are :
The Royal Square in the center of the upper city ;
Public spaces like Gandhi Chowk and Gopa Chowk ;
Community spaces at the level of residential clusters.
STREETS OF JAISALMER
Jaisalmer is a compact network of streets rarely too long. With fairly high buildings
and width of streets rarely more than three meters, one can move around the town
in cool shade.
There is a significant difference in the street patterns of the upper and the lower city.
The radial pattern in the upper city is contrasted by the somewhat irregular grid iron
pattern in the lower city.
A typical cobbled street in Jaisalmer
VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE IN
DESIGN: Jaisalmer fort is a traditional
settlement, not exactly a vernacular
settlements. The design layout shows
a network of space in which :
HIERARCHY OF SIZE: When the space
dominates in architectural design by being
significantly different in size from all other
elements, dominance by size of elements
HIERARCHY OF SHAPE: Visually
dominant by the shape from other
elements in composition. A discreet
contrast in shape is critical.
RHYTHM: Patterened reoccurrence of
elements in design such as Granary areas
in the design.
Repetation as a dense organization
of repetitive pillars.
Exceptional size -dominance seen by
the size of the space .form in design.
A unique shape-visually dominant
and importatnt shape of the space
/form in design.
Generation of form in space is
affect of opening these
horizontal and vertical
elements in space.It depends
on size,number and location of
1. Main Chowk has full
enclosure with two streets
opening the visual link.
2. Neighbourhood Space
activity linked to houses opens
to the residential streets.
3. Angan near the house.
4. Transition space in house
Main Village Square is village
at intersection of main streets.
Two types of construction used for floors and roofs:
– TRADITIONAL METHOD: Laying closely spaces timber beams
and covering them with a layer or reed or grass matting with a
layer of earth on top.
– Because of lack of availability in the desert, stone beams are
NATURAL COOLING SYSTEMS OF JAISALMER
The natural cooling systems used at Jaisalmer include:
1. Dense clustering of buildings.
2. Sun control through orientation and structural projections.
3. Cooling of sunlit surfaces by use of fins.
4. Massive construction for roofs and walls.
5. Courtyards and other air ducts for ventilation.
The effectiveness of each of these
cooling methods has been evaluated
by temperature observations and
this will be reported in a subsequent
Details of carved panel
CONTROL OF HEATING BY TEXTURE OF
The heat inside of the building is controlled by the use of textures in Jaisalmer. This is
organized at three levels.
1. At the town scale the buildings are of unequal height with parapets and high
walls, creating uneven sky lines and desired shading of each other.
2. Secondly, the building facades have large number of projections like jharokhas
and chajjas which provide shade to the facades.
3. Thirdly, the front part of the facade which remains exposed are controlled by
creating deeply carved patterns. Use of such devices minimizes the heat gain by
providing shading due to texture.
- Such devices also result in increased convective transfer of heat because of
increased surface area.
JAISALMER AND PRE-CAST CONSTRUCTION
Jaisalmer as a city, as urban fabric, is in total harmony with its soil, its terrain
and the lifestyle of its people. A city in yellow stone, a sculpture that emerges
out of the landscape. But, Jaisalmer is a man-made sculpture of small well-
designed parts. The parts that make the harmonious whole are the key to the
urban fabric that one sees today in Rajasthan.
It is a system of carved elements - stone slabs, beams, columns - pieces put
together, the putting together - a carefully pre-planned process. Stone carvers
- the artists, the artisans working in groups to deliver the pieces as required,
with every piece cut, carved, to make a railing, to turn it to make a junction or
to break the monotony of a symmetrical façade.
Stone blocks cut
and carved to make
an arch, a doorway,
a jharokha, brackets
that support a
brackets that are
radiating out from a
point and therefore
vary in their sizes,
but must be carved
to precision to take
their place away
from the courtyard
of the carver's
house, in the walls
of the palace.