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JAISALMER - Tourist Town- Destroyed by too much water
Tourist Town
Destroyed by too much water

Jaisalmer has witnessed phenomenal growth in the last 15 years, particularly during the last decade. While part of this growth can be attributed to administrative functions, it is tourism which has made a real impact on the socio-physical environment of this medieval town, which is in a unique position by virtue of it being a living monument. The medieval aura still lingers, though threatened by unplanned development.

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The prosperity of Jaisalmer is owed to having been an oasis town on the camel caravan trade routes between the East and West. The city developed as a transit base to transport silks, spices, indigo, opium, and so on, through those routes connected to the Silk Roads. The target nations for trade were Persia, Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, and further up to African and European countries. Caravans used to stay in Jaisalmer to take a rest and resupply food and commodities, paying high tolls, which enriched the city and the Court.

Jaisalmer atracted were not only merchants and bankers. As the Mughal Empire subdued northern India, Jaisalmer became a place of refuge for Hindus and Jains, and the disputes among Rajput states with each other made here a place of immigration for scholars and artists. Exquisite carvings on facades of buildings were contributed by craftsmen, stonemasons, and painters who had come from all over western India.

As for the structure of the city, it is completely medieval. The streets were made spontaneously, and Baroque style town planning or rectilinear streets plan are not seen. It contrasts, within the Rajput world, with the city of Jaipur, which was made on a grid pattern. Despite geometrical figures shown as ideal towns in antique documents, there are hardly any actual examples. It was presumably after the advent of Islamic culture that city planning began in India. Even so, there are differences between the citadel of Jaisalmer and the surrounding lower town, in which the streets pattern is a little more like a grid, showing a gap between construction periods.

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