1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jaisalmer
JAISALMER, or Jeysulmere, a town and native state of India in the Rajputana agency. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. Many of the houses and temples are finely sculptured. Pop. (1901), 7137. The area of the state is 16,062 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 73,370, showing a decrease of 37% in ten years, as a consequence of famine. The estimated revenue is about £6000; there is no tribute. Jaisalmer is almost entirely a sandy waste, forming a part of the great Indian desert. The general aspect of the country is that of an interminable sea of sandhills, of all shapes and sizes, some rising to a height of 150 ft. Those in the west are covered with phog bushes, those in the east with tufts of long grass. Water is scarce, and generally brackish; the average depth of the wells is said to be about 250 ft. There are no perennial streams, and only one small river, the Kakni, which, after flowing a distance of 28 m., spreads over a large surface of flat ground, and forms a lake or jhil called the Bhuj-Jhil. The climate is dry and healthy. Throughout Jaisalmer only rain-crops, such as bajra, joar, moth, til, &c., are grown; spring crops of wheat, barley, &c., are very rare. Owing to the scant rainfall, irrigation is almost unknown.
The main part of the population lead a wandering life, grazing their flocks and herds. Large herds of camels, horned cattle, sheep and goats are kept. The principal trade is in wool, ghi, camels, cattle and sheep. The chief imports are grain, sugar, foreign cloth, piece-goods, &c. Education is at a low ebb. Jain priests are the chief schoolmasters, and their teaching is elementary. The ruler of Jaisalmer is styled maharawal. The state suffered from famine in 1897, 1900 and other years, to such an extent that it has had to incur a heavy debt for extraordinary expenditure. There are no railways.
The majority of the inhabitants are Bhatti Rajputs, who take their name from an ancestor named Bhatti, renowned as a warrior when the tribe were located in the Punjab. Shortly after this the clan was driven southwards, and found a refuge in the Indian desert, which was thenceforth its home. Deorāj, a famous prince of the Bhatti family, is esteemed the real founder of the present Jaisalmer dynasty, and with him the title of rāwal commenced. In 1156 Jāisal, the sixth in succession from Deorāj, founded the fort and city of Jaisalmer, and made it his capital. In 1294 the Bhattis so enraged the emperor Alā-ud-din that his army captured and sacked the fort and city of Jaisalmer, so that for some time it was quite deserted. After this there is nothing to record till the time of Rāwal Sabal Singh, whose reign marks an epoch in Bhatti history in that he acknowledged the supremacy of the Mogul emperor Shāh Jahān. The Jaisalmer princes had now arrived at the height of their power, but from this time till the accession of Rāwal Mulrāj in 1762 the fortunes of the state rapidly declined, and most of its outlying provinces were lost. In 1818 Mulrāj entered into political relations with the British. Maharawal Salivahan, born in 1887, succeeded to the chiefship in 1891.