Modern invaders may topple Jaisalmer fort in India
The sandstone citadel in the Rajasthani desert stood strong for eight
centuries. Then piped-in water and the tourists arrived.
By Henry Chu, Times Staff Writer
November 27, 2006
JAISALMER, INDIA — For centuries, the colossal sandstone fort that looms
over this dusty town has withstood the harshly arid climate of the
Rajasthani desert. Inside the citadel's honey-colored walls, tenacious
warrior families survived sieges and endured droughts by hoarding every
drop of water.
These days, though, the problem with water isn't one of scarcity.
Instead, Jaisalmer is struggling with a surfeit of the stuff, an
overabundance that is ravaging the historic stronghold in a way eight
centuries and countless invading armies failed to do.
Residents and visitors to the fairy-tale fort now enjoy instant access
to piped-in water. What was once a precious resource flows freely from
the tap, gurgles down toilets and fills the washing machines of hundreds
of residents and countless hotels. During the busy tourist season, which
has just begun, consumption per person is more than 10 times what it was
two decades ago.
But what gets channeled in doesn't always find a way out. Thanks to
woefully inadequate drainage and sewage systems, runoff has seeped into
the foundations and walls of the fort, literally weakening its defenses.