Rajasthani Architecture features and elements

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Rajasthan, one of the most vibrant, and the largest state of our country, was earlier called as Rajputana and historically well known, presently comprises, of a number of erstwhile Jat, Rajput, and also Mughal kingdoms. Bhils, Rajputs, Yadavs, Jats, Gujjars and various other tribal people have contributed in constructing the present Rajasthan state. The state of Rajasthan was the major regional capital of Indus Valley Civilization, and is today one among the major tourist spot in India carrying a lavish architectural heritage.

Rajasthani architecture is an outstanding arrangement of colonial, Islamic and Hindu architecture. Jain and Muslim architecture had greatly influenced the palaces and forts in Rajasthan, whereas the later architecture carries the touch of European interiors. During the time of British reign, Rajputs were highly inspired by British rulers and the effect was seen in their architecture too, especially in the city of Jaipur.

The unique characteristic of Rajasthan’s architecture, significantly depended on Rajput architecture school which was mixture of Mughal and Hindu structural design. The state of Rajasthan hosts few of splendid palaces and forts of the whole world. Ornamented Havelis, elaborately carved temples and also magnificent forts are section of the Rajasthan’s architectural heritage. The artistic builders of Rajput designed major architectural styles which are located in cities like Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur.

Rajasthan’s architecture maybe broadly classified as secular and religious. The secular buildings are of various scales, which include towns, villages, wells, gardens, houses and palaces, as well as forts, though they were also used for defence. The assortment and vividness of the architectural heritage of Rajasthan is stunning.

Sometime around the sixth century, in and around the state of Rajasthan the concept of Maru – Gurjara Architecture (Rajasthani architecture ), originated, as in the ancient times Rajasthan ( Marudesh) and Gujarat (Gurjaratra), had many similarities in the social, cultural aspects.

Important Elements of Rajasthan Architecture :

  • Jharokha is a kind of suspended or overhanging enfolded balcony generally characteristic of Rajasthani architecture. The Jharokha balcony is basically stone window which projects from wall plane and are generally employed for additional architectural beauty to the mansions and also as a sight-seeing platform. One of the most significant purposes it served was to permit women in pardah to witness the events without being noticed themselves. The overhanging balcony is a vital structure of Rajasthani architecture fulfilling the duty as decoration instrument There are many jharokhas carrying chhajjas with them. These casements were also used to place spies and archers.
  • Chhatris are the elevated pavilions or porches in dome shape and are the best illustrations of the architecture of Rajasthan. The Chhatri stands as a symbol of honour and pride used to portray the fundamentals of admiration in Rajasthan’s Rajput architecture. In Hindi, the term ‘Chhatri’ refers to a canopy or an umbrella. The Shekhawati area of Rajasthan held chhatris in the place meant for cremation of distinguished and wealthy personalities which were later on tailored as a typical characteristic in all constructions of Rajasthan, and most significantly in the Mughal architecture. Chhatris present in Shekhawati are generally simple structure with single dome built inside four pillars of a mansion carrying several domes along with a basement containing various rooms.
  • Haveli word is derived from the Persian word Hawli which means an ‘enclosed place’. Havelis are mansions built by well heeled Marwaris between the years of 1830 and 1930, in Narwar and Shekhawati region. These Havelis carry architecture of Mughal in their style. The Shekhawati haveli consists of two courtyards with the outer courtyard meant for men, whereas the inner courtyard was occupied by women. Havelis also carries marvelous and breath-taking frescoes which are surrounded all sides with a single main gate.
  • Stepwell otherwise known as bawdi or baoli is a pond or well where water can be filled by climbing down steps. Stepwells are also known by other names such as kalyani, pushkarani, barav or vaav. Bawdis are quite common in the western part of India particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan and date back to several hundreds of years. The fences of the trenches were made up of stoneblocks with the absence of mortar, with steps to reach water body. The Stepwells could be roofed and were secluded. Most of the living stepwells originally acted as leisure spots besides providing water. Bundi city situated near Kota carries approximately sixty stepwells.
  • Johad is a storage of rainwater in a tank mainly used in Rajasthan, which stores and collects water all through the year that is used for drinking by cattle and humans. Rainfall during the months of July and August is stocked up in Johads and is used all through the year. Johads are also called ‘Khadins’ in Jaisalmer.
  • Jaali is normally a perforated stone or latticed screen, usually with an ornamental pattern, mainly came into existence on account of the pardah system, which did not allow women to be seen in public, but enabled women to observe the outside world by remaining out of sight. The jaali is also used to filter light into indoor space and bring channeled cool air through it’s openings.

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