The world is full of architectural legacies from the past. These are souvenirs of a culture and time that was at its prime a few hundred, or a few thousand years ago. And while there are many such ancient cultures, Rajasthan is also one of them. Considered at par with the world famous Mughal architecture, the designs and constructions of Rajasthan attract thousands of visitors from across the world every year. Not just that, the architectural majesty of this land has time and again inspired architects from across the world to try and replicate the splendor and magnificence that is unique to Rajasthan.
Come, let us go on a journey that witnesses the various features of this age-old tradition:
- Jaali and Jharokha: In the older tradition the women of the house were not allowed to show themselves publicly. Usually for this purpose there were separate courtyards or balconies for both men and women. The ‘Jharokha’ which is similar to a balcony in function, was designed at the exterior of such courtyards so the women could take a peek at the activities going on outside without showing themselves to the public. As an element of design the Jharokhas added an architectural beauty and nuance to the structure, something that can be seen in the world famous ‘Hawamahal’ as well. There were two types of Jharokhas that were famous at the time, one being a ‘Chajja’ which was an extended platform just above the stone windows. The other one was without a Chajja which was placed on the wall without the windows, commonly referred to as Jaali. These served as the hangouts for women in the evenings where they would gather forc conversations, making pickles, spices and so forth.
- Haveli: The Rajasthani Haveli designs are unparalleled in grandeur when it comes to architectural designs. ‘Haveli’, a Persian word means an ‘enclosure’. These were built by the native ‘Marwaris’ dating back to a period between 1830 and 1930. As mentioned above, these structures would usually be divided between men and women with two separate courtyards. One of the most striking features of a Haveli is the grand single front door that was huge in size, and would often sport intricate design elements.
- Chattri: Perhaps one of the most unique features that distinguishes Rajasthan’s architecture, the dome shaped pavilions spread across this desert land are called Chattris. Initially, these were exclusively a part of the homes of the rich, royal and affluent families of Rajasthan. With time they made their way as a design element to the houses of the common people as well. Now, these magnificent structures can be found scattered across randomly, some being the sole survivors of the wrath of time from the Rajput era.
- Bawdi The list of Rajasthan’s world famous architectures is incomplete without the mention of ‘Bawdi’. This design is the part of an external architectural feature that is usually created around small water bodies such as a small man made pond. The major feature is stone steps descending towards the water body that were created for the use of females to carry out their daily chores. The beauty of the architecture becomes evident in one glance as one sees the symmetrical patterns of triangular stairs on all four walls of the structure. It is a visually appealing sight that can be found in huge numbers at many places in Rajasthan. The town of Bundi contains upto 60 of these Bawdis.
These designs help us appreciate and marvel at the architectural genius of the people that were our ancestors. As a modern society, we may have come to believe that we are superior in terms of evolution and quality of life. But, these structures give us a very humbling perspective, and show us how we are incapable of creating certain wonders that the ancients were adept at. So, can we match their standard of architecture? Come to Rajasthan and see for yourself!