The Rajasthan architecture is significantly depend on Rajput architecture school which was mixture of mughal and Hindu structural design. Grand havelis, astonishing forts and elaborately carved temples are the vital portion of architectural heritage of Rajasthan. Rajput’s carries the credit of creative builders. Few of most striking and splendid forts along with palaces with parched Aravali land clearly depicts history of Rajasthan’s celebrated heritage.
Rajasthan architecture arouses from Rajput School of Architecture, a perfect mixture of Hindu and Mughal structural pattern. 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. The most significant architectural designs in Rajasthan include Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palaces, Chittorgarh Fort and Jaisalmer Havelis.
Rajasthan, one of the largest states of our country is well known for their historically important monuments. The state of Rajasthan was the major regional capital of Indus Valley Civilization. Conventionally Bhils, Rajputs, Yadavs, Jats, Gujjars and various other tribal people delivered momentous contribution in constructing Rajasthan state. The state was earlier called as Rajputana and served as princely state lawed by Rajputs. Present state of Rajasthan comprises number of Jat kingdoms, Rajput kingdoms and also Mughal Kingdom. The palaces and forts present in Rajasthan are decorated by Jain and Muslim architecture. Rajasthan’s structural design is generally secular with great motivation from Mughals whereas the latest architecture carries the touch of European interiors.
The outstanding Rajput architecture present in Rajasthan lies in Deeg palace. Deeg palace is encircled by large area of gardens based on garden architecture of Mughals. Jaipur palaces carry strong Islam influence. Rajasthan palaces are designed in Islamic fashion and all the palaces were declared Islamic names. One example is Hawa Mahal. This palace is constructed inside the conventional mansion of Rajasthan but not similar to the residential portion of Mughal palaces. The chambers meant for administrative, residential and court functions are constructed inside the multi-storied barrier. Jantar Mandar present in Jaipur is a breathtaking architectural monument. The place was constructed based on the essentials of natural sciences with unique architectural marvel which is more than home in modern era. The northern border of Jaipur city carries Royal Tombs which also includes Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. With a strong effect of Islamic influences several Rajputs initiated the process of constructing tombs even though they belong to Hindu religion, they are known as empty commemoratives. The tombs with the design of open umbrella are uniqueness of their architecture.
The Ajmer city carries maximum influence of Islamic architecture. The significant monuments in Ajmer city include Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti possessing various white marble edifices placed around the two courtyards with a gigantic gate contributed by the Hyderabad Nizam, a mosque donated by Shah Jahan along with Akbari mosque. One can witness Hindu architecture in Pushkar in the form of various temples and Ghats. The magnificent temples arranged in a fashion with a touch of Islamic architecture, are unique in their style.
At the time of British reign, Rajputs were highly inspired by Bristish rulers and the effect was seen in their architecture too. The buildings constructed by architects can be easily traced in the city of Jaipur. One such example is the Ranbag Palace which was constructed in Indo-Saracenic fashion is running as high class hotel now. Balsamad Lake Palace located at Jodhpur constructed during nineteenth century serves as summer palace designed in European style carrying a mughal style garden in front of man-made lake.
The Rajasthan architecture is an outstanding arrangement o f colonial, Islamic and Hindu architecture. Rajasthan stays as one among the major tourist spot in India carrying a lavish architectural heritage.
Important Artifacts of Rajasthan Architecture
Between the years of 1830 and 1930, well heeled Marwaris built gigantic buildings in Narwar and Shekhawati region. The mansions are known as Havelis. These Havelis carry architecture of Mughal in their style. The Shekhawati haveli consists of two courtyards. The outer courtyard meant for men whereas inner courtyard was occupied by women. Havelis also carries marvelous and breath-taking frescoes which are surrounded all sides with a single main gate. This barrier provides good security and calm totally separated from the external environment.
Located in Rajasthan, the Chhatris are the elevated pavilions in dome shape and are the best illustrations of the architecture of Rajasthan. The Chhatri stands as a symbol of honour and pride. The Shekhawati area of Rajasthan holds chhatris in the place meant for cremation of distinguished and wealthy personalities. 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. There are various significant chhatris present in cities of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Haldighati, Udaipur, Bikaner etc.
Jharokha is the form of overhanging enfolded balcony generally witnessed in temples, havelis and palaces situated in Rajasthan. The Jharokha balcony is basically stone window. Jharokhas projects from wall plane and are generally employed for additional architectural beauty to the mansions or for any other specific reasons. During earlier days, women with purdah use to visualize outside events by hiding themselves inside this dress. The overhanging balcony is a vital structure of Rajasthani architecture fulfilling the duty as decoration instrument and also as a sight-seeing platform. There are many Jharokhas carrying chhajjas with them.
Stepwell otherwise known as bawdi is nothing but a pond or well where water can be filled by climbing downwards on a batch of steps. Bawdis are quite common in the western part of India particularly in Gujarat and Rajasthan. These Stepwells date back to several hundreds of years. During olden days, constructors made very deep trenches into our earth to get dependable groundwater all through the year. The fences of the trenches were made up of stoneblocks with the absence of mortar. There are also stairs to reach water body. Most of the living stepwells originally acted as leisure spots besides providing water. Bundi city situated near Kota carries approximately sixty stepwells.
Hindu and Jain Temples of Rajasthan
Hinduism and Jainism were both influential in Rajasthan and they are the predominant religions of this state. As a result, the beliefs and faiths of Hinduism as well as Jainism are reflected to a larger extent through the architectural constructs of Rajasthan. The feelings of devotion, bliss, rites, rituals, superstitions and sacrifice, all amalgamate in the magnificent temples of Rajasthan.
The Brahma Temple is located in Pushkar. It is dedicated to the Hindugod of creation, Lord Brahma. One will be able to see the idol of the sacred Goose at the entrance of this temple. The sacred Goose is recognized as the vahana of Lord Brahma. This temple is made of marble and silver coins bedeck its interior.
Eklingji Temple is located in the town of Kailashpuri, about 22 kilometers from Udaipur on national highway 8. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The most noteworthy aspect of this temple is the four-faced idol of Eklingji (Lord Shiva) that is made of black marble. This figure has a height of about 50 feet and the four faces depict the four aspects of Lord Shiva. Shivratri is the festival celebrated in this temple. This temple also has idols of Goddess Saraswati and Yamuna and Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya. It can be said that the Eklingji temple symbolizes Hindu faith and belief through its architecture.
· Dwarkadhish Temple of Kankroli
Dwarkadhish Temple of Kankroli is one of the prominent tourist attractions of Nathdwara located in the Kankroli Village. This temple also famous as ‘Kankroli Temple’. Hindu deity Krishna is the sole deity of this beautiful temple. Here the red stone idol of the deity is praise with full devotion and dedication. Many believe that red stone idol of Lord Krishna had been brought from Mathura. Maharana Raj Singh I built the temple in 1676. This temple belongs to Vaishnavas and the Vallabhacharya sects.
· Varah Temple
Varah Temple is located in Pushkar. This temple is dedicated to Varah (wild boar), an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple was built in the 12th century by a king named, Anaji Chauhan. It is known that this temple was subjected to destruction and renovated several times. Varah Temple serves as a home to a huge white idol of Lord Varaha along with carvings, sculptures, gold styled pillars depicting Garuda, the mythical bird and life-size statues of door men. Varah Temple is considered to be one of the largest and oldest temples in Pushkar
· Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple is situated in Bikaner. It is also known by the other name of Nari Mata Temple and is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of goddess Durga. In the temple, one will be able to see the idol of Karni Mata wielding a trishul (trident) in her hand. A plethora of rats will be evident to the visitors in this temple. These rats move freely in the temple and are believed to be the reincarnations of Karni Mata and her sons.
· Kaila Devi Temple
Kaila Devi in Karauli temple is a Hindu religion temple, known to be one of the 9 Shakti peeths of goddess Durga. Located on the banks of Kalisil river at a distance of 23 km from the Karauli city. Goddess Kaila Devi is diety of the temple and millions of people visit it every year. Goddess Kaila is believed as the protector and savior of mankind. Built by the princely Jadaun Rajput rulers of the Karauli empire.
Maharaja Gopal Singh Ji laid the foundation of the temple in 1723 and the work was completed in 1730.
Savitri Temple is also located in Pushkar. This temple is dedicated to goddess Savitri, the first wife and consort of Lord Brahma. This temple is a fine representation of marble architecture.
· Surya Narayana Temple
Surya Narayana Temple is the beautiful Lord Sun temple which is known for its unique and marvelous architectural design.
Surya Narayana was constructed in the 15th century AD. There is a tower over the altar of the temple which has numerous projections of circular plan. Smaller protruding niches on the base of the tower has the sanctum which is laid on an octagonal plan with six porches.
· Sun Temple
Sun Temple of Ranakpur is a famous Sun or Surya temple well known as the Surya Narayan Temple. This 13th centry temple was rebuilt in 15th century after destruction. Sun temple is bilt with white lime stone in Nagara style with a delicate ornamented work.
Sun Narayan temple recieves many devotees from all around the country who came for the blessings of Lord Sun. Many devotees also visit the nearby temple of Amba Mata. This Sun temple is managed by the Udaipur Royal family trust.
Birla Mandir is located in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. It is also known by the other name of Lakshmi Narayan Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi. This temple was built in the year 1988. This temple is one of the major tourist attractions of Rajasthan. Birla Mandir has been built with the finest quality of marble in the most contemporary style.
Other Hindu Temples of Rajasthan
Some of the other Hindu temples of Rajasthan are Avari Mata Temple, Bhomiaji Maharaj Temple, Dadhimati Mata Temple, Garh Ganesh Temple, Kunjal Mata Temple and Jagat Shiromani Temple.
The Dilwara Temples are located about 2.5 kilometers from Mount Abu. There are 5 Dilwara Temples in Rajasthan namely, the Vimal Vasahi, Pithalhar, Mahaveer Swami, Luna Vasahi and Khartar Vasahi. They are dedicated to Jain Tirthankars. They were constructed in 11th and 13th centuries AD. All these temples reflect excellent architectural work. They are made of white marble. The unique feature of the temples is a combination of simplicity and exquisiteness. The Dilwara Temples are surrounded by mangotrees and hills which add to the magnificence of these temples.
Ranakpur Jain Temples
Ranakpur Jain Temples are located in the Pali District of Rajasthan. These temples are renowned for their architecture. Among the Ranakpur Temples, the main temple is Chamukha Temple. It is dedicated to Tirthankara, Rishabdeo. The temple houses a four-faced figure of Rishabdeo. The columns of the temple are known for their intricately carved designs and also serve as specimens of the art and architecture that prevailed in Rajasthan during the yester years.
Mahavir ji Temple
Mahavir ji Temple of Rajasthan is known to be among the holiest pilgrimages of Rajasthan. This temple overlooks the River Gambhir and is dedicated to Lord Mahavira. It is made of white marble.
Other Jain Temples of Rajasthan
Some of the other Jain Temples which occupy an integral position in the land of Rajasthan are the Osiyan Temple, Rajasthan Jain Temple and Juna Temple.