Architecture of Rajasthan

Māru-Gurjara architecture (Rajasthani architecture) originated in the sixth century in and around areas of the state of Rajasthan in India during Gurjara Pratihara Empire.

One of the Sahastra Bahu Temples built during the 10th century CE.


The name Maru Gurjara has its genesis in the fact that during ancient times, Rajasthan and Gujarat had similarities in ethentic, cultural and political aspects of the society. Ancient name of Rajasthan was Marudesh while Gujarat was called Gurjaratra.

"Maru Gurjara art" literally means "art of Rajasthan".[1]


Carved elephants on the walls of Jagdish Mandir
Carved elephants on the walls of Jagdish Temple that was built by Maharana Jagat Singh I in 1651 CE.
Baroli temple
Ghateshwara Mahadeva temple at the Baroli Temple Complex. The temples were built between the 10th and 11th centuries CE by the Gujara-Pratihara kingdom.

Māru-Gurjara Architecture show the deep understanding of structures and refined skills of Rajasthani craftmen of bygone era. Māru-Gurjara Architecture has two prominent styles Maha-Maru and Maru-Gurjara. According to M. A. Dhaky, Maha-Maru style developed primarily in Marudesa, Sapadalaksha, Surasena and parts of Uparamala whereas Maru-Gurjara originated in Medapata, Gurjaradesa-Arbuda, Gurjaradesa-Anarta and some areas of Gujarat.[2] Scholars such as George Michell, M.A. Dhaky, Michael W. Meister and U.S. Moorti believe that Māru-Gurjara Temple Architecture is entirely Western Indian architecture and is quite different from the North Indian Temple architecture.[3] There is a connecting link between Māru-Gurjara Architecture and Hoysala Temple Architecture. In both of these styles architecture is treated sculpturally.[4]

Styles of Rajasthani architecture include:

Architecture in Rajasthan represents many different types of buildings, which may broadly be classed either as secular or religious. The secular buildings are of various scales. They include towns, villages, wells, gardens, houses, and palaces. All these kinds of buildings were meant for public and civic purposes. The forts are also included in secular buildings, though they were also used for defense and military purposes. The typology of the buildings of religious nature consists of three different kinds: temples, mosques, and tombs. The typology of the buildings of secular nature is more varied.


Medieval period

Albert Hall ( Jaipur )
The Albert Hall Museum was designed by Samuel Swinton Jacob, and was opened as public museum in 1887.

The Dilwara Jain Temples of Mount Abu built between the 11th and 13th centuries CE are the best examples of Jain Architecture in Rajasthan.

The Hill Forts of Rajasthan (Amer, Chittor, Gagron, Jaisalmer, Kumbhalgarh, Ranthambore), a group of six forts built by various Rajput kingdoms and principalities during the medieval period are the best examples of Rajput Architecture. The ensemble is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other forts include the Mehrangarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort.

Modern period

The walled city of Jaipur was formed in 1727 by Jai Singh II. Subsequently, the City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Rambagh Palace, Jal Mahal and Albert Hall Museum were also built.

The rulers of the princely states of Rajasthan continued the tradition of building elaborate palaces, such as the Lalgarh Palace in Bikaner, Monsoon Palace in Udaipur, and Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.



Ranakpur Jain Temple Ceiling detail

Interior shows stone work Adisvara temple

Worshippers leaving the temple in Ranakpur

Jain temple at Ranakpur

Dev Somnath Temple, Dungarpur

Dev Somnath Temple

Deshnoke Karni Mata

Detailed Stone work, Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner Rajasthan

Jaisalmer Jain Temple 6

Marble stone work, Jaisalmer Jain Temple, Rajasthan

UmaidBhawan Exterior 1

The Umaid Bhawan Palace at Jodhpur built between 1929 and 1942 is one of the largest royal palaces in the world. It was designed by Henry Vaughan Lanchester in a blend of Beaux-Arts and traditional Rajasthani styles.

Jaipur 03-2016 19 City Palace complex

City Palace at Jaipur was designed by Vidyadhar Bhattarcharya and built between 1729 and 1732. The architecture of the palace shows clear Mughal influences on it's Rajput Architecture.


  1. ^ Vasishtha, Rādhākrishṇa (1995). Art and artists of Rajasthan: a study on the art & artists of Mewar with reference to western Indian school of painting. p. 22.
  2. ^ The sculpture of early medieval Rajasthan By Cynthia Packert Atherton
  3. ^ Beginnings of Medieval Idiom c. A.D. 900-1000 by George Michell
  4. ^ The legacy of G.S. Ghurye: a centennial festschrift By Govind Sadashiv Ghurye, A. R. Momin, p-205

Further reading

  • Atherton, Cynthia Packert (1997). The Sculpture of Early Medieval Rajasthan. BRILL. ISBN 9004107894.

A chhajja is the projecting or overhanging eaves or cover of a roof, usually supported on large carved brackets.

It forms part of the architecture of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. In Rajasthan they are particularly large. They are mainly used for protection against elemental forces like the Sun and rains.

Giles Tillotson

Giles Henry Rupert Tillotson (born 1960) is a writer and lecturer on Indian history and architecture. He was previously Reader in History of Art and Chair of Art & Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is also Fellow and a former Director of the Royal Asiatic Society, London.

He currently lives in India and is Consultant Director at the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, City Palace, Jaipur.

His scholarly books include The Rajput Palaces (1987), The Tradition of Indian Architecture (1989), The Artificial Empire (2000), and Building Jaipur (2002, co-authored with Vibhuti Sachdev). His popular writing for general audiences includes his 'Golden Triangle' trilogy - Jaipur Nama (2006), Taj Mahal (2008), and Delhi Darshan (2019) - and the historical novella Return to Bhanupur (2012). He has also edited books on collections, including James Tod's Rajasthan: The Historian and his Collections (2007), A Passionate Eye: Textiles, Paintings and Sculptures from the Bharany Collections (2014), Painting & Photography at the Jaipur Court (2016, with Mrinalini Venkateswaran), and Modern Indian Painting: Jane & Kito de Boer Collection (2019, with Rob Dean).


Gurjaradesa/Gurjaradesh (Gurjara country) or Gurjaratra is a historical region in India comprising the eastern Rajasthan and northern Gujarat during the period of 6th -12th century CE. Its name is believed to derive from the dominance of the Gurjara tribes in this region. The predominant power of the region, the Gurjara-Pratiharas eventually controlled a major part of North India centered at Kannauj. The modern state of "Gujarat" derives its name from the ancient Gurjaratra.


A jharokha (or jharoka) is a type of overhanging enclosed balcony used in the architecture of Rajasthan. It was also used in Indo-Islamic architecture. Jharokhas jutting forward from the wall plane could be used both for adding to the architectural beauty of the building itself or for a specific purpose. One of the most important functions it served was to allow women to see outside without being seen themselves. Alternatively, these windows could be used to position archers and spies.

The jharokha is a stone window projecting from the wall face of a building, in an upper story, overlooking a street, market, court or any other open space. It is supported on two or more brackets or corbelling, has two pillars or pilasters, balustrade and a cupola or pyramidal roof; technically closed by jalies but generally partly open for the inmates to peep out to see passing processions. The jharokha is more formal and ornamental than English or French “oriel” and is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the façade in medieval Indian architecture until the 19th century.

The projected balcony is an essential element of Rajasthani architecture, both as decoration and as a viewing platform. The chajjas - sloping eaves that projected out above the balconies - increase protection from both the summer sun and monsoon rain. Jharokhas are mainly used in palaces, havelis and temples.

Outline of Rajasthan

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Rajasthan:

Rajasthan largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It comprises most of the area of the large, inhospitable Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, which parallels the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan to the west. Rajasthan is also bordered by Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers 10.4% of India, an area of 342,239 square kilometres (132,139 sq mi).

Shakti Mata Memorial Chatriya

The Shakti Mata Memorial Chatriya is a cenotaph in the city of Pokhran, Rajasthan, India. Constructed in red sandstone, it was erected to honor the deceased mahrajas of the local royal family. The site contains a number of chhatris (meaning umbrella in hindi, which references the shape of the domes of the structure) and lies outside the city.

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