Late mediaeval Rajput architecture was noted
both for its town planning and urban
architecture. Rulers patronized research into
ancient treatises and shastras of Hindu
architecture and attempts were made to build
accordingly. It would be fair, thus, to discuss
two notable examples.
8. Jaipur is known for its town
planning inspired from
ancient texts. The death of
the Mughal emperor
Bahadur Shah accentuated
the influence of Maharaja Jai
Singh II of Amber, who then
embarked upon the
construction of a modern
capital in the plains – a
metropolitan fort inspired
by Kautilya’s Arthashastra.
Like Kautilya’s ideal towns too, Jaipur is regularly planned.
Its original regular nine-square geometry was however
disturbed by military and esthetic considerations - the plan
had to be modified to incorporate an existing garden palace
at the ruler’s direction, and by displacing the north-west
zone to integrate the defences with the hills there, extending
to Jaigarh and Amber.
Within the walls, the original garden palace was follows the
precepts of an ideal Kautilyan complex.
The uniform pink color of the construction and the fantastic
observatory built by Sawai Jai Singh contribute to give
Jaipur its distinctive flavor. The famous nine-square pattern
of Jaipur is again much celebrated and has once again
inspired modern buildings – the most famous being Charles
Correa’s Jawahar Kala Kendra in the same city.
Jaisalmer is particularly noted for its havelis or private houses belonging
to the noblesse.
Style fusing Mughal and Rajput elements
First emulated by Rawal Amar Singh (1661-1702) for the palaces and
temples surrounding the lake and at Bada Bagh.
18th and 19th century -importing the late architecture of Marwar, with its
prominent oriels and balconies, many-cusped arches, half-circular roofs
and luxuriant sculptural ornament.
The palaces in the fort although elaborately floral, are not however
Jaisalmer’s most celebrated buildings. This status belongs to the dense
network of havelis in the town below the fort – the private houses of the
rich and wealthy, and the noblesse, who in the dwindling of royal power
became the de facto rulers.
The havelis of Jaisalmer are thus world-famous for their dense
interlocking structure and their architectural devices which keep out the
heat and dust. Many examples of modern Indian architecture take their
inspiration from Jaisalmer’s urban planning and house clustering pattern,
a notable one being Raj Rewal’s Asiad Games Village built for the Asian
Games at Delhi in 1984.
India under the British Raj (the "Indian Empire")
consisted of two types of territory: British India and
the Native States or Princely states.
A princely state (also called native state or Indian
state) was a nominally sovereign entity of British
India during the British Raj that was not directly
governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler
under a form of indirect rule, subject to a subsidiary
alliance of the British Crown.
The Indian rulers bore various titles—
including Wadiyar (by the Royal Maharajas
of Mysore), Chhatrapati (exclusively used by the
3 Bhonsle dynasty of the Marathas) or
Badshah ("emperor"), Maharaja or Raja ("king"), Nawa
b ("governor"), Thakur or
Thakore, Nizam, Wāli, Inamdar, Saranjamdar and
many others. Whatever the literal meaning and
traditional prestige of the ruler's actual title, the British
government translated them all as "prince," in order to
avoid the implication that the native rulers could be
"kings" with status equal to that of the British monarch.
22. The confusion accompanying the decline of the Mughal empire saw an
abundance of new architecture at the new seats of regional power by the
Rajputs, Sikhs, Marathas and the nawabs of Oudh, Bengal and Hyderabad.
Hindu rulers started to construct memorials to their dead, much after the
style of the Mughals, and restarted the construction of lavish temples,
neglected for long because of the lack of power and finances. The Sikhs,
persecuted for long by the later Mughals, pillaged Mughal building in their
turn to build their own gurudwaras or temples. The nawabs built lavish
gardens, tombs, mosques and palaces. Their was no longer a dominant style,
but a hybrid where Gujarati, Bengali, Deccan and Persian elements fused to
produce an eclectic strain of building.
After the 1858 transference of power, the British Crown
became the guarantor of peace and commerce treaties.
From the middle of the 19th century until 1947 the
princes ostensibly controlled 40 percent of India. They
were, however, watched over by British agents and
their powers, though real, were limited to internal
matters. The ambiguity of their status led to a
substantial concern for the symbols of identity. Many
of these symbols were manifested in elaborate patterns
of behaviour – parades, durbars, entertainment – but
their physical manifestation was in their architecture.
British replaced the Mughals as the controlling group-inspiration for
much of Indian architecture became English in origin, closely tied with
what was happening in Britain.
The princes were educated along British lines, taken on tours of Europe
and introduced to Western manners and norms. This change in lifestyle
began to be reflected in their architecture as well.
In their palaces, old reception rooms gave way to durbar halls, rooms for
European guests were built and ways to entertain guests were provided.
Dining and drawing rooms were introduced; fireplaces, marble
fountains and statues, oil paintings and stuffed animals began to be
displayed in the halls and drawing rooms.
New education, new social functions and new engineering techniques
led to a new architecture created by British architects, British army
engineers and often the princes themselves.
The princes were expected to be both traditional and modern – to retain
traditional feudal powers but to create a new India.
26. The new princely towns of Jaipur, Bikaner and Mysore showed
themselves amongst the most successful in negotiating this divide.
Their towns were modeled along British examples – clock towers,
railway stations, public offices, assembly halls, water systems and
public hospitals were built. Buildings were European classical, or
if constructed later, Indo-Saracenic, or again an eclectic mix.
Many mixed styles of architecture emerged in the palaces of the
Princely states. Author Miki Desai classifies them (apart from
Falaknuma Palace is one of the finest palaces in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. It
belonged to Paigah Hyderabad State, and it was later owned by the Nizams. It is on a 32-acre
area in Falaknuma, 5 km from Charminar. It was built by Nawab Vikar-ul-Umrathe then-prime
minister of Hyderabad
The palace was built in the shape of a scorpion with two stings spread out as wings in the
north. The middle part is occupied by the main building and the kitchen, Gol Bangla, Zenana
Mehal, and harem quarters stretch to the south. The Nawab was an avid traveler, and his
influences show in the architecture.
The Falaknuma palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture. Its stained glass
windows throw a spectrum of colour into the rooms.
One of the highlights of the palace is the state reception room, whose ceiling is decorated
with frescoes and gilded reliefs. The ballroom contains a two-ton manually operated organ said
to be the only one of its kind in the world.
The palace has 220 lavishly decorated rooms and 22 spacious halls. It has some of the finest
treasures collections of the Nizam. Falaknuma houses a large collection of rare treasures
including paintings, statues, furniture, manuscripts and books.
The famed dining hall could seat 100 guests at its table. The chairs were made of carved
rosewood with green leather upholstery. The tableware was made of gold and crystal to which
fluted music was added. The length of the table is 108 feet, and breadth is 5.7 feet and height is
The palace has a library with a walnut carved roof: a replica of the one at Windsor Castle. The
library had one of the finest collections of the Quran in India.
The ground floor of the palace housed the living quarters. A marbled staircase leads to the
upper floor. It has carved balustrades, which supports marble figurines with candelabra at
There is a billiards room. Burroughs and Watts from England designed two identical tables.
One found its way to the Buckingham Palace and the other is here
It is now converted to a luxury hotel
Built in 1809 . Jai Vilas Palace is the house of Maharaja of Gwalior
till date. Lt. Col. Sir Michael Filose designed this
palace.A splendor of a different kind exist in the Jai Vilas Palace,
current residence of the Royal Scindia Family .
Some 35 rooms have been made into the Scindia Museum.and in
these rooms, so evocative of a regal lifestyle, the past comes alive.
Jai Vilas is an Italianate structure which combines the Tuscan and
Corinthian architecture modes. The imposing Darbar Hall has two
central chandeliers , weighing a couple of tonnes , and hung only
after ten elephants had tested the strengths of the roof. Ceilings
picked out in guilt, heavy draperies and tapestries , fine Persian
carpets , antique furniture frm France and Italy are features of these
Built by the Maharaja Jiyaji Rao Scindia, the palace is adorned
with furniture from Versailles, ornate mirrors, Venetian cut glass
swing, two Belgian chandeliers (each weighing 3.5 tons and
measuring 12.5 m high), handmade carpet (the largest in Asia 40 m
long), a huge dining table and an antique Rolls Royce.
The Scindia Museum offers an unparalleled glimpse into the rich
culture and lifestyle of princely India.
Jagatjit Palace is one of the famous
places in Kapurthala city which was
built in 1908 and is very famous for
its beautiful architecture. It was
considered as a residence
of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh in past.
At present the Jagatjit Palace is
looked after by the Defence Ministry.
It is now the house of ―Sainik
School‖. The Jagatjit Singh palace, set
within a 200 acre park has
a spectacular architecture based on
the ―Palace of Versailles‖ and
Its plaster of Paris figures and
painted ceilings represent the finest
features of French art and
architecture. It was built in
renaissance style with the sunken
park in the front (Known as Baija)
and has many other similarities to
that of Palace of Versailles. The
interior decoration of the palace,
which is unique of its kind in India
was carried out by expert European
and Indian workmen. The
great Darbar Hall is one of the finest
in India. The palace is full of
imported art work from France,
32. The Indian-Eclectic was
modelled on royal luxury
but its referents were also
to Indian myths and folk
tales as well as earlier
architectural patterns and
motifs. Much of it
borders on the IndoSaracenic but it tends to
be more eclectic in its
selection of ancient
The Amba Vilas Palace
(1900-1910) in Mysore by
Henry Irwin is a mixture
of influences: fluted
pillars from the Red Fort
in Delhi, onion domes
from the Taj Mahal,
Mughal tracery and
33. LAXMI VILLAS PALACE, BARODA
DURBARGARH PALACE, BHUJ
The use of Indo-Saracenic in the princely
states can be seen in a number of places: the
Kohlapur Palace at Mant, the Laxmi Vilas
Palace at Baroda, and the Durbargadh
Waghaji Palace (1882) in Morvi, an IndoVenetian Gothic building with Saracenic
domes and Rajput arches. This last is a
magnificent example, but much of it has been
damaged by the Bhuj earthquake of January
2001. As the Gothic replaced the Classical in
Bombay, it was picked up for use by the
princely states – Bangalore Palace has a
similarity to the one at Windsor Castle in
Such palaces were a sophisticated political
symbol of the imperial presence. Outwardly
Indian and built by Indian hands, the overall
control stayed with the British. They reflect
the appearance of the power of the princes
and the real power behind their thrones.
In the real world, the princes had very little
power, and so they turned inward on their
own little territories and lives, living as if there
was no tomorrow in an unreal world of pomp
and splendour which had no substance.
By the end of the 19th century British architects were mingling European
and Indian styles in the structures they designed in India.
indian architectural features also found their way into British buildings,
most notably into the fantasy Royal Pavilion in Brighton, rebuilt after
1817 for George IV when Prince of Wales. However, Indian influence can
be seen in many other buildings.
Buddhism and Buddhist architecture from India was spread to many
Asian countries like Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Indonesia
Islamic architecture in India took many influences from indigenous styles
and the mixed styles found their way to Islamic countries.
Edwin Lutyens’s Delhi design and Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh and other
architecture influenced Modern architecture and urban design of the
world(Although the Punjabi provincial capital of Chandigarh has not
been the model for future Indian urbanization that Le Corbusier
intended, his deep interest in the problem of creating a monumental
government complex for a new state in the first modern postcolonial
nation has had many consequences for architecture around the world.)