Architecture of Udaipur
The jewel of Mewar - Udaipur is a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty. The foundation of this city follows as per the legend when Maharana Udai Singh met a holy man overlooking Lake Pichola and he blessed and advised him to build a palace near the fertile valley watered by lake within the mountains. Maharana followed his advise and founded the city in 1559 A.D.
Udaipur is a fascinating blend of sights and experiences and have been an inspiration for poets, painters and writers.The palaces, forts, temples and the beautiful embankments on the lakes have a tale to narrate and are worth capturing from an architecture point of view.
Elements of Typical Udaipur Architecture
Haveli: A unique architectural style that evolved around the concept of courtyards is haveli. The courtyard in olden times was used for womenfolks and as their leisure area and sometimes even an open kitchen or garden. To fortify this area, the courtyard was capsuled with rooms and seating areas on the three sides except at the entrance which had its own level of security. This passageway also acted as a air circulatory pathway. The front facade of haveli was always known for its height, majestic arches on the entrance and carved windows to add an air of aristocracy to it.
Courtyard: The haveli mostly had courtyards divided into different sections.
Outside courtyard: This area was used as a hub for domestic animals, evening walks or even for a social gathering.
Central Courtyard: for women or family get together, children's play area, morning pray area or for private events or gathering.
Zenana: This courtyard was mainly considered a part which involved domestic activities like crushing spices, drying masalas, women's get together or grinding wheat.Zenana comprised of intermediate spaces, kitchen, store terraces and private rooms.
Merdana: This courtyard was segregated from the women's and was specially designed for men's get together. Merdana was further sub divided into Diwan e khas, Diwan e aam, Waiting area and private rooms.
Kitchen: The most well ventilated space was the kitchen since the food was cooked in chulhas. Stone slabs were inserted in depressions of walls to act as a storage area.
Fenestration: The windows and doors in major buildings of Udaipur can be seen built in Jharokha style. Entrances were flanked by beautifully crafted arches on huge columns. The Jharokha patterned windows were used by women to overlook the activities of outside as it acted as a brilliant guise for their purdah system.
Architectural Features of Temples in Udaipur
The religious nature and the striking architecture of Udaipur attracts a lot number of tourists even the ones who don't believe in god.The following will give a comprehensive view about the temples.
Jagdish Temple: Inspired by the Indo-Aryan style of architecture, this 3-storied temple comprises of carved pillars, decorated ceilings, painted walls and lush halls. The spire or the shikhar is a noticeable feature festooned with sculptures of dancers, horsemen, elephants and musicians. The entrance is flanked by 2 huge stone elephants and a stone slab with inscriptions.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the shrine is carved out of a single piece of black stone which can be reached only after the marble stairway of 32 steps. The spire, mandap and the porch boasts of its magnificence.
Ranakpur Temple: Largest and most important temples of the Jain culture that is most common culture that prevails in Udaipur, this temple is known for its superb architectural style. Constructed in wholly marble, it is apparent that marble was mostly used in many buildings. Spires and domes are an important feature which are supported by 400 columns. Each column is intricately carved and no columns have a similar design. The whole temple compound is divided into many small temples.
Many other temples like Rishabhdeo temple, Jagat temple, Eklinji Temple an Kankroli temple are known for their magnificent architecture. Columns, spires and huge halls supported by pillars is a common sight in each of them.
Architectural Elements of Forts of Udaipur
Today the forts of Udaipur stand with the same air of excellence as they did hundreds of years ago. The solid foundation have made them resist weather, cyclones and even earthquakes.These invaluable structures are worthy of a sight for the glorious days.
Kumbalgarh Fort- Stated to have the second largest wall in the world, Kumbalgarh Fort is a complex of palaces, temples and gardens. The strong structure and solid foundation of the fort has 7 massive gates, 7 ramparts and designed walls toughened by curved bastions and watch towers.'Badal Palace' has beautiful rooms in hues of green, turquoise and white.
Chittorgarh Fort- The oldest surviving fort comprises 65 historic built structures which are 4 palace complexes, nineteen main temples, four memorials and 20 water bodies. The palaces are well designed and has magnificent cenotaphs and huge towers. Gateways are strong and magnificent.
Architectural elements of Gardens in Udaipur
The gardens of Udaipur are also famous for their architectural wonders in spaces like Gulab Bagh and Sajjan Niwas garden. Saheliyon ki Bari is another wonder with a concept built around needs of ladies. Chhatris and ponds are features implemented to provide shade and coolness for summers. The lush green lawns, marble arts and fountains present a green retreat to the dry land of Rajasthan.
Apart from the building structures, many statues like Maharana Pratap Statue and gateways or Nauchowki around the embankments of the lakes are also famous and attract a number of tourists for its scenic beauty and ancient heritage.