THE ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE OF RAJASTHAN
We are bound with the imposing beauty of Indian architecture and one of its striking features is “Jharokha“. In actual terms, it is a traditional overhung (enclosed or semi enclosed) balcony and sometimes projecting outside as a Bay Window from upper stories of historical monuments of the medieval era particularly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya pradesh.
Jharokhas are used extensively in Rajasthani forts, Havelis and Temple architecture to serve the purpose of beauty and allow women to overlook streets, markets or courtyards without being seen themselves. Predominantly the Jharokhas are stone structures, specifically sandstone which are supported by brackets and have two pillars and pilasters intricately carved, ornamented and sometimes closed with geometric patterned Jalies or latticework.
OIRGIN OF JHAROKHA :
The origin of these fenestration are still uncertain but researchers found jharokhas associated with the multistory structures and balconies of 3rd century BC of Mauryan empire. Similar structures/ windows are also found in Islamic architecture which are known as “Mashrabiyas”.
JHAROKHA DARSHAN :
Jharokha served as a way of direct communication with the common public to the kings of Mughal empire including Humayun and Akbar . This practice is popularly known as “JHAROKHA DARSHAN” or JHAROKHA-I-DARSHAN. Paintings depicting Mughal emperors sitting in a jharokha are extremely popular till date.
JHAROKHA – SIMILAR TO MASHRABIYA:
Researchers find the presence of oriel windows similar to Indian Jharokhas in traditional Arabic architecture, since the Middle Ages. These are commonly known as “Mashrabiya” (Arabic: مشربية). and Al Rawashin (Roshan). Such windows are often seen in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. We have discussed Mashrabiyas elaborately in our other post.
CLIMATE FRIENDLY DESIGN:
Most common architectural feature in desert climate, Jharokhas are designed to minimize the direct wind flow and sunlight inside the building. Jalis (screens) are important fixation in order to bring channeled cool air inside the structure. This module was used in hot and dry climate zone as a traditional Thermal comforter. Jharokhas are designed as “overhung” to use them as outer facade with openings for ventilation which also provide shade to the underneath building facade. Its main drapery is its intricate carving which makes it an outstanding architectural character.
PRESENT DAY JHAROKHAS:
Modern day designers find Jharokhas as their most favorite design element used in traditional, royal or vintage decor. Jharokhas are vastly appreciated in aesthetics in the forms of ornate windows, creating false windows, designer frames, prabhavali patterns, wall hangings, murals and so on. All kinds of fancy jharokhas are easily available in the market nowadays ranging from clay, wood, marble, metal to much expensive silver and gold foil decorations.
RAJPUTI AESTHETIC ELEMENT:
The glorifying Jharokhas of Rajasthan hereby gives us a matchless Rajputi aesthetic element to showcase the royalty and grandeur of our architectural heritage. “Jharokha” travels a long way to different sub-continents carrying the architectural influences, forms, materials, techniques, features of each empire and developed into its current form.
So, when next time you get to peep through any “Jharokha” be sure to recollect the rich history it carries within itself.
Hope you enjoy the article. Feedbacks are appreciated.
[Inspiration: TRACING THE ORIGIN OF JHAROKHA WINDOW USED IN INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT by Zain Zulfiqar School of Architecture University of Lahore Lahore, Pakistan]