low angle photography of red multi storey building
ARCHITECTURE

“JHAROKHA” – A TRADITIONAL BAY WINDOW

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. They sometimes acts as a Bay windows by projecting outside 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. They 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 Jalli or latticework.

jharokha
Fort Mehrangarh – Jharokhas at the palace facade showing lattice work

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”.

Maheshwar_Fort_-_Jharokha
MAHESHWAR FORT JHAROKHA

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 DARSHAN
JHAROKHA DARSHAN- Maharaja Bakht Singh of Marwar at the jharokha window of the Bakhat Singh Mahal, Nagaur, Wikipedia

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.

MASHRABIYA-ARAB
MASHRABIYA-TUNISIA

We have discussed Mashrabiyas elaborately in our other post.

THE INTRCACY:

Jharokha offers excellent intricacy inside magnificent forts, multiplying the medieval beauty a many times.

px Jharokha artwork inside Jaisalmer Fort
INTRICATE JHAROKHA ARTWORK INSIDE JAISALMER FORT, WIKIPEDIA

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.

RM Handicraft Wooden Home Decor Picture Photo Frame Jharokha Rameshwaram Marble
RM Handicraft Wooden Home Decor Picture Photo Frame Jharokha Rameshwaram Marble, Amazon

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.

JHAROKHA- JAISALMER FORT
JHAROKHA- JAISALMER FORT

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

IMAGES: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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