By Somali K Chakrabarti
“And here, over the portals of my fort,
I shall cut in stone the word
which is to be my beacon and my banner.
The word which will not die should we all perish in battle..”
– Ayn Rand, The sacred word
Taking on from my last post on Forts and Palaces in Rajasthan – Pictures from the 19th century Part I, here I continue further with the imaginary leap back in time, and present pictures and photographs from the 19th century of the historic forts and palaces of Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bundi, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer.
Engraving of Padmini’s Palace in Chittorgarh, by Edward Francis Finden and Patrick Young Waugh, ca 1829
Chittorgarh was the capital of the Mewar kingdom from the 8th to the mid-16th century. The target of successive invaders throughout the medieval period, it was sacked by both Ala-u’d-din Khalji in 1303 and Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in 1535, and was finally taken over by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1567.
Chittor Fort, built on the the hilltop of Chittorgarh, has structures that dating from ca. 1300. Padmini’s palace is located within the fort at Chittor. Queen Padmini, the wife of Rana Ratan Singh I (r.1302-3) was a victim of the first siege of Chittorgarh in 1303 by Ala-ud-Din Khalji.
Oil painting on paper depicting Palace gate of Udaipur by Marianne North, dated January 1879
Udaipur was founded by Maharana Udai Singh (ruled 1567-72) in the mid-16th century as the fourth and last capital of the Mewar state after Chittorgarh, the previous capital, was taken over by the Mughals. Situated in a valley containing three lakes: Lake Pichola, the Fateh Sagar and the Umaid Sagar and surrounded by hills, Udaipur makes a picturesque site.
Built on the east shore of Lake Pichola is The City Palace, the main royal residence in Udaipur.
Photograph of the Rai Angan or King’s Porch, City Palace at Udaipur, taken by O.S. Baudesson in ca. 1882
The colossal complex of the City Palace, was begun by Udai Singh and the construction extended until the 18th Century. The impressive series of buildings are made of granite and marble in the Rajput and Mughal style of architecture. Inside the palace is a maze of reception halls, residential suites and internal courts.
Many palaces, built on small islands on the lake, were used as summer retreats and pleasure pavilions.
Jagmandir at Udaipur, photograph taken by unknown photographer in ca.1900.
Jag Mandir, built in 1551, is a floating palace on the southern part of Lake Pichola. Arcades with cusped arches, and a line of stone elephants above the water-level marks the perimeter of the island.
Gul Mahal, the main palace on the island, is a small sandstone pavilion. The palace was built in a Mughal style and completed under Maharana Jagat Singh I in the middle of the 17th century.
Engraving of the Kumbhalgarh Fort, by Edward Francis Finden and Patrick Young Waugh in ca. 1829
The spectacular Rajput hill fort of Kumbhalgarh is perched on top of the Aravalli Hills and reaches a height of over 3000 feet. Built in the 15th century by Maharana Kumbha (1419-63), the complex extends over 12 km and includes many palaces, gardens and temples.
‘A massive wall, with numerous towers and pierced battlements…encloses a space of some miles extent below, while the pinnacle or sikra rises…tier above tier of battlements, to the summit, which is crowned with the Badul Mahl or ‘cloud-palace’ of the Ranas.‘
– Colonel James Tod’s description of Kumbhalgrah Fort
Water-colour drawing by G.F. Lamb of the east view of the Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan, dated c.1890.
The city of Jodhpur has been the capital of Marwar (Land of death) in western India since the 15th century. It lies on the Delhi-Gujarat trading route on the edge of the Thar Desert and sprawls across a plain surrounding an isolated rock.
The formidable Meherangarh Fort stands on a rock which rises abruptly from the surrounding plain. The high sheer walls and massive bastions dominate the city and can be seen for miles around.
Palace buildings in the Meherangarh Fort at Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Photograph taken by Lala Deen Dayal in the 1880s
This is a close-up view of palace buildings, showing the filigree effect of the screens set against shallow balconies with curved bangaldar eaves. The facades are distinguished by the extensive use of jalis, perforated stone screens carved with intricate patterns.
Pictures and Information Source : The British Library,
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