more impressive and elegant. In many northern states Chhatris are a basic element of the Hindu
architecture. The general belief is that such chhatris are symbolic of affluence and ornamentation with no utility value at all.
The term chhatri, used for the canopy-like structures, is a Hindustani word literally meaning umbrella or elevated dome-shaped pavilion and are found through out the northwestern region of Rajasthan as well as in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Chhatris have been around us for a long time and their origin goes back as far as 2000 years at Fort Kangara.During the Mogul period, the rulers were much impressed by Chhatris and integrated them in their Mogul design. This is corroborated by their use in
|Bada Bagh, Rajasthan, omdesertresort.com|
Above image: Bada Bagh means ‘Huge Garden’. built during Maharawal Jait Singh’s period in the beginning of 16th century. Jait Singh's son Lunakaran completed it after his father's death. The garden served as a memorial where the nobles and their families were cremated.......................
in most of the mausoleums of Mogul Emperors which have two burial chambers, the upper one with a cenotaph, as in Humayun's Tomb, Delhi, or the Taj Mahal, Agra, while the real tomb often lies exactly below it, or further removed. Similarly, in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, chhatris are built over the cremation sites of affluent and distinguished individuals. Such structures are simple and consist of one dome supported by four pillars. Some buildings may contain many domes and a basement with several rooms.
|Chhatris at corners, Fatehpur Sikri palace en.wikipedia.org|
|Maharani ki Chhatri: Royal Cenotaph, Jaipur.mapsofindia.com/|
Above image: The historical site of Maharani ki Chhatri, located on the Amber Road near the Jal Mahal, Jaipur is a special area for funeral for the Maharanis or the royal ladies. The cenotaphs were the status symbol for such women. They are built using diverse materials. While some were made from pure white marbles, the others were built with local stones depending upon the importance of the women in the nobility. The popular belief has been that a cenotaph would be finished with a roof structure
only if the queen died before her king. In case
she died after the ruler, the roof would remain unfinished. This was true of Rajput rulers of by-gone era.....................................
Insofar as you define Chhatris architecturally, two different things emerge. The widely understood meaning is of a memorial, usually well embellished, ornate, built over the funeral or cremation site of an important personage. Such memorials usually consist of a platform ringed by a set of ornate pillars which support a stone canopy. The other known meaning is of small pavilions that adorn the corners and roof
of the entrance of major buildings. It is to be noted that such pavilions are purely decorative in nature and have no utility value and are a classic folly, trumpeting the status and wealth of the owner. They commonly carry elements of pride and presumption. In the case of ruling classes, they represent honor and dignity as in the case of Jats, Marathas and Rajputs. Hence, they are mostly incorporated in palaces, in forts, or to demarcate funerary sites.
|Chhatri of Maharani Sakhya Rao Scindia,teamgsquare.blogspot.in|
Above image: Chhatri of Maharani Sakhya Rao Scindia,Sivpuri: The Royal Chhatris complex has two beautiful and magnificent Marble Cenotaphs, one dedicated to the Scindia dynasty king Madho Rao Scindia and the other to his mother Maharani Sakhya Rao Scindia. The place is being maintained by the local trust......................................
Having roots in Rajasthani architecture, what was once a symbol of memorials for royalty, Chhatris were later adapted as a standard feature in all buildings in Maratha-ruled states, Rajasthan, and most importantly in Mogul buildings. Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra are good examples. Surprisingly, during the colonial rule many English architects incorporated main elements of Chhatris in designing many building across India.
Anyway, Chhatris, the typical and simple Hindu architectural element native to India, bring out the power of imagination that makes the beautiful buildings come alive with more splendor than ever before.