The mixture and brilliance of Rajasthan's architectural heritage can amaze a visitor. Majestic forts, intricately carved temples and havelis (meaning mansion) and even step well make Rajasthan a paradise for an architecture buff. The desert state of Rajasthan is a land of irony and extremes.
This vibrant and striking region is the home of the Rajput warrior clans who had ruled here for many years. Rajasthan is also home to some of India's most romantic cities. The Rajputs were prolific builders and have dotted the arid Aravali landscape with their legacy of some most imposing and magnificent forts and palaces in the world.
Today the structures defy time to tell the story of gallantry, courage and tragedy of the bygone era and its story of survival in the harsh Thar Desert.
The architecture is basically secular and draws a lot on stimulation from the Mughals, while later day architecture also embraces European interiors.
These structures encompass mahals (palaces), zenanas (women’s quarters), diwan-I-aam (public audiences), diwan-I-khas (private audiences), sils (galleries), mandir (temples), bagh (garden) chatris and ramparts for display and parades.
The great architectural movement which swept Rajasthan from the 8th to the 11th century was really a later flowering of the virile development inspired by the Guptas during the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. The 8th and 9th century also saw new styles of temples emerging from the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty from Mandore.
Temples built around this time also include temples at Chittorgarh and Osiyan in western Rajasthan. The familiar feature of these temples is single sikhara or spire and intricately carved outer chamber called the mandup before the inner sanctum. In many temples the main temple would be surrounded by series of small and finely carved temples.
A good example of these are Kalika Mata Temple and Kumbha Shyam temples in the Chittorgarh fort. Temples at Kiradu in western Barmer known as Solanki style are known for sculptured frescos. The best example in this is the Someshvara Temple, which has fine sculptured fresco, and a multi tiered spire.