Havelis - A Living Tradition of Rajasthan

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Item Code: IHJ072
Author: Shikha Jain
Publisher: Shubhi Publications
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 8182900123
Pages: 196 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W & Colour)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.2 inch X 8.6 inch
Book Description
From the Jacket

Beyond the forts and palaces, innumerable havelis weave the urban fabric of the medieval towns in Rajasthan. These havelis of the nobles and courtiers are unparalleled in architectural beauty and provide in interesting insight into the domestic architecture of Rajasthan.

The book is the first comprehensive, regional work on these mansions of the courtiers spread in the historic towns of Rajasthan. It traces the evolution and transformation of the havelis in the alternating context of unified Rajasthan and its sub regional diversities. The documentation of several havelis in different regions of Rajasthan in different regions of Rajasthan is further supported by an examination of the haveli form to show how the regional variations arise from social, political and geographical factors such as occupation, caste, topography, and available material.

The book draws on information collected from regional texts, fictions and folklore depicting social life, extensive fieldwork including of a survey of more than 150 havelis in different towns of Rajasthan and interviews with several haveli residents. It covers major cities of Rajasthan such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Udaipur as well as a number of smaller towns and thikanas of earlier times. This book presents a first hand, detailed and documented version of the traditional ‘Haveli form’ of Rajasthan for the exploring tourist who wants to look beyond the obvious destinations and for the architects, art historians and conservationists looking at vernacular architecture in search for regional roots.

Shikha Jain studied architecture from School of planning and architecture, New Delhi and later finished Masters in Architecture from Kansas State University, USA. Her doctoral work on the traditional havelis of Rajasthan from Prasada, De Montfort University, UK has been awarded the IIA Research Award 2003 by the Indian Institute of Architects.

She is involved in architectural research and teaching. A number of her articles on heritage and conservation have been published in architecture journals. She is also editor or Context: Built, Living and Natural, a biannual refereed journal on built heritage and environment and consultant to INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Gurgaon Chapter.


Among the traditional house forms of South Asia, the north Indian haveli is undoubtedly the most widely known, because of its strongly characteristic form, the fascinating social patterns that it embodies, and the sheer beauty of its manifestations. A number of detailed studies of the form have appeared in recent years; yet until now, there has been no serious overview of the subject. It is in the present-day state of Rajasthan that the surviving heritage is most magnificent, but no previous attempt has been made to build up an overall picture for the whole of the state.

The architectural diversity among the different regions of Rajasthan is evident even to tourists, but nobody until now has systematically analysed a representative range of havelis from each region, or characterized the differences in planning, structure, materials and architectural language. The challenge of such a broad study is to make sense of bewildering variety not only geographically, across space, but simultaneously to understand the changes that have happened historically, though time.

Shikha Jain has undertaken this task, and the material presented in her book represents a phenomenal amount of fieldwork and painstaking analysis. Simply to have given us a coherent picture of what is there- While explaining the urban context; use of materials, constructional techniques- is a great achievement. Not content with this alone, or to consider architectural comprehensiveness a sufficient degree of wholeness, Dr. Jain has also wrestled with the relationship between built form and cultural, social and political forces. Her work sets an example for comparable overviews covering other parts of India.

Needless to say, this study appears at a time when much of the architectural heritage that it presents is disappearing, and it is to be hoped that this book will contribute to a greater realization of the value of these environments, and to the cherishing of what remains. These buildings are irreplaceable. At the same time, traditional domestic buildings such as the havelis have much to teach architects and planners of today, and if more than superficial lessons are to be drawn, then serious studies as the present one are sorely needed.


Foreword by Prof. Adam Hardy
Chapter 1: Introducing the Place, patrons, and the Archetype 13
Chapter 2: Haveli, Neighbourhood and Town 37
Chapter 3: Rituals and Spaces inside the Haveli 55
Chapter 4: Composing the Haveli 75
Chapter 5: Building the Haveli 127
Chapter 6: Havelis beyond the Boundaries 151
End Notes 163
Bibliography 165
Glossary 169
List of Havelis 175
Town Typology 185
Sub-regional Terms used for Haveli spaces 192
Traditional construction Terms 194
Sample Pages

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