The Rajputs were great patrons of art and
architecture, the finest examples being their forts and palaces.
The Rajput palaces are complex compositions built as inner
citadels surrounded by the city and enclosed by a fortified wall
as at Chittorgarh and Jaisalmer. Some forts, such as those at
Bharatpur and Deeg, were protected by wide moats.
The oldest surviving palaces date from the mid-fifteenth
century and are found at Chittor and Gwalior. The Man Mandir,
the largest palace in Gwalior, was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar
(1486-1516). The Man Mandir has two storeys above, and two
below, ground level overhanging a sandstone cliff. This gigantic
cliff is punctuated by five massive round towers, crowned by
domed cupolas and linked by delicately carved parapets. The
whole facade is enriched with brilliant blue tiles.
The palaces of Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota
represent the maturity of the Rajput style. All of these palaces
were built predominantly in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
The huge fortified city of Jaisalmer is situated far out in the
Thar Desert. The buildings are constructed with the local
yellow-brown stone and they have been remarkably preserved owing
to their remote location. The city of Bikaner is encircled by 5.63 km long stone wall in
rich pink sandstone. There are five gates and three sally ports.
The Jodhpur Fort dominates the city, which is surrounded by a
huge wall with 101 bastions, nearly 9.5 km long. The Meherangarh
fort stands on a cliff with a sheer drop of over 36 metres.
The foundation of Jaipur, the fabled "pink city", in 1727 A.D.
represents the final phase of Rajput architecture. Built by Jai
Singh, Jaipur represents a fusion of Eastern and Western ideas
of town planning. The city is enclosed by a wall and has
bastions and towers at regular intervals. The City Palace is at
the center of the walled city and is a spectacular synthesis of
Rajput and Mughal architectural styles. The famous building Hawa
Mahal, or Palace of Winds, (1799) has a five-storeyed
symmetrical facade composed of 953 small casements in a huge
curve each with a projecting balcony and crowning arch. The
Jantar Mantar, the largest of five observatories built by Jai
Singh II in the early eighteenth century, is another interesting
example of Rajput architecture. .