Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) Maratha buildings and Jharokhas

The Thanjavur Maratha kingdom in present-day Tamil Nadu, India, was ruled by the Marathas from the 17th to the 19th century and the earlier rulers were the Nayaks.  Established by Shivaji's half-brother Venkoji, the first ruler of the Maratha dynasty in  1675, being devout Hindus their contribution in the realm of art, dance, music and architecture was vast.  They were patrons of many historical temples and established many,  notable being the Punnainallur Mariamman kovil (consecrated by Sri Sadashiva Brahmendral)  and Sri Ramar kovil (huge moolavar images of the deities are made of Saligram donated by the Nepal king to king Pratap singh) at Punnainallur near Thanjavur city. Extensive research was done on languages including Tamil and Marathi and Carnatic music began to gain popularity during their rule. 

IIt was during their period the local architecture primarily of Nayak style with huge pillars and arches  underwent additional changes. Besides using mural artwork and paintings the palace originally built by the Nayak saw expansion and unique architectural elements not native to this region whe the marathas took over the administration.. 

To augment the beauty of the facade of the buildings in the palaces, the Marathas were the first to introduce the concept of hanging windows with lattice screens  during their reign. What is called
Jharokha, a native classical decorative element of Rajasthan  is a type of overhanging enclosed balcony (with fully or half covered roof) used in the facade of palaces and havelis overlooking the street or huge open courtyard inside the palaces. Robert Fellowes Chisholm Charles Mant, Henry Irwin, William Emerson George Wittet Frederick W. Stevens whose imagination and expertise made a mark in all major cities in India took keen interest in Rajasthani architectural features.  Along with domed Chhatris, towers impressive Onion (Bulbous) Domes, Overhanging Eaves,  Pointed Arches, Cusped Arches, or Scalloped Arches Vaulted Roofs,  decorative Jharokhas were used by them as part of Indo-saracenic architecture - a combination of European-Hindu-Muslim design elements native to India. 

Jharokha, Open courtyard Junagarh Fort Bikaner Rajasthan India

Jharokhas were often set on the outer wall of the palace on the upper floors by the rulers to observe ceremonies and events taking place in the courtyard or street below. During the reign of Maratha rulers, Jharokhas were commonly used in the palaces and other buildings constructed in Thanjavur. Though arcade halls and huge pillar were common during the Nayak period, the Maratha palace was characteristic of other features like domes supported on squinches and  tri-coloured columns with the decorative column capital.

Jharokha with lattice window, Rajasthan.

Above image: Ornately carved stone window or Jharokha overhanging balcony Harem window to allow women to see but not be seen. Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India.

Thanjavur Art gallery, Thanjavur Maratha Palace: 

Thanjavur Maratha palace, Thanjavur

Above image: Pillared Courtyard of Art Gallery at Palace of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. Note the semi-projected balconies at higher elevation. 

RMH Eye hospital, Thanjavur:

Govt. Eye Hospital Thanjavur.

Above image: The Jharokha windows projecting from the wall face of a building on the first floor. RMH Eye Hospital, Gandhiji Road, Thanjavur - third oldest in the world. second oldest in the world being that of the  Royapettah  Eye  hospital, Chennai, now more than 200 years old was founded in 1819 by Robert  Richardson.  Because of space crunch it was shifted to Chennai Egmore hospital. The Eye hospital in Thanjavur is the  third oldest in the world!! 

Established in 1880 during  the Raj under direct administration from London, the RMH was built on  a land donated by the then Maratha queen of Thanjavur -   Rani Kamatchi Bai Saheba - grand daughter of Rajah Serfoji - II, who ruled Thanjavur and also practiced 'Native Medicine and Ophthalmology.'  In 2019 the building completed 100 years of existence.

Maratha building (Amarsingh's home), Thiruvidaimarudur village  TN:

Amarasimha’s retirement home.Jharokha. Thiruvidaimarudur,  TN

Amarasimha’s retirement home.Thiruvidaimarudur,  TN

Above image: Centuries old Maratha building in Thiruvidaimarudur town, near Kumbakonam, TN. Note the well-made Jharokha on either side on the first floor flanked by stucco figurines in court costume. These lattice type openings  were meant to observe the religious procession, temple events of nearby Mahalingaswami. Temple,etc. Locally called  Amarasimha’s retirement home, he is said to have died in in 1802. In the 1950s and 1960s I used to visit the places near by from my mother's native village Veepathur and the building was fairly in good shape. presetly, due to poor upkeep, this heritage building in in ruins and redemption is a tough job.
Built in 1787 by  King Tulaja II of Thanjavur the building was used by his brother Amarasimha, a regent during his exile 1797  here. His attempted to take over the kingdom from minor heir to the throne Serfoji ended in fiasco because of English company's interference through Fr. Schwartz, a German missionary  stationed in Thanjavur. 

Saarja madi, East main street, Thanjavur: 

1825 drawing, Jharokha, Saarja Maadi, Thanjavur Maratha palace

Saarja Madi, Thanjavur palace,

Saarjah Madi is, a 5 story brick-masonry structure with roofed projected decorated balconies  is part of the Thanjavur palace complex. Facing busy the East Main  street close to the entrance to the palace complex, it is a landmark building in this  locality. The striking feature of this tall building is its roofed projected balconies this architectural element is not native to this region.  This type of design feature of the building is called  Jharokha. They were set with jaali or lattice stone or wooden screen  mostly in the women's quarters  so that their privacy could be maintained while watching events like religious or palace procession  going down the street. right blow the balconies one can see details  on the stone work. In many places jharokhas are supported by decorative brackets or some kind of projection. 

Mangala Vilas, Thanjavur: 

Mangala vilas building South main st. Thanjavur.

Mangala Vilas building,  on the South Main street, Thanjavur city, just across the City Union bank building on the left side of the street facing north direction is a non-classified heritage building built by the royal family of the Thanjavur Maratha Dynasty. Note the chhatries and Jharokha windows. Chhatri, with umbrella like canopy  is a  Hindustani word (literally meaning umbrella or elevated dome-shaped pavilion) and is  found throughout 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 built by the royal Rajput family of Kangra State (the Katoch dynasty)in the Himalayan region. 
.Kangara ancient  Fort, Himachal Pradesh.