Vernacular Architecture of Udaipur

  • Location: Rajasthan, Situated in a valley , surrounded by the Aravalis
  • Climate: Largely hot and arid
  • Type of structure studied: Courtyard Haveli
  • Time of construction: approx. 200 yrs ago , i.e. 1800s

A view of Udaipur City


  • Havelis display a unique architectural style that evolved around the courtyards to ensure safety and privacy of the womenfolk and protection from the heat of the long and harsh summers.
  • Though not indulgent in its embellishments, the front façade has an air of aristocracy to it.


All the following elements are special due to the activities linked with them.


  • The haveli consists of 3 courtyards, viz,
    • One outside the haveli - Meant for tying domestic animals, evening walks, celebrating special occasions.
    • Central courtyard - For family get-togethers, children playing, offering morning prayer, holding feasts.
    • Within the zenana – crushing spices, drying masalas, grinding wheat, get together of the women.


The Merdana and the Zenana





A room in the merdana which has been converted into the kitchen.

  • The kitchen was where the food was prepared and eaten, mutually respected by the members of the house it was never entered into by the men folk.
  • Food was cooked in chulhas.
  • It was well ventilated.
  • There were stones slabs inserted in the depressions in the wall for utensils.

Terraces (Chandni) – opened up for serving food on special occasions, drying of clothes.

  • Jharokhas used by women to overlook the activities in the outer chowk.
  • Brilliant guise for the purdah system.

Beautifully crafted arches (Gokhras)

  • Stack Effect :Courtyard is a low pressure zone during the day, cool air from outside ( low pressure ) replaces this air.
  • Town Planning: It was done such that minimum area in terms of roof and walls is exposed to the sun.


    • The residents have shifted to one part of the house while the rest of it has been locked.
    • They have cut down the tree in the courtyard to prevent nuisance caused by monkeys.
    • No need to maintain rest of the house.
    • Made toilets in existing structure.
    • The kitchen has been shifted and there is a separate dinning room instead of the traditional eating area outside the kitchen (influence of western lifestyle).


    • No need for radical thought / ideas.
    • Blending in with and flowing with the general trend.
    • Emphasis was on community and not on private lives.
    • There was no need for artificial regulators like the A.C. and heaters.
    • Space was not a considerations , so neither were encroachments big issues.
    • Delicate details and intricate carvings were oft found.
    • Most buildings were made with local materials.
    • To show and encourage creativity.
    • Saving space, artificial controls mandatory , thus energy saving has taken a back seat.
    • Privacy is very important.
    • New technology and materials have replaced stone and lime mortar.


Divya Batra's picture
Member since:
21 March 2011

really very nicely compiled study....