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TRACING THE ORIGIN OF JHAROKHA WINDOW USED IN INDIAN SUBCONTINENT

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  • University of Lahore, Lahore

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p>The Jharokha is a distinctive feature of the architecture of Indian Sub-continent of medieval times. The study of the built heritage features is a way to discover and know about the old culture and society. A Jharokha is an oriel window projecting from upper storeys of a building used in medieval Indian architecture. Jharokha window projecting from the wall face of the building in an upper storey overlooking a street, market or any other open space. This study aims to trace the origin of traditional Jharokha window used in Indian subcontinent. In order to do it, the available data and literature have been carefully reviewed and studied to draw inferences. This study shows that the trend of a protruding window similar to Jharokhas seems to be present in different regions with their regional architectural flavor. The Indian architecture has influenced by various empires, and a lot of external influences came to this region because of the trade route. The external and regional influences have been studied to investigate the Jharokha window origin and form. The 3rd century BC balconies in Mauriyan Empire seems to amalgamate with the windows of Islamic architecture and developed finally into a local window form in the shape of Jharokha. The style and features of Jharokha vary concerning the local material and techniques available. The different era and different regions adopted this window form according to their own needs and aesthetics.</p
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JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE
P-ISSN: 2086-2636 E-ISSN: 2356-4644
Journal Home Page: http://ejournal.uin-malang.ac.id/index.php/JIA
70 | Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018
TRACING THE ORIGIN OF JHAROKHA WINDOW USED IN INDIAN SUB-
CONTINENT
| Received January 24th, 2018 | Accepted April 19th, 2018 | Available online December 15th, 2018 |
| DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.18860/jia.v5i2.4763 |
Zain Zulfiqar
School of Architecture
University of Lahore
Lahore, Pakistan
alivearch@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
The Jharokha is a distinctive feature of the architecture of Indian Sub-
continent of medieval times. The study of the built heritage features is a way
to discover and know about the old culture and society. A Jharokha is an oriel
window projecting from upper storeys of a building used in medieval Indian
architecture. Jharokha window projecting from the wall face of the building in
an upper storey overlooking a street, market or any other open space. This
study aims to trace the origin of traditional Jharokha window used in Indian
subcontinent. In order to do it, the available data and literature have been
carefully reviewed and studied to draw inferences. This study shows that the
trend of a protruding window similar to Jharokhas seems to be present in
different regions with their regional architectural flavor. The Indian architec-
ture has influenced by various empires, and a lot of external influences came
to this region because of the trade route. The external and regional influ-
ences have been studied to investigate the Jharokha window origin and form.
The 3rd century BC balconies in Mauriyan Empire seems to amalgamate with
the windows of Islamic architecture and developed finally into a local window
form in the shape of Jharokha. The style and features of Jharokha vary con-
cerning the local material and techniques available. The different era and
different regions adopted this window form according to their own needs and
aesthetics.
KEYWORDS:
Jharokha; Indian Architecture; Oriel Window; Mashrabiya; Rawashin;
INTRODUCTION
The objective of this study is to trace the origin
of traditional Jharokha window used in Indian subcon
tinent. It is an eort to explore the vernacular architec
tural feature. The beautiful ornamented historical
houses, havelis and palaces are gems, which contain
signicant architectural features. The study of a single
traditional element of Jharokhas in traditional dwell
ings, havelis, and other buildings give us a lot more
information about traditional architecture and the lives
of people of the past.
Jharokha is a decorated fenestration used in
the Indian subcontinent. The denition of Jharokhas
varies slightly in dierent architectural glossaries and
encyclopedias. Jharokha is an architectural frame for
the appearance of the emperor, but in houses, its use
is an as cantilevered balcony, its conventional shape is
that of an overhanging oriel window supported by
brackets or corbelling. A Jharokha is a type of over
hanging enclosed balcony used typically in Mughal
architecture and Rajasthani architecture and later used
a lot in IndoIslamic residential architecture.
Jharokha is a jalied stone window projecting
from the wall face of the building in an upper storey
overlooking a street, market, court, or any other open
space. It is supported on two or more brackets, or cor
belling that has two pillars and two pilasters or balus
trade and a cupola or pyramidal roof, technically closed
by jalies but generally partly open for inmates to peep
out to see passing processions [1].
Gill et al. have researched Jharokha window,
but it was specied only about the glazed tiles on it [2].
AlMurahhem also did the investigation, but it was just
about the construction [3]. Kaur did the same thing but
only talked about the role of the window in providing
light and natural ventilation [4]. None of those
researchers studied the origin of the window so that it
will be the focus of this research.
METHODOLOGY
This current research investigated regarding
the possible origin of this specic window form and
how it was opted and used in Indian Subcontinent. It is
impossible to trace and map all the jharokhas so for
this particular study Jharokhas of renowned struc
tures, and places in the Indian subcontinent are consid
ered. This research aims to study the traditional Jharo
khas types and the variation within dierent era and
Zain Zulfikar
Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018 71
regions. It is an eort to explore traditional architec
ture. The conventional ways of thinking and buildings
were much better than the present day. We are una
ware of our very own traditional living pattern, materi
al, and even traditional consideration while building.
The available data and literature have been
carefully reviewed and studied to draw inferences to
trace the origin of the window form. The projected bay
window has been used extensively in dierent regions
though not precisely similar to Jharokha but having a
lot of similarities. The external and regional inuences
have been studied to investigate the Jharokha window
origin and form.
TYPICAL STRUCTURE OF JHAROKHA WINDOW
The form and features of Jharokha window
vary from district to district and even from one house
to another in the same vicinity depending upon the
taste of the resident. Some of the parts are standard in
all Jharokha while others elements are additional and
optional making one Jharokha dierent from another.
A typical section of the Jharokha used in subcontinent
is given in gure 1.
Figure1AtypicalsectionthroughJharokhawindow[5]
The Jharokha is divided into three parts, i.e.:
 The base or support under the platform in the form
of bracket or corbelling
 The platform and the elements it holds
 The canopy or pyramidal roof at the top
USES OF JHAROKHA WINDOW
Jharokhas used to protrude forward from the
wall plane. It could be used both to enhance the aes
thetics of the building itself or for a specic purpose.
One of the most critical functions that could be found
in old times, the window could provide privacy that
allowed women to see the events outside without
being seen by others. In Palaces, these windows could
also be used to position archers and spies.
Jharokha is using due to
Aesthetic appearance
Climatic aspects
Elevation treatment
The Jharokha window is not merely an aesthetic ele
ment; in fact, it also caters the function of privacy and
had a thermal benet over another kind of windows.
The earlier constructions of the houses were kept as in
they used to provide natural heating & cooling with
crossventilation. The jaalis and Jharokhas are not only
for privacy and decorative purpose but also for ventila
tion. The Jharokhas acts as climatic moderator allow
ventilation and restrict direct sun into the interior.
The main reason behind using Jharokha seems
to be climatic as it protects the structure from direct
sunlight and allows air to enter the main space. This
fenestration used in hot and dry climate zone. The
surface exposed to the sun minimized by repetitively
using this element. The outer façade of the building
used to be a layer with this kind of projecting over
hang, jaalis and small openings in it works for ventila
tion purpose — the outer layer heated in the daytime
and radiant heat back to the environment. If there are
no layers to protect the building, it heats up because of
direct sunlight into space. However, organizing sec
ondary areas adjacent to outer layer it acts as transi
tional space, keeping the comparative coolness inside
the primary spaces. The Jharokha not only protect the
building envelope from direct sunlight but also provide
shade to the area underneath. It is because of its form
that no direct sunlight can enter into the building [4].
Batool mentioned Jharokha in passive tech
niques used to maintain thermal comfort in traditional
buildings in Lahore. She elaborated that in detail that
the traditional buildings sustained thermal comfort
through architectural elements like jalis (screens), ve
randas, jharokhas (balconies), fountains, plants, chajjas
(overhangs), courtyards and basements. The windows
were unglazed but covered with jalis (screens) and
opened into jharokhas (balconies) that allowed ventila
tion but prevented direct glare. The ltered amount of
light able to enter into the building envelope [6].
ORIGIN AND INFLUENCES (JHAROKHA WINDOW)
BALCONIES (MAURYAN EMPIRE)
There is no clear evidence of the origin of
Jharokha window which tells when and where it is
used for the rst time. The balconies are used in Mau
ryan Empire in the third century BC as shown in gure
2, which comprise of western and northern India. The
Jharokha window may be an extended form of these
balconies.
In many glossaries, it is dened as a feature of
Hindu architecture that is used extensively in Mughal
architecture derived from Hindu architecture. It is a
protruding balcony supported on corbels, with a hood
placed on columns [7][8].
Figure2MultistoreystructuresandbalconiesduringMauryan
Empire,3rdcenturyBCE
Tracing The Origin of Jharokha Window Used in Indian Subcontinent
72 | Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018
However, the Jharokha window seems to
evolve and known in medieval times accurately. The
inuence the Mughal had on Indian architecture can
not be denied. They combined various Persian and
Indian features in their buildings and developed a very
rened style of architecture[9]. Jharokha might be one
of that local feature which is highlighted after they
used it in their grand structures.
JHAROKHA DARSHAN (MUGHAL EMPIRE)
There is no clear evidence regarding whether
the Jharokha window used in residences originate
from Jharokha Darshan or not. But it seems that from
emperor palaces and houses, the Jharokha reaches to
the people residence and then to the public homes.
The Mughal emperors adopted the tradition of appear
ing before the balcony from the Hindu kings. It used to
be a daily practice for the King of that time, where they
have to look in Jharokhas to address their subjects. It
was considered to be such an important tradition that
no matter what the ruler has to appear and could not
miss coming to the Jharokha even if he was ill. Darshan
is a Sanskrit word which means “sight” and
“beholding”. So it was a direct way of interacting with
the audience or subject [9].
It was started during the rule of Humayun and
continued by Akbar (15561605) and his successor until
it was interrupted by Aurangzeb who put an end to it
considering it against Islam. Fatehpur Sikri Akbar used
to appear daily to his subjects at the Jharokha window
at daftar Khana shown in gure 3(a). In New Cam
bridge History of India, it was said that after Ham
mayun’s death, a person resembling the emperor used
to appear at the Jharokha window in Dehli citadel till
the young price Akbar crowned [10].
The tradition was continued during the time of
Jahangir (160527). Not only this, but Jahangirs wife
Nur Jahan also accompanied him at the Jharokha. Shah
Jahan (162858) in his rule of 30 years never missed a
single day to appear at the Jharokha. It was Shah Ja
han’s failure to emerge at the jharokha during his ill
ness in 1657, which led to rumors of his death. This
ritual has put an end by Aurangzeb (16581707) in the
11th year of his reign [11].
In Agra Fort and Red Fort, the Jharokha faces
the Yamuna, and the emperor would stand at
the Jharokha to greet his subjects. At Lahore Fort,
there is also a Jharokha Darshan at DiwanIam as
shown in gure 3 (b) used for the public appearance of
the emperor. One can nd dierent styles of jharokhas
illustrated in Mughal paintings [12].
(a)(b)
Figure3.(a)Akbar’sjharokha,DaftarKhana,FatehpurSikri[13]
(b)JharokhaatDiwaniAam.Source:Author
Sikh rulers in their reign also opted the ritual of
appearing at Jharokha. The Haveli of Maharaja
Naunahal Singh at Lahore also has Jharokha window
used for Emperor Darshan. The use of Jharokha in em
peror’s residences and Havelis in earlier 19th century
seem to lay the foundation of using Jharokha in houses
of ordinary people.
RAWASHIN (MIDDLE EAST)
The oriel window can also be seen in the middle
east region. We also nd bay windows having similari
ty with Indian Jharokhas in Arab architecture. The
trend of the protruding window seems to be present in
that era in dierent regions with their regional archi
tectural avor.
In Saudi Arabia, Rūshān is the name given to a
projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood
latticework in this region. Al Rawashin, singular
(Roshan) meaning is the planned wood cover for win
dows and exterior openings and carried on brackets of
stone. It is a word of Persian origin, meaning the place
permeated with light and it is the wooden structure,
which is a crucial element of the building. It is a struc
ture made of wood, and its units are decorated either
oral or geometrical patterns as shown in gure 4 (a).
Often this structure is cover with the upper oors of
the building’s facade. Al Roshan has two functions
main function that is useful for ventilation, lighting,
and privacy of vision and aesthetics decorate the fa
cades of the buildings [14].
Roshān is the projected wooden window in
large cities in the Hijaz region of Saudi Arabia, Sudan
and Egypt. Roshan is an old term for this kind of pro
jected windows used in most of the traditional Muslim
architecture. In the Mamluk era (12481516) the term
“Roshan” was used in planning and building regulation
documents of the Islamic cities. In Cairo, during this
era, this type of window was ourishing under Islamic
architecture. The Mamluk controlled the trade be
tween India and Venice for more than 200 years. The
trade route was considered as the domain between
Egyptian and the Indian subcontinent, where accord
ing to some scholars experiences between artisans
may have been exchanged as well. It might be possi
ble that is how the concept of projected windows in
Indian regions where it is amalgamated with the Hindu
traditional feature of balconies [15].
Roshan is an old name and later the oriel wood
en projected window named as Mashrabiya and
shanshūl based on their use in dierent regions. This
type of window used to be located on the second sto
rey of a building or higher and lined with stained glass
usually. It is mostly used on the street side of the build
ing; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn
(courtyard) side. The use of this specic window inter
nally as well as externally is such a striking common
feature of both Rushan and Jharokha widow. It can
assume the window feature and inuence may travel
along some Muslim invaders to the Indian subconti
nent. The window is not just the only standard features
between these regions, the central courtyard element
Zain Zulfikar
Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018 73
and many other features strongly depict the link and
inuence that used to be travel between these areas.
One of the main concepts of using Mashrabiya
window was that it provides veils from the outside
world and maintain privacy behind their cool shield of
latticework [16]. These types of windows and the inter
nal spaces created by using such windows were also
considered as a private space for women whose need
for privacy in older cultures. Another purpose and
function of Mashrabiya are that from which it derives
its name, and it was used to cool water and act as a
screen in old times. The word "mashrabiya" comes
from an Arabic root meaning the "place of drinking.”
The water placed inside porous clay pots was cold by
the shade, and the open lattice of a Mashrabiya provid
ed a constant current of air. It was the time when there
were no mechanical means to deal with temperature
and climatic condition. It acts as a window, curtain, air
conditioner, and refrigerator at the same time. It was
so intelligently designed that it was not only used to
cater the strong desert sunlight but also cooled hous
es, water, and people in lands from India to Spain
where, at certain times of the year, people hide from
the sun as others seek shelter from the rain. A typical
Mashrabiya window has been shown in gure 4(b) [17].
(a)(b)
Figure4.(a)TypesofRawashininMakkah
(b)MashrabiyainEgypt
The projected bay window also found in Iraq,
Iran, and Lebanon too with their signicant cultural
inuences in its form. It seems that with Muslim inva
sions and trade route the tradition of Rawashin or the
Mashrabiya came to Indian architecture as Jharokhas.
The critical function of this kind of window is privacy,
and it is the basis of Islamic teaching as well. In the
Islamic way of living privacy, it is the main characteris
tic feature in the house planning. The focus is to make
a place that is private and secure from the outer world
and open inwardly. The women are asked to observe
Pardah (veil) from nonfamily members, and it is advis
able to enter with permission of the owner prior com
ing into their place of residence. The element of
Mashrabiya, Rawashin, and Shanasheel served well the
purpose and concept of privacy in Islam. This kind of
bay window and courtyard planning in residential
structures found in numerous Islamic regions. The
basic idea behind using the elements are same but
often implement with the local cultural art inuences.
Jharokha used in Indian subcontinent also
seems to be an extension of the same Islamic philoso
phy, though its form seems dierent regarding its dec
orative carvings and features. The Jharokha window is
not an extension of the form of the window used in
Islamic regions, but its conceptual idea seems bor
rowed from the Rawashin or Mashrabiya. Jharokha
window has signicant local and regional elements,
which shaped its form that is unique in its way.
ORIEL/ BAY WINDOW (EUROPE)
An oriel window is a window or set of windows
which arranged together and protrude from the face
of a building. They are braced and supported under
neath by a bracket or corbel. The Jharokha window
seems an extension to the oriel window with regional
cultural inuences. The protruding form of the window
at the upper oor of the building is a similar character
istic feature of both Jharokha and oriel window.
An oriel window is a type of bay window originating
during the Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East
as shown in gure 5. This type of window may have
developed from a form of the porch—oriolum is the
Medieval Latin word for porch or gallery. The oriel win
dows are designed and used to catch the movement of
the sun, capturing light and bringing fresh air into Me
dieval architecture. One of the advantages of using bay
windows is that it expands the interior living space
without changing the footprint of a building. The silent
features of oriel window are also quite similar to the
Jharokha window:
Project from the wall
Does not extend to the ground
Supportedby brackets or corbels, often very ornate,
symbolic, and ornamental in Medieval times
Usually on upper oors
Figure5.16thcenturyorielwindowintheCityofLondon
JHAROKHA OF INDIAN-SUBCONTINENT
The prepartition India, which is ruled as one
large state under Mughal and afterward has numerous
structures decorated with beautifully carved Jharo
khas. It is beyond this study scope to summarize all the
buildings with Jharokhas in India or Pakistan through
this research tries to trace down the historical back
ground by covering some of the jharokhas built in the
same era in dierent regions. The Jharokha windows
and bukharcha were used continually in dierent peri
ods in India. This kind of projected windows is used in
almost whole India with some regional inuences irre
spective of the fact that they developed under the
Tracing The Origin of Jharokha Window Used in Indian Subcontinent
74 | Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018
Mughal, Rajput or Sikh emperor. Some Scholars quot
ed that Muslims incorporated the architectural ele
ment of the balconies in dierent regions. In the Sikh
Architecture too balconies and windows can be seen in
many residential and religious structures. Jharokhas
were used at signicant religious structures as well.
The Wazir Khan Mosque located in Dehli gated, walled
city Lahore is one of the oldest structure exist to date
with jharokhas. It was built in seven years, starting
around 1634–1635 AD, during the reign of the Mughal
Emperor Shah Jehan [18].
There is two rectangular Jharokha at both sides
of the entrance as shown in gure 6. They supported
by the four concrete brackets and has a square project
ed roof. The Jharokhas also decorated with glazed tile
similar to the entire mosque decoration. The canopy
domes at Jharokhas has two nials each. Some schol
ars also relate the nials with the regional Indian archi
tecture, which is opted by Mughal in their buildings at
the domes or canopies.

Figure6.JharokhasatMosqueWazirKhan
Source:Author
In the Mughal era, Jharokha is used for Darshan
in forts and as a projected balcony on various build
ings. Usually, the Jharokhas are associated with Raja
sthani architecture because of some signicant havelis
with jharokhas that are built there in the late 18th and
early 19th century.
In Rajasthani architecture, the projected balco
nies and jharokhas were an essential and typical ele
ment. It was used both as decoration and as a viewing
platform. They are the type of open bay windows
which consist of pillars or pilasters supporting the cu
pola or a pyramid roof and have Jali’s made in wood or
stone. These jalis perform three functions. Firstly, it
allows sucient light and air to enter into the room;
secondly, the carvings on it gave it a decorative look
from the exterior; and thirdly, one can peep into the
streets without being seen, especially the Muslim
women cherished every moment of sitting at the
Jharokha who were not allowed to move about the
road without the purdah. One could sit on the Jharo
kha and see passing processions, tamasha or just the
market scene below [4].
In western India, Jharokhas were mainly used in
Palaces, Havelis and Temples. Because of the
latticework in its pane, they brought ltered light into
the indoor space. It brings channeled cool air through
its openings and jaalis, thus catered the climatic
conditions of Rajhisthan area where weather used to
be harsh, and the air was dusty. The entire façade of
havelis and temples used to be covered by projected
windows and platform, so direct sunlight cannot be
entered into the building. The typical jharokhas used in
Havelis and Mahals of Rajhistan are shown in gure 7.
The architecture of the Jaisalmer area is referred to as
IndoIslamic architecture. It has many Mughal features
used with local architectural styles. According to the
signicant development of Jaisalmer area started dur
ing the reign of Mughals where after an initial ght
with Humayun, the Bhattis maintained a cordial rela
tionship with the other Mughal kings including marry
ing them with their daughters. It might be the reason
of crosscultural inuences in art and architectural
forms of western and northern India among Mughals
and Rajputs [19].
(a)(b)
Figure7.(a)JharokhaatHaveliatJaisalmer(b)Jharokhasof
thePatwonkiHaveli,Jaisalmer
The Jharokha form of the window used
extensively in Jaisalmer havelis in the same period
simultaneously it started using in Northern Indian
regions.
The Haveli Zeenat Mahal at Dehli built by last
Mughal emperor Bhadur Shah Zafar for a parental fam
ily of his wife Zeenat in a mid19th century [20]. Though
currently, it is dilapidated, the beautiful jharokhas are
still intact. There are two rectangular jharokhas at each
side with the entrance at the center. Each Jharokha is
supported on four brackets and has a cusped arch with
decorative motif at spandrel. The Mughal features are
very obvious in this form of Jharokha.
The link of Delhi with Lahore cannot be under
mined as both cities developed and ourished during
the Mughal reign. In the Lahore region, there is no
Mughal residential structure left to study its features.
The Zeenat Mahal with Jharokhas shown in gure 8
gives the clear indication that Mughals initially used
this tradition of using Jharokhas in their buildings and
later continued in the form of projected window in
Sikh architecture as well [21].
Figure8.JharokhasZeenatMahal,OldDehli
Zain Zulfikar
Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5(2) December 2018 75
Haveli Naunihal Singh at Lahore was erected
under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a
private residence for his grandson, Naunihal Singh.
Haveli Naunihal Singh is the only preserved Haveli of
Sikh period in Lahore. The Haveli is a lofty colorful
structure with beautiful protruding Jharokhas. It has
four Jharokhas at the front side, three with the
conguration of a larger one at the center and smaller
at sides at rst oor as shown in gure 9. The central
Jharokha which assume to be Jharokha used for Dar
shan is above the main entrance and is the largest one.
The central Jharokha is as large as the entrance under
neath. It has ves panes and a deformed semi
hexagonal shape. Jharokhas from palaces and emper
or’s residences reached nobleman houses and Havelis
and later to common man people houses in the late
19th century to the earlier 20th century.
Figure9.HaveliNauNihalSingh
CONCLUSION
It can be concluded that the Jharokha window
of subcontinent originates as a byproduct of regional
and external inuences. The 3rd century BC balconies
in Mauriyan Empire seems to amalgamate with the
windows in Islamic architecture and developed nally
into a local window form in the shape of Jharokha. The
utility and functionality of using jharokha have the
same concept of privacy for which bay windows were
used with latticework in the gulf area. It shows how
the architectural inuences, philosophies, and
elements travel to dierent regions through trade and
invasions.
The form and features vary concerning the local
material and techniques available. The aesthetics of
dierent region also dier signicantly so as the
detailing of these Jharokhas. The jharokhas of
Rajasthan are dierent from Jharokhas of Lahore. The
dierent era and dierent regions adopted this
window form according to their own needs and
aesthetics.
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... Brackets or corbels support the window projecting out of the façade of the building. (Zulfiqar, 2018). ...
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... However, organizing secondary areas adjacent to outer layer it acts as transitional space, keeping the comparative coolness inside the primary spaces. [9] . Mashrabiya also known as Moorish screens, is the Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher. ...
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