Royal Chhatardis in BhujRoyal Chhatardis of Bhuj are also known as royal Chattris or Cenotaphs. They are basically monuments dedicated to the lives of warrior Rajput rulers of the Rann. There was a lot of information about the lifestyles of the Maharao clan in these Chattris. Tourists and history lovers frequent these monuments to relive the grand history associated with them.
History of Royal Chhattardis in BhujThe Royalty of Gujarat especially the fierce warrior kings presiding over the Rann of Kutch always had larger than life ways of living their lives. They collected artwork from across the world, held grand festivals, threw lavish feasts, married in abundance (some of the Maharao’s had up to 20 wives) and were generally inclined to see things from a dramatic perspective. This spirit of flamboyance manifested itself after their death as the Kutch royalty preferred grand monuments to be erected in their honor. These monuments are known as Chattris and the literal meaning is “umbrella”. These monuments were built in the blazing salty desert of Rann where there are no signs of vegetation and shade.
The Chattris were supposed to provide relief and shade to the royals after their death as they embarked on their last journey. Care was taken to ensure that all Chattris were spaced out in the Rann and there is at least 7 km minimum distance between each Chattri and the next object. The last rites of all ruling members of the Rajor dynasty were done in these Chhatardis. There is a very interesting legend about Raja Lakhpat who passed away in 1796. He has 15 wives and all of them committed Sati after his pyre was burnt. The main hall inside Maharao Lakhpat’s Chhatardis has his statue along with the statues of his 15 queens’ lies inside his Chhatardi or Cenotaph.
Architecture of the Royal ChhattardisThe word Chattardi in Guajarati and Devnagari means umbrella. The structure of these monuments is a unique mix of Rajputana and Mughlai styles. Most such structures are found in Rajasthan but Bhuj too has some of them as there was considerable power of the Rajputs here. The Chhatardis are usually made of rd sandstone and are filled with intricate cut stone work and carvings. The outer walls of Chattris bear images of hunting scenes, idol worship and animals. Images and carvings of couples are also seen. Architects and historians all over the world regard the Chhatardis to be unique examples of Rajput architecture. There is Islamic influence over the structures of the Chhatardis as turquoise blue has been used to decorate the roof. Geometrical intricate patterns and Jallis are also used for the decoration of these Chhatardis though these elements are typically representative of the Mughal style of architecture. Almost all the Chhatardis has curved lines, domes and arches in their structure.
The bigger Chhatardis have two entrances and several galleries. Some of the Chhatardis were Polygonal in shape and they could not withstand the ravages of the 2001 earthquake. Renovation work still continues at these points though at a very slow pace. The stronger structures remain intact today telling the world their illustrious history.
Location of Royal ChhatardisMost of the Chhatardis lie in a cluster maintaining respectable distance from each other. The best way to reach the Chhatardis is to take a 25 minute walk from the south west direction of the Hamirsar Lake. The prominent Cenotaphs or Chhatardis belong to Lakhpatji, Desarji and Raydbanji II.
There is no specific time to visit the Royal Chattris though you might want to avoid the afternoons as they are extraordinarily hot.