Where Royalty Rests

By Supriya Newar June 26, 2024

Gatore Ki Chhatriyaan—the ornate, domeshaped cenotaphs in Jaipur-never stop fascinating the discerning traveller.

It isn't uncommon to find chhatriyan—loosely understood as cenotaphs, in Rajasthan. There’s Bada Bagh ki Chhatriyan in Jaisalmer, Devkund ki Chhatriyan in Bikaner, Kesar Bagh in Bundi and several others to be found particularly in Shekhawati and western Rajasthan.

But Gatore ki Chhatriyan in Jaipur right under the Nahargarh Fort is unlike others and, most importantly, hardly features on any must-do, must-visit tourist list, making it even more of a rewarding find-and-spo

Royal crematorium

The complex is an open-air cluster of crematoriums where the Rajput royalty of Rajasthan, including the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Jai Singh II rests. Though there isn’t a guide available, the guard issuing tickets informs us that since 1733, every king of the Kachhwaha dynasty has been cremated here. Each of the crematoriums is marked by a cenotaph or chhatri thus giving the site its name. Pigeons sit atop these chhatris and a hard clap sends them flying away in droves only to re-perch at exactly the same spot, within a minute or two

The courtyard has three portions, the oldest being the farthest from the entrance and the grandest, most intricate chhatri being that of Sawai Madho Singh with stone lions guarding the entrance.

Besides its obvious historical significance, what is more stunning is the sheer architectural marvel as well as the quiet, almost contemplative air that resides within the complex. Tourists are far and few between but there is bountiful, lush fuchsia bougainvillea that canopies the pristine white marble structures in brilliant contrast.

An umbrellashaped dome or chhatri tops each of the crematoriums and intricately carved pillars—depicting artists and musicians—support the domes. The marble used is none other than the famed Makrana. The jali work as well as the stone inlay is typical of the architectural idiom of Rajasthan bearing Mughal influences.

An architectural gem

The boundary wall of the Nahargarh Fort is clearly visible from one end of Gatore and by the number of colourful kites stuck at various points; one can safely conclude that kite flying is very much a pastime still in vogue in these precincts.

Though a good 15 km from the Jaipur airport, Gatore ki Chhatriyan is an absolute gem that hides in plain sight and tells the story and glory of Jaipur, evocatively and quietly. Tickets are only R30, and the environs as well as the monuments are fairly clean and well maintained. This landmark is open to all visitors till 5.00 pm everyday other than public holidays.

Given its architectural beauty, it is also a gorgeous spot for photographs as one can go right up to the pillars and walk around freely all over the complex. I, who have had Gatore ki Chhatriyan as my contact display picture since the time I visited this place in the beginning of this year, can easily vouch for this.