Most of the havelis are done up with jharokhas (casements), entrances, latticed windows, divankhanas, Gumaharias or basements, giving them a most exotic appeal. Their exterior is dominated by the jharokhas, providing the haveli with a most picturesque look. The jharokhas are exquisite carvings made alive by artistic creators. They are generally six feet long and three feet wide, and the smaller the jharokha, the more beautiful it is likely to look. Jali or stones with small hole create a beautiful effect. Almost every haveli has a second story. The most beautiful portion of this part is the mol or mahal. It is adorned with rich gold carvings and is a symbol of status. It was in these mahals that the dancing girls used to give performances in mahfils (parties). Every haveli consists of a number of rooms, big and small, made for special purposes.
Some of the famous havelis situated in the district of Bikaner are the Rampuria Group of Havelies, Rikhji Bagri ki Haveli, Daga chowk havelies, haveli of Bhairondan Kothari and the Sampatlal Agarwal haveli. Another well known haveli here is the haveli of Poonam Chand Kothari.
The most famous cluster of havelies is the Rampuria Group of Havelies. Built by Balujee Chalva under instructions from the Rampuria family, its carvings show surprising skill. Rampuria havelis are many in number and are big in size. Since they are located at nearly adjacent positions, they make a great impression almost like the great havelies of Jaisalmer, the Patwa havelies. There appears an undeniable similarity between the two havelies perhaps because both of them were mainly conceived and built by the Vishwakarma clan. The interior scheme of decoration of the two havelies is very different. The Patwa havelies were built earlier and emphasized on exterior decoration and minute carvings on Jaisalmeri stone while the Rampuria havelies were built of dulmera stone. The Jaisalmeri stone is yellow in colour while the dulmera stone is red.Both are soft redstones. Exquisite and minute carvings come naturally to both the stones. The patwa havelies have more carvings in the interior also. The Rampuria havelies are decorated with golden work of the highest quality. They have dankhanas (Drawing Room) which take us to the Mughal and Rajput period of amalgamation and synthesis. They have Victorian influence in abundance. The wood carvings in Rampuria Havelies are more exquisite and are far more beautiful. Another distinguishing feature is that Rampuria havelies have diverse exterior and each haveli has a pattern of its own. The Patwa havelies have more intricate carvings but the Rampuria havelies show a more varied face.
The Rikhji Bagri ki Haveli has very intricately done beautiful carvings on the facade. The haveli is situated near Mohta Chowk in Bikaner. Though it is not too well-known and is small in size, it is like a poetry written on stone. The carvings of this haveli show the minuteset details in the most delicate manner. Be it a peacock, an elephant, a flower or a pot, every thing is natural and looks enchanting. Arched entrances and captivating jharokhas look more beautiful because of the flowers embossed on them which are extremely realistically done.
Another cluster of havelies which attracts the onlooker is the cluster of Daga chowk havelies. There are a number of havelies in daga chowk. A salient feature of these havelies is the fact that they are scattered. They are adorned with carvings of flowers, such as rose, lotus etc. The carvings on the jharokhas are exqusitely done, a display of fine artistry. The Daga family had a fascination for deewankhanas. The deewankhanas or drawing rooms gave prestige to the family. They were decorated with taste and were their show cases. They were a treasury of art and a matter of their pride. They preserved valuable murals also. They exhibited old and contemporary faces of Indian painting. They also came to demonstrate the increasing English influence.
The European influence is more evident in the haveli of Bhairondan Kothari. Its exterior is not so attractive or artistic, but on entering the haveli one gets captivated by its beauty. The interiors have been adorned by excellent marble work. It imparts fascinating beauty to its floors. Marble tiles are studded in the floors of the haveli. Marble finesse is evident in every corner. Its marble work is unmatched.
These are some of the major havelis situated in the district of Bikaner. These havelis add to the beauty and splendour of the district apart from being a remarkable exhibition of architectural prowess.
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