Women ‘Architects of History’




If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.

                                                                                                                     -Margaret Thatcher




History is full of facts and fictions about the valiance, art, culture, sacrifice and infrastructure. But, we only read about men playing its part when it comes to heritage. As women too are gaining its pace, many historians, readers and book enthusiasts seem more curious searching for the heritage either built, dedicated or holding a sacrificial story of women.

Several sources and legends came into light glorifying the power of women holding its place in the books of medieval writers and several archaeological sites, ones collecting dust for a long time. Some women legends were Rudramadevi, Queen of Kakatiya Dynasty (Deccan Plateau), Razia Sultan, the first Women sultan of Delhi Sultanate, Virupaksha temple by Lokamahadevi, Rani ka Vav by Udaymati in Gujarat. It also finds mention of women breaking the social norms like saint poetess Mirabai, or Rani Padmavati of  Chittor, preferring death over enslavement.



Some of the Monuments built by the women include:



Virupaksha Temple, Paddatakal built by Lokamahadevi in 740 AD to commemorate her Husband king Vikramaditya II who won over the existing  Pallava Rulers. The temple depicts Vesara Style combining the Dravida and Nagara Style of architecture (https://bit.ly/2PF5Idb)







Rani ka Vav, Patan was built by Udayamati, is well-known for the Beauty of its Staircase. Designed in Maru-Gurjara style for her husband king,  Bhimdev I, of Solanki Dynasty as an inverted temple. Recently this magnificent work has been printed on the new note of Rs 100.







Humayun’s Tomb

was built by wife Hamida Bano Begum in the memory of her husband emperor Humayun who had died after falling from stairs. Built around 15th-16th it is the first Asian Building to use Double Dome Structure.






Chittorgarh narrates the gallantry and heroism of queens and common women staying in the fort. Chitrakuta, early name of Chittor, became a chief centre of power and marks the beginning of the rule by the Rajputs who considered them to be born out of agnikula, BD Chattopadhya.

 ‘Garh toh hai Chittorgarh, Baki sab Garhiya..

Rani toh hai Padmini, baki sab Garhiya’

-Famous saying in Chittor

(Excerpt from book Chittorgarh- the Braveheart of Rajputana)


Padmini Palace,Dedicated to Maharani Padmavati

Warrior has many names and forms. It is not restricted to brilliance in battlefield, some may display utmost devotion towards their motherland and husbands, as in the case of Padmini, the Queen of Chittor.

As the legend goes, she was known for her winsome beauty and pure devotion towards Chittor and her husband Rawal Ratan Singh I. Inclined by her beauty, sultan Alauddin Khilji marched towards Chittor and ransacked the fort with a desire to get Padmini, who immolates herself choosing death over dishonor. Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote Padmaavat some 250 years after Alauddin’s Conquest of Chittor, later used in a distorted manner by the colonialist to make Rajput stand against the Mughals. The beautiful palace of Rani Padmini now stands at the vicinity of a water body, struggling to keep alive its heritage. The movie Padmavat, rings a bell?


Mira Bai Temple


Mirabai, the saint, was purely devoted to lord Krishna right from her childhood days. Later she was married to Bhojaraja who died shortly afterwards. Mirabai went through many negative encounters and was forced to accept all kind of social norms. She fought for her rights and set herself free, left Chittor taking only the Idol of Krishna from the temple. She is said to be have got united   with Krishna forever on 1546 AD.






Raziya Sultana Tomb   

Earlier known as Rani Saji ka Dargah, situated near Turkman Gate, Old Delhi is said to be the grave of RaziyaSultana the first woman sultan of Delhi who succeeded her father Shamshuddin Iltutumish, facing stern opposition from the nobility








On this occasion of heritage week, Niyogi books furthers its aim to build awareness and education by encouraging conservation and preservation especially of those monuments built by or dedicated to the women. Many scholars have been putting efforts to highlight the persona and strength of women from different literary sources holding its   sway but, archaeologically only few are known to us.

I am thankful to Dharmendra Kanwar, the author of Chittorgarh – the braveheart of Rajputana who has highlighted the dedication and sacrifice of the women during medieval era by making archaeological sources its base.





The Temple Architecture and Art of the Early Chalukyas- Badami, Mahakuta, Aihole,Pattadakal by George Michell and some amazing Photography done by Surendra Kumar, who highlights the beautiful architecture of one of the Temple built by a woman.


13 thoughts on “Women ‘Architects of History’

  1. Raziya Sultana tomb is an eye opener.
    Humayun’s Tomb is also the first structure (I guess) built on a red sandstone.

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