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Anthapura In Palace – Living Quarters Of Queens Of Hindu Kings

The living quarters of queens of Hindu kings in palace was known as Anthapura. These special apartments for royal women were not accessible without permission. Arthashastra of Kautilya talks about anthapura. An official put in charge of this particular section of the palace was known as anthapura adhyaka or kanchukin. In ancient Hindu kingdoms, the anthapura adhyaka, was an elderly man, generally depicted in literature as a benevolent and fatherly friend to the king and women. He arranged for security, protection and the welfare of the women in anthapura.

It must be noted here that the official of anthapura was not a eunuch. This was a common practice in many other civilizations but not in Hindu palaces.

The main use of anthapura was to provide the much needed security to women from regional rivalries and marauding foreigners.

Literature related to palace life state that the women in Anthapura led a free life. The chief queen was the most powerful person in the Anthapura. Sanskrit texts describe women of anthapura reading, writing, painting and composing songs. They are depicted as being well-versed in arts, music, dancing, painting, garland making and they also had opinion on various matters related to the kingdom.

The women also were taught the art of self defense and the use of bow and arrow, spear and sword.

Malavikagnimitram refers to kings and women of anthapura performing dramas in anthapura as a means of spending time and entertaining themselves.

Anthapura continued to exist in royal families in native states in India up to the 20th century.

SourcePosition of Women in Hindu Civilization (1999) – A S Altekar – Motilal Banarsidass New Delhi