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Antahpura In Hindu Kingdoms – Location – Architecture – Women Quarters In Palace

Antahpura, also known as Shuddhana (sacred) and avarodha (restricted), refers to the inner section of women’s quarters in a palace, especially of emperors and kings in ancient Hindu kingdoms. Here is a look at the location, architecture and special features of antahpura.

Antahpura was generally situated along the banks of a river or the main road of a city, but of course attached to the main palace. The architecture of such a section had certain peculiarities. It had subsections with specific purposes such as susodhana (main hall and adjoining chambers) where people could relax and discuss; vadhu natak sangha (halls and galleries meant for young ladies of the family) where they could dance, play music, sing or engage themselves in painting and other performing arts or invite artists for their entertainment; kutagriha (chambers where secret or private meetings could be held); vimana (seven-storied section or terraces); and udyana (garden). A very special feature was gavaksha (narrow windows), overlooking the adjoining road or river which enabled the ladies inside to see outside without being seen by anyone outside. The udyana generally was equipped with an oval-shaped pond, flower-beds, bushes for decoration, lawns for taking a stroll and also trees for shade. Water-birds like ducks, geese, etc., were considered to be the pride of the antahpura. Sometimes a part of it was also used as a kitchen garden.

The antahpuras were guarded mostly by women or eunuchs faithful to the royal family. Male servants were rarely employed inside an antahpura.