A nondescript village some 120 km from Jaipur contributes one of the most awe-inspiring and beloved aspects that keeps the connoisseurs of Rajasthan to keep returning time and again. Maroth, a village along the Jaipur Agra route has seen empires rise and fall while adding an element of glory to all that ruled. By their unique artwork of gold-plating and glasswork that have bedecked, they embellished some of the most loved landmark edifices of Rajasthan bedazzling us over the centuries, including the Sheesh Mahal and Amber.
Maroth art is an amalgam of painting, carving, glasswork and metal-work creating an end product that leaves most people speechless and amazed. With influences from Gujrat, all parts of Rajasthan, Mughals, Persians and even the Dutch, artists from Maroth have left an indelible mark on the history and architecture of Rajasthan.
Most palace forts, temples have been designed with the high ceilings of these magnificent edifices as the canvas for Maroth artists to create magic. Perhaps the cynosure amongst all these is the 500-year-old Sheesh Mahal at Amber with mirror and crystals, each specifically detailed and designed, with a lot of inputs by the Maroths, manufactured in Belgium. The speciality of the Sheesh Mahal is that even the faintest of light or a candle lit at a corner would illuminate the entire space. This indeed is a marvel and ingenuity of ideas at the time, a must-visit when in Rajasthan.
Apart from such royal patronage, the Maroth community was also commissioned by rich traders to build temples, particularly the Marwari Jains. Examples of these wonderful temples with intricate and exquisite designs in glass and gold can be seen all over Rajasthan including a few near Manvar Resort in Jodhpur.
Did you know that the Maroth community is also responsible for the immaculate design of the Harmandir Sahib Temple in Amritsar?
A group of artisans from Maroth, 120 km from Jaipur moved to Sikar village on the invitation of King Raghunath Singh which eventually became their home. The first of the documented masters of the Maroth art form is Laxman Singh Kumawat dating back to 1606. His mastery of painting, carving, gold plating and glasswork can be witnessed in a number of palaces and temples spread across the region. His son Jai Kishan Kumawat is known to have repainted the Jain scripts in gold plating, commissioned by the wealthy Jains who were enamoured by the Maroth art form. Later this love affair saw expression in many Jain temples across Rajasthan from Jaipur to Churu to Jaisalmer and beyond. An interesting side story is that Jai Kishan Kumawat was sent to Kuchaman by the Jains to learn the fine art of illustrating detailed manuscripts. This was a pivotal incident with the Kumawats pledging their allegiance to the Jain community since then.
Traditionally Kumawats from Maroth were experts at gold plating, but in the early 1700s, an important rendezvous introduced them to the art of cutting glass. An Iranian artisan, a master glass cutter impressed with the Kumawats and their Maroth art taught them glass cutting. The rest is history. The Maroth art spread far and wide with projects commissioned all over India, including as far as Assam.
More recently, the proud sentinels of the Maroth art, especially Subash Kumawat have been adopting the Maroth art for the contemporary sense and sensibilities working with many artists and architects across India and the world. Although he has worked on many signature projects the one he is proud of is the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Akal Takht in Amritsar was commissioned by the Kumawats to design and decorate.
Subash and the younger generation of Kumawats are slowly adopting Maroth art to modern tastes while not deviating from the wisdom and beauty of the old ways. Manvar, the quintessential cultural showcase and resort in Jodhpur is happy to support the Maroth art form introducing it to many intellectuals, artists and architects from across the world, who are patrons of our resort in Jodhpur, thus doing its bit to keep alive this wonderful heritage.