The first sunshine of a new day, entering the mirror clad gateway, brings with it, surreal shimmers, resonating in the halls of the palace, the message of a brand new beginning and peeping through the tinted window panes, sprinkles splash of colors silently merging into the floor.

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The craft of mirror or glass inlay was first seen adorning the walls of the Mughal and then the Rajput palaces. It has since then moved on to be used in decorating dwellings of merchants and common folk, like in the Shekhavati Haveli’s of Marwari merchants and Kutchi mud houses.
This art was derived partly from the ‘pietra-dura’ technique of Florence. Unlike Florentine pietra-dura (stone inlay), the art of inlay could not be independent of their backgrounds. It was an architectural ornament used to decorate plinths, pillars, arches, brackets etc. The zenith of this craft was during the time of Shahjehan, when it was extensively used in the Sheesh Mahal in Lahore and in his Jharokha (throne) at the Red Fort in Delhi. Besides beautification, some of the logical usages of this art both on the exterior and interior walls may be visibility and vigilance.


There was so much that the mirror inlay meant. It’s transcending power of light that the Persian Sufi poems gush about, which had the Mughal architecture drape itself with mirror glass fragments and fascination with an enrapturing grandeur these little pieces of light exuded, than their glazed ceramic predecessors.
This craft was honed in India during the Mughal era and later was lent to many applications. In the winter palaces of Udaipur, it was used to spread the light and warmth of the candles. Due to these mirrors, one candle could shine as bright as a few thousands of them. It gave the halls a gleaming effect as well as reduced the flatness of the walls. They have been said to transform a hall into a ‘glittering jewel box in flickering candle light’.
This craft served as an indicator of the royal presence in specific areas of authority in imperial architecture. In Mughal mausoleums, the complexity and value of the inlay work on and around the tombstones was also used to depict hierarchy.
Coming to the present day context, the mud-finished walls of the village households of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the walls of temples and interiors of many palace hotels are decorated with minute colorful mirror chips creating forms like birds, flowers, leaves, vessels and so on. This also acts as a natural insulation to help cope with the hot weather of Rajasthan. The mirror-work on the exterior walls reflects the heat away, keeping the interiors comparatively cooler.
The craftsmen who are family artisans for generations mainly do the marble inlaid art. The most interesting fact about this art is that even now the artisans use the same kind of tools as used in the 16th and 17th century for this work. Also using the same sort of stones, which are not only genuine but they give real look of the past era. Also it takes more than a day to create a small flower in semi precious stone. The present day craftsman are all believed to be the descendants of those who came from Persia to decorate the Taj Mahal, and who excelled in fine art of setting gems and semiprecious stones in marble.

Myths & Legends:

It is said that the catalyst for this craft is the Solomonic throne. Shah Jahan’s jharokha was based on the bejeweled throne of King Solomon on which he sat and administered justice. King Solomon made a great throne, which was fashioned off ivory and covered with gold. It was set with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other precious stones that shone with the most brilliant, the most dazzling, the most fascinating hues and colors. It had been adorned with replicas of growling lions and winged birds. These motifs patronized the witnesses and kept them from lying. To the Mughals, King Solomon epitomized great power driven by wisdom and justice. Imagery, symbolic of these, is inlaid in the niche behind Shah Jahan’s jharokha in Delhi. The light is a mystical symbol in Islam, the symbol of Divine unity and presence of God. It reminds that only God is real-all other is illusion.


By the 17th century, the art of cutting hard semi-precious stones and inlaying them in softer marble had reached the Mughal Empire. The Mughal emperors, who used to import ‘pietra-dura’ panels from Florence to embellish structures, employed Florentine craftsmen to pass on the art.
Their beneficiaries, mainly Rajput chieftains, carried forward this art into their palaces. By the 19th century, it had become a mandatory feature in households of nobility. It became an indicator of grandeur and royalty where vast surfaces were covered. Now, many Rajasthani tribes decorate the exteriors of their houses with mirror-work. This craft also appears in many contemporary interiors in re-interpreted patterns.
The history of mirror mosaic work popularly known as ‘inlay’ in India goes as back as  the Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors) constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631. Adorned with pietra-dura (stone inlay) and complex mirror-work of the finest quality creating gleaming effect in the royal halls and courtyards, the Mahals of Rajasthan are a reflection of the sumptuous lifestyle of the Rajput royalty in medieval times.


The design in Mughal architecture consists of bold and complex symmetric patterns. These consist of rhythmically repeated abstract patterns and epigraphy from Quran in mirror or glass inlay.
The base is mostly white marble or mud-plaster. The designs are primarily two-dimensional but in special cases, the design is made three- dimensional. Convex or concave mirrors are used in this regard to give it a fuller appearance and an embossed effect. This method is called the Tekri inlay.
The craftsmen also used to create dimension using different shades of the same stone on a motif.

Even greater detail was achieved by carefully choosing pieces of each gemstone with differing tones. This variety of hues enabled the craftsmen to give the impression of shading and depth in each flower. Thoughtfully entangled oral designs create different effects.
Some designs were so complex that a single flower motif could contain more than a hundred individual pieces of coloured glass.Most of the patterns are inspired from nature and delicately depicted birds, flowering plants, and animals. Constellations of glass set on the structures form an abstract nature on them and glimmer in even in the dimmest light of the sun, moon and stars.

Though the marble inlay work of India is similar to that of the pietra-dura of Italy, the former varies by not having a three dimensional structure and are more flat. The pietra-dura had more of European birds inlay work whereas the Mughals had more of Indian kingfisher, myna, and red-breasted parakeet.


The Indian craftsmen were already well versed with inlaying softer coloured stones in marble. The challenge came when hard stones like agate, carnelian, amethyst and other semi-precious stones were to be used in Mughal architecture. The Islamic patterns being symmetrical, a great amount of precision was also required in cutting these stones. The skilled craftsmen soon mastered the technique. This craft caught on in later times too since the intrinsic value of glass and mirrors were low, but elaborate and grand effects could be achieved.
This multifaceted multicolored craft from Rajasthan has attracted the attention of the art lovers across the globe, giving craftsmen like Rajesh Maheshwari an opportunity to display their skills to create awe-inspiring experiences out of an inexpensive raw-material (glass pieces from redundant objects and leftovers from the industry are also used).

Introduction Process:

Raw Materials:

Semi-precious stones, coloured glass and mirror pieces were used for the inlay. The other raw materials include vitreous paste, clay/paint/henna dye, glue, marble bases, sandstone, mud plaster and wooden boards.
While the glass markets of Delhi and Faridabad suffice the requirements of the inlay craftsmen, some special mirrors are still called from Belgium on client orders.
Some of the semiprecious stones include Lapis lazuli, malachite, soda-lite, amethyst, tiger-eye and white and green marbles which are used as decorative stones. The most distinguished material used in the inlay work is the mother of pearl.


The only waste that is left from this craft technique is powdered marble from the buffing. Most of it gets mixed into the air, while some is dusted away as well.

Tools & Tech:

– Various markers and compasses are used to draw the symmetrical patterns onto the bases.
– The craftsmen first make a real scale fair draft of the design on paper and stick it on a wooden plank.
– Glass dimond cutter
– Brush to remove the extra dust



1) The craftsmen first make a real scale fair draft of the design on paper and stick it on a wooden plank.
2) Then using the diamond-cutting tool, the colorful glass pieces kept on the design are cut to acquire the required shapes.
3)  These shapes are stuck to the paper base at their position stone with the help of special glues meant for this purpose and the remaining grooves between the pieces of glass are filled with a paste of marble powder and glue.
4) Then the entire work including the surface and the edges are finally polished and then buffed up to give a glossy and gleaming rich look

Cluster Name: Udaipur


Udaipur is a beautiful city in Rajasthan, also known as the City of Lakes. It is aptly named as it appears to have emerged from the mirrors of lakes and dotted with beautiful palaces of the Rajput era. Named after its ruler Maharana Udai Singh, this flourishing city is now an eclectic blend of old and new.
district Udaipur
state Rajasthan
population 662,992 (2019)
langs Hindi, Rajasthani
best-time October to March
stay-at Many good hotels are available around the year.
reach Maharana Pratap Airport Udaipur, (UDZ)UDAIPUR CITY Railway
local Auto-Rickshaws
food Kachori, Rabdi and Daal-Baati


Maharana Udai Singh laid the foundation of Udaipur in 1557 AD, on the word of a sage, who advised him to build a city in the fertile land, protected by the Aravalli mountain ranges. Maharana Udai Singh was a successor of the 'Sisodias', who claimed to have been the descendants of the 'Sun God' (Suryavanshi). The Sisodias are believed to be the oldest ruling family in the world and also the most powerful. For the same reason, they have had many enemies and were under constant attack even from the Mughals. Hence, Maharana Udai Singh decided to shift the capital from 'Chittorgarh' to a more protected city of 'Udaipur' and it continued to be the capital of 'Mewar', till it became the princely state of British India in 1818 AD. When India got independent in 1947 AD, the Maharaja of Udaipur granted this place to the Government of India. At that time, 'Mewar' merged into the state of Rajasthan and it came to be known as the 'City of Lakes' or 'Venice of the East' due to its luxurious lake palaces like the one which covers an entire island in the 'Pichola' lake.


Udaipur is located 403 kilometers southwest of the state capital, Jaipur, 248 km west of Kota, and 250 km northeast from Ahmedabad. The city lies at an average elevation of 590 meters. By Air : Dabock Airport is 24 km from the city center. Daily flights connect Udaipur with Jodhpur Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi. By Rail : Udaipur is directly linked by rail with major cities like Jaipur, Ajmer, Delhi, Chittorgarh, etc. By Road : A wide network of bus service link Udaipur with several destinations. Some of the important destinations are Agra (630km), Ahmadabad (262 km), Jaipur (406 km), Jodhpur (275km) and Mount Abu (185km). Local Transport : Un-metered taxis, auto-rickshaws, Tongas, regular city bus service is available for 'Dabok airport', 'Badi Lake', 'Bedala' and 'Saheliyon ki Bari'.



Udaipur is a thriving and well-connected city with strong infrastructure, water supply, electricity supply and tourism. It is equipped with many hospitals, blood banks and educational institutions.


Udaipur still retains a quaint old world charm, with beautiful Rajput palaces and forts sitting comfortably amidst the modern constructions of brick, cement and concrete. Narrow streets, yellow and blue colors on the walls decorated by paintings give a feeling of old Rajput time. City Palace: Udaipur City Palace is one of the architectural marvels of Rajasthan, located peacefully on the banks of Lake Pichola. This majestic City Palace is the most visited tourist attraction of Udaipur and often distinguished as the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. City Palace boasts of the wonderful blend of Medieval, European and Chinese Architecture. The Palace has various towers, domes and arches, which add to the flavor of heritage site. City Palace has several gates that are known as 'Pols'. 'Bara Pol' (Great Gate) is the main gate to the City Palace complex that will take you to the first courtyard. On passing 'Bara Pol', you will come across a triple arched gate, which is known as 'Tripolia'. Lake Palace: This is one of the most elegant palaces situated in the heart of the 'Pichola' Lake. The courtyards of the palace are lined with columns, pillared terraces, fountains and gardens which enhance its beauty. Few temples in Udaipur like the 'Jagdish' temple follow the 'Nagara' style of architecture. In this style the temple is a square, with a number of graduated projections in the middle of each side, giving rise to a cruciform shape. In elevation, it resembles a tower gradually inclining inwards in a convex curve. 'Rishabhdeo' Temple is a chief pilgrimage site for followers of Jain religion. The 'Ambika Mata' Temple, also known as the 'Jagat' temple is a small shrine made in the fissure of a rock.


The primary language of Udaipur is 'Mewari' but Rajasthani, Hindi and English are also commonly spoken. Jainism is the main religion that is observed in Udaipur. Other religions include Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity.  'Bhavai', 'Ghoomar', 'KachhiGhodi', 'Kalbeliya' and 'Terahtaali' are the well known dances of Rajasthan. 'Morchang', 'Naad', 'Tanpura', 'Sarangi' and many other instruments were traditionally played in the courts of the Mewari rulers and still finds its patrons and audiences in present times. Udaipur cuisine comprises mostly of vegetarian dishes, as Jainism and 'Vaishnavism' is widely followed. Food is usually made from lots of vegetables and lentils and is seasoned with a great variety of spices. The 'Mewar' festival is celebrated here with much pomp and show to mark the arrival of spring in the months of March and April. At the time of the 'Mewar' Festival the idols of Lord Shiva (Isar) and Goddess Parvati (Gangaur) are dressed and carried in a traditional procession through different parts of the city. The final destination of this procession is the 'Gangaur Ghat' at 'Pichola' Lake, where the images are immersed into the lake waters. 'Shilpgram Mela' or 'Shilpgram' Crafts Fair is celebrated in the months of November or December. It is a popular festival organized annually in the western region of Udaipur.


The 'Bhil' tribes are chief amongst the tribal population of Udaipur. A varied mix of urban population is found in the city. Udaipur is also a center for many talented artisans and craftsmen. The traditional attire of women is the 'Ghaghra-Choli' (Skirt & blouse) and for men it is the 'Angrakha' (Kurta) and 'Dhoti'. But in modern times, people wear contemporary clothes like Salwars, Trousers, t-shirts and shirts.

Famous For:

City palace: One of the largest palace complexes in the world, it is a beautiful mixture of Mughal and Rajput traditions. The city palace is built atop a hill beside the 'Pichola Lake' providing a panoramic view of the city. Gulab Bagh: A vast garden of almost a hundred acres. The garden also has a museum and zoo within it. There is also a public library attached to the garden, which has large volumes and illustrated manuscripts on Indology, Archaeology, and History. Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake: Famous man-made lakes of Udaipur. They add tranquility to the beautiful palaces and lend Udaipur the title -'City of lakes'. Monsoon palace: Also called 'Sajjan Garh Palace' after Maharana Sajjan Singh, who commissioned its construction. It is built high atop the Aravalli ranges at an elevation of 944 meters. As the name suggests, the palace was a monsoon retreat of the Royal family. Shilpgram Art and Craft fair:  It is held annually during the month of December. Over 400 artisans and craftsmen from all over India participate in this fair. The fair takes place in a sprawling artisans' village set up by the West Zone Cultural Center. Folk dances and cultural programs are held as part of the festival. It is a vibrant showcase of the rich 'Rajasthani' culture and heritage.


List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Team Gaatha

Process Reference:

Cluster Reference:

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