Elephant’s Stable

ELEPHANT-STABLE is a long, lofty and dignified building facing west and is situated just outside the Zanana area. It contains eleven large stalls with lofty domed roofs. The central chamber has a square turret above it with two flights of steps leading up to it. The stalls contain large and wide four-centered arched doorways with arched niches on the wall space in between. Originally the structure appears to have had much stucco and plaster orna¬mentation on its exterior and interior. The domical ceilings of the stalls have lotus motifs. At the corners of the domes are large pointed-arched squinches. The domes are of different types round, octagonal or vault and are arranged symmetrically on either side of the central stall to conform to the different shapes of the domes which form the roof of the build¬ing. The domes which are ranged along the top of the structure are of various types, such as large circular and ribbed ones, vaulted octagonal ones with fluted domical Sikhara. The square turret-like super¬structure over the flat ceiling of the central chamber consists of many slender colonnettes forming foliated arch-openings, with a parapet above. It is not clear whether the turret was originally finished like the Sikhara of a temple. This picturesque building is generally thought to have been the stables for state, elephants. Some people have doubted this, as the usual provision for tying up elephants is not found there.

Plain domes with rows of alternating large and small merlons; pyramidal vaults with friezes of palmettes and medallions; domes with convex or concave flutings above a frieze of small pointed arches and merlons; vaults consisting of three sets of converging ribs meeting at a central medallion; and, domes rising out of an almost free-standing frieze of lobed arches on projecting brackets supporting temple like roof forms in brick and plaster. The ceiling of the central chamber is flat with brackets and angled niches.

Certainly the most monumental of all the Islamic-styled structures at the capital, this colos¬sal building is generally acknowledged as the royal stables, despite the occasional effort to recognize in these chambers the remains of a vast Mosque.

Eleven square chambers are arranged in a north-south row more than 85m long. The plan of each chamber is identical, with recessed niches on three sides and an arched entrance on the west. Small communicating doorways are found between four of the chambers, while eight cham¬bers have doorways in the east wall. In the thick walls either side of the central chamber, two corridors lead to staircases that ascend to an upper chamber.

The building is plain on three sides. The front (west) facade has eleven enlarged arched entrances leading to the chambers. These arches are created in two planes, and are framed within a rectangular recess. Fragments of plaster deco¬ration are seen in the bands around the arches and in the roundels over the arches and in the spandrels.