King Edward Memorial

King Edward Memorial, Mirza Ismail Road, Jaipur.

On Mirza Ismail Road just outside of Ajmeri Gate stands the King Edward Memorial. Built in 1912 and featuring a clocktower, it is a nice little example of the Indo-Saracenic architectural style.

Indo-Saracenic is an architectural style developed in British India in the late nineteenth century. British colonialists intended it to be the architectural style of imperialism in the Indian Subcontinent. They had also experiment with Tropical Gothic, an adaptation of the an architectural style from medieval Europe. Although the British built some spectacular examples of Tropical Gothic in Bombay, eventually they moved on from the style. They considered its association with Christianity inappropriate for India.

Instead, they tried Indo-Saracenic architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the name suggests, the style is supposedly a fusion of Indian and Arab or Islamic (“Saracenic”) architectural motifs. But as Vibhuti Sachdev and Giles Tillotson point out in Building Jaipur, an Indo-Saracenic building is, at its heart, a European building with Indian styling. In other words, Indo-Saracenic buildings have European floorplans and European functions, but they also have Indian-style domes, arches, columns, and other motifs.

The clocktower of King Edward Memorial has Indian-style cupola, balustrades, and cornices. But the function—displaying a large clock face in public—is European in origin.

King Edward Memorial honors Edward VII, who ruled as King of England and Emperor of India from 1901 until his death in 1910 at the age of 68. (Albert Hall, an earlier and much larger Indo-Saracenic structure, honors the same man, although it was built and dedicated before he became king.) The police are the current occupants of the building.