Kautilya describes the most rapid type of guard to be kept on women of a
royal house hold. The twentieth chapter of the first book of the Artha Sastra
the directions for the construction of an Antahpura. 'On a site naturally best fitted
for a dwelling place the king shall construct his harem consisting of many compartments,
one within the other, enclosed by a parapet and a ditch, and provided with a door’.
The word Antahpura has been wrongly rendered as a harem. A careful
reading of the chapter will prove that the word is here used to denote a citadel or palace
situated in the heart (Antah) of the town (Pura). The special apartments for women formed
only a part of this fortified palace and are denoted by the word Avarodha, which occurs
at the end of the prose section of the chapter.
Directions are given showing where this has to be constructed in the
palace. ‘On one side, in the rear there shall be made the residence of (Strinivesa)
women’s compartments provided not only with all kinds of medicines useful in
midwifery and diseases but also with well-known pot- herbs and a water-reservoir’.16
The word Strinivesa, found in this connection, is worthy of note and
denotes ‘the female establishment,’ and we are distinctly told, in this passage,
that this female establishment was to be constructed in the rear part of the palace. We
are further told by Kautilya that the quarters of the princes and the princesses were to
be constructed outside the female establishment bahih Kanya-Kumarapurambut
apparently inside the Antahpura or palace.