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A peep into Bagore Ki Haveli Museum

bagore-ki-haveli-museum-udaipur At Gangaur Ghat on the bank of the famous Pichola lake in Udaipur is situated ‘Bagore Ki Haveli’ which was built between 1751 and 1778 by Amarchand badwa, the prime minister of Mewar during the reign of Maharana Pratap singh II, Raj Singh II, Ari Singh and Hamir singh. The period of Badwa’s staying in the Haveli is not precisely known. After the passing away of Badwa the Haveli came under the control of Mewar state, and was given to the Maharaja of Bagore who was a close relative of the Maharana. After Independence, the Haveli came under the control of public works dept. of the Govt. of Rajasthan and was used to accommodate Govt. servants. Many changes were made resulting in the loss of the original character of the grand building. Finally, in 1986 the building was handed over to West Zone Cultural Center which is one out of the seven in the country established by the Central Govt. for the creative development of performing art, visual arts, literary work and traditional folk and tribal arts. There is an emphasis on the revival of vanishing arts and craft forms and organization of arts and crafts fairs and festival. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Daman Diu, and Dadar Nagar Haveli are the areas covered by this centre. As the Haveli had a charming style, typical of the very best Mewari architecture with a unique character of its own, it was decided to convert it into a museum. To restore it as faithfully as possible, as an example of how a Haveli would have looked and how life they would have been, an elaborate plan was chalked out. It took five years of arduous restoration work and the investment of a huge amount of money to restore the Haveli beautifully so that it depicts the royal life style, architecture and cultural ethos in its pristine glory. Local masons and artisan formed the team that took up the strenuous work. To give each room an accurate glimpse of the royal past, members of the nobility and experts were consulted. During restoration, beneath many layers of white wash were uncovered many frescoes that belonged to 18th and 19th centuries. The doors, windows and perforated screens were restored to their original form. Maharana Bhupal Singh (1930-1955) renovated the haveli into a guest house, where palace guest could be accommodated. In fact there used to be tunnel system that led directly to the city palace. After the ‘Haveli’ was handed over to the West Zone Cultural Centre, an attempt was made to reopen this tunnel which had not been used for several years. The attempt had to be given up as it was found that the foundation of two new buildings in the Lalghat area had blocked the pass way completely. The Haveli has 138 rooms, balconies, courtyards, terraces and numerous corridors. The main parts of the Haveli include Kuan chowk (well court) an attractive, leafy courtyard, the centre of which is occupied by a well. On the southern side of this courtyard is the Lotus Fountain a fascinating two-storeyed fountain from where water cascaded, cooling and refreshing the air. It is the most attractive and unusual structure of sandstone, decorated with profuse carving. The Zenana, the women’s quarters were kept apart for ladies as ‘Purdah’ was in vogue. Neem Chowk and Kamal Chowk (Lotus Court) has a Shiva temple set against the north wall, enclosed by a pair of magnificent brass covered doors. The ceiling of the temple’s portico has some fine religious paintings, depicting the four ‘dhams’-the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. The courtyard now serves as an arena for a variety of authentic performing arts forms for the benefit of the public. Tulsi Chowk once was the hub of the aristocratic life style of the princess. This area has been recreated in minute detail. A hand-operated panel fan in the ceiling, mirrors with carved wooden fixtures on the walls, rooms and balconies decked with traditional cabinets, swings, floors and ceiling covering are all in their appropriate places. Today, in the chambers surrounding the ground floor of this court, there are displays of turbans and women’s costumes. Baithak (sitting room) was where the princess would relax with their female friends and relatives to discuss issues pertaining to politics, social life or just to chit chat. This place was called ‘durrie khana’. Snanagar (bathroom) had a hip bath (kundi) and pitchers. The princess would be seated on a wooden platform, with her maids smearing her entire body with a fragrant mixture of milk, sandalwood and water. Shringar kaksh, dressing room had wooden trunks to hold the finery of the princesses. The clothes varied in style and color according to the season or occasion. There were jewellery bones and metal caskets containing valuable ornaments. The ladies would apply perfume created from extracts of roses, jasmine, sandalwood etc. from the itra-daan exhibited in the room. The other places were Manoranjan Kaksh (entertainment room), Majisa ka kamra (The Matriarch’s chamber) Pooja Kaksh (Room of workship), Gangaur Kaksh, Sangeet Kaksh (Music room), Parendal (Place for drinking water), Rasoda (Kitchen), Jharokha (Balcony), Shayan Kaksh (Bedroom) and Durrie Khana (Reception room) The Bagore ki haveli museum consciously attempts to re interpret architecture, life style and the cultural ethos of the past from the vantage point of the future.
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