Vohrawad of Siddhpur – A Confluence of Architectural Styles Part 3 of 24

The Bohra settlements of Siddhpur display a distinctive architectural patois and global character born out of the confluence and influence of various architectural styles worldwide. Founded by the Solanki ruler Siddhraj Jaisinh in the 10th century on the banks of river Saraswati, Siddhpur is essentially a holy place for Hindus. It was only in the 19th century that the Dawoodi Bohras, an affluent Muslim trading community, fanned out and settled in Siddhpur, Kapadvanj and around port Khambhat. These Dawoodi Bohras carried out wealthy trade with European countries and greatly borrowed from the European architectural styles of the time while building their own houses.

The eclectic facades of the houses are characterised by Victorian gable pediments, ornate pilasters and columns, Baroque-style cornices, friezes, arches and hoods richly carved in wood and plaster. It is not uncommon to see Renaissance-inspired vines and arabesques on the facade. Intricate iron railings adorn the entrance to these houses which are raised above the ground by a 4-5 feet. The symmetry and orderliness of the buildings is reminiscent of the Art Deco of Paris. Each of the houses are painted in different shades of pastels lending even more vibrancy to the Vohrawads. However, they are not completely European in construction. Some houses have protruding balconies or ‘jharokas’ of typical Rajasthani havelis. They also have an internal courtyard, about 4 square feet in size, like traditional Indian houses. Almost all houses have the family insignia embedded on its walls. Most of these buildings are a 100 years old and are now dilapidated as the owners have left for better prospects.

In this series, I am bringing to you the intricacies and eccentricities of the Vohrawads of Siddhpur.

Decorative balcony
A Bohrawad haveli

Ornate jharokha
Ornate jharokha
Ornate jharokha

Vohrawad of Siddhpur – A Confluence of Architectural Styles Part 2 of 24

The Bohra settlements of Siddhpur display a distinctive architectural patois and global character born out of the confluence and influence of various architectural styles worldwide. Founded by the Solanki ruler Siddhraj Jaisinh in the 10th century on the banks of river Saraswati, Siddhpur is essentially a holy place for Hindus. It was only in the 19th century that the Dawoodi Bohras, an affluent Muslim trading community, fanned out and settled in Siddhpur, Kapadvanj and around port Khambhat. These Dawoodi Bohras carried out wealthy trade with European countries and greatly borrowed from the European architectural styles of the time while building their own houses.

The eclectic facades of the houses are characterised by Victorian gable pediments, ornate pilasters and columns, Baroque-style cornices, friezes, arches and hoods richly carved in wood and plaster. It is not uncommon to see Renaissance-inspired vines and arabesques on the facade. Intricate iron railings adorn the entrance to these houses which are raised above the ground by a 4-5 feet. The symmetry and orderliness of the buildings is reminiscent of the Art Deco of Paris. Each of the houses are painted in different shades of pastels lending even more vibrancy to the Vohrawads. However, they are not completely European in construction. Some houses have protruding balconies or ‘jharokas’ of typical Rajasthani havelis. They also have an internal courtyard, about 4 square feet in size, like traditional Indian houses. Almost all houses have the family insignia embedded on its walls. Most of these buildings are a 100 years old and are now dilapidated as the owners have left for better prospects.

In this series, I am bringing to you the intricacies and eccentricities of the Vohrawads of Siddhpur.

Decorative windows

Decorative windows
Renaissance-inspired arabesque

Vohrawad of Siddhpur – A Confluence of Architectural Styles Part 1 of 24

The Bohra settlements of Siddhpur display a distinctive architectural patois and global character born out of the confluence and influence of various architectural styles worldwide. Founded by the Solanki ruler Siddhraj Jaisinh in the 10th century on the banks of river Saraswati, Siddhpur is essentially a holy place for Hindus. It was only in the 19th century that the Dawoodi Bohras, an affluent Muslim trading community, fanned out and settled in Siddhpur, Kapadvanj and around port Khambhat. These Dawoodi Bohras carried out wealthy trade with European countries and greatly borrowed from the European architectural styles of the time while building their own houses.

The eclectic facades of the houses are characterised by Victorian gable pediments, ornate pilasters and columns, Baroque-style cornices, friezes, arches and hoods richly carved in wood and plaster. It is not uncommon to see Renaissance-inspired vines and arabesques on the facade. Intricate iron railings adorn the entrance to these houses which are raised above the ground by a 4-5 feet. The symmetry and orderliness of the buildings is reminiscent of the Art Deco of Paris. Each of the houses are painted in different shades of pastels lending even more vibrancy to the Vohrawads. However, they are not completely European in construction. Some houses have protruding balconies or ‘jharokas’ of typical Rajasthani havelis. They also have an internal courtyard, about 4 square feet in size, like traditional Indian houses. Almost all houses have the family insignia embedded on its walls. Most of these buildings are a 100 years old and are now dilapidated as the owners have left for better prospects.

In this series, I am bringing to you the intricacies and eccentricities of the Vohrawads of Siddhpur.

DSC_2560
Ornate jharokha

DSC_2561

DSC_2562
Ornate jharokha
DSC_2577
ABohrawad house
DSC_2578
Intricately carved jharokha

Jhansi Fort – A symbol of the Indian Mutiny of 1857

Jhansi Fort is situated on Bangira hilltop in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was constructed in 1613 by Bir Sing Deo the king of Orchha. In 1728 Mohammed Khan Bangash the Mughal General attacked Maharaja Chattrasal. Peshwa Bajirao helped Maharaja Chattrasal to defeat the Mughal army. As a mark of gratitude, the Maharaja offered part of his state including Jhansi to Peshwa Bajirao. In 1742 the Peshwa appointed Naroshanker as the subedar of Jhansi. During his tenure of 15 years he extended the fort and built many buildings inside the fort. From 1766 to 1769 Vishwas Rao Laxman served as the subedar of Jhansi. Then Raghunath Rao (II) Newalkar was appointed the subedar of Jhansi. He was a very able administrator and built the Mahalakshmi temple and Ragunath temple.

During the time of Raja Gangadhar Rao, a generous and sympathetic administrator the local population of Jhansi was well satisfied. In 1842 Raja Gangadhar Rao married Manikarknika Tambe who was given the new name of Laxmi Bai. She gave birth to a boy named Damodar Rao, in 1851, who died after four months. The Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin who was renamed Damodar Rao on the day before the Maharaja died. The adoption was in the presence of the British political officer who was given letter from the Maharaja instructing that the child be treated with respect and that the government of Jhansi should be given to his widow for her lifetime. After the death of Maharaja in November 1853, because Damodar Rao (born Anand Rao) was adopted, the British East India Company, under Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, applied the Doctrine of Lapse, rejecting Damodar Rao’s claim to the throne and annexing the state to its territories. In March 1854, Laxmi Bai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000/- and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. In 1857, the revolt broke out and she took the control of the fort and led Jhansi forces against those of the British East India Company.

Jhansi was besieged by the company forces of General Hugh Rose in March and April 1858 and was captured on 4th April 1858. Rani Laxmi Bai was able to make a daring escape on horseback from the fort and the city before the city was pillaged by Rose’s troops.

The fort of Jhansi spreads over 15 acres and the colossal structure measures about 312m in length and 225m in width. There are twenty two supports with a mammoth wall surrounded by a moat on both sides. The granite walls of the fort are between 16 and 20 feet thick and on the south side meet the city walls. There are 10 gates giving access to the fort. The Kadak Bijli cannon used in the uprising of 1857 can be seen inside the fort.

Jhansi Fort – towards the main entrance
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
‘Kadak Bijli’ cannon used in the uprising of 1857
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – View from top
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Kal Kothari the jail
Jhansi Fort – Interior

Jhansi Fort – Interior
Jhansi Fort – Panch Mahal
Jhansi Fort – the baradari inside the fort

Rani Mahal of Jhansi – The erstwhile residence of Rani Laxmi Bai

The Rani Mahal or Queen’s Palace is a royal palace in the city of Jhansi in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. It was built by Raghunath II, who belonged to the Newalkar family of Peshwas, the rulers of Jhansi from 1769 to 1796. After the death of Raja Gangadhar Rao, his wife Rani Laxmi Bai resided in this palace. The palace rose to significance during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, as it was the main center of activity and was attacked by the British.

It is flat roofed, two-storeyed building having quadrangular courtyard with a small well and one fountain. The darbar hall inside the palace is beautifully decorated with paintings in bright colours exhibiting various floral and faunal motifs.

The Rani Mahal is converted to a museum and houses a vast collection of stone sculptures collected from the surrounding areas dating from the Gupta to Medieval periods.

Rani Mahal – Main Entrance
The courtyard inside the Mahal
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Painted ceiling of the Durbar Hall
The Durbar Hall
Arched ways inside the Mahal

The Royal Opera House – The Pride of Mumbai

The recently renovated, The Royal Opera House is the only opera house that survives in the country.

Special mention to Kruti Garg, who took us on a heritage walk through this iconic structure savaged by time and now returned to its previous glory. She is a senior conservation architect and was closely involved in the restoration of the building. Some excerpts from the journey:

Situated on Charni Road, near Girgaum Chowpatti beach, the adjective ‘Royal’ was prefixed to ‘Opera House’ to reflect the fact that its foundation stone was laid during the British Raj in 1909, and King George V inaugurated the building in 1911 while the building was still under construction and then it went on to be completed by 1915. There is the royal crest of England which has the unicorn on one side and a lion on the other, present on the main (front) facade and on the side. As a depiction of Opera, the designs have musical instruments like harps and trumpets making its appearance on the architecture.

Architecturally it was designed on the likes of Morris Bandman, an entertainer and invested by coal baron Jahangir Karaka, providing the highest luxury of that time. The basement under the stage area has an orchestra pit, wherein the band of Musicians would play. Ice was introduced through pipes in the subsurface of the building, in order to cool the interiors.

The Royal Opera House, initially saw a lot of performances from British and American companies. Subsequently, 5 years from its construction it started screening movies. In 1940, the Prithvi theatre performed at Opera house when in Mumbai. Deenanath Mangeshkar has also performed here. A lot of big staring movies were screened here and some renowned movies even shot here.

In 1935, the opera house was taken over by Ideal pictures and converted into a cinema hall. As a result of which in 1970s the side boxes – the prime seats in this theatre, were torn down and completely removed from the building because they were interfering with the sight lines for movies. A projection room was added in the middle of the first floor of auditorium which was not original. Hence, the building had completely changed from its initial setting of a high octave Baroque interior to an Art Deco Cinema, by the time it closed down in 1980s.
In 1952, it was bought over by the Maharaja and Maharani Jadeja of Gondal, Royal family of Gujarat, as a commercial venture and run it for another 30 years from then. In 1980s Opera house was closed down because this single screen theatre could not make profitable business anymore and remained closed for around 18 years. The elaborate curtain on the stage has the crest of the royal family of Gondal.

Restoration:
Initially, in May 2001, it was noted that since the opera house was a Heritage building, it could not be redeveloped but only restored. With a lot of Archival researches, the building was completely restored and is now a 585 seater auditorium. The side boxes are put back. So are the stained glass windows and rich mouldings of sculpted foliage on the ceiling and proscenium arch. The orchestra pit has been widened and foyers heightened by frescoes and crystal chandeliers.

From a publication that was obtained from a scholar from New Zealand, called ‘Territorials in India’ which had a full chapter about the Royal Opera House and how it was constructed.

When the restoration began, the ceilings were completely different. It had an Art deco feel with no embellishment and decoration as seen now. There were no details on the balcony and original material from the Site was missing.
The wood panelling and boxes were restored as in its inception. This is the only theatre of that time, which had the Royal box designed for family seating. Side balconies, although restored as original, are not functional anymore for seating. Originally, these side boxes and royal boxes were furnished with plush Irani bentwood chairs. The second balcony had just benches and was for the lowest priced tickets. However, the renovated building has crimson cushioned chairs throughout.

Archival research texts described the interiors as embellished with gold and crimson. Designs on the spandrel, of the little boy are an original design found during restoration work and put back in their original locations. Acoustics have been improved and redone and the building has seen an insertion of air conditioning, speaker system etc. In the entrance choir, one will see a pair of unique crystal chandeliers, which were donated by the David Sassoon family, from their mansion called the ‘Sans Souci’ in Byculla.

Original ceiling was in the same shape as today. Back then there were no speaker system to augment the sound levels, hence the ceiling was designed in shape of a gramophone mike, for acoustical reasons to improve sound quality.

New Technology combined with restoration of the old world charm has gone into the renovation of this building.
Some pictures from the site:

Royal Opera House – View from the other side of the road
Main entrance
A closer view of the windows
Architecture details – The harp and trumpet designs
Ornamental windows
The Royal Crest of England
Boroque styled windows
Kruti Garg – Our heritage walk Guide, explaining the architechture
Interior view – The Grand Side Balconies
Interior view – Stained Glass Windows
Designs on the Spandrel
Designs on the Capital of Columns
The First and Second floor of Auditorium
Architectural Details – Arches and Balconies
Architecture details – The harp and trumpet designs
Elegantly designed Wooden Windows
Elaborately designed Dome interiors
Well lit Ticket booth
History of the Royal Opera House
Gold Embellished Ceilings
Small Ticket Counter
One of the Crystal Chandeliers
One of the Crystal Chandeliers
Mirrored Wooden balcony
Beautiful Gold Side Tables
One of the Crystal Chandeliers
Plush Cushioned Chairs
Marble installations and painted ceilings
Decorated Doorway
Elaborately designed Doorway
Paintings on the Dome interiors – A closer view
The Marbled Lobby – Ground floor
The magnificently set lobby on the second floor
The Stage -View from the second floor
The main entrance – The Side Facade
The Front Facade