Golden Haveli: From dusty ruins to pristine glory

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Golden Haveli: From dusty ruins to pristine glory

Sunday, 21 May 2023 | Deepak Kumar Jha

Golden Haveli: From dusty ruins to pristine glory

A cultural heritage is a prized possession of an area and its people, alive to their tradition, to showcase to visitors. Delhi’s Chandni Chowk is replete with such sites. However, despite the tremendous cultural benefits, most heritage havelis are crying for attention. However, the kind gesture of a heritage lover has changed the fortune of a haveli. Deepak Kumar Jha delves deep into this perspective

The iconic Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi does not need an introduction. The pulsating heart of the national Capital, with its oldest and busiest market bustling with life, was at one point of time etched on the visitors’ memory for its magnificent royal havelis. But as Delhi grew bigger and bigger with the modern world attractions, these heritage havelis gradually went into oblivion, even losing due upkeep, much to the chagrin of the lovers of culture and tradition. However, of late, these havelis are witnessing the return of their “achchhe din”, and the credit goes to a few intrepid fighters on the mission to restore their lost glory.

Golden Haveli is one such haveli that has become the centre of attraction for people in Chandni Chowk. Right in front of the Red Fort, passing through Jain Temple and near Gauri Shankar Temple, you enter Dariba Bazar. Gali Anar is located at one corner of this bustling market with small streets.

The Golden Haveli, established in this Gali Anar, makes tourists see the grandeur and beauty of Mughal architecture. Some time ago this haveli was in a dilapidated condition. Vijay Goel, convener of Heritage India Foundation and former Union Minister, took it upon himself to restore this heritage haveli. Goel is a heritage lover and well versed with the culture and civilisation of India.

Earlier, he had preserved another haveli in Dharampura of Chandni Chowk and given it a new look. This erstwhile conservation work of Goel received the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Structure of Golden Haveli

Spread over 200 square yards, the Golden Haveli is a three-storied building. In the middle of this haveli there is a huge courtyard 18’6 by 14’. Rooms are built around this courtyard. This haveli is open from three sides, so that there can be enough movement of fresh air. It has a total of 12 rooms and a restaurant. There is a small underground cellar in its southern part.

Small bricks, known as Lakhori bricks, have been used in the construction of this mansion. In addition to this, mud and lime mortar, lime plaster, wooden joints and planks, sandstone slabs and lime and concrete floors have been used in this haveli.

Doors and windows of the haveli are made of Teak, Sal and Sheesham wood. The use of colored glass in the windows makes it more attractive. The walls have been lime plastered and finished with a very fine lime wash. Red sandstone, green coloured doors, Mughal style carvings add to the beauty of this mansion.

History of Golden Haveli

The plot for this haveli was purchased by Lala Nemchand Kapurchand in 1906. He was a prominent businessman with multiple business interests. His forefathers came to Delhi during the time of Aurangzeb. Kapurchand rebuilt this haveli in 1911. This was the historic year in which the capital of the British rule in India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. Since then this haveli is known for its unique identity in Chandni Chowk. It was originally designed to have a mixed-use pattern i.e. both residential and commercial. However, in the 1970s and 80s, some new construction works were added to it. Thereafter, its condition kept getting worse over time.

Present condition of Haveli

The floral carvings and green coloured wooden doors add to its beauty as soon as you enter the haveli. The floral decorations and motifs are carved on the yellow sandstone, which gives the building an impressive look. The interior of the haveli visible from the courtyard is decorated with features such as glass panes, red sandstone brackets and wooden purlins projecting onto the balcony, elaborate arches with carved decorative work, and stucco work at the key points of the arches. The interiors of the rooms are mainly decorated depending on the utility of these rooms.

The ground floor has arches over ornamental stone pillars. Due to the prominence of the golden colour, this haveli has been christened `Golden Haveli’.  The terrace of the haveli is its prime attraction. From the terrace one can see the prominent heritage buildings of Chandni Chowk. On one side the ramparts of the Red Fort are visible, and on the other side the minarets of the Jama Masjid.

The beholder gets thrilled to see the Shikhar Kalash of the famous Gauri Shankar temple, the red walls of the Jain temple and the golden building of Gurudwara Shishganj.

 Room dedicated to Gandhi

The history of Chandni Chowk tells us that Mahatma Gandhi visited this area many times. He used to hold meetings and prepare strategies with his trusted local people in the neighbourhoods of Chandni Chowk. Gandhi used to hold these meetings regularly at many places including Marwari Library and Hakim Ajmal Khan’s residence.

A room in the Golden Haveli has been dedicated especially to Mahatma Gandhi, cherishing his memories in the area. Gandhi’s spinning wheel, his autobiography and other books are kept in this room.

Haveli ready to welcome guests from G-20 countries

The restoration of the Golden Haveli has taken place at a time when India is presiding over the G-20 countries. In this context, this haveli is ready to welcome the guests of G-20 countries. The restored Golden Haveli was opened on March 9, 2023, by Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. During the inauguration, he stayed in the haveli for about an hour and went to all the three floors of the haveli and looked closely at its rooms.

Later on, Jaishankar enjoyed the presentation of Kathak dance and the delicious cuisine of Chandni Chowk. He said conservation of such havelis is necessary due to the G-20 event, as a large number of foreign guests will also come to Chandni Chowk. Tourists coming to the Golden Haveli are getting acquainted with the ancient heritage of India on the one hand, while on the other hand they are enjoying traditional music and dance amidst delicious dishes.

Story of Golden Haveli - As told by Vijay Goel

The convener of Heritage India Foundation, Vijay Goel, who has a keen interest in heritage conservation, while telling about the development journey of Golden Haveli, says the proposal for conservation of Haveli came to him a few years back. “Since I am interested in preserving heritage I immediately set out to prepare an aid and protection report for its restoration. Since this haveli was in a dilapidated condition, it was necessary to restore its original form. That’s why the old things which were in perfect condition were repaired and kept as before,” he said.

It took Goel four years to restore the Golden Haveli. This type of work, says Goel, requires passion, money and patience. According to Vijay Goel, earlier there used to be thousands of havelis in Chandni Chowk, but due to lack of conservation, very few havelis are left in existence. It is our duty to conserve these havelis.

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