I was in the UNESCO Heritage Site in Jaipur – the walled city area a couple of days ago for street photography in Jaipur. While passing through a bylane, I noticed this old Haveli and quickly snapped it in this frame. Jaipur is one of the best places for street photography in India.
Later, when I shared this with a couple of people, the reactions were diverse. Someone liked it because it was an authentic scene while others thought there is no narrative or it doesn’t convey a story.
My thought differs. In my opinion, the building is akin to the protagonist. If you look carefully, the arched doorway in the courtyard contains beautiful frescoes. This Haveli must-have been beautiful in its heydays. The marks of shoddy repair work are evident in many places.
This courtyard must have been a vibrant place; courtyards served as a living area. In the current times, it is nothing more than a parking lot for the scooters and bikes. Parked on the left side of the arched gateway is an old scooter which has been unused for years. Presumably, it has not been disposed of because there are many memories attached with it; too hard to part away with? It is suffering its lingering death.
Even though the house is not well-maintained, it holds many memories and emotions. While many old Havelis/homes have been demolished in the walled city to make way for modern construction, some owners have decided to cling on to old structures. Why? Home is not just a building or a shelter, it is a feeling. What do you think?
Reasons for the bad state of Havelis in Jaipur & Rajasthan
A significant number of Havelis in Jaipur and elsewhere in Rajasthan are in dilapidated & damaged state. The following remain the reasons for such a critical state of Havelis.
- Dispute of ownership among family members. Over a period of time, the families grow and division of property remains a great source of stress. In traditional Havelis, demarcating equally is difficult leading to frictions. In some cases, people add more floors to the present structure in a modern style. This is inconsistent with old architecture and causes damage to the old structure.
- Lack of funds. This is another substantial reason for Havelis in the current state. Renovating Havelis needs a huge amount of money which many people cannot afford.
- Lack of government support is on top adding to the issue. Skilled workers using old construction techniques are unavailable. Even if one is able to secure such people, a large sum is required for repairs.
- A need for modern facilities like a kitchen, attached toilets with bedrooms, etc. leads people to make major changes to the structure.
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