Havelis in Rajasthan - Haveli in Piramal
Shekhavati’s chockfull of heritage hotels, some avoidable, some so-so, and some good. But when it comes to unostentatious elegance, the Piramal Haveli in Baggar wins hands down. Tiny Baggar has few havelis; but the Piramals made this village what it is today- a prosperous hamlet- so it is perhaps fitting that Baggar’s biggest draw is the erstwhile home of the Piramal patriarch, Seth Piramal. Chaturbhuj Makharia.
Seth Piramal Chauturbhuj Makharia made his fortune in Bombay, trading in commodities that included cotton, silk and opium, After having accumulated a fair bit of wealth, he headed back to Shekhavati, to channelise some of that wealth into philanthropy. And into building a lovely mansion in Baggar.
The Piramal Haveli is an oasis in the otherwise dusty, arid surrounds of Baggar. We reached the haveli on a scorching afternoon, passing through the high `Piramal Gate’ (1928), and there it was. Cool, inviting and very quaint. The haveli was built about the same time as the Piramal Gate, and it’s a fine example of native and European styles of art and architecture. The elegant colonnaded façade is obviously Italianate; the parapets, with creepers trailing down to the ground, and the courtyards- are very Indian. And this being Shekhavati, there are plenty of frescoes- again, pretty eclectic. The first courtyard, for instance, has a series of frescoes all across the upper edge of its surrounding walls. Nearly all the frescoes depict Hindu deities, but every now and then, there’s an image that doesn’t quite seem to fit. Peering at the pictures, we see Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) standing next to a golden-haired cherub that looks straight out of a Renaissance painting.