Saturday, July 28, 2012

A historical haveli

Straddling the border between Old and New Delhi in Shahjahana-bad, stands Master Jee Ki Haveli, one of the oldest maintained buildings in the area, that has a history that’s as rich as the decor within its stout walls
Located at one of the prime sites of Shahjahanabad and at the border of Old and New Delhi, in a residential area of Sitaram Bazaar, Master Jee Kee Haveli is one of the oldest maintained buildings in the area.
The haveli is a fine edifice that has been built on the lines of traditional Mughal architecture. Any onlooker is sure to be impressed with the carved pillars, the open terraces and other features that typify Old Delhi’s traditional culture.
The Bus Stand, Chawri Bazar Metro Station, Connaught Place and tourist places like Jama Masjid are within walking distance, and you get a true feel of Old Delhi’s traditional lifestyle and surroundings at the haveli.
The haveli’s name comes from that of the late Master Ram Kishan Gupta (1913–2003) who graduated from Hindu College, Delhi, in the year 1932.
Thereafter, he did his Masters in Sanskrit and Hindi from Delhi University. He was a great Sanskrit Scholar who used to enjoy chanting shlokas and verses. He was always ready to help students from the locality in their studies.
Apart from educating children, Masterji was also devoted to taking care of cows. He was even awarded by the state government for his meritorious service.
Some of the students whom Masterji taught now occupy high positions in various prestigious institutions.
Masterji inherited the haveli through his mother Gomti Devi and stayed in it throughout his life. His popularity and stature in the neighbourhood ensured that the haveli was also identified by his name.
Presently, the haveli is maintained by Masterji’s wife (now aged 95), his daughter and her family.
Masterji’s eldest daughter (who is my mother) has married into the family of Raja Jwala Prasad, to Dharma Vira, who worked closely with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru post-Independence.
He was joint secretary to the Indian Cabinet in 1947 and then became principal private secretary to Pandit Nehru.
The haveli has played host to many people from that era, including Pandit Nehru, who was a guest at the wedding ceremony of my parents.
Besides, it has been an onlooker’s delight for years because of its architecture. While the carved stone pillars are a testament to the haveli’s heritage, the central courtyard — flanked by 58 doors — is an additional feature that attracts the many tourists who come from all over the world to visit the haveli.

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