Set in the sleepy little town of Nawalgarh, the Bhagat haveli is one of the most exquisite havelis in this rather mysterious town with an illustrious past. Considered by many as the Florence of the east. Nawalgarh is the home town to a number of India’s largest and most well off marwari business families such as the Poddars, Goenkas, Morarkas, Bhagats and so on and henceforth.
The Bhagat Haveli was the erstwhile residence of the influential Bhagat business family who were based out of Nawalgarh. The haveli was built by the late Bansidhar Bhagat the patron of the Bhagat family to establish their presence and represent with pride their influence in the region. Thus, the haveli is a luxurious complex which boasts of a multitude of delicate frescoes. With a built up area of 8400 sq ft, the haveli comprises of two courtyards, baithaks, rasois, parindas, nishernis, duchhatis, sals and a well developed terrace. All in all the haveli is a provides a great preview of not only the patrons family but also of the political, social and the economic set up of the time.
Our trip to this rather mysterious and exotic monument was on the premise of a measure drawing expedition of the age old haveli. While on our adventure, we reopened rooms which were closed for at least a century, fought our way through bats and crept and crawled to each corner of the building to discover its inner most secrets. We even discovered some letters dating back more than a hundred years.
The Bhagat haveli boasts of a number of features. Some are generic while the other are specific to this distinct haveli. Below listed are just some of the features of the haveli are as follows-
Double Height Columns in the Inner Courtyard-
A feature which is distinct in the Bhagat haveli is the double heightened columns. This feature cannot be seen in any havelis of the area. The columns are carved exquisitely to add the richness of the decor of the haveli. The stone columns are thus an indispensable part of the design of the haveli.
The entire haveli has been planned around the two outer and inner courtyards. The outer courtyard was meant for business while the inner one was for use by the family for leisure as well as for domestic chores. The height to width ration of the courtyard guarantees passive cooling as well as a shaded place to rest practically throughout the day.
The windows are placed in a manner to enhance the cross ventilation of the haveli. This ensures a cool built mass throughout the day and enables passive cooling. The interesting thing to be kept in mind is that while cross ventilation was kept in mind the privacy of the different areas of the haveli were not compromised.
The windows have been ingeniously designed to keep the adverse weather of the region out of the built mass. The windows are small and are inclined towards the interiors. This leads to the Bernoulli effect which cools the air entering the built form. The placement of the windows too has been done intelligently to provide cross ventilation and privacy at the same time.
The dhola system is a unique construction technique belonging to the Shekhawati region.
The haveli boasts of a number of exquisite frescoes ranging from the religious ones to the frescoes depicting the everyday life prevalent at that period of time. The frescoes displaying the technological advancements of the age, lifestyle of the ruling classes and the ones with south Asian influences are of particular interest.
Play of Levels-
The design of the haveli is such that it plays with a number of levels. The main reason which comes to mind for this is that the builders kept creating spaces and areas wherever they saw fit. For example, without exception all areas below the staircase are storage areas many a time at a mezzanine level. This also points out to the fact that the planning behind the havelis were not as well planned as we thought.
The thick walls of the haveli increase the thermal mass of the building. This increases the time lag for the heat to enter the building. This means that the haveli stays cool for the day and becomes warmer at night, leading to a comfortable environment.
Use of Mezzanine Level-
There are two mezzanine levels which have been provided in the haveli. One for the ground floor and one for the first floor. These levels have multiple uses such as for storage, for sleeping at night, to provide cross ventilation while maintaining privacy and so on and henceforth.
The drainage system of the haveli is extremely well planned. The slopes have designed in a manner that all the storm water is gradually transported to the public sewer or canals with the help of pipes, drains and so on and henceforth.