The Emperor Shahjahan built Shahjahanabad, the old city of Delhi in 1648 with the concept of medieval city layout. Shahjahanabad was an fortified city with rubble wall, bastions and gates at regular intervals. The city inhabited on the west of the Red Fort, and, the palace on the banks of River Yamuna. Jama Masjid the great Friday royal mosque was constructed towards the south-west of the Red fort. Fortified neighbourhood with arterial lanes and built fabric on both sides and neighbourhoods are main features of the old city of Delhi. Over the period, the historic built fabric has experienced transformation & declination but many portions are still alive and bear the evidence of history. The buildings in the old city are distinct in spatial planning, architecture, decorative elements and climate responsive features. Special efforts and technical knowledge can save these evidences for future generations.
Ages passed and I did not remember you. Yet, it would be wrong to say that I had forgotten you. – Firaq
Shahjahanabad is home to a number of grand and stately havelis of considerable architectural merit constructed along a set pattern. Built during the late Mughal and colonial periods, the facades are magnificently carved in buff and red sandstone. The fronts of the havelis are decorated with floral patterns, sculptures and fluted designs. The interior of the havelis have a central courtyard around which rooms are built, in what is known as the central courtyard plan. One side usually has a small stone stairway leading to the first floor. The distinguishing features are the grand old wooden doors with iron or brass and copper fittings with intricate designs on them and arched niches.
The wall, the rooms, the arch-vault jack roofs and arcaded verandas are said to represent colonial features. Beautiful jharokhas (windows), chattris (umbrellas), small decorative balconies, fluted columns, well-designed chabutras (platforms), traditional baithaks (drawing rooms) and marble floors are features of the Mughal architectural styles. The havelis are set on a high platform above street level. Fine and detailed fluted designs depicting different themes adorn the interiors of these havelis. The use of stained-glass windows, generally associated with churches, is another special features of these grand residences.
Most havelis have a distinctly marked outer area. The nobleman or owner conducted his routine work and attended to official business here. The inner area constituted the personal living space. The central portion of the building, the diwankhana, acted as the drawing room. As imitations of imperial constructions, havelis also had a profusion of gardens, fountains and fruit trees. Today one can hardly visualize such splendour.
It is often overlooked that the Hindu and Muslim mansions had little to differentiate them, even as the owner’s perception of life and his beliefs mostly influenced haveli architecture. The havelis were not built at random spots, but in suitable surroundings. The terraces were planned with a sense of purpose: apart from providing privacy. Khus (aromatic grass) screens, kept constantly moist, helped keep the summer heat away while the fine stone screens with beautifully worked geometric patterns served as ventilators. Some of the large rooms had fireplaces; the smaller ones were heated with sigris (charcoal braziers) full of red-hot colas. Patterned stonework embellished the ceramic tiles, but these are rarely seen now.
It is a distress that needs to be visibly assuaged. Only then will a magnificent cultural realm be salvaged. ‘Kasra Zindgani shad bashad ki dar shab-e-jahan abad bashad.’ (the man who fortunately finds residence in the city of Shahjahanabad leads a happy life). It is innovativeness and a fresh outlook that is important today, if one is to move forward and stake a claim to the above verse.
Haveli in Dharampura its distinctive features, it is attributed as Late Mughal style, though part of it is a later addition in the 20th century. During Mughal and late Mughal period, a large number of havelis were built by the courtiers. Historical references suggest that construction of the haveli dates to 1887 AD. It was originally designed to have a mixed-use pattern i.e both residential and commercial. Shops on the lower ground floor that open towards the street and the remaining floors designed as residence portray the mixed use of haveli. The ground floor with a grand entrance and first floor were constructed at the same period, while second floor clearly seems to be a later addition at much later stage in the mid 20th century
The name Dharampura of the locality was named after the word ‘Dharam’ – religion, likely because of the large number of small and big religious institutions including Jain temples. The building is situated in close proximity of historic Jama Masjid having direct access though Gali Gulian and then opening into Gali Anar with beautiful sandstone arched entrance with decorative features on the way to haveli. The other approach is through Dariba Kalan, famous jewellery market, and then walking through Kucha Seth which was magnificent and Historic Jain temples with beautiful carvings in it leading to the Haveli.
The Haveli was a part of residential zone historically, but at present converted into a core commercial area. The approach towards the building is only a 5′ narrow alley, giving a feeling of vintage memory lane. The Haveli has narrowest gali on its backside. The surroundings of the Haveli still bears the evidences of history through its physical features. Brackets, balconies, jharokas, multifoliated arched gateway, carved sandstone facades, wooden doorway the visual quality of the approach way which at present look dilapidated due to modern insensible urban pressure.