The historical palace known as Bagore Ki Haveli spreads along the eastern bank of the famous Lake Pichhola. The outstanding edifice of the haveli, that is near the City Palace and Jagdish Mandir overlooks the Lake Palace.
The haveli was built in 1751 by the then prime minister of Mewar, Amarchand Badwa. After his death, the haveli came under the domain of Mewar state and was given to the Maharaja of Bagore. Maharaj Shakti Singh was responsible for the construction of the beautiful Kanch Mahal over the triple arched gate in 1878. After his death the haveli was confiscated during the reign of Maharana Fatehsingh. His succesor Maharana Bhupalsingh renovated the haveli into a guest house where palace guests were accommodated. In fact, there used to be a tunnel system that led directly to the City Palace. Efforts to reopen it after being out of use for several years had to be abandoned when it was found that the foundations of two new buildings were blocking it.
In 1947, the haveli came under the control of the state govt. It was used for housing govt. employees. Gradually, it lost its architectural grandeur. In 1986, it was handed over to the West zone Cultural Centre that is one of the seven zonal centres Set up by the Govt. of India. The main objective of these centres is to highlight and provide facilities for the development of performing and visual arts particularly the traditional folk and tribal art forms and literary pursuits. This Centre covers the western region of India namely Rajasthan, Gujrat, Maharastra, Goa, Daman, Diu and Dadar Nagar Haveli.
The Center decided to convert the haveli into a museum because of its charming style, typical of the best Mewari architecture, though with unique character of its own. Great care was taken to see that it was restored as faithfully as possible as an example of how a haveli would have looked and how life there would have been. A beautifully restored haveli now depicts the royal lifestyle, architecture and cultural ethos in its pristine glory.
There were separate women’s quarters called Zenana due to purdah system. They were large as there were a big number of women including mistresses and maids. Moreover, ladies were confined mainly to the haveli.
Situated on the first floor is a Shiv temple. The ceiling has fine religious paintings. The courtyard serves as an arena for a variety of authentic performing art forms for the benefit of the public. There are regular evening shows – Dharohar, comprising dance, mime, music, puppetry, light and shadow shows etc.
Hub of the aristocratic lifestyle of the princess, Tulsi Chowk, once upon a time, housed the women’s quarters. It displays the private chambers, dressing rooms, bathrooms, living rooms, worship and recreation rooms. The Chowk was sometimes used for performing dances. In some rooms, there are displays of turbans and women’s costumes.
In Baithak, sitting room, the princesses would relax with their female friends and relatives to discuss issues relating to politics, society etc.
Snanagar, bathroom, had Kundi and pitchers made of brass, copper and various metal alloys. The princess would be seated on a wooden platform with her maids smearing her entire body with a special preparation created from turmeric, gram flour and fresh cream, Pithi. Then they would rinse her with a fragrant mixture of milk, sandalwood and water.
In Shringarkaksh, dressing room, were wooden trunks with clothes of the ladies that varied in color and style according to the season or the occasion. There were be jewellery boxes and metal caskets containing valuable ornaments. After dressing, the ladies would apply perfume from Itra-daan.
Manoranjan Kaksh, entertainment room, had popular indoor games like chess, Chaupad and snakes and ladders. Majisa ka Kamara, the matriarch’s chamber of the widowed matriarchs has simple white decor, personal shrine, the portrait of her husband and paintings depicting episodes from the Vedic scriptures etc.
In the pooja Kaksh, room of worship, the princesses worshipped their favorite deities. Gangaur Kaksh contains the brightly coloured effigies of Gan, Lord Shiv, and Gaour, Parvati. In Mewar Gangour festival is celebrated with great funfare.
As members of the royality and nobility were great patrons of art, every haveli had a music and study room where the ladies learnt music, studied literature and scriptures. They were familiarized with musical instruments. Drinking water was kept in a place known as Parenda, usually situated near the kitchen.
There were terracotta water storage container and copper pitchers. Rasoda, the kitchen, had large metal vessels and wooden utensils. There were separate pantries to store food and other provisions.
A Jharokha is a raised balcony platform built into a bay and is a common feature of haveli architecture. It provided a comfortable place to relax, read or chat or peep through the tiny windows of the bay to observe what was going on below without the risk of being seen.
Shayan Kaksh, bedroom, were so designed that ladies were comfortable in all seasons. Maids operated the cloth ceiling fans during summer. Sigdies, metal hearths, were used for heating in winter. The room had a bed with mattress, quilt, pillows, hand fans etc.
The prince’s living quarters were situated on the first floor of the outermost courtyard. The Diwan-e-khas was the largest chamber in the haveli. Over the Tripolia, Triple arched gate, is the beautiful Kaanch Mahal Tripolia, is probably the most famous feature of the haveli. Maharaj Shakti Singh built Tripolia in 1878 and also the beautiful Kanch Mahal above it. Durrie Khana was originally carpeted with Durries and was a reception room. Public announcements were made from this room that overlooks Gangour Ghat on one side and the entrance court of the haveli from the other.
In the museum can be seen thermocol models of seven wonders of the world and of Vijai Sthamb, Chittorgarh, vintage cars, gramophone, birds and animals, music instruments, engraved Jharokha and doors etc. They appear to be made with marble.
One big attraction is the display of marriage ceremonies in royal familes with the help of fiber made models. The scenes include fixing of dates in consultation with pandit, women doing Pithi singing Mangalgaan, Baraat procession, Shahanai Vadaks, Saasu Aarti, Phera in Mandap, Vidai, Jua Khel etc.
Quite interesting is the puppet museum where on display are Kathputli Raaj Durbar, Baba Ramdev, Gogaji, Vikramaditya, Raja Karna, Nawabs of Lucknow and Agra, Raja Bhoj with Jalam Daaku, snakes and snake charmers, Bhishti, Dhola Maru etc.
On display are also various kinds of Pugrees worn by persons of different castes and professions such as Raja Maharaja, Thakur, farmer, businessman, Pujari etc. The world’s biggest Pugree can also be seen here.
A recently added attraction in the haveli are the bust portraits of royal personalities of Maharana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj of Maharashtra, Jaisingh of Jaipur, Rawal Jaisal Maharaj of Jaisalmer, Rao Jodha of Jodhpur, Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner, Maharaja Ranjitsingh of Jamnagar, Maharaja Prithvi Singh of Kishangarh, Raja Ramsingh of Bundi, Maharaja Swami Bhadur of Kaccha and Maharaja Jaisingh of Alwar. This would enable the present generation to learn about the great rulers of the country.
The haveli is a wonderland of its own kind and worth a visit.