Revival of Hemu’s Haveli on the cards

THE legacy of Maharaja Hemchandra Vikramaditya ( 1501- 1556), often referred to as the ‘ last Hindu king of India’, is being revived. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage ( INTACH) has commissioned a study on the royal mansion of the king in Rewari, called ‘ Hemu’s Haveli’. The 900- year- old brick- and- mortar structure, located in Qutabpur area of Rewari, boasts of an impressive mixed architecture combining

impressive mixed architecture combining Jat- Rajput, Mughal and Portuguese influence. INTACH is also considering "appropriate adaptive reuses of the Haveli" such as an information centre or a museum.

According to conservation architect Tapasya Samal, who has been awarded the research grant, in the possible second part of the project, the "cultural landscape associated with Maharaja Hemchandra, including Rewari’s cannon and brass industry, more edifices and battlefields, will be taken into account". Born in Rewari, Hemchandra rose to become Chief of the Army and Prime Minister to Adil Shah Suri of the Suri dynasty. He fought Afghan rebels across North India from Punjab to Bengal and

the Mughal forces, winning 22 consecutive battles. He defeated the army of Emperor Akbar and Bairam Khan, winning the throne of Delhi and India in 1556, but was killed in a battle with Akbar a month later after a stray arrow hit his eye.

INTACH’s Haryana Chapter convener, Dr Shikha Jain, said: "Hemu’s Haveli is a unique historical structure as it bears the imprints of various eras and rulers.

Some monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, were built in one stretch of time and under one reign. But Hemu’s Haveli was added to by its successive owners, over centuries." On the architectural features of the mansion, Samal elaborated:

"It is a two- storey structure with 10 rooms, verandahs and a large central courtyard characteristic of Rajasthani havelis. The first floor liberally uses lakhori bricks, which were prevalent in Mughal times. Meanwhile, the semi- circular arches betray a Portuguese touch." Sudhir Bhargava, a descendent of Maharaja Hemchandra, and adviser in the project, shared "Delhi does not have a European structure this old, but this structure bears a clear Portuguese stamp. Also, Maharaja Hemchandra has not been given his due in Indian history.

Purana Qila does not even make a mention of him though his coronation took place here in October 1556 after defeating Akbar’s army. The government should take it over for conservation."