When the Haveli comes back to life


Merci au magazine Yoga Journal pour cet article sur le Shekhawati Project, paru en décembre dernier.

Thanks to Yoga Journal for this article about The Shekhawati Project, published last December.

When the haveli comes back to life

In Rajasthan, an organization seeks to salvage centuries-old frescoes on the walls of a haveli

According to estimations, at least 150 havelis disappear every year, buried under real estate projects in Shekhawati, North-Western India. These beautiful monuments, ancient homes where wealthy Indian merchants used to trade spices, brocades and other oriental goods, were fully covered with frescoes from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Nowadays, unprotected , haveli are undergoing the erosion of time, pollution and the voracity of promoters.

Discovering this abandoned heritage, Cécile Charpentier, an expert restorer of paintings, decided to take up the fight to bring these monuments back to life. A year ago, she founded the organization The Shekhawati Project and initiated a first workshop in one of these haveli recently transformed into a home-stay (Le Prince Haveli): “We are trying to import modern restoration techniques and to highlight the local craftsmen's know-how, craftsmen who transmitted their trade secrets from one generation to another ” explains Cécile, who has for the past year been mobilizing restorers from France, Switzerland, Italy - and of course India - to take part in the project.

“Haveli are really a world heritage, in that they bring together wood from Burma, inlaid glass from Belgium, and frescoe techniques from Italy using seashell powder from Asia” stresses Cécile, who calls for greater awareness of the historical value of the haveli.

Besides their architectural and historical importance, these mansions could provide extra leverage to combat local pollution. “We discovered that plastic waste accumulation to a depth of several meters was contributing to flooding, rising damp and mould, the main causes of the deterioration of the walls. The inexistent waste treatment is a curse whose effects are already visible on the foundations of monuments” deplores the expert.

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