Indo-French project resurrects Bhopal's living heritage

THE HINDU, NOVEMBER 23, 2006
New Delhi, November. 23 (PTI): Bhopal’s heritage architecture has largely been given a miss as it does not conform to any genre – but therein lies the beauty of the designs influenced by the French, Mughal, Persian, Arabic, British, Afghan and closer home Rajasthani and Gond styles.
An Indo-French venture, ‘The Bhopal Workshop’, launched about three years ago is trying to preserve and resurrect the living architectural heritage of the City of Begums, who ruled Bhopal for four generations in a row.
A photo exhibition showcasing the strides taken in preserving these architectural gems was opened at India International Centre annexe here on Tuesday evening.
Prof Savita Raje, the Indian partner for this project, told PTI, “we are trying to showcase the architectural and urban heritage of the historical city as a significant part of the Indian cultural heritage.”
Palace complexes designed during the reign of the Begums are unique borrowing extensively from various architectural genres – nowhere in the world would a palace have Rajasthani “jharokhas”, Persian natural cooling systems, French facades, Mughal courtyards with natural lighting and labour rooms for women.
Raje says, “the goodness of the designs reflects on the people of Bhopal. Their energy efficient behaviour, good health and the community feeling generated by these time-tested buildings and spaces needs to be propagated.”
What really makes this project distinct is it is trying to preserve not just the buildings, but also the culture of the people.

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