India – Bichli Haveli Project
History of the Site
Built about 140 years ago, the Bichli Haveli is the traditional ancestral home of the Mahim Singh Mehta family, descendants of one of the noble families of the former Mewar state. Situated in the old city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, it is close to all the famous bazaars, palaces, and lakes for which the “White City” is known. The Mehta family still owns the property six generations after it was constructed, but it has sat empty since 1992. With 46 rooms, 3 stories, 2 courtyards, and 8 staircases, it is a large space with enormous potential. In 2016, Restoration Works International began pursuing a partnership with the Mehtas to restore this magnificent piece of Indian heritage and convert it to a purpose that will be beneficial to the surrounding community. We kicked off the project with the first volunteer tour in July 2017.
The Bichli Haveli Project offers a great opportunity to help Indian people preserve an important part of their cultural heritage and daily life. Our committed Indian partners are central to the success and sustainability of this project. Our partners include:
- Mahim Singh Mehta Family
Recognizing its incredible cultural value, Mahim Singh Mehta made the admirable decision to keep the Bichli Haveli in the family when most haveli owners have sold or broken up the grand (but increasingly expensive) residences of their ancestors. He has endeavored for more than a decade to find a way to bring the haveli back to life. His daughter, Malvika Mehta, a trained architect, serves as the Project Manager and Architect and has devoted years to documenting the property and planning its adaptive use.
- JanDaksha Trust
One of the Bichli Haveli Project goals – and an RWI foundational value – is job creation. We’re delighted to be partnering with local Udaipur NGO (nonprofit), JanDaksha Trust, who is supporting the project’s crew of primarily women laborers who will be trained in restoration over the next three years. JanDaksha’s work focuses on the vulnerable migrant worker population and women’s empowerment. In addition to arranging dignified employment, JanDaksha will support the crew with official work documents, healthcare and legal assistance, family support, financial literacy training, and much more.
- Haveli Community
The Bichli Haveli Project will restore and rehabilitate a 140-year-old haveli located in the old city of Udaipur, transforming it into a community and heritage resource center with revenue-generating accommodation to ensure its ongoing operation. In addition to the restoration of the Bichli Haveli, the project aims to bring benefit to the community in which it is located. It is a three-year project.
- Restore and rehabilitate the Bichli Haveli
- Establish a community engagement program including alley greening, composting, graywater treatment and provide public meeting and play spaces
- Train and employ Udaipur’s migrant women laborers to create teams of skilled restoration specialists who can use these skills in the future
- Provide economic benefit by hiring local staff and supporting local suppliers and services
- Demonstrate to the larger community the viability of restoration as a tool of community renewal and improvement, and provide them with the resources to embark on similar initiatives