While Anand Bhawan, 10 Janpath and 1 Safdarjung Road, the famous abodes of Gandhi-Nehru family, got a lot of media attention over the years and decades, the abode where Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru went as a groom a little more than 100 years ago in Delhi-6 never got enough attention, either from the family or the media. Well, we are talking about Haksar Haveli of Delhi-6.
It was at the Haksar Haveli where Jawaharlal Lal Nehru came with the full-fledged ‘band, baaja, baraat’ to marry Kamala on 8 February 1916. Haksar Haveli had seen its salad days in the past as it used to host a lot of mushairas and musical programmes.
It is said that Indira Gandhi came to see the birthplace of her mother in the 80’s, with her two close aides RK Dhawan and HKL Bhagat. She spent around 30 minutes in the haveli and became very emotional when she saw the house her mother lived in.
Other than Indira Gandhi, it’s not known whether Rajiv Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi ever visited the haveli. And one cannot expect that Rahul, Priyanka or Varun would come to visit the crumbling Haksar Haveli.
“It's possible to restore Haksar Haveli to its old glory. We have so many architects who have done extensive work on restoring old buildings. So, it can also be restored easily,” says noted Delhi based architect Rajeev Gupta, who works for the NDMC.
A Forgotten Haveli in Ruins
When Pandit Nehru was at Harrow, his parents had started searching for a suitable match for their son. After much effort, they found Kamala, a girl from a middle-class Kashmiri Brahmin family in 1912. She was 13 years old at the time.
Brought up in a traditional Kashmiri Brahmin family of old Delhi, Kamala was a simple and reserved girl. Kamala Nehru was born on 1 August 1899. Rajpati and Jawaharmal Kaul were Kamala’s parents. Kamala had two brothers, Chand Bahadur Kaul and the botanist, Kailas Nath Kaul, and a sister, Swaroop Kathju. Except for a few years in Indraprastha Hindu girls’ school, which is right opposite Jama Masjid, all of her schooling was done at home, under the guidance of a Pandit and a Maulvi. It is said that she did not know English. And the Nehrus waited till 1916 for Kamala to attain the age of seventeen.
Cut to the present. You can see only the ruins of Haksar Haveli.
What’s worse is that even people in and around Ajmeri Gate and Sita Ram Bazar would not be able to tell you the exact location of the haveli. You would be lucky if you found an old-timer who remembered its significance.
It is said that a very large number of Kashmiri Pandits shifted to Delhi and other places like Agra and Allahabad between 1850 to 1900 from their homeland.
Among them were the Kunzrus, Haksars, Rehus, Dars, Takrus, Kauls, Zutshis, Katjus and Rainas. Kamala's kin too migrated to Delhi during those years. They built their haveli in the capital's Sitaram Bazaar. Some of the havelis are still there in Sita Ram Bazar and Gali Kashmiriyan area of Delhi-6.
The descendents of those Kashmiri migrants speak Hindustani, not Kashmiri. They prefer local cuisines than wazwan and other Kashmiri cuisines. The Kaul family sold their haveli in the early 60’s. That sealed the fate of this haveli.
Congress leaders have made a long struggle to get the Haksar Haveli converted into either a school or a library. But perhaps the government never paid heed to this request.
Meanwhile, the Haksar Haveli with the rich past is in bad shape. It would be fitting if a plaque is placed outside Haksar Haveli. And on the plaque, it could be mentioned that Pt Nehru came here to marry Kamala Haksar nee Nehru.
(The writer is Former Editor, Somaiya Publications. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)