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Ravenwood Estate - The neglected gem of our heritage

Every city has its own history. Some have a very rich one and some have comparatively none. But buildings of a city tell a lot of tales about the heritage of any city. Dehradun luckily has been blessed with such a rich history that many of us or most of us are not even aware of it. What is even better that some of us actually choose to destroy it or deface it. Maybe it is right that people who are not aware of their history are bound to destroy it. One such gem of our history is hidden in the hills of Rajpur. Many times while passing through Old Rajpur and also while trekking to Mussorie I had noticed this old building right on the edge of the hill. While scouting for the way of that old Kothi I once went close to it but was not able to go inside as the gate was locked and there were impenetrable bushes right on the way.

Still my curiosity cat used to scratch on to me every time I saw that Kothi. It was amazing that a building which is situated in such a big area is lying secluded. Once, sitting at Hathi Bhai’s Chai Shop right at the Shahenshahi Chowk, I got into conversation with him. He knows a great deal about the area so I took this chance and asked him about the building. He told me that the building belongs to Nepal’s Raja and that is pretty much all the information he has about that building. I have shared a pretty nice conversational relationship with Hathi Bhai and so he told me to visit a guy who lives near the building and would be able to enlighten me furthermore.

It was obvious that this was no small subject. Getting to the root of it would require a lot of time and attention. So, I kept this on the back burner. For some days since then whenever I sat down to write something for Focused Tales I had my mind stuck there. Because of that every time I sat down to write something all I ended up doing was staring at my computer screen. As much as I have known myself, I am not the kind of the person who writes with his head. I am more of a heart person so it was better that I stuck on with my heart. So one day I along with my friend decided to take on this subject.

So we were on our quest to meet Mr Shaddan Khan who was referred by Hathi Bhai. We parked our bike at Hathi Bhai’s shop and started walking towards the old Rajpur Bazaar. There we asked about Shaddan Khan and we were directed towards his house which was right next to the Kothi we were interested in. So as soon as we got near the building, surprisingly now the gate was wide open and the path was totally clear. So before actually looking for Mr. Khan’s house we entered the premise of the Kothi. As we entered the gate we saw a group of boys playing cricket there. We approached the building which was at the extreme end of a small ground in between where there were only one or two trees.

As we entered in the courtyard of the kothi we noticed some cheap graffiti done by people. It shouldn’t be even regarded as graffiti; it was just defacing a beautiful and historical building. As we went close the amazing architecture was clearly visible. You can very well see the excellence of this builder. The pillars were wide and strong. Built with a combination of Lahori bricks and rocks the pillar supported a wall which was a perfect mix of stones and bricks. The contrast of Red and white color was extremely beautiful even by today’s standards. it was sad that sitting in the verandah was a group of men who were playing cards and drinking alcohol. I don’t think that a place like this should be used for such stuff. Inside the rooms were big, with high roofs and every room had a very big window. Behind that building used to be a swimming pool which has now vanished in mud and bushes. There were long courtyards inside and fireplaces in every room. It gave the impression of a Royal Palace. Stairs were made of wood which lead to small balconies. Every room was built in a way that even in the winter it was quite warm inside without any heat source. 

Then we asked about Mr Shaddan Khan and got to know that he was one of the people who were playing cricket. When we asked him to tell us about this building and show us around, he was more than happy to do so. It was even more awesome to know that he was also the caretaker of this building. So he started showing us around. As we entered the building, we got into the courtyard in the middle of the campus. It was completely covered with wild bushes. Shaddan told us that this building was basically built by a Nawab then it was sold to some Mr David who later on sold it to Nepal’s Raja. This building was also used as a Ladies Jail once and then a girl’s hostel.Some rooms on the inside were spookily dark and gave enough chills to even imagine that once women were kept there.

Then he showed some official papers of the building and that just blowed us off. This building was built by Babu Nabi Bux who was a Nawab. The first sale deed of this building was dated 1893. That means that this building was more than a century old already. This was sold to Miss Jeanie Newton. During that time it was known as the “Mill House” but she changed the name of this 7 Bigha estate to Ravenwood Estate. Then it was transferred to John-Moultrie David, her nephew as a gift on 6th October 1922. On that day it was valued at 17,440 rs. Then this was sold to H.H Maharaja Joodha Shamshere Jung Bahadur Rana on 26th April,1948 at the sum of 25000 rupees. Then in the year 1991, it was leased to a private company situated in Delhi.

After that it was used by the Government as Nari Niketan in 1999 and the rent at that time was raised from 170 rs to 4770 per month. In 2003 it was made as the Balika Niketan but after some years it was shifted from here as the building was deemed unfit for the organization. Since then it has been lying useless.

In foreign countries if there is a building such as this then it is maintained well by the Government or else the local people because they feel that it is their heritage and it is their moral duty to actually save it. But sadly in our country, some people feel that their moral duty is to spoil a place which has been neglected, use it as a spot for drinking and all kinds of illegal activities or simply carve their names on the wall as a hall of fame. What they fail to understand is that if these things are spoiled we are never getting them back. This building which from the outset was just a ruin had been holding such great stories and historical value. It would be a shame if we lose such an amazing piece of our history. This building is presently owned by the Nepal’s Raja who presently resides in Australia. But this is not the matter because it is a historical building and it is our duty to save it from all the notorious elements. Until this becomes a reality it will just stand there as a neglected gem of our heritage.

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This post first appeared on Focused Tales, please read the originial post: here

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Ravenwood Estate - The neglected gem of our heritage


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