Art & Culture, Rural

Holipura and its melancholic heritage…

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India

Holipura Heritage Village, a small (and save for the glossy paint, largely non-descript) board on the road from Agra to Bah announces a potential excursion to those meandering in the ravines of Chambal… that ‘tis a short detour swings the decision in its favour as one turns the car down a narrow bumpy road for the three odd miles…

The road ends at the junction of two large havelis brooding perpendicular to each other… Sanjay Chaturvedi, a lanky disposition of around fifty or so who serves as the local guide (a vocation one assumes he has a monopoly on), peeks inquisitively from the courtyard and snaps into the role at our behest…

Holipura has a 500-year history clinging on to its ruins, a seat of saint Hari Hara Nandji who’d have inspired this settlement of Chaturvedi brahmins established by Holinath Chaturvedi, many of whom went on to achieve important positions across politics, law, business and many other areas… the state of the village belies this fact though… while ‘tis the way of the past to pilfer away eventually, laying claim to a brood of well-renowned gentry should ideally buy it some more time, which in this case it clearly doesn’t…

There are supposed to be more than 30 odd culturally important buildings here, but apart from half a dozen or so havelis, everything else is a callous caricature of crumbling facades… there are very few abandoned buildings though… Indrajeet Bhawan was the one building that still preserved some character, imagery of Gandhi upon its rusting balcony railing speaking of the fervour of the freedom struggle… another decently preserved building housed the local branch of Allahabad Bank… the rest are ruminations on urban migration and those left behind biding their time…

No doubt there are some stories, for broken walls are seldom bereft of an anecdote… the quintessential Rajput connections… small vertical slits in the walls used for mounting guns now romancing vines… ornate Victorian doors now embellished with charpoys and cloth hooks… there is forlorn look about the place, as if all the beseeching to those in places of prominence led to little more than some cursory acknowledgements in government annals…

We’d come to Chambal for the crocodiles, hence this was a strange flavour on the palette, the sombre hues of decadence… yet one also realizes that this despondency mostly plagues the visitor, for the native almost always weaves a cocoon, one that reminisces in the glory of the past and remains indifferent to the perils of the present…

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Doors often are the last standing bastions of a crumbling edifice

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
The village has a decent population, yet the opulence of its ruins gives it rather ghostly feeling

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
This was perhaps the only building in the village that had some character to it

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Remnants of the freedom struggle

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
A small temple at the centre of the village, a trail to Yamuna diverges from here

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Basic approaches to subsistence

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Hollow gates leading to renovated abodes

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Most of the houses are occupied, even if only for a certain part of the year

 

Uttar Pradesh, India
An afternoon melancholy

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
Stripped down

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
The haveli had a rather striking door

 

Holipura village, Uttar Pradesh, India
A closeup of the door

 

Uttar Pradesh, India
The charm of old doors

 

Uttar Pradesh, India
The most well preserved building housed a branch of Allahabad Bank

 

Uttar Pradesh, India
No need of nameplates

Musings on a heritage village, Holipura, Uttar Pradesh

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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