The history behind the Jasdan state is as interesting as the glorious palace of the Jasdan family. Founded in 1665 – when Darbar Shri Vika Khachar defeated the Khumans of Kherdi –the state was ruled by the Rajputs of the Kathi Kshatriya dynasty. But in 1807, its then ruler Vajsur Khachar reached an agreement with the British and the Gaekwad, after which it became a British protectorate. Cut to today, and an extraordinary home has taken shape. From the outside, the dramatic scale of the palace is impressive. But inside it has such detail and texture – the diversity of the rooms, the collections of incredible art from the 19th century– that it instantly transports us back to the grandeur of days long past. Read on as we speak to Kumar Shri Shivrajkumar Satyajitkumar Khachar of the Jasdan family.
Show Darbar Shri Satyajitkumar Shivraj Khachar a fine European or an Indian antique – in particular one made in the 19th century – and neither rarity nor value enters the conversation. Instead what rivets the 11th and present Chief of Jasdan is the way antiques bear eloquent witness to a moment in time. “We believe antiques have a lot to teach us about how we thought and lived,” Shivraj says. With a nostalgia for the time Shivraj has never experienced, he remarks, “One’s home should reflect their personality. However, when designing it is also essential to be aware of the historic and architectural context.”
Built in the 19th century, a series of alterations and additions over the centuries has produced an aesthetic tour de force. “The palace has been built in phases,” Shivraj explains.
“The initial part was built in 1860 by my great-great-grandfather. Since then each generation has added to it. Some parts are more than 300 years old and the outer wall has seen two wars.” The earliest constructed parts of the palace have been done in accordance with the traditional style during the time in which they were built. The later additions are more contemporary and were done to merge the antiquated style of architecture with various modern amenities. Throughout the years, plants and gardens were also added to creatively brighten some of the very high and seemingly lacklustre fort-like walls.”
The entrance to the palace is through the main gate. Upon entering, there is a quadrangle in the centre, and the Zanna, which is the oldest part of the palace, towards the left. The Zanna has two floors. Next to it are two of the comparatively newer sections – the dining and drawing areas. “We have plain cotton and velvet in the drawing rooms to enhance the colours of the carpets, curtains, and also my grandmother’s hand embroidery, which works well for our place,” Shivraj says. Facing these decorated rooms is the splendid family library; here are books in a richly polished walnut bookcase, artefacts made by indigenous peoples, and a pair of 19th-century walnut chairs.
On the first floor is Satyajitkumar Shivraj Khachar and wife Maharajkumari Alaukika Raje Gaekwad’s room. Just beyond is a huge sitting room, where every surface brims with portraits of the family’s ancestors and precious curiosities. However, the palace’s most arresting feature is the solid staircase with sculptures of lions on both sides, linking the main floor to the private spaces below. The lower floor comprises Shivraj’s grandmother Rani Pramila Raje Gaekwad Sahib of Baroda’s bedroom. And adjacent is Shivraj and his elder brother Yuvraj Saheb Shri Ravirajkumar Satyajitkumar’s rooms. Then there is a charming guest room. Throughout the house, the Jasdan family has opted for nature-inspired designs. “Somehow wildlife and nature has always taken a place of pride in our home. Wildlife paintings and embroidered bird pictures, or screens with natural scenery occupy special places,” Shivraj notes.
The serenity of the Indian landscape emanates in part from the subtly complex colours, and when it came to colours the effect was to simply bring out the Indianness. “India is essentially a country of bold and vivid colours. I think we, as Indians, have a deep-rooted sentiment that goes hand in hand with such vibrancy, and we tend to love the entire palette. It works well for us,” Shivraj asserts. “Some hues match very well with European colour tones and a slightly different shade here and there mixes nicely with traditional Indian settings. We just made sure to enhance them.”
The decor is an ever-evolving combination of traditional and exotic European, characterised by ingenious theatrical effects. “Our family has always been fond of art and culture. Most of our paintings are sourced from Europe and various parts of India,” Shivraj says. With the palace, the family focused on world-class artworks, among them paintings by Frank Dixie, Arthur Wardle, Elizabeth Bruner, JW Godward and Frank Brooks. Amongst the artists of Indian origin, they have Raja Ravi Verma and Shivraj’s grandfather, Darbar Shri Shivrajkumar Ala Khachar’s paintings. Apart from that, they also boast a beautiful collection of hand-painted Japanese vases.
The Jasdan’s have long been known for high impact, and this palace certainly fits their reputation. Its dramatic scale, textured interiors, and collections of incredible art all perfectly accentuate the family’s style. Still, when asked to identify what the family finds most pleasing about this glorious home, Shivraj concludes, “I think my favourite places are all outdoors. The gallery behind the dining room has a pool table where we boys hang out. We also enjoy our little family time on the veranda outside our kitchen. Surprisingly, even our television is in an enclosed part of a veranda. Since the terraces all overlook the garden, I am always a hop, skip, and jump away from the great outdoors – just the way
I like it.” – Anisha