Tambekar Wada – Wall Murals
Once upon a time, our walls were our art workshops, our prized possessions. All that we cherished was painted on them. We lived in the middle of those designs that either pleased us or kept reminding us of certain people or events. Alas! Not many of these places have survived the test of time. So when we heard about Tambekar Wada – the haveli of Vithal Khanderao Tambekar or Bhau Tambekar – erstwhile Divan of State of Baroda that still had these paintings/murals left, we rushed to the old city to have a look at them. Almost with urgency as if they are going to vanish if we are not fast enough. After meandering many streets we finally stand in front of a rather plain looking tall building that has an ASI board outside.
We step into the office and a very graceful Jamna Ben smiles and says she will show us the paintings. And then looks at us to see if we can climb the steep staircases or not before guiding us there. The staircase is very steep with relatively high steps.
A riot of Colors – Paintings on the walls
As she opened the door of the third-floor room it was like being thrown into a riot of colors. It takes me a couple of minutes to adjust to this new reality before it fills me in with excitement. To capture them on camera or to study the paintings to see what was painted. The ceiling had the traditional green and yellow colors while every inch of the walls was painted. Even the door panels carry painted treatises on various aspects of life like music, love, wrestling and they showcase them in Ganjifa Card like presentation. Florally patterned strips in bright colors demarcate the paintings and sometimes provide the border to the frame.
There are traditional scenes from Mahabharata including the anecdotes from the life of Krishna. There are ample contemporary scenes from the Anglo-Maratha wars of 19th CE. Parts of the walls above the doors have large paintings usually depicting war scenes.
Narrow strips of walls between doors and paintings depicting music and dance. And doors, as I said, had panels consisting of miniatures on a theme. Some of the larger paintings are like scrolls telling a story in small scenes.
The paintings were made in the 1870s and the technique used is Secco. These may not be the highest quality paintings. But they do tell me how those who could afford, painted their walls tastefully. I saw similar paintings in Jhansi in Rani of Jhansi’s palace with a predominant Red color.
There is a small Jali partition beautifully carved and merges with the paintings. There are wooden frames that add three-dimensional impact with a woody texture to the paintings on the walls.
Apart from these two rooms that are surviving and are being restored by ASI, the rest of the Haveli is in shambles. We looked through the doors that open towards the Haveli and all we could see was crumbling walls.
Entry is free. Photography is not allowed unless you take permission from the ASI office. A must-see for art enthusiasts.
Recommend you to read the following Places to visit in Gujarat.