Passion for heritage: Former civic executive engineer in Pune civic body turns house into heritage complex
Set up in 2,000 sq ft plot Mystic village, Daravali, Paud village; Dhavalaey built a Maharashtrian style two-storey building, which houses all the collectables he has accumulated over the past 20 yearsUpdated: Aug 09, 2020 17:09 IST
Passion to preserve heritage comes naturally to former executive engineer and head of the department of the heritage cell, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Shyaam Dhavalaey, so much so that post retirement, he turned his home into a heritage complex.
Set up in 5,000 sq ft plot Mystic village, Daravali, Paud village; Dhavalaey built a Maharashtrian style two-storey building on a 2,000 sq ft space, which houses all the collectables he has accumulated over the past 20 years. The house will be open for the public after three months.
His tryst with heritage and conservation came in the form of restoration and conservation work on the Vishrambaug Wada in 2001 when he took up the post of head of heritage cell, PMC. “I was on the verge of quitting my job with the PMC, where I had worked for 20 years in the garden department, water supply and as ward officer when I got this opportunity,” said Dhavalaey who is a civil engineer by profession.
“I was always attracted towards art and this was an opportunity for me to delve further into this world,” he said.
When you see the pastel pink house, its traditional doors, windows and shingles, all made of wood, draw you in. Dhavalaey began collecting antique doors, hinges, window panes from Juna Bazaar, or during his trips to different parts of Maharashtra, whereupon, simplicity of the forms of the ‘Uhkhal’ (grain husker), stone vessels and stone bearings attracted him, enough to start his collection.
His interest in conserving heritage and antiques also made him study Indology at the Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth and also get a post graduate degree in Archaeology and heritage management, which helped him in his work on various heritage sites like Lal Mahal, Nana Wada and Mahatma Phule Mandai in the city.
How the journey started
After retirement, Dhavalaey realised that the ‘treasure’ he had collected over 20 years at his old house in Parvati, had to be showcased. He thought of creating a special place to curate and showcase the treasure for the new generation to know more about our rich heritage and culture. Thus in 2017, he began laying the foundation of his dream and built a house which is completely made out of antique doors, window panels, even the electric switches are all of the old styles – black switches mounted on wooden boards.
Recycle and reuse
Dhavalaey has recycled a lot of the old stone plinths to build this historic house. “My work during the restoration and conservation of heritage buildings taught me that there is a lot of history in the pots, pans and even in traditional architecture which I have tried to recreate in this house,” he said.
All of the collection, right from a wooden desk to the ‘khunti’ (wooden hangers), ‘kerosene diyas have been recycled from parts, if not found. “Many of these objects emphasise the importance of art and tradition, heritage has been permanently preserved in the form. This project has been set up not only to preserve the invaluable heritage that our forefathers, past generations have given us, but also to create something for the future generations,” added Dhavalaey.
He has spent Rs 8 lakh till date on building the house. He plans to hold art and craft workshops, lectures, and demonstrations in the future.