Conservation at Nagaur
The Nagaur Fort and Palace complex is one of the finest and most extensive examples of the Rajput-Mughal architectural style. Its exquisite wall paintings provide an insight into 18th-century courtly life in Rajasthan.
A fort has existed on this site since the 4th century. The original mud fort has been adapted over the centuries, including 12th-century stone fortifications and 16th-century constructions. Adaption and accretions continued into the 20th century, when the Border Security Forces and District Administration occupied the fort.
The appearance of the fort today is dominated by the building campaign of Maharaja Bakht Singh, who held his court here from 1725-51. Most of the palaces within the fort, and the paintings that decorate them, date from his rebuilding campaign. Bakht Singh was a great patron of the arts, and recent art-historical scholarship has established a ‘Nagaur school’ of portable painting from this period.
Since accepting management of the fort in 1985, the Mehrangarh Museum Trust (MMT) has been working to reinstate Nagaur as a major cultural landmark.
In the past 25 years major conservation measures have been initiated, including a programme of architectural conservation by the MMT, with support from the Getty Foundation from 1998-2001. Under the direction of architect Minakshi Jain, this programme brought structural stability to the site and reinstated its historic character. In 2002 the programme earned UNESCO's Award of Excellence for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
To record the extent and general condition of the wall paintings, the MMT commissioned the Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London) in 2005 to conduct a survey of the paintings with the support of the Helen Hamlyn Trust (HHT). Further documentation, diagnostic investigations, emergency stabilisation, and remedial treatment trials were conducted in 2006.
Following site-wide investigations to establish and prioritise conservation need, preventive, passive and remedial efforts were focused on the Sheesh Mahal with the support of the Getty Foundation from 2007-2011.
Since 2012 the Leon Levy Foundation has supported the continued documentation, diagnostic investigations and conservation measures that concentrate on the paintings of the Hadi Rani Mahal.
In 2013 Nagaur Fort was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
The conservation programme at the Hadi Rani Mahal continues in 2015 and the dates of the new programme will overlap with the programme of courses of the Leon Levy Foundation Centre for Conservation Studies at Nagaur, providing a valuable example of the way that a professional team works to the highest standards.
Conserving the Wall Paintings : Reports by the Courtauld Institute
All reports are © The Mehrangarh Museum Trust and The Courtauld Institute of Art. All rights reserved. No part of these reports may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the written permission of the copyright holders.
Leon Levy Foundation Nagaur Conservation Programme Phase 5: Hadi Rani Mahal January - February 2016
G. Tillotson, Nagaur : a garden palace in Rajasthan, Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur, 2010. ISBN: 9788191047110
D. Diamond, C. Glynn, K. Singh Jasol, Garden & cosmos: The royal paintings of Jodhpur (cat. of an exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington DC), Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2008. 050051443
M. Jain, K. Jain and M Arya, Architecture of a royal camp. Aadi Centre, Ahmendabad, 2009. ISBN 978-81-908528-0-
Press and news
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The Wall Street Journal (2013) India’s Last Maharaja
The Times of India (2013) Nagaur Fort Among 20 Finalists for Aga Khan Award
The Art Newspaper (2008) Saving the Crumbling Palaces of Nagaur
International Herald Tribune (2008) A Rare Glimpse Into a Forgotten Hindu World