Jacobs Office 18841902

Jacob's collaboration on the Albert Hall necessitated a considerable expansion of his office staff. In 1884 he worked with two assistant engineers (Ghasi Ram and Rup Chand), nine overseers (including Tujumul Hoosein) and seven others (including Chiman Lal, who was later to emerge as a prominent Jaipur architect).49 Between this period and Jacob's effective retirement in 1902, this establishment was sustained by an ever-increasing architectural workload as commissions poured in. Beyond their customary official work for Jaipur State, the office undertook projects outside, notably in other Indian states in Rajputana, and some in British India. A survey of some of these will reveal how the ideas and methods embodied in the Albert Hall were developed over the next two decades, and how they continued to undermine the vastu vidya base of local design.

Before this phase, Jacob's architectural efforts had been few and modest, since his energies were mainly focused on roads and irrigation. In the 1870s, under Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh, he undertook some minor building works, such as the repair of the city wall in 1872,50 but more ambitious projects were then considered beyond the remit of his department. The few large projects of that period, such as the design of the Mayo Hospital and of the state's boarding-house at Mayo College in Ajmer, were entrusted, as we have seen, to de Fabeck, acting as a freelance. A minor exception is All Saints' Church, built in 1875-6 to designs by Jacob, a rather grim little essay in early English Gothic whose style was suggested presumably by its Anglican denomination.51

De Fabeck's failure to satisfy the Maharaja with his proposed design for the museum, and the accession of Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh in 1880, led to a greater involvement by Jacob's office in architectural works. There is evidence that by 1883 they were engaged on minor work within the Chandra Mahal of the palace,52 and this is significant because such work would normally have been the responsibility of a quite distinct department of state, namely the Raj Imarat (or 'King's Buildings'). More remarkable still, in the following year the office produced the design for the chhatri or cenotaph of the late Maharaja, Ram Singh. When they died, the Maharajas of Jaipur were cremated at Gaitor, outside the city wall to the north. Following Rajput custom, the place of cremation is marked in each case by a pavilion or chhatri. Jacob's office prepared three designs, each with a corresponding plaster model.53 The design that was selected is a close replica of the chhatri of Sawai Jai Singh. Originally the founder's chhatri stood alone, in the centre of a square platform, which was now extended northwards, to double its size, to accommodate Ram Singh's identical chhatri in a symmetrical composition (illus. 124).54 The emphatic association of Ram Singh with the founder reflects the darbars view of his contribution to the state, a view that was echoed in Jacob's personal tribute: 'Surrounded as he was by many influences, some at least of which were opposed to all progress, it reflects immortal credit on his name, that he should have identified himself so consistently with the progress of civilization.'55 Apparently nobody saw a contradiction in commemorating such a stance with a chhatri based on a model from over a century before.

A small project, the chhatri was swiftly completed. The Albert Hall, though substantially built by 1885, continued to occupy the office until the end of the decade.56 And as it was highly

90 Jubilee Buildings, Jodhpur; by the office of Swinton Jacob, 1887-96.

visible, it began to attract other commissions. One of these was the Jubilee Buildings or Court Offices in Jodhpur, perhaps planned as early as 1887 (it was named in honour of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee) but built in 1893-6 (illus. 90). Working in another Indian state, the office adopted the same procedure, collaborating closely with local craftsmen; indeed the building is one of those cited in a later polemical work by Gordon Sanderson, advocating this approach.57 The main rooms are contained in two wings on either side of a central open hall, while further ranges to the north and south extend the line of building. The planning is picturesque and suggests the hand of Jacob, but the fine stone detailing is the mark of local designers, especially as it relates closely to the palace apartments in the nearby fort of Mehrangarh.

The commission from Jodhpur was supplemented in 1895 by a further project, for a house for the Maharaja at Mount Abu, the hill station in southern Rajasthan that was both a summer retreat and a centre of pilgrimage, because of the famous medieval Jain temples at Dilwara. In the previous two years, Jacob's office had supplied plans for similar houses for the Maharaja of Jaipur and the Maharaja of Bikaner.58 By now the office was in effect a busy architectural practice. During this same period, in addition to the work in Mount Abu, the office supplied designs for the State Bank in Madras, for a church in Ajmer and for a jail in Kishangarh.59

The most substantial project of this time,

91 Umed Bhawan, Kota, by the office of Swinton Jacob, 1894-5.

however, was an entire new palace, the Umed Bhawan, for the Maharaja of Kota, Umed Singh ii (r. 1889-1940; illus. 91). First designed in 1894, it was expanded during the course of construction in 1895 as a result of an increased demand from the patron.60 The consequence is a vast and complex congeries of ranges around courtyards, with no overall symmetry or coherence. Its highlight, apart from the trademark fine detailing, is a splendid Durbar Hall of traditional conception. Recently converted into a hotel, the building was not improved by alterations to its interior design made in the 1930s.

The niche in the office 's work schedule occupied by the Kota palace was immediately taken up in 1896 by a still larger palace commission, the

Lallgarh for the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh (r. 1887-1943).61 Ganga Singh had come to the throne as a minor and at the time of the commission he had only recently completed his schooling at Mayo College, and had not yet assumed full powers; and so it might be a mistake to suppose a strong role in the selection of the design team on his part rather than that of his darbar and his British advisors. In some respects Lallgarh follows the pattern of the progressive Maharaja's home, established in recent decades by new palaces such as the Jai Vilas at Gwalior, designed in 1874 by Sir Michael Filose for Maharaja Jayaji Rao Scindia (r. 1843-86), or the Laxmi Vilas at Baroda, designed in 1878 by Charles Mant for Maharaja Sayaji Rao iii. Though diverse in style - the first example is classical Baroque, the latter is an Indo-Saracenic extravaganza - all such palaces had much in common, most notably the spacious rooms arranged on a European plan. Equipped with banquet halls, billiard rooms and even ballrooms, they offered the new Maharajas a very different lifestyle from that sustained by the fortified retreats that were constructed by their ancestors. In the very same year that Lallgarh was commissioned, R. F. Chisholm told an audience at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London that: 'It must be kept in view that the native Rajas and chiefs of India are passing through a transitional period; that an old palace like that of Ambur would be about as useless to the present Gaekwar of Baroda as to an ordinary English gentleman.'62 In the case of Bikaner, by this logic, Lallgarh offered an escape from the cramped and castellated apartments of Junagadh, the old fort in the heart of the city, begun in the fifteenth century by the state's founder.

Ganga Singh was indeed to become, in British eyes, the paragon of a modern maharaja, a reformer of the institutions and infrastructure of his state and a contributor to the political processes and assemblies of his day. He served, for example, as first Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes, and he represented the Indian princes at the League of Nations, while at home he developed education, medicine and new communication systems. It was by no means inconsistent with this image - though equally a reminder that he was, after all, a Rajput king - that he was also an active and successful soldier. In support of his imperial masters, he fought in the First World War in France and in Egypt, at the end of which he was the Indian signatory of the Treaty of Versailles. And in the Second World War, although turning sixty, he again visited the front, in the Middle East.63

The four wings of Lallgarh, which together frame a large central charbagh style garden, were built piecemeal over a quarter of a century (illus. 92 and 93). The first main wing was completed in 1902, the second in 1912 and the last two only in 1924—6.64 This implies a continuing commitment to the project on the part of the Maharaja as he grew into his role. But it should be noted that over the same period he also added very extensively to the range of palaces within the old fort of Junagadh (illus. 94). The whole of the eastern end of the range, from the Vikram Vilas to the Ganga Niwas (constituting in size almost half of the whole) was his work;65 and the inclusion of a private study and drawing room over the Tripolia Gate, and of the immense Darbar Hall, suggests that he preferred this location for official and ceremonial activities -as, for example, for the celebration of his Golden Jubilee in 1937. Lallgarh, then, did not, as Chisholm and others imagined of such palaces, replace the old fort. It served a different function. Lallgarh was a residence, a private retreat; Junagadh remained the official and public court of a warrior king.

In planning and initiating the construction of Lallgarh, Jacob's office adopted their by now standard procedure, involving local builders within the design team.66 The procedure can be discerned in the product. The details are visibly the work of local designers: no fanciful and eclectic mélange of disparate Indian motifs ripped from the pages of James Fergusson's textbook, as on many Indo-Saracenic palaces, the details here follow and develop a recognizably Bikaneri idiom of the Rajput style, closely reminiscent of the older courtyards of Junagadh. The plan, as already suggested, owes much to Western models, especially in the generous proportions of the rooms, which are a world away from the narrow galleries and intimate apartments of Junagadh. But, as we have also suggested, this is a necessary

93 Lallgarh, the porte-cochere on the south front.
94 Junagadh, Bikaner, from the east, showing the upper part of the new Darbar Hall.

response to a changing function, the demand for a different kind of residence. And indigenous conceptions are reflected in some aspects of the plan, such as the relationship of the ranges to the internal courtyards, through verandas. So while Jacob certainly did not formulate the general layout of the palace within the intellectual framework of vastu vidya, nevertheless through the knowledge of his collaborators and through the imitation of prototypes, some of the habits of that system have been sustained.

Lallgarh and the other projects undertaken by Jacob's office in the neighbouring states stand in contrast not only to the Indo-Saracenic essays of Mant and Chisholm and others, but even to their own works within British India. For, while these projects were advancing, the department also produced designs for British clients, including the imperial government. The State Bank of Madras (1895) has already been mentioned. Two earlier projects, both educational institutions, are the Senate House and other administrative buildings of the University of Allahabad (1887; illus. 95)67 and the original building of St Stephen's College, Delhi, sponsored by the Cambridge Mission (1894).68 Working for British India rather than for a Maharaja, the office was not at liberty in these projects to follow their normal system and engage local craftsmen, and the buildings are consequently standard - indeed somewhat pedestrian - exercises in the British Indo-Saracenic mode. A slightly later product was the Secretariat Office in Simla, designed in 1901,69 in which the trademark

95 University Buildings, Allahabad, by the office of Swinton Jacob, 1887.

Rajput idiom was abandoned altogether in favour of a Scottish baronial style, in keeping with the Viceregal Lodge, designed by Henry Irwin in 1888.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ever wondered what Chinese medicine is all about and whether it works? Thinking about consulting a practitioner but want to know some facts first? Look no further! Here's your chance to purchase an in depth and fully comprehensive eBook on anything and everything to do with this ancient philosophy.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment