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    CHAPTER 4

    ARTISTIC INTERACTIONS: THE REALMS OF

    ARCHITECTURE, DANCE AND PHTOJOURNALISM

    Introduction:

    The principal objective of this chapter is to explore the select realms of arts

    such as Architecture, Dance and Photo-Journalism where the French

    influence is seen at its maximum level.Since these genres are ostensibly the

    major beneficiary of Guj-Franco cultural rapport, they have been explored

    here. Gujarats architectural tryst with France commenced way back in early

    twentieth century when the erstwhile royalties invited French architects and

    town planners. Thus were executed the cities like Dhoraji and the palaces

    like Rajmahel of Wadhwan city. This architectural rapport continued well

    into the mid- twentieth century when the rich textile tycoons of the city of

    Ahmedabad, invited the internationally acclaimed French architect Le

    Corbusier to design several buildings in Ahmedabad. He gifted four

    architectural gems, namely Ahmedabad Textile Mill Owners Association,

    Sanskara Kendra, Shodhan Villa and Sarabhai Villa. His invaluable

    contribution along with that of Shri B.V. Doshi has been explored here.

    In addition to the contribution made by the above mentioned architects, an

    effort has also been made to evaluate the endeavours made by renowed

    architects like Bernard Kohn, and Pierre Cadot Sarah-Keller towards the

    restoration and the conservation of the Pols and Havelies in the walled city

    of Ahmedabad. The substantial contribution towards the Guj-Franco

    cultural linkages made by the internationally acclaimed classical danseuse

    from Gujarat Mrinalini Sarabhai and her equally illustrious daughter,

    Mallika Sarabhai, has also been explored here. A very non-conventional

    type of art genre, i.e.PhotoJournalism, which was introduced in Gujarat by

    the legendary photographer Parmanand Dalwadi has also been studied and

    profiled here.

    4.1 Architecture: Mixture of Medievalism with Modernity

    Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and

    constructing buildings and other physicsl structures. Architectural works, in

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    the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and

    as works of art.

    Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving

    architectural achievements. (Wikipedia)

    French architecture, consisting of Roman, Pre- Romanesque, Romanesque,

    Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism and Modernist,

    ranks high among that countrys many accomplishments.

    As noted earlier the French art and aesthetics significantly influenced some

    of the architectural styles, especially town planning and the building of

    castles and palaces in colonial India. It is imperative to understand the

    French colonial context in order to understand the architectural influences

    during the eighteenth century onwards. The French who had arrived in India

    in seventeenth century and had established their first trading center at Surat

    were immediately out played by the powerful English in the colonial game

    of supremacy. The ousted French were compelled to drift towards the

    southern part of the country where they eventually established their business

    centers. Thus was developed Pondicherry which, with its strategic location,

    became the cultural citadel for the French.

    The town of Pondicherry has been witness to the rise and fall of French

    power in India. Though the French developed few other trading centers, this

    city emerged as the major center of French art, culture and architecture. It

    wouldnt be in excess to state that the story of Pondicherry is the story of

    French in India. This city was often built and re-built by the French as it had

    been subjected to various territorial conflicts. It today boasts of possessing

    massive colonial buildings and statues, systematic town planning and

    zoning. French styled the town as per their own expectations and aesthetics.

    It must be said that various architects and town planners from France

    continued to impress the various architectural conceptions of the country.

    These influences appear direct when the executioners are the French but they

    become implicit when they influence the indigenous architects who create a

    sort of fusion. These influences are also perceptible in the inclusion of

    various French symbols and motifs with the local patterns. It must be

    remembered that in those days majority of royals had a direct rapport with

    the English and therefore, only those royals turned to France who were

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    connoisseurs of French art and aesthetics. The state of Gujarat, one of the

    earliest hosts to the French at Surat in the colonial days, always maintained

    a special rapport with France, which exerted a considerable influence on the

    Gujarati art and aesthetics. Some of the early French influences on the

    architecture of Gujarat are found in the built up form, especially in the small

    principalities of Saurashtra. The French architects and town planners were

    specially invited by some rulers of the state. Sometimes select French

    structural concepts were incorporated into the main design which was based

    either on the Oriental styles such as Indo-Persian or the Occidental styles

    such as Gothic, Baroque and Rococo.Some kings on the other hand turned

    to the French for some kind of sophistication and architectural exclusivity.

    This aspect has been explored in the ensuing pages.

    The Town of Dhoraji

    As noted earlier, the grand and gorgeous French architecture has

    considerably influenced the planning and execution of palaces, castles and

    some elite residencies of Gujarat. It is to be mentioned here that some of the

    early French influences on the architecture of Gujarat are found in the cities

    and palaces of the small principalities of Saurashtra. Thus, Dhoraji, a small

    town on the banks of a rivulet Suffora, a branch of the river Bhadar, came

    into existence. The fort and the general town planning of this eighteenth

    century Saurastra illustrates a considerable French influence. It is to be noted

    that the French influence in the overall structural conception, the

    architectural motifs, symbols and execution of the town earned for it an

    enviable and coveted sobriquet the Paris of the state.

    This town has been part of the eastwhile Gondal State which had acquired it

    from the State of Junagadh. Sir Bhagwatsinhji, the progressive ruler of

    Gondal State, who had established a town planning department and had

    introduced town planning principals to regularize and monitor the growth of

    the fortified town of Gondal, Dhoaji and Patanvav, was born at Dhoraji

    Darbargadh. The fort and the general town paining of this eighteenth century

    city of Kathiawad illustrate a considerable French influence. The massive

    fort wall has several bastions, four main gates along with the three smaller

    gates known as Boris. The multi-storeyed Dabargadh of the town is located

    at the highest point. The faade is ornamented with sculptures of musicians,

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    complex geometric pattern, images of lions in different postures on long

    cause, profusely cared pillars, horizontal friezes, decorative kangaroos and

    windows framing the skyline.

    It is designed like a jewel box-in the same architectural style of

    Navaho places at Gondal. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

    The town underwent transformation in the twentieth century as its ruler

    Bhawgatsinhji sought to bring about a Parisian character to his town. This

    was carried out under the influence of the town planning of Paris by Baron

    Haussman. Dhoraji thus can be considered one of the greatest architectural

    linkages of GujFranco relationship.

    The Raj Mahal Palace of Wadhavan City

    The French influence on the built form in Gujarat can also be traced back

    to the unique conception and execution of the Rajmahal in the city of

    Wadhavan. This unique palace, a French symbol where the architecture

    borrows heavily from the French Baroque and Rococo styles, was built by

    H.H. BalSinhji Jhala in nineteenth century after his return from France. It

    was exclusively executed by artisans from France. Built in the rococo style

    of architecture, this structure has a lot of decoration, especially in the shape

    of curls. Since it illustrates a very strong French architectural influence, it

    has been recognized as a major symbol of Guj-Franco cultural interactions.

    This royal residence, also known as Balvilas Palace is located in a sprawling

    space of 13-14 acres. It accommodates a park like ground with tennis courts,

    lily ponds, fountains, out houses and cricket pitches.

    The centerpiece is a beautiful pillared courtyard with marble statues.

    There is a marvelously appointed Darbarhall with painted ceilings,

    kingsized portraits and a throne. There are beautifully restored

    vintage cars and a library of automobile books.

    (www.gujarattourism.com)

    Interestingly, the palace was built by the king after his return from France.

    He appointed a French architect and nearly fifty French artisans, as a result

    of which,

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    The palace bears the rational control and pro

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