Uncanny resemblance between Juni Haveli of Rajpipla and Lord’s Cricket Ground pavilion at London

With the march of history and the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the 26th Gohil Rajput ruler of Rajpipla, Maharana Verisalji I, asserted his independence and in 1705 laid waste south Gujarat. A force sent by Aurangzeb was defeated in alliance with Maratha commander Dhanaji Jadhav at Ratanpur.

The next ruler of Rajpipla, Maharana Jeetsinhji, forged a treaty with Maharaja Peelaji Rao Gaekwar of Baroda, and succeeded in wresting the territories, the Nandod Taluka, that had been lost to Akbar in 1584. He transferred the capital from Junaraj up in the Satpura hills to Nandod (New Rajpipla) in the plains on the banks of the River Karjan in 1730. This is the modern town of Rajpipla, earlier a trading centre.

After such a magnificent triumph, the exquisite Juni Haveli was strategically built between the town and the river, with the Satpuras rising behind the opposite bank. With pagoda-like canopies and a quaint external wooden staircase criss-crossing its way to the first floor, it formed an imposing sight. It was the seat of power for nearly 170 years until the 35th Gohil ruler of Rajpipla, Maharana Chhatrasinhji, built the Chhatravilas Palace on the other side of town.

Juni Haveli saw the rise of the power and domination of the Gaekwars, the emergence of the English East India Company, and the takeover of the reins in India by the British crown. It stood steadfast even after the rulers moved to Chhatravilas, and subsequently to Vijay Palace and Indrajit-Padmini Mahal (Vadia Palace). It was witness to the independence of India and the merger of princely states. With the winds blowing the other way in the socialist republic of India, Juni Haveli was tragically demolished by the Government of Gujarat in the 1960s to make way for a bus depot.

Thus disappeared a wonderful heritage of the valiant Gohil dynasty, but never to be forgotten by those who cherish the glorious history of this country.

The Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. John’s Wood, London, is referred to as ‘The Mecca of Cricket’. After the original pavilion was destroyed by fire, the present Lord’s Pavilion was built in 1889-1890. Designed by Thomas Verity, the pavilion cost of £21,000 to construct, and has achieved Grade II listed heritage status.

Lord’s, owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), plays host to Middlesex County Cricket Club and the England cricket team. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is home to the world’s oldest sporting museum. The present Lord’s is on the third site of the grounds that Thomas Lord established between 1787 and 1814. His first ground, now referred to as Lord’s Old Ground, was where Dorset Square now stands. His second ground, Lord’s Middle Ground, was used from 1811 to 1813 before being abandoned to make way for the construction through its outfield of the Regent’s Canal. The present Lord’s ground is about 250 yards north-west of the site of the Middle Ground. It is said that the only batsman to hit a ball over the top of the pavilion has been Albert Trott in 1889.

In 2004, the pavilion was refurbished at a cost of £8.2 million. The pavilion houses dressing rooms designated for home and away teams. Each dressing room has its own balcony, from which players can watch the game. If a player score a century or bags five wickets in a Test match innings, their names are written on the Lord’s honours board in the dressing rooms.

The Long Room is lined with paintings of famous cricketers and administrators, from the 18th century to the 21st. Members of MCC and their guests have free access to the room which has large windows with views of the ground. The ground celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2014. To mark the occasion, an MCC XI captained by Sachin Tendulkar played a Rest of the World XI led by Shane Warne in a 50-overs match.


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