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The Golden Triangle, (2035 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL) will present THE GRAND HAVELI an installation and sale of Indian architecture, furniture and sculpture opening to the public on June 21 and continuing through September 21, 2024. The event will feature a dazzling collection of antique Indian architectural elements salvaged from 19th century city mansions and aristocratic estates.   The pieces will be arranged together to create an immersive exhibit that will transport the visitor to India during the Raj. Featured items include 8 sets of colorful doors, carved wooden columns in various styles and sizes, several elaborate courtyard arches, 3 residential facades, select sculptures, marble planters, furniture and more.   It is the largest such exhibition of Indian architecture and antiques ever held in Chicago.


The story of the Indian Haveli (mansion) is complex. India is not a mono-culture but a sophisticated tapestry of cultures built on diverse geographic regions, religions, periods of colonization and lucrative foreign trade extending back thousands of years.   Accordingly, Indian architecture is a hybrid that defies easy categorization.  At the risk of over-simplification, it is built on an ancient indigenous Hindu base that was greatly influenced by Islamic colonization beginning in the 1200’s and then further overlayed with British colonization begun in the 1700’s and extending into the 20th Century.


The fact that surviving elements are available at all is a fascinating story.  As India’s modern development has accelerated, the urban population of the oldest and wealthiest cities has increased greatly.  The old merchant havelis of the 19th Century, were low-rise structures, built around spacious courtyards. As building technology changed (concrete, multi-story, elevators, air-conditioning) the old structures became obsolete. The descendants of the original builders increasingly choose modern habitations, selling the old family structures which are replaced by high-rises.


This is of course a trend seen all over the world.  The difference is that in India the old parts are meticulously disassembled, photographed, numbered, and saved.  Nothing is wasted. Entire facades of historic buildings are now found in vast dealer warehouses, available for sale to collectors around the world.  Many boutique hotels, spas and restaurants in Asia now boast these Indian architectural embellishments.


Most of the Indian architecture is made from Teak and other domestic woods. Many pieces have a rich patina that has aged beautifully over the decades. The richness of the carving and boldness of their form allows them to blend well in modern interiors.   A set of doors becomes the entrance to a wine room.  A colonnade frames a library. A lacey façade shields a loggia from the sun, as it did in old Gujarat.  The possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.   Best of all, the new owners are preserving the past, honoring the ancient culture if India even if their homes are ultra-modern.


A grand party launches the installation before it opens to the public on June 21.  High-resolution photography and historical information is available for all pieces upon request.


The Golden Triangle is dedicated to blending antiques and modern furnishings and making cultural treasures and natural wonders accessible to the public.   The store celebrates its 35th year in April. 10% of any proceeds from the show opening will be donated to LIFT, Leading India’s Future Today, which identifies and develops student leaders in Tamil Nadu.


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