The restoration of Mahavir Bhawan, a Jain landmark in Chandni Chowk, is being done keeping Jain architecture in mind. The cracked flower motifs and faded sandstone mouldings on the parapet of Mahavir Bhawan are being replaced by marble torans and jaali. Skilled artisans from Rajasthan’s Makrana are busy working round-the-clock to give the upper floors of the more than hundred-year-old three-storey building a new look, ensuring that it stands out on the congested main road of Chandni Chowk. The renovation work is being done in accordance with traditional Jain architecture styles. After all, the building houses one of Delhi’s oldest sthanaks.
The building has always been a landmark in this area, locally known as the Baradari. While the look is all set to change on the exterior, inside, the heritage library continues to have the same décor as during the pre-independence era, when it was one of the preferred meeting places of the freedom fighters. Built in 1905 by Lala Gokal Chand Nahar, Mahavir Bhawan opened a library on its premises on October 5, 1924. A marble staircase leads one to the library, which is open from 8 am to 8 pm all seven days of the week. The yellow pages of visitors’ book have signatures of the who’s who of the nationalist movement. Anthropologist Verrier Elwin visited the place in December 1931, Jawaharlal Nehru in May 1936, Mahadev Desai in March 1936, besides others like Kasturba Gandhi and Rajendra Prasad.