On World Book Day 2021
We share with you the vast collection of Haqiqat Bahidas, or hand-written Court Records of the State of Udaipur-Mewar, of the last five hundred years housed in The City Palace, Udaipur. It was thirty-six years ago in 1985 that Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur set up the Maharana Mewar Research Institute (MMRI), in the eastern wing of The City Palace. Its first head was the renowned historian and educationist Dr GN Sharma.
MMRI, under the stewardship of Dr Sharma, became the repository of The City Palace’s archival material: documents, architectural drawings, maps, letters and photographs were now safely stored here. However, the focus of MMRI was on preserving the Haqiqat Bahidas, of which almost 18,000 had been passed on from generations of the Maharanas of Mewar. We pay our tributes to all those who have worked as record-keepers and keepers of records at The City Palace, Udaipur over the last twenty generations.
Mr Bhupendra Singh Auwa, Administrator-in- Chief since the early 2014, said, “The Court Records of the State of Udaipur-Mewar are invaluable, meticulously hand-written in the Mewari script by Court record-keepers who maintained a detailed diary of each day’s events.” Every person, article entering the City Palace or leaving it was recorded, with exact time and even the lunar position! The Bahidas are also the account books, in more ways than one; every payment made for products and services was also documented.
Time and again, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar, as the Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, has said, “The Haqiqat Bahidas are a unique example of detailed record-keeping which the Westerners never thought we Indians were capable of.” Over the last three decades, leading scholars and researchers from UK, US and European universities have relied on Haqiqat Bahidas to recreate different chapters of the history of Mewar. Art historians have found incredible details about the now-famous paintings from the Mewar School of Art; similarly, conservation architects have pored over old maps and drawings to discover water sources and general layouts of the palace compounds. The Haqiqat Bahidas continue to unfold secrets to those who have the dedication and commitment to learn from the history of Udaipur-Mewar.
Mr Auwa proudly reveals the list of Haqiqat Bahidas painstaking translated into Hindi and English by him and his team: in 2020, the Maharana Sardar Singh volumes were published; in 2018, the volumes of the times of Maharana Bhupal Singh, who had merged the State of Udaipur with the Republic of India in 1947, were published. “We started the translations and publications way back in 1992 with the volumes dedicated to Maharana Fateh Singh, one of the greatest Custodians of Mewar in the late 19th century. Later, his predecessors Maharana Sajjan Singh and Maharana Shambhu Singh’s records were printed in 2013 and 2015 respectively,” he said. The Maharana Mewar Historical Publication Trust has been instrumental in publishing the volumes in Hindi and English and making them available in the public domain.