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Château Val Ory: A Rich Iranian Heritage

Experience the magic of Château Val Ory, a haven of Iranian heritage in Moka, Mauritius. Delve into a captivating journey through discovery and history.

Château Val Ory

The Château Val Ory, nestled in a secluded area of Moka and encircled by breathtaking scenery, holds significant cultural, historical, and diplomatic connections with Mauritius and the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are going to discover this amazing location today. It is owned by the Iranian government after the famous Reza Shah Pahlavi inhabited it, and serves as a link between Mauritius and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dive Into Its Origin

Charles Louis Damain established the Val Ory estate. But back then, it was referred to as “Les Palmiers”. In the 1860s, the property was inhabited by the Bourgault du Coudray family. The first home was well-liked for its exquisite colonial design. Because the original house was made of wood, it was eventually decided to demolish it and build a new one out of reinforced concrete. The plan to rebuild the house more robustly so that it could withstand cyclones came from Pierre Regnard, the brother of Gabriel Regnard, who lived on the property. Pierre Regnard gained notoriety for his involvement in building a number of Mauritius’ infrastructure projects. The house that stands today was constructed with reinforced concrete in 1913!

Gabriel Regnard has put his soul into the property of Val Ory. He created a beautiful garden with rare species, to add to the natural beauty of the area. In addition, there was a large Roman swimming pool, three ponds with fish, all alimented by a canal which carried water from the river nearby. A water wheel which pumped the water up to the bathrooms and generated electricity to the house. Gabriel Regnard served as vice-president of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Mauritius. Following his death in 1932, his son Ferdinand Regnard took over ownership of the Val Ory residence. He took care of the property, especially the lovely garden his father had created.

Reza Shah Pahlavi
Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1931 (From Wikipedia).

Enter Reza Shah Pahlavi

Many people would not have expected Reza Shah Pahlavi to change the future of Château Val Ory. His visits to the Château Val Ory cemented a bond between Mauritius and the Islamic Republic of Iran. He contributed significantly to the Persian Army. He even held the rank of colonel for a while. Later, he became Iran’s Prime Minister, with British support. He helped the country grow economically by improving infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads, train stations, and so on.

However, things would go against him on his own land. The British occupied Iran’s south, while the Soviets took the north. Reza Shah Pahlavi was concerned about Iran’s natural resources and feared they would end up in the wrong hands. He was opposed to British exploitation and decided to oppose them, but in a dictatorial manner, which caused his own people to dislike him as leader. Due to all of these negative episodes, he was exiled to Mauritius in 1941, where he lived at the Château Val Ory.

Unfortunately, he was unable to adapt to the climate of Mauritius and decided to relocate to South Africa, where he died a few years later.

On The Second Floor Of The Château

Val Ory On The Second Floor Of The Château

An Old Well In The Yard

Val Ory Well In The Yard

Inside One Of The Rooms

Val Ory Inside One Of The Rooms

Another Room

Val Ory inside

One Of The Main Entrances

Val Ory entrance

A Pond Full Of Fish

Val Ory A Pond Full Of Fish

The Aftermath…

Regnard, the only owner, sold Château Val Ory at the beginning of the 1950s. André LeCoultre placed the highest bid and purchased the property, but he did not have the opportunity to live there. His brother lived in the mansion. After two decades, Château Val Ory was put up for sale again. To everyone’s surprise, Reza Shah Pahlavi’s daughter, Shams Pahlavi, expressed interest in the offer. Her family purchased Château Val Ory in the 1970s. Her wish was to establish a museum in the house, but after the Ayatollahs took power in Iran, she was unable to accomplish it. Until then, the Château Val Ory had been unused for a while.

For several years, the Iranian authorities occupied the residence. When the ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran visited Mauritius, the delegates used to visit it. Even the locals spread rumors that it was haunted due to the lack of occupancy. However, the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued to maintain the Château Val Ory.

A Short Interview With The Ambassador Of Iran

Mr Hassan Ali Bashkshi, the current Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mauritius, often goes to the Château Val Ory when he visits our country. He has happily agreed to answer a few questions about the residence.

QUESTION: As Iran’s ambassador, what similarities do you see between Mauritius and Iran?

MR HASSAN ALI BASHKSHI: “Hospitable population in both countries, wide variety of delicious food, multicultural societies and a strong attachment to cultural norms and traditions.”

QUESTION: There was a rumor in the past that the Château de Val Ory would be up for sale, since it was abandoned and in ruins. Is this true?

MR HASSAN ALI BASHKSHI: “Yes, it was a decision taken by the Iranian government. Once this decision was in the media, reactions were hostile to this sale, but I don’t agree with your expression ruined and abandoned. We can replace them with non-use, because the relationship between our two respective countries hasn’t favored any use, but since January 2022, relations have taken off, and for the moment, the option of sale has been ruled out.”

QUESTION: It is possible that one day, the Château de Val Ory will be transformed into an embassy? Since this château is also a strong symbol between Mauritius and Iran.

The Ambassador Of Iran For Mauritius

MR HASSAN ALI BASHKSHI: “I’ve informed your government that, in keeping with the principle of reciprocity, if Mauritius opens a diplomatic, consular or economic mission in Iran, my government will respond immediately, because the foundations are already in place. I think the Château Val Ory is a treasure shared by two peoples and a symbol of friendship between them. Too bad for all the years of neglect. It’s part of contemporary Iranian history in your country, and that’s the way God wanted it. In Iran, when they name Mauritius, they say no to the sites, Mauritius and call it Château Val Ory. So it’s up to the Mauritian government to decide. During the visit of the large Mauritian delegation to Tehran in May 2022, the opening of an Economic Office by EDB was officially announced, but the Mauritian administration has been dragging its feet ever since. The opening of this office will go a long way towards transforming the Château Val Ory into an Iranian diplomatic mission.”

Conclusion

Did you know that Pierre Regnard built another residence in 1912, before the Château Val Ory, that looks exactly the same? It is located in Floréal and is better known as “The Castel”. This is the actual Libyan Embassy. According to Mr Hassan Ali Bashkshi, selling the Château Val Ory is currently out of the question. It is clear that the Château Val Ory serves as a link between Mauritius and the Islamic Republic of Iran. A strong diplomatic relationship will undoubtedly benefit both countries. Will there be an Embassy established in the future? Time will tell!

NOTE: I personally thank the Ambassador of Islamic Republic Of Iran, Mr Hassan Ali Bashkshi for everything, and also to Oummé Sakina Auckburaully for establishing the bridge to make this a reality.

Author & References

Ali Jareehag

Author: Ali J | Date Published: March 6, 2024 | Last Updated: N/A

References: Val Ory (Marie-France Chelin-Goblet, Maurice Regnard), L’Express.mu (Château Val-Ory: lien historique entre Maurice et l’Iran).

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