Tag Archives: Architecture

Windows

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Mumbai’s historic Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)

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Humayun’s Maqbara (tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun) in Delhi, India built 1569-70

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Alongside Chicago river

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Windows

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Clean windows, plain, glass, open, close, bright,

Light, shaded, paned, shuttered, blinded, boarded,

Rusty, dirty, smoky windows.

Broken, shattered, run down windows

Windows that protect and hide, windows to the world outside

And sometimes to the world within

Unraveling layer by layer, revealing,

A tool for introspection and scrutiny,

A glance into a soul, full of secrets and smokescreens,

Evasion, denial, half-truths

Windows, they tell it all.  

India Unveiled- Mughal India: Tomb of Salim Chishti

Salim Chisti TombIntricate Jali – Stone latticework window overlooking the Jama Masjid courtyard.

About 25 miles from Agra is the city of Fatehpur Sikri (Hindi: फ़तेहपुर सीकरी, Urdu: فتحپور سیکری‎), founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which also served as his capital from 1571-1585. Here he proceeded to build a grand walled city which today is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal Architecture in India.

The Tomb of the Sufi saint Salim Chishti (descendant of Khwaja Mouniddin Chishti of Ajmer) built inside the imperial complex is particularly mesmerizing. Facing south toward the Buland Darwaza, the shrine is enclosed by delicately carved Jalis– marble stone screens and topped by a single semicircular dome.

Jama Masjid courtyard

Jama Masjid courtyard

The atmosphere of the place is beautifully exemplified in this haunting melody from the movie Garam Hawa (Hot Winds), 1973.

The Girl at the Window

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Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi, India

The Girl at the Window

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I see her everyday

At the window of her house

Her face lurking in the shadows

Finding cover in the veil of secrecy

Obscurity in a shroud of seclusion

But her beauty is not hidden from me

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She’s a princess

From a faraway exotic land

I know not her name

Yet she has become a part of my life

My daily scenery

And I miss her now that she is gone

Retracing History- Florentine Streets

Florentine street

Did Michelangelo, Botticelli, da Vinci, Donatello traverse these streets?

Perhaps not

But I like to think otherwise

And that I am retracing history

Wow! What a feeling!

India Unveiled: Unity in Diversity

India is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world.

It is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism which are known as the Dharmic religions. Hinduism and Buddhism are the 3rd and 4th largest religions in the world with over 2 billion followers.

All these religions share some common rituals, traits and beliefs such as the concepts of karma (action or deed), dharma (duty), samsara (continuous flow of the cycle of birth, life, death and reincarnation), moksha (release of the soul from the cycle of samsara and end of all suffering) and yoga, though the interpretations may vary.

They also share the concept of cremation of the dead known as antim samskara or ‘last rites’; wearing of vermilion on the forehead by married women, as well as several marriage rituals.

Buddhism was originally founded by Siddhartha Gautama (Gautama Buddha) a Kshatriya prince turned ascetic somewhere between the 6th and 4th century BCE. Buddha meaning ‘the enlightened one’  taught ‘the Middle Way’ as the path that when followed leads to liberation.

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Karla Caves

Ancient Buddhist rock cut cave shrines located in Karli near Lonavala, in the state of Maharashtra, India about 150km from Mumbai. The oldest cave dates back to around 160 BC.

karla 1Caves cut deep into the rock.

karla 2Intricately hewn wall sculptures and scriptures

karla 3The Main Cave: Chaitya or Prayer Hall is the largest among all the Buddhist caves in India.

karla 4The Ashoka Pillar

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Gautama Buddha

koli danceAn unexpected treat! A group of tribal dancers caught in action outside the caves.

India Unveiled – Cultures and traditions

sneha3 311Buland Darwaza or ‘Victory Arch’: An imposing piece of architecture set in the south wall of Jama Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri near Agra. The city served as Emperor Akbar’s capital from 1571-1585.

Indians in general are deeply rooted in tradition. Our culture gives us our identity. Most of us (especially those living away from the homeland,) cling to it, even though several aspects especially in these modern times, make no sense at all.

Why do we do so?

Perhaps because it brings us together as a community and provides us comfort in a foreign environment. The same I think applies to immigrants from all across the globe.

Here I will try to expand a little (very little,) on the various aspects of Indian culture, traditions, customs, beliefs, religion, art, architecture, music, dance, cuisine and so on.. Essentially all the things that defines my country to me and others in my community and which I hope would help people of non Indian origin understand India and Indianness a little better.

I encourage everybody to pitch in, and take the opportunity to discuss possible similarities or dissimilarities which exist between our various cultures.

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Let me start with a subject which continues to baffle a lot of people in the west: Arranged Marriages. 

I have been asked by some of my friends to elaborate on the tradition of arranged marriages and explain why they continue to be so popular, as well as describe the various rituals which take place during a typical wedding.

As a part of Hindu culture, arranged nuptials remain resilient even today despite the invasion of modern thought into every aspect of  Indian society. Times are definitely changing but many young Indians still prefer it.

Why?

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