Rajasthan; A battle ground

Follow me down to the valley below ..

Porcupine Tree

|| Act I ||

All your friends they ride into the sunset;

Fly into the sunset and away, we blow ..

Coldplay

Growing up in and around Delhi, this land of kings, as the name literally translates to, always seemed like the most convenient weekend getaway. Having pretty much covered all the major cities, palaces, castles and ancestral properties converted into hotels for tourists, I thought it was time to put my thoughts down constructively.

Over the years I’ve collected so much data but a mid-life crisis sometimes really gives you perspective. (That is my friend’s hand, who has sadly shifted to Canada now)

Even as an undergraduate architecture student , studying its material construction techniques, the function of the the ornamented facades, the angular placement of each ‘jali’ (screen) was insightful. Most of the following images are from 2nd year of architecture school (BSSA NMIMS, Mumbai, India)

All the college boys they’re dressing up in suits

Thinking life’s a bore

Henry Jamison

The one on the extreme right, yes the one with two water bottles, clearly ready for the desert, ‘jugaad’ is the right term to describe him. He’s is doing a fellowship somewhere, work somewhere & dating someone.. well he’s moved to Goa and I’ve totally lost touch ..

The one smiling with the measuring tape cannot be described in words. She should be kept in a museum somewhere, tickets you need to buy to experience this human.

The one in yellow is a music library, practicing architect, running his own firm with a group of friends from CEPT university in Ahmadabad. He also runs an alternative film club with another friend. They also create very innovative artwork, prints on order only. I’m running out of things this boy can’t do. Oh ya .. he can’t remember anything! Do check out one of their screenings if you ever happen to be in the city.

Wallet, Phone, Keys + Earphones (and her other essentials that shall not be named.)

Ebony Cullen

And lastly, my muse . Never get tired of taking pictures of this self tortured child..sitting in Texas..surely overworked.

There aren’t enough pictures to show you this maniac..This girl needs a post of her own. Soon ..

After a few years of practice, learning, working hard and exploitation, I intent on taking you, the reader, on a distorted journey through my memories and broken facts of each city that I happened to visit, of its royal aspects and maybe try and provoke a healthy discussion.

|| Act II ||

Architecture is sculpture with the gesture of human occupation

Charles Correa

Let’s start with Jaipur, the Pink city; the capital. We’ve all heard of it, visited it as tourists. Now imagine going to this city as a designer, of any field for that matter. Recently I visited it for the annual Jaipur literature festival(2018). Travelling with three architects and a lawyer and what a mix that was.

My hardworking lawyer, a school friend, never imagined he’d ever take life this seriously. Loves to read, has great music taste.. just needs to learn the value of space I guess. Well who better than a bunch of architects to teach him that right!

A localite from Jodhpur, he had so much to share and we had too much to learn. Wandered the lit fest like a true traveler. This man can live in a library; Hope to design a home for him one day.

He stood out so well under the burst of colours on the temporary ceiling of made of 2D jharokas. So comfortable in his own skin, this festival really brought out his true colours. I highly recommend avid readers to go attend this festival.

Ironically, the three architects hadn’t read a single book, had some pseudo knowledge of the speakers. We were just there to listen, observe and maybe picked up a book or two (Which all three of us haven’t even finished yet)

There were all sorts of musical experiences to chose from too. It obviously had it’s traditional rajasthani folk music mixed with a little ghoomar, but this fusion band called ‘Real Sugar’ (Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills) was such a happy surprise. The ghazal set by Shilpa Rao (who needs no introduction) ft. Talvin Singh was my absolute favourite.

There are times when you can’t decide what not to go for, there is just so much variety for all. Not just for the bookworms .. Do check it out .. https://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/

Some pictures from my experience are below.

This artwork was displayed at the entrance to the venue for the music events.
Artist unknown
‘Real Sugar’
(Paban Das Baul & Sam Mills)
Barmer Boys and Trippy Sama

|| Interlude I ||

From the poet/vocalist inside me.. Jaipur bought out that side in me. Upcoming quotes/verses from my favourite ghazals ..

Mohabbat karney waaley kam na hongey|| Teri mehfil mai lekin ham na hongey

Mehdi Hassan

Ungaliya uthengi sukhe huye baalon ki taraf

Ik nazar dekhenge guzare huye saalon ki taraf

Chudiyon par bhi kayi tanzil kiye jaayenge

Kaanpate haathon ke bhi phikarein kase jaayenge

Jagjit Singh

Waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai magar|| Chand ghariyaan yehi hain jo aazaad hain

Farida Khanum

Gulon main rang bhare||Baad-e-naubahaar chale

Chale bhi aao ke||Gulshan ka karobar chale

Mehdi Hassan

Travelling on a budget, we stayed at a new youth hostel (mostly because all the others were booked). Designed for foreign tourists, a renovated home of a local (I think), although the hostel brought all of Jaipur in one place, it at times felt like a marketplace. It had innovative semi-private spaces, done by local skills artisans, well-built bunk-beds made of solid wood. But a picture is worth a thousand words so prepare yourself .. for a burst of culture.

I have this thing about lights ..

Market forces do not make cities, they destroy them

Charles Correa

Very strong words from a great architect, do you agree ? Thoughts?

Like I said, too much information and too little time to put it all together, but let’s get back to what the real reason for mentioning this trip to Jaipur was. The three architects (name of the third one shall be disclosed shortly) decided to spend their last day at the Jawahar Kala Kendra, since research for us never stops.

The plan of the Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) right oppose the help desk.

To quote Pooja Sood (Director General JKK)This building is the true embodiment of some of the most imporant idea of Charles Correa through its open to sky spaces, its public orientation and its humane scale. The building is important to the city of Jaipur as a foremst effort that folds history and mdern efforts together to create a public space like no other.

Completely unaware of the adventure we were about to embark on, we found ourselves attending an exhibition called ‘When is space’ curated by ‘Rupali Gutpe & Prasad Shetty’. While JKK itself is an experience, this collaborated galley of contemporary architecture was the cherry on the cake. I happened to pick up a book from there too .. still in the Lit Fest mode I guess.

Certainly architecture is concerned with much more than just its physical attributes. Beneath and beyond the strata of function & structure, materials & texture, lie the deepest and more compulsive layers of all

Charles Correa

Below are some selected works from there, some things that really caught my eye.

My personal favourite was the installation ‘The Floating Roof’ by ‘The Urban Project’.

|| Act III ||

Let’s make this the final act for my extremely long piece here. I have too many pictures to share but they aren’t really mine. So I’m just going to describe Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and all the other cities in this time frozen battle ground, with words, what I do best.

The simplest of elements, the beautifully ornamented bay windows originally designed as seating spaces for women to stay indoors and peep outside. Well, the common reaction one receives from that very statement is women oppression. What we fail to understand, which I totally do not condone, is the perspective of the time period in which this practice started. Back then it may have been the only way to save their women and children while constantly being under attack.

Let’s move on to some city planning now shall we. While every major city has been thoroughly documented by historians and artisans etc. , the really fascinating thing to notice about all these forts is the brutal-ism with which they were planned & constructed.

The massive archways, step-wells, fountains, and all that the Mughals left behind, is what makes Rajasthan so beautiful. It is only fitting that the locals there are so happy in their service based stagnated hospitality lives. I happen to speak to some on my visit to ‘Ajit Bhawan’ (Check my instagram feed there’s loads there) this year. Mandawa too used to have a beautiful resort and castle property many moons ago, I’m not sure if it’s still there. I can’t sell this enough , highly recommend anyone from anywhere to just stay in any property, expensive or otherwise to experience Rajasthan’s beauty.

But as you go from city to city, a distinctive similarity can be noticed in each of these windows or ‘jharokas’. And its not just limited to that, every arch every ‘jaali’ or screen had its own purpose. The placement of the screens in these preserved forts and palaces is truly magical. I’ve managed to document some over time.

It’s just best if you follow me on Instagram for those really.

An entryway at Ajit Bhawan at night

I’ve given Rajasthan a lifetime and its still beckoning.

1 thought on “Rajasthan; A battle ground”

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