Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Tambekar Wada- where the canvas is its' walls...

One may have numerous reasons to visit the very famous and grand Lakshmi Vilas Palace when in Vadodara and only a few reasons to peek at the mural paintings of Tambekar Wada, but the beauty of both the places can leave anyone spellbound equally. Though Tambekar wada is in no way comparable to Lakshmi Vilas palace in terms of size and grandeur, the former holds the onlookers' inquisitiveness due to its' homely appearance.











































































Located in one of the tiny by- lanes of old Vadodara, the Tambekar Wada was the Haveli of erstwhile Divan of Baroda- Vital Khanderao Tambekar or Bhau Tambekar. It is a three- story, typical Maratha mansion built in the 19th century that houses some of the most intricate mural paintings on walls and ceilings.






































Most part of the  building is in a sad state and is restored by Archeological Survey of India (ASI). As the caretaker leads his visitors through the steep, wooden staircase, one would have the feel of entering an ancestral mansion. Once the doors are open, the visitors are thrown open to a vast room filled with colours- on walls, ceilings and even doors and windows.
























































The paintings mainly depict the scenes from Mahabharata, especially from the life of Krisha. Other scenes portray the stories from Anglo-Maratha war. The colours used are mostly red, green and yellow and each scene is demarcated with strips of floral borders or frames. The wooden frames of the doors and jaalis of the windows too are painted with intricate floral motifs to merge with the wall paintings.
























































Originally made in 1870s, the technique used in the painting is Secco. It is a technique where colour pigments are mixed with a binder (such as lime) and applied on a dry plaster.

We were allowed to visit only two rooms of which most of the paintings were either peeling off or smudged due to weather conditions.

Photography is not allowed but we were allowed to click only a handful with our phone. So they are a little blurred and not composed well. 

Monday, 5 February 2018

The city of Ahmedabad- in a nutshell

Navrathri festivities, bustling streets, shopping outlets, Dandiya and Ras Garbha fervor- our timing to visit this busy city couldn't have been better.

We had entered the city with lot of expectation- to witness the Navrathri madness, to get awed (and 'vav'ed) by the popular stepwells,  to savour some delicious Gujju thalis and to walk through those hundreds of 'pols' to appreciate the architecture of old city. 

This post predominantly showcases the city highlights especially the places that we visited. Our first day had started with a walk in the streets of old city. Read more about the old city and the havelis here

One of the havelis in old city... 



























Our next stop was at Hutheesing Jain Temple. It was built by a wealthy trader Shet Hutheesing in 1848. Though, started by him, his wife looked after the construction after his death. The architect of the temple was Premchand Salat and was built during a perid when Ahmedabad was hit by severe famine and the construction work provided livelihood to hundreds of families for two years. 

The total cost of the temple was Rs. 8 lakh, a huge sum for that period and is dedicated to 15th Jain Thirthankara, Dharmanatha.

Mahasthambha (column of victory) at the entrance of the temple...






















































Moving ahead, we stopped at Jama Masjid. Built in 1424 during the reign of Ahmed Shah I, the mosque is an amalgamation of Mughal, Hindu and Jain architecture. The main prayer hall is the main attraction of the mosque with 260 stone pillars that hold the ceiling. 




























Ceiling inside the prayer hall...


























On our way, we had also stopped at another mosque- Sidi Syyed Jaali well-known for its' stone jaali work. We could not go indoors as the prayer had started so clicked a few pictures from outside. 


The jaali work- the inspiration behind IIM- Ahmedabad's logo...





















































And to finish the day with a madness, we decided to hit the street food of Manek Chowk. Though we guiltily ate numerous varieties of items, the one that I liked the most was Pinealpple Sandwich. Here's a glimpse of the chaos and madness that surrounds Manek Chowk at night.

Interestingly, this packed street food market turns into a vegetable market in the morning. It is named after a HIndu saint Baba Maneknath who lived during the reign of Ahmed Shah I. When Ahmed Shah was building a 'walled' capital in Ahmedabad, Maneknath disrupted his construction work through his magical powers. Astonishingly, Baba would weave a mat during the day when the construction was going on and then undo it in the night that resulted in the fall of built walls.
When this was discovered by the Sultan, he tricked Baba to show his powers by putting himself in a glass jar. When Baba did as told, Sultan sealed the jar and buried it in the  soil!

Panaromic view of the food stalls in Manek Chowk...











The second day was meant for a visit to Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar and nearby Adalaj stepwell. 

Akshardham temple, which is dedicated to the teachings and life of Swaminarayan, is built in a 23 acre complex with the Mandir measuring up to 108 feet high. The Mandir's central chamber houses a seven- feet tall, gold- leafed statue of Swaminarayan. To follow the Vedic architectural principles, no iron or steel has been used in building the temple. So the entire structure has been built using pink- sandstone from Rajasthan.

The temple complex has numerous exhibition halls depicting the life of Swaminarayan through audio-visual presentations. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple premises so I could not take any pictures. 

Akshardham visit was clubbed with a visit to the very popular Adalaj stepwell (Adalaj ni vav in Gujrati). Ola/ Uber cabs are easily available to reach Adalaj and back to either Gandhinagar or Ahmedabad. 

Adalaj stepwell was built in 1498 by Rana Veer Singh of the Vaghela dynasty. Though started by him, it was completed by a Muslim ruler Mehmud Begada who killed Veer Singh in a war. The legendary story of how this Muslim ruler completed the stepwell is very elaborate and will be taken up in a separate post exclusively about Adalaj.

View through the stone pillars and columns...
  







































We were fortunate to get free passes to witness the Ras Garbha that night at the most happening University in Ahmedabad- CEPT University. Against the backdrop of the very neat and contemporary architecture of the University, the night had come to life that kept us awake till mid-night. Here are a few lightings that were created for the event at the campus (all the pictures are shot with my phone though):







































The third day was spent (till afternoon) in the quiet premises of the Sabarmathi Ashram. My daughter was the most excited among us all with a pen and a paper in her hand jotting down all important facts from Gandhiji's life. 

Gandhi Ashram is a place where Gandhiji lived after returning from South Africa and conducted some of his experiments with farming, cow breeding and Khadi. Read more about the history of this place here.

At the main entrance of the Ashram...


























Magan- Nivas ...where various types of 'charakas' are kept for display...



























Next, we drove to VECHAAR- the utensils museum. Here is the link to separate post about the museum. 

Evening was spent on the streets of Law Garden admiring the colourful lehengas displayed for Navarathri sale and stopping at Sabarmathi Riverfront.

A shop in Law Garden...













































































Sabarmathi Riverfront at night...

























There were many more places which we couldn't visit due to time constraint and other factors but was glad to have witnessed these at the least.

Friday, 29 December 2017

VECHAAR- Utensils Museum in Ahmedabad

Considered as one of the unique museums in India, VECHAAR (Vishalla Environmental Center for Heritage, Art, Architecture and Research) is located inside the famous Vishalla restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. It was started by Mr. Surendra Patel in 1981. It houses more than 3000 antique utensils some of them dating back to 1000 years old.

Our first visit to the museum was a disappointment as we chose to visit on a Monday, a day when the museum is closed! But we did revisit it after two days and I am glad that we did. Though not very appealing from outside (almost unattractive/ invisible from the main road), this place bears a village-like appearance upon entering. We had directly entered the Utensils museum without stopping at the Vishalla restaurant as we had already developed an aversion towards thalis after binging on it for several days at a stretch.

The corridor and pavements at the entrance of the museum are lined up with earthen clay pots. The wooden plank (made from a single tree trunk for sure) used as a resting place in front of the main door is sure catch everyone's attention.


The entrance of the Museum...

























Utensils on display at the entrance...

























Clay utensils displayed on the courtyard...

























Door locks...

























The varied range of utensils made of brass, copper, bronze and German silver are all arranged according to the purpose they serve in day- to-day activities- water storage, items used during worship, travel utensils, cooking and so on. 

Water storage containers...

















































Pooja Items...

























Pestles and other kitchen accessories...

























Kitchenware...





























































Dowry Boxes...

























The glass cases filled with nut- crackers is another unique feature of the museum. One can find exquisite and artistic nut-crackers in this section made of brass, iron and copper. 



























The building with its' quadrangular shape provides easy access to all the sections of the museum. The clay plastering of the exteriors of the building blends with the collection of these antique utensils. 
























































Tambekar Wada- where the canvas is its' walls...

One may have numerous reasons to visit the very famous and grand Lakshmi Vilas Palace when in Vadodara and only a few reasons to peek at t...