Friday, 19 December 2014

Colour of Shekhawati in 1999




These were the colors of Shekhawati 19 years ago. In these years I re-visited many more Thikhanas and found things have changed and worsening too. Colors have slowly faded, more commercial attitude floating in the air and minds of the locals, link roads still bumby, open and spacious lands in front of a cluster of havelis gone and taken by ugly structures, peaceful ambiance crushed by vehicles cpewing black fumes from exhaust pipes, filth and worn out structures tell a sordid tale of neglect. Once Shekhawati was proud of its painted havelis and open spaces with street full of fine and clean sand. Now..........not grandeur but filth and crowd have taken over. Shekhawati can retain its magnificence only if a grand plan is prepared and implemented within five years. Ramgarh, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Udaipurwati,Mukundgarh, Dundlod, Navalgarh and many more such as Sujangarh and Ratangarh have suffered damage. Indian just don't know how to preserve its heritage. Every visitor can feel excited about the history of Shekhawati and the ambiance of the streets dotted by hundreds of painted havelis. I am amazed at the speed with which Shekhawati has taken to urban culture.
Rajasthan has plans but they focus on bringing more tourists and not for preserving the heritage in original form. We need to act fast, and..........NOW. It is also time we shed steriotyped plans on tourism and instead make good linkages with heritage conservation bodies for which we need to rope in expertise of the Archaeological Survey of India. We also need to built in-house expertise instead of looking at the West.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Junagadh -Neglect of heritage property

These are a group of tombs built in 18th century AD and graves of the Nawabs of Junagadh and members of their family. These were built in local architectural style with embellishments in stucco carving. Buried here are first Nawab Sher Khan and Salabat Khan (1748-58), Nawab Mahabat Khan-I (1758-75) and Ratanbai, Begum of Bahadur Khan. These little know architectural beauties lie in utter neglect inside the old quarters of the city and I recently inspected them when told by a local friend. Although, a notice board carries the message that these monuments are protected and taken care of by the Department of Archaeology, Govt. of Gujarat but the physical status of the monuments and graves is such that less said is better. It is obvious that the concerned department is not fulfilling its responsibility in a desirable and upright manner. Had it not been for a protective wall, the monuments would have fallen to pieces and pilfered by now. However, the entire adjoining areas around this plot of about 1000 sq yards has been encroached by petty shopkeepers who care little about the hygiene of the surroundings.

[The two latter addition to the album depict the photos of the Mahabat Khan-II group of tombs built in the late nineteenth century i.e. a century apart from the others. The latter two were built at a cost of about 30 thousand of rupees. A fabulous sum in those times, indeed]

The Sun Temple -Modhera (Gujarat)

I visited Modhera sometime in mid-January 2014 and watched the renowned Sun Temple bathed in pale yellow due to the light coming from the setting Sun. The temple is devoted to this natural God of the Hindus which is said to have been partially ruined and the idol of the Sun God desecrated by invaders from across the northwestern frontiers who were the followers of Islam. It is located in district Patan of the State of Gujarat in India and ideally set on the left bank of river Pushpawati. Its architecture is superb by all means and the walls bear many sculptures of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses including auspicious animals and birds. Motifs have also been used for embellishment. The Surya Kund or the Sun Tank in its front is a large structure having a deep and inclined pit with long quays broken by intermittent slabs stones set as stairs for the purpose of going down to the water level. The monument and the premises is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India who did a magnificent and labor intensive work for several years to recover the monument from falling into total ruins. It is visited by thousands of native people as well as hundreds of foreign nations during the year.

[It has come to be noticed that many a friend post pictures of the Mandapam located in front of the main Sun Temple and facing the water reservoir depicting it to be the principle edifice whereas the actual Sun Temple is in the background and much larger than the Mandapam having a different plan. If pictures from front are taken then the tank comes in the foreground and the Mandapam in the background hiding the main edifice, totally. I have, therefore posted the photo of the main edifice as well as the tank with Mandapam seen in the background. One of the photos on the wall of the Sun Temple depicts God Sun with Usha and Pratyusha standing by his side. The God's sever horses are seen in the front as only the heads could be carved following the principles of iconography.]