Friday, 28 October 2016

Delhi diaries: India Gate

Originally named the 'All India War Memorial',  India Gate is a war memorial built in dedication to all the souls who laid down their lives in service of the nation. Located astride the Rajpath, on eastern side of the ceremonial axis of new Delhi, formerly called Kingsway. It is a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of undivided Indian army who died in the period 1914-21 in First World War and Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,516 serviceman's names have been inscribed on the gate. The Indian Gate was built as war memorial, evokes the architectural styles of the triumphal arch and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The India Gate reaches up to the height of 42 meters and is situated in the heart of the city with an arched structure, boasted that it is has a similar structural elegance to the counterpart in Paris. The monument is built with light brown Bharatpur stones. The monument was built under the supervision and control of Duke of Connaught during the year 1921 and it was dedicated to Lord Viceroy of that time Lord Irwin. INDIA in bold letters is encrypted on the either ends of the monument.A small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth along with reversed  rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames was built in 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation War, beneath the soaring Memorial Archway. The structure known as the Amar Jawan Jyoti or The Flame of the Immortal Soldier has served as India's tomb of the Unknown soldiers. The flame is manned round the clock by soldiers of all the three services of the Indian armed forces.

The cornice of the gate is inscribed worth the Imperial suns and on the both sides of the arch have INDIA, flanked by the dates MCMXIV(1914 left side) and MCMXIX (1919 right side). Below the word INDIA there is an inscription as follows:

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Delhi Diaries: Lotus Temple

The worlds most famous cultural architecture, the Lotus Temple also called the Bahai Temple or Bahai House of pure worship. The temple was completed in 1986, known for its flower like shape, it serves as mother temple of the Indian subcontinent.It is the last of seven major Bahai temples built around the world, set among lush green garden and the most visited monument in the world. Lotus temple got its name not just because of the reason that it is in the shape of lotus, but lotus is a symbol of love and purity giving the message of immortality and thus the temple is designed as lotus. It is one of the most complex edifices in the world as it integrates the technological marvel with aesthetic value.

This astounding architecture is built by Persian architect Fariborz Sabha from Canada. White marble were used in the construction making it a beauty to see. From the top view of the monument it looks like half opened lotus, the construction of which took ten years. 800 people were employed for the construction which included engineers, technicians and workers. There are nine reflecting pools surrounding the structure, at the same time the structure has nine entrances. The building is composed of 27 free standing marble clad petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening into a central hall with height of 40 meters and with a capacity of 2500 people in all. Petals in the first ring face outward forming canopies over the nine entrances. The second ring covers the outer hall and the innermost ring the petals curve inward to enclose the prayer hall.The surface is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the very same from which the ancient monuments and other Bahai houses were built. The Lotus Temple property comprises of 26 acres of land. the overall effect of the architecture is that of a floating lotus flower, a symbol of Bahai faith, on verge of blooming ans surrounded by its leaves.

The temple is ideal combination of peace, serenity and tranquility. Bahai faith believes that prayer and meditation are the two instruments for the progress of human souls in this world and the next. The act of praying is a means of conversation with God and meditation is described as the key to open the door of mysteries. The main aim of Bahai faith is amalgamation of all the hearts of the people , so they move closer to the creator along with the unifying of all religions.

It is very rightly said about the monument that "Architecturally, artistically, ethically the edifice is a paragon of perfection..."

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Delhi Diaries:Humayun's Tomb

The awe inspiring Humayun's tomb is one of the grand dynastic mausoleums which is synonymous to architectural beauty of the Mughal dynasty. It was the first garden tomb in the Indian subcontinent and the perfect example of Persian architecture. The Humayun's tomb was commissioned in 1526 nine years after the death of Humayun. Humayun's garden tomb is far grander tomb than any built in the Islamic world. The construction is an example of charbagh style with pools joined by channels.

Hamida Banu Begum, his grieving widow, built Emperor Humayun’s mausoleum. Precursor to Taj Mahal, it stands on the platform of 12000 meter square and reaches a height of 47 meter. The architect of the tomb was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian. The earliest example of Persian influence in Indian architecture, the tomb has within it over 100 graves, earning it the name ‘Dormitory of the Mughals’. Built of rubble masonry, the structure is the first to use red sandstone and white marble in such great quantities. The small canopies on the terrace were originally covered in glazed blue tiles, and the brass finial over the white marble dome is itself 6 meter high. The mausoleum is a synthesis of Persian architecture and Indian traditions, the former exemplified by the arched alcoves, corridors and the high double dome, and the latter by the kiosks, which give it s pyramidal outline from distance.

The mausoleum itself stands on a high wide terraced platform with two bay deep vaulted cells on all four sides. It has an irregular octagonal plan with four long sides and chambered edges. It is surmounted by a 42.5 m high double dome clad with marble flanked by pillared kiosks, which is the first Indian building with such intricate. The symmetrical design on the exterior is in sharp contrast with the complex interior floor plan of the chambers which is a square nine fold plan where eight two storyed vaulted chambers radiate from the central, double height domed chamber.Underneath this white tomb,lies the central octagonal sepulcher, the burial chamber containing single cenotaph, aligned on north south axis as per the Islamic tradition.

Another structure in the premises is the Isa Khan’s Tomb Enclosure. Isa Khan Niyazi was a noble in the court of Sher Shah Suri. This enclosure includes his tomb and a mosque, both built in his lifetime. The octagonal tomb, pr-dating Humayun’s tomb by only 20 years has striking ornamentation in the form of canopies, glazed tiles and lattice screens. Along the western side of the enclosure, the three bay wide mosque has a grand red sandstone central bay and striking mihrabs. Until the early 20th century, an entire village had been settled in the enclosure.

Arab Serai Gate is a 14 meter high gateway led to the walled enclosure which housed the Persian craftsman who came here for building of the Humayun’s tomb. Red sandstone and white marble inlay work add a striking touch to the gateway, mostly built of Delhi quartzite stone. The projecting jharokas still display remnants of the glazed ceramic tiles. Another structure which the folklore describes as the Barber's Tomb, has red sand stones facade, tiled canopies, minarets and sandstone screens. The tomb has ornamental cenotaphs of one male and female.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Delhi Diaries: Rajghat

Mahatma Gandhi revered as the father of nation, was cremated at the very spot wherein there is a simple black marble platform which marks the spot where the cremation of Gandhi was carried out on 31 January, 1948. The memorial is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end. The memorial has the epitaph "Hey Ram" inscribed, believed to be the last words uttered by him on his deathbed. The memorial was designed by an architect named Vanu G. Bhuta.

From local visitors to foreigners who visit Delhi make it a point to visit and pay homage to the father of nation. Every Friday, the day when he died, prayers are held reciting his favorite bhajans and kirtans. Other than Monday, Gandhi's philosophy is projected in pictures, images and sculpture from 10 am to 5 pm. Apart from this, there is a museum where his life and philosophy of Sarvodaya Movement is projected in film between 9:30 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. expect on Thursday and on Sunday at 4 pm in Hindi and at 5 pm in English.

During our visits around the memorial there is beautiful garden perfectly maneuvered and well maintained which creates a peaceful and serene atmosphere. There are trees labelled near the platforms which have been planted by various dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II, former Australian PM Gough Whitman, Ho Chi Minh, former US President Dwight Eisenhower and so on.

Several other samadhis of other famous leader are also situated in the vicinity of Raj Ghat on the banks of Yamuna. The landscaping and planing of these memorials were performed by Sydney Percy-Lancaster, the secretary of the Agri Horticulture Society of India, and the last Englishmen to hold the post of Superintendent of Horticulture Operations, Government of India.  Jawaharlal Nehru's samadhi is to the north of Rajghat and is known as the Shantivan meaning the forest of peace. The area has a beautiful park adorned with trees planted by visiting dignitaries and heads of state. To commemorate PM Rajiv Gandhi, Vir Bhoomi is in north of Raj Ghat.The design consists of two squares in angular relationship signifying the of birth and assassination. The center is a stone platform with lotus flower carved in granite stone. Between Raj Ghat and Shantivan lies the memorial of India's first lady prime minister Indira Gandhi called Shakti Sthal. The 16 feet high and 60 tons iron ore rock symbolizes courage, fortitude and strength. In the north most section lies the memorial of our second prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri called Vijay Ghat