Well of the enlightened…

As I explored the the sandstone structures, myths and mythology emerged. The rough walls were carved with numerous stories. The idols were as if shaped with love, much like how god would have carved us from the earth.

You can’t help but gape with awe as you  descend into the well, which seems more like a palace in ruins. The base of pillars lie in the middle of the stairs, suggesting that once these were adorned by a roof and possibly another level or floor. The series of pillars give a new meaning to depth. If could stand in the middle of the well and look either side, it would seem as though you were standing between to parallel mirrors. With such  precision  these chambers and levels have been cut from stone! Rock pigeons have made this their home and now zoom above your head. Nearer to the well you can hear the bats squeaking and the smell of dampness and darkness fills your senses.

An exploration through pictures of a step well, Rani ni vav at Patan, Gujarat located about 105 Km from Ahmedabad in Mehsana District of Gujarat.

A day in Junagadh, Gujarat

People moved  through the narrow lanes of the city casting long shadows in the morning sun. The old broken walls, arches, wooden doors tested by time stood as silent audience to the morning drama that unfolded. The city was still asleep yet old men with crumpled faces holding large copper pots with milk, walked swiftly through the cattle infested streets. Women in their traditional sarees, the young partially veiled and the old and experienced unveiled also walked alongside them. Sweepers had become busy dusting the road, kicking an occasional dog out of the way. People sat reading their Gujarati dailies outside their houses, having sips of hot tea which was carried by scruffy teenage boys. Some shops were opening shutters, cleaning, burning incense in front of deities and idols arranged at the back. Cattle sat lazily, looking grumpy in the middle of the undulating streets while dogs continued to chase cars.

The aroma of the tea beckoned us to the main city square. More people could be seen sitting with their copper pots along the street. Copper pots were being loaded onto carts and scooters that would deliver milk to the city. Young men chewed tobacco, smoked and wandered in the square. Little children sat alongside their mothers. The city of Junagadh was coming to life!

Junagadh is the main city of Junagadh district in Saurashtra, Gujarat located at the foot of the Girnar hill. About 400 km from Ahmedabad, it is the seventh largest city in Gujarat and the only place in the world where you can see the Asiatic Lion.

After walking the streets in the morning, next up was the Darbar Museum, housing the royal court and the artifacts, weapons of the various Nawabs(Kings) that have ruled Junagadh. Following this we visited Uparkot Fort, from where you can see the city on one side and the Girnar hill on the other.

Junagadh-city-from-Uperkot-fortThe highlight of the trip was however the Bahauddin ka Maqbara or the Mahabat Maqbara. Exquisite minarets with spiral staircases and intricate carvings of the monument left us spell-bound. Sadly, the Maqbara has not received the attention it deserves. The monument is protected by the Archeological Survey of India, which hasn’t done enough to protect it. The complex is used by children to play cricket and the minarets are in a dilapidated condition and often misused. In the evening the place is deserted and the lights put in place don’t work.

We left the place with a heavy heart, wanting to capture more in our eyes and cameras, but alas the mundane of the routine awaited us the next day…

He is a Muslim…!


He is a Muslim…!

“He is a Muslim…!” The words still echoed in his mind as he got down the flight of stairs. The officer on the phone had apologized several times when he had come to know who Anand was. But it was too late. Anand had lost his faith and respect in the city and community in particular. Despite being aware of the communal disharmony, this was the first time Anand had experienced first hand discrimination in 4 years. Anand, an architect and an urban planner, was a Senior Planner in the Government. It was his job to know the city well, and be aware of  its needs, the people, their troubles and expectations.

Arti, Anand’s sister, was following her brother’s footsteps, had come to the city on  an architectural tour. The city, known for its Mughal and modern architecture was a must visit for budding architects. Arti and her friends had taken up  the case study  of the local Architecture and Planning Institute . This was a structure  famous for its campus design and environment. Anand had been more than happy to have company for a few days and had welcomed them to stay in his house. Maybe it was a mistake, thought Anand now,  as he hailed the driver to get the car and drive him home.

 Asif,  just out of his teenage years was being consoled by Arti and her friends. He felt angry and helpless. He had got used topeople staring at him, when he uttered his name. But this had been an insult and it had made everyone feel miserable. Yes Arti’s friend was Muslim, but did that really matter? He was a human being, no different. Anand hoped, all was well as he told the driver to drive faster.

The Police officers had already left when Anand arrived. He had inquired with the security guard and had come to know that one of their neighbors had made the complaint. The officers had said that they couldn’t reveal the identity of the complainant. Anand had argued and reasoned with them for an hour on the phone and had finally convinced them that Asif was not a terrorist, but just a student and his sister’s friend. Even Asif’s university ID was not enough to convince them. They were only convinced when they came to know Anand was a Government official. After that Asif’s identity did not matter.

This was the same city where a common man had once preached about peace, communal harmony, non-violence and led the people towards freedom from slavery. All had been lost, his words, ideals had been packed, re-packaged and sold. There was no room for implementing his ideas now.

Arti left the next day, as planned with her friends. Anand again apologized for the trouble Asif had to endure. Asif in reply, hugged Anand warmly and said, “An apology from you is uncalled for, I know I hugged a friend just now”

Related articles