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Citizen Trees of Delhi – Voice of Artist Kate Bowen Can We Save Trees of Delhi? By Dr. Navina Jafa (follow: @navinajafa )

tree-2

Imagine being here ‘Now’ is a title I offer up for advance publication when I have no idea yet what I’ll talk about, but also because I enjoy the paradox. Why would we have to imagine a place if we are right here now? Because we’re always doing it because every day we imagine and then live a version of our new stories, our histories, which we then disseminate through friends and families. ‘Imagine’, John Lenon exhorted us. And artist David Wojnarowicz said in the 1980s, “I’m beginning to think that one of the last frontiers for radical gestures in the imagination.”   

Kate -2

Trees & Environment Concern: Case of Delhi: Environmentalists all over the world are talking about the vital role of trees in the world’s ecosystems. Citizens of Delhi, the capital of India and one of the most polluted city struggles against the narrative of ‘development’ comprising of construction of a wide range of urban dwellings, broadening roads, flyovers and much more. Each action presently seems to be unbalanced considering long term sustainable factors; such that the holistic parameters of these ‘development’ initiatives seem to be more as under-development than development. The pressure groups engaged in the narrative of pushing such ‘development’ seek to counter the voices of citizen groups and environmentalists.  Within this framework, the recent work of Kate Bowen a British artist who created a series of paintings on Trees of Delhi is a fascinating artistic response to the critique. The paintings were a part of a group exhibition at Sangeeta Gupta’s Prithvi Fine Art and Culture Centre, Delhi in January.

Tree-1

 

Kate, who moved to Delhi just about a year ago found herself amidst issues of air pollution, and the cutting of large, old trees of Delhi. She witnessed protests by environmentalists and tree lovers. As an artist, her journey in India seems to have motivated her to dialogue with the Trees of Delhi – the silent but vulnerable citizens of Delhi. The drawings seemed to bring out the characters of her new friends which she represented on Banana paper and painted with a squirrel brush. She journeyed to bring her modern training in conversation with the miniature style of painting. Her paintings seem to highlight the minutely certain distinct character of each chosen tree represented. She tried to create in the portrait of each tree the personality which emerged in the manner distinct patterns of their branches, roots, the girth of their trunks, the movement of leaves in the breeze seem to catch the stirring emitted in their intangible voices.

 Trees and Indian Miniatures:

Miniature painting found currency between the early 16th century and late 19th century from Rajasthan in the West, Punjab hills in the north to Deccan in the south. They stand out like a jewel in a crown in the Indian painting tradition.  It is known that trees and foliage in Indian miniatures were often added not merely as decorative elements but to enhance the mood of a chosen narrative. For example, the 12thc poem Gita Govinda by poet Jaidev describing the love between Krishna and Radha. The poem inspired a large number of painters from the ateliers of a variety of medieval courts who promoted the genre of Miniature Paintings. The poem mentions the dark Tamala trees under which several activities of the characters are described and fundamentally the trees get featured as an intrinsic part of the paintings. The trees in the miniature paintings served as geometric designs as much as they conveyed the mood of the central narrative. The trees also served to create spatial compartments so that a story flowed from one part to the other in one painting. It was for this reason the miniature paintings produced a three-dimensional effect.

Tamala tree

 

Bridging Genres: Kate Bowen a modern painter entered the world of the Miniature painting by training with Delhi based miniature painter – Banwari Lal Rajput.  It was intriguing to see her paintings on the trees which also represented the manner her modern art training dialogued with the new genre of the miniature painting.

 

IMG-20190223-WA0024

 Negotiations: For instance, Line is rarely seen in nature but heavily used in paintings. The lines form an important element in creating the designs as the basis of all work. Quality of the line work can have a huge effect on the final rendering. Miniature artists frequently use lines to delineate one shape from another or to bring out the form. Kate has used Lines to impart energy and dynamism to bring of the character of each tree. The swirls of her squirrel brush seem to glide or to draw to capture designs of branches and roots. Sometimes they seem to be delineated with simple, coarse lines, investing a rawness in the image.

Tree-4

 

kate -3

It is only in twentieth-century art that shapes started getting used as an end in themselves, as we see in Kandinsky’s work. In miniature paintings, all depiction is through realistic, representative shapes usually associated with the objects. Shapes can be rendered with shading, scale, and lines to bring out a three-dimensional form, or they can be rendered flat in a collage-like manner by use of flat color or delineating lines. There is an interplay of myriad small shapes of different tones, contrasting or painstaking similar shapes that brings about an amazingly energetic image. The use of shading which provides hues, saturation, and brightness (or tonality). This technique is absolutely necessary to communicate a definite perception of the world.

 

Tree-3

 

 

Yet another technique Bowen applies and finds similarity with the miniature genre is a quest of texture. Her use of the banana paper enabled a fascinating dialogue between the hair of the squirrel brush and the magnetic pull of the crevices of the paper which seems to capture like a camera the flow of paint bringing out the raw texture of the trees. The appearance seemed to highlight the visual element that served as a stand-in for the qualities of another sense, touching. One could imagine the roughness of the roots, leaves, the sharp bends, and curves of the branches.

 

Portraits of Trees Fighting to Survive as Citizens:

Finally the question of Space. A miniature painter on his canvas is required to detail and maximize the poignancy of the chosen subject, narrative, character or setting. Each of Bowen’s paintings considered aspires to bring out the depth by depicting foreground, middle-ground and background in their own unique ways. Bowen using a bold naturalist voice does not choose to create the setting of the tree but selects to only paint The Tree transforming the Citizen Trees as personalities by creating their Portraits. Each Citizen tree seeks to communicate a quality where the sense of space is embraced through the overlapping fighting figures of each body part of each tree. The body of each tree appears like a collage-like depiction of space heightening the sense of tumult in the fighting action of trying to survive as a citizen in Delhi.

Conclusion:

The work on Trees of Delhi by Kate Bowen is representative of exploring the genre of miniature paintings from the dimension of the twentieth-century design. Her style brings together two different fields, from two different contexts, giving rise to many interesting viewpoints at the points of intersection—the dynamism of lines, the volume afforded by the shapes, the sense of space, the tactile quality, among many others.

However, what is important is the commentary through the visual art to be the advocate voice of the silent Citizens who decades and centuries have remained seminal companion, residents to other citizens. Can we save the Trees of Delhi?

MY DANCE – SPIRIT OF THE TREES IN RESPONSE TO THE PAINTINGS – LOCATION – RATNAGIRI – ODISHA: Watch on Youtube: Spirit of the Tree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3is9GouZoE

NJ

 

 

 

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CROMA – When A Mobile Customer is Defeated by a Corporate

Samsung-Galaxyy-A7-2018
Samsung-Galaxyy-A7-2018 purchased 4th Nov 2018

TO WHOMSOEVER IT CONCERNS AT CROMA CONSUMER SUPPORT HELP Greetings! 

I have had an extremely unpleasant experience with Croma.

croma bill -2

  1. I purchased an A-7 Samsung mobile on 4th Nov.  The selling staff was very persuasive that I purchase one-year insurance over the warranty to ensure that if my mobile is damaged I will they assured me of 100℅ return or replacement, especially within 90 days.
  2. On 17th Jan, when my phone was damaged instinctively to safeguard I took the phone to a genuine Samsung lab/ station in Kotla, New Delhi.  The lab gave an extensive report (attached with purchase bill), uploaded images on their centralized system,  and verbally advised that I buy a new set since even if it is repaired there is no guarantee since water corrodes gradually.
  3. Samsung report
    Samsung Report
  4. I immediately went to Croma in the select city mall, since the manager in Anupam PVR where I had made the purchase on a previous occasion was extremely rude.  The staff in the select city were cooperative and assured that I will after a pickup will get Croma cash and I can return to buy a new set once the report is verified.
  5. Unfortunately, the man who came to pick up the damaged phone did not take the Samsung lab report.  For the last five days, I am told that the piece is repaired and I can pick it up.

My questions?

What was the value of the insurance and the warranty since I ended up paying together a good 3 thousand more?

Two:  why was not the Samsung report which was uploaded along with the pictures of the damage on the Samsung Centralized system not considered for verification?

Three:  what is the assurance that the hydro corrosion will not take effect in the next 12 months?  And if it does will croma give one-year insurance and replace the gadget?

I have been harassed repeatedly by phone calls,  but no one can justify or provide any answers. Four: When the Samsung Engineer advised that I need to buy a new phone since, the present damage seen and therefore can be addressed is mere 80% the rest of the dame of 20% will be apparent only late – then why is Croma insisting that they have repaired the phone, when that is scientifically not true. WHY IS CROMA HARASSING ME THE CONSUMER? – OVER 500 MINUTES OF PHONE CALLS, REPEATED ADAMANCY OF FORCING ME TO ACCEPT THE SEMI REPAIRED PHONE IS MADE. I HAVE BEEN MADE TO HOLD THE  PHONE FOR A GOOD 20 MINUTES ON 5 OCCASIONS SINCE THE PERSON PHONING ME WANTED TO RECHECK WITH HIS OR HER SUPERIORS. I WANT MY 100% MONEY BACK, OR A NEW PHONE AND OF COURSE THE HARASSMENT CHARGES.

 

 

Sikkim – Part 1- The Himalayan Wolf – #AcademicTourism with #NavinaJafa : Follow on Twitter: @navinajafa

Wolf Himalayan

 

Curating experiences in India a country which offers such a range of geological and geographical diversity is inspirational enough to incorporate experiences of and on Natural Heritage. A variety of this component formed a part of my curatorial program on #Academictourism in the Green Indian State of Sikkim. This particular article focuses on the subspecies of the Grey wolf the very elusive Himalayan Wooly Wolf.

wolf 2

This animal is perhaps having a lineage which experts believe goes back to 800,000Ancient Himalayan wolf says Experts perhaps have lineage 800,000 years almost extinct because of human-wildlife conflict but worth protecting given its genetic distinctiveness & deserve special conservation attention. My special visit to comprehend the Wolf program in the Himalayas formed a special community element in my experience of #AcademicImmersiveTourism with #NavinaJafa as part of the program on Natural Heritage.

Found in various locations in the Himalayas in India and Nepal, they move in small packs since they are small in numbers. Their food is usually small animals like rabbits and rodents. They are not aggressive and yet human communities fear them which is the reason for their depleting population.

Cultural Aspect:

The other aspect is the wolf as a spiritual totem who symbolize for ancient communities when there was no conflict and still does for Native American Indians, represent intuition, intelligence but most of all the idea of Freedom!
http://www.navinajafa.com

 

Havelis, Heritage Walk & Conservation: Case of the Chunnamal Haveli in Chandini Chowk Navina Jafa: Follow @navinajafa

chunnamal haveli

Introduction

Tiles & Patios

Much has been written and spoken about a certain kind of allure that surrounds the ideas of and on Havelis in India. Art historians, architects, Travel bloggers, common tourists among others express their wonder on the architectural structures and interior designs of these amazing mansions specific to the Indian Subcontinent ; one that is representative of oriental luxury and resplendence. A recent Heritage walk on the theme of Havelis presented these reflections and went beyond to provide a glimpse on the lifestyles of the communities who live or lived in these incredible mansions by referring to the historical Chunnamal Haveli located on Chandni Chowk the main arterial road in Shahjahanabad Old Delhi. The walk advocated the need to immediately address and support Havelis owners and to acknowledge the dire need to sustain both tangible and intangible heritage within the dynamics of the fast ‘developing’ New India.

Havelis & Lifestyle: A Brief Note

The havelis, courtyard mansions were architecturally designed to suit climatic conditions and accommodate multiple generations who lived as a joint family unit. In the North, these homes had spaces for community living like the courtyards and the roofs. While the courtyards saw everyday family congregations and celebrations, the rooftops were where all kinds of activities such as kite and pigeon flying and even flirtatious activities with neighbors that defined and peppered the interactive humdrum life and formed seminal aspects of Haveli lifestyles.

Courtyard -2

Within the context of the urban phenomenon, these Havelis were homes of the city elites who were largely political, mercantile, and professionals. In the city of Shahjahanabad like in Varanasi, a large number of more elaborate mansions belonged to merchants. Lala Chunnamal of Delhi was not only a successful trader but one who benefited from his closeness with the British much like the Neo-Nawabs of Lucknow in post-1857. His primary trade was cloth, and the family had significant trade links in Calcutta. His neighborhood of cloth merchants came to be known as Katra Neel (Neel – as in Indigo). His famous Haveli built in 1864 carries a slab that provides the date and says that this home was a paradise.

drawingroom.jpg

Such was his friendship with the Brits that Lala Chunnamal bought the entire Chandini Chowk for a pittance. He also owned the Fatehpuri Mosque at the end of the road. The influential merchant was twice elected to the municipal council in Delhi, and the Indian family was one of the few who was granted membership of the Delhi Gymkhana Club during the British days. And while Havelis such as that of Lala Chunnamal integrated sturdy cast iron balconies and spun spiral or straight iron grilled staircases around the courtyards, the interiors were often about Indo-Western aesthetics. Viceroys visited, Nehru, and Indira Gandhi came to dine, and the family participated in horse races including winning in the Aminabad horse-show in Lucknow. Theirs was one of the earliest homes to acquire a telephone, a car and other trappings of Western lifestyles. Khatris by caste, their family deity kula devta is Shiva hence they built multiple Shiva Temples one in Katra Neel, and another in Mehrauli (the Old, old Delhi).

Like in other Havelis their courtyards hosted mehfils (gatherings) of tawaifs (geishas) while their women watched from behind the chicks or bamboo curtains. The washerwoman dhobin and the barberess nainyin were important figures who transmitted news from one zenana or women quarters to those of other Havelis.

tawaif

The luxury of lifestyles manifested themselves in acquiring Western decor like the famed Osler glassware chandeliers for candles and kerosene and Belgian mirrors. The Chunnamal Havelis had it all which incorporated stylistic European furniture, clocks, fireplaces and even the maintenance tools for the fireplace. Later on, they became one of the earliest families to own a telephone and a car in the city.

grama

This was augmented by using sophisticated crafts to embellish the interiors. Clay tiles from Sindh that provided a carpet look, gold plated stucco work along the ceiling with an offset with the use of real indigo and ceilings decorated with cloth ensured the best of the Indian crafts.

indigo and gold work

tiles

Dilemmas, Struggles & Solutions: It is a struggle for those who continue to live or own such large mansions. Whether in Lucknow like the Raja of Memoodabad and Raja of Jehangirabad or in Delhi like Mr. Anil Pershad the only one from the Chunnamal family who continues to live in the Haveli while the rest of the stakeholders of one of the largest Havelis of the old town have moved out. Mr. Pershad has relentlessly work to glue the history of his family and house as a significant heritage of Shahjahanabad, however, he hopes support is extended to somehow sustain the home amidst a well-conserved ecology of heritage-landscape.

The Heritagescape of Shahjahanabad certainly is in peril. The construction lobby who without any synergized local aesthetics has overtaken the area with such force that there is a garish and outlandish aura about the newly constructed buildings. The heritage zone is under threat and fast changing. Advocates, tradition bearers and cultural repositories like Anil Pershad are marginalized in the face of the lopsided fervor on development.

destruction
Cultural Policy & Action: There needs to be a strategy to provide economic incentives to Haveli Owners to preserve the outer facades of mansions like the Chunnamal Haveli along with incentives to create and sustain an exhibition section of the interiors. This kind of strategy can emerge only when there is a wide and a detailed Cultural policy which at present is nonexistent both as the Centre and at the State level.

The strategy towards Havelis needs to assimilate and address issues related to intangible heritage and cultural skills. For example, much of the décor in several Havelis and temples especially Jain Temples which were constructed like Havelis in Old Delhi comprise of frescoes that are painted with organic paints by Muslim artists from Rajasthan. The elaborate interior painted work in the ‘Naugarha’ Swetamber Jain temple in the Kinari Bazaar is one such example. A few years ago the trustees recruited artists from the original family, and a significant amount of conservation of artwork was done. However, as it often happens, a tourist from Belgium lured them and now they have acquired substantial work in Europe.

jain haveli

Again, on Chandni Chowk road itself, there has been an assertion by the Swetamber Jain Community to conserve the Mahavir Bhavan. While the politician Vijay Goel has converted an old Haveli into a now popular hotel the Dharampura Haveli. Of course, money matters, the Jain community as whole come to own their heritage, while a politician heritage enthusiast can garner ways to bring a haveli to reconnect with the present via a business route map. But what happens to individuals such as Anil Pershad? The same is true for individual players in locations like Lucknow and Varanasi and other towns.

Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC)

A few years ago, the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC) was set up to address such issues. Nonetheless, constant red tape by ill-equipped bureaucrats, constant change in political views has done away with positive documentation and plans suggested by both internal and external experts. So while the jamboree regarding the fashion of Heritage Walks has peaked there is a disjunction between the State, Heritage stakeholders and the actual players in Old Delhi and this needs to be resolved soon before Delhi forfeits its crowning glory of Heritage in Shahjahanabad.

A Note on the Writer

The Walk was curated, narrative reached by Dr. Navina Jafa writer of the pioneering work (Performing Heritage Art of Exhibit Walks) on Academics of curating and presenting Heritage Walks & Art of Heritage Interpretations and creating Heritage Experiences: Log onto www.navinajafa.com

Lucknow & Western Design Aesthetics: Academic Tourism of Incredible Indiawith Dr. Navina Jafa – Follow : @navinajafa

It is challenging to break the stereotype tourism associated with Lucknow a city whose heritage presentation and tourism experience are framed by two dominating themes – the first comprises of the Exotica of the Persian Nawabs (Maharajas) a narrative on the opulent decadent lifestyles of Oriental rulers, their cuisine, mannerisms, language, poetry, and creative expressions. The second touristy story is the preoccupation with the Revolt of 1857 (called by the British the Indian Mutiny). This essay traces the manner a space of regional power while evolving its specific identity over the course of time incorporated intriguing elements of European designs and architectural features that testifies not only the course the inherent heritage identity of a city changed or is changing but  the essay attempts to illustrate that the process is continuous and lends itself to multiple layers.

The weakening of the Mughal Empire in the 18thc propelled regional powers like Awadh to assert themselves, and regional specific identities in architecture were part of that assertion. The Nawabs (the title of the rulers of Lucknow),  Persian in origins had also inherited an imagination of the Mughal splendor of lifestyles and architecture.  Similar to the Late Baroque courts of Western Europe, the city of the Nawabs comprised of horizontal collection of palaces, residential buildings, interspersed with squares, gardens, markets reflecting a certain organizational cadence that reminded one of the Late Baroque Courts of Western of 18thc which aspired to bring in contrast, an exuberance, grandeur that defied the austerity of the Protestant movement in Europe. For example, see below:

 

On the Left is the Entry of the Chota Imambara, & Rt: Church of Gesu Italy, 1st Baroque facade

 

Apart from the Nawabi Buildings of Imambaras, gardens and ornamental gates in stucco ornamentation called gajkari, it was clear that European influences crept into the creation of the regional identity to affirm the transition of the Nawabs from being warriors to refined courtiers. In 1775, the 4th ruler Nawab Asafu-ud-Daula shifted his capital from Faizabad to Lucknow. Situated along River Gomti, a major tributary of the Ganga, the location on the river not only provided the Nawabs a hold over a large territory of alluvial land but also the riverine trade. The wealth of the Nawabs attracted several Europeans. The Nawabi city became a mesh of designs and embodiment of architectural styles Baroque, Renaissance and Neo-Classical architectural features were amalgamated in a variety of buildings in Lucknow. While the Baroque featured twisted columns and dramatic effects of space and light were evident in palaces like Farhat Bakh, and Hunting lodge like the Dilkusha Kothi and Gardens. Belgian mirrors and Chandeliers graced their Imambaras.

 

 

The Neoclassical buildings were defined a grand scales and symmetry of geometric flows and columns especially Doric Pillars.

neoclassical
Neoclassical building facade -19thc -Lucknow

Recalling Renaissance in 19th c Lucknow

 

 

 

 

The engagement with some Europeans k

An intriguing commentary is that related to Western Designs in Architecture and its decorative embellishment sometimes intertwined with interesting layering of political dynamics.

Baroque Frames in Lucknow:

Havelis, Heritage Walk & Conservation: Case of the Chunnamal Haveli in Chandini Chowk – by Navina Jafa: Follow @navinajafa

Much has been written and spoken about a certain kind of allure that surrounds the ideas of and on Havelis in India. Art historians, architect, Travel bloggers, common tourists among others express their wonder on the architectural structures and interior designs. A recent walk on the theme of Havelis presented these reflections and went beyond to provide a glimpse on the lifestyles of the communities who live or lived in these amazing mansions by referring to the historical Chunnamal Haveli on the Chandni Chowk main road in Shahjahanabad Old Delhi. The walk advocated the need to immediately address and support Havelis owners to sustain both tangible and intangible heritage of fast ‘developing’ New India.

The havelis, courtyard mansions were architecturally designed to suit climatic conditions and accommodate multiple generations who lived as a joint family unit. In the North, these homes had spaces for community living like the courtyards and the roofs. While the courtyards saw everyday family congregations and celebrations, the rooftops were where all kinds of activities such as kite and pigeon flying and even flirtatious activities with neighbors peppered the humdrum life and formed a seminal aspect of lifestyles.

Within the context of the urban phenomenon, these Havelis were homes of the city elites who were largely political, mercantile, and professionals. In the city of Shahjahanabad like in Varanasi, a large number of more elaborate mansions belonged to merchants. Lala Chunnamal of Delhi was not only a successful trader but one who benefited from his closeness with the British much like the Neo-Nawabs of Lucknow post-1857. His famous Haveli built in 1864 carries a slab that provides the date and says that this home was a paradise.

 

Such was his friendship with the Brits that Lala Chunnamal bought the entire Chandini Chowk for a pittance. He also owned the Fatehpuri Mosque at the end of the road. The influential merchant was twice elected to the municipal council in Delhi, and the Indian family was one of the few who was granted membership of the Delhi Gymkhana Club during the British days. And while Havelis such as that of Lala Chunnamal integrated sturdy cast iron balconies and spun spiral staircases around the courtyards the interiors were often about Indo-Western aesthetics. Viceroys visited, Nehru, and Indira Gandhi came to dine, and the family participated in horse races including winning in the Aminabad horse-show in Lucknow. Theirs was one of the earliest homes to acquire a telephone, a car and other trappings of Western lifestyles.

Like in other Havelis their courtyards hosted mehfils (gatherings) of tawaifs (geishas) while their women watched from behind the chicks or bamboo curtains. The washerwoman dhobin and the barbress nainyin were important figures who transmitted news from one zenana or women quarters t those of other Havelis.

The luxury of lifestyles manifested themselves in acquiring Western decor like the famed Osler glassware chandeliers for candles and kerosene and Belgian mirrors. The Chunnamal Havelis had it all which incorporated stylistic European furniture, clocks, telephones, fireplaces and even the maintenance tools for the fireplace.

This was augmented by using sophisticated crafts to embellish the interiors. Clay tiles from Sindh that provided a carpet look, gold plated stucco work along the ceiling with an offset with the use of real indigo and ceilings decorated with cloth ensured the best of the Indian crafts.

Dilemmas and Struggles: It is a struggle for those who continue to live or own such large mansions. Whether in Lucknow like the Raja of Memoodabad and Raja of Jehangirabad or in Delhi like Mr. Anil Perahad the only one from the Chunnamal family who continues to live in the Haveli while the rest of the stakeholders of one of the largest Havelis of the old town have moved out. Mr. Pershad has relentlessly work to glue the history of his family and house as a significant heritage of Shahjahanabad, however, he hopes support is extended to somehow sustain the home amidst a well-conserved ecology of heritage-landscape.

The Heritagescape of Shahjahanabad certainly is in peril. The construction lobby who without any synergized local aesthetics has overtaken the area with such force that there is a garish and outlandish aura about the newly constructed buildings. The heritage zone is under threat and fast changing. Advocates, tradition bearers and cultural repositories like Anil Pershad are marginalized in the face of the lopsided fervor on development.

Cultural Policy & Action:  There needs to be a strategy to provide economic incentives to preserve the outer facades of mansions like the Chunnamal Haveli along with incentives to create and sustain an exhibition section of the interiors. This kind of strategy can emerge only when there is a wide and a detailed Cultural policy which at present is nonexistent both as the Centre and at the State level.

The strategy towards Havelis needs to assimilate and address issues related to intangible heritage and cultural skills. For example, much of the décor in several Havelis and temples especially Jain Temples which as constructed like Havelis in Old Delhi comprise of frescoes that are painted with organic paints by Muslim artists from Rajasthan. The elaborate interior painted work in the ‘Naugarha’ Swetamber Jain temple in the Kinari Bazaar is one such example. A few years ago the trustees recruited artists from the original family, and a significant amount of conservation of artwork was done. However, as it often happens, tourism from Belgium lured them and now they have acquired substantial work in Europe.

A few years ago, the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation (SRDC) was set up to address such issues. Nonetheless, constant red tape by ill-equipped bureaucrats, constant change in political views has done away with positive documentation and plans suggested by both internal and external experts. So while the jamboree regarding the fashion of Heritage Walk has peaked there is a disjunction between the State, Heritage stakeholders and the actual players in Old Delhi and this needs to be resolved soon before Delhi forfeits its crowning glory of Heritage in Shahjahanabad.

 

Citizen – Rock of Hyderabad Navina Jafa: Follow @navinajafa

western perspective of Golconda Mines

 

While the City of Hyderabad symbolizes the exotic culture of the Nizams, a wide range of intangible heritage of cuisine, bustling chaotic colorful markets, rituals of diverse religions, Tangible heritage of Forts, Palaces, Temples and much more; it is a city which is steeped in a region of geological wonders where the rich Golconda Mines gave the world the shining rocks like the Kohinoor and the Hope Blue Diamond rocks which are embroiled in a life stories of their own defined by mystery, human greed, and trajectories of power.

Rocks-3

Rocks-4

 

 

In more recent times the city of Hyderabad has emerged as a hi-tech globalized symbol of modern India. Ironically, his visual image characterized by high rise buildings, and ethos of modern, chaotic urbanism is juxtaposed with the Rock formations that represent a raw ancient heritage in and around the city.

Rocks-2

 Geologically these are part of what is known as Hyderabad Granite formation (HGR) of the Southern Shield which geologists claim to date back to 2.5 billion years. Unfortunately, the growth and planning of the city as an urban space have not cared much for this rare gift of nature.

Rocks-5

The HGR is covered by granites and volcanic igneous rocks as old as the Greek Achaean Age that present a palette of rocks and sediments that provide the raw material with which the grand historical buildings of the region are built. The rocks also serve as biotopes or geographical region in which a variety of uniform flora and fauna are supported and it is these rocks that also assist in the recharge of groundwater, and natural water catchment tools. The rock formations in the region stand witness to a league of people and human activities over centuries and stories of those who traveled the high seas.

Rock-6

 

The fast-growing urban buildup has created a narrative marked by politics and forms of land use which undermines the value of these natural creations in face of urban consumption. To counter this, in more recent years there has been a growing consciousness to protect the rocks which have been declared as heritage precincts by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. About 24-25 rocks are enlisted as heritage rocks by the organization, but still, more need to be included before they are reduced to rubble for another modern high rise construction. Government entities like the Metropolitan Development Authority have supported citizen initiatives of the non-government ‘Society to Save Rocks’ (STSR) to conserve the natural formations.

 

Rocks- 1

 

 

The society organized a variety of interesting programs which aspire to engage communities to conserve the city’s natural heritage. These include regular Rock Heritage Walks, painting contests, photographic exhibitions, clothes with rock motifs such as tee shirts, caps and catchy slogans in different community gatherings and public spaces. Significant visibility has attracted many heritage enthusiasts to join the save the rock movement.

The rocks themselves seem to acquire a human-like life as citizens of the city and some have been christened according to their physical shape. There is the Mushroom Rock in the University of Hyderabad, and other well-known rocks go by names such as Bear Nose, Cliff Rock, Tortoise, and Obelisk. The Society aims to inspire landowners, landscape architects to preserve the historical boulders as part of designs in homes, gardens, building architecture, and other public spaces.

tortoise-rock

The Rocks as Inspiration for Arts

Art historian Herbert Read said of Henry Moore’s art who was much inspired by rocks and boulders that these “are universal shapes to which everyone is subconsciously conditioned and to which they can respond if their conscious control does not shut them off.”  He suggested that “a buried treasury of universal shapes which are humanly significant, and that the artist may recognize such shapes in natural objects and base his work on the forms they suggest… or feel  the shape simply as shape, not as description or reminiscence,”

Not many people are aware that the posh residential Banjara Hill Area was until the 1920s a part of this geological wonder, and that it was defined by the wilderness of wild large trees interspersed by massive naturally sculpted boulders with a character of their own. Such was the raw beauty of these distinct earthly features, the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore who was known to immortalize the places and environments which touched his life in creative expressions of poems, songs or paintings wrote an Ode to these Banjara Hills captioned Kohsar meaning pure and fresh. The words simply capture the ethos of this raw formations.

From the distance thou didst appear,

Barricaded in rocky aloofness,

Timidly I crossed the rugged path

To fins here all of a sudden

An open invitation in the sky

And friend’s embrace in the air

In an unknown land, the voice

That seemed even known

Revealed to me a shelter of living intimacy.

The spectacular geological display of the rocks presented and present inspiration for contemporary and conceptual art. The rocks of Hyderabad offer themselves as natural theatre that hide underneath human stories of wonder, and present on the surface great natural sculpture of formalistic surfaces that communicate the meaning of the activity was call ‘Life.’

Article was published in ITC Namaste Magazine – Winter 1918

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western Designs in Lucknow- Constantinople of the East: Interiors- Exterior of Oriental Luxury Navina Jafa Follow: @navinajafa

Private tour Lo Martinere College Lucknow

Teaser: The exotic character or the heritage of Lucknow is not limited to the history of Nawabs, or the revolt of 1857. Lucknow’s historical frame incorporates a riveting account of the Western designs displayed in Architecture, garden landscapes, and interiors. The article critiques the evidence and the creation of the Luxury of Oriental-Western Lifestyle in Lucknow.

It is challenging to break stereotype tourism associated with Lucknow a city whose heritage presentation and tourism experience are framed within two dominating themes – the first comprises of the Exotica of the Persian Nawabs (Maharajas). It is a narrative on the opulent decadent lifestyles of Oriental rulers, their cuisine, mannerisms, language, poetry, and creative expressions. The second account relates to the preoccupation with the Revolt of 1857 (called by the British the Indian Mutiny). The article traces the manner a city defined by a regional power charted a fascinating specific identity that involved incorporating intriguing elements of Western designs and architectural features; cultural elements that are part of the inherent heritage identity of Lucknow city that has changed or is changing but continues to retain the thread of the Western Aesthetics lending to the multiple Cultural layers of Lucknow.

 Nawabs & Late Baroque Courts

The weakening of the Mughal Empire in the 18thc propelled regional powers like Awadh to assert themselves. The process of the crystallization of the regional power identity was manifested in architecture and lifestyles. The Nawabs (the title of the rulers of Lucknow), Persian in origins had inherited an imagination of the Mughal splendor displayed in their cities, buildings, and facets of cultural heritage. The city of the Nawabs comprised of a horizontal collection of palaces, residential buildings, interspersed with squares, gardens, markets mirroring an organizational cadence reminding one of the Late Baroque Courts of Western of 18thc. The European Baroque courts aspired to bring in exuberance and grandeur that defied the contrasting austerity of the Protestant movement in Europe. The influences of the Western aesthetics had emerged in Lucknow as early as 18thc. Apart from the Nawabi Buildings of Imambaras,(congregational building of Shia Muslims to mark mourning rituals during the month of Moharram)  gardens and ornamental gates in stucco ornamentation called gajkari, it was clear that European influences crept into the creation of the regional identity to affirm the transition of the Nawabs from being warriors to refined courtiers. In 1775, the 4th ruler Nawab Asafu-ud-Daula shifted his capital from Faizabad to Lucknow. Situated along River Gomti, a major tributary of the Ganga, the location on the river not only provided the Nawabs a hold over a large territory of alluvial land but also monopoly over the riverine trade. The wealth of the Nawabs attracted several Europeans. The Nawabi city became a mesh of designs and embodiment of architectural styles Late Baroque – Rococo evident in a number of buildings of Lucknow. The rococo design characterized by ornamentation and dramatic effects aspires to create surprise and movement by injecting sculpted moldings, curvaceous scrolls.

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An example is an arresting similarity between the mid 19thc entry gate of the Chota Imambara in Lucknow and the 16thc first Baroque façade of the Church of Gezu (Italy).

 

On the Left is the Entry of the Chota Imambara, & Rt: Church of Gesu Italy, 1st Baroque façade

The Making of the Oriental-Western Exotic

The energy of 18thc Europe was defined by the creation of an identity that referred to the Classical Greek-Roman past and came to be known as Neo-Classicism. Roman- Greek Mythological references along with Oriental experiences adorned decorative art, furnishing, tableware, and buildings. Like in the Tulip Period, ownership of material world became the fashion, style of the upward mobility and class. The period in England known as late Victorian and Edwardian period generated variety in cultural forms that were both flexible and mobile.  An important feature was the growth in the consumption and material cultural habits of local rulers of colonies such as the Nawabs of Lucknow. Their demand dictated supply, and this was evident in the growth of for example of the company F&C Osier of Birmingham who produced glass objects as decorative and consumption ware. The designs of which were associated with the exotic Eastern otherness. For instance, in 1874, the Osiers created the famed glass fountain for the Maharaja of Patiala. The Nawabs of Lucknow used Osier glassware and mirrors from Belgium in religious and domestic spaces.

mirrors      osler

 

Wedgwood:

Among the various artistic expressions that emerged in the 18thc was the art of the English ceramic master Josiah Wedgwood. In his factory, he began to produce a variety of new ceramic-ware and introduced new shapes that were defined by a new almost cameo glass look where the pastel colors in the background gave way to uplifted moldings of figures from the Classical Greek-Roman Myths. Wedgwood cream-ware soon became the favorite of royalty and upper-classes in Europe and interestingly made its way in Lucknow.

Augmenting European Influence in Lucknow: Claude Martin

Claude Martin, an 18thc Frenchman who traversed the Indian soil working in a different capacity, organizations and places accumulated wealth, and power and was able to build a trusted alignment with the Nawabs of Lucknow where he lived and died. His history has been painstakingly penned down by Rossie Llewellyn-Jones. Martin not only built elaborate buildings, but he also funded the Nawabs, and in his personal capacity was quite a Renaissance man who indulged in Hot-Air Balloons, puppet theatre, art collections, and libraries among other things.

 

The building Constantia which became his mausoleum is now the La Martinere boy’s school. The building boasts of Baroque towers, Neo-Classical rhythms in facades of buildings, Greek-Roman statues of Muses, and of course elaborate Jasper and other variety of Wedgewood designs.

 

The Imprints of Freemasonry Architectural Features:

neoclassical
neoclassical

Recalling Renaissance in 19th c Lucknow

Claude Martin, it appears could be also influenced by the Architectural ideas of the Free Masons (17th-18thc). The Freemason movement emerged as a fraternal secret assembly which grew as a network that drew several intellectuals of the time. Organized in the system of administrative and cultural institutions called lodges even today continue to attract politicians, philosophers, professionals, and artists. Past members of the Free Mason community include Oscar Wilde, Henry Ford of Ford Motors, Winston Churchill, Mozart, and George Washington among others. Today there are over 5 million Freemasons who believe that God is the great Architect of the Universe, and for their rituals, they use architectural and geometrical symbolism such as square and the compass.

 

Architectural Metaphors of Free Masons in Lucknow

occuli-3  wedgwood

The architectural metaphors of the Freemasonry are about visual grandness and dramatic effect of perspectives and revelation. For example, the presence of oval openings called oculi (which reflects geometry at play) in the La Martinere School serve to create a theatrical effect of revealing beckoning worlds lying beyond. The repeated evidence of the oculi communicating a narrative of a visual spectacle and movement seem to link Claude Martin having a Free Mason thinking.

Gardens

European design  such as Baroque architectural features, twisted columns and dramatic effects of space and light is evident in palace complexes like Farhat Bakh (of Martin’s time), and buildings like the Dilkusha Kothi  which was built under the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan was intended to be a Hunting lodge but later used as a summer home. The building surrounded by forest today has an extended garden. It was in the grounds of the Baroque building of Dil Kusha that Claude Martin launched his hot balloon venture. In the narrative of Imperialism, Gardens became almost laboratories which were used to experiment with botanical resources for the benefit of the Empire.  This is the history of the Lal Bagh Garden in Bangalore and many others were linked to the Kew Gardens in London.  Nawab Saadat Ali Khan interestingly became the man who instituted the Royal Garden which came to be the National Botanic Institute.

 Post-1857: Making of Colonial Lucknow: After winning over the Indian in the revolt/war of 1857 the British were determined to make Lucknow and other cities – ‘safe, hygienic and clean’ writes Veena Talwar Oldenberg in her iconic research ‘The Making of Colonial Lucknow’. This, for example, led to the expansion of the Cantonments in Lucknow, Kanpur, and Meerut to name a few. The Cantonments which were initially meant for servicemen and troops now integrated several kinds of built structures to accommodate civilians which included a range of Bungalow architecture. The Bungalows served the purpose of a British suburban villa marked by classical lining, huge lawns, and stables, the pitched roofs and high ceilings. In Delhi, the features of the Bungalows included columns called the Tuscan orders representing the might of the British Empire. The Tuscan columns are defined by simplicity and by a stoic essence that communicated the idea of power. The columns have shafts, base (round or square) and capital that remained unadorned.

 

Lifestyles, Designs, and Architecture of the Neo Nawabs:  To keep the city safe a strategy to build allies was adopted by the British. A part of this was cultivating loyal landed elites most who were not seen to be aligned with the family of the erstwhile Persian Nawabs.  These new power elites called the Neo-Nawabs acquired homes around Kaiser Bagh the former, elaborate palatial complex laid out by Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Lucknow.

Kaiser Bagh

 

Several families of the Neo Nawabs acquired family crests, many came to be called Raja (irrespective of being a Muslim or a Hindu). A number of them were invited to be part of the Princes’ Chamber held in Delhi, and still, others received honors, titles medals, and other decorations. Like the previous Nawabs, the Neo Nawabs too acquired a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption. Their lifestyle combined oriental lavishness of the former Nawabs and acquiring of Western tastes. Their lifestyle was defined by a fondness for entertainment, acquired etiquette, mannerisms along with Western Cultural nuances that included furniture, interiors, and landscaping gardens.

 

The 1920s & Beyond:  The first half of 20thc several city elites and other middle-class sections in cities like Lucknow, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore, which included a significant population of Anglo Indians participated in a wide range of Western Leisure activities. These included Clubs, coffee houses, introduction to Western ballroom and dance music via gramophones disks and radio broadcasts.

The Cantonment in Lucknow was expanded yet just prior to the 2nd World War, “It (Lucknow) was considered a strategic military defense location because of the fear of bombing campaigns in Calcutta by the Japanese military. A large portion of the Allied Easter Command was moved inland and established in Lucknow to counter this threat. The size of the Cantonment grew” (Shope, Bradley: Anglo-Indian Identity, Knowledge and Power: Western Ballroom Music in Lucknow: Published in The Drama Review, Winter 2004) The growth of Western sensibilities, and presence of a greater foreign population in the city led to the fashionable marketplace- Hazrat Ganj one which provided of European goods and service.

Hazrat Ganj

 

Australia-American Connection: The Walter Burley Griffin Factor:

The presences of the American husband-wife Architect team of Walter Burley and Marion Mahon Griffin in Lucknow provides yet another narrative on Western sensibilities in the city. Walter Griffin was the designer of the Australian city of Canberra. In 1935, the couple arrived in Lucknow where Griffin spent his last 15 months and Lucknow became the place of his final resting. Griffin’s enchantment with orient along with his training of the progressive architectural school led him to create a vocabulary of confluence. Griffin designed the Tagore Library at the Lucknow University, the Zenana quarters in the palace of Raja Jehangirabad. His close bond with the House of Mahmudabad led him to design for the Raja a library and several other projects including ones in Ahmedabad.

palace

Case Study of The Jehangirabad House:

The present Nawab Mohammad Jamal Rasul today struggles to fight for the Heritage Status for his Home was designed by Griffin. The present Nawab is attempting its sustainability by converting the property into a hotel. The Jehangirabad House building in Hazarat Ganj stands as a majestic reminder of the Nawabi British days. It showcases photographs that speak of the family connection with the Mughal Royals and high society lifestyle which enabled them to host the likes of Jackie Kennedy.

A small note by the family describes: “The exterior of the palace is symmetrical”.  The Jehangirabad House in Lucknow reflects strains of the Majestic Mughal Architecture combining the Awadh identity, with domes and ornate floral motifs.

Sequence
Sequencing

The Interiors: The interior plan of the Jehangirabad House building is along the ‘Fibonacci principle’. The Fibonacci is a mathematical concept of introducing an arrangement of the sequence where the sum of two numbers precedes the next for example – 0, I become 2, then 1, 2 become 3, and 2, 3 becomes five. This sequential pattern is evident in the interior planning of the Jehangirabad House where one experiences opening of spaces and fascinating perspectives of a journey within a home.

This planning is complemented by a mesh of oriental, European interiors. An elaborate tile flooring from Sindh that gives a look of a carpeted floor along with Edwardian furniture and Osier lampshades of Ships among other things conveys a stately character.

 

The General Electric Fans: Additionally, the interiors of the Jehangirabad House house three fans standing independently on a pole. Produced by the American General Electric Company the fans have three inverted blades and a system of direct current. Such fans are also to be found in the Indian Parliament House in Delhi.

 

As one moves further into the house, the interior drawing room has charming patio spaces, and walls are adorned with original miniature paintings alongside with having had personal links. Presence of which communicates the high flying lifestyle of the landed Oriental flashy aristocrats of Lucknow.

Conservation – Heritage Presentation: The Western thread represented in the Anglo Indian lifestyle in Lucknow lives on in the environment of the estate of the La Martinere School, the Ram Advani Bookshop to name a few. But new globalized shops have emerged in the elite Hazrat Ganj Market and tucked in one corner are new spaces the Cafes like Cherry Tree Café in the famed Habibullah Estate. Yes, tourism narrative of the city has the potential of expansion such that it incorporates the multilayers like the story of Western designs and lifestyles. However, what remains important is the manner in which tourism strategies allow tradition bearers such as the Nawab of Jehangirabad. Mahmoodabad to conserve their heritage to sustain and retain echoes of the character of the city famously called the Constantinople of the East which is certainly not monochrome but is rich and a delight for an explorer who sets out to relish their senses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swinging Union Hindola Utsav in Braj Follow: @navinajafa

 

Utsav

The Idea of Hindu Gods

The Sanskrit word Utsav encapsulates more than just a festivity, it functions to make an individual transcend into the realm of spiritual ecstasy. Each of the thousand Hindu God represents an abstract idea such as that of protection, love or knowledge or wealth and these ideas assume a form which could be human or an Animal or a combination of both. The form allows the common worshipper to access spirituality through a network of rituals and festivities woven in a mytho- spiritual calendar of events for both individuals and communities.

Hindol Minature 1

 

Krishna – Finding the Self

Of the many Indian Gods, Krishna (from the pastoral community) and his overarching lineage from within Vaishnavism postulates the most vibrant form of celebrations through which the devotee finds himself. The cult of Krishna although present all over India has a pilgrimage marked area a theme park – Braj Bhoomi (pastoral land). It is located in the present day Uttar Pradesh and has several places correlating to the mythological life of the God which through rituals and celebration becomes vibrant, lived spiritual reality. As with other Gods, Krishna is for many a personal (ishta) or a family (kula) devta or deity. He is the anchoring energy for several schools of thought and philosophy such as that of Pushti Marg.

Seva or service to Krishna is an important element for the believers to connect with the divine. “We experience Krishna with our eyes, we feel Him through all of our senses. Hari is the desire, the festival of our hearts. To imbibe Krishna’s form is the ultimate reward. “(Venu Gita, Subodhini).  A large number of services rendered corresponds to his daily and festival activity calendar throughout the year. His daily schedule is divided into 8 units of Hindu time of the day called – aath prahar and each unit comprises of services the Lord. Each event has specific prayers, dress code, rituals, and foods. He is awakened, bathed and so on and so forth. The services involve three rituals – Shringar – adornment, Raag- entertainment which includes music, dance, festive rituals, arts such as, painting among others and finally the ritual of offering Bhog or variety of sacred foods. The bhog is offered, blessed and then shared among the believers.

Sewa
The sacred food offering

 

The Hindola Festival

The Hindola or swing festival is a prominent event in the ritual calendar of Krishna worship. In the rainy Hindu month of Shraavana, the monsoon clouds provide relief from the intense summer heat giving way to an exuberant spirit. It is time for lovers to unite, the environment is colored by lush greenery, sweet-smelling flowers, and fruiting trees. Krishna is believed to be in service of his female principal Radha who he woos on the swing. Recreating the spirit, songs are sung beckoning Radha on the swing, Radhe,jhoolan padharo, jhuki aae badra hindola…Come on the swing O Radha, see how the cloud also bends…

Jhulan Utsav -2
Radha and Krishna on swings during the festival

The arrival of the festival of  Haryali  teej third day of the month heralds the time when lila or divine play of Krishna with his consort Radha, and Gopis (cowherd girls) symbolizing the unity of contrasting energy in the environment of love is recreated and each day  of the month, believers gather to celebrate the festival.

Haryali Teej:

 

And while the gods are placed on swings, women in communities, especially in North India, hang swings on trees, the Mango tree is the most preferred one. Women dressed in the attire of green, women who have fasted for having conjugal bless, and unmarried girls who wish for getting good husbands, engage in the celebratory activity of swinging which together with their green attire becomes a symbol of fertility.

The Festival of Swings in Krishna Worship

 

Hinmdol miniature 2

 

Swings are hung in all temples and every day for an hour in the afternoon, the idols of Krishna-Radha are taken out from the altar and placed on a swing. The swings made of silver, gold, mirrors, fruits, vegetables, jasmine, Indian roses, and greenery represent fertility and love in union. A string pulls the swing to and fro and the bhaktas or devotees in the courtyard bind themselves through the string to the divine couple. On the opposite side, Haveli Sangeet (a genre of music associated with Krishna worship) is sung. While flowers are showered on the divine couple, the worshippers are sprinkled with red dry powder gulal representing love. “Soon after, a pool of perfumed water decorated with lotus blooms is prepared in front of the swing, and a small boat is launched on which Krishna-Radha are placed and given a joyous boat ride,” says Pandit Anil Joshi a Pushti Marg priest in a Hindu temple in Chicago where he celebrates the festival.

Boat ride

The boat ride ends, the divine couple is placed back on the swing, after which bhog is offered to the divine couple. The specific food called the Raj Bhog comprises milk products, dry fruits among other things is offered by reciting a special prayer. The festivities of the day ends with an arti, a ceremony where amidst singing a metal plate lit with oil lamps decorated with sacred food, water, and flowers representing the four elements of fire, water, earth, air is moved in a circulatory path drawing the devotees to swing in spiritual ecstasy. The divine couple retreats, the curtain closes leaving the followers with a glimpse of the divine consciousness reminding one of the lines by William Butler Yeats –

O body swayed to music, O Brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Heritage Interpretations and Swing: Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PujpO4xpaSk

All Heritage landscapes are multilayered and invite heritage interpreters and curators to display innovations in the presentations of heritage landscape. The symbol of the swing, for instance, is recreated in the intriguing palace Hindol Mahal or Swing Palace appropriately built in Mandu in Madhya Pradesh known as a Monsoon retreat and called the City of Joy. The presenter expands on the idiom of the Monsoon and the swing and dances in the Palace.

hindola mahal

About Navina Jafa: NAVINA JAFA- Kathak Dancer who performs Heritage:  She has been called the Gatekeeper of the Spectacular by Financial Times, Study Leader by the Smithsonian Museum Journeys, Experiential Architect by Times of India is engaged in curating (Academic Immersive Tourism) #AcademicImmersiveTourism in India and Asia. She teaches Culture/Art and Sustainable Development at the TERI UNIVERSITY is engaged with sustainable development at the Centre for New Perspectives and is a writer with several leading Newspapers and journals on Indian and Asian Cultural History, Management and Diplomacy. http://www.navinajafa.com