This post is written by Alka Dwivedi, my sister. We traveled together to Budapest this year, via Rome and it was the trip of the year! Here is her account of visiting the Colosseum in Rome.
I was travelling abroad with my sister for the first time. While going to Budapest, we were in Rome for a few hours only. I was very curious to visit the Colosseum, and after a while my sister figured out how to go there. We boarded Leonardo Express from the airport to enter the main city. We tried to get metro tickets but one look at a queue, we abandoned the idea. We again got adventurous and tried to reach the Colosseum on foot. But this venture was aborted too by us in the absence of Google dewta to guide us. We had a flight to Budapest so we visited nearby church, which was awesome.
When we were in Rome after a week, this time, we started early. And armed with Google Dewta, we reached Colosseum after getting down at Termini. This time again, we set on foot. How Europeans blend ancient with modern, is a thing to learn. In the middle of a modern city, they preserve their ancient monuments.
If you catch metro from Termini, you will walk right into the Colosseum. Nearby areas, you will find shops, offices, residential complexes and what not, without lessening the charm of Colosseum.
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) December 29, 2017
When I looked at Colosseum for the first time, I felt goosebumps. This arena had witnessed bloodiest battles and extreme cruelties, a human mind can ever imagine. And sheer engineering geniuses were at work to erect this architectural marvel, where mankind had to witness sight of blood and gore for centuries. Many animal species were on the verge of extinction due to the bloody sports held in the arena. This building also symbolizes the hierarchy of society, most poor view of the amphitheater was reserved for women and slaves!!! Try doing that to fairer sex toady!
If you try to make out the underground or basement area of the colosseum, you will marvel at the architectural genius of those time. How they created tunnels and lifts to transport animals weighing in tons, to be popped up in the battle arena, suddenly to make the battle more gory.
It was also believed that the whole amphitheater was flooded with water in an hour to hold mock sea battle in the morning. Here criminals sitting in the ship were sunk. And the whole water can be drained out in less than an hour to hold the gladiator fights in the afternoon. Those engineering geniuses also took care that the whole Colosseum, with seating capacity around 50,000 to 78,000 persons at a time, could be evacuated within few minutes in case of any eventuality.
— Mridula Dwivedi (@mridulablog) December 29, 2017
So if you are visiting, Rome, include Colosseum in your itinerary, to get the feel of two extremes, architectural genius and cruelty and be thankful that as a society and civilization how far we have come.
PS. My sister and I traveled to Budapest via Rome this year on a personal vacation. There is no sponsorship involved in this trip!
I visited Jaipur in December 2016 with my parents-in-law. So I proudly took them to Hawa Mahal as it is one of my favorite monuments. Agreed it is smaller in comparison to Amber Fort and City Palace, but Hawa Mahal is one of the most recognizable icon of the city. Personally I loved the colored glasses, the courtyards and walking around the various levels. We went in with high expectations. My previous visits to Hawa Mahal were beautiful.
To my utter horror they have taken some restoration work and it turns out to be ‘how not to restore Hawa Mahal’ story! I wonder who ordered it and how can they live with themselves, if this is the final work.
When we went to level two, things felt terribly wrong. There are ugly green wooden blocks covering the jharokhas all over the place! I would not use it even at my modest three bedroom home what to say of Hawa Mahal built in 1799 for queens!
The horror story continued at the higher levels too. To block people from climbing into the windows they have put barriers. I can understand that, people may not be behaving responsibly but why to put such ugly railings? Why not make an effort to put in something that blends with the place? Unfortunately I do not have a picture of that particular bit of outrage.
Sense and Lack of It
I am not a heritage person really. But I have been to many heritage sites, in Jaipur and other places. There is something about history that makes me forget it as soon as I get out of the monument! I am not a connoisseur who can understand the intricacies of restorations. Had it been a minor glitch, I would not even notice it. But the present work is so ugly and horrible that even an untrained person like me can spot it without any effort.
The Sad Story of a Beautiful Green Door
I saw this beautiful green door at Hawa Mahal where someone casually attached the horrible looking Kundi on it! I mean how could someone raise their hands to put an outrage like this into the gorgeous door! I don’t think we make doors like it anymore. Who in their right minds would do this?
But Who Ordered This?
I was left wondering who sanctioned and approved this restoration? It is not restoration, it is butchering the monument! It makes me immensely sad to see Hawa Mahal in such a pitiable condition.
When I searched online I can find articles about the 2010 restoration. Back then people were not happy because colored glasses were put in place of jalis. The whole rationale of Hawa Mahal was to let the wind have a free play!
Search as I may, I could not find any articles regarding the current sorry state of the monument. My only sane guess I can make is that maybe, just maybe, this is temporary while the original jalis are being restored.
But this is India which can often leave you incredulous! I won’t be surprised if in somebody’s estimate this is the final restoration of Hawa Mahal. If it is we need to get together and do something. In its current state it is horrible beyond words.
If you feel for the cause please sign my petition at Change.Org
I was recently staying with ITC Maurya in Delhi. As the name suggests the hotel is inspired by the Mauryan Dynasty and particularly the Emperor Ashoka! They took us on a visit the Ashoka Rock Edict in Delhi! The place is close to the ISCON Temple at East of Kailash. If you search ‘Ashoka Rock Edict Delhi’, you get the location on the Google Maps too! But as we did not know what to search for, we had some trouble finding the historical site. There are absolutely no signposts around! There was no board outside.
The place is set in a large garden. There are rocks strewn at one side. We started walking towards them! A security guard materialized out of nowhere but he didn’t say much to us. He only pointed out the path leading to the rock!
I was completely aghast the way the rock edict was protected. If I did not know, I would think I was looking at a cowshed! The concrete structure was so ugly, it is in no way befitting to the great king Ashoka! The iron grill add nothing to the history. At the best it looks like a cowshed or a storage facility!
That it hardly gets any visitors is not surprising! In any country that took pride in its history, such a place would have have been preserved with pride and showcased well.
Don’t get me wrong I perfectly understand the need to protect the rock edict. Otherwise the scribbling gang would descend on it and deface it beyond recognition. But who in their right mind would approve such an ugly structure over an important piece of history?
About the actual rock edict, I hardly got a glimpse! I could see a rock inside the enclosure and something written on it. Wikipedia gives this translation–
“It is two and half years since I became a Buddhist layman. At first no great exertion was made by me but in the last year I have drawn closer to the Buddhist order and exerted myself zealously and drawn in others to mingle with the gods. This goal is not one restricted only to let the people great to exert themselves and to the great but even a humble man who exerts himself can reach heaven. This proclamation is made for the following purpose: to encourage the humble and the great to exert themselves and to let the people who live beyond the borders of the kingdom know about it. Exertion in the cause must endure forever and it will spread further among the people so that it increases one-and-half fold.”
There is a signboard inside the premises which also gives us the history of the rock edict.
But seriously I cannot get over the fact that someone ordered such a shabby structure over an important historical monument from the time of the great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka!
PS. My trip to Ashoka Rock Edict was sponsored by ITC Maurya but the views expressed here are entirely my own!