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!
This year starting from March till about now, I traveled a lot. When I traveled a lot I would crib because I was traveling too much, which would leave me very tired. Then for the past two weeks I have been at home. So, now I am getting nostalgic about traveling and then, you guessed it right, I crib again! So this is a nostalgic Skywatch Friday, featuring the Amman Citadel in Jordan. I visited Jordan in May 2014.
The Amman Citadel is ancient, said to be occupied since neolithic period. It is also known as Jabal al-Qal’a. One meaning of Jabal is a hill. This citadel is on one of the seven hills which constituted the original city of Amman. It is said to have passed influence of three religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is a popular tourist destination in Amman. The main ruins which you can see above is the Temple of Hercules.
The citadel is spread in a vast area and has many places of interest. Jordan Archaeological Museum is within the grounds. Umayyad palace, a huge water tank and a mosque are other points of interest. Visiting this place would require some amount of walking.
The view of the city from the Amman Citadel is quite impressive. The day we visited the place it was not too crowded. The weather was nice, we had clear blue skies and a nice breeze. The sun was happy to lord over the sky. As the place is quite huge it never felt crowded. Almost everyone climbed up the ruins to get photographed next to the pillars of the Temple of Hercules.
I had left my zoom lens in the bus itself, as I never thought I would need it at this spot. Guess what? There were birds around the place and I did kick myself for not carrying the lens around. But that is a minor regret. Overall, it was a wonderful half day that I spent at the Amman Citadel.
For today’s sky watch I present the Roman Theater Amman. It is a huge structure and you can see only a little of sky and a lot of the amphitheater. But it was such a sight to behold! The theater could seat 60,000 people. It was built in 131-168 AD (or what is said as CE now?). They used it for holding shows and entertainment. If you stand in the center of the stage and say something softly it echos through the whole arena. Now they knew something about sound engineering for sure!
I was in Jordan on invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board and we were a group of 10 people. We were given sometime to explore the place. A few of us decided to climb up. I could not let the opportunity pass as I thought (and rightly so) that the view from the top would be quite something!
The steps were steep and the climb took me sometime. One had to be careful because they were slippery too. I had a gala time standing on the top and clicking pictures. I was glad (and not for the first time) that I had a wide angle lens which could capture the whole amphitheater more or less. The houses you see on the horizon are Palestinian settlements.
And if I thought climbing up was difficult, getting down was even more trickier. The steps were steep and a bit more slippery while getting down. I had no intention of falling down and breaking my bones. I finally got down safely by going in a zig zag fashion. Others found stairs that were smaller and not so slippery. It was quite an adventure to go up and come down the amphitheater. If you like walking I recommend that you do climb up as the view from the top is really beautiful.