On the way to Dalhousie

Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
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Amma Veedu

Amma veedu seen form another amma veedu

Amma veedu seen from another amma veedu

Amma veedus are the palatial houses where the minor queens or the consorts of the Travancore king used to stay. There are still a few  amma veedus in the West Fort area of Trivandrum. One of these has been tastefully converted into a fine dining restaurant.

The house in the image is opposite that restaurant, taken from its second-floor window.

Boat on Paravur Lake

Kerala Snippets

Boat on Paravur Lake, Kollam District, Kerala A country Boat on Paravur Lake, Kollam District, Kerala

Taken from the Aquasserene Resort. The resort is surrounded on three sides by the Paravur backwaters. The Puttingal devi temple where the fire tragedy took place is only about 5 Kms from this place.

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Surprising find in heart of Delhi

A historical town like Delhi can throw up surprises. One such surprise to me was the Agrasen ki Baoli. It is situated on Hailey lane a kilometer from CP but still under the shadows of its multi-storey buildings.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

This was believed to have been built by king Ugrasen of the Mahabharat era but rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the14th century. It is about 60 m long and 15 M wide. It has about 100 steps.

The main well shaft opens out to the sky and there was no water when I visited. The rubble and stone masonry is well preserved (probably recently renovated).

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Unlike the step wells of Gujarat,this  has no sculptures.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

There were hardly any tourists when I visited but many young students and couples. The monument became more popular thanks to a controversial Hindi movie.

Agrasen ki Baoli
100 + steps

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The Gates of Aurangabad

I came across the word ‘Darwaza’ when I entered  IIM, Ahmedabad in 1969.The city’s Lal Darwaza and Teen Darwaza were commercial centres as well as traffic hubs. I knew little about their historical significance.

During my summer job in Delhi in 1970, I became familiar with Ajmeri Gate and Kashmiri Gate and also Lahori Gate and Delhi(!) Gate. In fact, I was staying in a college hostel right on Ajmeri gate not far from the seamy quarters of this historical city.

Historically, these darwazas or gates have been integral parts of the fortified medieval cities. They aided in security and defence and also in collecting taxes and tolls.

In term of number of gates, Aurangabad tops the list with 52 gates. Of these 52, only 10 or 12 remain today. I could see and capture in my camera 5 or 6 of these during my visit last month.

The original name of the city was Khadki. it was the seat of power of Malik Amber, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam of Ahmednagar. Some of the earliest gates (Bhadkal?) were built by him. His son who succeeded him renamed the city Fatehnagar. When the Mughals captured the city Aurangazeb was made the Viceroy by the Shah Jahan. Auraganzeb renamed it after himself – Aurangabad.

Delhi Darwaza
Delhi Darwaza (North)
Rangeen Gate
Rangeen Gate
Mahmud Darwaza at Panchakki
Mahmud Darwaza at Panchakki
Zafar Gate
Zafar Gate
Makkai Darwaza - Mecca Gate
Makkai Darwaza – Mecca Gate (West)

Bibi ka Maqbara, the poor man’s Taj Mahal

Bibi ka Maqbara,, Aurangabad - Taj Mahal on a budget
Bibi ka Maqbara,, Aurangabad – Taj Mahal on a budget

The Bibi ka Maqbara was built by the son of Aurangazeb, Azam Shah, in memory of his mother. Aurangazeb was never keen on building monuments and he was also stingy. He sanctioned only Rs.7 lakh for this project.The son finished the project in about 6,68,000 Rupees (cf. Taj Mahal Rs 320,00,000) . Only the domes and doors are made of marble. A lot of it is brick and lime mortar with eggshells.
The monument resembles Taj but it is clear that it is an imitation. Yet it is worth a visit.