City of Tombs

Barakhamba

If you roam around Delhi, you can get a sense of how people loved their after life. May be it was their relatives who wanted them to be remembered. Many of the monuments here are tombs. And though Humayun’s tomb is the largest and most beautiful of it all, the ‘parampara’ did not start with Mughals. It was prevalent much before – Feroz Shah Tughlaq being one of the examples.

May be the rulers at that time had not imagined that space would be such scarce in few hundred years. They designed the resting places of their ancestors/relatives as colossal and peaceful places. Standing alone and visible from a distance, they look like an imposing figure in their old ‘black and white’ photos taken a few hundred years ago. Today they jostle for space. Many of them are nestled among the modern markets, hidden by the trees, ignored and visited by people interested in sleeping under the cool tree shades.

These shades along with neatly pruned green grass was what pulled me too, towards two such monuments in Hauz khas as I, tired after walking a lot, passed by them. There is no recorded history of these places. Barakhamba is nowhere near the barakhamba road and simply called because there are 12 pillars in the structure. The dadi poti tomb does not get its name from a granddaughter and her grandmother buried there. It is more linked to the size of the tombs. As you can get an idea from random names, no one knows who is buried here and they even belong to different eras (Dadi – Lodhi and Poti – Tughlaq). They have been taken by the Archaeology survey team for improvements and now they look like Aishwarya Rai – beautiful but artificial.

Sukhna Lake

Chandigarh is a modern city, built 10 years after independence. Unlike Delhi, there is no real history associated with it. But Sukhna Lake is a place which is associated with my own life’s history. It has been a go-to spot since childhood with the peak of Sukhna attachment coming during the 4 years of college when we were there every other day.
There have been a lot of changes at lake. First a small amusement park came up with joy rides for children. Now, it is almost finished. A windmill was installed. The entrance was beautified. Then there was a tower on an island within the lake which was had become iconic and a symbol for the lake. Today too, if you google for Sukhna lake, you will see that tower in almost all the pictures. One fine day, on visit to Chandigarh something felt different. The tower was absent. It had burned down.

But all these changes have happened only at the entrance. Once you move beyond this commercialised space into the real lake – everything is same. It has been the same for years. The ‘suicide tower’, the big banyan tree, a high lookout platform, the classical music playing in the background, the sweet smell of flowers, cool shade of trees, calm waters, lots of green and unforgettable memories.

All coming together to make the Sukhna Lake one of my favorite places !

 

 

 

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar

No Getting Lost here

 

Since childhood, I was under the impression that at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, there is a maze of confusing alleys where often people get lost. The name – Jantar Mantar also had a sound of mystery and magic to it. I had always wanted to come here to test my sense of direction. Finally when I went there, I couldn’t find anything that one could get lost in.

Jantar Mantar is a the 18th century version of a space laboratory. Even if one wants to understand that how the strange-looking structures, it is a bit tough without a guide. These observatories with barely visible scales and markings played the role of clocks 1700’s. They help in calculating time of the day, co-ordinates of heavenly bodies, movement of sun, moon and planets etc.

It is generally recommended that you visit this place early morning or late evening – time when you can make some sense of the shadows which helped in the calculations. I went there at 9 but could not really grasp the logic of it all.
May be its the same for everyone else as people here were more interested in getting clicked among these ‘strange’ structures or relax in the lush green lawns.

Badi Ghadi

Sunday Morning Greens


Apart from a cosy bed, where else would you like to be on a fine Sunday morning. There could be hundreds of options, of course. Chandigarh’s Sukhna lake is one at top of the mind. Recently I managed to find another one in Delhi. It is the Hauz Khas Tank – built in the early 1300’s to meet the water needs of a brand new fort – Siri. The fort is nothing more than mere walls now. But the tank or a lake if you can call it, still stands. It is like an island – a small area of peace in the middle of a mad rush of a colossal city.

There is a thick cover of trees which keep things really cool and  instant relaxation is what you get when you see the huge water pool. There is a jogging track to keep you fit and beautiful ruins form the backdrop when you sit.

It actually has something for everyone. Solitude for loners, privacy for lovers, views for photographers, ruins for history lovers, birds and animals for people interested in them and vast space for children to express their freedom. All in all a peaceful place for which I would gladly trade some sleep on a Sunday morning.

 

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