Though this is a blog dedicated to interior design aside not just travelling, I don’t think there’s a better way to start than telling the story of the time I went to India. New Delhi and Agra to be more precise.
I could write a novel about it, it was an adventure from day 1 to the moment I left but it’s better to be told in person so take me out to coffee and I’ll tell you the ‘2 rupees’ story or the time I nearly got beaten up by a monkey.
I didn’t have a great camera at that time so most of the photos I took with a compact camera and some are a bit air brushed in Photoshop for a sharper view. But I think they’re good enough to get the idea.
As a typical developing country India is the place of extremes. You can feel like cringing in front of nearly wrecked houses with no windows and stare in amazement before some great Hindu temple. You feel terrified in that traffic with no rules and yet wonder about the perfect symmetry of any park of the city. How can they throw their garbage in front of the house and yet have perfectly clean gardens of temples where you can walk barefoot?
My first experience was the one facing the poverty, the filth, the crowded streets and terrible traffic.
After I had enough of the ‘Indian experience’ and was dying to get home I got the taste of the other extreme – the beauty of its culture, architecture wonders, amazing history.
Humayum tomb, dating around the 16th century – a typical Mughal architecture element with its arches, balconies and kiosks. The chambers are built to keep to the Islamic burial rituals and use the ‘pietra dura’ technique of encrusting marble and stone ornamentation that we’ll see later in the wonderful Taj Mahal.
Qutb Minar, the second highest minaret in India and one of the oldest, dating around 13th century. It’s made of sandstone carved with verses from the Quran.
Akshardham temple is dating from… 2005. Seriously. They built this less than 10 years ago from volunteers or so they say. I’m not going to discuss the absurdity and costs of having this complex of religious buildings when most of the country’s population is starving so let’s focus on the culture.
Because indeed, Akshardam is a place that tells the story of a millennia of Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality and architecture.
The main monument is the center is a blend of styles from all over India. Outside it’s red sandstone carved as lace with images of deities, flowers, animals and the inside is made of white marble from Rajasthan.
The monument is surrounded by a fountains, exhibitions of status depicting the old Vedic texts and temples for praying.
Leave the best to the last! The amazing Taj Mahal. Actually I liked Akshardam better but hey, this is a 17th century wonder and a symbol of true love! Or a symbol of an obsessed , maniac king that had to be locked away because he was taking the country to ruins. As we all know Taj Mahal was built by a Mughal shah as a token of love for his wife that had deceased after giving birth to their 14th child.
Leaving this aside, this is indeed a work of art that includes influences from Persian, Turkish and Mughal architecture. This is where you get to see the ‘pietra dura’ technique at its peak, the amazing stones encrusted in white marble – Islamic verses on the gates and the flowers and oriental motifs on the main building.