March 28, 2013

The Mughal Wonders of Lucknow...!!

As soon as I stepped out of Lucknow railway station there were a swarm of cycle rickshaw drivers ready to take me around the city. Most of them put forward a complete package of taking me around the Mughal quarter in an hour which I was not keen on. However, I just wanted to be dropped at the beginning of the Mughal quarter and then roam on my own. After a lot of haggling, I was on a cycle rickshaw wading through the congested roads to that section of the city that has some magnificent structures of the Mughal era. After getting off the rickshaw at the entrance of Bada Imambra I hired another rickshaw for Rs.50 which would take me to Chota Imambara, Clock tower, Rumi Darwaza and Jama Masjid. My rickshaw driver also  turned out to be a good guide as he passed on many information with regards to all the beautiful structures.

Rumi Darwaza was the first monument that I passed through. Standing like an imposing gateway it stunned me with its impressive Awadhi architecture. This spectacular work is undoubtedly an architectural splendour. My guide was quick to point out that you can see only one door from one side, but once you pass over to the other side you can see there are actually three doors. Built in the late 18th century by Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah, this 60 feet tall structure which is a  symbol of Awadhi and Mughal architecture was built on the model of a similar gateway in ancient Constantinople. 

Rumi Darwaza
Rumi Darwaza
Rumi Darwaza
We cycled down further to the Chota Imambara, one of the most extraordinary Mughal structures I have ever seen. I was so awed by its exteriors which had beautiful Arabic calligraphy all over and a gleaming golden dome on its top. The interiors of Chota Imambara swept me off my feet with exquisite chandlers, colourful wall coatings and glittering mirrors. I kept gawking at the wonderful architectural designs for a long time. It is definitely a visual treat. Also referred to as Hussainabad Imambara, this exceptional monument was built by Mohammad Ali Shah.  When lit up on auspicious days, this structure is a magical sight.
Chota Imambara
Chota Imambara

Jama Masjid was not earlier included on the itinerary mentioned by my guide. However when I mentioned about it, he was more than keen to take me to this massive mosque. I had never been to such a huge and elegant mosque before. The whole mosque is built on yellow sand stone. The minarets, the pillars, the arched domes, the main entrance and the interiors of the mosque are in true Mughal style. I especially loved the colourful interiors. The serenity inside the mosque made me stay a bit longer.

Jama Masjid
Entrance of Jama Masjid
Interiors of Jama Masjid
The tallest clock tower in India is situated in Lucknow. Constructed in the late 19th century by Nawab Nasir-ud-Din Haider, this elegant looking 221 feet tall clock tower also adorns the most expensive clock of those times. My guide pointed out that there is a metal bird on top of the tower which turns its direction to indicate the wind flow.  

Clock tower
From the clock tower we came back to our starting point, the Bada Imambara. This imposing structure is a landmark in Lucknow. Built in the late 18th century by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, the Imambara was a part of the relief measures during the famine that struck Awadh.  An elegant looking gateway leads to a huge open garden area which houses the Bada Imambara and Asafi mosque. It is also referred to as Bhool Bhulaiyya because of the numerous zig zag passes inside the structure that leads to a series of labyrinths. The inside chambers and hallways look stunning with its ornamentation and the corridors are absolutely a maze. Asafi mosque with numerous steps, minarets and domes look equally grand and gorgeous and is frequented by Shia Muslims for prayers. 

Bada Imambara 

Asafi mosque 
Gateway to Bada Imambara
Half a day was not enough for me to cover the whole of Mughal quarter and I did skip a few like Chattar Manzil, Residency etc. However the few structures that I had a glimpse of were astoundingly beautiful, intricate and wondrous. My biggest exposure to Mughal architecture before visiting Lucknow was The Taj. Now after visiting these magnificent Mughal architectures of Lucknow am awed as every structure they have built (even the small minarets) are absolutely spectacular in all means. Absolutely great creations. 

Signing Note- A day with the Mughals was architecturally memorable...!!

Location- Mughal quarter, Lucknow



March 25, 2013

Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012...!!



Kochi - Muziris Biennale was the first of its kind to be staged in India in more than 110 years of its history. Held in the old world town of Fort Kochi and surroundings, this exhibition of contemporary art was also an amalgam of culture and history. With artists from different corners of the world uniting for the brilliant displays of art work, the whole of Fort Kochi was painted down. The old spice godowns, the dingy rooms, the dusty attics,  the narrow alleys, the barren walls, the uprooted trees, the disused structures,  the old dilapidated buildings and the galleries and halls of Fort kochi and surrounding islands came alive during the biennale which was held from December 2012 to March 2013. With the tourist season at its peak, the visitors kept profusely flowing in and it included not only the locals but also foreign tourists, celebrities and politicians. The biennale a magnificent visual experience with a plethora of paintings, photography, sculptures, graffiti, videos, seminars, documentary screenings, workshops, music and performance art. The dingy and spicy aroma filled rooms and attics of the many heritage buildings and dilapidated structure were so thoughtfully used for the art display. The main venue was Aspinwall House along with Pepper house, Moidu's Heritage Plaza, David hall, Kashi Art gallery and Durbar hall. Even though there was not much support from the well known artists, this display of contemporary arts by numerous artists from across the globe did turn out to be a huge success.  I did have a few personal favourites- Look Back by Daniel Connell, Last Supper Gaza by Vivek Vilasini, Black Gold by Vivan Sundaram, Shock of Time by Sun Xun, Islamic Violins by Ibrahim Quraishi, Life is a River by Ernesto Neto, Citizens Band by Angelica Mesiti and Oil canvases by Ratheesh.T. 

I was there on the final two days of the event and that is the reason why this post could not reach out to all when the event was in its full swing. Here is a link to their website- http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/

For those who could not make it to Kochi- Muziris Biennale, here are a few photographs from the same.

Kalamkari art
HFV Project by Ariel Hassan
Old paper cuttings framed inside Kashi art cafe
An old cartoon strip by O V Vijayan
Look Back by Daniel Connell
Dutty Water by Wangechi Mutu

Ways of Seeing by Vivek Vilasini

Last Supper Gaza by Vivek Vilasini

Display of different varieties of rice grains
Art work by Maya Arulpragasam

Art work by Maya Aulpragasam

Art wok by Rashid Rana

Soundtracks by Dylan Martorell

Soundtracks by Dylan Martorell

Lonely Planet by Julian Rosefeldt

Disturbed Places by Marcel Odenbach




Silent Dialogues

Silent Dialogues

Cloud for Kochi by Alfredo Jaar
Celebration in the Laboratory by Atul Dodiya
Celebration in the Laboratory by Atul Dodiya
Veni, Vidi, Vici by L.N.Tallur
Veni, Vidi, Vici by L.N.Tallur

Stop Over by Sheela Gowda and Christoph Storz
Stopover by Sheela Gowda and Christoph Storz

Black Gold by Vivan Sundaram

Drawings by school children

Crossfire by Shahidul Alam

Open and Close by Zhang Enli

Tug of War by P.S. Jalaja


Talking Skins by Clifford Charles

Talking Skins by Clifford Charles

Shock of Time by Sun Xun

Shock of time by Sun Xun

Mahayanam- The Great Procession by Prabhakaran.K

Mahayanam- The Great Procession by Prabhakaran.K



Pancha Mahabhuta by T.Venkanna
Pancha Mahabhuta By T.Venkanna

Visitors watching a documentary 




Leave Your Shoes Here by Hossein Valamanesh
Islamic Violins by Ibrahim Quraishi

Destuffing Matrix by CAMP

Thoombinkal Chathan by K.P.Reji

Boatman by K.P.Kishnakumar

The Insufficiency of Images by Gert Jan Kocken
The Insufficiency of Images by Get Jan Kocken

Steps from Villa Sebollini, Belaggio by Clifford Charles

Life is a River by Ernesto Neto

Life is a River by Ernesto Neto


Desert of Pharan by Ahmed Mater
Desert of Pharan by Ahmed Mater

Photography by Srinivasa Prasad

Photography by Srinivasa Prasad

Photography by Srinivasa Prasad

Citizens Band by Angelica Mesiti

Citizens Band by Angelica Mesiti


Citizens Band by Angelica Mesiti


Citizens Band by Angelica Mesiti

Art work by Thomas Florschuetz

Art work by Thomas Florschuetz
Art work by Thomas Florschuetz
Sculpture by K.P.Krishnakumar
What are We? by Sosa Joseph

What are We? by Sosa Joseph

Queen City Series by Cyprien Gaillard
Work by Carlos Garaicoa

Work by Carlos Garaicoa
Oil Canvas by Ratheesh.T

Oil Canvas by Ratheesh.T

Indian Jewish Identity by Rahul.S.Ravi

Indian Jewish Identity by Rahul.S.Ravi

Indian Jewish Identity by Rahul.S.Ravi












Kochi- Muziris Biennale 2012 was a brilliant display of extra-ordinary works by a set of highly talented artists.





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