Posts Tagged With: old architecture

Vancouver Public Library Square

The day we were to leave Vancouver, we decided to spend the morning around our hotel, which happened to be in the Downtown area. We had breakfast at the legendary Café Medina and then stumbled into the Public Library. Well, you can’t really ‘stumble’ into this magnificent piece of architecture. It is grand and very noticeable. Shaped like the Roman Colosseum from the outside, this branch of the library is also known as the Library Square. This library houses more than 1.3 million books, is a storehouse of databases and has various services like free eBooks downloading, internet, etc.

Enter the building and walk inside the promenade along shops, coffee shops and café tables and bask in the grandeur of the building.  The construction of this building was completed in 1995. It consists of 9 stories. The ground floor witnesses a lot of pedestrian traffic. A lot of people walk in for coffee or to cross to the other side.

The library was in news recently for its Inspiration Lab. With just a library card in hand, you have access to creating videos, films and podcasts.

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Categories: Canada, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

R C Dutt Road: A Fusion Of Antiquity And Contemporary

Vadodara, a.k.a. The Cultured City, has a rich history that is apparent from the sprinkle of historic monuments and old traditional buildings all around the city. At a crossroad between Productivity Road and Jetalpur Road, one can spot a church-like structure at a distance. There is a majestic government office located on Jetalpur road which I always stare at while passing. The station area and the area near Parsi Agyari ground has old houses that are not very well maintained but still exude an old world charm.

R C Dutt road is my favourite portion of Vadodara for its glittery shops, haven of food and old fashioned structures. These huge, old structures that are laid far away from the main road, after an expanse of overgrown grass and long driveways, are probably converted into government offices or guest houses or given away to senior government officials for stay.

I have been enthralled by them and have always wanted to look at them closely. I got the opportunity recently when we visited Ramkrishna Mission (earlier known as Dilaram Bungalow). This is another spiritual setting open to all interested visitors.

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Right opposite Dilaram Bungalow are two majestic bungalows. The attractive carved boundary and elaborate gateposts seem to have been made during the time of Maharajas.

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Had it not been for the scary dog that kept us away, we would have managed a closer look at this red brick structure. We took photos from the gate while an attendant peered as us curiously from the veranda.

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We managed to trespass into the other one’s premises. We have no idea what this bungalow is currently used for. As compared to the two, I found this one more charming. I was quite taken in by the creepers and stained glass windows. The grounds of the bungalow – the garden and driveway – were ignored and ill maintained. Yet, it was the charisma of the bungalow that took our breath away.

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Vadodara has been very familiar and comforting for me. I have been seeing the same walls and buildings since childhood. I have actually resided here only for 10 months but how lovely this time has been! I made more friends and I learnt new things. I would love to stay here forever.

But I am spending my last few days here. Heavens now how much I am going to miss this big little city.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, India, Photography, Travel, Vadodara | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Champaner, Gujarat: A Date With Heritage

Written in Jan 2012

The fact that I am not tired at all and my energy level is as high as it was in the morning indicates what an excellent day trip I’ve had today. My determination of visiting Champaner finally paid off and paid off well. I am glad we went there.

Champaner is located at the foot of Pavagadh, which is a popular pilgrim place. While many people (including Gujarat local residents) visit Pavagadh regularly, Champaner seems to be quite ignored. I was surprised why many people had not even heard of it and did not show much interested in it because the photographs on the internet were astounding.

Nevertheless, we made our plans excitedly and the girl’s gang comprising of E, M and me left early morning on this cold Sunday morning. Yes, early morning on a Sunday. So you can imagine how enthusiastic we were.

Our journey began not before having a scrumptious breakfast at Canara Coffee House at Dandiya Bazaar. CCH has the honour of being known as one of the oldest restaurants of Baroda. I had heard rave reviews of it from M and was very keen on having food there (despite my troublesome stomach). The fact that it is a very old establishment and still has the ancient touch to its decor, made me look forward to it badly.

CCH experience was remarkable. Maybe better than what I had expected. The Puna Misal was light, Upma was the best I’ve ever had and the coffee was the perfect conclusion of the breakfast.

Since Champaner is only 46 kms away from Vadodara, we were relaxed; left at our pace and drove nicely chatting and listening to music all along the way. It was quite sunny and bright (much to my delight) which was a welcome relief after the low temperatures of the past 2 weeks. Adorning sunglasses and scarves, we drove along the smooth SH 87 while sufi music filled the warm air.

We reached Champaner comfortably in an hour (without breaks). Beige coloured fort walls lined the left side of the road. We headed straight for Jama Masjid, which is the biggest of the 9 mosques there. We were able to see this beautiful piece of historical monument at a meagre entry fee of Rs. 10 per person. Good thing they are using the money in the right manner; the premises were spic and span and the surrounding lawn spotless. Which was a pleasant surprise. I had not imagined the structures to be clear of stink and mess but they were. Probably because of the earned badge of World Heritage site in 2004 (the project was led by architect Karan Grover from Vadodara).

What faced me was mesmerizing Mughal architecture. The premises were serene, clean and beautiful taking me back in time. I spent lot of time clicking photographs of different portions of the beautiful walls, pillars, arch, ceiling and windows. Going in, I was amid many, many pillars, some in ruins. And not a soul was in sight. I actually felt I was lost somewhere in the ancient times. I tried visualizing what this mosque would have looked like in its full glory, crowded, jewelled. But, never mind, the ruins didn’t disappoint either. The broken pillars or the grand steps or the arch facing the lake can give rise to many an artist, I am sure.

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It is impossible getting such quietness today. I wish I had more time and the luxury of sitting there for hours looking at the beautiful carvings, pondering and talking to myself.

There are several mosques there. Nagina Mosque (which is a bit secluded, far from the main road. A 4 wheeler may not go till there) is another prominent structure. We stopped over at Sahar ki Masjid which was smaller than Jama Masjid but just as beautiful.

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Our next destination was Ek Minar masjid. As the name hints, the mosque has only one minar – left. Rest of the building has collapsed. Surprisingly, the single minar that stands tall and sturdy today is fully intact, all its carvings and patterns clearly visible. Another serene place, if you stand facing the minar, you can see the whole range of mountains behind making you feel very small and the world, large.

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Helical Step Well, which is right on the main road, is worth a visit too. This spiral well is surrounded by lush green lawn and is another serene spot of Champaner. You can go all the way down to water (which is dirty, by the way. How much ever they try to maintain this world heritage site, wafer wrappers and empty mineral water bottles are sure to find their way in). When you walk down the steps, you realize the magnitude of the well’s dimensions. When you are mid way down, people looking over the edge of the walls of the well, look like insects. Apart from the water, the well (ie, the steps and wall) is clean and you can go down to enjoy the calmness and take some good photographs.

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We wound up our visit by stopping over at a roadside sugarcane juice hawker. Though we were not tired, the absolutely refreshing sugarcane juice was magic.

On our way back, I kept thinking of the delightful trip – perfect company, good photographs, amazing destination. We saw the whole place at a very comfortable pace. What more can one ask for?

I strongly recommend a visit to Champaner when in Gujarat. It is easily accessible from Vadodara, which is well connected by trains and has an airport too.

Categories: Gujarat Diaries, India, Photography, Travel, Vadodara | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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