Step wells – or Baoris, is one of the things we were looking forward to seeing in India.
Step wells could be seeing as a flipped pyramid surrounded by stairs. They were build with the purpose of storing monsoon rain water.
The construction of step wells in India dates from at least 600 BC (though the first rock-cut step wells in India date from 200-400 BC) with its peak between the 11th to 16th century.
The step wells had social and religious activities significance, but after British domination, authorities forced the abandonment of the wells, for sanitary reasons.
Ever since then the step wells acquired the connotation of being hunted places.
We have been to Chand Baori in Abhaneri, a village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan, situated around 95 km from Jaipur, on the Jaipur-Agra road.
Chand Baori consists of 3,500 steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 m. into the ground making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.
The Rajasthan area is extremely arid, and the design and final structure of Chand Baori was intended to conserve as much water as possible.
At the bottom of the well, the air remains 5 to 6 degrees cooler than at the surface, and Chand Baori was used as a community gathering place for locals during periods of intense heat.
In Delhi we have been to Agrasen ki Baoli .
With 103 steps, this Baoli is among a few of its kind in Delhi. The visible parts of this historical step well consist of three levels. Each level is lined with arched niches on both sides.
The atmosphere is always kind of heavy when you are inside a Baori.
The air is quite humyd, and you keep going from extreme sunshine to cold shadows, where you may find a good amount of bats, not a pleasant surprise…
But though the odd atmosphere, this ´negative-spaces’ is beyond interesting.
Visiting the Baoris was for sure magic, and if you are plannig to travel around India, dont miss out the step wells on your way!
talk to you soon,
I am back! Finally!!!
And also, I just got back from two weeks in India… the trip I have been planning – ok, wrong word… let’s say: the trip I have been looking forward for the last two years – and it couldn´t have been better (actually it could…because there are still many places to visit, but a second trip is already being planned, and now I mean the word I just tiped!!!).
So, to get this conversation started, let me explain our itinerary:
We have been to the so called golden triangle – Delhi – Agra – Jaipur – plus Dhaka trough Kolkata and Chandigarh.
Dhaka and Chandigarh because of architectural reasons: The National Assembly Hall from Louis Kahn in Dhaka – Bangladesh (1982) and of course Le Corbusier’s City in India (1950´s).
Later posts will follow this one talking only about both buildings and its cities.
Today I would like to give you guys a quick overview of our trip!
First of all, due to the short time, It has been a very good choice four us to get to know India trough the golden triangle cities, which are full of history, different cultural backgrounds, food, citizens and behaviors.
To make a long story short: we have managed to visit 5 different regions of India plus a neighbor country in two weeks so you may see bellow:
PUNJAB – Chandigarh
UTTAR PRADESH – Agra
RAJASTHAN – Jaipur
BENGAL – Kolkata
BANGLADESH – Dhaka
Though time was short our time was used in a very efficient way, and by that I only mean… no time at all to rest! We have managed to move around by train, car airplane and of course tuc tucs and riquixas when moving around inside each city.
THE TOUR BEGGINS:
We have started our visit in Delhi, which was very good choice for our first stop.
Delhi has an interesting mix of old and new India. It is not so rural or spiritual as other locations we have been to, and it does have some elements from the occidental world… very few but the necessary amount for you to start your transition into the Indian reality.
In Delhi people speak good English, specially taxi and tuc tuc drivers, so if you go to Delhi just try out riding tuc tucs and riquixas, you will have lots of fun!
Food in Delhi was amazing, no matter where BUT: We have been to BUKHARA, known as the best typical restaurant in India, and I have to say: There we have had for sure our best dinner in India!
From Dehli we flew to Dhaka trough Kolkata.
Since we had not much time in Kolkata, we decided to hire a driver, and so we managed to visit all buildings in the BBD area, Victoria Memorial and the Pareshnath Jain temple of Kolkata, where we met this lovely old guru, and he provided us some of our sweetest laughs in India, as he said himself: There is only one thing we should all care about in life…happiness!
In Kolkata we tried for the first time Thali food.
Our next stop was Dhaka and it was a chock for me! First thing we did was to visit The National Assembly, but after that… things got really hard when we tried to find someone to drive us around the city, which was very difficult once it was almost impossible to find a driver able to speak English.
The helpful guards on the Assembly helped us with the task and we managed to move to our next stop, the Jantar Mantar (kind of observatory you can find on every city in India as well) and on our way it was kind of clear that unlike India where some humble poverty is all around in Dhaka we were facing something else… an unequal reality where people either drive luxurious cars or beg starving on the sidewalks, and that’s what bothered me the most.
Our second day in Dhaka was better, we hired a driver so getting from one point to the other was not such a drama… but the fake reality was bothering us a lot! Out of that it was funny to notice that people don’t visit Dhaka that often! We were stopped all around and people were asking for photos with us, asking where we came from…
Before heading back to the airport we had biryani food with our driver, the traditional food from the Bengali area.
From Dhaka we flew back to Delhi and caught a train to Agra, and there I found myself again back into the trip I was looking for! We could walk again on the streets!!!
Agra is a touristic city, things are more easygoing and visiting the Taj Mahal is an unique experience.
From Agra we went by car to Jaipur stopping on our way to see Chand Baori, a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri and also Fathepur Sikri an old Mughal walled city.
Now in Jaipur we had again a very good time but what must be visited in this area is for sure the Amber Fort, from where you see Jaipur from above, and if you are up to, going up is something you can do by yourself or by riding an elephant.
And the elephants!!! They are the most magnificent thing one could ever experience!!! I am still looking for proper words to express how I was amazed by them!
The street markets in Jaipur were also a must experience!
From Jaipur we flew to Chandigarh and there besides Le Corbusier´s city we had the pleasure to experience Holi!
It was magical, funny, and of course colorful!
From Chandigarh we flew back to Delhi and spent our last day between Chandi Chowk and Kahn Market buying all the gifts and spices we were waiting to buy ever since day one! Then we got back to our hotel, filled our bags with gifts, clothes dirty by dust, sweat or colorful powder from the Holi festival of colors, and of course with our best memories from our two weeks around India and headed back to Delhi Airport to catch our flight!
India was extremely intense! The colors, the flavors, the people…
Many posts should follow this one and even that might be insufficient to explain all we have experienced on this travel.
The time was short but I wouldn’t recommend an even longer trip to India, but many 2 week trips. I think there is far too much information for your body and mind… but that’s maybe only my point of view!
I have to come back soon to talk about each city and the places we vised and the food we ate there!
But I think this introduction is a good start for you all and also my way back to a light delight!
Lots of love,
Some photos are mine but most are a kind courtesy from my favorite photographer, the very talented Jonathan Howell Davies.
In Amsterdam we stayed at Lloyd Hotel and cultural embassy… And I would love to share the story and the history behind this very interesting place with you guys.
Back in 1918 the shipping company Royal Holland Lloyd built what is today’s Lloyd Hotel as temporary accommodation for immigrants (That’s why you find an imposing ship luminary at the entrance of the hotel). The space was used from 1921 to 1936 but in this same year the KHL went bankrupt and the building was purchased by the City of Amsterdam.
From 1938 it was used as a shelter for Jewish refugees and later became a juvenile detention center. Later during the 80’s the detention center building was occupied by artists and completely forgotten, until a competition was held to decide what the building would best be used for.
It was decided that the building would be used as a Hotel and also cultural embassy and the Rotterdam-Netherlands-based architecture office MVRDV was responsible for the project.
The rooms were preserved pretty much as they used to be, except for the very nice pieces of furniture, but what is really impressive about MVRDV intervention, is the big gap on the building where a bar/restaurant + library/meeting spaces were placed.
Trough this gap you are able to cross the whole building, and interact with temporary expositions, nice pieces of furniture, and some very playful spaces as this ‘resting-jungle’. Nice place to read a book by the way!
The library lays upon the restaurant, and both spaces interact in a very pleasant way. The ‘never ending ceiling’ and the big windows from ground floor creates a very nice atmosphere.
I loved the almost ‘never ending shelves’ on the back of the bar, just as much as the gigantic ‘spider lightening display’.
When walking trough the corridors that leads you to the rooms the situation is quite different: no windows, spear light, and a feeling of being in a hospital, or an old school… Especially when you face some beautiful/nostalgic fragments from old Lloyd:
The thing is: Before staying at Lloyd Hotel, I was told that the place used to be an asylum, and I got is as a ‘madhouse’ … so: many times when walking around I couldn’t help myself from feeling at ’12 monkeys’ locations… I mean… take a look:
Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience, and I completely recommend staying at Lloyd when in Amsterdam.
It is an extra ‘time-travel’ inside your travel!
Tip.: When staying at Lloyd, it is quite logical, and also common to use the lifts or the library to cross the building upside down, but the thing is: You should take the side stairs, where besides gorgeous vitral-windows you may find this kind of ‘self-tour’ trough Lloyd’s history!
I will come back soon with extra tips about Amsterdam!
Ok guys… I must bring a ‘parenthesis’ in here today! I really do…
The thing is: I promised to write about Brazil and Amsterdam, and I also promised a post about Ray Eames, and that’s the moment when I got lost!!!
Not in a bad way… not at all!!! Actually the thing is: I could not resist to write this ‘parenthesis post’ today: 10/10! I mean (and I really mean it): I don’t believe in a lot of things, but come on!!! It must be a sign… and it says: write it girl!!!
Nevertheless… I am pretty sure you are all going to forgive me – and maybe even thank me after a while – for this negligent act! (Yes…the drama is back!!!)
So: What is this so-called ‘parenthesis post’ all about? It is about ‘Powers of ten’– a documentary by Charles and Ray Eames
It is awesome! Especially if you try to put yourself in their position… back in 1968 , I mean… If you are younger than me… you may not know but at this point, Neil Armstrong hadn’t even stepped on the moon yet!!! Really…There was a world like that not so long ago…
Of course I had to add some images from ‘Powers of ten’ pic-nic set composition into my ‘under-construction’ post about Ray, and I could not help myself from bringing this delightful video-tip for those who might be interested!
Especially if you are one who likes fine composition, interesting subjects, and of course my delightful tips!
I have some much to say about architecture… BUT first I must say : EAMES, BARDI, KAHN.
I love Charles and Ray Eames story and furniture!
I intend to write extra lines about them in the future, but in this first moment I would like to recommend the documentary about the architect and the painter.
Lina Bo Bardi was an Italian architect who found in Brasil her home.
Lina designed not only amazing buildings, but also absolutely fine pieces of furniture and jewelry.
I have left my ‘girafinha’ chair in Brasil, and I miss it every day!
What I definitely admire about Lina is the precision she had to put things together, into masterpieces. Not only when she gathered references to create architecture or furniture, but also when she put words together to build remarkable sentences and texts.
I recommend the book “lina por escrito” for the Portuguese readers, and I hope Lina’s texts happen to be published in other languages in a near future!
Last week we went to Louis Kahn exhibition at Vitra design museum.
The exposition was extremelly fine, even though I found it hard to be uninteresting when it comes to Mr.s Kahn, a guy who produced remarkable architecture, but who was himself a very interesting man.
I must also recommend “my architecture” a documentary about Louis, for those who might be interested to know more about Mr.Kahn. Try this preview first!