Tag Archives: India

Pink Hawa Mahal of Pink City in Pink winter…

…Couldn’t have asked for more!

After completing the first exciting day at Jaipur Literature Festival at Diggi Palace, Aarti and Mohit decided to take me to the old city of Jaipur which is home to many shops painted in Pink (Probably they knew shopaholic in me was restless). It was a breezy wintery evening, and I had some cool time there!

I found Hawa Mahal to be quite imposing, artistic, having an extraordinary architecture which is delicately honeycombed and rises a dizzying five stories. Certainly, it is much grander than it looks in the picture, you can’t escape its grandeur while in Jaipur. My child-like excitement in the vicinity of Hawa Mahal was palpable. We clicked many pictures there and gathered some beautiful memories of this beautiful monument.

For the uninitiated, Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to enable ladies of the royal household to watch the life and processions of the city. The top offers stunning views over Jantar Mantar and the City Palace in one direction and over Sireh Deori Bazaar in the other.

Popularly known as “The Palace of Winds” or “The Palace of Breeze” is in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Made with the red and pink sandstone, the palace sits on the edge of the City Palace, Jaipur, and extends to the Zenana, or women’s chambers. Made for ladies, it holds special importance for me as a lady.

There’s a small museum (open Saturday to Thursday), with miniature paintings and some rich relics, such as ceremonial armour, which help evoke the royal past. Entrance is from the back of the complex. To get here, return to the intersection on your left as you face the Hawa Mahal, turn right and then take the first right again through an archway. Shopkeepers can show you another way – past their shops!

Its 953 small windows called Jharokhas are decorated with intricate latticework.  The original intent of the lattice design was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and festivals celebrated in the street below without being seen since they had to obey the strict rules of “purdah”, which forbade them from appearing in public without face coverings.

This architectural feature also allowed cool air from the Venturi effect to pass through, thus making the whole area more pleasant during the high temperatures in summer. Many people see the Hawa Mahal from the street view and think it is the front of the palace, but in reality, it is the back of that structure.

In 2006, renovation works on the Mahal were undertaken, after a gap of 50 years, to give a facelift to the monument at an estimated cost of Rs 4.568 million.

The palace is an extended part of a huge complex. The stone-carved screens, small casements, and arched roofs are some of the features of this popular tourist spot. The monument also has delicately modelled hanging cornices.

The corporate sector lent a hand to preserve the historical monuments of Jaipur and the Unit Trust of India has adopted Hawa Mahal to maintain it.

Indeed, WAAH TAAJ!

Probably my last post of the years would do the honours for monumental beauty of India – The Taj Mahal as suggested by our traveller friend Kamal Mathur, who recently visited Taj Mahal and clicked some exclusive pictures for my blog. A trip to India is not complete without visiting this monumental marvel carved in marble located in Agra, UP, India. Kamal Mathur’s recent visit to Agra refreshed my memories of my visit to the place while in school, years ago. I am sure, Kamalji would have been mesmerised by his visit to magnificent Taj Mahal, which is beyond words, thus making his task even more difficult as he is “man of few words” and “thousand pictures”.

In an interview given to Sprangled magazine from the US, I have mentioned, “ I have a very vivid memory of visiting Taj Mahal in Agra, UP, India which I visited while I was in grade VIII, with my parents on a full moon night. Till then I had seen Taj Mahal only in my history textbook. And when I was there at the Taj Mahal, I found a vast difference between Taj Mahal in my history book and the one before my eyes. The real Taj Mahal was quite a revelation, as it’s much bigger and magnanimous than the one in my textbook.

By all means, it was splendid and looked absolutely out of this world on a blue moon night, though I could not think it to be the most romantic spot in the world. The ‘marvel’ created in ‘marble’ by Mughal Emperor Shahjehan was stunning and this is when I was inspired to travel to different places. It was a true revelation to me how places are so different in reality than the one which I had seen in photographs or movies. This way the adventure streak was in me since childhood and when I grew up the passion to travel stayed with me.”

Please click the link to read the full interview: http://sprangled.com/index.php/2015/12/30/734/

Pictures clicked by Kamal Mathur:

Coming back to the beauty, The Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal is a white tomb built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The building is in the city of Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Widely thought as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, it is one of India’s biggest tourist attractions.

It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Constructed entirely out of white marble in the 17th century, it is among the finest edifices of Mughal architecture. Recognised by the UNESCO as a world heritage site, this monument is also considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Every year visitors numbering more than the entire population of Agra pass through the magnificent gates to catch a glimpse of this breath-taking monument, and only a few leave disappointed. Shah Jahan said about the Taj that it made “the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes“.

Rabindranath Tagore described it as “a teardrop in the cheek of eternity” while Rudyard Kipling said it is “the embodiment of all things pure“. The construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1631 and took 17 years before it was completed in 1648. The tomb is laid out in a rectangular shape and can be approached through a massive gateway which has an arch and alcoves on either side of it. The Taj, so majestic from the exterior, has equally splendid artistic work done in the interiors.

There are water channels and fountains in the entrance which makes the monument even more spectacular. The reflection of this majestic spectacle in the Yamuna is almost poetic in its perfection!

The Taj Mahal can be accessed through east, west and south gates. Inside the grounds, the ornamental gardens are set on the classic Mughal Charbagh lines (formal Persian garden). The monument stands on a raised marble platform at the northern end of the garden, facing its back to the Yamuna River. Its raised position is a masterstroke design as it leaves only the sky as its backdrop. Each corner of the platform is graced with 40m high white minarets. Taj itself is made of semi-translucent white marble, inlaid with thousands of semi-precious stones and carved with flowers. The four indistinguishable faces of the Taj are in perfect symmetry, featuring impressive vaulted arches containing pietra dura scrollwork and the quotations from the Quran. The whole structure is topped off by four small domes.

The cenotaph of Mumtaz Mahal lies directly below the main dome. It is an elaborate false tomb which is surrounded by an elegant marble screen inlaid with various types of semi-precious stones, offsetting the symmetry of the Taj. The light enters the central chamber through finely cut marble screens. These tombs are false tombs as the real tombs of Mumtaz Mahal, and Shah Jahan lies in a locked room below the main chamber.

Indeed, Waah Taaj!

Magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, Memorable Trip, Jodhpur, Rajasthan India

We have very fond memories of attending my cousin Aarti’s wedding in Jodhpur some three years ago, which was a typical Rajasthani marriage in Jodhpur. When marriage got over, my phoophaji advised us to visit Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace which had already caught my fancy while coming to my dear Suman bua’s home for Aarti’s marriage…

Phoophaji arranged a vehicle (read: luxury car) for us and very next morning we were out to visit Mehrangarh Fort. Though tired because of marriage ceremonies, I was quite excited to visit the fort which looked so imposing to me while driving round the beautiful Rajasthan city of Jodhpur. Moreover, I have a fetish for forts and I may be credited for visiting several forts of India across States. The palaces in Rajasthan are truly royal and magnificent and it is very difficult to rate them on these parameters. Every fort has its own charm and a story to tell, the only common thread being Rajasthani Culture and architecture. Every fort awe-inspiring, leaving you to spell – bound. The story is the same here, when accompanied by my husband Mukund, who was like – Oh another fort, another steep climb, guide telling Raja Rani Kahaniyan…

…but Mehrangarh was different, it has lifted for tourists to go various levels, one need not necessarily climb rather take the steep walk to visit the fort. I must say a visit to the fort was very enlightening and it opened many layers of Rajputana, Raja-Maharajas, their aesthetic sense, their valour and love of their land. No wonder Mehrangarh has a steady stream of Indian and foreign tourists, in every season. We were lucky to have visited in winter, which further added to our experience about Mehrangarh fort. Standing high above the plains on this isolated rock, the Fort covers an area 460 mts in length and 230 mts in width, with walls that vary in height from 6 to 36 mts.  Inside its ways, there are several palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The foundation of the fort was laid on May 12, 1459 by Rao Jodha on a rocky hill nine kilometres to the south of Mandore.

The invincible fortifications are six meters thick. Some of the walls still bear cannon marks they had once withstood. The Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favourite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh. She remains the Maharaja’s and the royal family’s Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well. Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations. It contains period rooms like Moti Mahal – The Pearl Palace, Sheesha Mahal – The Hall of Mirrors, Phool Mahal – The Palace of Flowers, Takhat Vilas -Maharaja Takhat Singh’s Chamber.

Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed.

The work of building the fort originally commenced in 1459 on the behest of the founder of Jodhpur – Rao Jodha but much of the fort as it stands today was built in the era of Jaswant Singh. This magnificent fort is spread over 5 kms. and is located on top of a hill which is all of 125 meters high.

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The Moti Mahal which is made of elaborately carved stones is the dwelling place of the royal throne of Jodhpur which is popularly referred to as the Sringar Chowki in local parlance.

There is also the majestic Umaid Villas that showcases some remarkable Rajasthani miniature art work. The Ajit Villa is conspicuous with its rich collection of musical instruments and regal attires while the gorgeous Phool Mahal is where the legendary Jodhpur Coat of Arms is preserved.

The parapets of Phool Mahal are adorned with exquisite art works portraying various melodious scenes. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’) built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730.

The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms. Mehrangarh fort has never ever been seized. The invincible fortifications are six meters thick.

Some of the walls still bear cannon marks and today this magnificent Jodhpur fort is a living testimony that recounts the chronicles and legends of Jodhpur’s rich past.

It was really a very memorable afternoon like icing on the cake. I wish we had more time to splurge on this Rajasthani marvel.

If Rajasthan visit is on your agenda, don’t give it a miss…Watch video for a great experience!

Thar Festival Jaisalmer: Melting pot of Culture, Tradition, Music & Folk-dance

My cousin Aarti was here in Mumbai recently for her official visit and was kind enough to visit me for a day. She hails from Jodhpur and is married in Jaipur, so a true blue Rajasthani. Amidst our conversation, she mentioned about Thar Festival of Jaisalmer which is a big attraction amidst tourists especially foreigners. As Rajasthan never ceases to fascinate me, I always look forward to visiting Rajasthan at any given opportunity.

She invited me to come to Jaipur as usual and asked me to come in February, 2016 so that I can visit Jaisalmer also and attend the famed Thar festival too. My curiosity grew and I wanted to know more about Jaisalmer and in particular, Thar Festival. I connected with an old friend of my mine who told me about fascinating sand dunes of Jaisalmer but she had visited the place in December so she could not share much about Thar festival. I imagined in my head that Thar Festival would be somewhat similar to Rann Utsav which I had been to in December of 2013. Good, it was not! Read on to know why Thar festival is different?

On digging deeper I came to know that Thar festival is a mirror to the Rajasthani culture and tradition which is lively with vibrant colours which is a continuous celebration for three days when your soul gets one with the soul of Rajasthan. Here you become one with everything Rajasthani.

It is the grand and famous fort of Jaisalmer which is host to the celebration of the Desert festival, whereas the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation is taking all the responsibilities to organize it successfully. The auspicious Day is Full moon (Purnima) when the event kick starts. If you have dream to witness this grand event which takes place in the beginning of every year in the month of February, this is the time to be in.

During the Desert Festival entire Jaisalmer shrinks in the campus of Jaisalmer fort. Groups of folk dancers in Ghaghra & Dhoti Kurta accompanied with folk singers who are equipped with local musical instruments sing and express the tale of warriors, lovers, kings & queens of Sand city and Rajasthan. There are some other performers like snake charmers, acrobats and puppeteers who amplify the charm of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, too. Don’t miss to attend the contests to judge the man with the best (Read: Biggest) moustache.

Aarti suggested that we should not miss the Camel riding/racing when the Camel riders try to leave behind their rivals in the competition creating the clouds of sand. Attired in the colourful embellishments these camels look awesome when they run like horses on the festival ground and it creates a truly mesmerizing view.
Every night during the festival in the Thar Desert there are various events where fabulous plays and dances are performed and one doesn’t feel tired and wants the show to go on and on. You can stay at one of those royal camps, where you feel like a maharaja or maharani yourself.

This is the time when you can find a big range of Rajasthani handicrafts, wooden items, fabrics, paintings, jewelleries in the Desert festival ground. You can buy beautiful multicoloured long skirts and odhnis too.

Don’t forget to savour Rajasthani Daal-baati, Churma, Gatte ki Sabji and other more famous dishes along with tea served in the clay pot available in the food stalls. Jaisalmer Desert Festival is totally is a time to live some best moments in your life.

Location: Sam Sand Dunes 42 K.M. from Jaywalker
How to reach: SUV or Camel safari
Timing: In the month of February
Attractions: Cultural showcase
Airport: Jodhpur
Railway Station: Jodhpur

Inputs courtesy: Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation

Here I come Jaisalmer, & Aarti!!!

A DATE with New Delhi, Must read, Must view in all its glory!

Going to Delhi always excites me as it happens to be my home town, my  house at Mayur Vihar, my school at Tagore Garden and my College, Hindu College in Delhi University always bring fond memories of my time spent there.  I always use to tell my husband, Mukund and daughter Tanyaa who are true blue Mumbaikars and did not have the opportunity to visit Delhi with me in last so many years, what Delhi was like.


I could read the expression of slight disbelief on their faces going by the media reports in the recent past about what Delhi has to offer now then what it was like to be in Delhi in eighties. Now when the opportunity came in the form of marriage of my nephew on April 21, I wasted no time in turning it into Delhi’s sightseeing trip, of course not without our share of enjoyment of marriage in Bhiwadi.


The excitement was palpable; I was taking my family to my home town (transformed into home town for Metros) for the first time, after nearly 20 years of marriage…Tanyaa was very excited to visit the places where her mother had spent her childhood.

The bookings were done in Rajdhani Express and journey was itself an experience for them.  Train reached almost in time, and without wasting any time, we set out for shopping sojourn to Sarojini Nagar market. My daughter was delighted to see the stuff being sold there (all teenagers love Sarojini Nagar market) and was quite aghast at the fashionable chics there. She lambasted me and my mother for instructing her to dress conservatively while she is in Delhi, so, you can imagine her pain at not been able to match the pace with fashionable Delhiites.  

An evening spent at Dilli Haat

After shopping in Sarojini Nagar to her heart’s content, we moved to Delhi Haat situated opposite INA market which is home to all State Handicrafts interspersed with street plays, mehnediwalis, hairbraiders, food court, coffee cafe’s what not. To top it all, weather was very pleasing, cloudy and windy. After having great time there we moved on to Connaught Place – Rajiv Gandhi Chowk (honour of hosting biggest Indian flag at the centre point of Connaught Place). Tanyaa loved the lighting, the landscaping, the food, the shops…everything about Connaught Place. I did not want to miss the opportunity of visiting the swankiest Khadi Gramodyog  Bhawan which was part of college days shopping, Tanyaa loved the Khadi collection there, though she is a self-confessed fan of Colaba Causeway, Linking road and street –shopping in Bangkok.  I loved the fact that my daughter has great regards for cultural heritage of our country.

A visit to Qutub Minar

The day ended with our visit to famous Hanuman Temple in Connaught place which I use to visit very often as a child, as an adult.

A visit to Bahai temple in New Delhi

It was my long – cherished dream to visit the temple, in particular with my family, the wish was granted what if after long 19 years of wait.    

–         Bienu Verma Vaghela

Guru Nanak Poornima at Golden Temple, highly spiritual & religious experience!

Today is Guru Nanak Poornima and I fondly remember my visit to the divine Golden Temple while returning from Vaishno Devi Yatra. Tired, down & out we reached Amritsar, which was way back in 1990. The day happened to be auspicious day of Guru Purab and we reached Golden Temple early morning for the holy dip. This was for the first time I had been to any Gurdwara and blessed I am that my first visit was at Golden Temple on this highly auspicious day. After the holy dip we stood in the long queue to enter sacrosanct, highly divine Golden Temple known as Harmandir Saheb, where Sikh Priests were rendering Gur Baani. It was an ultimate musical and soulful rendition. I had never experienced anything of this sort before…
…Our trip wouldn’t have been complete without eating delicious langar (food) prepared by the devotees, served by the devotees and for the devotees. Today I fondly remember my trip to Golden Temple.


The Harmandir Sahib (Punjabi: ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ), also Darbar Sahib (Punjabi: ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ, Punjabi pronunciation: [dəɾbɑɾ sɑhɪb]) and informally referred to as the “Golden Temple”, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was built by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ramdaas Sahib Ji, in the 16th century. In 1604, Guru Arjun completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara.


There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. The present-day gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.

The Harimandir Sahib is considered holy by Sikhs. The holiest text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside the gurdwara. Its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally. Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship. The Harmandir Sahib literally means The Temple of God. The fourth guru of Sikhs, Guru Ram Das, excavated a tank in 1577 CE which subsequently became known as Amritsar (meaning “Pool of the Nectar of Immortality”, giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, a Sikh edifice, Sri Harmandir Sahib (meaning “the abode of God”), rose in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies, e.g., Baba Farid and Kabir. The compilation of The Adi Granth was started by the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

You too can plan your trip to Amritsar this winter which is mostly experienced in the months of December and January when the temperature falls to 5 degrees in the night and around 12 degrees in the morning. Golden Temple is a stunning complex with brilliant architecture and the history of state is still alive in its library and on the lips of some old priests in the temple. Most tourists visit the Golden Temple in the last week of December as they believe it is good omen to begin the New Year in Spiritual place. Another winter fair is the Ram Tirth Fair, which is celebrated at Ram Tirth temple, situated 11 Kms from Amritsar.

Wagah border

Not to miss the trip to Wagah Border for ‘lowering the flags’ ceremony of The Beating Retreat ceremony. Also an evening tour of the Jalianwala Bagh will refresh a lesson in history.

When we dropped by Bhujodi in Kutch, Gujarat, India

Unique Ilkal innovations in saris, dupattas, shawls and stoles, hand woven by Bhujodi weavers showcased in Mumbai which we visited in last December…later an account of our visit to Bhujodi.

Bhujodi to Bagalkot team-0170 copy

The first night the weavers of Bagalkot left their village, a panicked call came to Nilanjan in Kutch. There was trouble with their train tickets and they couldn’t speak Hindi to the ticket taker. They were suddenly facing a huge unknown world outside. Seven months later, these brave young weavers presented their collections of innovations on their beloved Ilkal saris to the world of Mumbai.

T white stole 2 - low res

Initiated by Somaiya Kala Vidya, an institute of education for artisans based in Kutch, founded by Somaiya Trust, the project demonstrates the effective and efficient power of design in sustaining traditions. The innovation is the artisan-to-artisan approach. Carrying artisan design into the next phase, Designer Weavers of Kutch were the designers and mentors for less exposed weavers from the Bagalkot District of Karnataka.

Hand weavers of Bagalkot are imperiled. Their well-loved Ilkal saris today face severe competition from power loom versions. Handloom wages are meager. Many weavers have left their profession to work in granite quarries. Meanwhile, jacquard looms were introduced to make copies of Varanasi saris, a solution that is costly in terms of equipment and skill development, and devastating for the cultural heritage of Ilkal sari weaving.

Hand weavers of Bhujodi, Kutch, have a fifty-year history of innovating within their traditions for new markets. Since 2006, twenty-three weavers have graduated from a year-long design program pioneered by Kala RakshaVidhyalaya. These weavers have become remarkably successful in reaching high-end markets in India and abroad, and adept at articulating and presenting their work.

Somaiya Kala Vidya paired these artisans for a quick, live demonstration of sustainability through design. There were challenges. The looms were no longer geared to cotton, the weavers had used synthetic yarn so long they did not understand cotton properties, and sources for appropriate materials and colours had to be found.

Seeking solutions in Karnatak villages, the weaving partners bonded. “We explored,” Chamanbhai related. “I saw Jayantibhai doing research, asking questions about tradition, probing. We didn’t know we had so many different skills!” Elder Bagalkot weavers were so happy that cotton had returned that they invited the Bhujodi team to dinner.

Driven by the desire to rejuvenate a wonderful tradition, this exhibition confirms that artisan-to-artisan, traditions will not just survive, but flourish.

While writing their proud achievement, I fondly remembered our trip to Bhujodi Village in Kutch last December. We were on our last leg of trip to Rann of Kutch and other surrounding areas, (we were driving down from Mandvi to Bhuj), and this is when our driver who had sensed our love for Kutch-Gujarat handicrafts suggested Bhujodi. Tired and exhausted, we were reluctant to take another break but he almost insisted. Voila! What an experience! My daughter Tanya who is fond collector of handicraft articles from all over the place, felt she was in the haven of handicrafts. Bhujodi Village is a Handicraft Park established by Gujarat Government for promoting and showcasing the cause of weavers and artisans of Kutch.

This is a small town just 8 km southeast of Bhuj, Bhujodi is a major textile center of Kutch, with the vast majority of the 1200 inhabitants involved in textile handicraft production. Here we could meet weavers, tie-dye artists and block printers, most of whom belong to the Vankar community. Many of them let us watch them work; just ask around. The visit to this handicraft park was an amazing place to visit where we could see traditional handicrafts in their original forms, where weavers were weaving sarees, shawls, dupattas, kurtas…what not, not only this it very well livens upto its name. It is modelled like Mini Gujarat with wall adorning mirrors work, mud work, greenery, pond with swans and some interesting eating joints. We could pick up some fascinating stuff from there besides enjoying ourselves amidst craftsmen and weavers.

Hope you enjoyed photographs of our memorable trip to Bhujodi, Kutch.

Narendra Modi gifts rare ‘ROGAN’ art paintings to the U.S. President Obama

The news published in Times of India on October 4, 2014 could not escape my attention as it was not so long ago that I had visited with my family (Husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) visited Gafoorbhai Khatri in Nakhatrana village of Kutch in December 2013. We were fortunate to spend one full evening with Gafoorbhai and his family to understand his family legacy and what it takes to preserve the dying art of Rogan. He prepared one bag for us too which is a masterpiece in itself, which I will treasure forever.

I am very glad to note that Modji has gifted a couple of exquisitely handcrafted Rogan paintings to Obama which is a preserve of Khatri family based in Kutch Gujarat. On my interaction with Gafoorbhai, he said, “ Narendrabhai takes special interest in the cause of handicraft people and I am lucky that he takes my Rogan art paintings to gift them to national and international dignitaries.”
When I asked him would you like the US President Obama to have one of your paintings, to this Gafoorbhai replied, “ Insha Allah, when Narendrabhai will visit him”. Today his words have come true.
Please read my blog post on Gafoorbhai’s family and Rogan art for a complete update. I am very proud to say that my blogpost on Rogan art has been read by many researchers in the field of art who are taking it as reference point for their research. May be this is my contribution to the craft…

Nirona Village in taluka Nakhatrana of Kutch was very much part of our tourism plan and particularly the visit to Khatris of Traditional Rogan Art. After driving for nearly hour and a half from our Resort in Hoduko in Kutch, we reached Nirona and in no time found the place as everybody knew about it.

Hesitatingly we knocked the door, but Gafoorbhai Khatri’s warm welcome took away all apprehensions. On that chilly evening, it was a pleasure to sit in his spacious drawing room spanned with rare original Kashmiri carpets. We were lucky to meet his uncle also who even at this age takes active interest in this rare art. Gafoor bhai personally demonstrated the art to us and took us around the work done by his illustrious family and this is eighth generation carrying the legacy forward.

Our daughter Tanya who is active seeker of handicrafts and rare arts was completely mesmerised by the art. She wanted to see all his collections and she loved the Tree design most.

The Rogan art of painting is an ancient art over three hundred years old. The traditional Rogan flower motifs and designs speak of a Persian influence and the word Rogan itself means oil based in Persian. Today Nirona in Kutch is the only place where this work is created. When castor oil is heated over fire for more than 12 hours and cast into cold water, it produces a thick residue called rogan which is mixed with natural colours obtained from the earth. With a six inch metal stick or pen, the crafts person then draws out from this fine thread which is painted to the cloth. Rogan painting is delicately and precisely painted from one’s own creative imagination and is done with total concentration sitting on the floor without using a table frame or any outline.









Rogan painted cloth is used for making pillow covers, table cloths, wall hangings, file folders, decorative pieces and even saris. Rogan art is a rare craft that is not well known even in India. Because of these rare qualities, it’s practised by only one family in India and they reside in Nirona village in Gujarat. Most of the other artisans have lost their art as it was not passed on during partition or lost from generation to generation.
Rogan art is currently the bread earner for a family of Khatris. Gafoorbhai Khatri is the head of this family and he has kept the art alive by ensuring his entire family learns and practices his life’s work. He is a national award winner and is currently in the process of opening a school that teaches Rogan art to children from different families. He has not marketed his creativity through any distribution channels.

Must watch video in conversation with Gafoorbhai of traditional arts:

There are many items available showcasing the antique and rare Rogan art. These are about 100 years old and are only with the Khatri family where you can actually touch and feel feel old and rare Rogan art. Talking to travelknots, Gafoorbhai said, “We have brought in lot of changes in Rogan art to make it most beautiful and real. There is so much difference in old Rogan art and today’s art. We have got very innovative designs and great colour combinations and art which are appreciated by not only Indians but also foreigners.”

He showed us beautiful bed sheet made by his grandfather and great grandfathers preserved in their memory. I could not take my eyes off the skirt hanging in his drawing room made of 9 meters cloth with most striking Rogan art done on that 60 years ago.

Gafoor Bhai said, “Government of Gujarat does not give us any grant though per se, but Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Bhai Modi buys our works to give as gifts to dignitaries. Also we get the free stall in all the handicrafts exhibitions all over India where we get the opportunity to show case our art to the world.” He added, “Any foreigner coming to Kutch has Nironha on his itinery and they make it a point to visit us. They are very enchanted by this rare art and leave their experiences with us.” He showed the visitor’s book which was full of testimonials from nationals right from Japan to Spain to Australia to the US. We also loved to record our impressions.

My daughter loved their house which was very spacious, open and artistically done. Not only this, they had whole family of goats to boot.

Khatris are proud winner of several state and National Awards. Through my blog I will request Gujarat Government to take special interest this rare Rogan Art so that our generations can take pride in it. More importantly it is very important to preserve this rare art which is very much part of the cultural heritage.

Khatris who nurture a dream of opening a school to teach Rogan Art should be whole-heartedly supported not only by the Government, NGOs but also by Individual’s who have interest in preserving our national heritage. For those who want to support can write to me on: bienumv@gmail.com.

Special thanks to our tour organiser: Mr Mahendrabhai Bheda and his daughter Prachi.

Sabarmati ke Sant tune kar diya kamaal…Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Memorable experience of Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

It was a chilly December morning of 2010 when we accidentally landed in Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on the insistence of our taxi driver who was driving us to Gandhi Nagar for Akshar Dhaam temple. He said, “Ashram is on the way and you and your daughter would love it”. We couldn’t be thankful enough for making our trip worthwhile by taking us there. Ashram opens at 8:30 in the morning remains open till 6:30 in the evening.

So we (me, husband Mukund and daughter Tanya) happily agreed for this stopover. Being a Gandhian, I thought that at least I will get to see where and how Gandhiji lived. It was one such rare visit on which I had not done any research otherwise I do not visit any place without doing good amount of research. So big surprise awaited us…it was the most awesome place I had been too. We were very pleasantly surprised to see the surroundings, location, peace serenity, greenery, pictures of Gandhiji depicting various life events, Dandi march…what not. We were so bowled over by the ashram which houses Gandhiji’s room, Kitchen, Kasturba’s room, Charkha, Spectacles, Pen, footwear …what not. We could not help ourselves clicking lot of pictures there which we proudly treasure. I would like to share those with my readers who are looking forward to visiting Ahmedabad on October 2 on Gandhiji’s birthday. Let Ashram visit be first on your itienery.
So you should not make that mistake which I made by not knowing anything about the ashram but I was awarded with lot of excitement and amazement ( that’s another story). My happiness knew no bounds amidst Gandhiji, his pictures, his house, his things…how I wished I was born in that era to have met him in person. It was a great moment indeed.

Here goes the history of ashram:

Upon returning from South Africa on January 9, 1915, Gandhiji was in search for a place to settle himself and a small group of relatives and associates who were with him in the African struggle. His political views still unformed, Gandhi chose Ahmedabad in the West Indian state of Gujarat for three reasons, “Being a Gujarati, I’ll serve my country best through the use of the Guajarati language. As Ahmedabad was the centre of the handloom in early days, the work of spinning wheel (charkha) could be done in a better way, I believed. Being the capital of Gujarat its wealthy persons will also make a larger contribution, I hoped,” in his own words. He said, ‘this is the right place for our activities to carry on the search for truth and develop fearlessness – for, on one side, are the iron bolts of the foreigners, and on the other, thunderbolts of Mother Nature.”
The ashram was then shifted on 17 June 1917 to a piece of open land on the banks of the river Sabarmati. Reasons for this shift included: he wanted to do some experiments in living e.g. farming, animal husbandry, cow breeding, khadi and related constructive activities, for which he was in search of this kind of barren land; mythological, it was the ashram site of Dadhichi Rishi who had donated his bones for a righteous war; it is between a jail and a crematorium as he believed that a Satyagrahi has to invariably go to either place. The Sabarmati ashram (also known as harijan ashram) was home to Gandhiji from 1917 until 1930 and served as one of the main centres of the Indian freedom struggle. Originally called the Satyagraha ashram, reflecting the movement toward passive resistance launched by the mahatma, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free.

Sabarmati ashram named for the river, on which it sits, was created with a dual mission. To serve as an institution that would carry on a search for truth and a platform to bring together a group of workers committed to non-violence who would help secure freedom for India.
By conceiving such a vision Gandhi and his followers hoped to foster a new social construct of truth and non-violence that would help to revolutionize the existing pattern of like.

Over the years, the ashram became home to the ideology that set India free. It aided countless other nations and people in their own battles against oppressive forces.


Today, the ashram serves as a source of inspiration and guidance, and stands as a monument to Gandhi’s life mission and a testimony to others who have fought a similar struggle.
• Collecting, processing, preserving and displaying archival materials (writings, photographs, paintings, voice-records, films, personal clothes etc
• Microfilming, lamination and preservation of negatives
• Arranging exhibitions on aspects of Gandhi’s life, literature and activities
• Publication of the “mahadevbhani dairy,” which chronicles the entire history of the Indian freedom struggle
• The ashram trust funds activities that include education for the visitor, the community and routine maintenance of the museum and its surrounding grounds
• Keeping contact with as well as helping and undertaking study and research in Gandhian thought and activities and publishing the results of such study and research and allied literature for the benefit of the people
• Observance in a suitable manner of occasions connected with Gandhiji’s life
• Maintaining contact with the youth and student community and providing facilities to them for the study of Gandhian thought.
With such modest abode, “ Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal”