Chick Making – Crafts and Craftsmen of Old Ahmedabad

•April 28, 2010 • 5 Comments

As part of an effort to aid Ahmedabad’s bid to be a world heritage city, we were asked to document the lives of various traditional craftsmen and their crafts, within the walled city.

One craft I covered was ‘Chick Making’.

For the uninitiated, ‘Chick Making’ refers to the process of making bamboo chicks (bamboo mats). These mats are used to make beautiful window shades and blinds and they give people respite from the scorching summer sun.

Chick making is quite an ancient craft, but very simple and elegant and it produces amazing results. What’s special about this craft is that it has a large supply of raw materials and needs almost no tools!

Craft: Chick Making

Craftspeople:  Ishwar Bhai and Family

Venue:  Near Satyagraha Ashram, Ahmedabad

Many families work in this business but most of them work as family units. Though this craft looks simple, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to achieve the expertise and the speed required to make them fast enough to earn a decent income. The family unit works cohesively towards this end. Roles are specialized and each family member contributes to this craft. Ishwar Bhai and his family have been in this profession for nearly 40-50 years. Their work has been covered in the past by students from NID and made into a film.

The process begins with customers approaching the craftsmen with their requirements. The dimensions of the window / door are measured.  The bamboo strips are then cut into the necessary length and thickness.

Two persons are involved in this process, to speed up the bamboo stripping activity.

These strips are then attached / tied to each other by means of nylon threads.

The nylon threads are wound around pieces of rubber tyres.


These rubber tyres enable easy weaving of the bamboo chick. The family works in groups of two or three for this process, to speed up this operation.

Even the young ones are prepared for this activity. In this pic, the girl looks on… as her family is involved in the work.

The bamboo chick, once made is flattened and its sides are beaded with a cloth to enhance its look and usability.

The work under progress along with a view of some completed work.

In normal conditions, this family can complete one big piece of bamboo chick in a day. Some complicated designs sometimes take 2 days to be completed. But of course, they are taken at a higher price. These bamboo chicks sell at Rs 35/sq. feet. A cloth covering may also be provided at an additional cost of Rs 10/sq. feet.

The bamboo chicks have a remarkable efficiency in cooling the interiors of the room by reflecting the sunlight. They can also be made to blend with the interiors more easily at a comparatively lesser cost than their western replacements. Encouraging these crafts by using more of these in one’s homes would surely go a long way in contributing to this craft and also give our house an earthy, eco-friendly, close to nature look.

I would be posting more on these crafts soon. Keep checking and have fun !!!

Treasures in Old Ahmedabad – A Search For A Pic

•March 25, 2010 • 9 Comments

Exploring new places and finding interesting things to capture on cam is something I really like; and when I get to do that with an objective in mind…  it’s like a double edged sword. On one hand, it gets me to places I wouldnt have normally gone to… But, on the other hand, in searching for a particular theme I might miss out on something which I would normally capture.

The Ahmedabad Heritage group provided us with such an opportunity with the photography competition themed “Ancient Places of Worship in the Walled City“.

We set off early in the morning to capture the beautiful mosques in the old city. We hired our trusted auto driver Mustafa to take us to some of the unknown and unexplored treasures in the walled city.

The more famous mosques in the city … like the Jama Masjid, the Siddi Saiyad’s Mosque, and the Shaking Minarets Mosque were all covered by me in my previous trips and I would post those pics soon🙂

The first mosque that we reached was the Shahi Masjid, also known as the Chota Jama Masjid (Smaller Jama Masjid). This was the first mosque to be built in Ahmedabad and was the main mosque until the Jama Masjid was built. It is a beautifully built mosque with some exquisite carvings.

Since it is relatively darker inside the mosque, it was difficult to take pics. But I managed to find a few places to keep my camera and take long time exposures of the beautiful pillars and the sunlight filtering through.

Even though it was past prayer time, we could find the faithful praying to the Allah for peace.

This picture also shows the timings for namaaz which change as per the dawn and dusk times.

The sunlight filtering through the pillars and reaching the end make the mosque look immensely beautiful.

The mosque is located right in the center of the walled city and is wrapped in the hustle and bustle of city life. But inside the mosque enclosure, peace reigned enabling the faithful to pray even outside the mosque.

Next, we were taken to the Rani Sipri mosque

Rani Sipri Mosque is yet another example of a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. It is believed to have been built in 1514 AD by Rani Sipri, wife of Mehmud Begada who executed their son for a misdemeanor.

It is a small mosque with a height of 50 feet and length of 54 feet. This small mosque is also known as the Masjid-e-Nagira or Jewel of a Mosque because of its intricately carved decorations, jali screens with flowing floral, vine and tree motifs and the generally elegant design of the building.

It has a separate area of worship, upstairs for women called ‘Jenana’.

The highly ornate pillar is simply stunning.

I found this gentleman reading the Holy Koran and the whole peaceful scene appealed to me.  Luckily the lights were just right for the picture and it clicked well. This was one of my entries in the competition and it was judged as the second best!!!

Morning sunrays playing on the curvy architecture gives ample opportunity for pics.

On our way around the city, we also got to see some mosques which have closed down owing to the migration of the Muslim population to other areas.

Another mosque was on the cards for our shoot before we wrapped up for the morning. But sadly, I could not get the name of the mosque. The pillars were gorgeous though.


And so were the carvings on them.

Loved this particular picture of the prayer mats stacked in the corner

The faithful offered prayers at this place too and also shared their life🙂

We wrapped our morning shoot hoping to return in the evening to some other mosque and capture the prayer time.

Evening led us to the Qutubuddin’s Mosque or Patharwali Masjid, a stunning mosque built in 1449 AD.

The huge pillars were brilliantly decorated.

A slightly different namaaz time indicator.

This picture shows the actual size of the pillar🙂

We could see people praying, or just introspecting in the quiet of the mosque

Or cleaning up before offering their prayers

There were kids too… playing with each other… or with the camera🙂

And pigeons too… enjoying the water, to cool off in the summer

It felt nice to explore the old city more. I will be back with more posts soon🙂

Sun Temple – Modhera: Equinoxes and Exquisite Ruins

•March 24, 2010 • 1 Comment

Here I am again …  blogging  another one of my old time trips …  and … this one is really old! …

This shoot happened sometime in November 2008 … and the location was the lovely Sun temple at Modhera … some 100 Kms. from Ahmedabad.

This was one of my first architectural photo-shoots with a digital camera. All the pics were taken with my Canon Powershot S5.

About The Sun Temple:

The Sun Temple, Modhera (Gujarat) was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty and is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God of Hinduism. It is akin to the Konark Sun Temple of Orissa. One more sun temple is at Martand in Jammu and Kashmir. After seeing the magnificence of this architectural marvel even though it is in partial ruins, the other two have also been earmarked as “must-see”.

A Bit on the Sculpting:

The work of building the temple was commissioned to the Silavat stone masons, who did not make any designs on paper but followed certain hereditary principals of architecture and astronomy, and using simple carving tools, they had an amazing ability to make the hardest stone take on the quality of delicate wood carving, as amply demonstrated in the marble temples of Dilwara and the sandstone mansions of Jaisalmer. Their crafts were well guarded secrets, passed on only from father to son, and being secular by nature, they also worked on some of the fabulous Indo-Saracenic mosques of the Ahmed Shahi sultanate in Ahmedabad, combining Islamic architecture with plenty of Hinduistic ornamentation.

The Modhera Sun temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati… but I didnot see the river anywhere 🙂 Probably I missed it coz I was so engrossed in the temple itself !!

Raja Bhimdev belonged to the Solanki dynasty and Modhera (Modherak) itself exists in mythology (Ramayana).

The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun would fall on the image of Surya,  at the time of equinoxes.

The temple has been plundered many times by rulers like Mahmud Ghazni and Allauddin Khilji.  The sculptures have been disfigured in these many plunderings and the main idol itself, was ransacked by Mahmud Ghazni.

Enough of the temple ruins still remain to convey to a visitor … about the true glory it might have once had.. had it not been raided.

The temple comprises three separate but axially-aligned and integrated elements.

1. Surya Kund, which is an intricately carved, stepped tank named after Sun god Surya.

2. Sabha Mandap, which is a hall used for religious gatherings and conferences.

3. Guda Mandap, i.e. sanctum sanctorum, which once housed the idol of Sun God.

The pictures that follow are an attempt to somehow capture this resplendent beauty with my lens … and I hope I have done justice to it.

We entered the compound early in the morning as we wanted to capture the architecture in the first light of the early morning sun-rays.

And we found it locked🙂

Even though we could see the temple from far, the first glimpses of the temple at the break of dawn were amazing.

The temple … as one enters …

The Surya Kund and the Sabha Mandap from afar –

Surya Kund

This is a massive rectangular stepped tank. A 100 sq meter rectangular pond believed to be used to store pure water. Devotees were required to perform ceremonial ablutions here before worshiping the Sun God.

108 miniature shrines are carved in between the steps inside the tank. 108 is a number considered to be auspicious by Hindus.

Exploring around the Surya Kund with my lens🙂

A wider perspective of the tank

From a lower level of the tank

Some more sculptures … the beautiful pieces of art have been cruelly disfigured by the raiders

Sabha Mandap

This hall of religious gatherings is a magnificent pillared hall. It is open from all sides and has 52 intricately carved pillars. The carvings depict various scenes from the Hindu epics of Ramayan, Mahabharat and Krishna Lila (i.e. story of Lord Krishna).

Between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful hall with pillars and arches, whose facade has been renovated and partially redone, and the walls have 12 niches showing the different aspects of the Sun God in each month.

Sabha Mandap from the Surya Kund

A closer view

A front view of the entrance

The entrance

From inside

The pillars

The brilliant architecture from outside

The once ornate sculptures on the walls

Guda Mandap – Sanctum Sanctorum

This is also called the main temple or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. It is based on a lotus-base plinth. It was designed such that the rays of the rising and setting sun on the day of equinox, fell on the bejeweled idol built by the Solankis in honor of their ancestral God. It was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni.

Under Allauddin Khilji, master pieces of Solanki architecture including Modhera were once again defaced and plundered. Not content with just looting the temple marauding soldiers under royal command placed gun powder in the Garbagruha and set fire to it creating an explosion that damaged and caused the main shikhara to collapse.

Carvings on the outside

Some beautiful and very erotic carvings on the inside … I would surely like to cover more of the inside carvings … but my camera has limited potential for low-light photography🙂

Some more of the artistry

The Modhera Dance festival is an annual event that is held in the third week of January, in the backdrop of the Sun temple. That one is still to be ticked off from my to-do list. Maybe next time🙂


References:

a) http://www.gujarattourism.com/showpage.aspx?contentid=152&webpartid=1146
b) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple,_Modhera
c) http://www.ahmedabadcity.com/tourism/html/modhera.html

Here I go ..  blogging  another one of my old time trips .. and .. this one is really old ..
This shoot happened sometime in nov 2008 .. and the location was the lovely Sun temple at Modhera .. some 100 kms from ahmedabad.
This was one of my first architectural shoots wid a digital camera. All the pics were taken with my Canon Powershot S5.

A bit about the Sun temple first.

The Sun Temple, Modhera (Gujarat) was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty and is dedicated to Lord Surya, the Sun God of Hinduism. It is akin to the Konark Sun Temple of Orissa. One more sun temple is at Martand in Jammu and Kashmir. After seeing the magnificience of this architectural marvel even in partial ruins, those two have been earmarked as “must-see”.

The Modhera Sun temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati.. but I didnot see that anywhere 🙂

Raja Bhimdev belonged to the Solanki dynasty and Modhera (Modherak) itself exists in mythology (Ramayana).
The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes.
The temple has been plundered many times by rulers like Mahmud Ghazni and Allauddin Khilji.

The sculptures have been disfigured in these many plunderings and the main idol itself was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni.

Enough of the temple still remains to convey to a visitor .. about the true glory it might have once had.. had it not been raided.

The temple comprises three separate but axially-aligned and integrated elements.

1. Surya Kund, which is an intricately carved, stepped tank named after Sun god Surya.
2. Sabha Mandap, which is a hall used for religious gatherings and conferences.
3. Guda Mandap, i.e. sanctum sanctorum, which once housed the idol of Sun God.

The pictures that follow are an attempt to somehow capture this resplendent beauty wid my lens .. and I hope I have done justice to it.

We entered the compound early in the morning as we wanted to capture the architecture in the light of early morning sun-rays.

And found it locked🙂 1

Even though we could see the temple from far …. the first glimpses of the temple at the break of dawn were amazing. 7

The temple .. as one enters ..  2 3

The Surya Kund and the Sabha Mandap from afar – 4

Surya Kund
This is a massive rectangular stepped tank. A 100 sq meter rectangular pond believed to be used to store pure water. Devotees were required to perform ceremonial ablutions here before worshiping the Sun God.

108 miniature shrines are carved in between the steps inside the tank. 108 is a number considered to be auspicious by Hindus.

Exploring around the Surya Kund wid my lens🙂

5 6 8 11 12 13

A wider perspective of the tank  14

From a lower level of the tank 35  36

Some more scultpures … the beautiful art pieces have been cruelly disfigured by the raiders  37 38 39

Sabha Mandap
This hall of religious gatherings is a magnificent pillared hall. It is open from all sides and has 52 intricately carved pillars. The carvings depict various scenes from the Hindu epics of Ramayan, Mahabharat and Krishna Lila (i.e. story of lord Krishna).

Between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful hall with pillars and arches, whose facade has been renovated and partially redone, and the walls have 12 niches showing the different aspects of the Sun God in each month.

Sabha Mandap frm the Surya Kund  9

A closer view 10

A front view of the entrance 15 24

The entrance16

From inside 18

The pillars 21

The brilliant architecture from outside 22

The once ornate sculptures on the walls  25 26

Sanctum Sanctorum

This is also called the main temple or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. It is based on a lotus-base plinth. It was designed such that the rays of the rising and setting sun on the day of equinox, fell on the bejeweled idol built by the Solankis in honour of their ancestral God. It was plundered by Mahmud Gazni.

17 20 23

Carvings on the outside  19 28 29 30

Some beatiful.. well … erotic carvings on the inside .. I would surely like to cover more of the inside carvings .. but my camera has limited potential for low-light photography🙂 27

Some more of the artistry 32 33 34

The Modhera Dance festival is an annual event that is held in the third week of January, in the backdrop of the Sun temple. That one is still to be ticked off from my to-do list. Maybe next time🙂

Katal Ki Raat (The Ultimate Night)

•March 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yep … after a long time .. an update on my photo-blog…  this doesn’t mean I stopped taking photos… but, just that I got a bit lazy…
kinda upbeat now…  so, would like to make up for the lost time…  the details in brief

The occasion: Katal Ki Raat (The Ultimate Night).
Venue: Tankshal (near Manek Chowk) Ahmedabad.
Time: Late one night.
Partners in crime: Photo-walk team Ahmedabad.

How it started:  This was the first photo-walk organized by the photo-walk team… And eager to click pics and explore new places, I plunged in…
The caveat: The timing – the photo-walk was arranged at night (we had no idea about the place we were going to visit or the occasion) and my point and shoot cam – Canon Powershot S5IS – isn’t a good cam for night pics.
The helping hand: Luckily, my friend Shashank agreed to loan me his 450D for the occasion and I was looking forward to really using an SLR.

Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) is the day when the sun starts to travel towards the north as a sign of the coming summer. People from all age groups go on to the roof of their houses and apartments to fly kites in celebration of the festival. This festival is celebrated with total gusto in Gujarat. Katal-Ki-Raat signifies the eve of the kite flying wherein people from all over Ahmedabad congregate in huge numbers to stock up on kites and firkis at Tankshal (inside the Walled City)

Now for the photo-stories …

We started opposite the Jama Masjid and made our way walking to Tankshal. As it was already past 9 pm, the roadside vendors were wrapping up for the day.  A little away from this place another street was waking up to the night…


A family was warming up around a small fire in the wintry night…

At the start of the kite-street, food vendors ready to satisfy the hunger by providing various delicacies…

A kite vendor with his wares…

An Amdavadi with his purchases of the night…

A range of kites on display…

White… but, still beautiful…

Some colored…

Some long tailed…

And some…well… some were just simple kites🙂

And some were for the girls too…


And the firkis… they were in plenty too…

Simple ones… bunched up…


Some beautiful ones…


or simply stacked into nice pyramids…


even the kite-threads (manjha)… simple threads… looked amazing .


There were other things being sold too… 🙂

Hats… 
whistles and other stuff🙂


some people seemed lost in the maddening crowd


and some just wanted their photograph taken… with comical poses😀


some posed…  and also asked for snaps…

The person related to this lady asked me in a nice accented English “Which country you are from?”😀


The chaiwala had a busy and productive night… 🙂


So did the chana-wala...


Children taking in the sights and the sounds…  at this late hour of the night🙂

Some were decked up in fancy wear…


Some in simple clothes… but, all were equally fascinated by the hullabaloo🙂


The kids surely had a lovely outing with their folks

Smiling … enjoying…


The young as well as the old…


The huge crowd really enjoyed the occasion and were delighted at the prospect of an even more fun filled day coming up🙂


As we trudged back across the city in the new Ahmedabad…  the streets were silent… deathly silence cloaked them…


But,even here… there was a festive atmosphere… albeit at a lower degree…

Happy belated Uttarayan to all… and wish everyone a really happy new year!

International Kite Festival, Ahmedabad

•January 12, 2009 • 1 Comment

The International Kite Festival held at Ahmedabad is a one of a kind event where kite-flying enthusiasts from all over the world come together to string together a brilliant display of kite-flying. The sheer variety of kites on show is astounding, to say the least. The event is also an opportune moment for families to go out and have fun. The photographs captured, thus, not only include the kites but also the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered to witness the show.

Kite

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Getting a balcony view …

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“Wow !!! Is this for real”

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Guiding the young ones …

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“Too many fingers pointing.. where shud i look ?”

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“This is how u fly kites”

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“Who said I don’t have a kite ?”

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Not everyone seemed to be laughing …

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Some seemed bored ..

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Some were lost in their own thoughts

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But many enjoyed it to the fullest

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