Unboxed Writers App for Phone and Tablet

Here are more ways to stay at forefront of Unboxed Writers and stay informed and inspired! Download our app for Android Phones and Tablets. Click on the image to Download Now!


Justice

Like Us on Facebook

Follow Us on Twitter

 

Archives

Cattitude: Cause We Support

Cattitude!

The Cattitude Trust is a Public Charitable Trust started to reach out to cats in distress, particularly in Chennai (India).

To know more about Cattitude, 'Like' them on Facebook.

Copyright

Creative Commons License
All content displayed here by Unboxed Writers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://unboxedwriters.com.

Excerpt, Don't Copy: You may not publish an entire post. You may republish an excerpt of not increasing 250 words.

Give Credit: You may not use any material from our site without giving due credit to the individual author and Unboxed Writers. You must hyperlink directly to the post.

Author: Author of the post retains all copyright, and reserves all rights not explicitly granted here.

Bhopal: Exploring The Enchanting Ruins-1

bhopal-s-lake (1)
The city of Bhopal is like a mysterious old bard. In a tattered gunny bag swung over one of his atrophied shoulders, he hides a treasure trove of rare gems plucked right out of history books. It takes effusive flattery, gentle persuasion and an unrelenting perseverance to get him to allow a peek into his sack of stories. But once he warms up, there is no stopping him. Not only does he whisper mystical tales from his past into eager ears, but also abets greedy eyes in shamelessly feasting upon sights that only few know exist.

One chilly winter evening in December 2014, I found myself in the august company of this Methuselah of sorts, who after years of constant wheedling had finally agreed to chat with me. For the first time I experienced a Bhopal that I had never seen before – one that remains unsullied even though the rest of the city is undergoing rapid remolding in an effort to keep up with changing times. This is a section that represents an era of iron-willed Begums who ruled the city with a flair that is hard to find even today.

My peregrinations were flagged off as I stepped into the rose pink edifice of Gauhar Mahal – a 19th century palace built for the first female ruler of Bhopal – Begum Qudsia. Against its moss-encased arches a handicrafts exhibition was in full swing. In the center of the main courtyard sat a dried up marble fountain wearing yellow stains of age. Around it, the air was thick with the sweet essence of rose, lotus and sandalwood attar originating from the open vials of a hijab clad lady whose ingenious advertising gimmick was proving quite effective in luring customers. Hand-painted silk scarves hung from makeshift displays, fluttering tantalizingly in a cool breeze and life-like figures carved in brass silently beckoned clamoring patrons.

The mise-en-scene was such that it transcended all borders of time, invoking images from when Bhopal was 200 years younger. I could almost spot the sparkling anklet of a lady-in-waiting just as she disappeared behind a carved column or hear the hoof-beats as patrolling soldiers returned from their nightly vigil. Through the torch-illuminated corridors of this very palace the aristocratic Begum, who shunned the purdah amongst other regressive traditions, must have once walked, pearls tinkling and silk and brocade robes swishing around. With a shopping bag overflowing with goodies and a head overflowing with sepia toned ideas, I returned home, excited about the prospect of exploring other jewels of Old Bhopal in the coming days.

As the nebulous rays of winter sunshine escorted in a new day, another 19th century relic patiently waited for me to come calling. Hidden behind a coat of white-wash, in the busy lanes of Royal Enclave, I found Sadar Manzil. The pearl white paint that was deemed suitable for the ancient structure by new age ministers is in-fact totally inefficacious in concealing its true age. Built during the reign of Bhopal’s fourth and final female ruler – Kaikhusrau Jahan Begum, the palatial building was used as a hall of public audience where the Begum convened with her subjects. Despite the seemingly mundane administrative work that went on within its walls, it is apparent that no stone was left unturned in its beautification. The proof of this can be seen in a series of decadent murals that decorate its domed ceilings. Through charcoal wisps of decimated cobwebs and a thick blanket of dust, one can still trace the beautiful patterns of blossoming buds, dewy leaves and curling stems on the walls.

Keeping up with its tradition, Sadar Manzil now houses government offices like those of the Municipal Corporation. As a result it has taken on the appearance of any other modern day government office in India. Every available inch of space bears towering stacks of old official files tied with pieces of frayed red string and brown with years of accumulated grime. Most corners and alcoves are encrusted with maroon spatters where scores of insouciant paan masticators over years have mercilessly regurgitated the contents of their mouths. Picking my way through haphazard rows of sealed Godrej almirahs, scurrying rats and piles of rubble, I made it to the terrace from where the Bhojtal or Upper Lake can be seen placidly stretched out in all its silvery grey glory. I can well imagine court poets of yore making use of this visage as inspiration for producing soul stirring poetry.

Breaking my fable-like journey for a cup of tea at the famous Raju Tea Stall at Sultania Road near Peer Gate was a revelation in itself. Who could have guessed that a seemingly footling tea stall which had innocuously elbowed its way between tightly packed hardware and kirana stores could serve the most succulent mawa jalebi and rabri, crisp pakodas and aromatic chai. Legend has it that despite its rather run-down veneer and common-man clientele, many an important government officials frequent it to get their regular fix of chai and snacks…….To be continued

 

Preeti Sharma is an MBA and dabbles with creative writing. She also blogs at  www.preetisharma84.blogspot.com
.

Similar posts
  • The Sunlit Blues Of Seychelles Pic: Saw this beautiful deserted spot on one of our drives around the island! Earlier this year I visited the gorgeous island nation of the Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa. This being my first time to any part of the African continent, I was understandably excited to see [...]
  • Vientiane, Laos: Unforgettable Impressions Pic: ” Vientiane” by Staffan Scherz is licensed under CC BY 2.0 On my way to Vietnam earlier this year, I made a short four day stop in the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. The city, to my surprise, was far more relaxed and easy going when compared with other capital cities in its neighbourhood. There [...]
  • Dalat – A Perfect Hilly Getaway Pic: Sunset in Dalat Dalat is a small hilly town in southern Vietnam. As a relatively serene and calm Vietnamese city, it has a lot to offer visitors who are looking for a more relaxed pace of travel. With the centre of town being focused on a large lake, Dalat is an outdoor lover’s dream [...]
  • Hoi An : A Quaint, Quirky, Coastal Charmer Pic: A tailoring boutique shop in one of the Old Town alleyways Hoi An is a historic port town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old building façades in the heritage area are in a state of protected disrepair, i.e. they’re left to their crumbling nature as a homage to the history of the [...]
  • Modern Indian Architecture At Its Best Contemporary Indian Houses publication InCITE’s +91 RESIDENCES exhibition on contemporary Indian architecture was first presented at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore in 2010. The exhibition showcased 91 architect-designed dwellings, 19 works-in progress and a model display of over 40 houses designed by over 75 architects in more than 25 cities and towns across India between the years [...]

1 Comment

  1. VEENA Sharma VEENA Sharma
    January 19, 2015    

    You have successfully and beautifully revealed the mystery and history of this wonderful city. Since last 30 years it is remembered for the tragedy that struck the people of Bhopal in December 1984.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Authors

Be the first to read the latest on Unboxed Writers!

Subscribe for FREE and get the latest in your Inbox! You can unsubscribe at any time.
Name
Email *

Admins

Editor & Founder:
Reema Moudgil
Design Director & Founder:
Vani Bahl
Media Consultant:
Poonam Goel

Mission Statement

Who are we? We are writers. And here, in this space, we put pride and passion back into writing. We give ourselves and each other creative freedom and respect.

* We create an environment where content generation does not entail degeneration of inspiration and spirit.
* We create content that we believe in and identify with.
* We recognise that to create is always of more value than to berate.
*We critique without malice and arrogance.

This site is about us writers, what we stand for but more importantly, about creating something valuable, inclusive, thought-provoking. In this space, we do not just stand for ourselves but for all those who listen to a compelling inner voice that tells them, "Create!"

Unboxed Writers Share

Join the other awesome people who get the new posts right away by email!
Be the first to read the latest on Unboxed Writers.
Enter your email and stay on top of things!

Subscribe!