Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Posts Tagged ‘Historical site

Heritage walk – Chandni Chowk, Delhi

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Here is a recent article on a heritage walk down Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk. The walk focuses on the old havelis – palatial homes of the rich from hundreds of years ago. Contact information of the guide is provided in the article.

Chandni Chowk is steeped in history and chaos. For visitors to Delhi, Chandni Chowk metro station has been the port of easy access to Red Fort and the spice market. Here, once you step out of the cool and modern station, you drown in human activities. From beggars to 200 year old sweet shops to an assortment of temples – Hindu, Jain, Gurudwara and mosque, to modern day internet coffee shops, it is all here. And behind the shops, crowds and the tangles of overhead wires are these havelis. Some look like a collection of loosely arranged bricks – one push and they all come tumbling down….

Written by locomotoring

August 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm

A walk down Delhi’s ancient quarters.

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Rajon ki Baoli Mosque at Jamali Kamali Behind Dilkhusha

You are a conscientious visitor to Delhi. You have read your Lonely Planet India, done some web searches, and know that Delhi is an ancient city, the site of seven capitals over millenia. The Red Fort is on your list, as is Humayun’s tomb, and perhaps the Qutab Minar. And then you make your way to the Taj in Agra.

But surely Delhi must have accumulated a few more ruins than what India’s lackadaisical tourism industry would have you believe. Here are just four examples, all of which can be reached on foot from Qutab Minar.

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A saloon, a globe and a park – a spot of the old Barbary Coast

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The Saloon

The Saloon

Walking in front of “Old Ship Saloon”, you would have never guessed it. Looks like any other brick building surrounded by many other buildings. But this saloon was originally on a ship. How did the ship get here? How did the saloon get here? Well?

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Written by Som

June 18, 2009 at 11:42 pm

The very edge of San Francisco

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Sutro baths from Cliff House

Sutro baths from Cliff House

What have we got at the edge of San Francisco? Sutro baths of course. Our very own modern ruins. And fog. I doubt a hundred years have changed the course of San Francisco’s weather. So, who built a public bath house on a generally cold and often foggy beach? A rich dude, of course. In 1896, Mr. Sutro, who owned most of San Francisco’s western front, built an indoor swimming pool, in fact a set of seven swimming pools, at a cost of over a million dollars. Why? I guess, because he could.

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Coronation Park, a story of indifference

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Coronation Park

Coronation Park

When the decision to shift the nation’s capital from Kolkata to Delhi took place, this spot was proclaimed to be the site for viceroy’s residence. George V’s coronation as the emperor of India was commemorated here. Then the story of neglect began. The site was deemed unsuitable and the residence of Viceroy was eventually built at the site of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The park reminds me of my school park – large, open, not very shaded, spottily grassy. But that is where the similarity ends. At dawn, no groups of people gather about for a yoga class or a laughing club session. At dusk, young lovers don’t come here in search of intimacy.  Grandpas don’t come here for their evening constitutionals. There is no chaiwala or any one else selling snacks. Really, nothing is happening here. There appears to be a single caretaker who lives with his family, he may very well be self proclaimed one. He doesn’t seem to be doing anything either.

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Written by Som

January 13, 2009 at 1:53 am

What keeps me going back to Death Valley

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Storm approaching salt flats of Death Valley

Rain approaching salt flats of Death Valley

What a beautiful, serene, solitary desert this one is. It is also the driest, hottest and largest national park. People have indeed died here although not in recent years.

My first trip to Death Valley was on a Thanksgiving weekend. We had started from Bay Area a little after ten. Nearly 12 hours later, we drove into Stovepipe Wells Village. They had given our room away. We had called at least twice that evening to let them know we would be arriving late!

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Three hours at Mission District of San Francisco

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A street in Mission District

A street in Mission District

After doing the touristy spots of the Wharf and North beach, Nob Hill, Chinatown and Union square, what is the next best thing San Francisco city has to offer. Is it the Golden Gate park or Crissy Field? In my mind, it is the Mission District. But it is a bit overwhelming to plan and navigate if you are new to the place. And, yes, it can be a bit scary seeing the run down buses and ghetto neighborhoods if you take a wrong turn. So, let me take you on a short walking tour that will be fun and full of local flavors.

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Hello…Want to see a dead body?

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We had just stepped off the rickshaw when a young boy selling charms approached us. He was too young to have a street-smart swagger and walked towards us with the timidity of someone new to the job. A smile eased his hesitation and he stepped closer. ‘Hello…Want to see dead body?’ he said, grinning ingratiatingly. Casual and breezy…

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Calico and Skidoo – Two ghost towns of California

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Shooting at Calico

Shooting at Calico

This is something fascinating about California – it is littered with ghost towns, small towns that sprang up and disappeared during the glorious days of its mining era – between 1850s to early 1900s. Miners came from all parts of the world in search of the gold in the hills of California.

Last autumn, when we decided to go on a long road trip, from Bay Area to Las Vegas, it only seemed appropriate to visit Calico ghost town, which was on our way.

We had started early from Bay Area and had arrived at Calico ghost town about 4. Even here, 150 miles away from Zabriskie Point of Amargosa Range in Death Valley, the mountains retain some of the unusual colors of gold and amber. It had appeared more amber in the light of the setting sun.

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Life in a California Mission: on a summer afternoon

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A side street in Mission District

The cemetary at Mission Dolores

Last weekend, I needed to get out of exurbia again. And I really needed to do something different, something other than hiking or shopping. After searching high and low for some days, I found a tour of Mission Dolores, arranged by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. The walk was named “Father Serra, Graves and Vigilantes” and promised to lead us through the Mission, the oldest standing building in San Francisco city, the 20th century parish church next door with its beautiful stained glass windows and the cemetery in the back, the only remaining cemetery in the city with graves of Indians, Spanish, Mexicans, victims of Vigilantes and Gold Rush immigrants.

I am not your typical guided tour enthusiast. It conjures up memory of a bus load of people on a tour where they don’t even step down from the bus. Besides, the memory of my Bangkok tour guide was still raw.

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Not on the map, part IV, Abhaneri – 8th century stepwell

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Stepwell with its emareld green pool

Stepwell with its emerald green pool

On our Delhi-Jaipur road trip, we had spent the night before at Sariska and started the day’s adventures with Bhangarh, the 17th century ghost town. Now we were on our way to Abhaneri, the site of 8th century stepwell.

It was afternoon and we were quite thirsty. At Bhangarh, couple of village women were serving water the old fashioned way – using a long handled copper pitcher out of a bucket, presumably the water was drawn from a nearby well. We had dared not drink it. We had run out of water and hadn’t found bottled water on these off-the-map roads. We stopped for tea at a local temple. I don’t recall much except a large cauldron of bubbling milky tea and a hyperactive group of adorable little baby monkeys. After nearly twenty five years, I had tea out of an earthen cup.

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Not on the map, part III, Bhangarh – a ghost town

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On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our way from Sariska to Bhangarh

On our Delhi-Jaipur road trip, we had spent the night in Sariska and were on our way to Bhangarh that morning, a 17th century ghost town.

Our road was narrow and unpaved. A landscape of spring time fields full of fresh green shoots, village women in their bright chunris, wrinkly old men herding goats, buffaloes and children bathing at the same water hole, blue sky above, and georgette like veil of clouds. Dotting this landscape were ruins of old forts and chattaris, cenotaphs and occasionally, ads for mobile phones.

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Two bridges on river Hooghly

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Boats on Hooghly

During a recent sojourn in Kolkata, an unexpected rainstorm has me heading to the banks of Hooghly. Where else but Outram ghat, the most popular river front destination for Kolkata folks. Named after Sir James Outram, an English general in India during Sepoy Revolution (1857), Outram ghat was a key port during the reign of British empire. Now, Sir Outram rests in the annals of Britannica and the ghat is a place for myriads of daily activities – boating, hawkers selling fast food, commuting, couples murmuring sweet nothings, bisarjan of idols after the puja ceremonies, and of course – adda, chatting, the activity Kolkata natives are most famous for.

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Written by locomotoring

May 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm

India and King George V

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Coronation park

Coronation park

Brits left behind not only the railways, an education system design to mass produce petty bureaucrats, and cricket, but also a number of statues of king George V and others who bore the white man’s burden bravely. So what did we desis do to those statues after August 15, 1947? Why, we carefully arranged them on pedestals in the Coronation Park where old George had announced his coronation to the assembled flunkeys on Jun 22, 1911.

The little enclosure in Coronation Part with the statues is still maintained, after a fashion, by some little remembered part of the bureaucracy. The lawns are mowed, the trees are trimmed, the statues look in good repair … it was creepy.

Written by Sachin

January 7, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Delhi, India

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