Untold Monuments of India in Pictures

Untold Monuments of India in Pictures

A series of panoramas that goes on to show that centuries-old Indian monuments are still quite the spectacle. A photostory by Amit Pasricha

Amit Pasricha
06 Min Read

Trust Amit Pasricha to channel his mastery of an art form into a well-thought-out initiative. “I am now moving towards using my photography, the most powerful language in existence today, as a tool for change,” says the award-winning Delhi-based photographer, who’s been published in over two dozen prominent books on India, about his recent India Lost and Found (ILF) web initiative. In a world where news and information is consumed in tiny, oft-embellished capsules and where instant gratification has taken centre stage, he feels people are missing out on a vast, in-depth understanding of the fascinating universe of Indian culture and heritage. The disconnect has had a devastating effect: we are losing our lesser-known monuments to bad conservation practices, neglect and the real-estate lobby at an incredible pace.

ILF is the photo story of the untold monuments of India. “These sites today represent the most visible aspect of civilisations past, like gates to a hidden world,” says Pasricha. The project is an attempt to create a virtual museum of thought, so that when people visit these sites, they may be able to imagine the pulse of the place and the past civilisation. The initiative harnesses the power of social media and photography, with an umbrella knowledge network using these images to bring alive the past. Currently accessible through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts, the bank will soon be available through a visually rich website. Hundreds of pictures are up already, and 40 are being added every month. “This knowledge, thus created by us, will belong to all,” says Pasricha.

It’s nothing if not ambitious. “In the end we can all look upon this as a crowd-creative project and seed the search engines of the web in such a way that for decades to follow, the web mirrors the very idea we seed into it now and not the ‘cut and paste’ bad informa­tion we are subjected to today,” elaborates Pasricha. Backing him is an impressive network of patrons, including the likes of Aman Nath, William Dalrymple and Arvind Singh Mewar. The gorgeous images in this photo essay are just the tip of the iceberg.

For more, visit facebook.com/IndiaLostFound and instagram/IndiaLostAndFound








JAMI MASJID, GWALIOR: The Jami Masjid is credited to Mutamad Khan, governor of Gwalior under Alamgir. Its walled compound is entered through a gate crowned with an open bangla pavilion. The prayer hall, of only three domed bays, has a prominent central arched portal flanked by a pair of massive, cylindrical corner towers topped by chhatris. The narrow court in the front is entered from the east through a pishtaq-type portal, also topped by an open bangla pavilion
KHUSRAU BAGH, ALLAHABAD: This extensive walled char bagh takes its name from Shah JahanÓ³ elder brother, who is buried here. Khusrau Bagh is entered from the south through a monumental gate with a lofty arch. Within the garden stands a quartet of tombs along an east×·est line. The crypt in this photograph lies inside the tomb of KhusrauÓ³ sister, Sultana Nisar Begum, who died in 1625. Raised on a high podium, this elaborately finished building has portals in the middle of each side, flanked by double tiers of arched recesses. Slender corner octagonal chhatris frame the dome on an octagonal drum. The walls of the interior chamber are lavishly painted with trees and flowering plants; the dome above has a petalled medallion surrounded by rings of arch-net motifs, executed in painted plaster. This tomb is the only one to be provided with a partly underground crypt, which is also roofed with an arch-net dome
QILA MUBARAK, PATIALA: A recently restored room in the Qila Androon inside Qila Mubarak
SHAH PIR TOMB, MEERUT: Between the Yamuna and Ganga, some 55 kilometres northeast of Delhi, is Meerut, a city with its own mint that rose to prominence under Akbar. The principal Mughal monument here is the mausoleum of a local saintly figure, known simply as Shah Pir, supposedly a spiritual teacher of Jahangir. Though the patronage of the tomb is credited to Nur Jahan, the building was never completed, leaving the saintÓ³ grave exposed to the sky. The domeless, red sandstone structure is meticulously constructed, with well-articulated arched recesses on both its exterior and interior walls. The recesses are filled with diverse, jaali-like geometric patterns in intricately worked shallow relief, realised as perforated windows at both levels in the middle of each side. The tomb is raised on a terrace, and was intended to be surrounded by a colonnade, but only a corner portion of this was finished
ALAMGIR MOSQUE, VARANASI: The most prominent Mughal monument in this holy city is the mosque that Alamgir erected on a terrace high above Panchaganga Ghat, reached by a steep flight of steps from the river below. The vertical proportions of the prayer hallӳ triple-bayed fa袤e were once accentuated by a pair of slender corner minarets rising 50 metres above the terrace, but which are no longer extant. Battlements conceal three domes of almost equal height; chhatris at the rear corners serve as lookouts. The interior, which comprises a line of only three chambers, is roofed by domes with intricate plaster decoration
ANCIENT TEMPLES AT NARESAR: Situated 18 kilometres northeast of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Naresar (ancient Nalesvara) has a large group of temples dating from the 8th to the 12th centuries. Till quite recently this area was dacoit kingdom, and these temples were impossible to access
 ANUP MAHAL, BIKANER: This lavishly decorated private audience chamber in BikanerÓ³ Junagarh Fort dates to the period of Anup Singh in the late 17th century. Decorated with gilded plasterwork, a Mughal-style alcove for the maharaja is set into the wall. Access was through an elaborate courtyard, paved with multicoloured stonework and overlooked by jharokhas. It became the secret ambition of every Rajasthani royal to emulate the style, and even to surpass it in scale and opulence
RAJ BHAVAN, NAINITAL: Formerly Government House, this two-storey summer residence of the governor of the erstwhile United Provinces was designed by F.W. Stevens in the same Victorian Gothic style in which he conceived the Central RailwayÓ³ former Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai). Its more than 100 rooms, swimming pool, and golf course are set in sprawling gardens on a hill overlooking the lake. While the construction of Nainital started in 1842, this castle was designed in 1896 and completed in 1900. As it is the official guest house of the governor of Uttarakhand, prior permission is mandatory for visitors. This spacious colonial-style entrance vestibule, with its tiled floor and impressive wooden Gothic fireplace on the right, leads to three imposing doors. Beyond these, the central hall with clerestory windows and an ornate gallery are reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral. An old Persian carpet graces the main entrance leading to a grand staircase at the far end. Two-and-a-half metres wide, this staircase reaches a mid-landing to then be divided into an upper double flight, each nearly two metres across

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