Being Indian

Happy 72nd Independence day India. It cannot be a better day than today to talk about how such a rich nation only contributes to the making of a designer. With exposure to so much life, craft, openness to work, influences and utterly unique stimuli that very few countries in this world can offer. Growing up in this rich space has only added innumerable impressions on my mind and thinking as I have lived here.

Learning at the nation’s best institutes, be it the first architecture college in Asia at the Sir JJ College of Architecture and then choosing to learn finer details at the prestigious National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. They taught me how to channelise these influences into tangible designs. NID emphasizing further how rich our country is and what immense potential there is still to unravel. It is difficult for me to think of another space where I am more proud to be Indian, as it is a beating heart of possibilities where we as a nation of unique design solutions can evolve into.

At NID, I saw that a simple small sample of handloom takes days of work, and I could not be more respectful towards it. It perhaps enhanced a capability to be more aware and absorb surroundings and to seek beyond the surface. Each trip across India there on has been an eye opener, things I may have not seen before, became underlined and heightened on my senses.

Today on 15th August 2018, I would love to share some of these memorable experiences that taught me something more about my country. Today I celebrate the journey of our country , the diversity and the pride I have felt across states:

1. Daulatabad Fort, Maharashtra

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This fort is straight out of a digital game space. With an expanse on a hilly terrain, this fort is designed to intelligently evade the attacking enemy at every stage. This fort is etched in my memory and was brought alive on both times by Mr. Bhaskar Rao, the Archaeological Survey of India’s guide to the fort. He passionately tells the story of how this is the invincible fort, never to be captured by the enemy.

2. Descent of the Ganges/ Arjuna’s penance, Mahabalipuram

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Visiting Mahabalipuram again as an adult was an eye-opener. The sheer details of the monuments and the story telling is overwhelming. Standing in front of this particular monument made me wonder if we as Indians had lost the eye to details the patience for painstaking craft. These were created by our ancestors, we are capable of so much beauty, we need to nurture this and give our craftsmen the value they deserve.

3. Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi

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I have heard of how this tomb was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal for the longest time. I finally got to visit it for the first time a few years back and it is outstanding. With the contrast of the red sandstone against the marble, this building gets great dimension and definition. With intricate carvings in stone and signature Mughal jaalis, this is a true gem.

4. Aurangzeb’s Tomb, Aurangabad

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The tomb of a king known as a tyrant. It was shocking and may be humbling to know that this tyrant chose a humble resting place. After the grand tombs of his ancestors, this feels like a civilian, a lost saint’s tomb. The atmosphere at this place is sombre, people who visit not many, yet this is a reminder of how great power can also rest in the most simple abodes in death.

5. Kailasa temple and Ellora monuments

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If there is one architectural site in India that is stupendous and breathtaking it has to be the Kailasa temple, Ellora. Carved top to bottom of a single rock, the temple with minute details shines against the soft light brought into the carved in courtyard. The whole space gets an ethereal feel and is truly mesmerising.

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This Chaitya hall in the Buddhist phase of Ellora teaches what a meditative space can be. Truly plain and peaceful, this is where the monks prayed and evokes the time gone by of the rich phase of Buddhism in India.

6. Chandbibi Mahal, Ahmednagar

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I think this is the most secluded monumnet I have visited. Thanks to my close friend, who calls this beautiful city his hometown. The hexagonal monument is spectacular with its setting on a hillock and has amazing views. If princesses had a tower, this is an excellent example of one.

7.Indian Coffee House, Kolkata

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If you want to ever feel what the rumbles during the freedom struggle could have been like, step into The Indian Coffee House in Kolkata. Known for being visited by the city’s intellectuals right from 1942, the coffee house still maintains its tradition of interesting discussions and debates that Calcuttans are known for. Always abuzz with groups of students who have unique personalities to the old timers discussing the recent state of events. Feel like you are caught up with things, in this modern Indian space with old trimmings.

8. The KanchenJunga
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Have you ever spotted the Kanchenjunga for the first time. I did from Darjeeling, after many times over. To feel small even from such a great distant is an understatement. View this magnificent Himalayan giant if not scale it, and feel what glory means.

9. 13000ft above sea level, India- China border, Sikkim

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That is the highest i have been, so far away from the heartland and at an international border with India for the first time. That we could get there so easily and feel secure meant a lot. Being Indian does have different forms, this was a different one than usual.

10. Sindhudurg Fort, Maharashtra

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A magnanimous fort surrounded by the sea. I know this fort for over 30 years of my life, it is right in the place I can trace my known ancestry from. The feeling of having roots and knowing them is so super special and it is here that I feel I could belong.
That it is a feat for its time, and provided great defense for the Maratha army is astounding.

What I found ever so special the last time I visited was how the sea around it is being taken care for, It was a visibly clean and clear sea than I have seen it before. May more such efforts prevail and flourish .

11. The Future of India

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This captured off Auranagabad, after these little kids almost stopped our car to ask for chanda for Ganpati. If not for these little surprises and smiles, what are we!