Recently I came across this “utopian” (for want of words to describe it) example of architecture being planned in Mumbai by Wadhwa Associates and designed by James Law Cybertecture International.
The “Cybertecture Egg” which is either going to be one of the most radical buildings in Mumbai or a grand failure. It seems the project has been designed without much thought given to the terrible infrastructure Mumbai possesses and the practical feasibility of constructing and/or even recovering the costs post construction!
Of course, Mumbai (and India in general) are no strangers to such white elephants … a nation that has such disparity in the burgeoning middle class, the struggling lower class, fighting to survive, and the uber rich who construct such glorifying edifices with scant thought about the sheer wastage of funds involved that could perhaps have been channeled to improve general living conditions. (Another such controversial monolith is the shapeless, ugly, in-your-face, palace of opulence – Antilia – the skyscraper the Ambanis call home)
Although these projects are all quite interesting with the construction techniques and the possibilities envisaged, the systems used to construct and later on maintain them, are far removed from any thought of the actual climatic conditions here. The grime, extreme humidity, heat, monsoon…all combine to make it very challenging to come up with custom solutions that work with minimal maintenance – which is what such mega, utopian monstrosities need.
To read more, please do visit the website and read the actual report. The rendered visualisation used above is not mine and has been displayed only to make people aware.
Apologies I am late in posting the photo, but yesterday was a very busy day. (working hard on our soon to release iphone game)
This is a photograph clicked by me while driving along the coastal road from Ratnagiri to Ganpatipule (West Coast of Maharashtra, India) The small dots you see on the right are the handful of picnickers who were out on the beach, and they help give an idea of the scale of the majestic white sandy beach.
This beach – Aarey Varey beach is one amongst many such spectacular beaches that line the entire coastal stretch of the Konkan Maharashtra. Unspoilt (as yet) and largely unknown, these remain one of the few pockets of awe inspiring beauty and serenity.
Quite a few years ago, this brilliant “scrapture” was installed at the main Bandra junction (in Mumbai) below the flyovers. A brilliant piece of work based around a simple, yet powerful thought.
The photograph is mine, the scrapture is not 🙂
The famous Nubra valley in Ladakh – an awe inspiring, wind-swept, cold desert high up at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. The only place in India where the double humped, Bactrian camels are found, the terrain is jaw dropping in its immensity.
The road to Nubra valley originates from Leh and first climbs up to one of the highest motorable passes in the world -the Khardunla – at 18380 feet, before dropping down into the valley. It is a bleak landscape, that can make anyone a believer of the magical Himlayas as true Gods on earth.
This image does NOT belong to me and I thank the author for enlightening us on such beauty. I should be there (hopefully) in a month’s time and shall have my own travelogue and pictures about this bleak wonderland.
Day 3 – PART 1
For an account of the previous days, click below for…
Ah, the big day …the busiest day by far and the part of the report I have been dreading to write! 🙂 Anyway, here goes nothing!
Last night, around supper time, the hotel manager (or rather, the guy behind the front desk!) had gamely tried to market a pretty little tourist lodge on the shores of Khajjiar (up in the hills – about an hour’s drive from Chamba) Turns out, I was invited for coffee with the owner, a stately Punjabi lady who was running the hotel after her husband’s death, determined to try and make it a profit making business for her son, who was not the least bit interested in running it…and to all intents and purposes, sounded like a kid who loves rolling in the dough rather than earning it. To cut a long story short, I spent about 15 minutes getting some of my questions answered about Chamba in general, and also hearing platitudes about the beauty of Khajjiar, that I agreed to visit it in the afternoon on my return from Bharmour. (I was anyway planning to do so, since the pictures were very pretty) By the time we ran out of coffee, and topics to talk about, the vehicle to take me upto Bharmour had arrived.:D
The road to Bharmour leads Northward out of Chamba, along the river and then crosses over it once to the East bank where it carries on for quite a while until later in the journey when the river has receded , the road crosses over again to the West before the final climb up. The sun was a pale disc shining above the surrounding hills as we tracked along the gently flowing blue river that gave us coonstant company three-fourths of the way. The journey from Chamba to Bharmour takes about 2.5 hours (if my memory serves me right) and that is mainly due to the condition of the roads. The mountains of the region are famous for the traditional slate tiles used by the Himachalis for their roofs and the composition of the rock is stratified, which means excessive rain and snow causes landslides easily and parts to crumble off along the seam, especially the parts where people have mined the rocks for their roofs. Quite a few places enroute had the “warning, falling boulders” sign and it wasn’t a surprise, given the crazy manner, the hills were dug. Many times, I noticed people a few feet up along the hillside busily poking and prodding away to get tiles for personal use, unaware of the dangers of unplanned mining and the consequences.
Back to the narrative…a few kilometres down the road, the river (which was a stream at Chamba) starts gathering volume and speeding up. You also start noticing heavy vehicles rumbling along and if you are a frequent Himachal traveller, you can easily guess what to expect next… yes, the infamous Jaypee Group – Dam Builders. Chamba is no exception and they have done it here as well…“moved mountains, changed the course of rivers” (and I do not mean it as a compliment)
After you have passed the dam, you finally see the true nature of the river, a gushing white water rapid driving on through the narrow canyon walls. Its along this point that the climb that had been gradual, starts getting steeper and every
bend seems to take you that bit higher. A few snow clad peaks start nipping over the shoulders of the neighbouring mountains every now and then as the elevation increases.
A short while later, you have left the river behind and are now in a fairly steep gorge, moving along constant bends with no real railings at the edges to stop you from toppling over 🙂 I take a halt past a bend to see how deep the ravine is and to click a few pictures. The gorge is tremendous…steep and inspiring 🙂 but the photo is NOT!! 😀 The Himalayas have a way of truly astounding you in person and slapping you down when you try to capture them in a photograph…since nothing can truly capture the grandeur and the depth of the rugged terrain in 2 dimensions, without any factor of scale to compare against.
Anyway enough rambling…a few kilometres further on, we came across the sign I had been looking for. The one bend in the road where the elusive Manimahesh Kailash is visible. As you proceed further, the peak gets hidden behind the mountains surrounding Bharmour and will not be visible anymore till you have gone on past Hadsar and trekked further. I stopped by and tried to capture it in my head so that I can forever remember the image 🙂 I of course clicked a few photographs as well to help geriatric old me in his later years 😉
After that awe inspiring moment, the remainder of the journey started getting more picturesque as we started getting higher…and colder. The mountains around us were now blanketed with snow in places where the sun did not reach and it was magnificient 🙂 Snow on one side that was in shade (to the right) and bleak dusty slopes on the left, with snow in the dark crevices and at the peaks. After a while of driving through such wonderful scenery, we finally reached Bharmour.
(Some pics of the scenery enroute to Bharmour)
The car park and bus stand is the first thing you encounter, just off the side along the highway with small shops and a couple of guest houses (closed for winter) around it. The entire area was in various stages of snow slush and super slippery ice as it had snowed a couple of days back, followed by two chilly nights but surprisingly sunny days and blue skies, causing melts and run offs. Most of the town however was still blanketed by snow, so it was quite tricky walking up the narrow sloping street towards the Chaurasi Mandir (84 temples) Slipping and sliding along (yes I was grossly unprepeared and had left my stick in the hotel) I finally reached the temple complex after about 5-6 minutes of trudging gingerly up the incline.
The temple complex is located probably centrally from all axes of the town…what I mean is that its centrally located lengthwise and also in terms of elevation. (There is also no ticket needed) Almost the highest point of the town, there are a couple of paths that lead off from it downwards in either direction with houses and shops along these narrow lanes. The first and most amazing sight you sse as you enter is an ancient Deodar tree (I underlined ancient cos this was the oldest Deodar I have ever seen for sure!) with 5 big finger like branches that are pretty much trees in themselves!
The tree seems to go up forever into the distance as you crane your neck to maximum extension! Immediately flanking it is the most impressive of the temples in the complex. All the temples here are dedicated to various Gods and are built with intricately carved stone blocks and each is a masterpiece in itself. Just to the right of the main temple lies (to my mind) the most amazing temple. Its deity is a Goddess (I believe Mahakali) and the temple doorway has one of the finest examples of woodwork I have seen. This carries on within the temple … beautiful examples of ancient Indian art…a 1000+ year old temple complex with perfectly preserved art and architecture…quite amazing and rare to find. This temple complex of course is a “living” complex and is used by people from the village everyday. What makes the location even more beautiful is that it seems like a bunch of jewels have been placed within a bowl, surrounded by snow capped mountains on all sides like a snowy crown.
(Pics of Bharmour town and the temple complex)
I spent some time in the complex and then carefully slid my way (yes, literally slid down!) along towards the North, towards Hadsar, just to have a look at the beautiful vistas that lay ahead…promising that I would come someday and attempt the Manimahesh trek that lay along that way – just 35 kms away, and yet impossible due to the heavy snowdrifts and danger of avalanches.
(Looking towards Hadsar and Manimahesh far beyond)
I then bid my final adieus to the town, knowing that I had been very lucky to manage to get the road open at this time of the year with some lovely blue skies. A couple of days later, heavy snowfall would again block this town for months,
till the summer finally started thawing the snow, around yatra time – May/June.
My next destination was Khajjiar but that will be in my next post… this one is way too long as is! 🙂 Hope its as enjoyable to read as it was painful to write 😀 … a labour of love for a lazy person like me 😉
Recently, in the architecture college where I teach as a visiting faculty, my fellow faculty members came up with a very interesting project. The students were divided into groups and assigned one among 10 total architects to study. They had to study their projects and their ideologies and then come up with a house that would do justice to the “master”.
While just browsing stuff, I saw an Antoni Gaudi structure which led me to think…why not try and have a series on great International and Indian architects with similar ideologies? I am starting with Antonio Gaudi as the first international master while I try and search around for an Indian architect with a similar thought process and projects 🙂
Gaudi was an architect who had an eye for minute detail and his structures are all fantastic, unreal structures you would not usually expect. To know more about him, read up here on Wikipedia. Below are some images of his works.
The images are not mine, all credit to their respective photographers.
For those who love Word games, this iphone game should be fun. (I sure hope it is………..cos we developed it!) 😀 Please do download it and check it out… its FREE and downloads help us poor developers survive!
On FaceBoook -> http://www.facebook.com/Wordsearch3DNew
Leh is famous for its cliff hugging monasteries and windswept desert terrain, yet its (now deserted) Palace is a splendid example of Tibetan architecture. The elaborate use of solids and voids, fenestrations (windows) and geometric exterior ornamentation serves to give it a stately character, despite looking forbidding and solid. The photo has been clicked by Subhash Ranjan (clicking on the name will take you to his page. He has some brilliant photographsof the region.
The iron pillar is a 23 foot high, wrought iron standard, erected in honour of Lord Vishnu by King Chandragupta Vikramaditya (Gupta dynasty) almost 2000 years ago. Its claim to fame is its resistance to corrosion despite being open to the elements for so many centuries!
This picture was clicked by me whilst visiting the Qutb-Minar complex and shows the iron pillar (to the left and in front) flanked by the Qutb Minar at the back. The pillar was moved to its current location by the Turk Qutb-id-din Aybak, when he had come on his crusade through the Indus valley into India. He vandalised all the temples and used them as construction material, for his monuments, but surprisingly did not (or was unable to) damage the Iron Pillar.
After scientific analysis, the secret of the miraculous anti corrosive properties of the iron have finally been deciphered. The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the high phosphorus content iron, which serves to protect it.
The above explanation is from Wikipedia and the entire article can be found here. This is only one of the examples of the amazing building techniques that had been developed by ancient India…other remarkable examples about in the ruins of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, with a famous example being the Konark Sun Temple. It has massive granite blocks with perfect edges slotted into place without joints or mortar. Add to it, the huge legendary lodestone that used to be present in the temple garbhagriha, and the fantastically detailed carvings adorning the entire complex…all making it a truly wondrous monument (pictures in my next post)
Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of unusual climatic events – an excessive number of floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes… all harbingers of change, that everyone knows is approaching and is yet loath to admit (fear that admitting it will make it worse?)
The latest salvo in this build up to armageddon (contrary to popular belief, armageddon means sudden, intense change…a new beginning) is the lowest ever recorded levels of Arctic Ice. To many this seems trivial since “the oceans havent flooded yet have they? … our cities are still standing!“
But the truth is, this could lead to far reaching consequences, of which no one actually has a clear idea. I am not a scientist or an expert on climatology, and so I do not profess to know all the answers but I am determined to find out more…if nothing else, then for the future of my daughter.
So, what does this melting of Arctic ice herald? For starters, the ice would reflect large amounts of sunrays back into the atmosphere, keeping the region cold and the ice solid throughout the year. With very little ice to reflect the rays back, it would mean warming of the North Sea. Currently, the world is encircled by constantly moving ocean currents that dictate mostly the climate of the land masses they pass by (for example, the hot Gulf Stream flows past the United Kingdom and keeps it free from freezing, even though its pretty close to the North Pole!)
Why does the Gulf Stream move all the way up to the poles from the equator? In simple terms this is due to a huge body of cold water at the North Pole sinking down with its weight (cold tends to sink while hot tends to float) and to fill up the “gap”, the warm current from the equator which is much lighter, flows upwards (helped by the motion of the earth – the Coriolis effect) thus forming a giant water “pump” of sorts, that maintains the climatic status quo along the coast of the United States and Britain. As the North Sea starts becoming warmer, the cycle of this warm current will weaken and dissipate, and quite likely cause frequent storms and typhoons along the coastal areas on both sides of the Atlantic. This is alos likely to affect the wind currents, which would mean that certain interior parts of Europe and Asia will also see very unusual weather patterns… the rainy season could alter, droughts could increase…the Sahara could become green again (okayy that was a bit too much) 😀
The Swarm is a spectacular book that explains all the possible disasters we are bringing down upon ourselves…and does it while keeping up a completely believable and incredibly entertaining plot. Read all about the plot here and trust me, get yourself a copy. Its simply brilliant…un-putdownable even! (the first 2-3 pages may be a bit dull but the rest is superb)