Friday, 27 March 2015

Chui Mal Ka Talaab in Nuh

Chui Mal ka Taalab is a masonry pond with cenotaphs located in the town of Nuh in the Mewat district of Haryana.

Chui Mal ka Talaab (pond), Nuh

Adjoining it is a grand two-storied structure, the Cenotaph of Seth Chui Mal. Both the pond and the Samadhi (memorial) have been built around the same time by Chui Mal. Of course the tomb in the structure was placed after his death by his son.

The pond in the foreground & the Cenotaph of Chui Mal in the background

The pond has eight cenotaphs around it and looks picturesque. During my talks with the owners of the property (no, it is not under State Government or the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) but privately owned by the descendants of Chui Mal) I was told that all the burj (the structure beneath the Chattri or the cenotaph) have wells underneath and therefore there is always water in the pond.

Another view of the Pond of Chui Mal in Nuh

Also during Monsoons the pond gets filled with water flowing from nearby areas. But this is changing as now people have cut plots around this place.

The beautiful pond littered with polybags

Unfortunately the open area is subjected to decay and misuse. There are plastic bags in the pond and as usual locals have scribbled their names on the cenotaphs.

A well at Chui Mal ka Talaab filled with plastic bags

I think it is imperative that the heritage properties, the Cenotaph of Chui Mal as well as the Chui Mal ka Talaab, are taken over by the State Government or ASI for despite the best intentions, the Chui Mal family cannot be expected to maintain sites in the long run as that is a skilled and expensive task.

The view of the Chui Mal ka Talaab in the background with Chattri of the memorial of Chui Mal in the foreground

Both the cenotaphs and the masonry pond are worth seeing places. Offbeat places have a charm of their own. These are sightseeing places for Delhlites and Gurgaonites looking for an outing over the weekend.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Cenotaph of Chui Mal in Nuh

Adjoining the Chui Mal Talaab (pond) is a large two-storied structure, the Samadhi (tomb) of Seth Chui Mal. According to Chander Bhan, now a retired teacher, these magnificent structures were built by his forefathers seven generations ago.

Cenotaph of Chui Mal in Nuh

This structure has surprisingly got very little publicity despite its proximity to Delhi and Gurgaon. Located in the Nuh town of the Mewat district of Haryana, 75 min drive from Gurgaon, the 300-year old structure reminds you of cenotaphs of Rajasthan.

The Samadhi (tomb) of Seth Chui Mal

It has beautiful engravings on the first floor with a variety of motifs – soldiers, dancing girls, men playing musical instruments, processions of men and women, elephants, lions and deer. The ground floor also had engravings etc but with time they were completely destroyed by vandals. Now the ground floor has been repaired with cement arches only.

Engraved Antelopes & others in flight 

Particularly fascinating for me was a carved piece of a deer/antelope that captures the animal in motion with its legs in the air and head turned back − the the hunted looking at the hunter.

Engraved soldier with Rifle

Some other engraved figures that surprised me were of soldiers in uniform carrying rifles on their shoulders. From the uniform it was obvious that they were from the British-Indian army. Most unusual I must say!

The interior of the upper floor of the Chui Mal cenotaph

The structure was subjected to neglect and vandalism till Mr Chander Bhan and his brother took matters in their hands and built a brick wall around it. It is their family legacy after all! The wall sadly blocks somewhat the frontal view but then these are two individuals trying to protect and preserve these beautiful structures. The Government of Haryana or the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is conspicuous by its absence.

The inside of the majestic dome of the cenotaph of Chui Mal

The architecture is definitely Rajasthani and infact there are similarities in the cenotaph (or Chattri) of Chui Mal with those of the Cenotaph of Bakhtawar Singh of Alwar.

The carved pillars on the upper floor of Cenotaph of Chui Mal

Infact like at Alwar here also there is a water pond next to this cenotaph but then I am going to write a separate post on that soon.

The Rajasthani style architecture of the Chui Mal Cenotaph

For those interested in visiting these structures, keys are with Mr Chander Bhan who lives in the house nearby. You may even be served tea by the extremely nice family members that include Chander Bhan’s grandchildren who are now studying in Delhi. They gave us a guided tour.

Mr Chander Bhan, the 7th generation descendant of Chui Mal

Seth Chui Mal was a salt merchant and had built most of this cenotaph as well as the water pond during his life time itself though finally it was completed by his son Hukam Chand

Must see for those who look beyond the mainstream tourism!

Also See:
Cenotaph of Bakhtawar Singh of Alwar

Friday, 20 March 2015

Skywatch Friday - Sunset amidst Wheat Fields Near Pataudi

I was recently driving coming towards Delhi and instead of taking the National Highway 8 I had taken the State Highway 26 (Route- Singhana- Narnaul- Rewari- Pataudi- Gurgaon) as it is more picturesque.

Sunset & Wheat Fields

As it was evening time nearing sunset my eyes were also constantly scanning the rear-view mirror to see if the sunset is about to happen or not as the Sun was behind me. The moment I realised that now too much time is not left before the Sun goes down I stopped my car near a wheat field. The place was a village near the small town of Pataudi. And what a beautiful sunset I got! It completely took away my driving fatigue and I was completely refreshed by this short break to drive further on.

Beautiful Sunset near Pataudi
Pataudi is a small town in the district of Gurgaon in the State of Haryana, India.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

A Sneak Peek in the House of a Traditional Thai Village

During my last visit to Thailand I got an opportunity to look at a traditional house, interact with its inhabitants and see the lifestyle in a Thai village about 50 km from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Traditional Thai village kitchen tools

Thailand is still predominantly an agricultural economy though they are making great strides in the tourism sector. Thailand’s village economy is closely linked to three things – water, forest produce and coconuts. Rice farming and fishing are important activities in a village life.

Lots of windows for air & light

Most village houses are made of wood with one large living room. Only the more well off houses may have separate bedrooms for some of the family members. The houses are normally raised from the ground (could be on stilts as well) to avoid flooding in the house due to excessive rain. Below the raised house often they keep cattle and machinery. The house on the upper level is open on all sides or there are plenty of windows for light and air as in summers the temperatures can shoot up quite and bit and it can become muggy.

A Thai Village living room has plenty of photos of deities, King & Queen and their ancestors

All the photos depict the importance of Buddhism in the life of locals as they are deeply religious. In fact one section of the room is devoted to religious artefacts. One would also find that though the houses are made of wood but each village has a Wat (Buddhist temple) made of concrete which is mostly the grandest structure of the village. Also one often finds the photos of the King and Queen whom most Thais revere a lot. One will also find several photos of their ancestors and family members as well.

A room in a Thai village with a mat & mosquito net

And since there is so much water around the insects are bound to be there! That is why one sees mosquito nets inside the village houses.

Sugar being produced from coconut

I even saw in the house sugar being produced from coconut which was a novel experience for me! Thailand has plenty of waterways and are a means of transportation, irrigation and livelihood for lot many people. One would invariably find a house having some form of stream, pond or mini canal next to the house. Also along the canals one can see several floating markets where the shops come floating to you to sell their wares!

Beautiful Furniture

The furniture is made locally and consists of bamboo and other woods.
A Snake & a Dog

I also found that the house I visited had kept a few large snakes which seemed to be harmless. I am not sure whether they were raising them to be sold or for some other purpose.

Siesta Time?

And during summers what better way to take a siesta than laze on a bamboo made hammock!

Also read:
Tourism in Thailand: Lessons for India
Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand
Would you like to have a separate waiting room to yourself?
Phraya Nakhon Cave in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand
The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
Skywatch Friday - View of A Halo from the Royal Palace, Bangkok
Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, Thailand

Friday, 6 March 2015

Happy Holi

Gujiya is synonymous with Holi

I wish all the readers of my blog a Very Happy Holi. On the occassion of the festival of Holi, associated with colours and joy, I thank my readers for the constant support and encouragement in maintaining and improving the blog.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Discover Thainess - The Charms of Thailand

The Discover Thainess 2015 was officially launched in India by the Minster of Tourism and Sports of Thailand Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul in Bombay (now officially called Mumbai) at the hotel Palladium on the 25th of February 2015.

TAT Director, Minister & the Counsel General of Thailand

The event was hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office and I was invited to attend the function and the press conference thereafter. The event started with an address by the minister. She was also happy to respond to the questions fielded by us.

With the Thailand Minister of Tourism & Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul

Thailand is among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world and attracts as many as 25 million visitors annually and the tourists from India are the sixth largest group at almost a million tourists per year. But Thailand does not want to sit on its laurels and wants to increase this number dramatically. India can learn some important lessons from Thailand as it figures way below in tourists’ arrivals. 

The event was held at Hotel Palladium in Mumbai

The overall theme of this event was the floating market of Amphawa. Amphawa is the second most popular floating market after Damnoen Saduak. It is located about 50 km from Bangkok. Thailand has several places where the traditional floating markets have now become great tourist attractions. I have been to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market already.

Thai Boat Girl at the Floating Market

We were also able to taste Thai snacks. At the entrance itself we were served unusual juices of Chrysanthemum, Longan and Roselle by a Ladyboy (transgender). I tasted these juices for the first time in my life and was pleasantly surprised to find that all of them tasted very nice.

Traditional Thai juices being served by a Ladyboy

And from the boats we were served several forms of sweets, non-vegetarian snacks and fruit salads.

Beautiful Fruit Art

Along with the floating market on the sides were attractions like the fruit carving, mask painting, Thai massage etc. 

Mask Painting

Also we were entertained with various forms of Thai dances. 

Thai Dance

There was also a demonstration of Muay Thai, a form of combat sport, which is a popular Thai sport. Incidentally the Indian boxing legend Mary Kom has been made a Thai Ambassador for Muay Thai this year.

Muay Thai is a popular combat sport in Thailand

Also Read:
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand
Tourism in Thailand: Lessons for India
Meeting the Legend - Mary Kom