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Nanpara: Desi Deco in Small-Town Uttar Pradesh

During a trip to the Bahraich area of UP in 2010 I passed through this small town called Nanpara, which had a few jems of “desi deco” architecture, desi deco being the umbrella term I’m using for buildings (mostly small residential and commercial) built in the mid-20th c throughout India that use and appropriate art deco elements and motifs in various creative (and often kitschy) ways. One finds such buildings in all kinds of unexpected places, including small towns and larger villages, and it’s always a treat to come across them. Continue reading

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A Peek Into Colonial Agra, Mostly Along MG Road

In India when we think of British colonial architecture, we generally picture the “capital” architecture of Calcutta and Delhi, or then hill stations like Shimla, which the British escaped to for large parts of the year to escape the heat of Indian plains, which apparently they just couldn’t stand! However throughout India in cities and towns large and small, there exist rich troves of colonial architectural heritage Continue reading

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Agra Idgah

The idgah at Agra, a 17th c (probably) Mughal structure, is a better architectural specimen than most idgahs in India, which are usually nothing more than a tall, long qibla wall with arched niches. This one is more like a large Mughal-style mosque with prayer hall, and is set at the end of a large walled garden. Continue reading

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Historical (Architectural) Repercussions of Uneven Affections in Mughal Polygyny: Kandahari Begum’s Tomb Compound

We all know the story of the Taj Mahal, how the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it as the tomb for his second and favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, and that it is one of the greatest and most expensive testaments to romantic love in all of human history blah blah blah. However, also in Agra lies (or lay) the tomb of his first wife, Kandahari Begum. And what a difference between the two tombs! Continue reading