Art & Design

Goa…a land of Heritage Homes

Whenever I travel to different places, there’s one thing that I set my eyes on – the traditional houses and heritage buildings of the city. I feel every house has a story to tell. From its architecture to its colours, from its outdoors to its interiors; every little aspect of a house speaks about the style quotient of the family residing in it. One such place of beautiful homes is Goa. Apart from its nightlife, exotic cuisine and sun kissed beaches; I am in love with the heritage homes of Goa.

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On my way to Palolem beach, I was drawn to the old world charm of the traditional row houses in Margao. Though it was an unplanned visit to the town, am glad I stopped by to take a look at the beautiful sprawling heritage homes that dotted the roads of Margao. What caught my attention was the mysterious period look about them.  Huge castle like houses overlooking the streets with covered porches and verandah are a treat for the eyes. One cannot miss out on the green lush gardens in front of these traditional homes. It was worth seeing these Indo – Portuguese style mansions.

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The Goan houses boast of impeccable style and luxury. While verandahs are adorned with classic neo gothic windows and pristine old English furniture, the roofs are made of Manglorean terracotta tiles. The ornamental cast iron railings, often a combination of greek and gothic motifs are quintessentially Goan. You would also find similar railings in the colonial buildings of Panjim.  Goan homes, they say have a significant influence of the European and Portuguese style of architecture. Though I felt, some of the houses have some resemblance to the typical hindu courtyard style mansions.

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The most striking feature of the goan heritage homes are the expressive gables and the intricate eave boards. Each of these design elements epitomizes the luxurious goan lifestyle.

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This time I could only glimpse through the verandahs and the gardens. I am sure in my next trip I am definitely going to enter one of these heritage homes to explore the beauty within the mansions and hear stories about the ancestral goan families and their lifestyle as I feel the history of theses heritage homes will be incomplete without their legendary tales.

Leaving you with the glimpses of some amazing colonial houses of Goa.

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Art & Design

The house of the Khatris…

house of khatris by artisha

My quest for art, culture and beauty led me to the colourful villages of Kutch, where I discovered an extraordinary and unique form of art. At the first sight, I considered this art to be a form of intricate embroidery. But, as you enter the house of Sumer Gafoor Khatri, you unravel the mystery behind the richness of colours and an embossed hand painted art called ROGAN ART.

rogan art by artisha

Rogan art hails from the land of Persia that was brought to Kutch around 400 hundred years ago and is now only pursued by this lone family of Khatris, residing in a small village of Nirona, 20 kms from Bhuj, Gujarat.

Originally, Rogan art was developed as a cheaper and quicker substitute to hand embroidery to adorn bridal clothing of regional tribes of Kutch. From Ghaghras (traditional skirt) to huge odhanis (bridal veils), pillow covers to bed spreads, this art involved a diverse concoction of folk art forms, Persian architecture and linear embroidery patterns. Like my friends who accompanied me on this journey, I too wasn’t aware of this exquisite form of art.

traditional ghgra by artisha

Though Rogan art, could well be on its last leg, but the dedication and the effort taken to keep this form of art alive is definitely noteworthy. And the credit goes to Abdul Gafoor Khatri and his extended family. Abdul Gafoor Khatri is Sumer Bhai’s uncle who like his peers had given up rogan painting and left Kutch in search of a steady job. Gafoor Bhai, as he is referred to in the village returned to Nirona after two and half years once he received an appeal letter from his grandfather to come back, rejoin the family tradition of Rogan Art and continue the legacy. This was the turning point in his life as well as the art form. Returning from a cosmopolitan city of Mumbai, Gafoor Bhai had gauged the mindsets of the new generation and started experimenting innovative ideas in the art form. And thus, today, rogan art finds expression on cushion covers, table mats, kurtas, wall hangings, stoles, purses, paintings and saris. While the age old folk art forms are an all time favourite, patterns such is “Tree of Life” was something that bedazzled me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet Gafoor Bhai, but was taken aback by this inspiring story and commitment to his art. The Khatris claim that no one on this world can produce such elaborate forms of Rogan art. This art has been passed to generations in the same family. Currently, the eight generation performs this art.

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The intricate process of Rogan painting involves 3 steps.

First step involves the basic preparation of color used in Rogan Art.  Castor oil is heated to a boiling point to reduce it to a thick gluey pulp to which appropriate amounts of colour pigments are added and thus we get different hues of red, yellow, white, green, and blue. These colours are stored in containers with water to keep them malleable. This process takes place over a period of 3 days in deep jungles as it leaves strong odour.

rogan colour pigments by artisha

The second step involves placing the fabric. Sumer Bhai squats on the ground, places the blank cloth on his thighs, pins it up to his jeans so that the cloth remains intact and doesn’t move.

The third and final step is the most important and time consuming process. The painting process starts as Sumer Bhai takes the colored pulp on his palm with the help of a metal stylus and keeps stirring vigorously till the pulp is stretched to a thread like consistency, perfect enough to start laying out the designs on the cloth. Apparently there are no outlines on the cloth, its free hand intricate painting done effortlessly with a precision born out of experience. Some designs have symmetric patterns. So to reduce the effort Sumer Bhai folds the fabric into half to get the mirror impression on the other half. This sight of painting left me completely awestruck and made me wonder, why not many art enthusiasts have tried their hands at this form of art?

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Once the outline designs are laid out, the entire taar work as they say is filled with vibrant colours to emphasize the beauty of the art.  And then finally the cloth is kept under sunlight to dry for atleast 2 days.

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The Khatri family boasts of some wonderful work on Rogan art and is also honoured by the Indian Government for their efforts to preserve this striking yet fading art. Gujarat Government has been taking a lot of effort to promote this art form by presenting framed rogan art work to foreign delegates who visit the state. With Gujarat tourism reaching new heights, let’s just hope this effort of the Khatris doesn’t go waste and the potential of Rogan art is appreciated by art lovers worldwide.

So if you are planning your next visit to Gujarat, the house of the Khatris is a must visit.

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Art & Design

Mesmerizing Wall Art…

From the regal ambiance of its elegant palaces to the riveting beauty of its desert, from striking wildlife sanctuaries to its colourful culture, Rajasthan is all wrapped up in splendid beauty.

Rajasthan is a state which has always been very close to my heart.  It is an experience that one will always crave for more. Whenever, I flip through my photo album, I always feel like visiting the state once again, owing to its opulent palaces, magnificent paintings, the excellent blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture, colorful textiles and of course the exotic cuisine.

One thing that stands out amidst all the beautiful offerings of Rajasthan is its Paintings. Intricate, colourful and elaborate; the miniatures, phads, mandanas, folk and wall paintings of Rajasthan are unique and absolutely outstanding.

The wall paintings in the four doorways of the majestic Pritam Niwas Chowk, a courtyard in City Palace, Jaipur; left me awe struck and fascinated.The four brass doorways are adorned with some amazing wall art, each representing a different season and dedicated to a Hindu deity. The  spectacular Peacock Gate at the northeast doorway has some exquisite peacock art of atleast seven variations.The Peacock gate symbolises the autumn season and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, whose marble idol can be seen resting right above the brass door.

The Southwest gate, representing the summer season is called the Lotus Gate predominantly adorned with pink lotus petals. Lotus, being the manifestation of goddess Laxmi, this gate is dedicated to the supreme Devi.

Right opposite the Peacock gate, one can view another stunning gate in lovely shades of green. Named after the dominance of the base colour, this northwest lehariya patterned Green Gate represents the spring season and is dedicated to Lord Ganesha.

And finally, I reached the winter season Gate dedicated to Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati. The vibrant pink roses embellishing this gate create a beautiful pattern that is still fresh in my mind. The outside wall of theRose Gate looks spectacular with patterned pink leaves and golden yellow hibiscus flower.

I literally went berserk admiring these immaculate patterns on each doorway. So stunning and detailed… Truly royal!

Some more inspiring patterns on the Pritam Niwas Chowk doorways…

Well, that’s it for my first post. Will delve into more aspects of paintings, patterns and colours. Hope you all enjoyed reading the post as much as I enjoyed penning it down.