Sunday, July 24, 2011

Buddhist Monastery and Ruins at Takht-i-Bahi

It is astonishing to know that people from oldest times were more civilized and well-behaved as compared to present times, keeping in mind the technological backwardness and lack of infrastructure. This magnificent piece of architecture of a Buddhist Monastery was discovered in 1st Century and it is quite well-preserved till date.
The complex consists of court of stupas, temple complex, monastical complex and residential cells. All rooms are well-constructed using bricks.
The irony of the time is that, even most of the Pakistanis do not know about this site or have not seen it themselves. A large majority has even not heard about it. It is one of the only 6 UNESCO World Heritage Site from Pakistan included in the UNESCO list.
You can read more on my UNESCO Sites Blog at: "Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Architectural wonder - Naulakha Pavilion in Lahore Fort

Lahore Fort is one of the 6 sites included in UNESCO World Heritage Site List and is one of the only 2 UNESCO sites listed as UNESCO Sites in Danger, which makes Lahore Fort a unique site indeed. This picture on postcard is taken from inside of Lahore Fort and shows us three historic monuments - Naulakha in Lahore Fort (The closest building with curved roof), Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Shrine (Building in yellow and white color) and the grandiose Badshahi Mosque (One of the largest mosques in the World) at the farther distance. 
Built in 1633 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Naulakha Pavilion is one of the 21 monuments inside Lahore Fort building which are still preserved. This pavilion is located near Sheesh Mahal (the Mirror Castle). Although the pavilion was decorated with precious and semi-precious stones in the beginning but none of them can be found anywhere now :(
The amount spent on the construction of the pavilion was 9 lakh Rupees (0.9 Million Rupees) which was an enormous sum at that time. Bearing in mind the huge expenditure, the building was named as "Nau-lakha", which refers to 9 Lakhs spent on it. The same word "Naulakha" was later inducted in Urdu language to refer to something "very precious". You can view more details here.
Naulakha Pavilion was one of the favorite building of Rudyard Kipling, when he spent some time in Lahore. One of Kipling's novel is also named as "The Naulahka" referring to a precious necklace. When Rudyard Kipling settled down in his own home in Dummerston, Vermont, he named his residence "Naulakha".
The "Naulakha" photo has also been used on the reverse side of Pakistani One Rupee Note from 1964 - 1980. You can see an image of the bank note below:-
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington D.C. is also inspired by Naulakha motif and is partly built on it. Here is an image of it too:-
The postcard was sent to me by Vera from Lahore itself and a common postage stamp of Rs 2 denomination is used on the postcard. The stamp features a portrait of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
I wish Pakistan Post can improve their cancellations and the ink used to cancel. The present cancellations being used are so shabby and they ruin a nice piece of postal history so easily.
What are your comments about this historical building?

Historic Center of Yaroslavl, Russia - A Fairy Tale Land

At first sight, I thought that this fairy tale castle is depicted from Narnia or bears a close resemblance with Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - as mentioned in Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling, but the actual story is slightly different.
The postcard is from the beautiful city of Yaroslavl in Russia, which is a major commercial center in the area since 11th century. The castle shown on the card is absolutely awesome. The clouds and the yellowish trees make the scenery even more charismatic. It is infact a painting, but I believe that the actual scenery would be as beautiful as it is shown here.
You can read more about the Historic Areas of Yaroslavl in Russia on my UNESCO Sites Blog, as it is also a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in Russia.