Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Amparo Museum. Puebla | Mexico.

One evening during our trip to Puebla, Mexico in December last year we walked the beautiful cobble streets to reach Amparo Museum

This historical museum is housed in two 17th & 18th centuries colonial-era buildings.

This not-to-be missed historical museum has a permanent collection that traces Mexico’s development over its history. It has the most important collections of pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern art in Mexico.

The collection contains jars, figures, steles, altars, sculptures and utensils, from the Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Huasteca, Totonac, Maya, Olmec, Chichimeca, Mixtec and Aztec civilisations.

After taking in the fascinating information of Mexican history in the museum, we reached the top floor of the colonial building and were blown away by the beauty of this historical town.

The top floor of the Amparo Museum which has a roof top cafe is done up in a uber modern style with huge glass walls which almost seem to frame the colonial buildings of Puebla.

The setting sun cast an orange glow on the cathedrals and colonials building surrounding the museum.

We sat down with our cups of warm beverages to take in the beauty of this historical town of Puebla, listening to the evening chimes from the church bells.


Looking down from the roof top cafe at Amparo Museum.

If you find yourself in Mexico. Do make a trip to Puebla and Amparo Museum, you won't be disappointed!

(Images by Arch)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lakhpat | Kutch, Gujarat.

This post comes to you a good 28 months after our trip to Kutch, Gujarat in 2011;-)
I sit down to reminisce the last leg of our memorable trip on this cold spring day while staring at the steam dance on the surface of my strong ginger tea.

We had an option of driving down to Mandvi: The Port Town or Lakhpat: The Ghost Town. 
Needless to say we were greatly piqued by the latter and headed there with our driver Akhil Bhai. 

Lakhpat is a town about 140 km from Bhuj, Kutch and is enclosed by a 7 km fort wall built in the 18th Century by Fateh Mohammed. 

It derives it's name from the fact that it was once a thriving port town with daily revenue of more than a Lakh (One hundred thousand). In 1819 the massive earthquake in the Rann of Kutch changed the course of the Sindhu | Indus river which was the main source of sustenance and trade for Lakhpat.

Since then Lakhpat which had a population of 10,000 is now a sparsely inhabited town with a population of less than 500.

At the entrance of Lakhpat Fort we were greeted by Miyan Usman Bhai Khaleefa, who was to be our link to the world of 87 families that now inhabit this deserted fort town.

We drove through arid landscape inside the fort and came to what seemed like a tiny oasis. 
The Lakhpat Gurudwara. Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhism is believed to have camped in Lakhpat on his way to Mecca and this is where he stayed.

It was so peaceful inside the Gurudwara. Everyone is welcome!

The hospitality and chai in tall steel tumblers warmed our hearts.

Cheerful kids of the caretaker of the Gurudwara and smile-inducing English language.

The hospitality and the warmth of the elder of the Gurudwara won us over!

We continued our journey through various doors and entrances through the Fort, trying to visualise how this town would have been during it's happy days, teeming with people and abundance!

We reached this stunning structure which Miyan Usman Bhai explained was the Sayyed Pir no Kubo or the mausoleum dedicated to Sayyed Pir Shah.

The stone architecture has mind-boggling intricate'jaali' carvings.

The weathered carvings took on some amazing hues.

The sound of temple bells led us to this charming settlement with a small Shiva Temple.

Chatted with the friendly inhabitants.

Beautiful shades of blue at the temple.

Ghaus Mohammed no Kubo or the mausoleum of the mystic Pir Ghaus Mohammed is a stunning stone structure which took 13 years to build. The body of the mystic along with his family members rests here.

The intricate carvings just took my breath away!

Lakhpat doesn't attract too many visitors due to it's distance, but if one has the time and the transportation it is definitely worth a visit. 
The ruins of once a well-to-do port town.

One of the few families that live in Lakhpat.

We finally reached the edge of the fort from where one can see the Great Rann of Kutch. Lakhpat Fort sits at the point where Kori Creek meets the Rann of Kutch.

There is a BSF ( Border Security Force) post on the Fort which faces the seaside. Not far from the Fort is the international border between India and Pakistan.

We stood on the edge of the Great Rann of Kutch smelling the salt breeze and taking in the beauty of the land.

What a memorable trip it was! 
As I sit typing the keys on my laptop, the mind is transported to a land which will always hold a special place in my heart. Kutch.

One last look at Lakhpat as we get ready to leave…
If you ever find yourself in this beautiful land called Kutch in Gujarat, India. Do make trip to Lakhpat.

( Images by Arch and are copyrighted. Reference~ Gujarat India Guide, Wikipedia and my travel notes)

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Let's go on a pilgrimage. A Chai Pilgrimage.

I got to know about Jenny Kostecki-Shaw and Patrick Shaw (a.k.a. The Masala Chai Wallah) way back in 2008 when I had a series on my 'A Cup of Chai…' blog called Tea with friends and they had sent me a photograph of their chai.

I became aware that they were in the process of compiling a book on their many tea adventures in India and being a Chai-lover and a design enthusiast I kept updated on their blog, website and subsequently their Facebook page.
In August 2013, they used Kickstarter.com to fund for their beautiful book Chai Pilgrimage which they have self-published.
It was but obvious that I ordered my copy of the long-awaited book as soon as it was available for purchase!

So today I am going to share about this delightful piece of art and it's creators!

Jenny is a freelance illustrator and national award-winning children’s book author and illustrator.

Patrick teaches Ayurveda, Ayurvedic cooking and Ayurvedic herbology at the University of New Mexico in Taos and has been making homemade masala chai for over 20 years. Their daughter, Tulsi, has boundless patience with her publishing parents even though she doesn’t like chai.

 In their own words they tell you how this idea took shape and resulted in a book…

'We LOVE chai! The aroma of simmering spices fills our home each morning as the sun rises over the mountains. We also love India—her people, spiritual traditions, music, food and art have become woven into our lives. 
One morning while sipping chai, we had this crazy idea to fly to the chai motherland of India, spend four months steeping ourselves in chai culture and collaborate on a book. So we did! 
Chai Pilgrimage is our way of sharing our adventure and discoveries with you! It is our experience brought to life in a full-color art and photo filled travel journal, where we use chai as our compass to discover the people, places, spices, traditions and gods of an ancient culture. 
We also wish to share everything we’ve learned about brewing up a deliciously healthy cup of homemade masala chai with beautifully illustrated recipes and chai wallah tips on the art of chai making. 
We hope it offers a soul-nourishing vision of human connectedness and an opportunity to sip chai on the other side of the world!'

I have been so taken in with Chai Pilgrimage book, I have been devouring the visuals, the heartwarming narratives and beautiful illustration techniques.

Jenny has used various mediums to illustrate the book. Here is a video that shows us how she uses these techniques.
She also shares this frame from her studio:-)

Reading the book has been 'soul-nourishing' indeed. Especially for me sitting in sub-zero temperatures in Minnesota:-)

The book has so many interesting Chai recipes, I tried the Elaichi Chai yesterday…

Today I plan to try the 'Chai Guru Chai' taught by Patrick's friend and teacher Hamid Drake.

So do drop by their website Chai Pilgrimage  and their Facebook Page to read more about their book or order this beautiful, visual book. A great gift for yourself or to anyone who loves chai, spices and India! 

Go on a virtual pilgrimage. A Chai Pilgrimage!

( Images from Chai Pilgrimage.com and styling by Arch. Copyrighted Materials)