For a long time I have been doing only fact based posts only on Kasi, with some feelings interspersed (How could I ever write about Kasi sans emotions?). The time is ripe now for moving to a more abstract level. I think that I can judge beauty of certain varieties at times: times when I am in a receptive mood. Now, fear of the visceral kind is totally different, it is felt irrespective of time, without any choice or judgement. So, in a receptive mood with a full stomach and some time in hand to spend in my own way, I am all set to admire the beauty of my city. What’s more, I am very much willing to lay bare the reason behind my judgement.
The architectural splendour of Kasi is best seen on its ghats. In the images above, the stone building has cornices and parapets under the chajja that I find appealing due to their beauty. Why do I call them beautiful? The colour of stones, the symmetry of curves and circles, the arches and chajjas: together they create what I call beauty in the images above. But how? The elements taken separately: will they still be beautiful?
Yes, I like the warm colour of stone: the material that goes in making a lot of buildings in my city. Is it beautiful in itself or it’s my association with it that lends it beauty? Had it been beautiful in itself, all the spots on all the pukka ghats of Kasi would appear beautiful to my eyes. They don’t. The beauty is in the construction: the solid high walls, the carved doorways, windows and chajjas, the domes and chabutras and the circular to polygonal columns. Let’s take the various architectural elements one by one.
The solid high walls of the buildings above lend grandeur to them. In consonance with other features these walls contribute to the beauty of the buildings. Had it been only about solid high walls, the buildings in the images below would have looked equally beautiful.
To me, they don’t. It’s not about only the walls then. The other factors also play their role. Some complexity of design in the two images that came before these two is essential to arouse an aesthetic response. In the two images of buildings on two different ghats below, I see a lot of beauty. Once again, the colour, solidity and height of the stone walls is present. In addition to that, the curves of the parapets on the verandahs and roof, the arches between the columns supporting the chajjas, the corbels and the chhatris: they all go into the creation of a sense of beauty that sometimes hovers near the sublime.
The images below bring in the chajja with parapet and corbels in the equation of beauty. There’s a jaali of stone in the image to the right below. It’s a part of the famous observatory ghat: Manmandir Ghat. The design on the base of the parapet and on the parapet itself adds beauty to the overall structure. The whole ghatscape is interspersed with such marvellous stone buildings.