It is a chilly November morning at 9 am, and we are on our way to Datia. The entire drive had very limited visibility and it felt like the fog had developed its own character overnight and started travelling with us like an old companion. Little did I know, this was probably the best preface for the place I was about to visit shortly. Around mid-day, the fog started clearing up to reveal some friendly jaggery hawkers.
I looked around, and find myself surrounded by sugarcane fields! That is when I learnt that the periphery of this district is famous for jaggery factories.
Biting on a few delicious pieces, I moved towards Tourist Motel in Datia where I got a glimpse of the main attraction - the marvellous Bir Singh Palace, also known as Datia Palace and locally referred to as the Purana Mahal. I sat on a bench, looking at the breathtaking view of this overwhelmingly stunning palace!
This palace is famous as a testimony to friendship. As I wondered the story behind the palace, my guide narrated one of the most unique stories I have heard in a long time. Centuries ago, when Bundela Raja Bir Singh and Akbar entered into an alliance at Orchha, it marked the beginning of a friendship with the Mughal ruler’s son Jahangir. Bir Singh built the Jahangir Mahal at Orchha to welcome him on his first visit to the city. But the Raja was not too impressed by the Orchha Mahal and so went on to build this majestic maze of a palace in Datia.
Up close, Bir Singh Palace was more than just a spectacle. So much so that I was awe struck by the entrance gate itself. Each of the tiles, carvings, colours, motifs had a tale about a great friendship. The figures in yellow represent Bir Singh and the one in green depict Jahangir placed in numerous frames made to look like almirahs. The main arch has carvings of them catching deers, a dragon like figure as well as motifs of the sun and the moon.
Sadly, a lot of the enamel work had withered away with time but it still does not need a lot of imagination to guess how breathtaking it must have been when it was built. I spent a good amount of time gazing at the gate and figuring out these stories that were the inspiration for this wall.
Built entirely of brick and stone with no cement or iron to hold it together, this palace is one of the finest examples of the blend of Indo-Islamic architecture. Designed in the form of a Swastik, it is a great balance of classical and symmetrical. No wonder Sir Edward Lutyens, the renowned British architect was awestruck by this palace. He was so overwhelmed by Datia Mahal that he chose to visit other edifices in India before he embarked on designing New Delhi.
The palace stands on a square base with octagonal towers on each of its corners. Some of the ceilings have beautifully carved islamic patterns that looked like the night sky filled with stars. Some of them have naqqashi work. The chhatris are in the shape of a lotus petal, whereas arches and doorways are clearly inspired my islamic architecture. Every wall spoke to me about the beautiful aesthetics and whispered poems of friendship. Although the rooms with stucco work were shut, I managed to get a peek of a few figures - trees, birds, vases - simply stunning. This wonderful fusion of two worlds made it even more interesting to spend more time around this place.
In the 17th century, the cost of building this palace was about a whopping 35 lakhs but the heartbreaking part is that no one actually ended up living in it.
And the biggest irony - even Jahangir himself was never able to visit it.
About the artist
Neethi Goldhawk is an independent illustrator and textile print designer who loves drawing all things dreamy, inspired by nature and life. She has illustrated for platforms like Redbull Amaphiko and Launchora. Her pen name (Goldhawk) was concocted in the crowded space of her mind full of absurd characters, who are but little children at heart. She is an avid Tumblr blogger and can be found here
Spooky Converted Church Complete With Graveyard Up For Sale As Family Home
House-hunters with a taste for all things ghoulish have a rare chance to make their home in a Gothic church, which has its very own graveyard in the garden. The Grade II listed building, on the market for £450,000, has kept the original stained glass windows, elaborate octagonal church tower and even the ornate altar – now in the kitchen. In the garden there is the occassional gravestone, although prospective buyers are assured visiting mourners are rare. Inside the Lincolnshire property there are three bedrooms tucked under arching beams, a spiral staircase and original flooring.
Home Sweet Home
The untouched exterior of the church. (SWNS)
Home-hunters after their own Gothic residence will be impressed by the Old Church House. (SWNS)
Under The Arch
The stones of the imposing lychgate were laid more than a century and a half ago. (SWNS)
Carved angels and stained glass figures overlook the kitchen. (SWNS)
Bath And Beams
There are even original features in the house’s bathrooms. (SWNS)
Below The Beams
One bedroom has impressive oak beams and a colourful stained glass window. (SWNS)
The original tessellated tile floor remains in the kitchen. (SWNS)
Make An Entrance
Chandeliers and stone carvings decorate the hall. (SWNS)
The large living room has beams and exposed brickwork. (SWNS)
There are original stained glass windows throughout the Gothic building. (SWNS)
Every room has plenty of impressive features. (SWNS)
Wintry Wedding: Sasha Pivovarova plays a feminine Russian Knight and wears a metallic leather helmet underneath a tulle veil with matching black and white ruff in one of her most famous editorial’s ‘White Nights’ showcasing great detail of Russia’s most beautiful hidden spots, which was photographed by Tim Walker and styled by Kate Phelan for Vogue UK January 2007.
To shoot the series seemed more like a trip, an inspiring expedition more so than a simple studio shoot, as the whole team travelled to Russia in search of a blissful, rather untouched beauty. ‘‘As we come into the port, we are greeted by a magical sight: dominating the skyline are three fairytale wooden buildings.’‘ said Tim Walker upon arriving to their first ‘set’; consisting of two aged and grand Churches, along with a folksy octagonal clock tower. The fashion team stayed with a small family during their trip, a certain member recalled ‘‘It was this tiny wooden house that we had filled to the rafters with clothes, accessories, and props, it was like the most wonderful dressing up box…’‘ which gives one the image of a fantastical giant dollhouse, and with what better protagonist than fashions own doll Sasha Pivovarova, all of these components made this editorial what it was and still is today - historically mesmerising.
The Dilapidated Octagon Tower on Roosevelt Island, New York before the renovations of 2006. It is now an apartment with 500 units.
This was originally the entrance to the New York City Lunatic Asylum which opened in 1841. This Octagon Tower was the last remaining bit of the Asylum but after years of decay and 2 fires it was closed to ruin.
Mistreatment of the patients was later reported from Nellie Bly in her 1887 book, where she faked insanity to study a mental health institution from within.
So chiefmauskateer and I visited Ely Cathedral today and climbed the Octagon Tower. It was built after the original tower collapsed and because the foundations couldn’t support another tower, they built a suspended tower using some clever carpentry and external stone supports. Oh, medieval carpenters! How clever were they? I think it is the only one of its kind in Europe.
After you climb up you end up in the wooden structure suspended over the centre of the cathedral, and our guide opened the panels of the tower so we could stick our heads through and really appreciate the artistry!
…we were in the cathedral for 4 ½ hours…we aren’t even religious…
MATHEWS-GOTTHELF MANSION by loveofhouses Via Flickr: 2601 Champa Street
The brick and stone Second Empire style house has a mansard roof, belt course, covered porch, and octagonal towers.
The High Victorian Second Empire MATHEWS-GOTTHELF MANSION was built in 1880
in Curtis Park, Denver. The mansion, at 2601 Champa Street, is still distinctive in Denver’s
first “street-car suburb,” where fashionable large homes were constructed in the 1870s
and 1880s in the fast growing city. The Curtis Park neighborhood is now a National, State,
and Local Historic District. Townscapes LLC has served as the Manager of the Mathews-
Gotthelf LLC, and assisted Colorado Preservation Inc. in successfully positioning the mansion
to attract a private-party partner. The rehabilitation project is being completed by the
joint effort of the non-profit and for-profit entities. Once complete in 2011, the mansion
will be “returned to service” with the private party as owner.
In 1880, James F. Mathews, a prosperous ore and bullion dealer, built the Mansion on the prominent corner lot at 26th and Champa Streets. The original house consisted of 5,000 square feet and occupied three lots. Mathews and his wife were socially prominent members of early Denver society. In 1890, Isaac Gotthelf purchased the house for $25,000. Gotthelf made his fortune from a mercantile in the San Luis Valley, cattle ranching, and banking interests. He was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives for the first General Assembly in 1876 and also served in the second General Assembly. Isaac Gotthelf died in 1910, and in 1915 his widow and four children sold the Mansion and moved back to the San Luis Valley. As early as the Silver Crash of 1893, the Curtis Park neighborhood began to deteriorate. Similarly, after 1915, the Mansion began to deteriorate as it cycled through various owners and was eventually divided into ten apartment units. Today the area is experiencing a renaissance, and dedicated residents are slowly restoring the neighborhood to its early grandeur. To aid the community’s revitalization efforts, and to prevent the loss of this significant historic resource, Colorado Preservation, Inc. purchased the house in 2007 with the intent to restore the Mansion to its period of significance (1880-1890s). Without this intervention, the building would have continued to fall into disrepair.
This magnificent high Victorian house was originally built for James F. Mathews, an ore and bullion broker. He and his wife were socially prominent members of early Denver society. In 1890, Isaac Gotthelf bought the house for $25,000, at the time a very considerable sum. Having immigrated from Germany with only $5 in his pocket, Gotthelf made his fortune as a merchant at Saguache, in the upper San Luis Valley, though he had cattle and banking interests as well. He was twice elected to Colorado’s House of Representatives. Gotthelf bought the Champa Street house so his four children could receive their education in Denver. Mrs. Gotthelf, niece of the director of the U.S. Mint in Denver, lived in the house with her children while her husband came and went. He died here in 1910. In 1912, Gordon, the youngest of the Gotthelf children, was married in the house. His bride remembered it as an elegant home with a staff of servants. In 1915, Mrs. Gotthelf moved back to Saguache, ending the family’s residence on Champa Street.