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Ar. Aditya Prakash, Chandigarh

Ar. Aditya Prakash, Chandigarh

On August 12, 2008 city of Chandigarh (India) lost an eminent architect, designer, painter, a theater enthusiast, academician, Le Corbusier’s associate. He was Ar. Aditya Prakash.

News Release- Aditya Prakash, Indian Modernist

He was on his way to Mumbai for staging the play Life Never Retires, created by G.S. Channi, in which he played the central character. He died on the way, at Ratlam station.

Aditya Prakash is well known in the world of modern architecture as Le Corbusier’s associate in the planning, design and building of the Chandigarh Capital Project which was initiated by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Known internationally for its architecture and urban planning, Chandigarh is home to numerous architectural projects of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Edwin Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew, Matthew Nowicki, and Albert Mayer. Nehru famously proclaimed Chandigarh to be “unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future.”

Le Corbusier with Pandit Nehru

Le Corbusier with Pandit Nehru

Designed in a grid pattern, Chandigarh stands out from the rest of India with its clean lines, broad avenues and imposing government buildings built on a vast scale in concrete with columns, ramps, sculpted roof lines and screens to protect against the punishing sun.

Prakash joined the Chandigarh Capital Project in November of 1952 as one of the nine architects on the team. He had just finished studying architecture at the London Polytechnic, and became an A.R.I.B.A. in 1951.

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Shekhawati Region Rajasthan IndiaHow big can you imagine an open air gallery to be? Well, here you are… 13, 785 sq. km [5130 sq. miles] of painted walls, havelis, palaces and forts in the vast expanse of the desert of Rajasthan in India. Town after town, street after street, home after home has been painted with frescoes depicting characters and stories from Indian mythology, history, vernacular culture and life, erotica, and even imaginary and hilarious depictions of science fiction!

This is the Shekhawati region of state of Rajasthan in India. Established and ruled by the Shekhawat rajputs for centuries till independence of India in 1947, it was the largest Nizamat of Jaipur State. With more than 120 villages, 50 forts and palaces, it was definitely the most happening place for architecture and art development. Few of these have been restored or remodeled to be reused as heritage hotels or museum or schools. Others have become obscure or peeled off.Rao Shekha

Why paint the walls of the towns? Neighboring Marwar region influenced the Shekhawati region a lot. The marwar community was rich, and prosperous. This was the ‘business class’! For over a century between 1830 and 1930, marwaris or the business community made Shekhawati their home, before they started migrating to other parts of India. Family names that are now associated with some of India’s big business houses, originated here. As the ultimate symbol of their opulence, the Marwaris commissioned artists to paint those buildings. Hundreds of these courtyard houses cropped up in the desert landscape, each of them covered inside out with colorful frescoes. This art was kept alive for almost 300 years. Eventually it started falling apart as more and more families from this community started settling elsewhere, and these houses were locked up to ruins.

Fresco from ShekhawatiHow? In Shekhawati, the fresco painter or the chiteras belonged to the social class of potters or kumhaars. The technique employed for the Shekhawati frescoes was elaborate, and comparable to the Italian frescoes of the 14th century. The colors were mixed in lime water or lime plaster and were then made to sink into the plaster physically through processes of beating, burnishing, and polishing. All the pigments used were prepared with natural and primarily household ingredients like kohl, lime, indigo, red stone powder, and saffron. Cow’s urine was dried up to get the bright yellow!Amusing Fresco from Shekhawati

There are instances where these frescoes were complimented with gach [mirror] work and intricately carved wood work. Some merchants and ministers even got the havelis painted in gold and silver. There are havelis which have frescoes which amuse everyone- showing King George and Queen Victoria of England in an Indian landscape! Some even illustrate modern machinery of the times such as airplanes, cars, telephones et al!


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Painted Walls of Shekhavati by Francis Wacziarg, Aman Nath
Photo credits in slide show: Pavan Gupta of Destination India.

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