Doors of India: A journey like none other

Doors of India.

A journey unlike any other.
A journey I could never imagine being a part of.
A journey that changed the way I’ll look at doors, history and camera 😉

Doors had always fascinated me. The older, the better. But often, it was the architecture and colors, sometimes the history and life around it. Never did I try to find a story behind them. “Why open something when it looks perfect as closed?” I used to think. Or was it the hesitation to intrude into lives behind it? A mix of both, probably. But, before heading anywhere else, what about our everyday doors? At home or in workplace. What about the ones we always push instead of pulling? 😉
Do we appreciate them at all? Do we tell or even know their story?

With the ‘Doors of India’ initiative of Tata Pravesh (a door brand of Tata Steel), I have not only began finding stories behind doors but have also started valuing them more than ever. ‘What all it may have seen’, I wonder while crossing the doors of my new rented apartment. ‘How it would have gotten that long scratch’ or ‘Who would have first brought it home’ or ‘Whose choice of color would it be’, I ask, to no one in particular.
To know more about this initiative, or campaign as it may be known, go here.

If you have followed my journey on Social Media, you must be aware that, to find and bring you the door stories, I started a road trip from the India Gate in Delhi, moved to Alwar, before heading to Mathura – Vrindavan – Govardhan, followed by Orchha and Lucknow. This was what we called the Central route. We have also explored the doors in other parts of the country such as east, south-east, west, south-west and north.

If you haven’t been around, here’s what happened. We (6 travel bloggers), along with a team, researched for months, about doors in our respective zones and decided on 5-8 door stories in each zone. Next, we covered them with the help of experts, locals, all the necessary equipment, and brought those to you in real-time. Through the process, I learnt not only about these entrances, but also the places, people and perspectives around them. Here are some of the insights from each of the locations:

  • Delhi
    It has been home for a year and even before that, I had visited the city multiple times. Delhi felt familiar by now, if not comfortable. India Gate was our first doorway in focus and I hardly know someone who hasn’t been there. With the amount of history and background to write books about the gateway, I was overwhelmed and at the same time, unsure of what to include in the story and what to skip. Soon, it occurred to me that the differential factor of India Gate is its ability to connect with people across all caste, race, groups, and age. Watch the story here

  • Alwar
    The black-colored door of Alwar fort, built on the lines of traditional Rajasthani architecture, was our focus for the second video. After spending a hot day there, I wasn’t done, mainly because of two reasons – One, it offers a brilliant panoramic city view, from the top, where I could easily spend a few more hours and two, there was still a lot more to find out about the fort, or its doors, that have never seen a war, because of which it is also known as Bala Qila.

  • Goverdhan
    The third and the most unusual story in this series was that of a door which stands between two distinct worlds. On one side of it, lies a vast compound with a range of cenotaph and on the other, is a home that belongs to a Yogi and has 108 doors on two floors. The entire compound has a different air, as if it’s trying to tell a story, reveal a secret. Commonly known as Bharatpur Rajaon Ki Chhatri, from outside, you see vertically symmetrical structures, painted in brown that were once a crematorium for the kings of Bharatpur but on a closer look, you notice a kind of silence that speaks.

  • Orchha
    The royal door of Jehangir palace in Orchha fort was our fourth stop. I had been there before, on a family holiday. But, little did I know that the door has seen some of the most influential people in Mughal era of Indian history. Not only that, this visibly-deteriorating door was constructed overnight, to welcome Jehangir who only stayed at the palace for a night but since then, the door continues to welcome its guests day after day. Epic, no?

  • Lucknow
    Rumi Darwaza, the fifth in series, brought back so many memories from college days, when I used to stay just a few kilometers away from the door and yet, in the everyday rush, never quite looked up to the gateway that could come down crashing anytime. But, that was almost a decade ago. The door has now been renovated by the government and stands strong representing the city that may have changed tremendously over the years but hasn’t found another landmark to symbolize it as perfectly as Rumi Darwaza does.

To tell the truth, I was anxious. Camera does that to people who are already shy and can’t appear confident even when they are. But, I’m grateful for this opportunity that knocked for me to in turn, knock on other doors.
It was definitely one of the most interesting ways to get out of my ever-widening comfort zone. Any part of the journey wouldn’t have been possible without an extremely supportive team including the researchers, on-ground technicians, curators and fellow bloggers, who not only guided me with all big and small things but also motivated me more with each story.
The love for doors has only increased, now that it has found a way to bind history, beauty and strength together. Do you have a Door story? Submit it here.

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© 2017, Swati. All rights reserved.

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