City Hangout – a Beautiful Staircase, Janpath Market
Romancing the stairs.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Grand old staircases haven’t yet suffered the fate of the bird dodo — extinction — but they are few and far between. Elevators and escalators are gradually taking over, downgrading staircases to mere fire escapes. For instance, a famous staircase in Delhi is, alas, no longer available for the viewing. Old patrons of The Book Worm at Connaught Place — that closed years ago — still fondly recall that sinuous spiral staircase ascending to the mezzanine floor stacked with books about cinema.
Even then, a few gorgeous staircases can still be found in some old colonial-era buildings in the capital such as the Teen Murti Bhawan. The next time the Israeli ambassador invites you around, do take a moment to admire the majestic flight leading to private quarters… to say nothing about the winding staircase at the Polish ambassador’s residence.
Far more accessible is the gorgeous staircase at the market corridor in Janpath, close on Ajanta Photo Studio. Leading up to a bookstore, these stairs feature patterned metallic balusters in the same shade. On sunny afternoons they cast vivid shadows on the wall, appearing more profound than the balusters themselves.
The staircase is so cleverly and artistically constructed that if you stand on the bottom floor and gaze upwards you’ll not only get a direct view of the roof but you can also follow the angular path of the rusty handrails all the way to the top, as if it’s a piece of gradually unfolding music.
Bunched into a neat set of small flights, the staircase becomes more poignant when you compare it with the worn-out character of the building itself, with its empty halls, dust-covered floors and cobwebbed corners. Somewhat like Delhi itself where patches of profound beauty survive in grim squalor.
The view from the top is extraordinary–the stairs scrambling into a bottomless infinity.
Up the stairs