City Walk – Taak Sightings, Roshanpura, Gurgaon
Finding old souvenirs.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
If you look closely, you can find taaks in at least some houses of New Delhi villages—these disappearing arch-shaped niches built into walls. Traditionally meant as alcoves to keep sacred objects, they can also be sighted in some Old Delhi residences.
And yes, while Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region is referred to as the Millennium City, it has its share of taaks. Some can be seen in the pre-millennial neighbourhoods tucked around the town’s bus stand.
There was a time when taaks were as integral to a household as a fridge or a toaster to a modern-day one. Prayer beads or perhaps a holy book would be kept in these niches, or even objects of daily use such as reading glasses. If taak was not getting extinct, today, in the times of the coronavirus pandemic, it would have been a convenient place to keep the face mask.
But taaks have been replaced by sideboards and shelves.
Even so, you come across very many taaks while taking a casual walk along the old Gurugram lanes. Roshanpura is particularly rich in them. Old houses still surviving here are reasonably vintage in the context of Gurugram — some traces their origins back to 100 years ago. Quite a few of them are in ruins, but you can see the taaks built right in their outer walls, mostly beside the doors. Obviously, these outdoors taaks had no utilitarian purpose and were put up for aesthetic pleasures alone. Too shallow for use, they look like an impression on the wall. Some of these are now all cobwebby. One taak is hidden behind a garbage bin—still bathed in beauty.
A lot of early houses in the area here have been partially renovated into new buildings, with occasional taaks managing to survive into the 21st century as the most visible souvenir of the long-ago time. The most heartbreaking sight is of a pair of taaks in what remains, presumably, the only existing wall of an old residence in Jacobpura. The taak is crammed with bricks. It looks as if somebody had wanted to choke the taaks but thankfully lost interest mid-way and moved on, leaving them to this half-alive state.
Since these old buildings are swiftly giving way to new ones, come for a taak tour before it gets too late.
Finding old time