City Landmark – Old Staircase, Connaught Place
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Despite being such a well-explored shopping district, Connaught Place is astonishing in its scope of picturesque spots still waiting to be discovered.
Take that amazing winding staircase in H Block, Outer Circle—the building has Vaastu Kala written on its front. Pickled in its unique atmosphere, this long, old-fashioned staircase has far more to offer than huffing and puffing.
Like a souvenir from another time, it gently winds its way to three floors, punctuated by narrow landings. The many twists and turns of the entire staircase can be surveyed from the ground floor. It can also be similarly surveyed from the top. The views are absorbing, the staircase appears like a spring that’s suddenly released from inside a box and zaps out to its maximum.
This block is crammed with small offices though this afternoon the staircase is empty. At times you suddenly hear the footsteps and see sudden, fleeting glimpses of feet climbing up or going down. Right now an office server passes by with a tray holding dainty tea cups.
Such moments of human sighting disappear instantly like bubbles in the air, as if they have been swallowed by the staircase’s damp darkness.
Each individual stair consists of a kind of spotty stone tiling in grey and orange, with strips of white. This kind of tiling is rarely sighted (you do get to see it in some north Delhi mansions built not long after the partition). While the staircase’s stony handrails have been so thoroughly softened and blackened by the years that they look like a melting solid.
The area has many such blocks but many of them have their old venerable staircases renovated to contemporary everyday look that make them appear as dreary as the ordinary world. But this particular staircase is very distant from the present day, embalmed in a kind of disappointed dignity borne out of living through too many vicissitudes.
Finding lost time