City Monument – Winter-Time Ghamand Sarai, Gurgaon
Stones of November.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Without fail, the malleable winter light always softens the jagged stones, lying on the top, into a texture that appears only partially solid. As if a mere touch of the finger might alter the shape of these stones, and temper them into a dream-like Salvador Dali artwork.
Built entirely of stones, Ghamand Sarai in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazar has already been celebrated by The Delhi Walla, and the dispatch then had focused on the legend behind its name. But this ruin is more than just a source of thrill to history-minded pedants. The monument becomes a necessary sight in the cold weather months, when the weak daylight transforms the edifice into a thing ethereal. And while one refuses to be romantic about the winter-time pollution, it is to be acknowledged that the mist-like smog heightens the visual sublimity of this longstanding landmark.
The arched gateway, though, is such an integral part of the place that its special beauty is barely registered by labourers who pass along the facing street all day long. Scores of small stalls and shops lie on the gateway’s both sides, which claim more attention from passersby. The gateway is one of the few relics of of Gurugram’s architectural past, and is believed by nearby shopkeepers to be more than a century old. It hasn’t been properly loved. Few decades ago, locals tell, parts of it were demolished to make way for a passageway. Even so, the ruin is permeated with quiet grace. Its name, Ghamand Sarai, suggests that it might have been part of a sarai, a lodge for travellers, commissioned by some rich patron notorious for his ghamand, or arrogance.
One evening, the twilight had settled down solemnly on the gateway’s higher reaches. A crow landed on one of the stones, and soon flew away, leaving the gateway to the approaching night.