Seeing through stone

An artistic way of regulating the flow of light

GUJARAT, DAMAN, and DIU

j 8 champ

Champaner

Before setting out on our recent extended travels through Gujarat, I booked accommodation via a well-known travel website. The hotel I chose for Ahmedabad was the aptly named ‘Hotel Goodnight’. Its address, ‘Opp. Sidi Saiyed’s Jali, near Electricity House…’, intrigued me. What is a ‘Jali’, I wondered, apart from being an anagram of ‘jail’.

j 9 kings ahm

Ahmedabad

The word ‘jali’ (or ‘jaali’) means ‘net’ in Hindustani. As an architectural term, it refers to stone (usually) grille window screens. These screens are carefully intricately carved in stone. A flat stone is carefully perforated to produce an elaborate lattice of spaces surrounded by the remaining strands of stone. In India, they are found in temples (Hindu and Jain), mosques, and secular buildings. They are usually very attractive. These carved stone window coverings, that simultaneously provide shade and the passage of light, can be seen outside India. For example, there is at least one…

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