Enveloped: On Labyrinths and Wells

Copyright belongs to Suchita Chadha
Copyright belongs to Suchita Chadha

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Enveloped.”

Anything circular, it seems to me, is the epitome of something enveloped. There’s a sense of being surrounded, but also of infinity. There’s no beginning and no ending – it just is.

Part of the Bara Imambara complex in Lucknow, the baoli, a steep well with running water, was one of my favourite spots when I visited Lucknow. Barmeaning “big” and Imambara referring to the residence of the Imam, a religious leader in Islam (bara is house, so literally, Imam’s house”), the Bara Imambara is of particular relevance to the Shia Muslims, who gather there to comemorate Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

The Bara Imambara was commissioned by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Lucknow, and was constructed from 1785-1791. The project was in part to create employment during the famine that began in 1784. A commonly told story is that as commoners worked during the day, noblemen worked at night, thus ensuring everyone got equal work and pay, while still respecting the class differences that were prominent in that time.

The baoli was one the last parts of our tour which began with the bhool bhulayian (labrynith), and later ended with a stunning view of the imambara complex on one side, and the entire Lucknow city on the other. Nonetheless, there was a very simplistic beauty about the well, a remnant of the ancient water system once used on those grounds.

Somewhat unrelated, but still fitting, is this quote from John Green’s Looking for Alaska:

After all this time, it seems to me like straight and fast is the only way out- but I choose the labyrinth. The labyrinth blows, but I choose it.

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