Sketching a Mosque & Buses in Bijapur

•January 19, 2017 • 1 Comment


In central Bijapur, the bustling crowds against the backdrop of Adil Shahi monuments provided perfect sketching material. Yet, crowds are difficult to sketch anywhere, and Bijapur’s combination of heat, smog, traffic, and minimal pedestrian space made a full day of sketching in the streets tiring. In the evenings, we sought respite a little out of town. We reached Bijapur’s outskirts surprisingly quickly. The noise and buildings began to give way to quiet open spaces and fields. In a fallow field of grass with grazing buffalo, we spotted a small Adil Shahi mosque, recently whitewashed and still in use. Incongruously parked against one wall were a line of defunct public buses. The cheerful muezzin chatted with us before his evening azan. In the space of a few minutes, he narrated his life’s story, told us of his love for cricket and informed us that the buses were purchased from the government by a local businessmen who took them apart for scrap.


Jal Mandir, Bijapur

•January 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

jal_mandirJal Mandir is a small, richly carved pavilion, built by the Adil Shahis in the middle of a small pond. The pond is dry now. Opposite it a government office hums with people. Government work in India is famous for the number of forms required, and by Jal Mandir people with typewriters offer their services to type up any required documents.

Sketching in Bijapur: Gol Gumbaz

•January 12, 2017 • 12 Comments

After too long I managed to make a sketching trip in India with my aunt (see her sketches at sketchaway). We drove to Bijapur (now called Vijayapura), a Deccan town in northern Karnataka. By road, Bijapur rises suddenly from a landscape planted with millet, pomegranate and grapes. The town’s streets stream continuously with people. Amidst crowds of uniformed school children are farmers in strident yellow turbans. They share the roads with the usual cast of cows and dogs but also horse-drawn carts and bristly, black pigs. Rising above the city skyline, dwarfing the trees and new concrete construction, are old domes of many sizes. Each dome bursts upwards from a ring of stone petals and ends in a tall finial. The domes cap the palaces, mosques, and tombs of the Adil Shahi dynasty. The Adil Shahis ruled from the 15th to the 17th century, and made Bijapur their capital. Under them, the city was beautified with gardens and mosques and equipped with a complex water system. Foreign visitors and traders frequented Bijapur’s many serais. 

With its mixture of old and new, Bijapur is the perfect place for sketching. We roamed the streets and spent time drawing the monuments. I could write at length of the conversations and kindness of people we met while sketching, but I will try to stick to pictures here. 🙂

Bijapur’s most famous monument is the Gol Gumbaz, the tomb of Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah. Its dome is one of the largest in the world and has strange acoustics properties. Two people sitting at opposite sides within it can whisper towards the wall and hear each other perfectly, as if they are side by side. Usually this is impossible to experience as visiting school children fill the dome with screams and shouts, delighted by the echos.


The grounds of the Gol Gumbaz have been wonderfully landscaped by the Archaeological Survey and are filled with shade trees. In a quiet garden adjoining the main compound, we sketched an overgrown ruin with its single minaret.


Besides the Gol Gumbaz is a mosque and small museum. Beyond the mosque, in the distance, other domes are visible above the trees.


More Bijapur sketches to come!

Sketching in Steven’s Creek, California

•January 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

These are sketches of an old-fashioned sign in the Steven’s Creek area of San Jose, California. It was a very sunny day and the street was lined with palm trees so we ended up with a classic California scene.





Mohini: Sketching in Bangalore

•January 13, 2015 • 2 Comments

I haven’t done much sketching recently, but I was looking through my old sketchbook and thought I would post some of the sketches I hadn’t posted before. These are all from Bangalore. The first is of a dusty street with shops selling car parts. It was quite early in the morning so most of the shops were closed.

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The following sketch is of the front of a truck. It was parked in a mechanic’s lot, awaiting some repairs. Another mechanic along the street very graciously set up some boxes in his store for us to sit on while we drew. Trucks in India are nice not just because they are brightly painted and decorated, but also because the license plates tell you which part of the country they come from. This truck was from Haryana.

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Finally, this sketch is of a row of shops selling fabrics. They were situated within the courtyard of a beautiful old building. Unfortunately, I neither read nor speak Kannada, so I have to copy the text on signs with no idea of what I am writing or if I have got it down correctly. 🙂

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Hopefully I will have time to sketch some more soon and post newer sketches.

Mohini: Sketching in Spain & Portugal

•January 13, 2015 • 1 Comment

These sketches from Spain and Portugal are quite old; from over 2 years ago. I never got around to posting them earlier.We took a two-week trip through southern Spain in the summer and drove through many small towns. It was extremely hot and dry. In the small towns, the buildings are painted white and they gleam in the sun, while the shadows are dark and defined.  I can not recall exactly where all the sketches were done, but I have labelled the ones I do remember.


The following two sketches are of Zuheros. The town was at an elevation, and the landscape around it was rocky and covered in olive trees. The main square of the town was odd (and beautiful) because it was built right up against a rocky outcrop on which was perched the ruined battlement of a Moorish castle. Right beneath it were benches where people sat in the evening. I tried to capture this scene in the second sketch, though I don’t think it really conveys how peculiar it looked to have the walls of an old fort looming over the town square.

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The next couple of sketches are from other towns in southern Spain, but I can’t remember their names. I do remember that the house in the first sketch won an award for having the prettiest facade in the town. Every window sill was heaving with flower pots.

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These last few sketches are of Cascais, a beach town in Portugal. The building in the first sketch was very beautiful. In the right-hand corner you can see the dome over a window that was decorated with green ceramic tiles.



Sketching in Jayanagar

•June 4, 2014 • 9 Comments

Finally, after a long gap, here are some recent sketches. We sketched in Jayangar 4th Block, which is a busy commercial area of Bangalore. Our first subject was a man by his stall of bright cloth.





Then we sketched at an auto rickshaw stall. It was a hot day, and the drivers did not seem in the mood to take customers, so they sat in the shade and gossiped, occasionally coming over to peer at our progress. Autos are almost visual cliches now, but they have nice curves and many interesting mechanical parts and are great fun to draw.