Thursday, Nov 15, 2018 | Last Update : 02:55 AM IST

400-year-old Turkish spa a big hit in Bhopal

THE ASIAN AGE. | RABINDRA NATH CHOUDHURY
Published : Jan 8, 2018, 6:37 am IST
Updated : Jan 8, 2018, 6:37 am IST

The steam is then transferred through copper pipes embedded in the floor and walls of the chamber.

The hammam where visitors get a steam batch before massage with  various scented oils.
 The hammam where visitors get a steam batch before massage with various scented oils.

Bhopal: Come winter, a steady stream of fitness freaks, from Madhya Pradesh and outside, visit a hammam or Turkish bath, built by former nawab in Bhopal, for a comforting steam bath at the ancient facility.

Descendants of Hajjam Hummu Khalida, who had received Hammam-e-Kadami as a gift from Nawab Dost Mohammad Khan (1722-28), kept it functional, without any disruptions, for the past 400 years.

The facility has generated enough curiosity among historians, archaeologists and tourists.

"The hammam is built in the style of Camberlitas hammams of Istanbul. The Hammam-e-Kadami is the only active hammam in India," Jitu Mishra, an archaeologist and co-founder of Virasat-e-Hind  Foundation, told this newspaper.

“It is quite amazing that Hammam-e-Kadami is still functioning today. The state government should take measures for its preservation at least by providing grants to the poor family,” a retired superintendent of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Bhopal circle, said.

Stating that he was the fourth generation guardian of the hammam, Mohmmad, 60, said, "His 14-member-family runs the hammam giving a taste of heritage as well as 'freshness of a newborn' to their customers by treating them to steam bath and several massages.”

“We call it unani hammam since the perfumed oils used for massages are made out of different herbs and manufactured in our home,” he added. The hammam that operates for three months in a year (Diwali to Holi) is the only source of livelihood for the family.

“The earning is just a pittance. Besides, it is not an  easy task to preserve and conserve a heritage of importance,” Salim, a member of the family, said.

Price for steam bath per person has been fixed at `500 and the customer has to shell out `200 extra if he or she wants to have a blissfully relaxing body rub. The hamman receives around 60 customers a day.

The use of traditional ingredients in the massages are particularly beneficial for rheumatic and asthmatic patients; health experts too endorsed the family's claim.

The hammam is a three-chambered structure joined by a corridor. The entrance chamber has a vaulted roof with alcoves on all sides. The other two chambers have domed roofing.

The main steam room is a chamber in which thick, hand-hewn slabs of limestone are laid over a hollowed-out floor, with a small, circular glass window in the vaulted roof lighting the chamber.

The steam is produced by burning logs in the arched basement, which heats water contained in a large copper vessel.

The steam is then transferred through copper pipes embedded in the floor and walls of the chamber.

From the roof top, one can notice five openings called the naak (nose) and kaan (ears) that function as the structure’s ventilators.

Tags: turkish spa, turkish bath