The hammam (Arabic:حمام) is a Turkish-Muslim tradition of bathing, ritual cleansing and respect of water. The Turkish hammam has an improved style and functionality that emerged as annex buildings of mosques and quickly evolved into institutions and eventually into monumental structural complexes, the finest example being the Çemberlitaş Hammam in Istanbul, built in 1584. A typical hammam consists of three interconnected basic rooms similar to its Roman ancestors: the sıcaklık (or hararet -caldarium), which is the hot room, the warm room (tepidarium) which is the intermediate room and the soğukluk which is the cool room. The sıcaklık usually has a large dome decorated with small glass windows that create a half-light; it also contains a large marble stone at the center that the customers lie on, and niches with fountains in the corners. This room is for soaking up steam and getting scrub massages. The warm room is used for washing up with soap and water and the soğukluk is to relax, dress up, have a refreshing drink, sometimes tea, and where available, nap in private cubicles after the massage. Usually there is a five-step progression through the hammam. First is the seasoning of the body with heat; second is the vigorous massage; third is the peeling off of the outer layer of skin, fourth, the soaping, and fifth, relaxation.
Hammam-e-Kadami, as the name suggests, is an old hammam of Bhopal. Built by Dost Mohammad Khan (1722-28), Hammam-e-Kadami is the only hammam that is functioning today, the nearest perhaps being in Turkey. It is a three chambered structure joined by a corridor. The entrance chamber has a vaulted roof with taqchas on all sides. The other two have domed roofing. It is however the steam chamber that is of significance. A large copper vessel is used to heat water that is stored in a tank above it. The heat is generated with the help of wooden logs inserted in arched basement. The steam is taken through copper pipes embedded in the floor and walls of the chamber. From the rooftop one can see five openings called the (naak) nose and (kaan) ears that maintain the ventilation inside. The hammam opens every year the day night of Dipawali and closes the night before Holi. The bath is open from 8 PM till 8 AM for gents and for ladies in the morning.
A masseur is assigned depending on the clients build. The client lies down on a slab that rises about one meter above the floor. The hot steam makes the limbs become soft and rubbery, and ready for a massage. The masseur start pulling, twisting, kneading and pummeling the client like lumps of dough. After this massage the body is scrubbed using some kind of body brush down the back with long sweeps from shoulders to waist. Days’ accumulation of dead skin and dirt curled into the hairs of the brush. Entire body is then soaped and rinsed by pouring water over head. That is that, and it is time to relax.