HERITAGE ARCHIVES Volume 1 | Issues 1 | April 2015
Special focus in this Issue: Travel & Exploration
In this Issue
HERITAGE ARCHIVES VOLUME 1 | ISSUE 1 | APRIL 2015 Jahaz Mahal, Mandu’s Wonderland Chief Editor
Gency Chaudhuri Zehra Chhapiwala
By Nirdesh Singh
Youth for Heritage Foundation Governing Council Mindboggling Madurai
By Vidya Murali President
Vikramjit Singh Rooprai
Durbars & Walks
Dr. Madhu Singh
Wandering in the Ancient Ruins of Delhi
Importance of Awareness for Heritage
Role of Women in History – Rani Lakshmi Bai
The Ubiquitous Samosa
Exquisite Miniatures of Mindscapes
Best Discussion in Heritage Durbar
… 35 1
What is Youth for Heritage Foundation? Youth for Heritage Foundation or YFHF is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) with an aim to increase awareness among people with special focus towards youth. While YFHF as an NGO has been in existence only for a year now, it has been functioning in various “avatars” since 2009. This is an initiative of Vikramjit Singh Rooprai – an IT professional who took up this mantle for his sheer love for heritage. Over the years, he has become a known name among the heritage lovers of Delhi.
Under the umbrella of YFHF, the following sub-organizations function independently:
www.monumentsofdelhi.com – a website which lists all the monuments of Delhi and also has a lot of information on Delhi history itself. For example, the eternally perplexing question of how many cities were there in Delhi has been addressed in the most comprehensible manner on this website. Delhi Heritage Photography Club – a Delhi based photographer’s club which promotes heritage awareness through photography. Functioning as a Facebook group, this club organizes photowalks and photography exhibitions. Further, it also encourages people to post pictures related to built heritage across the world and have serious discussions on them. Heritage Durbar – another Facebook group which is a pure discussion forum on heritage. This group also organizes monthly lecture / discussion sessions at India Habitat Centre and some times at a few lesser known monuments of Delhi. Heritage Hunter – This initiative aims at promoting travel across India to explore unknown or lesser known heritage sites.
The journey so far has been exciting, and it is therefore worthwhile to record the same in a quarterly magazine. We decided to choose the first anniversary of YFHF foundation to start this magazine. The magazine will have articles written by some of our esteemed members showcasing our history and heritage from various parts of India while focusing on the need to create an awareness of our rich past and preserving them, a women’s segment that will showcase women’s role in Indian history, a recap of the events of the last three months along with abstracts of the talks / lectures held. We will also talk about the events planned for the next three months and a few short articles related to the forthcoming events. We also have a quiz section in the magazine for people to learn, unlearn, and imbibe new ideas. From next issue there will be a reader’s column for those who wish to say something about the magazine or enquire about publishing an article in our magazine. So, come one, come all – on this exciting journey to the past. You can connect with us on internet / Facebook / twitter and also participate in walks / lectures / trips. The only ticket that you need is your enthusiasm; the rest is, anyway, written in the sands of time. Disclaimer: All views expressed here in the articles are those held by the respective authors.
TRAVEL & EXPLORATION Jahaz Mahal, Manduâ€™s Waterworld First look at Jahaz Mahal and you are convinced that the steps you see on the A journey back to the medieval era, describing eastern facade are a later addition on a preexisting ramp or cascade. The ramp various worldly pleasures enjoyed by the Mandu probably was a medieval water slide from rulers in their own water kingdom which Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji (different from the Khilji dynasty that ruled Delhi) along with his reported fifteen thousand harem inmates splashed down into the Kapur Talao below. Mandu was the laboratory where Sultans first devised their water sports. The Mughals probably usurped the water sports and brought them to their palaces in Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, and Delhi. When summers get scorching, we head to the nearest water park, while the Malwa Sultans headed to Mandu. The Jahaz Mahal complex was Mandu Sultan's Waterworld. Every conceivable water architectural feature can be found here - fountains, cisterns, baths, hammams, aqueducts, water channels and baolis (step wells). It seems the buildings here were just incidental.
As you enter the ticketed complex, two big water tanks can be seen on either side. On the left is the Munj Talao and on the right is the Kapur Talao or Camphor Tank. Munj Talao is possibly named after the Parmar King Munj, a contemporary of Raja Bhoj. And, it is here that you see the most invigorating and refreshing building in a town that is dotted with largely sombre monuments. The two-storeyed Jahaz Mahal looks like a berthed luxury cruise ship about to sail into the seas. With pavilions on the top,
projecting balconies over the talao and open terraces, this truly was the Love Boat. Aboard, there were all kinds of amenities to make this pleasure ride a truly memorable one. The complex is one big spa and the royalty was spoilt for choice. If not in mood to swim in Kapur Talao, the Sultan could just soak himself on the terrace-top bath on the Jahaz Mahal while a couple of consorts worked up an aromatic lather, and all this while the Sultan would take in the delightful expanse of water of the artificial tanks on both sides. Beautifully designed water channels brought water from the water-lift. Below on the lower level there is another larger cistern with landing creatively designed to resemble a mini baoli. On the top, Jahaz Mahal has pavilions on all four sides. After his bath or swim, the Sultan would sit under one of the pavilions as the consorts dried him with silk towels and helped him into silk robes, while others sang and played music for him. Wine would flow, as cool breeze soothed the Sultan after a long hot day. It is believed that Ghiyas himself did not drink. Peace reigned during his long years at the helm. He had one thousand female guards - five hundred Turkish females in menâ€™s clothes would stand on the right and five hundred Abyssinian females would stand on the left - all uniformed, armed and dangerous. As evening darkened, lighted lamps would be let adrift on the water. Floating lamps, wafting music and heady wine would all combine to create a magical evening. Donâ€™t worry, there were cool options for the hot afternoons also. Next to the Hindola Mahal, among the ruins of the palaces is the Champa Baoli, probably named for its sweet water that smells like the flowers of Champak Tree. Here, there are underground passages and vaulted rooms. To you it seemed like a bhoolbhulaiya where you had a hard time getting out while trying to not hit your head on the low ceiling. A passage leads to the base of the baoli which you could not find and is perhaps restricted. The royalty would descend here into the tehkhana during the hot languorous afternoons.
This is not all. The architects really knew how to please their masters. Walking further into the ruined palace area beyond the baoli brings you to the most fascinating and creative architectural feature of the complex. This is the Hammam or hot bath. The domed roof has slits and holes cut in the shape of stars. The hammam was probably made use of during cold monsoon evenings or when the Sultan was in a romantic mood. On a moonlit night, the star shaped patterns would fall below giving the notion of a celestial bath among the stars and moon. Now this is definitely creative and romantic!
Beyond the Jahaz Mahal on the western fringe of Munj Talao is the Jal Mahal. On the lower level again there are cisterns built for leisure. Climbing up you are greeted by Munj Talao stretching into the east with the ship like Jahaz Mahal rising on the horizon.
The construction of the Jahaz Mahal and other related bathing paraphernalia is accredited to Ghiyas-ud-din Khilji (14691500) and probably his son Nasir-ud-din Khilji (1500-1510). As per medieval tradition, the impatient son duly poisoned his aging father and ascended the throne. Some accounts say Nasir-uddin once survived drowning in a reservoir while intoxicated but soon died unhappy while others say he did drown. It is apparent that the father-son duo loved their baths. Jahangir, later in his memoirs noted his abhorrence for Nasir’s actions in killing his father. Jahangir had his grave dug and bones thrown into Narmada. To probably pre-empt any such eventuality in his own case, Jahangir went medieval on his own son Khusrau and blinded him. The games Sultans and Emperors play! While going through Yazdani’s book on Mandu, your assumption is proved right. Emperor Jahangir added the steps on top of a cascade in Jahaz Mahal. The water from top would cascade down through the channels into Kapur Talao. In the company of Nur Jahan, the sweetness of air and pleasantness of verdant surroundings drove Jahangir ecstatic. During monsoons when the two talaos are filled to the brim and misty rain descends in waves over the talao, the setting of Jahaz Mahal becomes joyously exhilarating. The Jahaz Palace is a cruise that you don’t want to miss. You know this time you will come back in the rains. How to reach: The nearest railway station is Indore, at a distance of 65 kms from Mandu. Private buses ply between Indore and Mandu regularly but a private vehicle is the best option for sightseeing. Best time to visit is during the monsoons; when the water bodies get filled up, bringing Jahaz Mahal alive, like a ship set sail on calm waters. Entry fee is nominal at just Rs. 5 for Indians and Rs 100 for foreigners. The monument remains open on all days of the week from 6 am to 7pm.
References: 1. Mandu - The City of Joy by G. Yazdani 2. Mandu by D. R. Patil published by ASI 3. Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri - Memoirs of Jahangir
- Nirdesh Singh Writer wishes, he were a historian or an archaeologist. To stay sane, he is doing the next best thing – tripping and discovering built heritage of India. It has been an incredible journey so far for him.
TRAVEL & EXPLORATION Mindboggled in Madurai Madurai overwhelms. Be it its antiquity, ethnic pride, population density, culture quotient, quirks or its unstinting warmth, nothing comes in modest measures here.
The author gives a detailed description as she wanders into the lanes of this famous historic city located in the south of India
Being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Madurai was already a gloriously flourishing megapolis when Megasthenes wrote about it in 3rd century BC. Since the day when its famed Academies (Sanghams) nurtured and propagated the Tamil language and culture, to this day in its present avatar as a second tier IT hub, the vibrant city has been ticking on without a shut-eye. Not for nothing has it earned the sobriquet ‘Thoonga Nagaram’ - The City That Never Sleeps. Madurai cannot afford to sleep. Being the nerve center of southern Tamil Nadu, it serves as an emporium for goods from all over the southern districts. The famed wholesale mandis especially of onion, banana, and jasmine transact mind boggling quantities and varieties of produce 24 x 7! Functioning in a warren of labyrinthine alleyways right in the middle of the city, these mandis are a flurry of colours, smells, and sounds unique to Madurai.
The Meenakshi Temple (Picture Courtesy: Vijay Sundaraman Iyer) The jasmine bazaar especially, is one “memorable Madurai experience” not to be missed by any visitor. 'Madurai Malli', greatly popular since time immemorial, enjoys the GI tag now. Up to 15 tons of jasmine flowers are traded every day, most of it coming from the foothills of Kodaikanal. Being perishable, the flower demands mercurial speed in logistics. It is packed and dispatched before the buds open; to all parts of India, the Far-East, and the Middle-East spreading its fragrant fame far and wide.
The city itself unfurls like whorls of the gundumalli around the pivot. Sprawling across six hectares, the magnificient Meenakshi Amman temple complex with 14 gopurams (towers), five entrances, a dozen halls, and innumerable sculptures; is an architectural wonder that draws not only adoring pilgrims from within the country, but awestruck tourists from overseas too. The average footfall is 14,000 per day! Though the main shrine is dedicated to Lord Sundareshwara, it is Meenakshiâ€™s shrine that commands greater popularity as Meenakshi is both the beloved daughter of Madurai and its protecting mother. Verily, a queen of hearts! What can be said of the great temple that has not already been sung about a million times over by a legion of visitors down the centuries? It is a living organism that has grown with the city with successive protectors; the Pandyas, the Chozhas, and the Vijayanagar Nayakas, adding elements to its beauty and extent. Brief episodes of pillage by agents of the Delhi Sultans were quickly overshadowed by the munificent care lavished on it by the Nayakas.
One of the halls within the Meenakshi Temple Complex (Picture Courtesy: Vijay Sundaraman Iyer)
The famed Golden Lotus pond, that lies within the temple premises, is said to have played â€˜The Judgeâ€™ during Sangham times, in deciding the worthiness of literary works. Thrown into it, good works floated up, the bad just sank! The Ayiramkalmantapam (1000 pillared hall) with exquisitely carved pillars and a good collection of antique Chozha bronzes is now a ticketed museum. The Ashtashakthimantapam, the Kambattadimantapam, Kilikoodumantapam, and the Velli Ambalam are the other famous halls having outstanding sculpted decorations. The murals, though, have all been repainted to an unfortunately unaesthetic effect.
Meenakshi’s wedding is the biggest event in the city’s calendar, celebrated with great pomp and gaiety. The other pageant is the Float Festival, a pleasure cruise for the divine couple in the Theppakulam, a large tank to the east of the temple, built by Thirumalai Nayakar (reign: 1623 – 1659). Thirumalai Nayakar also built a fabulous pavilion named Vasanthamantapam opposite the temple, showcasing Nayaka sculptural art at its zenith. Today called Puthumantapam, the Vasanthamantapam serves as a local market which sells household goods: utensils, fabrics, tools, and plastic stuff all piled under, above, and around the exquisite 17th century yalis, horsemen, gods and kings. Heritage lovers have been wringing their hands in despair but the market which got its license to trade 70 years ago, has itself become - Heritage! Thirumalai Nayakar’s own residence, the Nayakar Mahal built in 1636, has suffered a worse fate. The once colossal monument has been decimated to just one wing called Swarga Vilasam, now a protected and ticketed monument with a sound and light show. The awe- inspiring remnant is an immense courtyard lined by colonnaded corridors, meeting at a domed hall, built of brick and mortar without the use of rafters and girders. The massive pillars, finished to marble like smoothness with specially formulated plaster, measure over 20 meters in height and 4 meters in circumference each. Elegant stucco decorations crown all the pillars, cornices and the dome of the hall. Attached to the main hall is a smaller but equally beautiful Natyasala (dance hall) housing a museum of sculptures and archeological finds. The other historic palace in the city is Rani Mangammal’s Thamukkam palace. An elegant 17thcentury building converted into a Gandhi Sangrahalaya, one of the five museums run by The Gandhi Memorial Trust. Madurai has a special place in the life history of Gandhi; for it was here that he renounced western attire and adopted the common man’s loin-cloth. River Vaigai shares much in the glorious history and culture of Madurai, but sadly it is now a ghost of its former self. The city is surrounded by many rocky hills which retain imprints of Madurai’s Jain past in the form of rock-cut and cave temples. Though Tamil pride runs high here, Madurai has been a gracious asylum to immigrants from the north. Well assimilated with the local community are the Pattunoolkarars; weavers from Saurashtra who immigrated during the Nayaka times. The colourful tie-and-dye saree introduced by them has always been popular as “Madurai Sungud” and is now GI tagged. The Muslim settlers have given Madurai another landmark, the 13thcentury Kazimar Big Mosque, the oldest in Tamil Nadu. They have also given the city a unique beverage called Jigarthanda, which is proudly claimed as a “Madurai special” found nowhere else. Cool, sweet, and filling; the rich milk based concoction leaves one pleasantly satiated yet asking for more. Just like Madurai itself!
- Vidya Murali Senior homemaker. Fond of reading, writing, traveling and be-ing. Philosophy in life: Sense of Wonder and Desire to Learn add life to living. Favorite quote: "If you want to be happy, be."
TRAVEL & EXPLORATION Wandering in Ancient Ruins of Delhi (Jahaj Mahal, Hauzi Shamsi, Pavilion of Hauz-i-Shamsi, and Jharna….. all in Mehrauli….)
Two weeks including Saturdays, of gruelling work at office, was a bit too much to bear and I was finally struck by a “Wanderlust for ancient monuments in Delhi”!
The author takes a leisure walk down Mehrauli, a place that is replete with history from pre-Mughal times
Not bothering about the ritual of “sleep in a bit during Sunday mornings”, I was up and about, early in the morning to make a hasty run to my beloved monuments and also to avoid a cruel beating down of the June sun. Lo and behold, I found myself in front of Jahaj Mahal (Mehrauli). Feeling very light and energetic, and free to float everywhere, I looked around suspiciously, fearing that I may have passed away and this was my “Rooh”! Exhilarated at this new found freedom, I rapidly flew past Jahaj Mahal, its three sided, shallowed-out moat, one side now being covered by the road! The famous Jharna (now a sorry sight) in a depression opposite Jahaj Mahal, the Pavilion of Iltutmish and his dream, Hauz-i-Shamsi……… But that was not to be. Suddenly, whilst I hung mid-air, admiring the intricate stone carvings on the pillars of the Pavilion, I heard a soprano of “Madam Madam….” (sung by my driver), then a pandemonium of cars honking, screeching breaks…, only then did I realize, that I had simply dozed off……. That hour or so long drive from my place to Mehrauli, had rocked me into an exhausted slumber, but my mind still yearned to be at places I had decided to be. Hence, was already there ahead of me…… Now began the actual survey.
Jahaj Mahal No this is not the Jahaz Mahal aka Hindola Mahal of Mandu. Surrounded by a moat, Jahaz Mahal is located next to Hauz-i-Shamsi in Mehrauli, Delhi. It was so called as its reflection in the surrounding Huaz-i-Shamsi, resembled a ship floating on a lake. It is inferred to have been built during the Lodi dynasty period (1452–1526) as a pleasure resort, or Sarai (inn). Its construction is dated between 1451 AD and 1526 AD, before Babur’s invasion and the beginning of Mughal rule in Delhi. It is said that one reason for building the Jahaz Mahal retreat was to provide transit accommodation as a Sarai (inn) to the large number of pilgrims from Afghanistan, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco and Turkey who came to Delhi, the revered land, to visit the many Muslim shrines in the city. Another version is that it was built as a retreat for the Emperors, Akbar Shah II and Bahadur Shah II and their families, during the summer months, away from the heat and dust of Delhi
The palace has a courtyard in its centre and carved impressive square pavilions/chhatris (six of them with different numbers of pillars – six, eight and twelve) or towers in the corners and the center, ornamented with beautiful squinches in different chambers and walls. The domed pavilion over the central gate is decorated with blue tiles. A small mosque is also located within the palace, as discerned from a mihrab in a niche on the west wall. As there are rooms aligned on the ground floor in Jahaj Mahal, so are there rooms at the level of the Moat; perhaps they served as ‘Cooler Rooms’ then. Jahaz Mahal is the venue of the annual colorful festival of the Phool Walon Ki Sair (means a procession of the florists) or ‘Sair-i-Gulfaroshan’ held in October every year. A procession of flower bedecked pankhas (fans) made and carried by the flower vendors starts from Mehrauli at the overflow outlet of the Hauz-iShamsi tank, called “Jharna”, stops at the Yogmaya Temple for the first offering of the flower fan as mark of reverence, moves to the Jahaz Mahal and finally ends at the famous dargah of Hazrat Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki for the presentation of the fans and chaadar at Kaki’s dargah. It is a hallmark of the syncretic Hindu-Muslim composite culture of the city and times. The festival was started by Emperor Akbar Shah II in 1820. It was later popularized by Emperor Bahadur Shah II. From 1942 it was discontinued for a brief period during the British rule but was restarted in 1961 at the initiative of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
Hauz-i-Shamsi The Hauz-i-Shamshi was a large reservoir built by Shamsud-Din Iltutmish, the second Sultanate ruler of Delhi in 1230 AD and, hence, named after him. The tank’s water has always been believed sacred because of its association with famous saints and sufis who visited the tank. Due to the association of the reservoir with a greatly revered saint such as Kaki, the water attains a sacred touch to it as well. I could not identify the tomb of 17th century Persian writer in the Mughal court, Abdul Haq Dehlavi, located at the edge of Hauz-i-Shamshi.
Pavillion at Hauz-i-Shamsi According to legend, it was Prophet Mohammed himself who came in Iltutmish’s dream to give him the idea of constructing a reservoir and also suggested a likely venue for it so as to solve the water problems of Delhi.
Hoof marks of the Prophet’s horse were found in the very place and therefore to commemorate his visit Iltutmish constructed a pavilion over the hoof marks and dug a deep reservoir around it making the pavilion stand in the centre of the reservoir. A variation of the legend says that Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki also had the same dream and when both reached the location they found the hoof marks there.
Our old man friend and his memoir Now there was this old man sitting in the Pavilion of Hauz-i-Shamsi, perhaps hallucinating the scenario and scents of bygone days. Dressed in tattered clothes with unkempt hair and warty dark skin, he seemed to have risen from a grave. Our old man friend told me that he had been born in this part of Mehrauli, near Hauz-i-Shamsi. A sad smile played on his face when he said that earlier there were not as many buildings, the place was full of greenery abounding with trees of Tamarind, Neem and Mangoes. The air was clear and the breeze scented, with the smell of Mango bloom, blew past the pavilion. The water of Hauz-i-Shamsi was so clean and potable, that he used to drink from there, like his father did before him. However, the place now reverberates with an aura of smell of rotting garbage in waters of Hauz-i-Shamsi, the waters themselves have turned putrid and green with overgrown aquatic weeds and stagnation. Then to add to it, in the pavilion one catches whiffs of smell of human faeces. Perhaps now the place also serves as an open air public convenience! Whilst he narrated, his old eyes with rings of cataract, glazed with tears of pride and happiness. Then almost enjoying my rapt attention, he added with a “matter-of-fact and know-it-all” air that “no wonder the Lodhis decided to build the Jahaj Mahal here, the 'Shangrila of Mehrauli' and for a while got busy with mixing his next dose of tobacco! Then again he continued, by jumping to Bahadur Shah II, that the Emperor too, enchanted by the picturesque beauty of the place and breeze like the elixir of life, used to come here with his entire family to enjoy cool summers. (“Well, Akbar Shah II also did the same, before him” ! I added mentally). Whilst I was wondering which Lodhi Emperor was to be credited with the construction of Jahaj Mahal - i) Bahlul Khan Lodi (1451–1489) or ii) Sikandar Lodi (1489–1517) or iii) Ibrahim Lodi (1517–1526) or the person who constructed Jahaj Mahal belonged to which years of Lodhi Era-1451 to 1526? Some odd 75 years?…… Suddenly, our old man friend had a changed, desperate and angry expression painted on his face. His eyes now glared with his flared nostrils, “the Jharna was so serenely beautiful, but those coal mongers have occupied most of it and it has now turned into a garbage bin”! He rasped. Before his anger had any other manifestations, I made a hasty retreat, with a Rs. 20.00 bill pushed in his palm and a “Shukriya, Khuda Hafiz”. He made an action as if to hit me with his raised arm, but later I realized that he had raised his arm to angrily throw the bill in the waters of Hauz-i-Sahmsi. There after he glared at me and laughed, sounding like a goose cackling. While leaving, I heard him say in muttered tones; “I don’t need money. I need those bygone days to come back, in all their glory”!
Was he a ghost of one of the Mamluks or Lodhi’s or Mughals?
Jharna Proceeding on, I began my hunt for the Jharna, a waterfall emanating from the Hauz-i-Shamsi. In the absence of a proper route map, little did I realise that across the road, just opposite Jahaj Mahal is the Jharna ! I did find it, snuggled in a depression behind the road, amidst encroached houses. I could feel the glaring stares of the inhabitants and also a Billy Goat alike. The Billy Goat decided to shoo me off with a threatening ‘Goaty-Stare’, curved horns ready to be used if required and poised to attack, with certain unfriendly grunts! However, after negotiating this “unfriendly Wel?-Come”, I entered the dilapidated gateway of ‘Jharna’. It is identified as a significant water structure that had been developed by Nawab Ghaziuddin around 1700 AD as a pleasure garden during the Mughal rule. An underground pipe (still visible in ruins) supplied the run-off to the Jharna from Hauz-i–Shamshi. This was in addition to an open channel close by that carried the overflow of the tank to Tughlaqabad Fort enhancing its drinking water supply. The Jharna structure was built in three parts (pictured – painting from Metcalfe’s album). The first part consisted of the reservoir or the tank, the second part was the waterfall and the last part consisted of the fountains.
Akbar Shah II built the pavilion on the side and his son Bahadur Shah II added the central pavilion, more in the style of Hayat Bakhsh pool in the Red Fort.
Bahadur Shah II had a pavilion built there, so it means that he used to go to Jharna.
The Jharna, which was once the Mughal retreat and the highlight of the three day festival of the Phool Walon Ki Sair, is seen now partly in ruins and the surroundings have been encroached upon (25 families are reported to be living here now). The water fall is seen more in the form of a drain in need of urgent restoration measures.
Journey Back With so many exquisite monuments, their memories embedded in my mind forever and my “Wanderlust for ancient monuments in Delhi” satiated for the day, I made my journey homewards, punctuated by cool glasses of “Bel Juice” and innumerable sticks of Kulfi. All the while, on my drive back, I kept remembering that strange encounter with “Our old man friend” and his muttering -“I need those bygone days to come back, in all their glory”! Was he a ghost of one of the Mamluks or Lodhis or Mughals?
- Madhu Singh Satellite Remote Sensing and GIS with Geology, are the discipline that have taken Madhu Singh round the world, to work in national and international Government Organizations and Universities of repute, but deep within, there was another passion, which made Madhu Singh burn the midnight oil in the quest of trying to learn about our historical past, our monumental heritage, the way our ancestors lived their life, the monuments they commissioned, and their chronicled biographies. This query of history and heritage made her a student once again, and has put her in the winding path of exotica of ancient Archaeology. Madhu Singh believes that Archaeology rests is the cradle of Geology and GIS and Satellite Remote Sensing are a set of new eyes to behold archaeological monuments.
HERITAGE AND AWARENESS Importance of Awareness for the Safekeeping of our Heritage “History is hereditary only in this way: we, all of us, inherit everything, and then we choose what to cherish, what to disavow, and what do next, which is why it's worth trying to know where things come from.” ― Jill Lepore
History is nothing more than a chronological record of past events. Heritage, however, is a legacy of historical traditions, achievements, beliefs, buildings, and any other object that is valued as heirloom. Heritage can therefore be a personal legacy or it can also be a national inheritance that defines and outlines the uniqueness of a nation.
Here the author speaks about our lack of pride in our heritage and our failure to understand the importance of conservation of historical monuments
India is a prime example of a distinct amalgamation of heritage that speaks of diverse cultures living in unison and harmony. Be it the beautiful temples built by the Pratiharas and the Chalukyas, or the magnificent mosques, forts, and palaces of the Lodhis and the Mughals. In every nook and cranny of our country we can see how the intermingling of diverse cultures and their distinct beliefs have shaped up beautiful palaces, forts, tombs, temples, baolis, and sculptures. These are a part of our national heritage because they showcase our diverse history and culture and define our present.
It is this national heritage that we, as citizens, must be willing to save, conserve, and retain for the benefit of posterity as well to preserve the distinctness of our nation that dictates—Unity in Diversity. However, the current situation shows that far from saving and conserving our heritage, we are vandalizing our monuments and using them as garbage dumps, graffiti spaces and resources for building material. Why are we so detached from our heritage? Is it because we are unsure of what exactly constitutes as a representation of our rich diverse heritage, or is it because we as a diverse society no longer associate with our multifarious past.
So what must we do to reduce this apathy and create a sense of ownership for our heritage?
Pic 1 - Sethan ki Chhatri, Farrukhnagar
The simplest and the foremost action that we can take to reduce disconnect towards our heritage and to conserve it, is to educate ourselves to be aware of our history and resultant heritage. The main aim of creating awareness is
to recognize the past and to build a bridge between the past and present by showcasing how the past is still significant to the present and future. One exemplary illustration of linking the past with the present are the old baolis ( step-wells) that dot every city and village. Baolis are an excellent example of water management system that our ancestors built in order to eradicate the problem of water shortage.
Clockwise: 2. Ghaus Ali Shah’s Baoli, Farrukhnagar, 3. Naraukiji Baoli, Bundi, 4. Nizamuddin Baoli, Delhi (Pics 3 and 4 Courtesy: Vipin Gaur)
Baolis were also socially significant as they were often the places for the community to gather around and spend time with friends and families. However, somewhere along the road to development, we forgot about these baolis. We forgot their importance in our daily lives, and they became dumping grounds. If we are to still solve the problem of water shortage, we must clean and revive the old baolis. Further, we must also ensure that they retain clean potable water that can be used by neighborhoods as was originally intended. It will also help us in continuing our engagement with these ancient water systems benefiting the society in general and conserving our age-old architecture and heritage in particular. Education and awareness will also help us in understanding how different cultures are deeply integrated in our country giving rise to the maxim that defines us—‘unity in diversity’.
Pic 5: Mihrab of Jamali Kamali Mosque. Delhi
This Mihrab of the Jamali Kamali mosque in Delhi is a beautiful example of our syncretic composite culture. See the beautiful full bloom lotuses with chiseled inscriptions in Arabic and Persian. Each element enhances the beauty of the other, yet each is diverse and unique in its own right! Looking at this Mihrab, one gets the impression of an artistic integration between two very different cultures - Indian and Persian. This brings to mind another question - who are we! Are we the culture that built the beautiful temples and decorated them with lotuses and figurines of gods and goddess (pic 6)? Or are we the culture that built the mosques to remember and revere and pray for the loved ones after their death? (pic 7)
(L to R) 6. Pillar Decoration at Ajanta. Maharashtra, 7. Jamali Kamali Tomb. Delhi
Or are we part of the culture that has beautifully integrated art from different cultures and bound them into one to build beautiful monuments?
Pic 8: Jamali Kamali Mosque. Delhi
Note in pic 8 the integration of lotus flower and the beautiful use of jharokhas and how each element is integrated with the other, showcasing how different cultures entwine harmoniously with each other. This awareness gives us a different perspective of our heritage. It teaches us that no matter how different we are, together we can be beautiful. Thus, even if in history we read about bloody wars, invasions, and conquests, we must not forget that culture and art has a way of bringing together different communities and binding them under one roof of harmony and peaceful coexistence. We must therefore relook and get a clearer perspective of these monuments and what they mean to us in our present lives and social structure. Awareness therefore is the key to understand our past. It helps us get a clear picture of what our ancestors suffered and what transpired to bring about a harmonious togetherness in the society that we
live in. Once we are aware of how important various monuments are to us and how deeply we are connected to each of them, we are bound to keep them clean and maintain the sanctity of these monuments, just as we would do for our homes. In conclusion, awareness, as stated before, is the first step towards saving and conserving our heritage. If we do not know what is important, how can we decide what to save and conserve. Thus, always be aware and try to spread awareness. How to spread awareness is another topic for another day. But today, with whatever you know, and where ever you go, do appreciate the heritage and history that defines the social structure of that place.
An Introduction to Conservation of Cultural Property, Bernard. M. Feilden, UNESCO, April 1979 Handbook of Conservation of Heritage Buildings, Published by, Directorate General, Central Public Works Department, July, 2013 http://www.icbse.com/topics/protect-heritage-monuments. (Last accessed: 22.12.2014) http://www.scribd.com/doc/39047386/Conservation-of-Historic-Buildings-Third-Edition#scribd (Last accessed: 22.12.2014)
- Gency Chaudhuri I am a slave to freedom as is the flowing river; and like the river I have touched many shores never stopping or looking back. Ironically, the only interests that have stayed with me is writing and history. Here is hoping I can give them both my very best till the very end.
WOMEN IN HISTORY Role of Women in Indian history – Rani Lakshmi Bai A trailblazing journey from being a chhabilee to the best ‘man’ on the rebel side. Here the writer describes in details about a rebel warrior Queen, the best India has seen in recent times
“Dikha gayee path, sikha gayee humko jo seekh sikhani thi, Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi, Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi” Memorial of Lakshmibai (Pic Courtesy: Nirdesh Singh) Anyone who has done their schooling in this country at some point of time has not just read but recited this poem penned by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, with much fervour and patriotism. Generations of poets, writers and filmmakers have tried to capture the essence of Lakshmibai and here is another humble attempt to put into perspective the events that lead to India's First War of Independence that lasted only as long as it's heroine, the indomitable Lakshmibai. Born as Manakarnika Tambe, she was affectionately called Manu until her marriage. Her father was Moropant Tambe, chief adviser of Chimaji Appa, brother of the last Peshwa, Baji Rao II. When the latter was deposed, they both went to live in Benares accompanied by their families. The Tambes of Wai were Karhada Brahmins and regarded as both astute warriors and statesmen. A man of principle, Moropant always believed "It is better to die in honest poverty than to live in immoral prosperity". Her mother, Bhagirathi, is said to have been uncommonly beautiful with a considerable knowledge of the Hindu epics. Manu, spent her early childhood in Benares though now little remains of the Chimaji's palace there which was her birthplace. Moropant later joined the exiled court of the last of the Peshwas and moved to Bithur. It was here that Manu met and befriended the Peshwa's son Nana Saheb; Rao Saheb, Nana's nephew and Tatya Tope; her future cohorts in the Indian Mutiny. Manu's beauty and vivacity charmed one and all and the old Peshwa, who was particularly fond of her, called her 'Chhabeeli'. Raised among the boys like a boy, she flew kites, ran races, learned to ride, shoot and fence. Of all the games she played, her favourite was where she played the Queen! Once, when denied an elephant ride on the basis of her status, Manu had said defiantly, "For your one elephant, I will have ten. Remember my words!" Indeed, she went on to have many elephants as the Rani of Jhansi. Her wedding to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi was celebrated with great splendour. Here again Manu, who was now renamed Lakshmibai in the honour of Goddess Lakshmi, very boldly said to the priest tying their knots before the ceremonial 'pheras'; in a clear voice 'Make the knot very firm!" And true to her words she remained faithful to her husband and his people till her last breath. The pomp and gaiety continued as she was with a child soon and the entire Jhansi was overjoyed at the birth of a legal
heir to the throne. But the happiness was short-lived as the child died within three months of birth plunging Gangadhar Rao and his people into deep sorrow. Acutely aware of the nefarious designs of Lord Dalhousie of spreading the bounds of British India, Gangadhar Rao lost his sleep, appetite and even a desire to live leaving him seriously ill. Before breathing his last, he adopted a boy according to Hindu religion and customs. The chosen heir was Anand Rao, a member of the royal family and a descendent of Gangadhar's grandfather, who was renamed Damodar Rao on adoption. Gangadhar Rao died in November, 1853 leaving behind a will to make Lakshmibai the regent of the state of Jhansi.
Pic 2: Jhansi Fort (Picture Courtesy: Nirdesh Singh)
At this opportune moment, Lord Dalhousie sprang into action wielding his most fiendish weapon, the Doctrine of Lapse. Satara was already annexed followed by Jaitpur and Sambalpur and now Jhansi was waiting to be lapped up. But Lakshmibai did not grieve for too long. With the future of Jhansi in mind, she set about her duties with determination and put into motion all the mechanisms that were required to save her kingdom from annexation. Living an austere life like that of a Brahmin widow in her chamber, she sat on the throne performing her daily duties diligently without the customary purdah and any favour. Despite the lack of knowledge of law and the British ways, she argued her cases very well and the British could not stop themselves from admiring her petitions that were accurate in facts, clear in logic and yet moderate in their tone. But despite all her spirited efforts, Lord Dalhousie succeeded in getting his proclamation sealed. Major Ellis, the man who would henceforth be responsible for the administration of Jhansi, broke the news of the annexation of Jhansi to the British Empire to Lakshmibai. White with rage, the defiant Rani boomed those words that have now become legendary "I will not give up my Jhansi" (Mai meri Jhansi kisiko nahi doongi")!
Pic 3: Jhansi Fort (Picture Courtesy: Nirdesh Singh)
Helpless against the law, she moved out of her palace in Jhansi Fort into a residence allotted to her in the city. Living off a pension from the British in her own kingdom, the Rani for the next 3 years continued her efforts to regain her kingdom and get closer to her people. At last she saw her opportunity in the 1857 uprising. It is imperative here to note that the case of greased cartridges was not the sole reason for the revolt but acted as a trigger to the already loaded general sentiment prevalent in the country at that time against the apathy of British administration. The British showed little respect for religious sentiments and an influx of their goods in markets lead to the gradual closing down of many industries putting a host of dependent trades into economic jeopardy. Yet the taxes grew heavier reducing scores of peasants to destitution. From sporadic incidents among Indian troops in Bengal to the uprising in Meerut and then the march to Delhi, the revolt can be dated from 10th May 1857. By first week of June, the rebels had seized Oudh, Cawnpore and Sitapur. Jhansi was on the fringe of this territory. By the time the revolt reached Jhansi the rebels had set a standard in ruthless massacres instilling fear in the British. Risaldar Kala Khan who was the leader of Jhansi mutiny was no exception and ordered all Europeans to be put to death. The British now sought refuge with the Queen who staunchly refused it. But out of compassion, she gave shelter to the innocent women and children in a wing of her building and provided them with food and protection. But a change of plans by their husbands proved disastrous and none survived the sepoy onslaught later.
Pic 4: Jhansi Fort Ramparts (Picture Courtesy: Nirdesh Singh)
Lakshmibai now lost no time in taking back her kingdom and dealt with the rebel sepoys tactfully. She convinced them to leave Jhansi for a negotiated sum of 100,000 rupees. She immediately set to task of putting Jhansi back to order. She called for a citizen's conference and sought people's participation in the establishment of peace and ensuring of progress of Jhansi. Meanwhile she also very shrewdly kept alive the diplomatic relations with the British. Under her, the people of Jhansi dedicated themselves to her motto of 'work, and more workâ€™. In a short time she built public offices, minted her own money, established courts of law and encouraged arts and literature. Though a devout Hindu, she was the most unorthodox in her administration. All positions of power were given on the basis of talent. An example being Khuda Baksh, her chief of artillery, whom even the British praised for the accuracy of his fire and his loyalty towards the Queen. Her generosity towards her people was legendary and her skills in administration are worth emulating even today.
Lakshmibai was not allowed to reign in peace for very long. Sadasheo Rao, a relative, captured the Kurrara fort and proclaimed himself the Maharaja of Jhansi. Lakshmibai sent a body of her now well trained troops who routed his men in a single encounter. He fled to Gwalior and organised another attack which was again thwarted and he was held as a state prisoner. Soon after, the Princes of Datia and Pihari attacked Jhansi with their combined armies. The Rani inflicted a crushing defeat on them and they hastened back in utter disbelief and confusion. But this was not to be the end of the minor wars fought by Lakshmibai. Rani of Orcha, Larhi Bai made a more formidable attack on Jhansi under her able general, Nathay Khan. Before the attack, Khan tried to negotiate with Lakshmibai by offering her pension equal to that offered to her by the British in exchange for a meek surrender of the Jhansi Fort. The proud Rani
retorted back 'Do your worst. I will make you a woman.' And she did it with great style and dominance. Helped by the Bundela noblemen and their militia, she waited for the Khan to come in her range of guns, giving him an illusion of easy passage. Once in, the Rani's gunners fired from high turrets forcing Khan and his men to back immediately. Khan, taking advantage of nightfall, shifted his guns and attacked Jhansi on daybreak, from all sides. Lakshmibai immediately ordered Khuda Baksh to fire the big bertha 'Kadak Bijli' and silenced the enemy guns. Khan and his men fled through the jungles where the Bundela noblemen were waiting with their army sparing none of the retreating enemies. After suffering a humiliating defeat, Larhi Bai asked for peace. This resounding victory not just silenced her many critics but rose her manifold in the love and esteem of her people who now had full faith in her just and brave rule. From August 1857 to January 1858, Jhansi saw peace and progress that started to bother the British administration. They began to devise plans to uproot the Rani from Jhansi. Not unaware of the impending assault, Lakshmibai strengthened her army by enlisting volunteers that included both men and women. She personally oversaw their training as she herself tirelessly trained for hours daily in the art of fighting with two swords in both her hands and the leash of her horse in her mouth! It speaks volumes of Lakshmibai's ferocity in battlefield and her fame as a feared ruler that a separate command was created for the campaign against Jhansi. The man in charge was Major General Sir Hugh Rose, who had more years of service behind him than the age of Lakshmibai! Starting on 6th December at Indore, he opened his campaign by capturing Sehore and Rahatghur and went on to defeat the Raja of Banpur. With the objective of opening roads on all the sides, he captured Sagar and the fort of Garhakota. The Raja of Banpur, the Nawab of Banda and the Raja of Shahgurh along with many other Bundela chiefs obstructed the march of Sir Hugh's army by taking advantage of the mountainous terrain infested with deep ravines and jungles. But the out of the box thinker that Sir Hugh was, he easily deceived the enemy and proved too quick for them. On hearing of his Mandanpur victory, Lakshmibai sent an appeal for help to Tatya Tope and Rao Saheb, her childhood friends. Tatya responded immediately by making a sudden attack on the Rajas of Panna and Charkhari, who were staunch allies of the British, halting Sir Hugh's march towards Jhansi and diverting the forces to Kalpi. But he made no further move until Sir Hugh reached Jhansi on the morning of 20th March and immediately began to invest the city.
Lakshmibai had no illusions about the inferiority of her troops and equipment in comparison to that of the British. She decided to fight till her last breath but wanted to give her citizens a choice. But to her delight all her subjects voted for war and she encouraged her people saying 'We fight for independence. In the words of Lord Krishna, we will enjoy the fruits of freedom if victorious; If defeated and slain, we will earn eternal glory and salvation'. Sir Hugh assaulted Jhansi from two different directions on the morning of 25th March. For five days the British guns pounded Jhansi Fort day and night only to be met by fire so incessant and fierce that the fortress resembled a sheet of fire. Meanwhile Tatya again came to her rescue but was crushed by Rose's troops. This defeat set a pall of gloom on the besieged people of Jhansi but the Rani went about encouraging her troops and personally inspecting the defences and looking after their wants, nursing the wounded etc earning her the title of the "Ubiquitous Queen". She fought hand to hand combat with the British forces when they breached the walls of the city along with her Arab and Afghan regulars. The attack was so furious that the troops took to their heels. Now the British avoided a direct fight and resorted to shooting from a distance. Unfortunately this short but brilliant engagement by the Rani has never been referred to by many historians. With defeat staring at their faces, the Rani evacuated her palace and escaped from Jhansi to Kalpi albeit with a heavy heart. With Damodar tied to her back and in full armour she covered a distance of 102 miles in just 24 hours on horseback through rocky terrain and engaging in desperate fights on the way.
Pic 5: Jhansi Fort (Picture Courtesy: Nirdesh Singh)
At Kalpi she joined hands with Rao Saheb, Tatya Tope and the Nawab of Banda and pressed on with her engagement in the war of Koonch. It is of importance to note here that it was the Rani's misfortune to be associated with people who took her advice lightly and did not heed to her well laid out plans and strategies and her insistence on military training and practice, because of her gender. The defeat at Koonch and the hoisting of Union Jack at the Fort of Kalpi was ample evidence. But the Rani never gave to despair and went with her co-conspirators to Gopalpur to ink a new plan. Fortunately, this time around everybody agreed to Lakshmibai's plan of capturing the Gwalior Fort and making it a base. After a one sided battle, Scindia escaped to Agra and Rao Saheb along with others entered Gwalior in triumph. Sir Hugh on hearing of this victory immediately started making plans of an attack on the rebel forces again. He left Kalpi and arrived at Morar attacking the rebel forces and clearing the Agra-Gwalior Road. With Sir Hugh again knocking at their door, Tatya and the Peshwa sought the advice of Lakshmibai. She was already in rage over the lackadaisical attitude of the Peshwa post the Gwalior victory but keeping her disgruntlement aside, she rose to the occasion advising her friends to go for one glorious, sudden and overwhelming attack on the British troops without caring for the result. She gathered her men, put on her armour and took her position at the head of the troops. The Rani ordered the guns to open fire while simultaneously attacked the British troops charging from behind the hills, suddenly but
fiercely. Her attack was so formidable that the British had to withdraw, losing heavily. The next day after getting reinforcement, the British troops lured the Rani and her troops onto the open plains where in the thick of the fight the Rani fell, mortally wounded, from a carbine shot. Her identity concealed by a man's military attire fooled the British and her 200 men fought till their last breath! It is reported that Lakshmibai was picked up by trusted servants and a sardar, and consigned to flames at the monastery of Baba Gangadas, a well-known saint. Thus, fell the bravest and one of the best warrior Queens of India. In the honour of her contribution to the country and its independence, a women's unit of the Indian Army has been named the Rani of Jhansi Regiment.
The Ranee of Jhansi, D V Tahmankar, Rupa & Co, 1958 All quotes attributed to Lakshmibai have been sourced from the text in hindi by Vrindavan lal Verma of Jhansi Ashok Mehta: 1857 - The Great Rebellion Dr Thomas Lowe: Central India
- Zehra Chhapiwala A thing of beauty is a joy forever! Who, better than a woman and what, better than to read and write about more women! With a passion for words, verses, colours, characters and their connections through ages; and a deep love for nature, am a wayfarer on an eternal journey through time.
LIFESTYLE The Ubiquitous Samosa As I finished my lecture at India Habitat Centre, a person approached me and congratulated me The writer ponders, whether ‘Samosa’, the for the way I presented the history of Delhi. He favourite snack of Indians has any connection gave me many points and asked if I would like with Pythagoras of Samos, who gave concept to dive deeper and try to find out the history of of 3-D Triangle every single locality of Delhi. While we were talking, he gave me many pointers to work on, one of which caught my immediate attention. This person, named Nataranjan Bohidar (Roni) wrote to me this: The Greek influence in India is to be sought in the fact that the greatest mathematician of 3-d triangles, the father and inventor of TRIGONOMETRY, was Pythagoras...and he comes from the Greek town of Samos, which is the name that we still call the Samosa by ...and the samosa by shape must be a tribute to this 3-dimensional genius, PYTHAGORAS! What are the chances it came to India from Greece ...what are the chances Pythagoras born 150 years in Samos before Alexander, was well known to the military commander and his Generals introduced samosa to Alexandrias all over the world and so too to Sikanderpur? Note: India-Pakistan has multiple towns with the name Sikanderpur. These are the territories given to nobles of Alexander (locally known as Sikander) after Alexander’s alleged victory over India, who established townships and named after him. This made me thinking, is really my favourite snack an instrument to learn the 3-Dimensional triangle. A quick search on Wikipedia revealed that the word Samosa can be traced to Persian word sanbosag. In Arab countries, the name changed to Sanbusak or Sanbusaj. Afghanis call it Sambosa and Tajikistan knows it by name Samboosa. Turkic speaking nations call it Samsa and Portuguese speakers call it chamuça. Samosa is a triangular fried pastry with savory filling within a strip of flattened dough of finely milled wheat flour. In its initial days, Samosa was filled with ground lamb, beef or chicken. However in India, potatoes cooked with onion, peas and spices is filled. It got associated with Indian subcontinent during the Mughal Period (16th century). It has been an important snack prepared in the royal kitchens. Interestingly, there is also a building in Akbar’s capital Fatehpur Sikri, which goes by the name “Samosa Mahal”. It got its name due to its 3 sides. This triangular palace with multiple rooms and a small gusalkhana was built for one of the nobles of Akbar’s court. Name of this noble is no longer known. The landscape of this building has changed slightly with time. Oldest written reference of Samosa is by Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995 AD – 1077 AD), an Iranian historian, who mentioned about it in his work Tarikh-e-Beyhaghi. This work is the most authentic account of Ghaznavid Empire, which was spread from Iran to Afghanistan (including parts of Pakistan and India). Based on this account, researchers deduced that the Samosa originated somewhere in the Middle East before 10th century. It should be noted that this land was part of Ancient Greece till 7th-8th Century. The island of Samos, from where Pythagoras came is situated to the immediate west of this mainland Abolfazl talked about. We know that Pythagoras was very famous in this region because we get his image and work depicted on coins from 3rd century. Some claim that Samosa was introduced in India by traders from Middle East in 13th or 14th century. Hazrat Amir Khusrau the famous Sufi mystic, poet and disciple of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya (R.A.), who also worked as the royal poet in the court of Slave Emperors wrote in 14th century about Samosa,
prepared with meat, ghee and onion. Ibn-i-Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveller, who visited India during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq wrote about a small triangular patty, which he calls Sambusak (the name Samosa is known by in Arabia, from where Battuta came). He says that Sambusak is stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachio, walnuts and spices, was served before the third course, of pulao. In 16th century, Akbar’s minister Abu’l Fazl ibn Mubarak wrote a complete account of Akbar’s administration, known as Ain-i-Akbari (Constitution of Akbar). He mentions the recipe for Qutab, which he says, the people of Hindustan call Sanbusah. While samosa originally started with a filling of minced meat and became popular as a potato filled pastry, there have always been experiments with it. These days shops across the globe serve samosas with various fillings made from macroni, pasta, noodles, cottage cheese, cauliflower, meat, mushroom, peas, and almost everything else that can be eaten. Interestingly, the most popular filling of Samosa, potato is also not from India. It originated in Peru somewhere between 8000 and 5000 BC. Like potato, many other common food items that we consume in India were traded into the sub-continent. I will now stop writing and head to my nearest Samosa shop. Time to pay tribute to Pythagoras. Bon Appetite!!!
- Vikramjit Singh Rooprai An IT Consultant, who turned into a Heritage Activist to promote the dying treasures of our forefathers. Vikramjit keeps looking for patterns and dots to be connected in order to reveal the secrets of our culture.
QUOTES Exquisite Miniatures of Mindscapes Indian classical literature is divided into 3 genres: Mahakavya, the long poems like the Meghadootam; Plays like the Ramayana; and Kavya, the short poem. While the first two are well known and celebrated, the short poems have been unjustly neglected. Written mostly between the 4th and 12th centuries, these centuries and anthologies of epigrams were composed by poet monks and sages. Rich in imagery and interplay of words, sensual in its allusions, and dealing with the entire spectrum of human emotions; these poems explore the human realm to seek an experience in the metaphysical realm, going from bestial to celestial in just a few lines! -
Beauty is not In what the words say But in that which they say without saying it Vallana
Then even nothingness was not, nor existence. There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it. What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed? Then there was neither death nor immortality, Nor was there then the torch of night and day. The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining. There was that One then, and there was no other Hymn of creation from Rig Veda
Admire the art of the archer: He never touches the body and breaks the heart Dharmakirti
“Who are you?” “Fame” “Where do you live?” “I wander” “And your friends, Eloquence, Wealth and Beauty?” “Eloquence lives in Brahma’s mouth, Wealth sleeps in Vishnu’s arms, Beauty shines in the globe of the moon. Only I am left with no home in this world” Chittapa
He crossed the rivers of desire And now, immune to pain and joy, Cleansed, in the end, of impure thoughts, Reaches happiness with closed eyes. Who and where? Can’t you see him? That old flabby corpse in its shroud. Anonymous, from an anthology
Armed with their rules and precepts, Many condemn my verses. I don’t write for them, But for that soul, twin to mine, Who will be born tomorrow? Time is long and the world, wide Bhavabhuti
KNOW MORE Best Discussion in Heritage Durbar One very interesting post that was discussed in Heritage Durbar last year was about the historical timeline of Delhi. The timeline begins from the Tomar Dynasty dated from 736 â€“ 1180 AD and ends at 1950 with the British rule.
Members, who followed the post, were surprised at the short rule of British in Delhi and also at the length of the Tomar rule vis-a-vis lack of any physical structure/monument except for a fort wall in the Aravalli jungles of Mehrauli, and a few temple pillars in the Qutub complex.
Various interesting facts came to light, apparently there were three dynasties of British ruling house (House of Hanover, House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and House of Windsor) in India, and that the 2 Hindu kings, Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and Samrat Hemchandra Vikramaditya were the only rulers from their respective dynasties.
Members also discussed about the lack of any temples in the northern belt datable to the pre- 1200 AD era, that can be compared to the 5th and 6th century temples of Badami and Chalukyas; even though many written records give detailed accounts of magnificent temples and cities.
To read further, participate, and also to know more about Delhiâ€™s timeline visit the Heritage Durbar link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelhiHD/permalink/342002079321967/
FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER Aditya Nair I love to photograph, and as I went to this place "Krishnapura Chhatris" I felt overwhelmed. It is a beautiful place, and to get a chance to see ancient historic architecture is a treat in itself.
Krishnapura Chhatri, Indore This sculpture is made on the temple of Krishnapura Chhatri, a group of cenotaphs, which are memorials made in the name of various dead Holkar rulers and their family members, in Indore. They exhibit typical Maratha style domes and pyramidal spires and their beauty captivate the viewers.
FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER Arijit Dhar I live in New Delhi & work with a Tour Operator organization. Iâ€™m a Heritage lover and a Clickoholic.
Wheel of Life, Guru Rinpoche temple, Namdorling Monastery at Bylakuppe Bylakuppe - the second largest Tibetan settlement in India, after Dharamsala. Situated in calm peaceful and serene surroundings, at a distance of 90 Kilometers from Mysore, this place remains yet to be explored.
FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER Giriraj Shekhawat I am a heritage lover and a history enthusiast from Jaipur. My area of interest includes traveling to obscure destinations in search of forgotten monuments like palaces, forts and temples, etc. Professionally I am into finance and banking domain, where I have no scope to build castles in the air.
Man Mandir, Gwalior Fort Gwalior Fort is an 8th-century hill fort near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. The fort consists of a defensive structure and two main palaces, Gurjari Mahal and Man Mandir, built by Man Singh Tomar. The fort has been controlled by different ruling dynasties over time. It was an early foggy morning in January, when I had an opportunity to photograph this formidable fort. I climbed a platform just opposite the Man Mandir, and found this little arched window, which formed a perfect frame to capture the palace, enveloped in thick fog.
FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER Sumit Bhowmick I started photography about one year ago with my first DSLR camera Canon 1100 D. As I am more into travelling kind of job, I developed an interest in photography which later became my passion as well. I take it more than a hobby rather I am passionate about it. This image is from my last trip to Gujarat in 2014. Well I feel that, challenges are when you are new or less experienced; the more I do the more I learn so I donâ€™t think there is anything as challenge.
The Grand Huzoor Palace, Porbandar State The Grand Huzoor Palace also known as Rajmahal is in Porbandar. The mansion, which shows colonial architecture, was built by Natwar Shah and has a zigzag pattern. It faces the Arabian Sea and is surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful fountains.
FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER Sushil Chauhan I am a self-taught passionate travel and nature photographer. Love to travel and explore different parts of our country. I started my journey 2 years back with a digital camera, I love to click, portraits, landscapes, nature and architecture
Bahar-ud-din Bhar Maqbara, Gujarat Bahar-ud-din bhar Tomb is a mausoleum of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai who was the Wazir of Nawab Mahabat khan of Junagadh, Gujarat. This tomb was built in 1892, and shows a mixture of Islamic, Hindu and European influences. It has four ‘storybook’ minarets, encircled by spiraling stairways; its striking art and architecture make it one of the city’s most important historical landmarks. It is also one of the city’s oldest Mughal monuments.
Heritage Photowalk The group went to Tughlaqabad on 1st March 2015, despite a heavy rainstorm early that morning. Over 40 participants showed up at this fort, which is considered the oldest fort in Delhi. However, the Rain God took mercy on us and once the walk started, the rainstorm turned into a lovely, light drizzle. Thus, an amazing weather with a lovely brunch made this walk a very special one for all that gathered that day, while providing a good scope for some brilliant clicks.
Heritage Trip In our continuous efforts to explore various hidden heritage, selected members of Youth for Heritage Foundation boarded a Tempo Traveller on 22nd February 2015, and headed to a lesser known border town of Haryana, “Narnaul”. Brief stops for breakfast and lunch were the only non-heritage things that were done that day. We explored several lesser known structures from Ibrahim khan’s Tomb, to Birbal ka Chhatta (Yes, Raja Birbal has a beautiful haveli there) to Pir Turkman’s dargah.
Heritage Durbar The recent Heritage Durbar (Talk) changed everyone’s perspective on Sikhism. The talk was conducted by the founder of Youth for Heritage Foundation, Vikramjit Singh Rooprai. The topic he chose to speak on was ‘Non-Sikh Contributors to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji’. The talk was well received by the audience. A detailed account of all saints, who contributed to the Supreme book of Sikhs (other than Sikh Gurus) was discussed.