Amazing Journeys- A monkey by my side in the train

I don’t claim to be a great traveller but, over the years, my travels have invested in me some great tales-some of them absolutely incredible.

Before, I started living in Delhi, I used to commute between Lucknow and Kanpur, two cities of Northern India, separated by Ganga (or Ganges).

These two cities are 80 kilometers from each other and are one of the most important towns of the state of Uttar Pradesh.Lucknow is the capital city and Kanpur , though bigger in size, is in a state of decay and neglect.

I used to work for The Times of India.  I was as a salesman and since, Kanpur was quite an inhospitable city for a relaxed soul like me,I thought of taking the trouble of a daily commute by train to the city from Lucknow, so that I came back to the latter by night fall.

Well, I was’nt the only one travelling daily, there were hundreds of other passengers who used to take the 7.40 am express train to Kanpur and come back by the same train the same evening.It was fun, friendships were struck with strangers over a course of time , seats reserved for those who came in late by just throwing in a handkerchief and what not!

One day, I decided to have it easy and so boarded a train that left at 9.05 a.m. Permissions having been obtained from my immediate superior about my late arrival to the office,I sprawled on the seat next to the window and opened up the morning newspaper.

After a few minutes of delay, the train got into action and gained speed and left the Lucknow station.

Happy that the train was kind of on schedule, I stuck on to my newspaper.Stations whizzed by!

And then, the train chugged to a stop at a station just next to the northern bank of Ganga. Curious, I peered out of the window.The morning suppliers of milk were hooking their cans to the window grills as was their daily schedule.New commuters came inside the train compartment. Samosa sellers made their way into the train hawking the freshly made snack.

Then, I saw an unusual sight! A pink-faced monkey, with one of its arms missing, crossed the adjoining railway tracks, clasped the hand rails of my train doors and ambled inside the cabin.I was alarmed-what was this “ticket less passenger” doing inside the train?

Mindless of its surroundings, the monkey walked on, saw an empty seat and just hopped on to it and sat on it as if it were its daily routine! Like other fellow passengers, it kept on peering outside the train with an obvious disinterest to its surroundings.

I was amused as well as a trifle distressed.What is the Indian Railways coming to?

As the train started to move and gained acceleration, I kept on looking at the monkey which kept on with its disinterested behaviour..

The river crossed over, the train arrived at the next station and the next set of passengers began filing out.

The monkey, too, came down its seat and with much practised effort, climbed down the train and vanished into the crowd.

I made an enquiry with a few of my co-passengers about this monkey. All of them said that this monkey has been making this journey every day by the same train and has never molested anyone.Some of the passengers even suggested that the monkey was a man in an earlier birth .The man had been crushed by a train and his soul found the body of a monkey.

Such is India!

The Mughal-Persian stand off!

  The Mughal and the Persian- barbs back and forth!

  India, for much of the 13th-18th century period was under the Slaves, Turks,Afghans and later on,the celebrated Mughals.
  In 1526, Babur, a a descendant of Ghenghis Khan and Tamerlame or Timur, descended upon the Indian plains from his perch in Central Asia and fought a pitched battle with Ibrahim Lodi, the then king of Delhi at Panipat, India. Lodi was an Afghan king.
  Panipat is located a few hundred kilometres from Delhi and has seen at least 3 major battles for the Delhi throne.Close to Panipat is located Kurukshetra, the site of the Great War or Mahabharat.
   The Great War was fought amongst the two warring sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas.
  For some reason, this area is haunted and armies have fought among themselves, murdering in thousands, for that throne of Delhi.
  So, after worsting Lodi and later killing him, Babur marched to Delhi and the unfaithful bride that Delhi is, wed him as her lord.
  Babur was the founder of the Mughal empire in India and his descendants were Humayun, Akbar,Jehangir and later Shahjehan.
  We will talk about Shahjehan, the king who is credited with building Taj Mahal in Agra though there are several controversies about this claim. He laso built the Delhi Red Fort and the old Delhi city.
  While the Moghuls were cementing their kingdom in India, the Persians or the Iranians were watching the Mughal’s moves were great interest.Afghanistan was their area of interest and quite a number of times the two dynasties conflicted over the control of the Afghans.The bitterness was all evident.
  The Persian ambassador to the Moghul court carried this bitterness and the attendant sense of superiority in his heart.After all, the Persians considered themselves to be of a more royal blood and carrying the strains of the ancient kings like Darius, Xerxes and Cyrus!
  The Mughals considered matrimonial relations with the Persians a matter of honor and racially uplifting.Many princes had Persian wives and it was considered de rigor off springs of these ladies would later become the king of India.
  The Mughal king, Shahjehan, on the other hand treated the ambassador with disdain and was determined to show the envoy his place in the court!
   One day, the Mughal plotted to inflict embarrassment on the envoy by having a canopy erected in such a manner that the latter had to bow his head while entering the court of the Mughal. No way, the envoy said to himself and proceeded to enter the room with his back turned toward the king!
   Shahjehan was incensed..O fool, he thundered, are you an ass that you are entering this august assembly in this manner?The ambassador answered coolly, O King, in our country, we enter the asses’ stables in this manner only!The entire assembly was stunned but the king could not do anything.Persia was  much much militarily stronger than the Mughal empire.
   The insults and barbs continued.
   After Shahjehan completed the construction of Shajehanabad-now known as Old Delhi- he invited the envoy for a tour of the city and asked for his opinion.
   After travelling together for a few miles in the Delhi streets and a boat ride together in the Yamuna, the king requested the envoy for his opinion.
   The ambassador, without batting an eyelid remarked-O King, while Delhi is like a moon on the fourteenth night, my capital is like a new moon night!The king was mightily pleased with this remark.
   But, a few discerning courtiers saw through this remark.The ambassador was really hinting that the Mughal empire was actually disintegrating while the Persian empire was still in its infancy and on path to glory!
  The Mughal-Persian relations were not that pleasant during this phase of the Mughal rule.
  There are other instances of the unpleasant exchange of barbs between the two personalities, but for brevity, I shall stop here.

Our Own Blade Runner

Triumph of the Spirit over the Body

Today morning, when I opened my inbox, I saw a notification sticking out.

I have got mail, I chuckled to myself.

Not surprising because one gets scores of messages every day in your Gmail or Yahoo account.

But, this one was special- someone had responded to one of my latest blog posts and this someone is one who greatly admire. He is probably reading this post so shall be chuckling ear to ear.

Why do I admire Mr X?

Years ago, while I was growing up and studying in School, Mr X was one of the fittest guys around. And also a happy soul. He was good at studies and every one thought he would join an engineering course. You see, every one is marked by every other boy or girl in the class , career wise.

Boards came. We wrote our tests. And then we all entered our own Colleges for Life.

We all went our own ways, struggling with our jobs and careers, married and begot children and started our own families.

The year was 2008 when I visited Lucknow , my own city, for a short break. Luckily, I had the number of X  which I had got from another school friend of mine.

I found X the same cheerful man I had known during school days. The same happy disposition and the same warm smile that reached the corners of his eyes.

He had turned a tutor and a very successful one at that. We shared our pleasant memories and then I left.

Back in Delhi, over a nice snack and some really nice tea, I shared this meeting with another friend of mine.

“Do you know”, he wheezed,” what happened to X?” “No”, I intoned.

Well, he suffered from muscular dystrophy soon after the Board exams, my Delhi friend carried on. And this disease put paid to his becoming a career Army officer. But, too proud to share with the world his tragedy, X fought back and made his passion his career. He became a successful tutor.

I have a name for our X here- Our Very Own Blade Runner!

Tiger Tales…Mowgly, Mohan, Man Eaters and Much More..

    I live in Delhi, one of the ancient cities of not just India but of the rest of the world as well so, a lot of my posts reflect history.

   Today, I shall put in a little bit of something that is more representative of India, India’s wildlife.Today I will write about tigers, our jungles and Mowgli.

   I live not very far from a place called Bagdola.Old people of the village say that nearly a 100 years ago, Bagdola was home to tigers.”Bag ” means tiger and “dola” means “wandering” so, Bagdola was a place where tigers used to roam around.

   Scary, is’nt it?

   What if I told you that there is a famous story of one of the most famous tigresses, Machchli, having killed a 14 feet long crocodile in a much publicly watched event.

    Machhli lived in a forest in Rajasthan and was so named because of a fish shaped mark over her left eye.All tigers have some unique characteristics and this one also had one.




   This forest is called Ranthambore National Park  and is home to numerous tigers, leopards , bears and other forms of wild life.

  Machhli was quite a ferocious and muscular tiger and she definitely made her presence felt..One snarl of hers was enough to send prospective boyfriends scurrying for cover in the tall grasses of the forest.

Machhli passed on the baton to her daughter, Sundari (T-17) in the best traditions of the jungle. Sundari, also named Satra ( Seventeen) soon surpassed her mother in power and dominance of the jungle.Machhli had to relinquish a part of her kingdom to her daughter after  the mother lost a duel.Such are the ways of the jungle.Image result for images of tigers

One of her daughters was appropriately named Dollar. Sundari  remained a family person, visiting her folks periodically and checking everything was alright!

The Man Eater of Kumaon

  In the beginning of the 20 th century, the northern state of India, Uttar Pradesh , was wracked by a series of attacks on humans by a lone tiger.The area that witnessed these attacks is called Kumaon.

  The villain of the piece was called The Bachelor . It is said the bachelor had not just attacked but even killed and eaten dozens of humans. The said tiger was gunned down by India’s ace wild life hunter Jim Corbett.

  The hunting down of The Bachelor was later documented in a very interesting and much publicised book, The Man Eaters of Kumaon.

 Today the forest is now a protected area for tigers and is called Corbett National Park.One of my friends, Aditya Amar runs a summer cottage for travellers called Cottage Nirvana.You can access the link at; https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205988640182337&set=a.1270461688896.2041563.1450495076&type=1&theater&notif_t=like

                                   (Tomorrow- Mowgli and the White Tiger)

 Visit my Facebook Page and hit the Like button;            https://www.facebook.com/groups/182276148583993/

The Mysterious Affairs of Salimgarh

                                          Brace up son,the assassins have arrived!
 
Delhi, often called as the unfaithful bride of India, has  a multitude of  secrets tucked away in her bosom.
The colourful and morbid past of the city draws visitors to the city in droves, some come here to soak in the modernity of this ancient town and the rest head to Delhi to explore and relive its ancient and ghostly past.
Delhi as a city never ceases to enchant me.William Dalrymple has called it City of Djinns.
Djinns are ghosts by another name.
As you enter the gates of Red Fort of Delhi, you cannot but fail to appreciate the vastness of the fort and its walls.The Red Fort was built by Shah Jehan, the famous Mughal who also built the worl renowned Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
Most of the travellers are ignorant of another fort, Salimgarh,located just north of the Fort.A narrow bridge connects the Red Fort and Salimgarh.
File:Salimgarh Fort and the Red fort palace.jpg
Salimgarh- pic courtesy from the web
300 years back, Salimgarh was the imperial dungeon, meaning the royal prison.
Disobedient princes and princesses were thrown into the prison and at times, executed.
The affair of Dara and Aurangzeb
 
The year was 1659 and the sons of Shahjehan were embroiled ina deathly contest for the crown of the Mughal empire in India.
The King had 4 sons; Dara, Murad,Aurangzeb and Shuja. Aurangzeb had disposed off Murad and Shuja was on a run from Bengal to the borders of Myanmar (earlier Burma) .The only prince that was left apart from Aurangzeb was Dara and after a long chase, the latter was captured by Aurangzeb and was put in the Salimgarh dungeon.
Dara had for company his minor son, Sipar Shukoh in the prison. The prince was quite popular among the citizens of Delhi and unlike many of the Muslims of that era was quite liberal in his approach toward life and polity.But, he was a stupid and haughty guy.He did not take kindly to the advice offered by his friends whom he treated with contempt.
In the famous Battle of Samugarh near Agra, India, though Dara had an army of around 400,000, against Aurangzeb’s 35-40,000, he could not hold on to the ground and ultimately lost the battle.
Aurangzeb was too clever to be a direct instrument for Dara’s execution.He wanted a handyman and he found one.
Years ago, Dara had offended a small time official called Nazir.That offence was rankling Nazir for sometime and Aurangzeb finally used that grudge.He sent Nazir to assassinate his brother.
One night ,after Dara and his young son had had their dinner, he heard a small commotion at the prison doors.
Sensing his end was near, the unfortunate prince grabbed his son to his bosom not intending to let the child be taken away.But, the brutes were many and they wrung away the wailing child to an adjoining room.
There was a brief struggle. Dara was a strong man and he had commanded armies during his hey days and he could not be so easily subdued.The attackers were determined, blinded with the hate and the lure of lucre.They pinned the unfortunate prince to the ground , Nazir fished out a shimmering blade and the prince was done away to death.
Salimgarh has been witness to several such incidents.Locals say that the fort is haunted by unhappy and dissatisfied souls- one of whose also happens to be  that Aurangzeb’s daughter!
India Travel Blog

Jungle Book Diaries-Did Mowgli live in India?

Jungle Book from Disney Movies is in the news these days. India Travel Blog takes you to the places where perhabs Mowgli lived. Or was there a real Mowgli at all?
This is a continuation of my earlier post on India’s wildlife , her jungles and the fantastic tales of her wildlife.
https://wordpress.com/post/43920870/254/ I felt encouraged to write this post because of the tremnedous interest in the Junglr Book movie.
Was there a real Mowgli?
Years ago, while working with a newspaper in Kanpur, India, I read a fantastic account of Mowgli and his tales.
During the British Raj, when India was Britain’s colony, hunts of Indian wild animals were a common affair- it is estimated that the British officers and the Indian Rajas together gunned down more than 100, 000 tigers!
Today, there are no more than 3000 tigers in Indian jungles, alas!
Britain, through East India Company had colonised India in the 18th century
During one such hunt, the hunters , in a remote Indian jungle, stumbled upon a pack of wild dogs.
Wild dogs are some of the most tenacious hunters in the jungle and can even fell full grown adult tiger!
The hunters were however not much prepared for an even more astonishing sight- crouched amongst the pack was a small boy, a human boy, that gave out sounds like a feline- whistling, roaring and even gnashing his teeth.
After a small chase, the hunters managed to separate the small boy from the pack and carried him back to their camp.
They then tried to speak with him in a language spoken locally hoping the boy would respond but, he exhibited no signs of comprehension, let alone answering back to the assembled men.
Confounded and disappointed, the men then decided to refer the boy to a doctor.Obviously, the doctor too could not get to the root of the problem.
Ultimately, the local police decided to put the small boy in a sanatorium in Agra for psychiatric treatment.This sanatorium was located in Sikandra, Agra and was just in front of the tomb of Akbar, the Moghul emperor.
The mentally disjointed boy could not cope up with his new surroundings and passed away sometime in the late 19th century.
What we read in the Junglebook today has largely been inspired by this story.Except that there are no wolves in India.
A fantastic tale, is’nt it?

Piku- Irrfan steals the show in this Hindi movie

                    Piku is all about Irrfan

               I am committing blasphemy even as I am writing this, so help me God!
Piku , a Hindi movie released only last Friday is more about Irrfan than Amitabh Bachchan, Dipika Padukone or any other actor.
Hindi movie  watchers say that it took Amitabh more than 10 years to attain stardom.For Irrfan, it just took two and a half hours to replace the veteran from his pedestal.
I know I am making a sweeping statement but, that is the average assessment of the random movie goers that I spoke with, last Friday,in the Janakpuri, Delhi, cineplex.
Irrfan is simply fabulous- with a a slight arching of the eyebrow he can convey emotions and ideas that normally a beefy superstar finds it difficult to.
I am not a normal movie reviewer, but, last evening after a small chat with a fellow blogger , I decided to venture into this activity.
The best actors in Hindi cinema come from the NSD or the Indian Film Institute, the superstars come in their Lamborghinis or Ferraris.Irrfaan is the best actor around but he won’t become a superstar.NSD is a theatre training school run by the government of India.
Piku essentially is a movie reflecting the changing attitudes and sensibilities in the Bengali community.The protagonist(Dipika) is around 30 years old, single,surprisingly svelte and has a very sexually active life.She is surprisingly svelte because you don’t have a fantastic body even at 30!
Piku is devoted to her dad and Dad Amitabh has famously essayed a role of a cantankerous, miserly Bengali elder.He is constantly fidgety about his bowel movements which is really the hook or the anchor of the movie.
Irrfan, a travel entrepreneur, brings a fresh whiff of air to this otherwise constipopulous (copyright mine) drama with his one liners and loaded twitch-of-the-eye stuff.
I have been watching movies for a good 30 years for now,and this is the second time I have seen Amitabh dying in a movie-the first one being the immensely successful blockbuster Sholay.
Dipika sparkles but her Hindi dialogues betray her struggles with the language.
I would rate Piku an excellent Hindi movie and hope it sweeps the sundry movie awards next year.
Well done Piku, Irrfan, Amitabh and Shoojit Sarkar!
Pic credit- Web

In a deadend

                   I guess I have hit a roadblock

I have nothing to write today, it seems.
After writing furiously in the past seven days, my thought process has gone into a tail spin.It is 11 pm in Delhi, India and I am in a daze.
What do they say?Writer’s block…yes, that is what seems to have hit me.
But, the urge to write something for my friends who follow me is over powering.Maybe, I shall get a nudge, a sense of direction from them.
Have I become too opinionated ?Which is what is showing up in my writings?Why do I have to think on subjects for my blog?It should all come out spontaneously.No?
Why bother people with my perceptions and opinions ? Does it matter?
But, then the urge…ohhh?
I never have penned down my thoughts, my deepest emotions, so, does this roadblock give me an opportunity to bare my soul?
I don’t know but, writers are known to display their softer selves at times.You are a human and you can’t help  continue being a human.
But, years of struggle for the daily morsel have erected walls of impersonality around my self.So difficult to scale them up!

Hauntingly beautiful-The Jain Temple of Mehrauli,Delhi

Tucked away in one of the by lanes of Mehrauli, Delhi is one of the most beautiful Jain temples in this part of the country.

Legends say, the temple is devoted to a monk who lived in Delhi around 900 years ago.

Though, the temple is of recent construction, the beauty is to be seen to believe it.

The story goes that the monk was born with a gem embedded in his forehead and hence was called  Manibhadra by his followers .

Posting a few pics for my friends below

          

Frozen in Time – Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli, Delhi

The first time I tried exploring the famous poet’s haveli in Delhi, I developed week knees. The sight of kebabs and other non vegetarian ‘delights’ put me off. I have been born into and raised as a vegetarian , that’s why. 

A month back, I tried a different route and this one was a delight. The numerous chai shops kept on egging me and finally, I reached the haveli with few problems. 

Haveli means house in English. 

Ghalib was a famous poet -shair- and lived in Delhi. He originally belonged to Agra, land of the Taj, but migrated to imperial Delhi hoping for patronage from the then Mughal emperor , Bahadur Shah Zafar. We are talking of the 19th century. 

India, during those days was under the rule of the British East India Company and Persian was still the court language. English had not till the supplanted Persian or the recently developed Urdu. 

Ghalib was primarily a poet of Urdu. 

He apparently lived an uneventful life. 

In the year 1857 and the subsequent year, much of India was overcome by the events of the Great War of Independence but the poet’s writings hardly reflect the angst of those times. 

You could describe him as probably a narcissist. 

Ghalib passed away in 1869, the year in which Mahatma Gandhi was born. 

I am presenting a few photographs of the famous poet’s haveli. Hope you enjoy. 

            Bust of the poet 

 

Arches

        Ghalib’s chaupad set 

The doors are still surviving!  

The Warrior and Artist- Maharana Pratap

                          Wielding spears and paintbrushes-Rana PratapImage result for images of Rana Pratap
    Whatever we know of this great warrior is largely limited to his military exploits against the then Mughal emperor Akbar and the famous Battle of Haldighati. This battle was fought in the year of 1576 AD and was a defining moment for not just the small kingdom of Mewar but also how the later Hindu kings fought battles with the Mughals.About that, we will read later.
  Pratap ascended the Rajput kingdom of Mewar in 1572 after the demise of his father Uday Singh, the creator of Udaipur.
 Uday Singh had married several times and had several claimants for his throne. Kings used to marry into several households to sement political and military relationships and it was a sommon practice at that time.
  Pratap was his eldest son but had little interest in the throne and according to unconfirmed reports , was planning to leave the kingdom and settle elsewhere.
  Uday Singh passed away on Holi and some serving nobles wanted to place Jagmal- another of Uday’s sons- on the throne.They even convinced him to come and sit on the throne.However, a large section of the Rajput chiefs felt that Pratap was the natural and deserving choice.So, Pratap was ultimately elected the unanimous choice and Jagmal was shown the door.
 When Pratap assumed office, he had hardly any territories.The Mughals had already occupied the ancient fortress of Chittor and most of Mewar. The kingdom had hardly any territories and resources.
  It was in this backdrop that the famous pitched battle of Haldighati was fought between the Mughal forces and the Rajputs.
Clearly, the latter were outnumbered and they lost heavily- around 20,000 Rajputs and Bhils lost their lives.For the Mughals, it was a pyrrhic victory and for the next 4 years, the Mughals had to bear heavy losses in their expeditions in Mewar.
  For Pratap, Haldighati taught an important lesson to him- field wars were a drain on the resources and it made better sense to resort to guerilla tactics. So, for the next 4 years, he and his highly motivated force engaged the Mughals in a never ending cat and mouse game that led the latter to a state of demotivation and tiredness.
  For Akbar, expeditions to Mewar were a zero sum game and the clever man that he was, abandoned his pursuit of his rival- Pratap.
                   Ragmala- Where ragas melt into colors and moods
  The next few years from 1580 to the year of Pratap’s death in 1597 were of peace and he used this period to patronize and cultivate art and craft and paintings, chief among them was the Ragmala series of paintings.
Image result for images of Ragmala paintings of MewarImage result for images of Ragmala paintings of Mewar
  The actual credit for this school of paintings goes to Nisardi, a painter who migrated to Mewar from Malwa. A fellow painter, Mohammed should also not be forgotten for this golden era of paintings.
  Ragmala was also being patronised in the Mughal and Amber courts but was adapted to the Mewar style and tastes by the Mewari painters.
  So, what does Ragmala mean?The paintings in Ragmala simply represent each raga or ragini with colour, mood, hero or heroine  as well as the time of the day or night when that raga is used in musical renditions.
  I am not an art or music specialist, but the main idea behind this post was to bring out the legacy of Pratap in not just matters military but also art and craft.
  I hope , you will like this post.

The Legacy of Buddha

IMG_1880Gautam Buddha and Maharana Pratap- The two heroes of World and Indian History

May is a special month for Indian history. May, of course, is also one of the hottest months of the Indian subcontinent but for now, we will focus just on history and not geography.
It is in May that two of India’s two greatest leaders-one philosophical and the other a military/political leader- were born.
We all know about Gautam Buddha but, outside India, not many people know about Maharana Pratap.
But, first we will understand the legacy and heritage of Gautam Buddha.
The fundamental difference that Buddha made for the millions of Indians was this- he espoused the philosophy of renunciation.
He was born in a royal family and was the heir apparent of the Shakya kingdom but, the sufferings of his subjects made him tleave the worldly trappings and go discover the sublime truth.
He is known for Ahimsa-non violence- which encouraged people to desist from slaughtering mute birds and animals in sacrifices and other rituals.
That a member of the royal family choosing to leave a life of luxury and propagating ahimsa and nirvana, made a significant impact on the minds of the common Indians.After all, how many, princes could forsake their wordly comforts?And, Siddhartha, the prince here, belonged to a family that traced its lineage to the dynasty of Rama, the legendary king of Ayodhya and hero for the countless masses of Indians?
india temple buddha
Perhaps , the early traction for Gautam’s views got speed from his lineage.The depth of his philosophy was understood later.
It is believed that Gautam tried to simplify philosophy without going into semantics and metaphysics that makes the subject so boring. In that endeavour, he broke free from the orthodoxy of the scriptures and mindless rituals that were the order of the day.
However, when we look at his legacy objectively, there are two things that harmed India in the long run.
One, his emphasis on ahimsa, led subsequent rulers like the latter Mauryas to shy away from crossing India’s borders and pre empt the foreign invasions. Ahimsa requires us to not hurt any living being, the kings used to argue.
Of course, this led to an increased vulnerability of Indis’ borders to the various attacks of Huns, Sakas and later, Turks and Mongols.
longmen grottoes
Rock Cut Images of Gautam Buddha
The last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty , Brihadratha,was assasinated by Pushyamitra Sunga , his army general , who strongly felt that Buddha’s teachings were being wrongly interpreted by the monks and the kings.
Pushyamitra Sunga
The second legacy of Buddha that was wrongly construed by the ordinary Indians was the practice of renunciation. Ordinary folks got the cue that it was perfectly ok for them to go to the woods and jungles  and leave their families home.After all, Buddha too had done it, is’nt it? And it was difficult for the monks and the kings to justify Buddha’s actions.
But, in the ultimate analysis, the philosophy of Buddha was so much compelling to follow that even after 2500 years, the man is still debated upon, revered, followed and looked after as a pole star.
buddha gold sleeping
But, there are a few questions which baffle me;
Why did Buddhism find favour with more Indians than Jainism? After all, Mahavira was the contemporary of Gautam?
Secondly, a large number of Jains also being Gujaratis and Gujaratis also being traders, what stopped Jainism from being exported abroad as Buddhism?
If you have answers to these, please let me know.
I am available at swayamt@ gmail.com
In my next post, I shall write about another prince of India that made a fundamental difference to our history- Maharana Pratap.
Image result for images of maharana pratap
Maharana Pratap

Frozen in Time: A place wrapped in mystery

As you duck into a narrow bye lane branching to your left on the Mehrauli Gurgaon road before the Qutab Minar, you come face to face with this beautiful building. 

Popularly called Madhi Masjid, very little is known about its creator   

But who cares? Just enjoy the pictures of its arches, gates and the windows. 

So, enjoy.   

            
                 

The Ancient Water Cafes of Delhi

Delhi has had a unique distinction of hosting a wide variety of architecture down the ages.Be it Jain,Buddhist, Turk, Moghul or British, Delhi is like a mother hen-under her loving gaze and protection thrive all kinds of architecture styles.

How many of us know that Delhi has had more than 300 baolis or water cafes.

A baoli is a stepwell, the steps used to lead to a pool of water-the water of which was drawn from an adjacent well or through aquifers within the subterranean soil and rock.Baolis also were a place were the lay people could congregate and exchange notes-hence the term “water cafe”

The earliest step well in Delhi and probabbly the whole of Northern India is the Anangtal, located in the northern part of Mehrauli.

It is said that the queens pf Raja Anangpal Tomar used to give away alms at this place to the poor at the insistence of the king.

Some people say that ghosts are said to live around these stepwells but of course, all this is hearsay.

The Tomars gave way to the Chauhans , who in turn yielded to the Mamluks or the “Slave Dynasty”.

The Gandhak ki Baoli is adduced to this period of late 12th century and much of its construction is similar to Anangpal ki Baoli.Gandhak means sulfur and it is believed that the waters of this baoli had sulfurous content and hence healthy.However, as you can see, this place needs renovation.

The architecture of the baolis underwent a major change in the 16th century when a Lodi dynasty noble, Daulat Khan Lodi constructed the Rajon ki Baoli.Supposedly, this stepwell was meant for the convenience of the masons of that time.Notice the arches of this stepwell-they are a bit conical and taper toward the top.

Another interesting baoli of the 16th century is found in the Central Delhi area-Agarsen Ki Baoli.Legend has it that this stepwell was constructed during the Mahabharat era i.e. more than 5000 years ago.However,the trader community of India restored this building only a few hundred years ago and borrowed significantly from the contemporary architectural style.

Agarsen ki Baoli is quite popular among the Hindi movie industry and quite a few creative visualizations have been shot here.Thanks to this,this place has started attracting the young traveller crowd which is good for the India’s heritage conservation efforts.For the not so well informed, Agarsen refers to an ancient king of Mathura who was later imprisoned by his son in law who also wanted to be the king.

In the late 14th century or so, a Sultan, Feoze Shah Tughlaq dug up another baoli.This stepwell is located within the Feroze Shah Kotla which is a citadel on one of the prominent roads of Delhi.Circular in nature, this baoli is in a very bad shape and has been locked up by the authorities.

Another interesting baoli can be visited in the Red Fort at Delhi.It is said that this baoli was constructed by the Tughlaq dynasty-which preceded the maker of Red Fort by a good 300 years.Probably the source of the water is the river Yamuna, whch used to flow quite nearby.

The images of the baolis are from the most ancient to the most recent in description.

delhi 6

The-Baoli-at-Feroze-Shah-Kotla

Agrasen-Ki-Baoli

Rajon-Ki-Baoli

Gandhak-Ki-Baoli