Year: 2019

100 years of Jallianwala Bagh

Probably the first event in Indian History that had my blood boil was the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. It is probably the one event that shook the conscience of the nation and to this day kept alive in the memory of all across the country. On that fateful day in 1919, General Dyer who came to the garden in Amritsar fired upon a peaceful gathering of people bearing no arms. The garden which had only one exit while also surrounded by high walls turned into a pile of bodies. The ground became red from blood. The helpless people even tried jumping into the well in the corner in a vain attempt to escape the British brutality. General Dyer was commended for his action. In fact the committee formed to look into the atrocity gave him a pat on his back. For a nation that blew up the scale of the Black hole event, Jallianwala Bagh showed the double standards of the colonial master. India woke up to fight the tyranny and the flame that was lit …

Lest we forget: The Partition Museum

Anybody who has read Manto would have experienced vicariously the horrors of Partition. The scale of such an artificial displacement very often doesn’t get the treatment it ought to in our history books. Many of them start with the British rule, the resistance to it and lead up to the events that lead to Partition and the formation of the two new states, conveniently ignoring the horrors that it perpetrated. In the heritage City area of Amritsar, you will find a red brick colored building which is dedicated to the partition. The partition museum, tries to recapture and present before us the horrors that unfolded during those days where the large mass migration of people happened anywhere in the world. For a museum that tries to capture the horrors of a colonial rule ending in such an horrific manner, I found it distasteful that the building looked Western in it’s architecture. Though there are elements of Indian style, the huge pillars and the arched windows reminds you of classical Greek or Roman buildings. This is …

The handshake statue in Wagah

War through Pantomimes: Wagah Border and the Beating Retreat Ceremony

The soldier in the black clad Pathani Uniform beat his feet high. The Indian BSF Soldier raised his feet also high to touch his “pagdi” (headgear) and then spread both his arms wide and increased his presence. Then he adjusted the tips of his moustache as if to display his masculinity. If someone asks me the best way to resolve issued between two enemy countries, I would suggest the beating retreat ceremony of Wagah to be one way this could be achieved. To those who are not aware, the Wagah border is situated roughly 30 kilometre from Amritsar. The Indian side is a village called Attari, while Wagah is in Pakistan. The Indian side was filled with people right from the start. The infrastructure also is better in the Indian side with a whole stadium in two tiers set up in place. There are huge LCD screens and speakers also in Indian side, which seemed to be lacking in Pakistan. The most notable difference in India is the presence of women in the ceremony throughout. …

Mixed Emotions: Land of Dawnlit Mountains- Arunachal Pradesh

“You replace my car. I don’t want anything else” the owner of the Maruti Alto said. My driver was helpless. He kept negotiating. The next offer was even more ludicrous. “You can keep my car. Leave your car to me” The owner of the alto was telling this genuinely. It was an offer and not a joke. This was part of the conversation that we had with some Arunachalis while we were returning to Assam. Our car was involved in an accident and the other party started coming up with these kind of demands. The public which had gathered also supported this same line of arguments. In any other part of India, it would have simply gone to litigation and payment of accidental damage by the insurance company. Not in Arunachal. We were advised not to involve the police because once the tribe gets involved they back off from the situation apparently. I don’t know this experience of mine is the norm in Arunachal, however this lack of law and order and the concept of …

Brahmaputra: The mighty Son of Brahma

Brahmaputra is vast. As a person from the small state of Kerala, my imagination always run wild when I think of the big three rivers of India:- Ganga, Brahmaputra and the Indus. Of these while the Ganga and Indus evoke emotions of Bhakti, Brahmaputra commands a certain respect tinged with fear. It brings forth the image of a mighty God, whose inexorable flow consumes everything in its way. These images try to capture life in the Brahmaputra, taken during a short boat ride in it. This was taken at the Kolia Bhomora Setu which connects Sonitpur to Nagaon. The View itself captivates you… Before these Bridges came, water transport was the only way to go. Accidents were common and technology has helped save lives Fishing is a major livelihood way along the banks You cannot but marvel at the majesty of the River Mechanised Country Boats chug along the river, with not much of safety gear in them in case of a mishap A ride through the Brahmaputra is also a journey through the rural …

The one Horned Rhino Kingdom: Kaziranga

Manimalay trudged through the mist filled grasslands in the forest. Four of us were seated atop the cushioned seats fixed to her. The mahout, Tiber, kept on talking to her as if she could understand every word of it. Sometimes, he also got her with the stock that he held in his hand. Manimalay, a 40 year old female elephant, is one among a fleet of elephants who carry visitors into the National Park throughout the year. The elephants which do the Safari duty in Kaziranga belong to different owners. Since of these elephants belong to the government while since to licenced private parties. The elephants were all female as far as I could tell, and I highly doubt that male elephants are employed for this duty. The 4 riders sit sidewise on the mounted seats throughout the safari, as the herd of elephants proceed to the park. The best thing about the elephant Safari is how close the elephant could get to the wild animals without being attacked. The con being the small area …

Worship of Shakthi: Maa Kamakhya Temple

We descended into a dark room, where the first thing you notice is the constant dripping of the water. You can see two pandits sitting at two points near a mound of garlands and flowers. They ask the people to kowtow in front of the garlands and touch the water and keep it on your head. The only light in the room is that of two flame torches that are lit in the room. If you keep electic lights, then the whole divine ambience might be lost, I felt. Somehow I did not feel very spiritual in the cave and kept walking, just observing curiously the happenings around me. Kamakhya Temple must have been built in many phases from 8th to 17th century. In the outerwalls of the temple you see very intricately carved sculptures which speak of the craftsmanship of that age. At the same time, certain parts of the wall seems to be like plastered and bland, which kind of points to the deterioration of the quality of construction in later periods, I …

The impregnable Fort of Golconda and Sarandaz Khan’s treachery

The Mughal army had laid seige for eight months now. Many famines, deaths and losses later, Golconda Fort still showed no signs of surrender. The Qutb Shahis were in no mood to relent. Finally, Aurangzeb managed to woo Sarandaz Khan, an insider to show him a backdoor into the fort, thereby penetrating Golkonda fort for the first time in it’s history. Built by the Kakateeyas, Golkonda means shepherd’s hill. The fort is one among the two impregnable forts of peninsular India, the other being there Aurangabad fort ( built by the Yadavas of Devagiri). Fortified in three layers similar to Aurangabad fort, Golkonda too has a full township housed inside it to withstand any siege. Golkonda fort is an architectural marvel hiding many salient features. One such, is the clapping portico, where below a diamond cut dome, your clap reverberates and is carried to the “Bala Hissar”, or the citadel where the royals stay. This allowed for quick communication, if the fort was under siege. The fort also offers a view of the present day …

Patel’s Prodigies: SVPNPA

Whatever the provocation, I would appeal to you to remain calm. It is the primary duty of the Police. He who loses his temper no longer remains a policeman. Sardar Vallabhai Patel Etched on the walls in Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy ( SVPNPA ) are these words. When I found that I would be having some spare time in Hyderabad, I decided that I should visit my friends in NPA to see how they are enjoying their training in Indian Police Service ( IPS) Established in 1948, SVPNPA is older than NADT. Among the civil services, it is one of the training academies that outrivals NADT as far as infrastructure is concerned. As soon as we reached the academy itself, the giant gate had Mahatmajis words etched on it ” Be the change you want to see in the world”. Once we made our id cards, we were allowed inside. The NPA campus in more than 200 acres, and is very well maintained. It’s almost 4 times NADT, my campus. Given the requirements …

Where Dreams Are Made: Ramoji Film City

My first ever memory of Hyderabad is someone telling me about Ramoji Film City. This was when I was a kid and I wondered how a single place could accommodate palaces, streets, houses, Eastern/Western style architecture, gardens, farms, desserts and all. My little mind couldn’t fathom it. The first film City that I would visit was not Ramoji, but the Film City in Mumbai, which is rather a small Enterprise compared to Ramoji. That is managed by the Maharashtra Government and headed by an IAS officer. As expected, it did not amaze me much. However, Ramoji was a different experience. As we entered the Film City, we were ushered into the premium lounge. Our tour was premium tour which had better experiences on offer. We were taken to the forest show where a director was taking us through the Film making process. A lady from the audience was chosen to be the actress in the reenactment of the horse chase scene in Sholay (Basanti) Once this was done, we were taken through the different rides, …