Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Interesting, if it was not a cruel joke - the continuing saga of Endosulphan

According to a Hindu Report, "Centre has asked the Supreme Court to allow the use of pesticide endosulfan in all States except Kerala and Karnataka, as these States are ready to use it for agricultural pest control."

I don't understand what forced central government to take such a stand on endosulphan when the sad saga of Kerala and Karnataka's experience with endosulfan already played more than enough time before the world.

The reasons are indeed ridicules. The report continues,

"the cost of disposal of live stock of endosulfan by incineration shall be more than Rs.210.82 crore, whereas phasing out would not only result in saving this huge amount on disposal but would also save the product worth Rs.31.36 lakh, which would contribute to increased crop production/productivity"

"24 countries are still using endosulfan"

"in India too use of several pesticides was banned in the past and the live stocks thereof were allowed to be disposed of by phasing out. Of the 19 States which participated in the meeting convened by the expert committee, except Kerala and Karnataka, other States were in favour of [the] continued use of endosulfan for the reasons being broad spectrum, cheaper, most popular among farmers, safe to pollinations, no reports of resistance/resurgence or ill effects on human beings, animals and environment. Thus, States other than Kerala and Karnataka are ready to use endosulfan for agricultural pest control."

For those who are not familiar with this chemical let me tell you some facts related to endosulphan. A global ban on manufacturing and use of this chemical was negotiated under Stockholm convention in 2011, more than 80 countries including EU, US, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada etc are already banned or announced phase outs. (#2)

I don’t understand how the representatives from other states agreed to the use of endosulphan there. More interesting is the fact that central government itself agrees on phasing out. If endosulphan was as good as described by central government then why we need a phase out it in the first place? Why many countries in the world already banned its use?

It may be better to spent money on disposing the existing stock instead of repeating what happened in Kerala and Karnataka on other states. For the existing stocks government can negotiate with industry and reach a compensation formula. We don’t explode bombs in populated areas as a means of disposal, do we?



1. 'Allow use of endosulfan except in Kerala and Karnataka’-The Hindu
2. EPA Action to Terminate Endosulfan - EPA
2. Endosulfan - Wikipedia
3. India's chemical nightmare - Guardian
4. Bayer to stop selling endosulfan - ABC

Monday, July 30, 2012

Blackout or Blacked out? Another Electricity crisis in India

Today India won one bronze in 10m air rifle through Narang. Olympics is going on in UK, so I just went to see the Guardian site. Interestingly, one of the important news items which decorated their front page even in the middle of Olympics was one from India.

"India power outage hits 350m people". Which is many times more than Guardian's own country’s - UK - population. One of the worst - as of now!!! - blackout to hit India in more than a decade affected 8 North Indian states – including national capital - for more than eight hours. Somebody assumed that all the people in these states have access to electricity!!! Even though a blackout is a not a normal thing we can forgive the administration for a blackout once in a while, after all, machines too will fail.

According to International Energy Agency's report around 25% of population doesn’t have any access to electricity in 2009 (electricity consumption average was 96kWh in rural and 288 kWh in urban areas according to the report). Their projections says that the share of Indian population without access to electricity in 2030 will be 10% (In Africa it will be 42%, China 0%, Latin America 2%, Middle East 2% and other developing countries 16%)  - World Energy Outlook - 2011

Well, forget about numbers; who knows what will happen in 2030. But there are some interesting facts mentioned in the Guardian Report,

"Punjab has just banned air conditioning units in all government offices and from 1 August will cut office hours to 8am to 2pm with no lunch."

"There was outrage in June when the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, decreed that all malls were to shut at 7pm in a bid to save power."

The best one for the last,

"On Saturday, a cat leapt into a Delhi grid station and was electrocuted, causing a fire that left parts of east Delhi without power for 24 hours."

The problem is not limited to eight states in the northern grid or a cat electro ducting the grid. Electricity crisis is a country wide phenomenon and it’s affecting manufacturing, services and other industries severely. It’s a known fact that, our distribution companies are already running with debts as high as Himalayas. Supply seldom meets the demand. As of now through load shedding and reducing the amount of power to rural areas and through other non-innovative means we are trying to meet the demand. Asking industries to shut down their production in order to reduce the power demand is suicidal but we are doing that also. But how long we can sustain ourselves in this way?

If the government can't generate enough power and reduce the wastage there will be much more black-outs and each time papers will say the worst power crisis in a decade or the worst power crisis after independence.

Update on August 01, 2012

Electricity grids - Northern, Eastern, North-Eastern - collapsed again, this time it affected more than 600mn people and blacked out majority of India states.

Train services disrupted, traffic signals turned off leading to traffic jams, in NE India more than 200 miners were trapped underground because the lift were not working, and the list is endless.

For more information read my articles on power sector
1. Discom crisis and Indian power sector
2. Jaitapur Nuclear power plant, good for India?
3. Nuclear energy - still the way to go forward, even after Fukushima


1. The Guardian: India power outage hits 350m people
2. World Energy Outlook - 2011
3. Power crisis holds up irrigation projects
4. Centre blames State for power shortage

Friday, July 27, 2012

Karnataka: Power politics and a drought hit state

It’s the third chief minister, and there is no guarantee that he will complete the term. The chair already saw many faces, at the same time another chair in the next building - Lokayukta HQ - is waiting for someone to occupy it since September, 2011. Hundreds of kilometres away from the capital – Bangalore - people are unable to sit; they are still fixing their eye on the sky looking for some traces of rain cloud. Karnataka and Andra are already facing a drought (like?) situation.

Last year in 2011, 123 taluks in 24 districts declared as drought affected. It’s only worsened this year. Just like majority of other Indian states, Karnataka's financial condition too is not strong. Court already banned the mining, which will effectively stop whatever royalty and taxes coming from there. As if the problems on the economic and water front is not enough, state already saw the exit of two chief ministers and nobody knows when she will see the exit of third one.

It will be better for the party to stop fighting and start with administration. When people supported the party by electing 120 (out of 224) MLAs they definitely expected something better. The state also has the potential to transform itself to an economic powerhouse instead of becoming a political disaster. There is not much time left - especially in this draught stricken times. Even the deeply rooted caste equations may not work in the next elections. It’s time for the political leadership to wake up and do something for the state.


Photo courtesy: Wikipedia (Other than Vidhan Saudha Part)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chemical, Biological weapons and Syria

I don’t have the statistics right now. But most probably, bulk of government investments in science sector may be in developing new weapons. Weapons which can kill more people, damage more area in shortest possible time. No matter whether it’s nuclear, biological or chemical weapons; governments across the world tried or wished if they could have one. Rarely any administration admits these facts.

But this weak Syria did exactly the same. According to NewYork Times report,

“Any stock of W.M.D. or unconventional weapons that the Syrian Army possesses will never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, said at a news conference shown live on Syrian state television, using the initials for weapons of mass destruction. “These weapons are made to be used strictly and only in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The problem is that, according to Syrian government the current revolution going on in the country is the work of external forces. So if we can take the above statement in to face value there is no problem in using unconventional against them. According to Guardian report,

"While the statement Makdissi read out promised not to use the weapons against the Syrian people, he later noted that Syria is not facing an internal enemy in the rebellion, which the regime has described as being funded from abroad and driven by foreign extremists."

Will regime carry out their threat? Will it use chemical and/or biological weapons? I think the chances are very low. Current Syrian regime has hardy any friends to count on. After the usage of chemical/biological attack will it be possible for them to support Syria in international forums? In such a situation, it will be difficult for Russia and China to support Syria in Security Council. In the absence of their support, there will be a hurricane of sanctions from UN SC. Moreover such an action will easily open the door for direct interventions from NATO and US forces.

It may also take the current leaders to International Court of Justice for various charges. Even if they use the weapons, it will hardly deter the high flying fighter planes and bombers of US/ NATO. I don’t think even in the case of foreign military intervention, there will be any foreign soldier on foot (except perpaps Special Forces) in Syrian soil. So it will hardly affect US or NATO soldiers.

If revealing the secret of unconventional weapons doesn’t bring any comfort to the rigime as far as foreign intervention is concerned then what’s the use? I think these statements are for internal consumption. To self assure about the survival of current government and to deter the opposition from making bold moves. How far it can succeed is yet to see. Opposition may already figure out about the limitations of using unconventional weapons currently in government's hand...


1. Syria Threatens Chemical Attack on Foreign Force:
2. Syrian regime makes chemical warfare threat

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Burning Kokrajhar

The situation at Kokrajhar again demonstrated how thin the fabric binding different sections of people are in reality. It didn't take much time to spread the violence started with the killing of four youths. Now, there is an indefinite curfew on Kokrajhar, shoot at sight orders are already issued, large number of houses have been torched, attacks and counter attacks are going on... What more? Over 55,000 people left their home and currently staying at relief camps. Police found more than 27 dead bodies, many of them from the jungle, road sides and river banks. Violence is spreading to neighbouring Dhibri and Chirang districts. 

We are yet to learn the bitter lessons from history, which repeatedly showed us what could be the results of sectarian violence. Just imagine how fast the violence spread from one place to another. People are taking sides and jumping in, without understanding what really happened. This is the perfect example of how an incident like killing four youths from one community by people from another – for whatever reason - can spread to a wider area with highly magnified communal focus.

Punishment should be given to the people who did it; instead thousands of others who may not even know anything about it are forced to leave their home and property. Kids who are supposed to acquire knowledge in the safe school environment are now exposed towards this mind blowing violence.

Central government already moved in paramilitary forces to the affected areas; army also conducted flag march. But we have to take further percussions to stop this violence. Otherwise it will not only damage the human life and property but will further expand the already existing divisions. Mindless violence will also create deep scars in the minds of people which may take a long time to heal. So the government has to bring in maximum security forces to this area. As the violence and blockades on communal lines are affecting this area for a long time, we need to create permanent mechanism to handle the situation.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kannur Memories - Arakkal Palace, St. Angelo Fort and Light house

Arakkal PalaceMuseum

We reached Kannur railway station around noon. From here we got a direct bus to Arakkal palace. What we saw there was a museum, which was a part of Arakkal Royal Palace – aka Arakkalkettu – in the old days. Government converted the Durbare hall area of the palace to a museum. Opposite to the museum on the other side of the road stands the mighty Arabian Sea. Some meters away you can see the boats resting in the famous Mappila Bay. After paying the entry fees we walked in.

Arakkal Kingdom

Arakkal Kingdom was a City State in the Malabar Area ruled by a Muslim family of the same name. Originally the kingdom consists of Kannur and Lakshadweep Islands - which was on a lease from another kingdom. Family followed the same succession rules then existed in Kerala. The power will go to the offspring of female members only. If it’s a man then he would become the rulers with the title 'Ali Raja' and if it was a woman then she will rule the kingdom with the title 'Arakkal Bivi'.
Agreement on Lakshadweep

During the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Arakkal was in the sides of Mysore kings. But the victory of British in the Anglo-Mysore war was a setback to the kingdom. After long negotiations, an agreement was finally signed between Arakkal Bivi and British, which allowed the possession of Kannur as well as Lakshadweep to the family without any claim to sovereignty. In 1905 in exchange for the remission of overdue tribute and annual pension Ali Raja ceded his all rights in Lakshadweep Islands to British. After Independence, Arakkal kingdom joined the Union of India.

Arakkal Museum

After entering to the museum, we went to the first floor through a wooden staircase. There was an old document hanging in wall, I moved closer to it. It was the copy of a letter written by former Malabar Collector F.C. Barsons to Adi Raja Imbichi Bibi confirming the agreement of ceding Lakshadweep Island to Government of British India. I read the letter slowly and then moved towards the Durbar Hall.

Durbar Hall contains the furniture and other royal symbols. In a room close to that, we saw the old swords, daggers, belts, royal rods -  which once represented the symbol of power, navigational instruments, crown, musical instruments etc. A good number of windows are present in the durbar hall bringing enough cool air from the sea. I stood here for some time watching the waves hitting the shores through the windows. Taking another staircase we went down and reached another room. Walls in this room are decorated with pictures describing old events, arrival of ships, symbols of Dutch East India Company etc. 

Fort Gate

St. Angelo’s Fort

Even though there was a small drizzle we walked towards the beach. Some yards in front of us stands Mappila Bay filled with a number of boats. After standing at Arakkal beach for some time we walked towards St. Angelo’s fort. If you plan to visit the fort it will be better to take an auto. The road to the fort is going through Kannur cantonment area. Roads are clean and you can see parks on both sides.

St. Angelos fort was built by the first Portuguese Viceroy of India - Dom Francisco de Almeida. This building witnessed many battles like ‘Siege of Kannur’ in 1507 etc. Even the former Portuguese viceroy of India, Afonso de Albuquerque, was confined here for six months. In 1663 Dutch captured the fort, modernised it and later in 1772 sold to Ali Raja of Arakkal. In 1790 it fell in to the hands of British and for the next 157 years stayed in their hand as their cheif military station in Malabar. From the entrance of the port you can see Mappila Bay and further way the Arakkal Palace.

Important points in the Fort are 'Grave stone with inscriptions in Dutch of former Dutch commandants wife and two children', 'Chapel', 'Watch Tower', 'remains of an old light house', 'army barracks', 'underground cell', 'old cannons', ‘jail’ etc. From the top of the port you can see the waves of Arabian sea hitting the sea walls.

Kannur Light House

A view from St. Angelo Fort
From the tourist police stationed at St. Angelos fort, we came to know about Kannur light house. Unlike many other light houses on Malabar shore, here you can go to the top of light house. Close to the light house there are some beaches too. After waiting for sometime officials finally opened the door of the light house and we started climbing the spiral steps. From the top, scenery was fantastic - in one end there was a seamless integration of ocean and atmosphere; on another side dark clouds were frequently changing their form; in the near end coconut trees were moving violently because of the heavy wind.

From the Light House
As rain was acquiring more strength with the passage of time we called off our plan to visit the nearby beaches and headed towards Kannur Railway station. Waiting for the next train to Calicut...


Monday, July 23, 2012

Mamta's interpretation of Liability - How long the central government will help West Bengal to float?

What you can do with 19 MPs? Well, a lot. You can scuttle a water sharing deal with a neighbouring country, you can close the door of FDI in retail, you can halt the increase in railway passenger charges and a lot more. Now one more to the list - you may be able to get away with loans.

According to a Hindu report (#1) West Bengal CM Mamta Bannerji told,

"I want to tell Delhi [the Centre] that they should not neglect the interest of the people of Bengal. If required I will urge the people of the State to march to Delhi. We will not pay interest,” she said, addressing a huge public rally organised by the Trinamool in the city."

Another report on Yahoo(#2) says,

"How can we make both ends meet? It is not our fault. The centre allowed the erstwhile Left Front government in the state huge loans..... We only want a three-year moratorium on interest payment. I will wait for a few more days. If I get it, I will be indebted to them..... When the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front took loans, why did you (central government) allow it? If we are to make a turnaround, we need money for development. We won't pay this interest."

Well, what will happen if you are taking loan from a commercial bank and after some time going back and saying that I won't pay the interest? Can you accuse the bank for giving loan in the first place if the beneficiary was your ancestors? Isn't it what exactly West Bengal CM says?

Mamta carries a huge baggage of expectations. People want her to deliver results, for some time it make sense to accuse everything on predecessors. But after an optimal period they have to come out of the hangover and face the reality. Blaming everything on previous government may help her to keep her image for some time. But it will neither help her nor the state in long term.

Bengal is not a backward state, blessed with vast mineral resources and human resource potential it has all the possibilities to become the industrial powerhouse of India. But the question is how to utilise it? If government is continuing with anti-industry policies, the entire state may fall into a long term decline just like the current state of Kolkata port. It won't take much time for companies to leave Bengal and settle somewhere else.

There is limit in forcing the central government to back track on major policy decisions and make it feel the helplessness in policy formation. Current central government may be the friendliest one Mamta can ever get. Cooperating with New Delhi, she can serve her state in a better way. Moreover, NewDelhi may not be able to bail out Kolkata considering the current financial condition of central government. If government bailed out Bengal it will only make the other states to raise similar demands. With cooperation she may be able to achieve more.

May be the best way for Mamta to go forward is shedding her anti-industry image, stop blaming everything on predecessors as well as centre, adapt a pro-market policy and reform the bureaucratic framework so that it can deliver.



1. We won’t pay interest : Mamata
2. 'Chalo Delhi' if no moratorium on interest payment: Mamata

Changing oil equations in Middle East - Who will underwrite the Security?

An ONGC oil platform in sea
A big leap in the production of shale gas in US seems to rewrite the Oil & Gas equations in the Middle East. Until now gas flowing from this part of Asia was indispensible for US economy. This dependency relationship created a security framework in Middle-East underwritten by US. After all, open seas, continuous flow of oil & gas and a stable Middle-East was essential for the health of US economy.

Not any more, even if oil shocks will affect US economy, Middle-Eastern oil is no more indispensible. Increasing production from her shale fields, coupled with new energy efficient machines will enable US to reduce the dependency on Middle Eastern Oil. Reserves of Oil and Gas in Canadian shores as well as in the Brazilian offshore fields will make this position more secure.

If oil shocks won't affect US economy, she may be able to take vital policy changes in this area. She may no longer be compelled to support the regimes she doesn’t like. In other words US may no longer like to underwrite the Middle Eastern security alone.

This will create problems for other big oil and gas importers like China, India, Korea, Japan etc. Europe may have to hug Russia more tightly for energy. Unfortunately the prospectuses for shale gas booms in countries like India in the recent future simply doesn’t exist. Even if there are chances - people already started protesting against drilling shale gas in many European countries, availability of US technologies - like the case in China - for pumping shale gas may not come easily.

This means other countries - who are still desperately depend on Middle East oil - may be forced to contribute to a security framework which till now freely available to everyone. The question is how China, India, Korea, Japan etc will adapt themselves with this reality? In the face of Iranian crisis, continuing protests in Syria, Bahrain etc it may not come cheap.

Without much leverage over the regimes of Middle East and absence of any military resources in the area, will this oil thirsty economies of Asia will be able to sustain the current situation of open sea lines and security framework? In the era of political unrest, uncertainty, continuing crisis in Iran and Syria will these Countries be able to underwrite Middle Eastern security? Only time can tell.


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Calicut Notebook II - Beypore, Tali Temple, Jain Temple, Palayam Market, Mishkal and Muchundi Mosques

Beypore is one of the oldest ports in Kerala. In earlier days Beypore had a direct trading relationship with Middle-East. Town was also famous for its ship building industry; ships built from here - Dhows or Urus - carried goods across oceans. According to some sources Beypore was a free port in the old world; Zamorim charged only an import-export duty.

When I got down at Beypore bus stand close to beach, sun was moving fast towards the western oceans. We walked straight to the Chaliyar river - fourth longest river in Kerala - estuary. It’s a moment of salvation for the river, forgetting all her pains she is slowly embracing the hands of Arabian Sea. One kilometre long manmade stone piers stands like a spear in to the heart of sea on both sides of the estuary.

I walked through the river banks towards the stone pier reading various names painted on the fishing boats. Three people were sitting -One wearing a football jersey - in the steps repairing there their blue fishing net. I almost forget to say one thing, northern Kerala especially in Calicut football is a very popular sport. If you are visiting these areas at FIFA football world cup times, you can't miss the flags of prominent football countries hanging from the tree tops, building etc. There is a huge fan base for Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany, France etc.

We walked through one of the stone pier. As it was Saturday evening a lot of families were present there to enjoy their time. I walked straight, on one side a young man points his hands towards a ship in the horizon and explains how the harbour works. On another side, a middle aged man probably working on Gulf countries was taking the photographs of his wife and children. A little bit further young couples were engaged in a deep conversation; the girl some time raises her face and looks towards the further end of the sea. I stood there for some time and fixed my eyes on a fishing boat in the horizon, imagining myself in that boat for some time. Rain clouds in the further end were becoming darker and darker; as we need to travel to the other end of the river we retraced our steps and started walking towards Junker port. Fishing boats coming back to the ports were looking like black spots in the black rain clouds.

Boating service known as Junkar - three boats tied together with think flat wooden panels on the top as a platform for people and vehicles. Just 2Rs/ head, for car, jeep and other vehicles it’s different. By the time we bought the ticket and reach the port one Junkar gone. Now waiting for it to return...

From here the other side of the river dotted with coconut and other trees forms an excellent view for the eyes. Many fishing boats were docked some meters away from us. On the other side, in the same bank stood a couple of not so big cranes of Beypore port. I can’t say it as a port. In the front side there was an old rusted iron gate guarded by two police personals. Only two small ships plus one Police patrol boat were present close to the Warf. It looked like an abandoned area.

I have serious doubt about its current credential as the second busiest port after Kochi. The facilities in Beypore - if anything exists - are nowhere close to Kochi. It’s now living in the memories of the past glory, like many other ancient cities in India. The problem is not that opportunities don’t exist but we are failing to exploit it. In a densely populated state with a coastal length of 590 km and just 11-121 km width government can hardly create any express ways. Ok fine, but the problem is we are not properly utilising the facilities offered by Arabian Sea for transportation. I we could invest at least half the money state spent on Alcohol in water transport...

Suddenly one police boat crossed us. Suddenly two people appeared on my right side. One started straightening his blue Nylon thread, carefully he attached the bait its hook and threw it to the sea. I turned around there were so many people sitting here and there to catch fish. Finally Junkar came; we jumped in and managed to get ourselves a seat in the front. Behind us, a number of autos, cars, bikes and a lot of people slowly moved in. She turned around started crossing the river.

We got down at the other end and walked towards the stone pier. By the time we reached its further end was very much dark. Waves were coming fast and hitting the pier from three sides. Some boats were still coming back to the port. I sat there and lot in some thoughts; sitting on the shores of an ocean - especially in a sea bridge - is indeed a particular experience. Time will never wait for any anyone, not for us also. In walked towards the Junkar port in the darkness, reached there just before the closing of ticket counter. Good bye Beypore, we moved towards Calicut city and then to University.

Tali Mahadeva Temple

Tali, located some kilometers away from bus stand, were my first destination on Sunday morning. From the Bus stand we took an auto to reach there and reached there around 9.30 in the morning. After removing the footwear I went inside. This temple has a very good collection of decorations in the outer walls of main sanctum sanctorum.

Revathi Pattathanam, the famous 7 days long competition on Tarka, Vyakarana, Mimamsa and Vedanta, used to conduct in this temple. This event will start from the Revathy day of Tulam (third month in Malayalam Calendar - Oct: Nov). According to sources, this ceremony was started in 14th century. After the ceremony gifts were distributed to the winners. I spent around 45 minutes here and then went to Calicut Railway station to catch a train to Kannur.

Jain Temple

On our way back from Kannur we got down at Calicut Railway station. After searching for a lot of time and retracing the path for two times we finally reached the Jain temple located in Gujarati colony. By the time we reached there, Pooja's were in its last stage. We went in, after darshan we stated walking towards Palayam market.

Palayam Market

Palayam market is one of the biggest streets in Calicut. By the time we reached there almost all shops were closed, it was not even 9pm!!! Apart from giving some lights to walk street lights were creating big shadows as well. Unfortunately there was neither an auto nor a bus. We walked and walked through the empty and unknown streets and finally reached Sea. We walked further suddenly on the left hand side we saw a sign board pointing towards Muchuundi Mosque. We took that road after travelling through some more empty streets under partial or complete darkness reached on the bank of a big pond and in the middle of a lot of people.

Mishkal Mosque

First in line was Mishkal mosque - built by an Arab merchant Nakhooda Mishkal - approximately 650 years ago. Mosque originally had 5 stories but after the Portugese attack and subsequent reconstruction in 1510 it became 4 floors. The influence of Kerala Temple architecture is clearly visible in this mosque which doesn’t have any minarets.

Muchundi Mosque

From here we went to Muchundi Mosque located some meters away from Mishkal in the same road. Built in 13th century in temple architecture style this is one of the oldest mosque in Kerala. The famous Muchundi Inscription written in Arabic and in an older form of Malayalam is here. As it was already very late, I saw the mosque from outside and hurried back to the main road.

Back to City

Even though there were a lot of people in the roads many open stores, there was not even an auto available to reach the bus stand. An elderly man standing opposite to me told that, on Sunday after evening there is no bus service to that area. So we decided to walk, suddenly rain was started again but we had little choice, whether I reached in the bus stand or not my bus would leave by 10.30pm. So through thousands of raindrops we walked through the empty market. For next 15-30 minutes we walked like that fully drenched in water. On that night, I loved to hear the sound of a gasoline engine but was not fortunate for some time.

Two or three car came and gone. We tried to ask for a lift but there was no space. Finally, we reached railway over bridge and after trying three for time finally an auto stopped there and took us to bus stand. We went straight to a hotel, after having a big ghee dosha followed by a wonderful Masala Dosha we walked towards the bus stand. It was the time to say bye to Shihab without whom the journey may not be so enjoyable.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Right To Education - Still struggling to take off?

An open air school in Tanzania
Neither you nor I can decide where we will born. It’s quite accidental. Is it a crime to born in a poor family? Who gave society the power to discriminate against the kids born in poor families and the so called lower classes? Who gave power to the school authorities to breach the personal dignity of kids? I am neither talking about the rich-poor divide nor talking about any heavy weight words like that.

My question is who gave power to a school authority in Bangalore to discriminate against a group of students enrolled under Anti-Discrimination law? If the allegations are correct, school staff cut off the tufts of their hair and denied same uniform as other students.

According to BBC (1),

"made to stand separately during assembly and they were forced to sit in the back benches of the class.....In Karnataka, more than 1,000 schools are on a week-long strike protesting against the implementation of the 25% quota under the Right to Education Act."

Education is one of the fundamental pillars in life. All other qualities that will develop later are created, supported or refined with the help of this pillar. It is one of the basic services state needs to ensure to all her citizens. If this right is guaranteed then all others will follow.

It is not necessary that everybody will like an act. If somebody doesn’t like they can protest, they can go to court, petition to the representatives (MPs, MLAs etc). If school authorities are not finding RTE financially viable, request government for funds and other resources; they can even approach the court as well. After all Right to Education Act was not passed yesterday or day before yesterday. Under any circumstances school authorities doesn't have any right to cut the tufts off student's hair or deny same uniform or make them sit in the back benches or any act which can affect the personal dignity of a kid.


1. BBC - India school faces inquiry for 'humiliating' poor children
2. The Hindu - Children of a lesser cut
3. Deccan Chronicle - RTE kids bear brunt at school

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saudi to send women to Games but Baghpat (UP, India) looking in the opposite way

Qatari shooter Bahiya Al Hamad, Sarah Attar from Saudi Arabia
In the famous book 1984, George Orwell wrote "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."

But today, it seems like this quantity is in severe short supply on many parts of the world. Unfortunately, in India too situation is not so different.

It was only some day’s back we heard about the decision of Saudi administration to sent two women athletes to Olympic Games for the first time in the history. With this act they also escaped from Human Rights Watch and other right's agencies call to Ban Saudi Arabia from the games. A ban would have put Saudi in the category of Taliban era Afghanistan and apartheid era South Africa. London Games will also see the first ever women participation from Qatar and Brunei too.

But at the same time news coming out of Guwahati, Bengal, UP are disappointing.

UP - Asara, Baghpat

DNA Reports,

"In bizarre diktats, love marriages have been banned and women below the age of 40 years barred from going out for shopping and using mobile phones outside their homes by a village panchayat in Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat city. The panchayat in Asara village in Ramala area also ruled that when women leave their homes, their heads must be covered."

Guwahati - Assam

Hindustan Times reports,

"In yet another incident of crime against women, a 16-year-old girl was molested by around 30 men in full public view for about half an hour on Monday night outside a posh nightclub here. The incident was witnessed by hundreds, but no one came to her rescue."

Hooghly, West Bengal

Times Of India reports,

"The probe into the mysterious death and burial of a 32-year-old woman in a Hooghly rehabilitation home has unearthed a horror house where inmates were regularly raped and tortured by outsiders. It was virtually a free for all — anyone could walk in after sunset and do whatever he pleased with the women, who are either mentally challenged or speech and hearing impaired, sources said."

These are not rare incidents happening in some remote places. In the modern times, why we - often boasting as the inheritors of 5000 years of civilization - are not able to behave in a civilised way? If today women are banned from using mobile phones what is the guarantee that tomorrow there won’t be a ban on going to school and day after tomorrow...


Photo Courtesy: Voice Of America


1. DNA India - Report baghpat panchayat bans love marriage women below 40 from shopping
2. Hindustan Times - India shamed: Guwahati girl molested in full public view
3. Times of India - Inmates raped at will by outsiders in Hooghly rehabilitation home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Calicut Notebook - Through the streets, Parsi Temple, Kappad Beach and Zamoothiri's Kovilakam


It was not a good day to start a journey. That was the first thought came to my mind when I reached Calicut bus stand at 5.30 in the morning. Reason - Rain was getting stronger. Anyway I waited for a bus to reach Calicut University. I saw the Silhouette of a yellow bus moving at a distance. It was going to Thrissur, without wasting much time I ran towards it. It helped me to reach university before sunrise. After having bath and breakfast, we - me and Shihab - set out to see the historic Calicut City. Out first destination was Mananchira Square.


Before going forward let me tell you the history of Calicut city - third biggest in Kerala. From time immemorial Calicut (Kozhikode) attracted traders across the world - Jews, Arabs, Chinese etc. One of the main reasons was the freedom and security it offered to her merchant guests. Famous travellers who visited the City includes Ibn Battuta, famous Chinese admiral Zheng He, Ma Huan (1421, 1431), Abdur Razzak (1442–43) the ambassador of Persian Emperor Sha-Rohk, Italian Niccolo de' Conti (1445), Russian traveller Athanasius Nikitn, Afanasy Nikitin, Italian Ludovico di Varthema (1503–1508), Duarte Barbosa etc.. the list is long. When we say about Calicut we have to say about Samoothiri (Zamorin) rulers who controlled the medieval kingdom of Calicut for sixth centuries from 12th to 18th.

One Beach at Calicut

It was in Kappad - approx 18km away from Calicut city, where Vasco Da Gama first landed in India (1498 May 20). Dutch followed them. Later in 1766 Mysore under the command of HyderAli defeated Zamorin and annexed Calicut. Later during the Third Anglo-Mysore war, in 1790, entire Malabar fell in to the hands of British after two decisive battles at Calicut and Kannur. From that point till independence Malabar was part of British India.

Mananchira and SM Street

Mananchira, named after Manadevan Samoothiri, is a man-made lake in the middle of the city. I first read about this lake through the lines of famous writer S. K. Pottekkad during school days, S.K is a must read for Corallites. We looked towards the lake for some time. Shihab - who is currently doing an MPhil in history told me that many of the buildings in and around Mananchira lake was part of Zamoothiri administration, which now hosts various government departments. From here we walked towards S M street (the name came because of a sweet - Calicut Halwa, known as Sweet Meat to English traders) which is more than 600 years old. Well, I went some centuries back - imagining the soldiers walking through the streets, women purchasing the vegetables and bangles, kids running around...

Arabian Sea
Now streets are tightly packed with small stores. Looking both sides we continued our searching for Parsi temple and Dutch cemetery. Finally we located a small board on an old iron gate. Nobody was there; we slowly opened the door and went in. There was an old style building in front of us; it was like we suddenly reached a world of silence from the middle of a busy street. Cemetery was on my right side, we moved towards a small door on further right. Suddenly, I heard somebody calling my name. I turned towards Shihab; he was looking towards a big dog walking towards us without making any noise. Shihab: 'Anybody here?', for our good luck a mid-aged woman came out. Unfortunately we need permission from a guy located near to beach hospital in order to go inside the temple.

That was the first Parsi temple I ever saw. So we started walking towards beach hospital to see the guy for permission, only to hear that he is out of station for next two days. May be the old saying is correct - 'Everything has its own time'. With a heavy heart we walked towards the beach. The beautiful Arabian Sea who witnessed the Rise and Fall of Calicut was lying in front of us. I slowly walked through the sand and touched the water. It was a wonderful experience; I was touching the water of Arabian Sea for the first time. Each wave brought more water and tried to remove the sand over which I am standing. Some fishing boats were trying their luck some kilometres away. I stood there for some time, thinking about the other side - Africa, which I can’t see from here. The realization of standing on one of the free ports and trading centre of old world generated a special respect in my mind towards Calicut.


Kappad Beach
 Our next destination was Kappad beach. After the initial confusion in the routes and walking a lot we finally reached the main road. There was a Koilandi bus standing on the bus stop, we went in. Overnight journey and walking made me so tired that I slept in the bus, sometime later my friend sitting in the back seat shouted - 'It's the stop'. Ok fine I got down, after light refreshment we took an auto to reach Kapad beach. My second interaction with Arabian Sea in the same day...We spent some time there, thinking about the events happened in May 20, 1498 - the day Vasco Da Gama landed there. According to history, Gama's expedition to Calicut was successful and he bought a cargo worth 50-60 times the cost of expedition.

Suddenly one thought came to my mine. Calicut was a port city and a famous trading centre in the old world, records shows that she was visited by mariners of the Orient, West Asia and from many other places as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about their expeditions!!! I think our look east policy started in the early years of 90s is yet drill down its roots to our history texts. Close to the beach there is a monument - probably built very recently - in the memory of Vaasco Da Gama arrival at Kappad. We stood there for some time and then started our journey back to Calicut City.

Wall pics in the front wall of Padinjare Kovilakam

Padinjare (Western) Kovilakam

Next destination was Samoothiri Kovilakam (House of Zamorin). Here we lost our route, after much back tracking and enquiring finally reached Padinjare (Western) Kovilakam located at 'Cheriya Mankvu'. There was no one in the gate; we were in a confusion to go inside or not. Finally we decided to go forward. It’s a big area with buildings and one temple scattered over the place. But the striking thing was there is no difference between the kovilakam and any other home in the eyes of Kerala government.

We reached the entrance, it was empty. May be in the heydays these front yards may be filled with people and festivals. Now only silence remains. We went through the small and narrow path in front of us and reached another road.

Standing Infront of Monument at Kappad

We started comparing the current status of kovilakam and its best days. First reason came to my mind was Land Reform Acts started under first communist government elected in 1957 under the leadership of EMS. This law broke the back bone of feudal system in Kerala; subsequent legislations in 1960, 1963, 1964, 1969 and the last nail on the coffin on 1 Jan 1970 brought revolutionary changes in Kerala's land holding pattern. Feudal system never woke up again, but so as the people and temples which commanded a lot of land in earlier days. Suddenly an old news paper report came to my mind - one of the former land lord families is now doing manual labour after unable to sustain themselves in government pension. But the land reform act gave land and new hope to a huge section of people.

Searching Jain Temple

 According to our plan next destination was an old Jain temple. Only thing we knew about the location of Jain temple was it’s opposite to Pushpa theatre. On our way back from 'Cheriya Mankombu' we got down at a junction close to the theatre. One traffic police man was standing in the junction we approached him.

Police Man: "Jain temple?"
Me: "Yes, Jain temple"
Shihab: "According to the information given to us there is a Jain temple opposite to Pushpa Theatre"
Police Man: "Pushpa is dead".
Shihab: "Dead!!!"
Police Man: "Closed, I am new here, check with auto drivers sitting there".
Shihab (slowly towards me): Poet is sitting inside his uniform.

 Pushpa was indeed dead. Interestingly nobody knew where the Jain temple is. A porter suggested us to check with people in the nearby church. They too don’t know about a Jain temple opposite to Pushpa theatre. But, told us that there is one at - Gujarati Colony near to Railway Station. Finally we got Jain temple but Dutch cemetery eluded us. We walked towards Railway station from there we can easily reach Gujarati Colony. But Beypore was calling, if we missed some more time we may not be able to go to Beypore at all. So we took a 'U' turn - deciding to visit the temple tomorrow and boarded a Beypore bus.

Conductor: "Where?"
Me:"2 Beypore" (conductor giving the tickets) "When the last bus will leave Beypore to Calicut"
Conductor: "9.30"

The road was very much straight and finally we were in Beypore. My third meeting with Arabian Sea...


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

Hyderabad Chronicles I - To Hyderabad and Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

Bala Hissar Gate
On Sunday morning I woke up around 6 and went to the nearby bus stop. The question was which bus could take me there; interestingly some two-three people I approached also didn’t have any idea about the bus numbers. Finally, I met a person who was going to Mehdipatanam and boarded the vehicle along with him. AP state assembly, NMDC building etc were started running in the opposite direction. Mehdipatanam is a crowded area, in that Sunday morning too there were so many people rushing to reach their destination. 

One young man was preparing tea in a nearby restaurant. As usual the guy is moving hand in some special way while adding mixing the ingredients. After watching him for some time, I ordered on Badam tea. He took some milk from one bowls, badam powder from another one and a lot of sugar.

It was mini bus, but almost empty. I comfortably positioned myself on a side seat. After crossing defence area I saw the outer walls of fort slowly waking up from the sleep. Soon we crossed one of the fort gates - I think this gate is named as Fateh Darwaza - and reached a narrower road. Golkonda bus stand is a small one and the entrance of inner fort is in a walk able distance from here.

Fort gate was open and people were going in. Some carried big sacks filled with cook able items; for my surprise there were two black goats, with tied legs. At first I didn't understand the purpose, only after reaching inside I realised that the poor animal were seeing their last sunrise - Sacrifice.

Ramdas Jail
This 13th century Golkonda - meaning shepherd's hill - fort was originally built by Kakatiya kings. Later it fell in to the hands of Bahmani Sulthanate in 1363 AD. After the fall of Bahmani sultanate fort came in to the hands of Qutb Shahi dynasty. In 1518 AD it became the capital of Qutb Shahi's under then Sulthan Quli Qutd Shah.

Later in 1687 fort fell in to hands of Mugal emperor Aurangzeb only after withstanding the Mugal army for nine months. He appointed Asif Jhah, who later proclaimed independence as Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1713. Golkoda fort had eight gateways, and the one at south-eastern corner is known as 'Fateh Darwaza' (Victory Gate) after Aurangazeb's victorious army marched through this gate.

Golkonda Fort
I was standing in front of BalaHissar. This giant gate is decorated with Iron spikes in the front and two Lions and two peacocks in the top. I went through the gate and reached an area called Clapping Portico. It's said that if you clap here, the sound can be heard at the highest point in the fort, almost one km away. There were a group of people behind me and everyone started clapping at this point.

I walked through a path constructed by ASI and after a steep a climb at one point reached Ramdas jail. It is here the 17th century saint composer Kancharla Gopanna (then Tahasildar of Bhadrachalam and the builder of famous Bhadrachalam Sree Sita Ramachandra Swamy Temple) who later became famous in the name of Bhakta Ramadas was jailed for 12 years. I spent some time inside the jail; he spent 12 years here which doesn't even have a window!!!
Kutb Shahi Tombs

After climbing some more steps I reached MahaKali Temple. Then I moved towards Baradari - a rectangular building at the highest point in the fort. From the top you can view almost all nearby areas - Fort's outer walls, gates, ruins etc.

Two police personals were sitting there with their walky-talky. As it is the highest point, it is here I am supposed to here the clapping sound from BalaHissar gate. May be because of the crumbled areas, or nobody was clapping at the gate I didn’t hear any sounds other than the one coming from walky- talky. I came down from there using another and reached the front end of the fort. Some of buildings located here still have their plastering. After sitting some time at the garden thinking about Kakatiyas, Bahmanis, Qutab Shahis, Aurangazeb, Ramdas, Diamonds of Golkonda etc I left the fort.
Kutb Shahi Tombs

The important structures of Golkonda fort are BalaHissar Gate, Clapping Portico, Mortuary Bath, Silai Khana, Nagina Bagh, Taramati Mosque, Guard Lines, Akkanna-Madanna offices, Ramdas Jail Durbar Hall, Ambar Khana, Ibrahim Mosque, Baradari and Mahakali Temple.

I went to one of the nearby stores and checked for the way to Kutb Shahi Tombs. I decided to walk, thinking it may be only 1km but turned out to be longer than that. I took the 'Bada-Darwaza' road after some time I reached 'Banjara Darwaza', and finally on the left side I saw the board of Kutub Shahi tombs.

Spanish Mosque
Here lays the sultans of Kutub Shahi dynasty. Dynasty's founder Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk migrated first to Delhi in 16th century and then to Deccan. He served under Bahmani Sulthan Mohammed Shah and conquered Golkonda. After the fall of Bahmani Sulthanete, he proclaimed independence and Golkonda became the capital. There were seven sultans from this dynasty; they ruled Golkonda for 171 years until Aurangzeb’s conquest of Deccan.

Tombs are spread over a large area. I moved from one tomb to another and in some places I went inside (one has to remove the shoes to go inside a tombs). There is a small museum here. After spending some more time thinking about the dynasty I went outside and took one bus to Mehdipatanam. It was around one 'o' clock only. As there was enough time I boarded one bus to Secandrabad, which took me to Secandrabad Railway station. One of the beautiful things I saw in Hyderabad is people, wherever you go there will be a huge crowd. You will never feel alone in this city. After spending sometime near to railway station I went to Begumpet - here stands the Spanish Mosque.
In front of one of the tombs

Paigah Nawab - Nawab Sir Iqbal Ud Daula - constructed this mosque in 1906 after his return from Spain, inspired by Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba. The speciality of this mosque is its spires, instead of minarets or domes, which gives the mosque a church like appearence. Back to Secundrabad.

After crossing the famous clock tower of Secunderabad I get down at Railway station. After walking through the city for some time I reached the bus stand near to Ganesha temple. From here towards MGBS, on the way I saw Kachiguda railway station (its small compared to Secunderabad but a beautiful one), MahatmaGandhi Medical College etc. Finally I reached MGBS, then a 10.20pm Rajahamsa took me back to Bangalore.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir

Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

Around 1 pm, I came out from Salar Jung museum and started walking towards the iconic Charminar. As I was approaching closer to the area, streets were getting busier. Dotted with small but plenty of shops on both sides, roads were like a human sea.

In one shop both potential buyers and sellers are locked in some intense discussion. Another place one, a person casually looks the items displayed in the store. Yet in another one, a lot of people are sitting and talking.

Finally, I reached Charminar, after buying tickets from the counter at the entrance I went in. According to history, the fifth ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty - Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah - built Charminar just after shifting his capital from Golkonda to Hyderabad in 1591 AD. This building with four archers - each of which is opening to a street - stands in a 20 metre long square edifice. Minarets at four corners of the building are 56 metres high with a dome in the top. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah built Charminar to commemorate the elimination of plague from the city. He prayed for the end of plague and vowed to build a masjid at the same place.

There is a short but steep staircase to reach the first floor. It’s just enough for one person. Outer plastering looks smooth and beautiful from a distance only. If you are going close, especially in the stair cases and first floor - public can't access second floor - people scratched the plaster using pointed objects and wrote their names.

From first floor you can see the crowded city. Both Mecca Masjid and Nizamia General Hospital are close to Charminar. After spending some time there I got down and walked in the direction of Mecca Masjid.

Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah commissioned the construction of Mecca Masjid. The mosque got its name as the bricks used in construction were made of soil brought from Mecca. This is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad City and one among the biggest in India. Even though the construction was started by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, it was completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb after his conquest of Hyderabad.

There is a thriving fruit market - Mangoes, apples, grapes, sugar cane etc - in front of Mecca Masjid. I took two glasses of sugarcane juice - 5 Rs/glass. In my two days journey, I bought sugar cane juice from various parts of Hyderabad and her twin Secunderabad, the price fluctuated in a range of 5-10 Rs/glass.

A small Road on the sides Mecca Masjid took me to Chowmahalla Palace. Chowmahalla - means four palaces Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Tahniyat Mahal and Aftab Mahal - was the seat of Asaf Jahi dynasty, official residence of Nizam. Takht-e-Nishan or the royal seat of Nizam is located at Darbar Hall of Khilwat Mubarak here. The presence of 19 Chandeliers of Belgian crystal makes it more attractive.

I walked through various palaces and reached heritage vehicle museum in the end. After spending some more time here I boarded a Secunderabad bus to reach Andra Pradesh state museum. Unfortunately, I didn't recognise the stop and finally get down at the Secandrabad end of Hussain Sagar lake.

Fine, I walked back through the tank bund road. Water body stands at one side of the road and statues of well known personalities in Andra history at the other side. Hussain sagar offers required empty space for an otherwise crowded city.

Tank Bund Road
This artificial lake - built on a tributary of Musi River to meet the water and irrigation needs of the city - was built by Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali in 1562, during the reign of Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah. A big monolithic statue of Gautama Buddha erected in 1992 in the lake. After reaching the other side of the lake, I continued towards state museum only to see the closed gates. A message was pasted on the wall saying that it will be closed on all public holidays. I don't understand what is the use of a museum to visitors it won't open in holidays.

On the way to museum stands the beautiful white building of AP state assembly. From here I walked towards Birla Mandir standing on the top of Naubath Pahad constructed entirely using white marble. Birla Technology Museum is located close to the mandir. The main deity is Lord Venkateshwara. Only handbags are allowed inside, other things you have to deposit in clock room.

Birla Mandir
I joined the slowly moving queue and went inside. After spending some time inside the temple I came out and sat on the steps. From here you can see the entire City, indeed beautiful scenery. By this time, sun almost set on the western ocean and darkness slowly started spreading her cover over the city. I can see the fountains of Hussain Sagar lake pumping water in to the air.

I was very much tired after the day long walk and decided not go anywhere else and went to a lodge. But this decision cost me one beautiful night on the banks of Hussain Sagar which I realised later. So if you are going to visit Hyderabad don't forget to spend one evening on the banks of Hussain Sagar.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum

Hyderabad Chronicles I - To Hyderabad and Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

One of the popular items in the museum is a clock. The speciality is, in every hour a toy soldier will open a small door at one side of the clock and hit a bell using a small hammer. For e.g. at 12 'o' clock, he will hit the bell 12 times. I reached this area (located at ground floor, two LCD screens placed on both sides of the clock are live telecasting the events) around 11.30am. A large number of people were already sitting in front of the clock, waiting for 12 'o' clock.

As there was some more time left to twelve, I went to see European marble statues. Cleopatra by Prof. Borione, Bebe by a French sculptor capturing the innocence of a baby, ‘Psyche’ wife of Cupid who is celebrated for her beauty, 2 copies of French sculptor, Canora (1757-1822) consisting of Princess Pauline as Venus and another figure of Venus brightens this gallery.

G.B. Benzoni's veiled Rebecca is also present in this room. As somebody described it’s indeed a melody in marble. Rebecca, daughter of Bethal known for her beauty lived with her brother. Anxious to arrange her marriage, her brother finds a match for her in Isaac. Isaac came to Rebecca's home and was introduced to her by her brother. Seeing him made her shy and she tried to cover her excitement by trying to hide her face in a veil. Benzoni bring life to this scenario again through his marble statue.

You can see even the delicate folding in the veil and her cloths. Benzoni made the statue in such a way that the veil looks like a transparent cover in front of her face. You can clearly see her beautiful face (expressing the excitement of seeing Isaac) through this veil. It is believed that Benzoni made four copies of veiled Rebecca.

I went back to the clock area. It was fully crowded by then; people were standing in both sides. After searching for some time I managed to get a chair. Four minutes to go. I waited eagerly, 3...2...1 and suddenly the door opened and soldier came out. We started counting the seconds 56...57...58...59... And finally its 12. Soldier started hitting the bell using his rod. Sitting somewhere in the 8th or 9th row, at first I didn't understand what was happening (I thought, there will be 12 soldiers coming one by one and hitting the bell), but when the soldier hit the bell for ninth time I realised the scenario - there is only one soldier. Three more to go...10...11...12 and the show was over. Soldier closed the door and went back.

After leaving the clock area I went to the jade gallery on the first floor. Going through the objects on display I reached one place, where a small knife was on display. I read the small letters below it - it was NoorJahan's fruit knife. Dagger of Salar Jung III, Aurangazeb and Jahangir decorated using jades hangs below. My eyes fixed on Aurangzeb’s dagger, especially its handle part. It was once used by Aurangzeb, who ruled one of the biggest empires in the history of India for more than half a century!!!

After that I went to other galleries like Middle Eastern carpet collection, toys etc; as my journey was for two days and yet to see the other parts of the city, I moved quickly and went to other sections.

Chinese... In one end there was a statue of Chinese God of prosperity. Chinese porcelain like 'Celadon' ware, Ivory objects etc displays the richness of Chinese cultural heritage and her workers skills.

Just like Japanese bewildered the world by her growth in the post WW II era Japanese collection too will make a special mark on the memories of a visitor. Blue and white porcelain, vases, bowls, various types of plates shows the quality of Japanese workmanship. Apart from this, museum also has a collection of Japanese embroideries, daggers and swords (including Samurai swords).

You can also see the Tibetan and Burmese cultural heritage in the museum, especially their Buddhist tradition.

Finally, I reached Western Section; here the magnificent representatives of European arts will welcome you. Attractive glass objects, various types of clocks, glass sets (specimens drawn from Venice, France, England, America, Bohemia, Belgium, Istanbul, Czechoslovakia etc; small LED's are placed at the bottom of the glass which made the view more attractive), furniture, ivories etc.

There is also a good collection of European porcelain in the museum. Austrian, Dresden, English, Wedgewood, Worcester, Chelsea, Derby, Coalport, Spade, Manchester, Minton, Wedgwood etc represents the European tradition and skills.

One of the statues is 'Mephistopheles and Margaretta'. In this statue good and evil are represented by the sculptor in a subtle way. One side of the statue (in wood) represents evil - in the form of an old man - this side is looking towards the viewer. There is a mirror behind the statue which reveals the other side of the statue - a beautiful young lady. The concept is taken from Goethe’s tragic German drama 'Dr. Faust'.

Another interesting painting in this room is Hayez’s 'Soap Bubbles', in this painting a boy is blowing soap bubbles up in to the air. Hayez is able to bring life to this picture. In one end a painting describes the scene of Persian royal family requesting Alexander to spare their life after latter's victory against Persian Empire.

In another one author describes the operation of a woman, who is almost naked. One person is performing operation in her body and others are looking the process. After spending some more time with paintings I slowly came out of the room.

Museum also contains a number of European marble statues. Majority of them are copies of Greek mythological figures. Some describe the expressions of a woman at different times of the year. Apart from this there are galleries for flora & Fauna, Western furniture, Kashmir Gallery etc.

I slowly came out of the museum. It required more than a day to see the complete collection; unfortunately I only had two days to see the entire city. So it’s time to say bye to Salar Jung museum.... By the way, whoever sees the museum will definitely appreciate the effort of Salar Jung in making this beautiful collection.


Photo Courtesy: Salarjung Museum website

Hyderabad Chronicles I - To Hyderabad and Salar Jung Museum

Hyderabad Chronicles I - To Hyderabad and Salar Jung Museum Hyderabad Chronicles II - Walking through Salar Jung Museum
Hyderabad Chronicles III - Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Chowmahalla Palace, Hussain Sagar and Birla Mandir
Hyderabad Chronicles IV - Golconda Fort, Kutb Shahi tombs, Spanish Mosque and Secundrabad

Salar Jung Museum
It was a Friday evening, after travelling through the packed roads of Bangalore city, I finally reached Shanti Nagar bus Stand. Rajahamsa was on time, and I left Bangalore at 8.45pm and reached on the out skirts of Hyderabad city by next morning. 

Along with the cool air from the vast stretch of empty land on both sides of the road, I can easily sense the smell of ploughed soil. After some time I saw a person riding his tractor. Is there a smile in his lips?

I slowly entered in to the city; one of the first main buildings was Police Academy. The motto “Be the change you want to see in the world” is written in big letters. I wonder if they could keep the motto at all times...

Nehru Zoological Park came next; after some time we crossed Musi River and reached MGBS. Now Musi is less of a river and more of a drainage channel, best example for how humans can destroy nature!!! Before auto drivers can offer me a trip I walked towards main road to catch a city bus.

My first destination was Hyderabad High Court. I got down one stop before the court and slowly walked towards it. With red coloured domes, High court stands proudly under the morning sun. After watching the building for some time, I walked towards Salar Jung Museum. It took some time to reach there. Museum will open at 10 am in morning and now it is 9.30am. So I sat in front of the museum to read her history.

Salar Jung Museum

This museum contains the personal collection of Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III (1889–1949), former Prime Minister of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. It took around thirty five years for Salar Jung to create this priceless collection. According to museum sources it displays a little more than 25% of the original collection.

There are 38 galleries in the museum spread over two floors under three sections (Indian, Western and Eastern). Now it's ten, I slowly moved in. After buying the ticket (10 INR) I slowly walked in. As cameras are not allowed inside the museum I went to the clock room and locked the camera in the locker. After a security check at the main entrance I went to the Founder's gallery.

Founder’s gallery contains the portraits and other personal belongings of Salar Jung family. There is one photo in this room which attracted my particular attention. It was Sarojini Naidu and others attending one function with Salar Jung. I moved to the next gallery.

There was a big size Nataraja performing Tandava Dance. Here you can see the scenes from Rasaleela, Bhagvad Gita, Gopis plucking flowers, legends of Hindu Gods, episodes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vishnupurana etc printed or drawn in the cloths. After spending some time here I slowly moved to the next one.

After some time I reached Indian miniature paintings gallery. This room contains some of the good paintings from Rajasthani (Malwa, Mevar, Kotah, Amber, Jaipur etc), Mughal, Deccani (Golkonda, Bijapur etc), Pahari (Kulu, Gharwal, Kangra etc) styles. I looked towards the paintings for some time. Indeed we habe to spend quite some time to see, understand and enjoy some of the best Indian miniature paintings.

After that I moved towards Modern painting gallery. Went straight to the middle of the gallery, there stands M.N Roy's 'After Bath'. This picture describes the back of a beautiful woman just after taking the bath - wearing a wet white cloth with red borders. M.N Roy beautifully sketched the beauty of the woman in the painting. She raised both hands one at the level of the neck and other one folded close to her ear. Both hands are touching her beautiful black her at the back side of the head. Even the folding in the wet cloth is clearly visible to the viewer.

Chugthai's 'Lady and the deer', Paintings of Nandalal Bose, Abnindranath Tagore etc forms a beautiful view to the visitor. Finally, I walked towards the works of Raja Ravi Varma.

First one I saw was a painting named 'Kerala Beauty' - a middle aged woman, wearing a white cloth and jewellaries. Next one was the painting of a couple - probably lovers - named as 'Stolen Interview'. In this painting, a woman wearing green sari is standing on one side of the pillar. She is holding a flower in one hand. Looking towards the flower she slowly moves her other hand over it. She is looking beautiful in her necklace and red coloured bangles. A young man is standing on the other side of the wall, looking to her face. He is holding the pillar using one hand and supporting his head with the other one. It’s indeed a Stolen Interview'.

I walked towards the door and went to other galleries. One contains the collection of Indian textiles - a selected collection of saris etc another one contains Toys and dolls.

You can see Egyptian and Syrian furniture’s on another one. These items are basically replicas of original ones. Another room contains various models of carpets. Arabian and Persian manuscripts are displayed on another room. Quartrain of Omar Khayyam written by Sultan Hussain of Persia and autographed by princess Jehanara Begum - daughter of Shah Jehan, an illuminated Holy Quran, Shah-nama by Firadausi written by Mohd-b-Abdul Rahman Sammarqandi ( 1424 A.D. ) etc are visible here.

Another gallery contains Ivory objects. I slowly moved in front of various Ivory objects appreciating artisan's skills. In Arms sections we can see various guns - Match lock, flint lock, pistols, revolvers etc. In one place there were armours of various soldiers, their swords, various plates used to cover body parts etc.