Thursday, January 31, 2013

Can PSU's save Indian shipping sector? I don't think so

Centre has urged the public sector units to use Indian shipping lines for transportation of their cargo. The move is aimed at increasing the share of Indian tonnage in the overall export-import trade. Currently, only around 8% of total EXIM trade is done by Indian flagged vessels.

First things first - numerous foreign flagged vessels are owned by Indians. Why? Why someone will put Panama’s, Liberia’s flag in an Indian ship? Government has to understand the root cause of problem in shipping industry instead of urging (ordering?) PSU’s to shell out extra money. Ministry has to sit with tax and customs officials to study the structural defects, instead of making Coal India (CIL), Steel Authority of India (SAIL), Indian Oil (IOC), NTPC etc... victims of a flawed policy.

Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India


Indore is the largest city in Madhya Pradesh, in fact it’s the largest metropolitan area in central India. Located some 190 km from state capital Bhopal, this city is well connected with rest of India. Indore also has an International Airport close to the city. The name, Indore, is said to be derived from Indreshwar temple constructed around 10th century by Bhoja.

Indore grew as a trade hub between Delhi and Deccan. Credit for modern settlement goes to Rao Nandlal Chaudhary, who was a Zamindar and enjoyed Jagir rights under Mughals. In 1724, Nizam of Hyderabad (then Governer of Deccan under Mughal rule) accepted the rights of ‘Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I’ to collect Chauth (tax) from this area. Later in 1733 AD Peshwa assumed the full control, and Malhar Rao Holkar became the Subhedar – Governor. Nandalal also accepted the suzerainty of Marathas.

In 1818 AD, Holkars and Scindias were defeated by British East India Company in third Anglo - Maratha war. Following the war, residency of company was established in Indore. However, Holkers continue to rule as a princely state till they join Indian Union on 1947.

On the way to Indore

Window seat was available only in the last row. Even though last row was not on my favourite list, the temptation to see the roadside forced me to settle there. Some more people joined us, in the journey. Out of the new entrants – a couple required special attention.

They were around 18-21 years old and stood close to each other. Even though a lot of facilities were available to stand properly, the girl for most part of the journey lean on the boy and the boy - in white shirt, was holding her with one hand and holding a nearby seat with another hand. In between the guy was talking in phone – probably with a friend.

It looked like, they just eloped and planning to marry each other. He was calling his friend, probably for arranging a place to stay. As I was sitting a little bit far, the chances for error in my guess is high. Moreover, there is no way to confirm whether they actually married or not.

Rest of the passengers were giving little attention to this adventure.

In Indore

Indore Streets 
I got down at a stop close to Railway station, crossed the platforms using over-bridge and reached the other side. From here, I took an auto to reach Rajwada – place of Holkar rulers. One more person joined us, one the way we had a little conversation about Indore. After reaching Rajwada, auto driver gave an offer to show the main parts of city for 250 INR. I was in confusion, its already afternoon, over and above I have to leave Indore by evening. If I am walking or going by bus it would take more time. Seeing this confusion he encouraged me and started the auto again – suddenly I asked him “What about Rajwada?” His answer was simple – “Nothing to see here”.

I quickly reached a decision; his tone was more than I could digest. I accept suggestions, opinions, criticisms, but don’t want somebody to dictate terms to me. If he is not able to identify something worth seeing in Rajwada, then no need for any more deliberations. My answers was a firm no, without lowering the tone he again informed me about the chance I am about to miss.

Inside the palace

After buying the tickets I went in. Some parts of palace complex were under maintenance. The main areas to see are Holkar museum and darbar halls. After taking a round and spending some more time, I left the place through a gate on the right. This gate opens to a crowded street. Palace structure is not ending here, behind there was another one with an inner courtyard and a Shiva temple at one side.


Streets - Another view

Again I came back to streets, a lot of people were moving in different directions in that Friday afternoon. These areas were divided to blocks and there was no shortage of people in any blocks. There were some panipuri vendors selling pani-puri in seven – ten different flavours; some others were selling paav bajji etc. On another junction there was a band group in their traditional dresses.

Kaanch (Mirror) Mandir (Temple)

My target was Kaanch mandir (mirror temple). But walking through that crowded streets itself was an interesting experience.

Suddenly, on the left side there were a lot of cloth shops, sales men were standing on the doors to attract customers. Finally, I reached Kanch mandir – as name indicates, the inner walls of this Jain temple is completely covered in mirrors. All the decorations are in the mirror itself. I almost forget the flow of time by looking in to this master craftsmanship. Finally it was the time to go.

Kanch Mandir

All that roads were not open to buses, so I had to walk a little to reach the bus stop. Two more people, carrying big bags, were waiting there. They were calling an auto; it stopped on the other side of road, took a U turn and stopped in front of us. Suddenly one of them asked me – “Going to railway station?” I told yes, they requested me to join them. Well, I didn’t have any problem. We started moving; suddenly driver asked something – I was thinking about something else and didn’t hear it properly. So he repeated the question, before I can say something my co-traveller told – “mmmm” in a vague way. The question was – “are you their servant”?!!!

This question was to check whether he can charge me separately for the full amount. I don’t like this way of making some quick bucks - if somebody hired an auto then auto driver will get a pre-fixed charge for that distance. It doesn’t matter whether the group has 2 member or 4 members, whether they are blood relatives or not. Finally, we reached railway station, I went inside and the other two boarded a bus to Bhopal. There was some more time to go, well let’s try Indore’s multi flavoured panipuri – 7 pieces for 10 rupees.

Finally train - INDB JBP EXP – came, it was the time to say good bye Indore.


Some other attractions in Indore.
1. Lal bhag Palace
2. Kamla Nehru Prani Sangrahalay - Indore Zoo.
3. Central Museum (Indore Museum)
4. Gurdwara Imli Sahib (In  1568 Guru Nanak Dev came to Indore).

Indore Streets 
Award of One lakh rupees for Kapturing Nana Sahib
Another view of Palace
Inner Courtyard
Rajwada - A closer view
Me at palace
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers

Mahakal Temple Ujjain

Are you able to hear, the sounds of galloping horses? Dust, thrown up to the sky by their powerful legs? Mantras coming out from the lips of saints? Sounds of auctions/ settlements by wealthy traders?

This is Ujjaini, one of the most important and holy cities in ancient India, located in the eastern banks of holy river Shipra. At different points of time, Ujjaini was known by different names like Avanthika, Ujjain, Kumudva, Pratikalpa, Amaravati, Shivpuri, Chudamani, Kanakasrnga and associated with renowned saints and scientists like Sandipani, Mahakatyayana, Bhasa, Bharttrhari, Kalidasa, Amarasimha, Varahamihira, Parmartha, Sudraka, Banabhatta, Mayura, Rajasekhara, Puspadanta, Harisena, Samkaracharya, Vallabhacharya, Jadurupa, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya etc...

Rulers like Krishna - Balarama, Chanda Pradyota, Udayana, Vikramaditya, Mahakstrapa Chastana, Rudradaman, Paramara rulers Munjaraja-Bhojadeva, Udayaditya, Mughal governer Sawai Jaisimha, Maratha General Mahadaji Scindhia were also spent their time in this ancient cosmopolitan city. Even emperor Asoka spent his early years - when he was the viceroy of western provinces of Maurayan Empire- in Ujjain.

Meridian of ancient world - Yomottara – passed through this city.

In the medieval times Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shahajahan visited this city.

During the festival of Simhastha Parva - once in every twelve years - lakhs of pilgrims from different parts of the country will take baths at various ghats of Shipra. This territory is said to be one of the favourite for holy trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. It is believed that Krishna, Balarama and Sudama studied here in the gurukul of Maharshi Sandipani.


Shipra River
Buddhist literature of 6th century BC mention Avanti (Capital: Ujjaini) as one of the four great powers – Avanti, Kosala, Vatsa, and Magadha. Considered as one of the seven sacred cities (saptapuri) for Hindu’s, you can find this name in epic Mahabharata as well.

After the fall of Maurayans, Ujjain came under the rules of Sungas, Satavahanas, and Western Satraps; then came Guptas (Ujjaini was the capital of King Chandragupta II, aka Candragupta Vikramaditya.

Later this city became a famous centre for mathematical and astronomical research - Brahmagupta (head of Ujjain astronomical observatory and author of Brahmasphutasiddhanta), Varahamihira (astronomer, mathematician, astrologer, author of Pancha-Siddhantika, Brihat-Samhita), Bhaskaracharya’s (astronomer, mathematician, head of an astronomical observatory at Ujjain, author of Siddhānta Shiromani - Lilavati is a part of Siddhānta Shiromani) etc also lived here...

Delhi sultanate under the command of Iltumish invaded the city in 1235 AD; Mughal emperor made it the capital of Malwa; Marathas under Scindia considered Ujjain as their capital.
It was in Dharmat near Ujjain, probably in 15th April 1658, one of the decisive battles of Mughal succession was fought between Dara’s forces under the command of Jaswant Singh – Raja of Jodhpur – and the combined armies of Aurangazeb and his brother Murad.

In the midnight

My train reached Ujjain after mid-night. I didn’t have any plan to take a room for spending rest of the night; unfortunately in railway station I didn’t find any waiting room either. One corner was marked for that purpose. Without enclosing walls, practically it didn’t make any difference from an open area - mercury reading was below 9 degree Celsius. Finally I sat on a chair in the last row; some 20 meters away one cow was chewing waste from a box. In between sometime I slept, however a sensation of hot airflow some centimetres away from my face woke me up.

That cow was standing just in front of me. Before allowing her to read my face further I moved quickly to another row. Around 4.30-5.00 in the morning, I woke up and moved towards the parking area. Carefully avoiding all the autos, I reached main road. There was a huge gathering, I approached them and asked about Mahakaleshwar temple. One guy suddenly answered – ‘200kms away from here!!!’ Guy standing next, corrected him – “it’s not so far”. Fortunately one shared TATA Magic came and took me to Mahakaleshwar.

Mahakaleshwar temple

One of the holiest temples for Hinduism, lingam (below the ground level) in this jyotirlinga temple is considered as svayambhu (born of itself). As the Idol is facing south, here Mahadev is also known as Dakshinamurthi. Above Mahakal shrine- at ground level - there is an idol of Omkareshwar Shiva. Images of Parvati, Ganesh, Karthikeya and Nandi are located in north, west, east and south of sanctum. Nagchandreshwar sits on the third storey - opens only on Nag Panchami.

He dropped me a little bit far from the temple. In front of the temple entrance, a lot of vendors were selling flowers to devotees for Archana. Prices were normal. After buying a ticket for special darshana (151 INR – this will give you temple’s locker facility as well) and placing my bag on the locker, I went inside. Temple was not so crowded, after going through the small temples of updevas, I went inside the sanctum of Omkareshwar temple.

On the side of Omkareshwar, there was a path going down - two security guards were there at the entrance. At that time, I did not know the structure of the temple and started searching for Mahakaleshwar’s sanctum. Guards asked me to go through one direction, but I reached a dead end. I came back and checked again with them, and they pointed towards the same place. This time also I didn’t see the path, after moving here and there for some time I met a pandit and he showed the path going through the sides of a pond. Finally I joined the queue; silver gate to the sanctum was just in front of me.

After crossing the silver gate, people were chanting ‘Jai Mahakal’ in a louder voice. One guy standing next to me was chanting shiv stotras.

There was a small path – at a time two people can walk – leading the devotees to sanctum. Finally I was in sanctum – Jyotirlinga of Mahakal was standing in front of us. I touched the jyotirlinga and stood there for some time, later walked out through the front door.

At the exit point there is a big Nandi sitting on the floor. Many people were coming close to Nandi’s ear and telling their wishes, after closing the other ear with one hand. I curiously watched this for some time and did the same.

There were some more shrines in the complex. After visiting all, I went back to pond’s side and met an old pandit there. At the end of conversation, I asked,

“Could you please tell me, how to reach Bade Ganesh temple and Harsiddhi mandir?”
“You can come with me; I am also going in that way”

He gave me teertha and showed the temples located inside the complex. Then we went outside, he went to the store of each flower vendor and gave them teertha, in return they gave him some fresh flowers. Some even asked about me as well!!! Well, it was taking time. He asked me about my Ujjain plan and suggested the nearby temples. At the next junction he stopped the conversation and pointed his hand downwards.

‘Follow this road, Bade Ganesh temple is on right side, for Harsiddhi mandir take right turn from next junction. I have to go in another way.’

Temperature was very low and I am walking with naked feet, with every step walking became harder. I went back to the gate, took the sandal and came back.

Bade Ganesh Temple

Located close to the road, the structure looked more like a home than a temple. There was a big Ganesha statue in the front room. If I correctly remember, Sri Ram statue was there in the centre of next room and some other idols in the sides.

Harsiddhi Devi Mandir

HarSiddhi Devi Temple
Further down the road there was a lake – which needed an urgent cleanup. On reaching the next junction, I could see a board pointing Harsidhhi Mandir. Well, it may not be possible for me to go as far as Gopal temple and came back to Mahakal temple for collecting bag and camera. Hence I went back again, to take camera and bag. One the way back, I looked towards Mahakal temple once again. Combination of blue sky, stone structure of temple, lights, and birds roaming around the top was one of the best views to start a day – Jai Mahakal!!!

Harsiddhi mandir is also located close to the road.

Shipra Snan ghat

Shipra River - Another view
Walking further down the road and a left would take you to Shipra’s snan ghat. Both young and old were taking bath in those cold waters. One boat was slowly moving in the opposite direction of the river. There were three people in it. One was rowing it, another one - free from the moh maya of the present world was watching the blue sky, third and last one was copying the live pictures in the river banks to his camera.

If I could understand the language of Shipra!!! Flowing non-stop for thousands of years, this river saw the rise and fall, birth and death of dynasties, kings, emperors, saints etc. I bent downwards and took a small amount of water in my hand then slowly released it back to the river. Drop by drop it find nirvana in the heart of this great river. After looking towards Shipa for some more time, I turned back and walk towards the main road.

Gopal Mandir

Dwaraka Gopal Mandir.
I left the main road and continue through the inner ones. There were a lot of people in the streets, some were going for jobs, one father was taking his daughter to school, and another one was opening the shop...

Contrary to my expectation, these streets were not narrow. At first look itself I liked their drainage system. There were small channels running close to home, water from every home would fell in to this channel. Base of many homes was located close to the road, with its lower portion projecting a little bit forward and thus covering the top of drainage channel.
Finally it was Gopal mandir. Some 100 meters away, there was a mosque painted in familiar green and white, standing opposite to it. At first, I thought of moving back to main road but finally continue through the side roads.

Sandipani Ashram

Maharshi Sandipani Ashram
Ashram was further away; one auto driver showed me another one going through that direction. I don’t know what I should call for this mechanical creature, but that would come later. First problem was how to reach there. One part of drainage system was broken and waste water was flowing through the road. All my good opinions about Ujjain drainage system evaporated in a single second.

Finally I crossed this mess, reached other side, and sat on the back seat. This must be a locally manufactured metal piece; sound of engine is almost similar to that of an old diesel generator. This curious form has some metal bars slightly projecting outwards – may be gears. There were two small stones placed under a rubber wrap – I was not able to make out any apparent usage for that.

Some more people came and this curious form started moving, suddenly one sadhu came and sat next to driver. In between, sadhu asked many questions about this vehicle. He showed him some kind of registration papers and boasted about the enormous (according to him!!!) amount of tax he has to pay annually to government.

In between he stopped in front of a store, ran to its side took some diesel and poured in to the tank. That small stones kept in his cabin were for this moment. At a junction driver stopped his vehicle and told me to follow another road to reach Ashram. I thought ashram was very much close, but that was not the case at all.

I slowly walked through the road. In the first turn, there was Yamaraj, Dharmaraj and Chitragupta mandirs. In the next compound there were two more temples and a pond. One guy standing there told me that, Sandipani ashram is on the other side of the pond. As there was no option to cross the pond, I had to take the road itself – but ashram was not so close.

Finally on the left side, I saw the board of Sandipani Ashram. Inside there were temples and a pond called – gauri kund. Instead of the usual sitting Nandi, there was a standing Nandi in front of the temple. Inside a room, opposite to this temple, there was a statue of Sandipani and a pair of old model wooden Sandals. I don’t know from where they got those sandals.


Mangalnath Temple.
From here a straight road is going towards Mangalnath Shiva temple. As I didn’t see much vehicles going in that direction, I had to walk. As per Matsyapurana, this place is considered as the birth place of Mars.

Remembering the map, I crossed the bridge close to the temple and reached the other side. Unfortunately, the road connecting the bridge to Ujjain Central Jail road was still under construction and I had to walk all the way to Jail road.

Kal Bhairav temple

Kaal Bhairav Temple
Kal Bhairav temple is located close to central jail. After investing some more energy on the feets, I finally reached the temple. A group of flower vendors were present here as well; in addition to flowers a small bottle of liquor was also present in the plate.

I went inside and reached the sanctum. Before going further, let me tell you something about Bairva form of Shiva. Shivaite form of worship assigned some importance to the adoration of Bhirava form of Shiva.

There are eight forms of Bhairavas - Asithaanga Bhairava, Ruru Bhairava, Chanda Bhairava, Krodha Bhairava, Unmattha Bhairava, Kapaala Bhairava, Bheeshana Bhairava, Samhaara Bhairava. Kaal bhirava is foremost among them. In the Avanthi kanda of Skanda Purana, there is some mentioning about a Kaal Bhairava temple. The followers of Kapalika and Aghora sects used to worship Shiva in the form of Bhairava.

It is believed that, this temple was constructed by a king named Bhadrasen - probably a big temple in the days of Paramars. However, the current temple is not an old one but rebuilt on the remains of old one. There is an opening in the idol, through which priests are pouring a part of liquor coming to the sanctum in the form of offerings. I don’t know where it is going as I didn’t see any exit channels.


Ujjain streets - Another View
Walking all over the city, I was very much tired. There were a lot of vehicles standing front of the temple. I approached one and asked about the charge. Unfortunately, all were hired ones – for the whole day. In short, I had to walk all the way back to Ujjain central jail junction and take a bus or shared auto to the city. I am yet to see any frequent bus service in those areas – so the only hope was shared taxi. There was one standing – but almost full. Well, it was better to go in that one instead of waiting further.

Once again we crossed Shipra River – this time using another bridge – and reached the city.

Almost tired of walking and thirst, I went to a cool bar and bought a bottle of Maaza. He configured the freezer temperature so low that, I could cut that bottle of maaza to pieces chew each one just a biscuit. But I loved the taste. After roaming for some ten more minutes, among those crowds, I finally boarded a bus heading to Indore.


A group of Mandirs
Bada Ganesh mandir

Mangalnath Mandir - A closer view.
Yamaraj-Dharmaraj-Chitragupta mandir
Lamp Post at Kaal Bhirav
An Ujjain Temple
Standing Nandi at Sandipani ashram
Shipra - from a bridge close to Mangalnath
Mosque Opposite to Gopal Mandir
Walls of Ujjain central Jail
Ujjain Roads
Some conversation
For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

'Raspberry Pi' and Semiconductor wafer fabrication plants in India

Mr Akerman decided to use a 'Raspberry Pi' to control the payload on his near-space craft because its USB port made it easy to connect up a cheap webcam.

The Pi sent live images throughout the flight and was safely retrieved by tracking its onboard radio transmitter.

Sky high success for Raspberry Pi computer - BBC

Indeed a remarkable product. By the way, how many Semiconductor wafer fabrication plants India have? Answer is simple - Zero.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Universal pension for senior citizen" - Aruna Roy, but...

"If the UPA government fails to universalise pensions for every senior citizen in the country, then it cannot claim to be a champion of inclusive growth... NAC member Aruna Roy justification for not ensuring that the entire unorganised sector (94% of our workforce) is assured of some form of income in their old age... not a dole but recognition of their lifelong contribution to the Indian economy,” said Ms. Roy.

‘Inclusive growth’ will ring hollow sans universal pension, Aruna Roy tells Sonia - The Hindu

I appreciate Aruna Roy for her proposal. What is missing in her statement is, from where the funds will come? Why people are not identifying the source of funds while coming up with novel schemes?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Can't we have some polymer/ plastic bank notes?

An old five rupee note
Can't we replace this sort of bank notes with plastic or polymer ones - atleast 5, 10 and 20 INR notes? Considering the widespread behaviour of holding notes by folding it four times, a polymer/ plastic note will definitely endure more years in better shape.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes

Bhopal City - A view from lake side
Alarm from mobile phone started ringing. It was four thirty in the morning; night was almost over. After sitting in the waiting room for one more hour, I left. Spending the night at railway station, that too, on a cold December night was not a good idea. Continuous flows of cold air coming from outside hardly let me sleep. Now the question is how to reach Sanchi? After checking with a news paper vendor, in the platform, I bought a general ticket to Sanchi in Bhopal – Bilaspur express.

Now the problem is with time, it was just 6.00 in the morning. But my train was at 8.05am. I roamed around the platform and spend another one and half hours there. Finally the train came, and I got my favourite side lower. Express was in the name only; train was very slow. Compared to this one, my old sampark kranti was better.

Read about my Sanchi trip here - Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi

Bus coming from Sanchi ended her trip in a congested bus stand. After buying a packet of biscuit, I went out through a small exit on a side. Lot of buses were coming and leaving, but nothing going to New Market area. One police personal was standing close to his bike; a group of young men with some papers in hand formed a half circle in his front. I also went there to see what is happening – well, he was fining a driver for violating the rules.

Irony is that, the same vehicle was still lying in a side but fully in the road creating much more traffic problem. There were three buses and other vehicles behind it. All were hitting their own horns... He informed me that, for going to Van Vihar Park, I have to cross the road and catch a bus to Hamidia.

Some monuments
I got a private bus – already full, but the conductor was waiting for some more people. In every stop he was arguing with travellers to get money. The problem for him was, unlike me they are locals and know the bus charge; this guy was telling whatever number first came to his mind. In fact he was not telling, he was ordering.

That, journey ended somewhere close to Hamidia. I walked ideally for some time, and reached in front of the imposing building of Gandhi Medical College (GMC) located at Fatehgarh, Royal Market. Famous Tajul Masjid and Motia Talab are not very far. From GMC, I could get a shared auto to reach Kamala Park, and from there to Van Vihar.

For getting a shared auto I have to cross the road, and that was a big problem. Here drivers hardly cared for rules or other vehicles. If some vehicle was coming from the side road, they won’t stop on reaching the main road. It was total mess. Interestingly, I couldn’t see any zebra lines in these places (may be its worn out). I walked many kilometres through the main roads on foot – still I didn’t see those lines.
Kamala Park

Kamala Park is a small stretch of land located in between upper and lower lake. There was an old building, which still remembers us the reign of Paramars, in one corner. From here, through Kamala Nehru road, I started walking towards Van Vihar National Park. It took some time for me to reach there. One of the interesting items on the way was moving toilets, painted in yellow colour with four doors on a road side. It was the first time I was a seeing a mobile toilet.

Before going inside the national park, let’s take a look at the history of this city.

History of Bhopal

Bhopal is believed to be the 11th century city Bhojpal founded by Raja Bhoj of Paramara dynasty. However, the credit for establishing the present city goes to an Afghan soldier Dost Mohammed (1708 AD). It was Nawab Faiz Muhammed Khan, who moved the capital from Islamnagar to Bhopal. Hyderabad Nizam also had considerable influence in this region. State also paid tribute to Marathas; Battle of Bhopal in which Marathas defeated the Mughals in 1737 AD also took place not very far.

Later this state became a British protectorate.  Another interesting fact about Bhopal is, between 1819 and 1926 this state was ruled by four women, Begums, starting with Qudsia Begum in 1819. She took over the throne after the assassination of her husband. Bhopal was one of the last states to sign the 'Instrument of Accession' with Union of India’.

Without mentioning about Bhopal gas tragedy, her history may not be complete. It was here in Bhopal on the night of 3/4th December 1984, when rest of the nation was in deep sleep, the city woke up to the biggest industrial disaster in the history of humanity. Toxic gases leaked from Union Carbide plant killed thousands and left many more thousands to suffer the after effects.

Today, many premier institutions like ISRO's Master Control Facility, CSIR, AIIMS Bhopal, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, Indian Institute of Forest Management, School of Planning and Architecture, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, National Law Institute University etc are also located in this city.

To Vanvihar national park

Covering 4.45 square kilometres of area in the city, facing Upper Lake in one end, this is popular tourist destination in the capital. By walk it took a long time to reach here from Kamala Park, at some point I wondered, why I decided to walk in the first place. I was very much hungry, and there were no shortage of shops selling snacks - ice creams, momos, samosas etc.

Seeing the edge of city line on other side, from lake view road was indeed a festival for eyes. By the way this entire area is located on the shores of Upper Lake; lake view road (known as Dr. Salim Ali road inside the park) separates the park and lake.

A lot of couple were sitting here and there; others were enjoying their in boating.

Manav Sangrahalaya was the first in line. At first, I thought it was Van Vihar, so I eagerly went in only to realize the mistake later. I didn’t find anything interesting there, a large portion of land was simply wasted. Still I walked further and reached sangrahalaya. A museum is located on one side. Inside, some rooms are decorated with old photos of the city and rulers. It’s like the modern history of Bhopal suddenly got a life in that room. But time was very much on demand, I have to leave Bhopal my night and I am yet to enter Van Vihar. Leaving everything else I walked towards Vanvihar.

At Van Vihar National Park

After buying the tickets I entered the park. Here you can travel with your own vehicle after buying ticket for both. For people on foot and bicycles charge was 20 INR. One auto driver standing close to me, advised me use his auto for sightseeing. I simply told him - I like to walk. He replied - you can’t its 10kms!!! I smiled and went in. That guy turned back, may be thinking about my foolishness about the idea of walking the entire distance.

Here security guards and Police were very friendly, I enquired about the distance with the first one I saw – “5 kilometres to reach the other gate”.

It’s better to have this type of atmosphere in the middle of a crowded city. But as a park Vanvihar didn’t excite me. Contrary to my expectations, she offered less space than I imagined to many seasoned hunters and princes of wild life. But, on the other side you can see a wonderful lake, alive with the sound of birds moving in and out of trees. Some of them, fluttering their wings, were taking some minutes out to kiss the face of setting sun. On the other side of the park, in equal intervals you can see the sign boards announcing the presence of tiger, leopard, hyena etc.

Views from  Van Vihar National Park 
Views from  Van Vihar National Park
Views from  Van Vihar National Park
Views from  Van Vihar National Park
Views from  Van Vihar National Park
Views from  Van Vihar National Park
Views from  Van Vihar National Park

Back to Railway Station

By the time I reached the gate on other end, sun almost set. After crossing the gate, I took an auto to reach the main road. From there a shared auto to reach New Market. I got down at and got in another bus to reach station. Conductor told me that, bus will go close to railway station. Around seven, he informed me that, “you can get down here, station is very close. Walk straight and take a right turn”.
Station was not as close as he mentioned, but that presented me a good chance to see the city. I walked slowly, looking here and there, traffic was not such a mess in that night – but yet to locate any zebra lines.

Finally, I am in station, but it was too early for my Ujjain train. After roaming around the railway station, I finally settled in to the waiting room. Bath room was empty, so went for taking a bath as well - December’s winter made the water very cold. After coming out, I again settled in to my previous aluminium coloured chair. Here all the chairs are a set of three; I was sitting on the end of one group. In the next group of three, one leg was 3-4 inch short. One mid-aged lady was sitting on one of them. Her husband was sitting in the next group of three. In regular intervals she used to give some advices to her husband. He heard everything and finally for some reasons went outside.
One guy wearing blue jeans and sweater was sitting close to her; he was pushing a bag to one side with his legs (this bag belongs to his friend). She gave some advises to him as well.

There was more than enough time, so again I ventured out - nearby hotels, some sweets from one, dosa from another etc. After spending 40-45 minutes there – Back to station.

When I came back to the sleeper class waiting room, another person was sitting close to our previous lady. After some minutes he made some moves, and that group of three chairs slightly went backwards. She made some angry sounds, after some time he again made some more moves. It again went backwards, but before she could make any more sounds he left that chair and sat next to me.

This guy was a native of Gujrat. Within a short period of time, we started talking. He was a sales executive for some company which manufactures automobile parts. He was in Bhopal as part of his business and in the last leg of his tour going to Indore. In fact, we both were waiting for the same train. With a slight encouragement he started telling about Gujarat and her tourist attractions.

Soon, he came back to Bhopal, his main problem with the city was – offices are opening very late. This topic consumed another 20 minutes – How he is losing his precious time, how customers are forced to wait etc... I don’t know whether, offices and business indeed start their day very late or not. Suddenly another guy joined. This person is from UP- a town located close to Orchha. When he came to know that, I am from Kerala, he suddenly asked about my opinion about Calicut NIT. With a little information about that institute, I was not in a position to tell anything.

In the end, it was the time to say good bye to Bhopal.


For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland

Are we losing the power to hear statements? A case from Jaipur Literary Festival

Ashis Nandy... at the JLF.. people belonging to the SC, ST and OBC categories are more corrupt. Later, Mr. Nandy clarified that he meant that most of the people being slapped with corruption charges belong to marginalised sections, as they don’t have the means to save themselves like people from upper castes...

Lokjanshakti Party President... demanded his immediate arrest. BSP chief...demanded Mr. Nandy’s immediate arrest... Congress, BJP, JD(U), CPI as also the SC Commission Chairman P.L. Punia also condemned the remarks.

FIR had been lodged... Jaipur police accusing Mr. Nandy of criminal intimidation and of violating the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Day of culture wars for the republic - The Hindu

I wonder, whether we are so sensitive that a statement from anyone can create a hurricane. Will his statement, after considering the clarifications, come under criminal intimidation and atrocities on SC/ST? I doubt. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

India's digitalization drive; 24,000 crores cheque to foreign companies?

"Admitting that foreign countries like China have gained in the first phase of India's ambitious Rs 24,000 crore digitisation process, I & B Minister said government was now trying to boost indigenous industry in the next are going to spend... about Rs 24,000 crore if TRAI estimates are correct, on this whole process of digitisation. Out of that, about Rs 12,000 crore... on buying set top boxes (STBs). Rs 6,000 crore ...on upgrading... equipment. Another Rs 6,000 crore...on on November 5, 2012, 22.4 lakh STBs had been installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh in Delhi and the number of installed boxes was 17.74 lakh."

Govt to push for indigenous manufacturing of set top boxes - DNA

Government woke up so late and started crying about India's missing manufacturing capability. I wonder what our government electronic companies are doing? Waiting for signing transfer of technology agreement? What about the so called private electronic companies, champions of economic liberalisation, for what they are waiting for? Getting a protected market?

MP Government's policy of allowing private companies to mortgage Government land - An innovative nightmare?

"The Madhya Pradesh government approved a policy that would allow private companies to mortgage government allotted land for investment purpose. ...state government will also be a party in any court if any agency claim any dues on the leased land... ...In case of default of loan the mortgager will recover dues from the immovable properties and assets first and later will use the land if no other option is left..."

In MP, private firms can now mortgage govt land - Business Standard, The Hindu

Which bank in the world will give loan over the security of leased land? How many genuine companies will apply and get this facility? Assume that some bank gave money and the company which availed this facility suddenly disappeared, then who will pay back the loan? Everybody knows how much time it will take for a shell company to form and destruct. Innovative ideas are good, but not the one which are self destructive.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Don't miss Railway’s tableau of ‘Air Conditioned Double Decker’ in Republic Day parade

On 64th Republic day (2013, Jan 26) parade, railways are going to showcase Air Conditioned Double Decker as tableau (theme: More coach per coach).

"Indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Air conditioned double decker train was introduced for the first time between Howrah and Dhanbad. Now, an improved design of such train has been developed and its services between Jaipur and Delhi and Ahemdabad and Mumbai have been introduced. Such services are also planned between Habibganj-Indore and Chennai-Bangalore in near future. AC double decker train with improved passenger friendly design is having capacity of 120 passengers per coach".

- Ministry of Railways, Government of India

When they will have a tableau for high speed rail and train? 

Belgium's HSL-1 (186 mph)
Italian ETR 500 (190 mph)
Eurostar (199 mph)
Spanish AVE Talgo-350 (205mph)
Taiwan THSR 700T (208mph)
South Korea's KTX 2 (219mph)
France's TGV Réseau (199mph-236mph)
Shangai's magnetic levitation (maglev) (270mph)
Japan's Shinkansen (275mph)
Germany's Transrapid TR-09 (279mph)
Chinese CRH380A (302mph)

and our Bhopal Shatabdi 152 km/h (94 mph) at New Delhi- Agra stretch.


1. 10 fastest trains in the world - Business Insider

Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi

Sanchi Railway station

Leisurely moving ‘Bhopal – Bilaspur’ express, after crossing empty check dams and dried river beds, finally reached Sanchi (Raisen district, MP). Container Corporation’s lengthy train was sleeping in the tracks. From the top, it looked like a lengthy snake sleeping after having heavy food. From station, I took an auto to reach stupa area, located on the top of a hill measuring 91m in height.

Sanchi hills

Close to Bhopal, this small village is believed to be located on an ancient trade route connecting Ujjain with northern cities. On the way to stupa, at the base of the hill, there is a ticket counter and museum. After buying the ticket, I continued my journey and reach the front gate. Here, visitors have to undergo security check before entering the gate. An audio guide is also available in a nearby building.

I slowly walked in. Probably this may be the same way, once used by Emperor Ashoka, his wife Devi, son Mehendra and hundreds of other Buddhist followers walked in with the lines,

“buddham sharanam gacchami. 
dharmam sharanam gacchami
sangham sharanam gacchami”

on their lips. It is believed that, Devi – wife of emperor Ashoka – may spent her later life in the cells of a monastery located here. It was from here, Mahendra – son of Ashoka – started his missionary journey to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to propagate the message of Buddha; which in turn influenced the life in many South East Asian nations.
Standing at the eastern side of main stupa

Sanchi’s importance to world history doesn’t end there. It was Sanchi inscriptions, which provided clues to James Princep for deciphering Brahmi inscriptions – key for unlocking ancient Indian history. The key word was ‘danam’ (gift). Years of hard work by Princep, finally opened the gate of India’s ancient history in front of us. In this air you can experience the presence of Sir John Marshall and Alexander Cunningham as well.

History of Sanchi and its magnificent stupas

According to ASI,

During third century BC, Mauryan emperor Asoka, great patron of Buddhism, selected Vedisagiri (Sanchi Hill) for foundation of a Buddhist establishment, because the hill ensured a quiet and seclude place necessary for monastic life. Sanchi hills were situated near the rich and patronising city of Vidisha. He erected a stone column and a brick stupa.

Sunga period (2nd century BC) witnessed stone encasing and enlargement of Asoka stupa (Stupa one), erection of balustrades around its ground, berm, stairway and harhika, reconstruction of temple 40 and building stupas two and three.

During the period of Satavahanas (first century BC), four lofty gateways were added to stupa one and one gateway to stupa three. Structural activities were on a slow pace during the reign of Malwa Kshtrapas (early centuries in the Christian era); Sanchi imported images from Mathura during this period. Four images of Buddha were placed against the beam of stupa one, facing the four entrances.

Another Stupa - From a distance
Temple entrance and some other edifices came in the age of Guptas. During 7th and 8th centuries several Buddha images were installed and temple 18 erected on the foundations of an earlier edifice. Several temples and monasteries were built during medieval period, when Parthiharas and Paramars of Malwa flourished in the region, among these temple 45 is typical for its dimensions and exuberant ornamentation.”

From 14th century onwards, there were not much protection for the stupas and they slowly started disintegrating. The credit for stitching it together goes to a number of English men - General Taylor (1818), Captain Johnson (1822), Alexander Cunningham (1851), Captain F.C. Maisay (1851), Sir John Marshall (1912-19).

Snachi Stupas – UNESCO World heritage site

I reached in front of main stupa and looked towards the torana for some time. How many times I saw that picture on television and text books!!! I was about to enter, but something on my left – a mirror like polished structure, captured my attention and I walked towards it.

Asokan Pillar

Here lays the Asokan pillar, cut into pieces. It is believed that, this pillar - weighing 50 tonnes - originally came from Mirzapur - located some 800kms away – around 2300 years ago. Pillar stood here for centuries and finally fell prey to the needs of a local zamindar. You would be tempted to touch its Mauryan polished outer surface.

Gently moving my hands over its surface took me centuries back. Magnificent lion capital of this pillar is preserved in a nearby museum. ‘those monks and nuns attempting to create schism in the sangha (Buddhism) would be excommunicated’ is written in Prakrit over it.


A view from the middle
Main Stupa measures 36.8 m or 120.70 ft in diameter and 16.46m or 54 ft in height - excluding railings in its sides and umbrella on the top. Four gateways picturing the life of Buddha and Jataka tales, all belongs to first century BC, are located in its four sides.

Lot of Koreans and Japanese were there tracing the origin of their faith. Using stair cases, I reached the upper railings of Stupa. Touching the stones for some time, allowing the cold to infuse my body and fell in the dream of emperors, kings and monks was indeed an unforgettable experience.

On the west, at a lover area, you can see monastery 51 built by Queen Devi. On its western side, there is a large stone bowl. Further down, you can see stupa two, its railings and gateways.
From here you can see the plains at the bottom. I took another way to came back from there, which ends in front of a group of moneys engaged in a meeting. In the eastern side there is Buddha temple; view point is there in a corner.


Instead of taking an auto, I decide to walk to the museum. Kids from a nearby school were there, to see the remains of ancient India. Main attraction in the museum is the lion capital of Asoka. After spending some time here, I left the museum and walked towards main road.

Vidisha is just 9 km away, if you have time don’t miss the excitements of Vidisha.

I didn’t have to wait for much time for a direct bus to Bhopal.


How to reach here: Well connected with Bhopal – you can take a train, bus or a taxi to reach here.

Sanchi Gateways
Sanchi gateways
Another Stupa
Another monument
A view from the top of Sanchi Hill

For reading rest of the articles please visit,

Dakshinayana Part One – An Introduction
Dakshinayana Part Two – Bangalore to Bhopal
Dakshinayana Part Three – Sanchi
Dakshinayana Part Four – Bhopal: The city of lakes
Dakshinayana Part Five: Ujjain – The Holy City, hearing the sounds of forefathers
Dakshinayana Part Six: Indore – Trade hub of Central India
Dakshinayana Part Seven – Jabalpur: Kalchuris, Gonds and Narmada
Dakshinayana Part Eight – Kanha National Park and Mandla
Dakshinayana Part Nine – Chhattisgarh and Raipur
Dakshinayana Part Ten: Nagpur – The Orange City
Dakshinayana Part Eleven – Sevagram: Walking with Gandhi
Dakshinayana Part Twelve – Aurangabad: The City of Gates
Dakshinayana Part Thirteen – Ellora Memories
Dakshinayana Part Fourteen – U shaped Ajanta
Dakshinayana Part Fifteen – Pune: The Maratha heartland