Thursday, August 30, 2012

Doomed future for Coal India?

Coal Mines
According to the reports, It was decided that "Coal India Limited (CIL) should sign Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) for full quantity of coal mentioned in the Letter of Assurances (LOAs) for 20 years, to be renewed every five years with trigger level of 80% for levy of disincentives and award 90% for trigger level of incentives, with power plants that have entered into long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Distribution Companies (DISCOMS)".

We don't know, tomorrow what will happen in coal and power sector. Twenty years is a long time frame. Coal and power are very much required for the development of infrastructure in India; both at the same time under performing.

In this situation, if CIL is going for a 20 year long supply contract; that too below market prices; with it's not so efficient background; the company may continue under performing for a long time. Many power plants, which for the last a few years rising like plants just after the rain, is not at all in a good shape. They were not able to sell electricity to the discoms profitably. Discoms - its better nothing to say about this doomed ones. I don't know how long they will be able to bear the weight of their own debt burden and losses even with government support.

Finally the government; it will be better to find a genuine solution instead of pushing CIL towards the volcano about to burst.



1. Governemnt of India
2. Discom crisis and Indian power sector - Astitva, Search for an Identity

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kanyakumari – Devi Kanyakumari, the land of three oceans

Just before sunrise
Kanyakumari - the southern tip of main land India (not the southern tip of Indian Union) - is the point where three oceans meet - 'Bay of Bengal' on the east, 'Indian ocean' on the south and 'Arabian Sea' on the west. I reached Kanyakumari around 2.30 in the night; after having some snacks from a nearby store I walked towards the railway station for spending rest of the night. Around 5.30 in the morning I left the station and walked towards the Sangamam, joining hundreds of other people to watch the sunrise (at 6.10am)...

History of Kanyakumari (aka Cape Comorin)

People waiting to watch the sunrise

Kanyakumari is generally divided into 'Nanjil Nadu and Idai Nadu'. Nanjinadu was ruled by Pandyans till 10th century; then it came under Cheras. During the fall of Cholas, Cheras further extended their kingdom. Probably, Veera Kerala Verma started the annexation; by 1115 AD their rule was firmly established. For next four centuries Venad kings ruled the southern tip.

However, in 1532 AD Venad lost the battle of Tamiraparani to Vijayanagar. Later in 1609 AD Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai Nayak dynasty. I am not clear about what happened from this point to the takeover of these places by Travancore kingdom. From 1947 to 1956 Kanyakumari was under the personal rule of Travancore Maharaja. Linguistic State Reorganization policy (1956) gave this district to present day Tamilnadu state.

Sun rise at Kanyakumari
Sun rising at Kanyakumari

By 6.00 in the morning, eastern shores were filled by people. All eyes are set on the eastern horizon. People are taking baths, watching eastern sky, taking photos etc. Slowly sun appeared in the screen and started his assent towards the sky from the eastern end of Bay of Bengal. A big round of applause followed after his first appearance in the sky. The illuminated orange round ball of sun radiating soft light on that cool morning was indeed an interesting sight.

I moved close to the ocean on the other side to stand and capture the southernmost point of mainland India. Suddenly an unexpected wave of salty water drenched me.

On the western side of this point stand 'Mahatma Gandhi Memorial', 'Kamarajar Manimandapam' and 'Observation Tower'. From the top of observation tower (5 INR entrance fee) we can have a better look of shore and ocean surrounding it. There is no beach in this area. Here, some private facilities (pay and use) are available for bathing and other primary necessities.

Kanyakumari temple at the end of the road
Kanyakumari Temple (aka Kanyakumari Bagavathiamman Temple)

Kanyakumari temple is located close to the shores. According to mythology goddess Devi took a vow to be a virgin ('Kanya') forever. I went to the temple and joined the queue. Here too people can join special queue by paying 25 INR. Bags (except hand bags), camera, sandals etc are not allowed inside.

Devi's Feet and Vivekananda Rock memorial

My next destination was Vivekananda Rock located some meters away from the mainland. Boats are available to reach here. Wandering Monk Museum and Government museum are located close to the temple. To my astonishment there was a very long queue in front of the jetty. If I joined that queue there is no way I could reach the rock memorial before noon. Here also a special queue is available, but will cost you 150 INR (for normal queue charge is 30 INR). Interestingly some people are trying to join this long queue from the middle only to hear the angry words from other people.

Oceans at Kanyakumari

I bought the ticket and occupied the first row in the boat. After wearing safety jackets waited eagerly for the boat to take off. Slowly we moved towards the memorial, Tiruvalluvar statue stand some meters away on another rock (they are not allowing people to Tiruvalluvar rock), and breathed there shortly.

For visiting the memorial we have buy one more ticket (please note that sandals are not allowed after a certain point). On the top, a temple around the leg marks of Devi Kanyakumari stands on one side. Another temple where the black coloured full size statue of Vivekananda stands on the other side. Photography is not allowed inside.

Exit from Vivekananda statue will lead us to a meditation room. This is a dimly lit rectangular room painted in black colour with an 'ohm' written in Sanskrit is placed on other end of the wall. A number of chairs and mats are available in the inside. Here you can sit and meditate in the presence of omkar sound coming from speaker.

A view from the boat
From Vivekananda rock you can see the wind fans of Koodankulam nuclear power station and its building in the end.

I took the return boat and reached mainland

Vattakottai (aka Circular Fort) at Anjugramam

This 18th century fort was built by Captain De Lannoy, former naval officer of Dutch East India Company, and the later commander of Travancore Army under king Marthanda Varma. A part of this fort is in sea.

Public bus transportation facilities are not always available to Anjugramam. If you are going with your own vehicle, fine, otherwise adjust your journey according to the local bus time table. I waited here for some time to get a bus to 'Anjugramam'. Finally, I started walking towards the bus stand - the Kanyakumari light house is one the way (unfortunately it was closed).

Koodankulam Nuclear power plant from Vattakottai
After waiting for some time in local bus stand I got a bus to Anjugramam. Fort is located 1-2 kms (tarred road, walkable distance) away from the bus route.

There is a 10 INR maintenance charge for Vattakottai. Nothing left to see here other than the big outer walls and good views of sea from the parts of fort extended to sea. From here on one side you can see Kanyakumari shores and on other side you can see Koodankulam nuclear power plant. A long array of wind fans standing all the way to the power plant is starting close to this place.

I had to wait around half an hour to get return bus.


Kanyakumari shores from Vattakottai
I got down at Kanyakumari; after having some snacks took another bus to Nagercoil - the district head quarters of Kanyakumari. The famous Suchindrum and Nagaraja temples are very close to Nagercoil town. In the earlier days this town and its surroundings were known as Nanjinadu.

The famous battle field of Kulachal war, fought between Travancore under Marthanda Varma and Dutch East India Company under Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy, is located just 20 km away from Nagarcoil town.

The main attractions in this area are Padmanabhapuram Palace and Udayagiri Fort, Mathur Aqueduct, Thiruparapu Falls etc. Don’t forget to enjoy the sceneries on both sides of the road when travelling from Anjugramam to Kanyakumari and Kanyakumari to Nagercoil. Here you can see beginning of one of the wonders of India - the Western Ghats.

Martin Luther King and Kanyakumari

Before finishing this article on Kanyakumari, let me share you a portion of Martin Luther King's sermon 'God is able', where he described the moments he spent on this beautiful ‘cape’ in the second month of 1959.
"In India Mrs King and I spent a lovely weekend in the State of Karala, the southern most point of that vast continent. While there we visited the beautiful beach on Cape Comorin, which is called "Land's End," because this is actually where the land of India comes to an end. Nothing stretches before you except the broad expanse of rolling waters. This beautiful spot is a point at which meet three great bodies of water, The Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. Seated on a huge rock that slightly protrudes into the ocean, we were enthralled by the vastness of the ocean and its terrifying immensities.
As the waves unfolded in almost rhythmic succession, and crashed against the base of the rock in which we were seated, an oceanic music brought sweetness to the ear. To the west we saw the magnificent sun, a great cosmic ball of fire, as it appeared to sink into the very ocean itself. Just as it was almost lost from sight, Mrs King touched me and said, "Look, Martin, Isn't that beautiful!" I looked around and saw the moon, another ball of scintillating beauty. As the sun appeared to be sinking into the ocean, the moon appeared to be rising from the ocean. When the sun finally passed completely beyond sight, darkness engulfed the earth, but in the east the radiant light of the rising moon shone supreme.
To my wife I said, "This is an analogy of what often happens in life." We have experiences when the light of day vanishes, leaving us in some dark and desolate midnight - moments when our highest hopes are turned into shambles of despair or when we are the victims of some tragic injustice and some terrible exploitation. During such moments our spirits are almost overcome by gloom and despair, and we feel that there is no light anywhere. But ever and again, we look toward the east and discover that there is another light which shines even in the darkness, and "the spear of frustration" is transformed "into a shaft of light."
This would be an unbearable world were God to have only a single light, but we may be consoled that God has two lights: a light to guide us in the brightness of the day when hopes are fulfilled and circumstances are favorable, and a light that guides us in the darkness of the midnight when we are thwarted and the slumbering giants of gloom and hopelessness rise in our souls. And so we know that God is able to give us the interior resources to face the darkness as well as the light.
Let this affirmation be our ringing cry. It will give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds and our nights become even darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a great benign Power in the universe whose name is God, and God is able to make a way out of no way, and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. This is our hope for becoming better people. This is our mandate for seeking to make a better world. Amen!"


1. Archaeological Survey of India
2. Wikipedia
3. The Hindu

Western Ghats at South

Devi's Feet at the rock

Me @ Kanyakumari

Vivekananda Memmorial

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Madurai - The Sangam temple city

South tower of Meenakshi temple
Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple is one of the most famous temples in India. Located well inside Tamilnadu, Madurai is well connected with other prominent cities in the area.
Himalayan Mistake

I planned to reach the city by taking a train from Hosur on a Friday night. I booked the train as well - confirmed ticket. Unfortunately, I booked the ticket for Friday 00.07 hrs, which is the night between Thursday and Friday instead of Friday and Saturday. I realised the mistake by Friday night 11.45 only. By this time the last train for the day was about to leave from the station!!!

 Next train was only in the morning that too towards Ernakulum (Kerala). I sat in the chair as if 440V passed through my body. It was a three day trip covering Madurai, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Tiruvananthapuram. If I can't go in that night, I have to stuck at least one place out from my plans. Other option is to go back to Bangalore - the easy one. First I thought of sleeping in the station and going back to Bangalore in the next morning.

Clock struck 12 and her needles continue her motion. Finally, I decided to go by bus. After checking with station master, I thought of going to Hosur bus stand. Autos were there in front of railway station, but I was not able to recognise auto drivers from the multitudes of people sleeping in front of the station!!! Next option left was walking towards the main road; I went there and waited there for some time. Other than night shuttles from Tata Motors, I can't even hear the voice of any other engine. Finally one auto came; within a quarter of an hour I reached Hosur bus stand. Unfortunately, there was no direct bus sevices to Madurai from there, at that point of time.

Inside Tirumalai Nayakar Mahal
 They advised me to go to Salem first and then take a bus to Madurai. Following their advise I reached Salem. Can't say the journey was comfortable, but I was able to reach Salem before morning. If I went to Madurai, it will upset my rest of the plans - I will be late by atleast 5-6 hours. On the other side, I did't want to miss Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple also. Anyway I started enquiries for Kanyakumari. Well, the answers were in negative; there was no direct bus to Kanyakumari from there at the point. I have to go to Madurai and take a bus from there. For a moment I thought of going to Kerala. Palakkad is only some five hours from here.

In the end, I decided to go to Madurai. After passing through Namakkal, Dindigul, Karur etc finally I reached Madurai after 10 in the morning. In between I slept multiple times for short intervals of time. After getting down at Madurai and taking bath I thought of going to Koodal Azhagar temple. One auto driver informed me that it’s near to Periyar bus stand and showed me the bus also. Even after moving back and forth and checking with many people, I was not able to find the temple. Finally, I decided to visit Madurai temple first. By the time I reached the western gate of the temple, it was closed after morning poojas!!!

History of Madurai

Madurai, located on the banks of river Vaigai, is one of the oldest cities in India. This city is also associated closely with Tamil language and Sangam literature. According to some sources in the Sangam time the city was ruled by Early Pandyan dynasty. Later it came under the rule of Kalabhras. They were removed from power by Pandyans who were in turn ousted by Cholas. However Pandya rule was re-established again in the thirteenth century. However in 1311 AD Malik Kafur (under Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji of Khilji dynasty) conquered Madurai and sacked the Madurai Meenakshi temple.

Gandhi Museum
However, during the decline of Delhi Sultanate around 1335 AD Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan declared independence and created a Sultanate in Madurai. Vijayanagar under Harihara II annexed Madurai in 1378AD. Madurai came under the rule of Nayakas, first under Vijayanagar and then as independent kingdom after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire. Their rule lasted almost for next two centuries.

Later in 1736 Madurai came under the rule of Chanda Sahib. In the 1740s Marathas came and captured the city of Madurai and took Chanda Sahib as captive. Maratha governor ruled the city for next two years and retired from the scene. Later in 1743, Nizam of Hyderabad established his authority over the area and Nawabs of Arcot were in charge. Nawab of Arcot ceded Madurai city to British East India Company in 1751; after many wars by the end of 18th century British comfortably settled there till 1947.

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal

Nayakkar Mahal is located close to the temple. This palace was constructed in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai's Nayaka dynasty. The current structure is a portion of the original palace. Unfortunately by the time I reach there it was closed for lunch!!! Had to wait here also...

Front gate of Koodal Azagar Temple
 After buying ticket (separate ticket for camera) I went inside. First thing that caught my eye was the big pillars. After walking through the place for some time I reached the throne. I am not sure whether it was the same throne used by kings. Compared to the structure it was small and odd. On the right side there is a museum of old sculptors, epiligraphy etc. The decorations in the pillars as well as in the ceiling were beautiful.

Vaigai River

From the palace I took a bus to Gandhi Museum. For catching this bus also I had to wait for a considerable period of time. When the bus approached Vaigai River I eagerly turned my head to see the river. Vaigai River was the most unfortunate thing I saw in the city. There was not any following water in the river, some small ponds were formed here and there but most of the parts were very much dry. I crossed the river some 2-3 times in that day.

Gandhi Museum

Cloths weared by Gandhi at the time of his assassination
 This museum is located in a palace called Rani Mangammal mahal. Inaugurated by first premier of India J.Nehru, this museum has the blood stained clothes Gandhi weared in the day of his assassination. This cloth is preserved in a vacuum sealed glass box. I stood in front of the blood stained cloth for some time, thinking about freedom struggle and independence. This museum also has many other objects used by Gandhi (including his sandals, glasses etc) and copies many rare photographs from the days of freedom struggle. No entrance fees inthe museum, however you have to pay for camera.

Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple (aka Meenakshi Amman Temple) 

I slowly walked out of the museum and after walking for some time reached main road. A auto dropped me close to the temple. After placing my luggage in the clock room I joined the long queue. You are allowed to take camera inside the temple walls; but not any big bags, sandals or any other electronic equipments including mobile, charger, extra batteries or anything of similar sort. After passing through the metal detector and body checking I reached in front of Aayiram Kal Mandapam

Tirumalai Nayakar Mahal

Aayiram Kal Mandapam

Built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar - the able chief minister of famous Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak - in 1569 AD this mandapam has 985 carved pillars (not 1000 as the name indicates). In one end of the mandapam, there is a Nataraja (Shiva performing tandava) statue with Devi standing on one side.

Shiva Temple

From here I walked towards the main temples. After going through many small temples finally I reached Shiva temple. The queue was long. Please note that here as well as in Meenakshi temple special queues with different charges are available. If you are paying 25 rupees you will reach somewhere in the front of the queue. With a ticket of 50 INR you can reach very close to the deity through a special door. If I am not wrong, other than through this queue you will not be able to reach very close to the deity. Rate is same in Meenakshi temple as well. If you are taking a 100 INR coupon, you can join the special queue in both sanctums.

Please note that taking photo inside Shiva (and Meenakshi temple) is strictly forbidden. One person standing just opposite to me took one photo. Guards saw that and took him outside.

Kalyana Mandapa

Ganesh statue inside Aayiram Kaal Mandapam
 Kalyana Mandapa is located close to Shiva temple. After walking through here and there, finally I reached the mandapa. Deity is Vishnu handing over his sister Meenakshi to Shiva in marriage. After taking prasad from the priest I was about to go back, but some couples - in the mid ages - were waiting there. Out of curiosity I stood there for some time. In fact, there was a marriage ceremony going on. I think all the couples were already married; in front of Kalyana Sunarehwara they were exchanging garlands once more. Needless to say it was indeed a nice view.

Meenakshi temple

After walking through so many places inside the complex I finally reached Meenakshi temple. The temple pond is located in front of Meenakshi devi  - an Avatar of Parvati (consort of Shiva).

Koodal Azhagar temple

From Meenakshi Amman temple, I walked towards Koodal Azhagar Temple. Unlike in the morning this time I didn't lose the tracks and reached the temple. Built in Dravidian architecture this is one of the main temples of Vishnu.

After having a masala dosa from a nearby hotel, I walked towards the bus stand. Kanyakumari buses starts from Mattuthavani Mofussil bus stand - located in the outskirts of the city. I reach there by eight in the night. After walking through the bus stand for some time, finally I got one to Kanyakumari by 8.30.



1. Wikipedia
2. Archaeological Survey of India

Nataraja and Devi inside Aayiram Kaal Mandapam
How to reach?

By Road: As many as four national highways (NH 7, NH 45B, NH 208 and NH 49) and three state highways (SH-32, SH-33 and SH-72) are passing through the city.
By Rail: Connected well with other places like Chennai, Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Coimbatore, Trichy, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram, Thanjavur etc
By Air: Madurai has an airport too

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Chalukyan Pilgrimage III - Badami, the shining red sandstone

Agastya Lake
  Close to noon I reached Badami bus stand. My first destination was Badami ASI museum which is in a walkable distance from bus stand. For all those who plan to walk, let me tell you that temperature is high don’t expect any shades under tree.

After walking for 10-15 minutes (close to one in the afternoon) I reached ASI's Badami field museum - located on a side of Agastya Lake - which is still under construction.

Badami Museum

Here you can see the sculptures of 9th century Ganesha, big 'Makara Torana', Tripuranthaka Shiva, Mother Goddess, Shiva killing demon, Bhiravi, Veerabhadra, Kali and many other sculptures. This museum also contains genealogy of Chalukyan kings, language tree map and some geological information related to various eras as well.

Old cave temples are located on other side of the lake. Cave one dedicated to Shiva, two and three dedicated to Vishnu and four dedicated to Jains. Before going to caves let’s go through the history of Badami.

History of Badami (Vatapi)

Badami, the capital city of early Chalukyas, was founded in 540 AD by Pulakesi I. It's his sons - Kirthivarman and Mangalesha I - who constructed the cave temples. Pallavas under the leadership of King Narasimhavarman I seized the city in 642 AD. However, after 12 years Chalukyas under Vikramaditya I regained the city. Later when Rashtrakudas absorbed Karnataka in 757 AD Badami lost her prominence. After a series of wars between Chalukyas and Cholas finally the area was captured by Hoysalas.

During the reign of Vijayanagar Empire Badami fell it to their hands. After the fall of Vijayanagar Adil Shahis got the city, then it passed on to Savanur Nawabs. As the power of Maratha Confederacy increased overtime they able to capture the more land as well - Badami too came under Marathas. This city was also ruled by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

Hoever in the end Badami fell in to the hands of British and become the part of Bombay presidency. Now this town is coming in Bagalkot district in Karnataka.

Agastya Lake

After visiting museum, I slowly walked towards the Agastya Lake. This a big water body surrounded by red sand stone hills in an otherwise dry area. Even in that noon under the full view of sun there were so many people in an around the area. I started walking towards the other side of lake. On the way stand Shri Dattatreya temple and a mosque. As it was holy Ramdan month for Muslims there were prayers going on. After crossing the mosque I reached the foot of a hill. Cave temples are on this reddish hill.

Cave Temples 1,2,3,4

After buying the tickets, I slowly started the assent. On the left side stands cave one (dedicated to Shiva).

These rock cut cave temples mainly built in between sixth, seventh and eighth centuries. In each cave there is a veranda with stone pillars. After crossing the veranda you will reach a square room. In the other end of this room there is one more small room cut deep in to the rock - the Sanctum Sanctorum.

On the first cave you can see the figure of Lord Shiva with 18 hands in Tandava dancing pose. Apart from Shiva many other figures like dancing Ganapati, Nandi etc are also present in cave one.

From here I walked towards the second cave. Suddenly I heard a laud cry from behind. I suddenly turned around; it’s from a frightened lady standing 20 feet behind me. One monkey jumped close her leg took a plastic bag from her and ran away!!!

Second caves has the figures of Dvarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. Ceiling contains Ananthashayana, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and others.

Cave three dedicated to Lord Vishnu contains the beautiful figures of many deities. Please note that apart from sculptures caves in this hill also contains many murals as well.

Finally I walked towards the last cave - Cave number four dedicated to Jains. Sanctum has the image of Mahavira, images of many Jain Thirthankaras are there in the walls. After spending some more time here I walked towards the other side of Agastya Lake - Bhutanatha group of temples dedicated to the deity Bhutanatha stands here.

Kappe Arabhatta inscription, Badami and Malegitti-Shivalaya

From here I walked towards Kappe Arabhatta inscription dated to 700 AD. This inscription is carved on a cliff. After having some water from the cooler situated close to the museum I started the assent of Badami fort. There are a good number of steps and many view points in the between. Famous Malegitti-Shivalaya dated back to 7th century stands on the top. From here you will get a beautiful view of Badami.

Watch ticked five in the evening. I slowly started the dissent. After crossing the gates and walking through the road crowded heavily with homes I finally reached the main road. After tasting various food items available in the road side, I reach Badami bus stand. From here I got a bus to the railway station and then on another train to Bangalore.


How to reach?

By Bus: Direct buses are available from Bijapur, Bagalkot, Bangalore, Hospet etc.
By Train: You can get down at Badami Railway station which is very much close to Badami town. Trains (limited in number) are available from Sholpur, Gulberga, Bijapur, Gadang, Hubli, Bangalore (Yeshwantpur) etc.


Agastya Lake

Boothanatha Temples

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bijapur Calling - Gol Gumbaz, Bara Kaman and more

Gol Gumbaz - Bijapur
  I reached Bijapur around one in the midnight; to my surprise railway station was very much crowdy. I walked towards an empty chair in the platform and comfortably positioned myself there. One train came and went taking majority of the people along with. I tried to close my eyes and sleep in the same chair.

After a couple of hours I woke up only to see the white light coming from the CFL lamps which keeps the station away from the clutches of darkness. Waited there for some more time, slowly the message of sun shining thousands of kilometres away reached the station. A group of dogs running like horses and a cow also entered the station. I walked towards the exit... outside stands the beautiful Gol Gumbaz and broken walls of the Bijapur fort!!!

I turned left and followed the road, after one turn I reached MG road. A couple of hundred metres away I saw the sign board for Gol Gumbaz. Time was around 6.30 and the area was open for visitors. After buying the tickets I walked towards the famous Gol Gumbaz.

Between me and Gol Gumbaz stands the beautiful structure of Bijapur Museum (open at 10am only) with a number of old cannons in front of it. Before we enter Gol Gumbaz, let me tell you the history of the city.

History of Bijapur

The city was established by Chalukya's of Kalyani (then known as Vijayapura); later it came under the rule of Khilji sultanate of Delhi; in 1347 the city was conquered by Bahmani Sultanate of Gulburga. After the dismemberment of Bahmani sultanate in 1518 the city fell into the hands of Adil Shahi dynasty. Their rule lasted till 1686 when the emperor Aurangzeb annexed Bijapur to Mughal Empire.

Bara kaman

In 1724, Bijapur fell into the hands of Nizams of Hyderabad; after defeating the Nizam Marathas annexed the city in 1760. The story doesn’t stop here; British East India Company got Bijapur after defeating the Marathas in Third Anglo-Martha war (1818 AD). From here onwards the city was administrated by princely state of Satara. After the death of Satara king - without any male heirs - British East India Company annexed the entire Satara (including Bijapur) to Bombay presidency. Following independence Bijapur became a part of Bombay presidency and later added to Mysore state.

Gol Gumbaz (Round Dome)

This is the Mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah II - the 7th sultan of Adil Shahi dynasty. This mausoleum, built in 1659 AD, has an internal diameter of 37.92m covering a floor area of 1703.5 sq.m, making it one of the largest domed buildings in the world.

The massive brick dome is supported by a set of eight intersecting arches which bear the load of the dome. There is a whispering gallery around the dome, here even the faintest sound echoes 10-12 times and reverberates around 26 seconds. I made various sounds – tried heavy breathing as well - and all reverberated!!! On the centre of the dome, there are tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah, his son, daughter and his mistress Rambha - the dancing girl.

From the top of the dome you can see the city area. After coming down from the Gumbaz I went to the next building and then back to MG road.

After having breakfast from nearby Udupi hotel, I walked through MG road. Ambedker stadium was on the right hand side then came Ambedkar Circle. From here a road (DC Office road) on the left side will take you to Gagan Mahal (located opposite to the local Doordarshan Kendra). I reached there only to see its closed gates!!! This place is open to public in the evening. Next Destination was Bara Kaman.

Bara Kaman

After coming back to Ambedker circle I continued through MG road. Close to Basaveshwara circle (near to a petrol bunk), there is a small road in the right side to Bara Kaman - the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah. Here you can see a number of big arches without roof. After taking a round around the elevated platform, I climbed the steps and reached on top of its rectangular platform. Tomb is on the centre surrounded by a number of arches which basically support nothing.

Taj Bawadi

Taj Bawadi was constructed by Ibrahim Adil Shah I in 1620 in honour of his wife Taj Sultana. There is a big arch entrance in front of this water body. Unfortunately people are still dumping waste to this otherwise beautiful well.

Jod Gumbaz

View from the top of Gol Gumbaz
This group of monuments (located close to Taj Bawadi) - aka Dargah of Abdul Razzaq Qadiri - was built by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1687 in the memory of Khan Muhammad and Abdul Razzaq Qadiri for their help in defeating Adil Shahi ruler Sikandar. I went inside and walked around the monuments; at one place there was board. As I was just reading the board a friendly voice from left told me “You can go inside”.

Bijapur KSRTC bus stand is close to this area. Well, at that point of time there was no direct bus to Badami. But one conductor assured me that, he could drop me a point from where I can catch a direct bus to Badami. We went through Gulburga-Bijapur-Hubli highway (NH 218) and crossed Krishna River on the way. Krishna is very much wide in this area.

Some other important buildings in Bijapur are Juma Masjid, Ibrahim Rawza, Upli Buruj, Asar Mahal etc.



1. Bijapur - Wikipedia
2. Archaeological Survey of India

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sahar Gul and the future of Afghan women

It is easy in a war torn country to overlook the uncomfortable problems in the social structure and focus on improving security. However, without improving the social norms and process we can achieve little in nation building.

One of the case in point is the life and experience of women in Afghanistan. In the last decade, even in the midst of continuous war and insurgent attacks, international community achieved considerable progress in creating new laws and providing hope to Afghan women. But the question is how long all these frameworks will exist? Will it be able to survive the withdrawal of NATO led coalition forces in 2014? Only time can tell.

In the mean time there are some silver lining appearing in Afghan justice system. Read the story of Sahar Gul here – “Wed and Tortured at 13, Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice" - NewYork Times


Friday, August 17, 2012

Oracle-SEC settlement and Government of India

I wonder what is really happening. Read this abstract of a BBC article. For reading full article please visit BBC-Oracle pays $2m to settle with SEC over India operation

"Oracle Software is agreeing to pay $2m (£1.27m) to settle federal civil charges of failing to prevent secret payments in its Indian sales operation...."

"...Indian subsidiary to secretly set aside money - used to make unauthorised payments to phony local vendors..."

"...subsidiary sold software licenses and services to the Indian government and kept some of the sale proceeds off Oracle's books...."

"...Oracle exposed itself to the risk that these hidden funds would be put to illegal use..."

"...Oracle...neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement...." - BBC August 16, 2012

An incident happened in India, by an Indian arm of a US company involving Indian entities and SEC is trying the parent company in US and takes the fine also!!!

What exactly we are doing here in India? Are we outsourcing the justice system? Why SEC is expanding its wings to Indian operations of US companies? Isn't better for SEC to coordinate it with SEBI/Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA) etc? This settlement creates more questions than answers.



1. Oracle pays $2m to settle with SEC over India operation

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One letter and Pakistani politics

How may Prime Ministers resigned from their post for refusing to write a letter? Well, in Pakistan one person already resigned, most probably second person is on the way and we are not sure about the third.

It’s all about a letter which Supreme Court of Pakistan asked the government to sent to the Swiss authorities.Well, by hearing the word Swiss you can guess the issue. This may be one of the most difficult letter any human being ever tried to write. It looks like for Pakistan government writing a letter to Swiss authorities is much more difficult than making a deal with India!!!

National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)

All the problems started when former President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf signed National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on 5 October 2007 which granted amnesty to political workers, politicians and bureaucrats accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and terrorism between 1 January 1986, and 12 October 1999.

This ordinance effectively put a good number of cases in Cold Storage. Swiss authorities also shelved the case against Zardari in June 2008 when he became the president of Pakistan. From that time onwards Pakistan government is insisting on the full immunity president enjoys because of his post.

Moving to the court

However on 16 December 2009, Supreme Court of Pakistan's 17 member bench, headed by Chief Justice (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, declared the ordinance null and void. As expected it was politically disastrous for the government to assume the ordinance void.

SC started asking the political leadership to write a letter to the Swiss authorities to proceed with the case (which was shelved earlier). However government didn't move and the SC of Pakistan started with the contempt of Court proceedings.

Supreme Court fights back

"In a ruling that added more chaos than clarity to an already messy and murky scenario, the Supreme Court handed down a symbolic punishment lasting less than a minute to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday, making him the first ever chief executive to be convicted for committing contempt." - Dawn April 12, 2012. (#3)

Dismissal of Premier Gilani

Well, Gilani paid the price when SC on June 19 dismissed Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister after convicting him of contempt in April for refusing to reopen the multi-million-dollar case against the president.

After much confusion Raja Pervez Ashraf was elected as the new PM. Now he too is facing the same issue. On June 27, SC of Pakistan gave two weeks for the new PM to indicate whether he would ask Swiss authorities to for reopening a corruption case against President Zardari.

He needs to appear before the SC on August 27 when the NRO implementation case will resume again. Well let’s wait and watch what will happen. In between SC also scuttled a new law passed by parliament regarding to the 'Contempt of Court laws' as unconstitutional. Here court also faced criticism for encroaching in to legislature's turf.

It is yet to see, how many people Zardari will sacrifice before this term of government will end - If this government can finish 5 year term then it will become the first elected government in the history of Pakistan to finish the term. As long as the hold of Zardari over PPP is strong this set up may work. However through the disqualification of each premier PPP will lose one sure seat in the next elections.

Will Zardari able to stop the process of writing the letter?

In anyway Zardari can't postpone the activity of writing the letter for a long time. In the next election the prospect of PPP's victory is not so high. If any other party came to power they will be ready to sent more than one letter to Swiss authorities (depends on how many people in the next cabinet enjoyed the sweetness of NRO). Unfortunately, this three way fight between Judiciary, Executive, and Legislature will effectively erode the powers of all.


The ironic thing is that in the middle of Chronic power shortages, every day bomb blasts, slipping away of north-western provinces to insurgents’ hands, nose diving economy etc Pakistanis are forced to see letter writing as the important occupation of their government!!!



1. National Reconciliation Ordinance
2. SC issues show-cause notice to PM Ashraf
3. Down but not out
4. Profile: Yousuf Raza Gilani

Photo Courtesy: Supreme Court of Pakistan website (modified for this article)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Some interesting facts about Indian Aviation and Air India from Indian Civil Aviation Minister

Below mentioned questions and answers are parts of Business Standard's interview with Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh. For reading the full interview please visit the link "Of the 300 Air India routes, only three make money: Ajit Singh"

Q: What is the progress on allowing foreign airlines to invest in Indian skies?

A: FDI... will come only if we get consensus among all the allies...and if we allow them. We are definitely in financial stress. But FDI would be coming for other reasons — the growth we have the potential we have, a growing middle class, traffic rights and the strategic geographical position...

Consensus among allies!!! that too on FDI!!! Well, if we are waiting for consensus nothing is going to happen. The possibility of a consensus in FDI in the ruling alliance is lower than the possibility of a heavy rain in the Thar Desert. We may have a potential for growth, growing middle class, traffic rights and strategic geopolitical position but FDI is not a public tap where you will always get water without paying anything. It’s more like an angry elephant which always requires proper care.

Q: How are you working for the turnaround of Air India in the wake of the pilots strike and the financial problems it is mired in? How will you cut costs?

A: On many routes, we don’t even meet the operations cost. Of 300 routes, only three make money. AI does not even have the correct data...we will put half of the productivity linked incentive part into salaries and the rest will be paid only after the airlines make profits.

Operational cost... If we have such astronomical taxes on Aviation Fuel (AF) operational cost will certainly increase. Please note that this is neither the only one nor the main reason for increase in the operational cost. It's indeed an interesting thing to know that Air India is operating in 300 routes.

Why only three routes are making profit? If I am not wrong Air India's Gulf of Persian routes are certainly profitable. According to Air India’s website some of Air India's gulf destinations are Tehran, Kuwait, Dammam, Riyadh, Bahrain, Dubai, Doha, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Al Ain. Air India is already operating to these locations from multiple source cities of India. Even if I am leaving Tehran, Al Ain for various reasons, rest of the routes must be profitable considering the number of Indians working there. If Air India can't make these routes profitable then I am seeing little chance for its turnaround.

Q: You are also looking at monetising real estate and all that. How much work has been done?

A: AI has no idea where all its property is. We have an office in Milan and we have not flown there for 20 years. All over the world, we have paintings and land like that. A committee has been set up and in two months, we will have a complete list and evaluation. We have Rs 350 crores worth of paintings Nobody has done the valuation of real estate but estimates vary from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 crores.

If the minister is correct, then what exactly Air India is doing in Milan? Especially, when it’s already have operations to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Munich, Moscow, Vienna, Zurich etc.


There is an Airline called 'Japan Airlines' which recently recovered from its death bed. It will be better for Civil Aviation Ministry as well as the airline companies to take a look there. People may not be so much kind enough to digest a big bailout package for Airline companies...



1. Air India
2. Of the 300 Air India routes, only three make money: Ajit Singh - Business Standard

Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India (GOI)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Maoists strikes again - Three CRPF members killed in two separate incidents

Demonstration of the 'One Minute Drill' by CRPF
Blood again started flowing through the roads of Chhattisgarh's Bijapur and Dantewada districts in the form of IED blasts. On Monday (August 06, 2012) two CRPF commandos killed in an IED blast, two days before another IED blew up an anti-landmine vehicle (August 04, 2012 - Dantewada, Chhattisgarh) and killed one security personal.

I think Maoists triggered this blast to show their strength especially after CRPF increased their operations in Maoist strongholds. It’s not the first time Maoists are using IED's to blow up vehicles of security personals. In these forest areas - where not much alternate routes are available - security personals often become a prey for IED.

Let's analyse the facts.

The second blast on August 6 was happened when CRPF commandos where bringing rations to their base. Notice the type of vehicle they used - it’s a Tata-407. This blast killed two. From the news reports it’s not clear how many people where there in the vehicle.

Earlier one on August 4 which blew up a Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) killed one while some others were injured. According to the reports this blast happened when an 80 personal group were on patrol.

Now my question is why we are using Tata-407 for transporting rations? Even if its costly, isn't better to use heavy lift helicopters for bringing in the supplies? Using this we can skip the vulnerable transportation through the ground. As Maoists are not known to possess anti-aircraft missiles air-lifting the supplies offer better protection for the force as well as supply chain.

The saga of MPV (Mine protected vehicles) is not so good with CRPF in the Maoist hit areas. According to some reports the MPV's manufactured by Government Company and one private company can withstand only 21-24kg of explosives. However Maoists now-a-days Maoists are using 80kgs of explosives while targeting MPVs (MSN India #3) which will make the current MPV's useless. Apart from this problem current MPV's in CRPF's arsenal are much more vulnerable if the blast happens at rear wheel area.

MRAPs role in Iraq and Afghanistan

The cousin of MPVs, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles were very much helpful for marines in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. According to USA Today report, "As U.S. troop deaths from IEDs have soared to more than 1,500, defence officials who had shown little interest in MRAPs as recently as last fall have made the vehicles their top purchasing priority. The Pentagon has ordered about 6,400 MRAPs this year at $500,000 or more apiece and vows to buy thousands more to replace the less heavily armored Humvees as its all-purpose vehicle in Iraq." - February, 2007.

In 2008 USA Today wrote, 'In May, 11 U.S. troops were killed by blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) compared with 92 in May 2007, records show. That's an 88% decrease".

One of the main reasons they identified was,

"New vehicles. Almost 7,000 heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles have been rushed to Iraq in the last year. "They've taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and marines in uparmored Humvees," Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent interview. - June 2008

So in this situation I think it will be a good idea to acquire MRV/MRAP's which can withstood much stronger IED blasts. If these vehicles can prove their role in mine clearance as well as in mine protection, they will be very much useful, mobile and safe in the insurgent hit areas of Central India. There are a number of MRAP's like Cougar, RG 33, Caiman from General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems Land Systems etc. Some of them are proved their utility in the insurgent hit Afghanistan and Iraq.

CRPF and IED's

CRPF recovered 1,547 IEDs during 2006-11, and the number is not going to reduce. IED are killing many Jawans every year. If we are not able to find a way to overcome this situation then there may be more IED blasts which will bleed the nation.



1. Two CRPF commandos killed in IED blast - The Statesman
2. Two CRPF commandos killed in IED blast: Hindustan Times
3. Mine protected vehicles reduced to ''coffin on wheels'' in Naxal - MSN India

Photo Courtesy: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

Monday, August 6, 2012

The glorious 82 Seconds - Saudi woman in Olympics

The game lasted 82 seconds only, but 16 year old Wojdan Shaherkani's (Vs Melissa Mojica) achievement made a mark in the history of Saudi Sports and Woman rights. Before the game starts a few people imagined about the participation of a woman from ultraconservative Saudi society in Olympics. But finally it happened.

Well, this may not change the old water tight policies the kingdom follows in matters related to woman folk. But at least there is a break with the long held policies. I can only hope that this wave of enthusiasm may open the Saudi Society further, and we could see a day when women enjoy the same right as that of men in the Middle Eastern kingdom.

All the best to Sarah Attar and Wojdan Shaherkani.


1. Saudi to send women to games but baghpat (up, india) looking in the opposite way

Photo Courtesy: London2012

Which one is more important - Olympic Games or Brand?

"Where are all your theaters and marble statues?
Where are your Olympic Games?"
These lines are from the poem 'Dialogue of the dead' by Panagiotis Soutsos; which is considered as the first reference for the revival of ancient Olymbic games. After two centuries people find themselves asking the same question - 'Where is my Olympic game?'

Read some of the stories from 2012 Olympic venue - London - as reported by various papers.

1936 - Jesse Owens in Berlin
"ban on using any other WiFi hot spot in the Olympic arena except those set up by British Telecom (BT), the “official communications services provider” for the Games. The ban extends to creating a wireless hotspot on personal smartphones and using portable WiFi hotspot devices"(#2)

"Visitors are not allowed to wear anything with logos of companies not sponsoring the Games. Journalists have had logos on their Apple and Dell computers covered."(#2)

"fish and chip stalls have been prevented from selling chips without fish as McDonald’s is the official chips maker of the Games."(#2)

"ban on using Olympic rings even as a mark of support for the Games. Old ladies trying to get into the spirit of the Games by decorating cakes with Olympic rings have been told to remove them."(#2)

"A young florist, who put up Olympic rings made of tissue paper in her shop window was threatened with legal action and forced to take them down."(#2)

"a crack team of branding "police", the Games organisers Locog have acknowledged, will be checking every bathroom in every Olympic venue – with the power to remove or tape over manufacturers' logos even on soap dispensers, wash basins and toilets." (#3)

"A photoshoot promoting easyJet's new routes from London Southend airport was also interrupted by a Locog monitor after local athlete Sally Gunnell was handed a union flag to drape over her shoulders. According to reports, Locog felt this would create too direct an association with her famous pose after winning Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992 (British Airways, rather than easyJet, is the airline sponsor of London 2012)"(#3)


According to the reports the estimated worth of Olympic brand is $45bn. I think the organizers often fails to understand the simple fact that $45bn tag came because of people like me and you are ready to watch the game in its original spirit. If we - the spectators - are not watching then none of the multinational companies will come to sponsor it.

Organizing committee should protect the rights of sponsors. After all they are spending hard cash to get a spot on this sporting extravaganza. But not to the extent that it will affect/curb individual's justified rights (not commercial interests). The game is for and still running because of millions of individuals like me and you - a fact 2012 London Olympic Organizing committee should always remember.


1. London 2012 - Using the Brand
2. What Olympics? Show me the money!
3. Olympics 2012: branding 'police' to protect sponsors' exclusive rights

Photo Courtesy: German Federal Archives

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Anna Hazare - Introduction to the murky waters of Indian politics will it succeed?

India Against Corruption campaign at White Field Bangalore
Wide spread corruption was one of the severe blow faced by Indians in their life. How many of you paid bribe or did some favour to the politicians/bureaucrats to do their work or to get something which are rightfully yours? Indians, often boasting about 5000 years of history, forced to become silent each time transparency international release their report. In the late years we often stopped looking at our ranks in the list of most corrupted countries and started comparing our position with that of neighbours.

Anna Hazare's introduction of a mass movement against corruption at New Delhi was indeed a replica of what many people want to do. The mother of all scams - 2G - scam and CAG report on it only increased the anger vibrating in the minds of common citizen and gave a boost to the movement. Well, even though the stub born insistence of Anti Corruption Movement regarding to some of the clauses raised question marks, generally the first phase went well and finally the Lokayuktha bill was passed by one house.

It is difficult to keep people focussed on one issue for long - anti corruption movement too was not different. We saw the thin population last time at the fast location in Mumbai.

The third avatar was able to attract people, but it was different from previous ones in two different ways. One - government cared little about the new fast (at least publically); secondly, the announcement to launch a political party.

Anti corruption movement raised a general awareness among people about corruption. It helped people to wake up, at least in the cities, for a mass movement. Even the politicians will fear more and think twice before taking public money for their private purposes in the future. The movement may help to raise the accountability at different levels of governance.

This also shares its own share of drawbacks. The first problem is even the straight officers will think twice or thrice before taking a decision. If the decision has any possibility of invoking any controversy even in the distant future they may think it better to postpone. Another problem is that, because of extra media activities if any one raised any accusation against an official then even before finding the truth media will kill them hundred times.

New political party - Some positive trends

The main advantage of forming a new political party - if it formed at all – at this time is the possible transform of a common man’s anger against corruption to votes. It can act as a vehicle to carry the desire of Indians for change.

Image of the movement and its leaders are clean so far. Apart from that, corruption is one of the subjects which every one faces in their day to day life. Corruption closes the door of equality and fairness in front of common man. If Team Anna can provide an answer to it people will certainly welcome them.

The movement also enjoys considerable support in the cities and among middle and upper class. So far people are coming in considerable numbers to the fast venue in New Delhi. Even its sister movements - for example the one in Bangalore - attracts considerable number of people.

So far Team Anna able to place themselves in the centre of media focuses. In fact it was the constant media attention which helped the movement to reach this far.  Media helped them by giving a free and popular platform to propagate their ideas.

Will the movement be able to influence the elections considerably?

How far Anna Hazare team will be able to move forward with their political party is yet to see. But there are some inherent problems with this decision. The primary one is about the interest of the mass. Middle class may support a movement with the intention to try something different but they may not take it to a logical end. Especially if it the movement dragged on. We already the saw the movement fizzled out last time in Mumbai. Current tendency is to blame politicians for each and everything no matter whether it is flood or draught. Will the people be able to join a political party and canvass others in the country side? As of now, I am seeing few chances.

Corruption is not the single problem our country is facing now. Moreover it is not concentrated on the top. In fact the corruption at the bottom level is worse than the one at top and affects common man directly. How many times you paid bribe to move a file from one table to another? Apart from corruption front people don’t know anything about the policy of Team Anna in other areas like agriculture, foreign policy, economics etc. As far as they are restraining themselves to corruption it is fine. However once they cross the boundary and enter politics, people will demand answer for everything.

Apart from this Team Anna lacks an organisational framework in the vast country side. Apart from the media sensitive cities including national capital, people may not be much informed/ confident about the movement. Even after years of organisational framework main stream parties are failing to connect with people. The largest contingents of MPs are not coming from Delhi or Mumbai or Kolkata or Bangalore, but from villages, small towns and cities where votes are often decided by caste/religious equation. Yes, in those elections where the middle class seldom shows any interest to vote.

Apart from Anna Hazare or Arvind Kejriwal or Prashant Bhooshan duo people have little idea about other faces of the movement. It is yet to have regional faces with which common people can connect very fast.


As of now I don’t think the movement as a political party will be a successful enterprise. The next election is almost two years away. It is difficult to carry - if central government didn’t do anything so foolish - this momentum so far. In case they failed to make any ripples in the 2014 general elections, it will be more difficult for them to do anything later. Media which often focus on sensational topics may not render the same service they did in the earlier days. Whether anti corruption movement succeed in election front or not, it will be remembered for its positive impact on nation's anticorruption front. A movement which forced the executive to correct some of its miss-steps.


Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia