Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Velimalai Kumara kovil - (Sri Murugan temple) in Kanyakumari district - set in a serene hilly terrain

There is a Tamil adage that  says ''Kundruthorum  edathil  Kumaran Kovil unndu'' meaning  ''where there is a  hillock there will be temple dedicated to Lord Muruga (Karthkaya).'' About the six abodes of Lord Muruga, with the exception of Tiruchendur, TN which is on the beach, the rest are on a hillock or a small elevated terrain  as in Swamimalai near Kumbakonam, TN.  The  Velimalai Murugan temple on a hill top, in the south most peninsular India close to  Nagercoil - on the road to Thiruvananthapuram, bordering the town of Padmanabhapuram is a popular destination for the devotees of Karthikaya (or Subramanya) and the added attraction is its serene surroundings with greenery. The  sthala viruksha (sacred tree)  of the temple is a 100 plus year old vengai tree. The processional
Velimalai Murugan temple, Kanyakumari. TN, facebook com.
deity (utchavar) is Manavaala Kumaran. The temple is  at Padmanabhapuram, which is famous for  the majestic wooden  palace of the erstwhile Travancore Maharajah, on the slopes of the Veli hills. Set in  the scenic surroundings, the temple is renowned among all the Murugan temples in Kanyakumari District.
Velimalai Murugan temple, Kanyakumari. TN
There are a few versions as to the origin of the hill' name Veli malai. Vel was the surname for the Ay rulers  who controlled a medieval Hindu feudal kingdom on the Malabar coast. The hill that belonged to the Ay rulers came to be called as Velimalai. Some people say it is  Velvi Malai since Lord Murugan performed a yagna with a view to promoting  union of jivatma with Paramatma.
also known as Kumara Kshetram and Subrahmanya Sthala in Malayalam that has a massive monolithic idol  of the deity, has found mention in the Tamil literature work  Silappatikkaram by Elangovadikal and is called  the  Chera Nattu Aeragam.  Believed to be pretty old as far back as the period of Buddhism 650-850 CE in Kerala,  Kumarakovil, according to stone inscriptions,  has been around since 18th century CE . This is said to be the birth place of Valli, consort of lord Kathikaya.

In this temple that can be reached through a  flight of forty steep steps, the consort of Lord Murugan is Valli, a woman from the hill tribal community) in the same sanctum (srikovil) and her  stone idol is a tall one -
six and a half feet. The main deity is set in such a way as to facing east direction  where the Sthanumalayan (Lord Siva) of Suchindram is located. The  big idol of Lord Murugan made from single stone is eight feet and eight inches tall. Perhaps, Murugan  stone idol in the Vallikandpuram temple close to Perambalur town, TN (this Chola temple is older than the Thanjavur big temple) is  yet another Hindu temple with a  tall stone idol of Muruga.  In this temple lord's image has  long  ears  suggestive of influence of  Buddhism.   It is believed there are foot prints of of Nandi and Murugan  atop the hill often  referred to as   Nandipadam and Murugan Padam.An interesting feature of this temple is  the presence of a shrine for Daksha, the maternal grandfather of Lord Murugan.  There is a shrine for Ganapati on the right side of the entrance to the inner Prakara (Prthakshanapath). He is called Kalyana Vinayakar, because he helped Lord Muruga to seek the hands of Valli.  On the west prakara one may find many  shrines -  for Kasi Lingam,etc and on the south side  Mahadevan, Sivakami and Chadikeswarar. Arumuga Nayinar - Lord Murugan with  his  two consorts, Valli and Deivayanai. This temple is associated with the legends of Valli’s marriage with Murugan. This is said to be the birth place of Valli.
 The Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) the temple comes alive and it is a period of celebration. Yes, the divine wedding of Valli  (a tribal woman) and Murugan is held with religious fervor and bhakti and devotees in thousands attend this grand festival. The reenactment of  Kuravar (hill tribes) Patukalam, the war waged by Valli’s relatives against Murugan, is a colourful event, interesting to watch it;  an unbroken tradition that continues for a long time. When the wedded divine couple reaches the rear entrance of the temple, Kuravas surrender to Lord Murugan and happily  give consent to the marriage. Then  after  abhishekam and deepa aradhana, a formal wedding is celebrated at night in the well decorated temple mandapam with flowers of various hues. During the marriage, Valli colai, Vatta colai, Kizavan colai......  etc., are given as gifts to Lord Murugan from the bride’s side. The seven-day festival begins in the star of Anuradha in the month of Panguni. On the day of the wedding Manavala kumaran (processional deity)  in a palanquin  is carried to Thiru Kalyana Mandapam, 2 km from here. After the  celestial wedding, the deities are taken reverentially with pomp in a procession back to the original temple.
Kumaracoil Subramania Swamy Temple Kavadi Kettu Festival 
The other popular festivals celebrated here are Kanda Sashti,  Vaikasi Visakam and Thaipusam.   Kavadi worship to Kumaraswami on the last Friday of the Tamil month of Karttikai is an interesting one. Its origin goes back to 200 yers ago. When there was no rain due to continuous dry spell in this region, the worrisome erstwhile  Maharajah of Travancore  asked his security  guards to offer kavadi worship to Kumaraswami.The lord answered the prayer by way of copious rain fall which promoted agriculture and welfare of the people all over. Since then, the police offer Kavadi worship to the deity toward the end of Karthigai month. 

The old tradition has been that during Navarathri festival Velimalai Kumaran, on a decorated silver horse (vahanam), is taken all the way to Tiruvananthapuram along with Padmanabapuram Saraswati and Suchindram Munnoottinanka (Goddess Shakti). After Navaratri the idols are taken  back to the temple.Soora samharam is yet another  festival held here, but it is not as grand as that of Thiruchendur temple, TN. Devotees make all kinds of commitments to have their wish fulfilled such physical ailment, wedding of their daughter, etc . The offerings include besides Kavadi, milk abishekam, Santhana Kappuu (sandal kaappu)  and tonsuring. Many parents bring their new kid for the first tonsure at this temple. This is done for the kid's welfare longevity and good health.  Another attraction is Valli guhai(cave) atop the hill  about 2 km off the main temple.  Valli sunai is a pond where it is believed that  Valli  used to take bath  and  Murugan came in the disguise of an old man to woo Valli. The protocol of worship offered here on the last Friday of  every Tamil month. The Kanji (a sort of porridge) 
Kerala Tantram is a protocol of worship offered in this temple along the lines of most other temples in Kanyakumari district. Fridays, especially the last fridays of every Tamil month are considered to be very sacred here. The Kanji which is distributed
as prasadam that is said to have  miraculous healing properties.
Pushpabishekam is done  on the last Friday in the month of aavani an the idol of  Kumaran is completely covered with hundreds of baskets of flowers offered  by the  devotees.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram, Kanyakumari district - where the trinity gods are worshiped in one idol!!

Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram.
Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram, TN
The Thanumalayan Temple of Suchindram in  Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu  in the extreme southern peninsular India  is  an important place of Hindu worship for both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sects. Also called  Stanumalayan temple, Stanumala refers to  Trimurtis; "Stanu" meaning Siva; "Mal" implying  Vishnu; and the "Ayan" meaning Brahma,  people who visit the famous beaches of Kanyakumari (where three oceans merge)  to see the Vivekananda Memorial mantap, giant  Thiruvalluvar statue (famous Tamil saint,poet) and Goddess Kumari Amman shrine
Thanumalayan Temple Suchindram, Kanyakumari, TN,
never fail to visit this unique temple.  God Brahma (the god of creation) has very few temples across India, There is one dedicated to Brahma in Pushkar in Rajasthan and the other one is in Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district, TN. Besides there are a few  Brahma shrines  in other parts of India.  Because of a curse  cast by God Shiva Brahma is  not venerated in many temples.  Sucindra Stalamahatmya, written in Sanskrit, gives a detailed  account of the origin and development of this temple.

The  legend of this temple has a link with the  chastity of Anasuya, wife of Sage Atri. The trinity gods, to test her chastity,  appeared before Anasuya in the guise of  brahmins demanding food. When she was ready to serve the food they, purposely, put forth a condition that they would eat only if she  could serve them naked. Unperturbed, through the power of her chastity and character she converted the three Gods into babies and breast-fed them. On the plea of Gods' consorts,  Anasuya  restored them   and on the same place  a linga comprising  three gods  appeared  which still exists.
The Trinity gods are represented in one form (linga)  called Sthanumalyam that is the specialty of this temple.

According to yet another  Sthala Purana, the head of devas Indira is believed to have performed  Ardhajama Pooja at night every night to get rid of his curse through the grace of gods  The Sanskrit word  "Suchi" in Suchindrum  stands for "purify".  Indra, with overwhelming infatuation, wanted  the company of  Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautama. He chose the right time when the sage went to the river bank in the early morning to attend to his morning ablution and rituals. He took the form of Gautama  to cheat his innocent  wife. Upon his return to his hut, when sage Gautama saw Indira  trying to mislead his wife, he cursed him that entire body will be covered with ''Yoni''(female organ) and his wife to turn into a rock.  Indira's prayers  to the trinity gods were finally answered.   The three gods  got rid of his curse and transformed  him into his original form. As for Akalya, she was restored back to life.  So
Indira had  a temple built and installed the Lingam  representing  the three Moorthys - Thanu-Maal-Ayan, and the name of the place
came to be known as Suchi-Indran (the place where Indran was purified). 

Once under the management of the Namboodiri families (Thekkumon Madam) when the district was under the Travancore state (prior to 1956), the renovation of this temple took place in the 17th century. Well known for its beautiful stone sculptures and architecture splendor, any visitor to to this town, can locate  the temple by its tall 7-story ornamented  entrance tower (gopuram) .  On the tower one can see a myriads of various  well-made deities of the Hindu pantheon. Abig temple water tank is just near-by with a  small pavilion (mantap) in the center.  
This temple enjoys many endowments made by Madurai Nayak rulers and later by the Travancore Maharajah under whose management the temple had functioned before Kanyakumari merged with Tamil Nadu. Ruler Ayilyam Thirunaall Maharajah of Travancore,  introduced a special a lottery scheme in 1875  AD to get  funds for rebuilding part of the temple and he received roughly Rs. 40,000.00, a big sum in those days. 

Susindram temple, TN

Alangara mandapa, Suchindram, TN.

The temple has amazing  sculptures and art. The  Alankara Mandapam is worthy of mention. Here,  adjacent to the Northern corridor there are four large  stone pillars (which stand at 18 feet (5.5 m) in height), each formed by a group of smaller pillars all carved from a single stone  (chosen specifically for this purpose). Two of these large pillars have 33 smaller pillars and the other two 25 each. These are the famous musical pillars. of this temple. A striking fact is each of these smaller pillars produces  a different musical note when tapped.  These pillars  are  well-guarded surrounded by iron grills to prevent vandalism.  They are quite famous just like those at the Nellaiappar temple of Tirunelveli, TN and the Humpi temple in Karnataka. The workmanship of these  stone sculptures and ornate pillar, etc is just mind-boggling; the stone artisans  of by-gone era had exceptional skill, imagination and patience.  The  Alankara Mandapam is a good example. So is  the big dancing hall that is supported by 1035  ornate pillars with carvings.

Among the many attractions in this temple, the tall stone image of Anjaneya, (Hanuman) never fails to get our attention. Standing  22 feet (6.7 m) tall, it is a majestic piece of work carved out of a single granite block.  Believed to be one of the tallest statues of its kind in India, it was, on purpose,  kept  buried below  on the temple premises in 1740, fearing an attack by  Tipu Sultan of Mysore  and his army. Tipu Sultan raided Kerala in the late 18th century and destroyed many Hindu temples as well as Thomas Christian churches, hence  precaution was taken to preserve this rare Hanuman statue. Only in 1930, the statue was unearthed and later restored by the then Devaswom Board Commissioner Rajya Seva Praveena Sri M.K. Neelankantha Iyer of Kottarathu Mathom, Moncompu for public viewing and puja rituals.
As  for the Nandi (bull- mount of God Shiva), the  stone image made of lime and mortar  is 13 feet (4.0 m) tall and 21 feet (6.4 m) long;  it is one of the biggest Nandi statues in India. The representation of the three main Hindu gods Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma  in one Linga is a rare one found across India, showing the influence of  Vaishnavite, and Shaivite  sects living in this part, because  early Chola, Chera and Pandya kingdoms patronized them. The temple has many deities of the Hindu pantheon, - Rama and Krishna to Amman and kanda (God Karthikaya).
Suchindram Temple Chariot festival
Suchindram Tnicely carved wooden temple car or rath, just base.
The 10-day Car Festival (ther thiruvizha)  is a famous one that comes up every year  between December and January,  attracting  thousands of  devotees and the chariot carrying the processional deity (Utchavar) is physically drawn by hundreds of  devotees  all along the four Mada streets adjacent to the temple.  Float festival locally  known as Teppam, is celebrated between April and May every year and is an interesting temple festival celebrated by lots of devotees.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Vegetarian diet cuts cadiac risks!!

An EPIC-Oxford study (2019) analyzed the follow-up results of risks of ischemic heart disease and stroke including hemorrhagic types in meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians over  a span of 18 years up to 2016. The work  was supported by the UK Medical Research Council MR/M012190/1 and Well come Trust.

The results were recorded in  2820 cases of ischemic heart disease and 1072 cases of total stroke (519 ischemic stroke and 300 hemorrhagic stroke). After adjusting for socio-demographic and lifestyle con founders, fish eaters and vegetarians had 13% (hazard ratio 0.87, 95%)  lower rates of ischemic heart disease than meat eaters, respectively.  This difference was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of ischemic heart disease (95% confidence interval 6.7 to 13.1 fewer) in vegetarians than in meat eaters per 1000 population over 10 years. The associations for ischemic heart disease were partly attenuated after adjustment for self reported high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and body mass index (hazard ratio 0.90, 95% ) in vegetarians with all adjustments). By contrast, vegetarians had 20% higher rates of total stroke (hazard ratio  than meat eaters, equivalent to three more cases of total stroke  per 1000 population over 10 years, mostly due to a higher rate of hemorrhagic stroke. The associations for stroke did not attenuate after further adjustment of disease risk factors.

From the study conducted in the UK, it is quite clear that fish eaters and vegetarians had lower rates of ischemic heart disease than meat eaters, although vegetarians had higher rates of hemorrhagic and total strokeIn the case of hemorrhagic and total stroke the reasons given are different ......(
Reducing meat-intake and following plant based diet is  beneficial to health and it reduces the risk of heart related ailments according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in Feb, 2020. The changes can reduce the adverse effects of  the microbes in the gut having close link with cardiac diseases.  The human digestive tract  houses  a community of bacteria  called gut microbiota that play an important role in our metabolism, nutrient absorption, energy level and immune response. When  one of the chemicals in the gut digests nutrients in animal products  such as red meat, metabolite (TMAO)  which is related to increasing heart diseases is the main culprit. On the other hand, in the case of veg diet, it can reduce the  amount of TMAO produced in the body.
The New Indian Express, Tiruchy Edition dated  Feb 1920;
page 16: ''Vegan diet cuts hear disease risk.''

V. P. Madhava Rao, an innovative Diwan of Mysore

Diwan V.P. Madhava Rao
Among the reputed Diwans who acted as an intermediary between the colonial rulers and princely rulers in the past era, Sri Madhava Rao is counted as one among them. He was quite known for his administrative skills with innovation  and had the innate ability to understand the pressing problems of the princely state and tried to solve them relevant to the needs as much as he could.   Being a good  statesman he served as the Diwan of Mysore kingdom from 1906 to 1909 and Baroda from 1910 to 1913.

Coming from  a family of Thanjavur Marathi Deshastha Brahmin family, long ago settled in  the then Tanjore  kingdom ( now called Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu), Vishwanath Patankar Madhava Rao CIE (10 February 1850 -1934), is believed to have hailed from the Satara district of Bombay Presidency (now Maharastra) to south India after the  Maratha conquest of Tanjore kingdom from the Thanjavur Nayak rulers.  Born in February 1850 in the temple town of Kumbakonam, Madras Presidency near Tanjore, he had his education  at Kumbakonam College  under William Archer Porter. He completed his B. A. in 1869 and and later  entered the service of the Mysore kingdom in 1869 as a headmaster of the royal school.  Subsequently, he became  the  public prosecutor of Mysore and served in the Judicial and Revenue departments. His efficiency and dedication to work got him promotions  and  he  served as Inspector General of Police, Plague Commissioner in the Mysore kingdom from 1898 to 1901 and Revenue Commissioner from 1902 to 1904 before being appointed Diwan in 1906. As plague was a big threat then, Diwan Madhava Rao created an awareness among the people to give importance to public health and hygiene.   In July 1905, the rat eradication scheme was introduced that resulted in the killing of 23,000 rats. The scheme was extended to Bangalore. For the years 1907-08, rat destruction was carried on a large scale in Bangalore and Mysore cities.
July 1905, the rat killing scheme was introduced. An amount of Rs 2670 was spent on killing 23,000 rats. The scheme was extended to Bangalore. For the years 1907-08, rat destruction was carried on a large scale in Bangalore and Mysore cities.

Read more at:

Madhava Rao served as Diwan of the Mysore kingdom from 30 June 1906 to 31 March 1909. In 1906,  and introduced several schemes to improve the state's progress and quality of life with adequate amenities.  During his active tenure a law was introduced  empowering members of the Mysore Legislative Assembly to pass laws. The new legislature was constituted on 6 March 1907. As part of he Land Revenue Code amendment the Revenue Commissioner  became the Chief Revenue authority and was also given charge of the treasury.  Yet another feature to improve people's welfare and public health,  a Department of Public Health was created  to deal with various public health issues. The competitive exams for the Mysore Civil Service were revived. Taxes on arecanut (in Tamil Pakku) were revoked.

In view of growing importance to primary education, Kindergarten schools were introduced in the kingdom and primary education, particularly in villages,  was made free and the teachers were given an increment.   Because agriculture played a key role in Mysore,  many projects were undertaken to improve agriculture and its production  and, as part of it,  the Marikanite Works were completed in 1906-07 and the Cauvery Power Works at Belagola in 1907-08. He paid serious attention to famine protective works, particularly the construction of tanks. Minor tanks were also rejuvenated and taken up for further strengthening of bunds for better  storage of water. The third installation of hydro-electric power of Cauvery Power Scheme was undertaken as mentioned above. The Dasara Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition was opened by the Maharajah in the Special Reserve Police Lines building in Oct. 1907.
The Government sanctioned a free grant of land to the Indian Institute of Science with a view to promoting higher education and it is one of the top educational institution s in India. To serve the administration effectively,  Diwan  Madhava Rao had T. Ananda Rao and K P Puttanna Chetty as first and second Councillors who were entrusted with certain level of administrative responsibilities. They too enjoyed executive powers, although in a limited manner,

Electricity was not introduced  before and in January 1908 electric lighting was  first introduced in the civil and military station of Bangalore city and for Mysore city in  September 1908.

Madhava Rao was already  bestowed with  a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1899 and was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind Medal in 1900 for his early  commendable services to the Princely state of Mysore.

 ''He began his career as a journalist and came to Mysore to earn a livelihood. He gradually rose to prominence and ultimately retired as a civil servant. He also served as a Dewan and in various other administrative capacities, during which he carried his responsibilities to the fullest and ablest  '' .............................

Friday, 21 February 2020

Soot from the start of industrial revolution in Europe at top of the Himalayas?

Pollution from industrial revolution, Europe in the Himalayas.
Can you imagine that soot produced during the industrial revolution  in England  was transported as far as 10300 km by winter wind (blowing west to east) and settled on the upper reaches of the Himalayan glacier in Tibet roughly 240 year ago? It is quite apparent that humans  had contaminated the clean upper reaches of the Himalayan mountain peaks  far before they ever stepped foot on them. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay were the first one to have reached the top of Mt. Everest on 29 May 1953. Earlier  in June 1924 expedition to Everest George Mallory and
soot pollution from industry.
his team successfully reached the upper levels, but short of reaching the highest peak; it ended in tragedy. 
The first summit of Shishapangma, at 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) took place in 1964 hundreds of years after the contamination first appeared. Now the selected routes to the peak  in the Himalayas are full of trash of various types and tons of  human waste, and the Nepal govt. spends  lots of money to  dispose of  them including dangerous plastics and metal containers from the mountains.
An analysis of ice cores drilled from the Dasuopu glacier in the central Himalayas shows  traces of toxic metals, by-products of burning coal, embedded in the sample’s layers. By  sifting the timeline of the ice core, the researchers have dated the earliest contamination to the end of the 18th century - the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The results of the study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The team from Ohio State University, USA  studied an ice core collected in 1997 from the glacier located on Shishapangma, the world’s 14th tallest mountain. Surprisingly core  samples revealed the hidden clues  about the snowfall, atmospheric circulation, and other environmental changes in time. The detailed analysis of layers in the core  helped the researchers to  arrive at the past event  and its time with considerable accuracy.  The  layers in the ice core appeared  to have been formed between 1499 and 1992. They also found a total of 23 trace metals whose concentration was  higher-than-natural levels of cadmium, chromium, nickel, and zinc during the period from 1780.  When they traced the bottom of the source and the period they  arrived at the conclusion that the contamination was caused by the burning of coal –an important  energy source in the European  industry during the late 18th century, and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
According to
Paolo Gabrielli, lead author of the study and research scientist at The Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, the Industrial Revolution was a revolution in the use of energy,” “... the use of coal combustion also started to cause emissions that we think were transported by winds up to the Himalayas.” The ice core samples were from the Dasuopu drilling site, 7,200 meters (23,600 feet) above sea-level. 

Tracing the additional  cause of the metal contamination at the world’s highest drilling site at 23,600 feet above sea level), the study identified the source and  concluded: “What happens is at that time, in addition to the Industrial Revolution, the human population exploded and expanded,” Gabrielli  further stated,  “... so there was a greater need for agricultural fields — and, typically, the way they got new fields was to burn forests.” The presence of
of zinc, released when trees are burnt, was an indication  that the forests were  cleared for agriculture and housing purposes.

The study differentiates  the discernible difference between “contamination” and “pollution”.“The levels of metals we found were higher than what would exist naturally, but were not high enough to be acutely toxic or poisonous,” Gabrielli said. “However, in the future, bio-accumulation may concentrate metals from meltwater at dangerous toxic levels in the tissues of organisms that live in ecosystems below the glacier.”

The University of Ohio  team already  found further evidence of human  activities causing atmospheric pollution as revealed by the recent study in 2015.
  The air was polluted before industrial revolution in South America due to silver mining in Peru
The interesting fact is the human activities took place at different time spans in different parts of the globe and are frozen in the layers of rock or ice cores.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Damaged Aldeen House, Serampore, West Bengal - the birth place of earliest modern education in Bengal

Aldeen House, where Serampore College was
 Among the Indian cities, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai (Bombay) have a large number of historical colonial monuments - buildings, halls, churches, colleges, etc. As Kolkata (Calcutta) happened to be the capital of British India  until early 20th century and home to 1000s of European residents, there are many big and impressive colonial structures. The Aldeen House of Serampore  is one among them. 
Aldeen House, where Serampore College was born,
 It was in the Aldeen House, once a palatial building with many rooms, Serampore College had  begun to function in the early stages. This old heritage structure where it is said ' the seeds of modern education had been sown  is in a dilapidated state due to neglect and lack of interest in preserving old monuments  that once served the people here. The decrepit Aldeen House, Serampore (33 km from Kolkata), the birth place of the earliest modern education in Bengal is a sore in the eyes of public.  The Education minister Partha Chatterjee , when inaugurating an academic education  and  unveiling the busts  of  William Carey and fellow missionaries Joshua Marshman and William Ward  at  the historical Serampore College, said ....the state government will do “all it takes” to renovate the dilapidated Aldeen House.''  Roughly, for three consecutive years from  July 15, 1818, Aldeen House  had been a center of learning and initially had just  a batch of  37 students mostly European  learning Sanskrit, Persian, astronomy, geology and botany. They  happened to be  the first students of Serampore College, which shifted to its current address in 1821.
location map. .Serampore town, west bengal, India.
 The origin of land and the  Aldeen House has no proper records.  According to one Sircar, the property  was once owned by  David Brown, a chaplain of the East India Company who founded the Calcutta Bible Society. Brown had lived in Aldeen House from 1802 till 1813. But there is neither  record nor any reference to this building. . 
Serampore colle, W, Bengal.
The imposing  Serampore college building with giant Corinthian columns has  survived the ravages of weather and time for nearly two centuries, however, the  red brick building is in a state of ruins and crumbling slowly in the last few years. Though the W. Bengal govt. is trying their level best to preserve and renovate a large number of colonial structures in Kolkata and other places, no attention is paid to Aldeen House. Nobody knows the answer and it is almost pushed to a kind of haunted place with bushes and wild plants all around with broken windows and pealed off plastering  on the damaged structure.  Many residents of Serampore  frankly express their ignorance about the existence and location of Aldeen House,  let alone  its early historical significance in terms of education!  The structure appears to be  beyond redemption because of total neglect. There is not even a semblance of an access path to the site  to take a close look at it, and the only vestige is the closed gate. One may, with difficulty, get in  through  partially visible opening, according to people near-by.  The history of any place or state is incomplete if there are no monuments that link us with the past era. Loss of history due to sheer  ignorance and negligence of historical monuments is an irresponsible act. But, this is happening across India .

As for William Carey (he worked as a professor of Bengali at Fort William College, WB till 1831) ''a pioneering figure both in the spread of modern education and laying the foundation of modern institutions” , said VC of Jadavpur University, Suranjan Das.  It is nice if the Aldeen House is turned into  a tourist spot. There seems to be some problem related to land acquisition  and ownership as the old structure is close to the Metro  water Pumping station of CMDA, just 55 meters from the college building.

The  state govt. has given serious attention to renovate the house as early as possible. To  begin with,  the ownership issue  and transfer of property need to be resolved first.

World's oldest living elephant ''Vatsala'' of Panna Tiger Reserve, MP, India!! - now blind

now blind oldest  female elephant ''Vatsala'', MP,

Whenever we go to the  Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu and, in particular Kerala, it is a great sight to see majestic elephants swaying in their standing position, flapping their long ears and obeying their mahouts. They gently bless the devotees and diligently collect coins or a bill (currency note) with their  multi-purpose trunk and hand it over to their master. When they get a skinned coconut, they break the shell as a  road roller would crush a hardened clay ball!!  Their  obeying  the master  is reminiscent of a Jennie obeying its  master in the fairly tales. When such  powerful animals catch up with age and become less active and lose all its vigor and is stuck to a restricted space it is sight that no body can entertain. If a female elephant, once active, now has become pretty old and grumpy with no teeth to crush food, severe arthritis and blind in both eyes imagine her daily painful survival.  This is exactly the case of a grand old female elephant in the Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh in India.
oldest elephant, Vatsala

Above image; Oldest female elephant  90 to 100 year old Vatsala, Panna  Tiger Sanctuary,  MP is  already wilting under advanced age. 'Oh, my knees are bothering me'...........
90 to 100 year old female elephant, MP, India.

 Vatsala, perhaps the oldest surviving elephant in the world, having been active in her life as a  sort of  a nurse-midwife to pregnant elephants for three decades, is like an age old govt. pensioner, counting her days or months  and trusting others to help her out. Now,  she is lucky and is being nursed by her grand kids! Surprised?
 ageing elephant

This  90 to 100 years old animal  is being well taken care of by  the herd, that  she took care of when she was young and energetic, according to  reserve officials. May we conclude it is a humble way to convey  gratitude  to  their grandma?  Such expression of love and care is fast disappearing among us.  We, the humans, have to take a cue from these young herd of  grateful elephants  who are gentle to the helpless old elephant. It is quite natural  Vatsala gets grouchy when her arthritis flares up and gives her pain. Dr. Sanjeev Gupta of the Panna Tiger Reserve,  said, ‘She is kind with the calves but is the first to give them a ticking off when they over-step the mark.’
The gentle giant came  to MP from Kerala state. when she was around 50 in 1971. She had already lost her teeth; it meant she had reached 50 years of age then.  The average life span of an Asian elephant is  40 to 50 years.  This kind of longevity among the elephants is the rarest case!! Vatsala  was transmigrated  from Hasingbad in 1993  to this sanctuary  and given the task of Parturition (process of giving birth) of pregnant elephants  as a midwife and  caring nurse.  When the babies were 2 years old, she helped them in the waning.  Now, her age must be between 90 and 100 and when she was 86  she held the  the world record - the oldest pachyderm in the world!!  Owing to her age and lack of teeth, Vatsala  has been spending her  retirement being pampered by the care-takers who give her chopped grass and bamboo. Surprisingly, she has the traits of old ladies  who love sweet. The female elephant enjoys   sugar cane juice most.
ageing eleohant.

Recently in Feb. 2020, this old female elephant became blind due to age factor. According to Dr. Sanjiv Gupta, Reserve's Vet,   ....''her blindness is caused by incurable cataract and her digestive system too has collapsed, forcing us to keep her in the sickbay,”  The herd of young elephants taking care of their ‘daadi’ (granny), include Bapu, born in 2017; Manya , born in 2011; Prahlad (2012), and others and Vatsala, through their touch  identifies them. Surely, she is not only the pride of Panna Tiger Reserve, but also of India.