Tuesday, 1 December 2020

British Residency of Hyderabad, India - restoration of 215- year old famous colonial structure

The British Residency building. Image courtesy Lakshmi Prabhala

Above image:  215 year old British Residency, Hyderabad, India.  the vast villa, and the style of the front part of the building  appear to resemble the White House in Washington, DC.

British Residency. Hyderabad, India Image credit  Sanjay borra firstpost.com

British Residency. Hyderabad, India  firstpost.com

Above image: British Residency, Hyderabad, India.  The massive  40 foot tall Corinthian pillars, the   s two lions on either side overlooking 21 marble stairs  have striking similarity  with that of   Salon de Musique of the Jacquemart-André mansion in Paris ....................................

India is bestowed with thousands of monuments and heritage sites in the form of Hindu temples, churches, mosques,, Maharajahs' palaces and, of course, colonial buildings dating back to many centuries. They are found far and wide across the Indian land and invariably under the management of the ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India.  It is obvious that it is an Herculean task  for the government organization to keep all these structures of great antiquity in good shape in their pristine past glory. For various reasons,  thousands of them are in a  state of neglect or in ruins and far beyond  restoration back to their glorious past stature. 

Hyderabad, India, British Resident Kirkpatrick and his wife, Pinrest.com

Above image: Portraits of James Achilles Kirkpatrick (1764-1805), British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and his wife Begam Khair un-Nisa, a lady closely connected to the court.The man who was instrumental in the construction of a grand Residency in Hyderabad, British India..................

It was in September 2017 the iconic British Residency building in Hyderabad,  once where the British  Resident in the court of the ruler Nizam  lived  was restored.  It is a boon to the posterity if   other monuments are repaired and restored as Robert Musil said, ''There is nothing in this world as invisible as a monument.'' The builders of such monuments are dead, but their memory and legacy linger on.

White Mogul James Patrick. India Chai Bisket

This majestic residency built by the British  architect Samuel Russell of the Madras Presidency had been in a state of neglect for decades  for unknown reasons. But, it is obvious, the colonial structure was not given serious attention by the custodians presumably due to poor funds and lack of interest to keep the building in good condition. It feels like a time-warp. The wooden structures, etc on the first floor were rotting  and a fine colonial building was facing near death. The building and the vast surrounding area around stand as silent spectators of its past glory, joyful days  and its subsequent decline, reminding us of the transient nature of the natural process. Located  in an area called Koti, Osmania University's women's college  was functioning in some parts of the building.  At one point of time it became too dangerous to conduct classes  with leaky ceilings, pealing plaster coming off the   walls, rotting rafters with gaping holes,etc. The central block of the building was  very much damaged and closed down for the students, and most of the classes  were held  in  places that were once  elephant  and horse stables, according to the media report.
restoration works,  former British Residency at Koti; Hyderabad (India) deccanchronicle.com

Hyderabad city, telengana, India, Mps India.com

Why do lots of tourist evince interest to visit this colonial site? This structure, once the envy of many rulers, has an irresistible aura about it. During its heyday, it was a seat of British power and their influence on the Indian rulers like the Nizam, the Mysore Maharajah, and others.This structure  very much similar to the Greek style of design with pantheon type of  huge columns and stunning interior, is unique in this area. The  credit goes to  James  Kirkpatrick, the British Resident in the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad for the English company - East India Company. Landed in Hyderabad  Kirkpatrick  gave up his European customs and took keen interest in India's culture and developed a taste for Muslim way of traditions and customs.  He chose a Muslim woman as his partner  and she bore him a couple of children who were sent to England for higher education. The Hyderabad Residency in Neo classical style,  with its various unique features like  an overlooking observation balcony  in the ball room, tall ceiling with fine chandeliers  believed to  have been   procured from King William IV ’s palace,  the Durbar Hall of large  proportions, painted ceilings, parquet floors of inlaid wood, flanked by giant mirrors,  its vast green garden, etc., has its origin to the ingenuity of  the British Resident James Kirkpatrick, a man of different taste and the one who knew how to enjoy his life in a hot land far away from his ancestor's home.   Subsequent British Residents and their memsahibs  used this spacious building for their residential  purposes and weekly balls, etc. It is one of the best among the old monuments in  the erstwhile  Princely state of Hyderabad, and the other being the Falaknuma Palace.

That  this imposing  colonial   monument in the ever-busy area of Hyderabad that had been facing near death,  was at last, restored to its original glory needs appreciation as the restoration of  a highly damaged old structure  needs proper planning, raw materials, and correct execution without disturbing tits  heritage  elements. The 215 year old  Hyderabad Residency  was restored a few years ago, including  a  small model ( a sort of replica) of the same structure (15 foot square in plan and 4 foot high) within the confines  of the Residency and the  surrounding site; it was built  by Kirkpatrick for his wife  Begum Khair-un-Nissa,  so that she  could appreciate the beauty of the Residency mansion constructed in 1803 according to his plan. This model well barricaded by metal to avoid trespassers  was almost damaged in 1978 itself due to  fall of a big tree. The area around the model had over-grown bushes, wild grass, etc that slowly made the model structurally weak.

1947 photo of the Model from the private collection of N.Savithri

Thanks to the concerted efforts made by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Osmania University and Telangana State Archaeology  who painstakingly  prepared a conservation  and restoration plan  at the University College of Women. The implementation of the project was done  in a phased manner. The total cost of restoration, etc was roughly Rs. 16 crores.  The US Friends of the DHF  came forward and made  the needed finance available  for the restoration of the Model and its protecting shell. The information provided by the model helped the conservationists to understand the  impressive Residency structure, its distinctive features  and, accordingly,  carry out the restoration work. A sum of US$ 32,000.00  had already  been funded by the DHF. The work on the restoration began in 2016 as it became a necessity to save it from total destruction. For details about James Kirkpatrick please refer to: https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2016/12/white-mogul-james-kirkpatrick-and-his.html



Monday, 30 November 2020

Awe-inspiring British Residency, Hyderabad, India - early colonial house!!

Hyderabad, India, British residency 1880.minorsights.com

Hyderabad, India, British residency 1880. photo:Lala Deen Dayal.en.wikipedia.org 

Abandoned British Residency, Hyderabad India .pinterest.com
Like New Delhi, Calcutta (Kolkata), Madras (Chennai), Mysore and Bombay (Mumbai), the Hyderabad city of Telengana state is dotted with many monuments of grandeur and beauty. Among the countless colonial structures, the residency where the British Resident used to live is a heritage structure. This structure was heavily damaged  and neglected   until a few years ago and now it is repaired and restored.   

James Achilles Kirkpatrick,  a British Resident  in the princely state of Hyderabad. between 1798–1805, was not atypical British officer  and possessed  certain  compulsive passions quite different from his colleagues of his stature. Suitable to his style of living as a representative of the East India company, he built a  rich mansion in the style of a Palladian villa  called Koti or British Residency (also known as Hyderabad Residency) in the  quiet suburb of Hyderabad.  It is an important tourist spot in this big city, reminiscent of he  early colonial rule and its impact on this city  that was the capital of affluent Nawab of Hyderabad. The  successor of the this dynasty was the richest man in the 1930s.

The building served as an  embassy of the East India Company in the state of Hyderabad  with enough space for living quarters for the employees and a Zanana (women's quarter) within  the compound walls.Closely resembling  that of the White House of the USA with an  impressive  classical portico which is a common feature in countless  important European buildings, its architect was one  Lt. Samuel Russell of the Madras Engineers. The construction  of this building began in 1803 as a permanent seat of the British influence in this part of the subcontinent. as the rulers of the Nizam dynasty had a close alliance with the English company and later under the administration of the British Crown. 

The Hyderabad residency, Telengana, Indiapinterest.dk

The Hyderabad residency, Telengana, India. .pinterest.com
Why did James Kirkpatrick build an European style building in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent? Often referred to as the White Mogul, the  spacious residency was built  to his specification for him and his Indian wife Khair un Nissa. There is a small building - a sort of replica on a small scale within the premises from where the Resident's wife Nissa in Purdah, could see the surroundings  around here. Successive  British Residents and their family also stayed there. Only recently a few years ago  the Zanana and other parts of this old colonial structure  were  repaired and restored.   In 1857,  when  the Indian Rebellion  that started off in Meerut cantonment by the Indian soldiers, was hunting the English company's misrule,  the residency at Hyderabad  did not escape from the fury of the rebels  who attacked and damaged the building. The mob was led by  Maulvi Allauddin and Turrebaz Khan.  To safeguard the building and increase the security of the structure and to face any eventuality in the future, the British  had added  Martello towers in the later years. But, it 1954 for unknown reasons they became damaged. The arched gateway of the Residency faced environmental threats because of flooding  during the Great Musi Flood of 1908.  William Dalrymple in his book White Mughals (2002) mentioned about its salient features as it happened to be a well- designed colonial building of that period. . The house was designed by Lt. Samuel Russell of the Madras Engineers and construction began in 1803.

British residency, Hyderabad, India after restoration and repairs. firstpost.com/

Great Musi Flood,1908, Arched gate Hyderabad Residency. En.wikipedia org.

 After India's independence in 1947, the building had remained vacant  till 1949 and soon it it was converted into Osmania University College for Women.  It is now under the management of t Archaeological Survey of India and is classified as  a protected monument of historical value..

The good news is this  stunning and iconic residency was restored in Sept 2017. In the years after 2000 this grandiose building was in a  dilapidated state reduced to a state of total neglect for various reasons. This building that was once the symbol  of power, pelf and  supremacy of the early colonial proxy government for  the Crown was almost ready to collapse. After restoration, it looks nice and impressive in the busy area of this old city. 

Abandoned British Residency, Hyderabad India .pinterest.dk

The building features massive tall columns that  throw the shades on the veranda, a grand double stairway leading to a spacious ball room with high rise  ceiling  from which are hanging big chandeliers,  a balcony for  the guests to  watch the gala - dancing couples and the grand music stand where the band would play  numbers from the classical music, waltzes etc. Rooms next to the ball room were in ruins and, it is mentioned in the media, part of the roof caved in due to neglect, lack of repair work  and  aging. 
Abandoned British Residency, Hyderabad India .

Above image: Note the tall ceiling apparently two-soy high and massive chandeliers in the ball room of the English residency, Hyderabad, India. The balcony is meant for the guests to watch the dance.................

Though some parts of the building are not damaged, including the entrance gateway,  they have lost the sheen owing to vagaries of weather. On the ground floor, the  small  rooms where they used to conduct classes   were not well lit and it was dark inside. Built in the midst of greenery comprising roughly  60 acres of land, there are many buildings and also stables for horses that were apparently constructed during the same time as the main structure came up. Far removed from the buildings and within the confines of the boundaries of the residency,  surprisingly there is a small English cemetery that has the overgrowth of wild plants, bushes and vegetation.  A small-scale model  depicting the English residency is equally damaged and needed  immediate repair work.  The grave of Kirkpatrick who built the Residency is at St John's church, Kolkata, West Bengal. 




Saturday, 28 November 2020

''Karthigai Deepam'' festival, Tamil Nadu, 2020

2020 Happy Karthigai Deepam greetings. fancygreetings.com

2020 Katthigai deepam festival, Thiruvannamalai, TN.  thehindu.com

Arunachala hill, Thiruvannamalai, TN, Karthigai Deepam.cybernag.in 

Karthigai (also spelled Karthikai) Deepam is yet another popular  Hindu festival  that normally falls on the evening of the full Moon day  in the Tamil month of Karthigai (mid-Nov to mid-Dec).   From Astronomy point of view, it is linked to the  brightest star in the firmament  Alcyone,  in the Pleiades constellation. This festival is celebrated with more religious fervor in  the southern sate of Tamil Nadu than elsewhere  where the huge and popular Arunachaleswarer temple dedicated to God Shiva (Agni's sthalam), Thiruvannamalai gets the attentions of millions of devotees who throng the temple to watch the  two week long-drawn  festival beginning earlier with flag-hoisting on the temple premises. The most important part of the festival is the lightening of Bharani deepam  in the temple and a huge oil lamp on the crest of the Arunachala mountain near the temple on the 29th of November, 2020 around 6 pm.  

Home-made karthikai deepam. en.wikipedia.org 

Above image: Label Details

A The 3 twigs which hold the charcoal pack

B The exposed charcoal to ignite easily

C The layered charcoal packed in jute sack pieces

D The rope binding

Height might vary from 10 inches to 12 inches or more; Width: 3 to 4-inch width of the charcoal package ( en.wikipedia.org)............................

This  year, owing to Covid- 19 Pandemic that is threatening across the globe and also in India, the Tamil Nadu health department has set in motion several restriction on the visitors to the temple, in particular, on the 28th and 29th of November and the temple rituals, etc.  All the temple festivities will be conducted inside the temple premises and, I understand, there are no processions of  deities, including the well-known temple Chariot festival ( Ther Thiruvizha) -   around the temple. This restriction was strictly followed  by the state government to avoid gathering of large number of people in public and unusual crowds during the festival days . As we may be aware, social distancing is a must  during this Pandemic period,  this year, like all other festivals, it is a low-key ritual given the present health scenario and the recent flood havoc (25th to 27th of Nov.) in the northern Tamil Nadu  districts like Thiruvannamalai, Vellore, Dharmapuri, etc  caused by heavy rain  that accompanied the recent Nivar cyclone that had its origin in the South Bay of Bengal.  During the 14 day long festivities, devotees will not be allowed inside the temple on November 29 alone.“On other days only 5,000 people can get into the temple with e-passes issued by the temple management.  For further reading refer:




Karthigai deepam festival, Kerala  Vaikom temple. in.pinterest.com

Karthigai Deepam, an ancient festival, often associated with God Shiva and  God Muruga (Karthikaya) gives much importance to the  lighting of oil lamps preferably earthen lamps (made from clay).  The  spiritual significance on this day is getting rid of ignorance, and ago and inviting  knowledge, enlightenment and welfare of the society as a whole. The wick in the lamp symbolizes our ego, the oil represents nature that cultures the ego and the flame signifies the spiritual wisdom and knowledge. The lighting of  oil lamps gets rid of  the ego (wick) that retards the progress of our welfare   by burning  it out. Along with also goes out any negativity in our mind and this way our positivity is accentuated.  In a way  the message of Karthigai deepam is much similar to that of Deepavali festival.  This deepam festival also hails the victory of Goddess Parvati over the demon Mahishasura,  symbolizing  the victory of good over evil forces.   On Karthigai Deepam,  Hindu families across Tamil Nadu will light the oil lamps in their homes in the evening only after the Bharani deepam is lit atop the Arunachala  hill at Thiruvannamalai.

 It is at the Arunachala hill, the mythology has it,  that God Shiva appeared as a giant column of fire stretching heaven and earth.   This is the reason why  the huge oil lamp that is lit on the hill gets due importance as part of Karthikai  deepam festival.  Yet another mythological event  is that Lord Muruga (Karthikaya) was born as six flames from the third eye of Lord Shiva and was brought up by  six nymphs  (called the Karthigai Pengal  as six beautiful babies, who were  later became unified by Goddess Parvati, consort of God Shiva  into a  beautiful  boy with six faces called Shanmuga.(here, the six faces refer to his six gunas/traits). Third eye The third eye of Lord Shiva (in the fore-head) from all his six faces were used to create Lord Muruga as his son and  the faces imply as follows:

 Tatpurusha The face of Concealing Grace

 Aghora The face of annihilation

 Sadyojata The face of Creation

 Vamadeva The face of Preservation/Healing/Dissolution/Rejuvenation

 Ishana The face of Revealing Grace

 The 6th face of shiva specified in literature named sri kanda puranam (Skanda Purana) .............

Chimney starter is similar kind of mechanism used, but it uses fuel to burn charcoal.  Rope fire performance is another form of fire dancing and twirling with fired ropes which needs special skills, because the rope is ignited with fuel (from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karthika_Deepam)

Though, the enthusiasm among the Hindus during the Karthigai Deepam festival day is not very much noticeable, their religious fervor is never on the decline, a fact that a small group of  people  with anti-Hindu sentiments and certain political parties using secularism as a gimmick did not cherish the people becoming more religious than ever before.  In a democratic country, hurting the sentiments of others' religious belief is very unfortunate. At stake will be the unity of people in the society and the country at a time when we are facing  threats from neighboring theocratic country Pakistan and greedy China which is openly stealing  bordering countries's areas. 




Thursday, 26 November 2020

Udham Singh, the Indian patriot who assassinated retd. Governor Michael O' Dwyer in London

Much  has  not  been written about the martyr  Udham Singh of Punjab  who  was hanged to death on 31 July 1940 and later buried at Penton Ville prison in north London. Reason: He shot dead the retired Governor of Punjab  Michel O' Dwyer in Britain  for his prime role in the  the mass killing  in 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh,  Amritsar  of Punjab state, India .  Udham  could not brook the plight of native Indians and their sufferings under the oppressive British rule. Being a freedom fighter, he wanted the Indian subcontinent freed from the foreign rule soon and to achieve this he was willing to  sacrifice his life at a very young age.  

Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab.  patriot Udham Singh, assassin of gov. O'Dwyer. .indiatimes.com/india

The  Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 13 April 1919 in the city of Amritsar, Punjab   that resulted in the death of scores of people   during the British Raj,  shook the  conscience of the nationalists  across  India and also the western world like the USA.  The author of this mass murder was  the army commander Reginald Dyer but it was scripted carefully by none other than the Lt. Governor  of Punjab, Michael O' Dwyer. an ICS man of Irish origin,  who  had just been transferred to that state to quell the growing protests, riots against the British establishment and secret underground revolutionary activities. 
Assassination of O' Dwyer in London twitter.com

With so much premeditation and proper planning, but with an  express intent to harm as many people as possible, the obnoxious military officer  blocked all the exits except one  in the bagh -  garden. He had his soldiers fired on the peaceful crowd  without any prior warning.  The purpose of  Lt.  Gov. O' Dwyer and Gen. Dyer  was to  ''punish the Indians for disobedience.” Quite obnoxious was the fact that Dyer asked his soldiers ''to knell and shoot at the spots where the fleeing crowd was dense to produce better results''.  Unaware of the 144 curfew in force, countless innocent people gathered there to celebrate the festival  Baishaki.   When shooting started suddenly, the crowd panicked  and the stampede caused the death of innumerable people. When addressing the media,  the administrator  O’Dwyer,  who is well known for his  gritty stand against the national militancy in the subcontinent, defended Gen. Dyer's action by saying his action  ''was  correct. Many of the British MPs from the Labor party and some British journalists were highly critical of the governor and the military commander. Many Britons were outraged and both Dyer and O’ Dwyer ended up losing their jobs. However, the Indian leaders were quite angry that neither of them received any punishment whatsoever  before the court for the horror committed  by them under the British flag.   

Postal stamp. Udham Singh, Indian patriot. mintageworld.com

A Sikh by birth,  born as Sher Singh in Sangrur, Punjab, and  brought up in an orphanage,  he grew up as a freedom fighter.  He  took keen interest in revolutionary activities against the British misrule. No doubt, being   patriotic and highly spirited and motivated,  he  did not like the natives  being insulted and intimidated by the foreign  rulers  who were more bent on exploiting the Indian resources to improve their economy back home,  pushing the natives to abject poverty, subjugation. and enslavement than overall improvement of the welfare of the natives.  So, he joined the Ghadar party in 1924 (with revolutionary ideology)  that fought against the Raj secretly  and in 1927,  he was imprisoned for smuggling weapons for his revolutionary activities. According to the Indian Political Intelligence, “ his obsession was such that ''he had intended to murder Europeans who were ruling over India'' in order to instill fear among the British officers. He landed in England after his release from the jail in Multan (now in Pakistan).

Caxton Hall,London, Udham assassinated Gov. O'Dwyer shrimataji.org

Haunted by the horror of Jallianwala Bagh mass murder, as he himself saw  the gory incident in Amritsar,   the scar engraved  deep in his mind never healed. Pursuant to a vow he had taken many years  ago to eliminate Michael O' Dwyer, who signed the orders of mass killing, he kept  vigilante justice alive.    Udham Singh  could not target Gen. Dyer who died in 1927 without undergoing any punishment. Now, he focused his full energy on  Gen. Michael O' Dwyer who was roughly 75 years old, spending his retirement life with his family.  As the wise-saying goes, ''courageous man is never scared of the gallows'', taking inspiration from patriot Bhagat Singh   on March 13, 1940, he got a chance to take on Dwyer.

On that day the retired colonial  was scheduled to  attend a joint meeting of the East India Association and the Royal Central Asian Society at Caxton Hall.  As proceedings had just come to an end, Udham Singh  who already got into the hall with a concealed  pistol,  went close to O 'Dwyer and whipped out the weapon. In a jiff,  shots rang out on the  O' Dwyer  who fell  dead on the floor. The trial took place in England and Udham Singh was sentenced to death by hanging. Like many martyrs, he glorified his killing of O' Dwyer and  said,  ''I did it because I had a grudge against him. He deserved it. He was the real culprit. He wanted to crush the spirit of my people, so I have crushed him. For full 21 years, I have been trying to seek vengeance. I am happy that I have done the job. I am not scared of death. I am dying for my country. I have seen my people starving in India under the British rule. I have protested against this, it was my duty. What greater honor could be bestowed on me than death for the sake of my motherland?''

Jalianwala Bagh massacre, Amritsar. executedtoday.com

Though countless Indians never approve of such bizarre assassination of a govt. servant,  the frustration with the British government  was quite  visible for several reasons, one being  the mass-killing at Jallianwala Bagh and subsequent atrocities committed by O' Dwyer and his military commander Dyer.  Already unhappy over Britain's  betrayal of  freedom after Indian troops' participation in WWI (India had nothing to do with  the world war waged in the European theater)  the tragedy in Punjab,  and the insults hurled at the Punjabis by Gen. Dyer caused much resentment and anger  among the natives. Gen. Dyer, quit furious over the assault on  Ms. Marcella Sherwood,  a British missionary during the early rioting, placed the pickets  either end of the street where the assault took place.  Person  wishing to enter the  street between 6am and 8pm,  had  to crawl  about 200 yards (180 m) on a fours  like a 4-footed animal, lying flat on their bellies.  The order that was in force for   six days from 19th April till 25th April caused hardship to innocent people living in the street, in particular, elderly Indians who could not get out of home to go to shops, etc., without crawling. Gen. Dyer was never reprimanded by his boss, the Lt. Governor  Dwyer. for this kind of disparaging act against the Indians. Yet another lurking question is: Why did the Indian soldiers under Dyer's command  never  refuse to obey his orders to shoot at the peaceful crowd in  the bagh?. The moot question remains a mystery!!

Pandit  Jawaharlal Nehru,  freedom fighter and first PM of Independent India   publicly  praised Shaheed  Udham Singh  and his supreme sacrifice  during the freedom movement. Never afraid,  Singh  kissed the noose on the gallows before execution  so that in the later years we  could breathe fresh air of freedom  and  be free for ever..”  Udham Singh went on a 42-day hunger strike  and, at last, in July same year at Penton Ville Prison  he was put to death.  The British did not allow proper cremation and he was  buried on the prison premises. In 1974, Udham Singh’s remains were exhumed and repatriated to India.  His cremation took place at his birthplace of Sunam in Punjab and his ashes were scattered in Sutlej river.  At the Jallianwla Bagh, Amritsar   part of his ashes was  kept in a sealed urn. At this prison in north London, yet another Indian patriot and revolutionary  was executed in 1909 for his role in the freedom movement in India. He was Madanlal Dhingra,






Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Gov. Michael O' Dwyer of Punjab was the main conspirator of Jallianwala Bagh massacre!!

Lt. Gov. of Punjab, British India Sir Michael O’Dwyer timesofindia.indiatimes.com

If  we  turn  the faded  pages of the  history of  India's freedom struggle against the British colonial rule,   and go through  several painful and horrible events, we will be dismayed and perturbed by their wickedness and inhumanity.  Such  unhappy and deplorable incidents  will never  get off  our mind because they were committed or instigated by the colonial rulers with impunity, not to speak of their glee in open discrimination. The short lived Vellore  rebellion (10 July 1806) of north Tamil Nadu, the great rebellion of 1857-58 waged mostly in the northern states, the worst Bengal famine of 1943 and  the callous attitude of Britain's famous India-baiter and  conservative politician  PM Sir Winston Churchill who wantonly diverted the Australian ships laden with food grains anchored at Calcutta harbor  to Europe when million of Bengalis  were starving to death during that period,  are a few indelible incidents that have become important chapters in Indian history.  

the site of massacre, April, 1919, Jallianwala Bagh, Amtitsar.bookedforlife.in

Besides these past horrors and other unpalatable incidents, the one that got the immediate attention of the western world and accelerated the Indian freedom struggle by the nationalists  is the horrendous  massacre of innocent  and unarmed people on 13 April 1919 at Jalianwala Bagh in the city of Amritsar of Punjab. The victims included  countless Indian women and children. The official British figures of casualties  were  379  deaths  and over 1,200 injured. The unofficial figures ran into more than 1000 deaths  and  a few thousands seriously injured.  The above-mentioned sad  incidents and others showcase the appalling colonial atrocities during their misrule in India  that have been etched on the minds of generations of Indians forever. The unfortunate fact is, as of today, neither the  successive British  administration nor the status-minded British royal family members have made any official apology to the Indian people  for their past  misdeed and unjust rule. Though several British officials visited the site in Punjab where the innocent people  were martyred, there has been no sign of any reparation on their part. Indian natives believe in acts of forgiveness, and a  simple sorry from the British government will boost their magnanimity and make them stand apart among the past colonial powers, but, it is not forthcoming from the former British masers!!

Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer of British India, en.wikipedia.com

Above image:  Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, (born October 9, 1864, Murree, India - died July 23, 1927, Long Ashton, near Bristol, England), British general remembered for his  sickening role in the Massacre of Amritsar in India, in 1919.  Commissioned in the West Surrey Regiment in 1885 and subsequently transferred to the Indian Army, he campaigned in Burma (Myanmar) in 1886–87 and took part in a blockade of Waziristan (now in Pakistan) in 1901–02. During World War I (1914–18) he  was in charge of the Eastern Persian cordon, the  main aim of his posting was to prevent German crossings into Afghanistan. He was brigade commander at Jalandhar in Punjab where there were many riots and protests against   oppressive British rule...................................

The British military officer who carried out the most gruesome massacre in April 1919 was General Reginald Dyer. Well planned before the incident, he had the gates of the bagh,  a huge garden in the town of Amritsar, closed except one gate. He had positioned the troops with high-power guns near the gate had them   shot at  the fleeing crowd  through the gate. The shooting by the troops continued until the ammunition  supply ran out and it is said 1650  rounds  had been fired on the delirious crowd over a short period of just 10 minutes.  Unattended by any medical aid or ambulance services,  countless  people got  severely injured  and  Gen. Dyer had the victims  bleed to face painful death.

Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab state, Indiamaps-india.com

Though the  Indian media and nationalists held the view that Gen, Reginald Dyer was the prime conspirator who perpetrated the mass killing of innocent Indians  without any prior warning, the general consensus among the historians has been that  the then Punjab lieutenant governor Sir Michael O' Dwyer, an Irish man   was the real culprit and not  General Dyer,

The Amritsar massacre took place during  O 'Dwyer's tenure as Punjab's Lieutenant Governor  as  a result, of his irresponsible action, a  recorded factor that made the freedom struggle move on the fast track. The governor went to the extent of backing Reginald Dyer's action, openly airing the view that  Dyer's ''orders'' to shoot at the crowds was correct. In the grip of protests across India against the Rowlett act, the governor promulgated martial law in Punjab  on 15 April, but backdated it to 30 March 1919.  It was at 3 am, the following day (14, April) Dwyer was informed of the event . After receiving  Gen. Dyer's initial report,  Gov. O' Dwyer gave permission to General Beynon to send a telegram to Dyer which stated "your action correct and the lieutenant-governor approves". The governor said the firing was done to create ''a moral effect. ....from a military point of  view''. Gov. O 'Dwyer  on  21 April 1919, stated to the Viceroy  Chelmsford  in support of Gen. Dyer "the Amritsar business cleared the air, and if there was to be holocaust anywhere, and one regrets that there should be, it was best at Amritsar."  

According to historian Khullar  it points to a ''nexus between Sir Michael and General Dyer.'' and he also further mentioned apparently meaning to avoid backlashes and angry reactions by the natives,  the news about the massacre was not allowed by the administration to spread to other parts of the country for several months. This implies that   there was the censorship of the media and  the media people were gaged anticipating impending mass riots across India  over Amritsar massacre.   After the worst tragic incident at Amritsar, Gen Dyer was involved in some unsavory acts and the Governor turned a blind eye to him.  At last,  O' Dwyer was relieved of his office, and later, the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, was highly critical of O' Dwyer's severity  in matters related to ''communal''  and his irresponsible action in Amritsar.  'Dwyer responded by saying  that "what comes of having that Jew in Whitehall", referring to Montagu.  Heard before Justice McCardie in the Court of King’s Bench in London over five weeks, the case O Dwyer vs Sankaran Nair in  April 1924,(one of the longest civil law hearings in legal history) O' Dwyer saw the trial as  an opportunity to  give full support to Gen, Dyer's so-called  duty-bound action  on the gatherings at the Jallianwala Bagh.

Though both Gen. Dyer and Gov. O' Dwyer carried the sigma of Jallinwala bagh massacre,  the people's rage was more on the governor than on the military officer who simply acted on the strength of the Governor's official orders. Indians', in particular,  Punjabis' fury was confirmed by the fact that Michael O' Dwyer, then 75  was  shot dead in Caxton Hall in Westminster, London, on 13 March 1940, by an 

Shaeed Udham Singh, assassin of O' Dwyer. twitter.com

Daily Herald  about O"Dwyer's assassination in Britaint twitter.com/

 angry Indian  activist, Udham Singh. His vigilante action  was in retaliation for the massacre (April 1919) in Amritsar, Punjab. Sir Michael's  assassination  exposes the irresponsibility of his administration in Punjab and the  large-scale mobilization of Punjab men to fight in World War I and, at the same time, keeping the coffers full for the wartime efforts with tax Indian money.  The imposition of martial laws, his vital role in the passing of  the 1915 Defense of India Act (18 March, 1915) that gave  him special powers.to form  special tribunals to deal with crimes related to revolution  without possibilities for appeal and other pitfalls in his administration brought out his  sordid and seedy role in the bagh massacre 

O' Dwyer was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Punjab in December 1912  when  Lord Hardinge of Penshurst' was the Viceroy and Dwyer  was already cautioned in 1913 by the Viceroy about the volatile situation prevailing in Punjab. Irish by birth, O' Dwyer was an effective ICS officer  and was bestowed with a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Indian Empire as he was instrumental in choosing  Indian recruits for the ''War''  (WWI) efforts  from the whole of India,  360,000 men from Punjab (more than half.) In 1917.  Earlier, in May 1913, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India.. 

Why was the governor edgy? What made him choose shooting orders on the  large gathering of innocent people (many of them were from the near-by villages) celebrating the important Indian festival of Baisakhi in the bagh?  In fact, most of them were unaware of the 144 curfew clamped on the town.  In his book India as I knew it (1925), O' Dwyer disclosed that his time as administrator in Punjab was preoccupied by the threat of terrorism and spread of political agitation In his later years when  he wrote frequently to The Times,  he expressed his condemnation of the Gandhian non-cooperation movement (Satyagraha)  and without any reservation, like a conservative British politician, openly endorsing British rule in India. Gen, O' Dwyer never cherished the idea of Indian natives getting freedom from the British and he never wanted them to breathe  the fresh air of democratic freedom from the British shackles, because the wily Bobs in London never wanted to lose the Cash-cow that they had milked for more than 200 years since Robert Clive and his cronies of the East India company  illegally seized the rich and big Bengal province. 







Friday, 20 November 2020

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Gujarat - why does this royal residence stand apart?

Vijay Vilas palace, Mandvi, Gujarat, India dreamstime.com

Vijay Vilas palace, Mandvi, Gujarat.  lattice windowsdreamstime.com

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Kutch, Gujarat. breakingnews.trave

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Kutch ffo.gov.in

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Kutch trell.co

Mandvi town, Gujarat  offers a blend of age-old  skill of hand-crafted ''ship-building'' tradition, culture native to Gujarat and a long stretch of fine, pristine  beaches. This town is famous for 400 year old ship-building industry famous for ocean-going wooden ships. This place had maritime trade with west Asia and  African countries like Zanzibar, etc. Yet another interesting holiday spot is Vijay Vilas palace which is about 7 km from the town .  The palace is worth a  visit where it houses a small museum and  offers a vista of vast sheet of sea (the Arabian sea) in front of it. The visitors  to the beach resort can experience  the cool late afternoon breeze from the sea shores. 

Location map. Mandvi, Kutch, Gujarat state, India.mapsofindia.com 

Vijay Vilas palace, Mandvi, Gujarat. shutterstock.com

A fascinating  example of  a blend of Rajput style and  certain architectural features of other styles, the Vijay Vilas Palace at Mandvi, Gujarat  with intricate details in many parts of the structure is made of best quality red sandstone.  Its  impressive designs ingeniously implemented by the highly talented  craftsmen  from Rajasthan and other parts of India   make the grand structure stand apart among the Indian royal residences.  Local Kutchi artisan community, the Mistris of Kutch and Suthars did play a role in the building of this impressive monument.  It was .built in 1929 by  King Khengarji III for his son and legal heir  Rao Vijairaji  who died in 1948. On the palace premises, there is a beautiful ornate chhatri  dedicated in memory of the last ruler Vijairaji. 

Vijay Vilas Palace Mandvi, Gujarat blogs.gonomad.com

interior part Vijay Vilas palace, Mandvi, Kutch, GujaratAlamy.com

Vijay Vilas palace, Mandvi, Gujarat. Chhabra pinterest.com

Designed   on the model of palaces of Orchha and Datia,  the interesting and distinctive features  of  Vijay Vilas palace  are  its location close to the sea shore, private access to the near-by beach, beautiful big domes and pillars,  lattice windows, stained glass windows, domed bastions at the corners, extended porch, Jharokas, Chhatris, etc. They were well- planed and correctly incorporated with meticulous care as to enhance the beauty of this royal residence. The palace  is an fine model of broad-based mix of cultures, an unique fusion of depictions; a  blend of umbrella shaped domes as seen in palaces of Bengal, cupolas  of Mogul style,  cenotaphs, jharokhas of  Rajput architecture and columns and arches signifying the Victorian Gothic style.

A part of the palace functions as a museum and the descendants are living in the other part  of this palatial palace.  To accommodate the visitors to this palace, a site close to the palace, is set apart for this purpose. Built in the middle of a lush green well-planed garden with water channels and marble fountains, lots of visitors come here to enjoy the impressive architecture and the  near-by serene surrounding. No doubt, the builder took nine long years from 1920 to 1929 to complete the construction work as many features incorporated in the building needed time-consuming planning and proper incorporation of embellished features. 

Vijay Vilas paace, Mandvi, Kutch, Gujarat. ffo.gov.in

The distinguishing features of this palace are its its stunning architecture, location close to the sea front  in a serene environment and  a two kilometer of private beach . The place is  nestled  in a land covering  450 acres of lush greenery  along with  its own personal sanctuary that protects the environment from possible degradation in the feature. The former Maharajah was so rich the first Mercedes Benz  rode on the streets here. The sheer grandeur of this well-embellished palace is just breath-taking


Thursday, 19 November 2020

Interesting Bhor Rajwada, Bhor, Maharashtra - a simple, but elegant monument of Maratha period

Inner courtyard, Bhor palace, Bhor, Maharashtra. theuntourists.com

Bhor palace, Maharashtra fine  wooden images, etc in the pillar brackets.theuntourists.com

Bhor State was one of the 9-gun salute Maratha princely states of British India. It was the only state belonging to the Poona Agency under the Bombay Presidency, which became later part of the Deccan States Agency. Along with Akkalkot State, Aundh State, Phaltan State and Jath State, it was one of the Satara Jagirs. It became part of the Indian union in March, 1948 after independence. 

1909 Imperial Gazetteer of India Bombay Presidency II map section/ en.wikipedia.org, 

Bhor Rajwada also known as Bhor Palace) is a historical palace at Bhor in the Maharashtra state of India.  An  official royal  residence  of the Rajas of the Princely State of Bho, it was founded by Shangarji Narayan Gandekar (Desashta Rigvedi  Marathi Brahmin), pantsachiv one of the hereditary ministers appointed by  Chatrapati Rajaram (in 1697. This amazing palace  was built blending native Indian and European Renaissance Architectural styles. Gothic influence is well pronounced. Its builder was ruler  Chimnajirao, the ninth ruler of Bhor ( the third ruler happened to be the 2nd son of renowned  first ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji).  It is said the then construction cost was around  INR 2 lakh in 1869, a big sum in that period.  During the colonial rule, Bhor State was one of the 9-gun salute Maratha princely states of British India apparently taken over by the wily British invoking the Doctrine of Lapse.  Surprisingly, it was the only state under the  Poona Agency of the Bombay Presidency. Subsequently, it became part of the  Deccan States Agency. The town Bhor is about 51 km from the Pune Metro.  Located in the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, this small Maratha state covered an area of 2,396 square kilometers and was one of the Satara Jagirs.

Bhor palace, Bhor, Maharashtra, details on pillar baseuntourists.com

Inside one of the rooms in the  Bhor  palace.grille/mesh on the window, untourists.com

The last palace, now known as Old Palace or the Wooden Palace, was  turned into ashes in 1869 due to an unexpected fire mishap  during the Ram Navami festival.  Undeterred, Raja Chimnaji Raghunathrao had a new,  spacious and strong palace rebuilt  on the site of the Old Palace. Cloe to the Bhatgar Dam, the Rajwada of Bhor is a simple, but beautiful palace with large imposing pillars in its courtyard. There are inner and outer courtyards; square in shape, the rooms in the inner courtyard  align uniformly in square plan and it is assumed, it is the living quarters of the royal family. On the other hand, the outer larger courtyard area was mainly used for   darbars - meeting the common citizens by the ruler along with his ministers. The ruler would get  to know the grievances of the common people, their social issues, lack of public amenities,  pitfalls in his administration  administration and other problems that needed the attention of his administration. There are old offices around the palace  and presently some  government departments function there.   Near-by are located a  bathing ghat on the river bank and a  few old Hindu temples.  The wada was studied in 1930's by Prof. Claude Batley, 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhor_Rajwadaipal of Sir J. J. Coll