Thursday, 5 August 2021

King Edward Hall of Indore, MP that was renamed after Mahatma Gandhi

Rai Perveen Mahal, Orchha, MP - a palace for king's paramour?

Raj Parveen Mahal, Orchha.

Praveen-Mahal, Orchha fort, Orchha, MP.

praveen-mahal, Orchha fort, Orchha, MP.,

The Indian Maharajahs and Nawabs had  an uncontrollable  urge for  romance with opulence and expensive jewelry; their obsession was irresistible.   Apart,  some of them had a liking for young women and a  harem  on the palace or close to it. In the 19th century and earlier period  in the Indian subcontinent it had been  an acceptable custom for a ruler, in particular, Muslim king to have concubines on the sides and a harem is part of the royal residence. Further, it was a social status for a ruler to  seek the company of  courtesans. Harem  was where the courtesans or dancing girls used to stay  with women helpers /maids  Very few Indian rulers,  for some reasons, developed intimacy with  a woman  or a paramour outside royalty. Their romantic involvement with her was so deep some rulers would  honor her by building a memorial, an expression of their deep  and eternal love and affection.  The  Rai Praveen Mahal within the Orchha fort complex, Madhya Pradesh was built by a Rajput ruler in memory of his  concubine. 

The Rai Praveen Mahal, a protected monument and  one of the famous architectural  wonders of Orchha town  in Tikamgarh district,  stands as an epitome of wisdom, beauty and artistic talent of  a sedative courtesan  Rai Praveen in the court of King Indrajit, a Bundela Rajput ruler.  She was a good singer and a fine poetess. The  ruler built the Mahal, a three-story structure  in  1618  in the midst of  sprawling lawns of the  Anand Mandal bagh. North of Jahangir Mahal, it is at a lower level so that  the building is equal in height to the trees growing around it.

Grandeur in style, it used to be an entertainment place and on the ground floor near the entrance, there is a big  assembly  hall meant for royal gatherings. Dance performances by the courtesans were held here right before the dignitaries. The rooms  with lattice windows and fine decorations on the upper level were for the women of the royal family to view events and for aeration.  There are also other apartments  on the floors of Raj Praveen Mahal. The structure is made of sandstones and bricks and  the royal bath  called Hamam lies between Jahangir Mahal and this building.  There are many niches in the chambers and they keep the interior places cool and airy.  The  interior walls of the second floor in the central hall  have many life-size paintings  highlighting  various dance postures (Nattya mudras) and moods of  Rai Praveen  

The tradition has  it  since inception, the various flowering plants, shrubs, etc.,  have been periodically cut, pruned and  artistically shaped into various forms. The tradition continues even to day. The palace  is not visible upon entry into the complex as you have to  access it  from  the back of Jahangir Mahal downward  through a flight of steps  and through camel stables. 

Rai Praveen's bewitching beauty, her artistry - singing, dancing and poetic talents, and above all  her popularity and fame became a topic in that small village and her fame, over a period, reached  far and wide and Delhi was no exception, The Mogul ruler,  Akbar, upon hearing her stunning look and corresponding artistic talents, fell in love with her and  summoned her  to Agra  without grace  to his court / durbar.  His approach was a bit aggressive,  however  when the Mogul ruler heard from her about her loyalty to Maharajah Indrajit, being a just ruler,  he respected her  stand and commitment and later  sent her back with dignity.  Undeterred,  Rai   carefully composed a couplet before Akbar in his court  and in a subtle manner expressed her royalty to king Indrajit. This  bold and frank  expression immediately changed  Mogul ruler's   heart and mind.  Rai never compromised her principles and his loyalty to ruler Indrjit at any cost. This  won her more admirers and followers. No doubt,  she was known as the "Nightingale of Orchha".

Sri Yoga Rama temple, Nedungunam, T.N - deity in sitting posture without bow and arrow!!

Yoga Rama temple, Nedungunam, TN.

Located in a small village of Nedungunam (Tiruvannamalai district) 25 km from Vanthavasi town and 100 plus km from Chennai  is a unique and old Hindu temple dedicated to Sri Vishnu. The presiding deity is Yoga Rama.  Sudarsana Azhwar was a great devotee of this temple.

Yoga Rama temple, Nedungunam, TN

.Yoga Rama temple, Nedungunam, TN

The distinctive features 
of this temple are:

01. This is a big Ramar  temple and there is no other Sri Rama temple in Tamil Nadu bigger than this one. 

02. It is  also a rare Sri Rama temple where the lord in the garbagriha  is enshrined in a sitting posture.  In most temples Sri Rama is seen in a standing posture  with his bow and arrow.

03. Not bearing bow and arrow, the lord looks calm and composed as if  He  is teaching Vedas. His right hand  is on the chest.

04. This form of Sri Rama in the sanctum is rare across India.

06. Unlike Sri Rama, his brother, Sri Lakshmana bears the weapons - bow and arrow. 

07. The idol of Sri Hanuman is also in the sanctum reverentially  sitting before the lord,  chanting the Vedas from the palm-leaf scriptures;  The lord and others listen to the recital  with rapt attention. In most  Sri Rama temples, Sri Hanuman  is found outside the sanctum. In some temples there is a  separate shrine for Sri Hanuman within the temple complex. 

08. The sitting form of Sri Rama in a meditative state creates a positive energy in the temple and devotees throng the temple to have peace of mind  and success in their endeavors. 

09. Lord Rama's idol was consecrated by sage (Rishi) Sri Krishna Premi.

 yoga Rama temple, Nedungunam,

Main towerYoga Rama temple, Nedungunam,TN

Yoga Rama temple,

Above image: Entrance to the sanctum /garbagriham of Yoga Rama temple, Nudungunam. The sentinels - dwarabalas are  on either side. All Hindu temples  Sri Vishnu, Sri Shiva temples, etc have sentinels  at the entrance of sanctum; they are supposed to guard the God's chamber.

Nedungunam, T.V. malai didt.

Roughly 1200 years old, this temple  was built by the great Vijayanagara ruler Sri Krishnadeva Raya. The  moolava idols in the sanctum are Sri Rama, Sri Sita  and sri Lakshmana. The processional deity (Utchavar) is Vijayarajan. The goddess's name is Sengamalavalli. In the sanctum goddess  Sita's  right hand  holds the lotus implying prosperity and wisdom,  and the left hand  pointing to Sri Rama's feet assuring the devotees that the lord will safeguard their destiny and protect them.  

The reason for the absence of bow and arrow in the Rama's image is the lord was on his return from Lanka after having won the war against demon king Ravenna and releasing Sita who was a hostage there. The lord  was at peace  with himself as goddess rejoined him and his 14 year long exile  from Ayodhya was nearing.  

What made Rama read the Vedas here?  Here the lord met Sukabrahamma Rishi who was in penance on the near-by hill. Pleased with the visit of Rama, the sage gave him the scriptures on Veda. Soon Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and also Hanuman (in padmasana posture) began to read the Vedas.  The sthala purana says that Sri Hanuman learnt Muktikopanishad from the learned sage. 

Among the major temple festivals, the most important ones are:  10 day Panguni ( March- April-) Brahostsavam, Sri Rama Navami (7th day chariot / car festival; Indiravimana festival 10th day is a great event). This temple is about 40 km from Thiruvannamalai town 

Statue of Dupleix, Puducherry, S. India - a legacy of French rule in India

Pondicherry, India Dupleix' statue

Above image:  Measuring 2.88 meters in height, the Statue of Dupleix lies strategically in Goubert Avenue (Beach Road).  This statue of Dupleix  commissioned in the year 1870, is a French legacy in this part of India and stands as a symbol of the imperial French colonial rule in Pondicherry.

 Statue of Joseph Francois Dupleix Puducherry Beach, India.

Above image: Bronze statue of French Gov. Gen. Dupleix, Pondicherry (Puducherry) on the sea shore (sept. 2019).........

Joseph François Dupleix (23 January 1697 – 10 November1763) , a man of commanding stature  was  the colonial administrator and governor-general of the French territories in India and rival of Robert Clive.  Since the 1720s the colonial rivalry between Britain and France  had been growing in intensity an time went by and there was no force to stop them  India was no exception to it. .Under his command the French East India company gave a stiff competition to the EIC operations in Madras and also in Bengal. Widely traveled, he made several voyages to the Americas and India and in 1720 was named a member of the superior council at Bengal and he got the job through his father.  His wife was one  Jeanne Albert, widow of one of the councilors of the company. and was quite well known among the natives as Joanna Begum.  Using his business acumen on his own,  he made many business ventures on the sides  and acquired a big fortune. He was the one who turned the succession disputes among the  Indian rulers to his advantage and pushed the French influence to the fore.  After 11 years he was appointed as the Gov. Genera.  On 7 September 1746, with the help of a French fleet, Dupleix  seized Madras (now Chennai) . The fortifications of Madras were not strong enough to withstand the continuous  French bombardment. 

Gov. Gen. of French India Joseph Francois Dupleix,

Battle of  Madras, India.  1746 French Vs English

renovation of Gov. Gen. Dupleix statue, Pondicherry,

 On 9 September the Governor of Madras, Nicholas Morse opted for peace and the French had 
to take over the fort and warehouses and not the town. However,  Dupleix  who took over the command did not agree with  the peace term and locked up  the British soldiers in the garrison. One of the prisoners happened to be Robert Clive. he and a few dressed up like natives managed to give a slip and escape from the prison to reach Ft. David, more than 100 miles away;  a three-day journey, made mostly by night, they reached Fort St David carrying news of the disastrous French attack on Madras. EIC"s young Clerk Clive's escape to safety was a big news to Britain . The French  failed to capture the neighboring British fort of St. David. Dupleix  refused to hand over Madras to the Nawab of Arcot, but subsequently he wholeheartedly supported Chand sahib in the succession dispute with  Muhd.  Wallajah who was backed by the British.  After the defeat of Arcot siege in 1751 the French   influence declined and in  1754 Dupleix was recalled to Paris, 

He was unsuccessful in recovering the money  that he had spent  from his account in India  from  the French East India Company.   Discredited in France  he was pushed to a precarious position and died in despair and  obscurity. Dupleix was a good administrator and a diplomat, but with respect to military operations,  he lacked  leadership military strategies and  the ability to work with others.      

The beautiful iconic statue of Joseph Francois Dupleix, who was the last Governor of French Pondicherry, is being given a facelift after 145 years. The restoration work has been taken up by the Public Works Department (PWD). Continuous exposure to  saline air had an impact on the bronze statue,  loss of shine and dull look grabbed the attention of the passers-by. The iron poles were corroded and the pedestal became weak. .The highly oxidized statue  need proper restoration  as it was treated with chemicals to remove the flakes.  A coat of paint would mar its originality.  The  continuous exposure to saline air , considering its proximity to the sea is a big problem and needs further attention. A children's park was planned on the promenade and around the statue there was a proposal to install 24 powerful lamps in the part  for better view at night. 

)Dupleix on Banque de l'Indochine

Erected in memory of Dupleix who was the Governor from 1742 to 1754. the statue was shipped from France to Puducherry in 1869 to be erected at Gandhi Thidal, where the statue of Jawaharlal Nehru stands now. It was later shifted to its present location near the Park Guest House.

Rust free Iron Pillar of the 4th century, Delhi - the riddle is not yet fully solved!!

Delhi Iron Pillar.

Qutb Minar and rust free Iron Pillar Delhi.

Weighing 6.3 tons  the 23.08 feet tall  black Iron  Pillar  with a diameter  of  17 inches in the base and 12 inches  at the crest  in the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque  complex, Delhi  attracts  lots of tourists and also metallurgists /scientists from many parts.  From the look it may pass off as an ordinary pillar of the past era. It it were an ordinary iron pillar, probably long long ago it would have turned into a pile yellow dust.  What is special about this tall  vertically tapering iron pillar?  It was forged in the 4th century with neither  special  protective paint over it nor any cover on it, but  has not rusted  in the last  1700 plus years. The crux of the question is how  come it has withstood continuously the vagaries of weather  for such a long period  with no semblance of rusting so far? The scientists are at their wit's end  and at a loss to come up with a possible explanation regarding its chemical combination that resists rusting and corrosion.

As section of Delhi's Iron Pillar at the

Inscriptions on the iron pillar, Mehrauli,Delhi.

Qutb minar and rust free Iron Pillar

The pillar with roughly 3 feet and 8 inches at the base of the column is below the ground. To give extra  stability to the heavy  iron pillar, the base is set on a grid of a series of iron bars soldered into the upper layer of the stoned pavement. For centuries  studied in depth by the experts in metals, this iron pillar is "a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths" of  by-gone era because of its  high resistance to corrosion.  An even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the high phosphorus content,  serves to protect it from the effects of the local Delhi climate - extremely hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. Such extreme climatic conditions do impact the stuff made of iron and causes rusting. That it does not promote rusting  over several centuries  is a matter of great surprise and has been an unsolved riddle since 1900s. 

Delhi Iron Pillar.

iron pillar, Mehrauli,Delhi.

The Iron Pillar, in the midst of  Delhi’s most famous monuments, the Qutb Minar, dates back to AD 402 and  since the early part of the 20th century has got the attention of the metallurgists for its rust-proof properties

 There is a  sort of some decorative feature at the top  of the pillar, where a statue of Lord Garuda, or the ‘Sun Bird’, might have been set. According to historians this kind of  feature was  common to many such pillars of the time. The composition of the iron pillar is a subject of  discussion and debate among the scientists. Some postulate  the reason for the continuous resistance  to corrosion  is due to the fact   that the Iron Pillar has a high content of phosphorus and total absence  of Sulphur or magnesium.  This is the reason why the iron  pillar has not rusted even after 1700 years. Yet another positive aspect is this pillar was made to resist  humidity to a greater  extend -  ''about 70 percent, which is appropriate as the climate in Delhi, despite experiencing four seasons in a year, does not ever exceed that limit.” 

The pillar which is made of – 98 percent wrought iron  is listed under the Out-of-Place Artefacts (OOPArts) – a term applied to prehistoric objects from around the world that show technological advancement beyond the time when they were built.  In 2003, experts at the Indian Institute of Technology  came up with an explanation to address the mystery of the pillar’s resistance to rust. They attributed the pillar’s resistance to rust to a thin layer of misawite, a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen.

$th century Iron Pillar,

R. Balasubramaniam of the IIT, Kanpur explains how the pillar's resistance to corrosion is due to passive protective film at the iron-rust interface. The presence of second-phase particles (slag and un-reduced iron oxides) in the micro structure of  iron,  high amounts of phosphorus in the metal, and the alternating  wetting and drying  cycles of  atmospheric conditions are the three main factors in the  formation of that protective passive film over the pillar.

 The pillar was installed in its current location by Vigraha Rāja, the ruling Tomar king. The pillar is thought to have originally been erected in what is now Udayagiri by one of the Gupta rulers. The suggested age of 402 CE is  still a matter of serious discussion. This rust free iron pillar at Mehrauli near Qtub complex continues to baffle the scientific community and the common man. 

It was only in the second half of the 19th century the iron pillar drew the attention of the some inquisitive people. One  British soldier  Captain Archer talked about an inscription of unknown antiquity on the pillar, which nobody could read. Later James Prinsep, a British archaeologist studied the inscription in 1838 and translated it into English in the journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. According to the inscription a ruler named Chandra,  had conquered the Vangas and Vahlikas. Historians believe reference is made Samudragupta, the real founder of the Gupta Empire in (375–414 AD).

Iron Pillar, Delhi.

 Delhi's  cast Iron Pillar is  a  fine example of massive production of superior quality  iron and it confirms the fact that the Indian steel makers of past era had a good technical know-how and high degree of   accomplishment in the area of hand-forged block of iron. The one at Delhi is the largest forged hand made one, perhaps in the world. 


On the Corrosion Resistance of the Delhi Iron Pillar, R. Balasubramaniam, Corrosion Science, Volume 42 (2000) pp. 2103–2129. "Corrosion Science" is a publication specialized in corrosion science and engineering.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

British-Era Dufferin (Malaviya bridge), Varanasi (1887) should be strengthened and preserved

Dufferin /Malaviya bridge, Varanasi,UP.

134 year old Dufferin Bridge, Varanasi, UP.

Double train track. Dufferin/Malaviya bridge, Varanasi,UP

Dufferin Bridge, now called Malaviya bridge

Malaviya  (Dufferin) Bridge, introduced in 1887, is a double decker  sturdy iron structure  over the Ganges at Varanasi with  rail tracks on lower deck and  a  wide road on the upper deck; besides, it  has  footpaths on either side of the bridge.  It is one of the significant bridges connecting   the Grand Trunk (GT) Road over the river. It has 7 ranges of 350 ft and 9 ranges of 110 ft and it was the primary extension of its sort developed in the Indian sub-mainland by the designers of Awadh and Rohilkhand Railway. It is built connecting the already built lines from Benares and Lucknow to the Eastern railway; 4th bridge built by the same company. The allowed stain work on the bridge is 6.5 ton per sq. inch in the bottom booms and diagonals and 6 ton in the upper booms and 5 tons in the verticals.  Built on 16th Dec 1887 to commemorate the viceroyalty of  the Viceroy the Earl of  Dufferin. The project was  approved in 1879 by the state govt..

Dufferin /Malaviya bridge, Varanasi,UP.

Lord Dufferin

Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava KP GCB GCSI GCMG GCIE PC (21 June 1826 – 12 February 1902) was a British public servant and prominent member of Victorian society ..............................

To rule with any success, Dufferin would need to gain the support of both communities. By all accounts he was highly successful in this regard, and gained substantial support from all communities in India. He advanced the cause of the Indian Nationalists greatly during his term, without antagonizing the conservative whites. Among other things, the Indian National Congress was founded during his term in 1885, and he laid the foundations for the modern Indian Army by establishing the Imperial Service Corps, officered by Indians. Work began in  1881 and formally opened in 1887 for traffic. 

 Dufferin bridge,varanasi,

Dufferin (Malayiya) bridge, Varanasi,

Above image: The 134 year old  iron bridge with two decks- upper deck for the vehicles and the lower deck for the trains, built by the Awadh and Rohilkhand Railway. After India's freedom the bridge was renamed after  Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University.....................

office of the Awadh Rohilkhand Railway,

Logo of Oudh & Rohilkhand Railway

Above image:  Formed around 1872 by taking over the interests of the ‘Indian Branch Railway’. ‘Awadh Rohilkhand Railway (O&RR) operated under a Government of India  guarantee, was acquired by the State on 1 Jan 1889. BG mileage in 1905:1165 miles. Main lines included  Benares (Varanasi) to Saharanpur and Allahabad to Fyzabad (1905). In 1925, the O&RR was merged into the ‘East Indian Railway’(EIR) when the latter  fell into the control of the state government. The Oudh (Awadh) and Rohilkhand Railway Company built their workshops in Lucknow in 1865 and eventually became one of the top sites engaged in overhaul, repair and restoration of carriages and wagons. .....................

Location. Varanasi city, UP>

The  specialist accountable for development of the Dufferin Bridge was Frederick Thomas Granville Walton, who ultimately became  the Engineer in Chief of the Awadh and Rohilkhand Railway organization. The extension was renamed as the Malviya Bridge in 1948 after Madan Mohan Malaviya. As the extension is close Rajghat, it is likewise privately known as Rajghat connect. Malaviya Bridge is between Kashi, Varanasi and Mughal Sarai stations; the extension is given the name Kashi Bridge, after the  near-by  city, however, is  otherwise called ''Varanasi''.. Dufferin Bridge's opening service was postponed as a result of floods. In 2016 engineers from the Northern Railway studied the safety of the old bridge and found it to be in good nick. However, the trains had to limit the sped to 30 km on the bridge.. Threat to the bridge was further reduced with the ban on the movement of heavy vehicles on the upper deck. The bridge had completed its life in 1997 and since the periodic check on the safety has to be done. The heavy vehicle movements continued despite the ban and it damaged the expansion joints on the upper deck. In 2007 and 2008 it was repaired and the heavy vehicle traffic is very much limited with the installation of heavy weight gauges.

A new bridge has been announced over the Ganga in Varanasi. The old one, they say, is close to collapse, and needs an overhaul or rest. Last year, a report mentioned that the bridge  was  in critical condition. In 2016, it had seen the infamous stampede that resulted in the death of some 20 people. With respect to Dufferin bridge, it must be strengthened at any cost and should not be abandoned after the construction of a modern bridge across the Ganges. It should be preserved for the posterity.

Mothari, Bihar railway station and Gandhi - the station building was pulled down!!.

Motihari railway station, Bihar.

Above image: The original Motihari railway junction (where Gandhi embarked on his arrival in Champaran) to join the protest against forced  Indigo cultivation by the British......... 

It was at Motihari railway station in Bihar's East Champaran   on the afternoon  - around 3 pm of April 15, 1917 in Bihar’s East Champaran,  Gandhiji got off  from the train coming from Nuzaffur  with a firm determination  not to leave that  place unless hia mission  was successfully completed. - lifting the poor farmers from abject povery and misery and to give a direction and a sense of purpose.   A big crowd was waiting to receive Gandhi and none of them had no idea whatsoever about the outcome  of their perpetual struggle against the British who forced them to grow indigo.

Location of  Motjhari, Champran Dist.

 Little did the press or the British realize  that the little man's crusade against them would snow ball into  a popular passive resistance called Satyagragha. The first satyagraha (policy of passive political resistance) was successfully introduced here which later became a  tool for  Gandhiji  to continue his freedom struggle against the English. The concept was so effective, it drew the attention of the media world over. ''While Champaran “introduced” India to Gandhi, he introduced  his idea of Satyagraha or civil disobedience to India.''  It was at Champaran that the transformation from Mohandas into the Mahatma began. During the 31st session of the Congress in Lucknow in 1916, Gandhi met Raj Kumar Shukla, a representative of farmers from Champaran through whom he came to know about the repression being faced by the native farmer. The wily British took advatage of the native farmers ignorance and illiteracy and exploited them to make fast bucks.

The house passed the bill, which paved the way for the abolition of Tinkathiya system.Tinkathia was the system under which the native peasants of Champaran( Bihar) were forced to cultivate 3 kathaa Indigo out of every 20 kathaa (Bigha) of land. A Bigha is a popular land holding in Bihar and it is little less than an Acre. In other terms, the European agriculturists in Bihar (Champaran) followed illegal means of indigo farming and urged the Indian farmers to grow Indigo on the 3/20th portion of their land holding. This system came to be known as the Tinkathia system.The farmers were poorly compensated for their indigo crops and if they refused to plant indigo, they had to face heavy taxation. The landlords (mostly British) would enforce this system through their agents, called gumasta, who executed the terms brutally. 2019