Sunday, 24 May 2020

''Chor Gumbad'', Narnaul, Haryana State - legacy of early Muslim rule in the Delhi region

Chor Gumbad,   Narnaul, Haryana just dial 

Chor Gumbad,   Narnaul, Haryana 

There are innumerable Islamic monuments in the northern states of India. More often than not tourists visit only the famous ones in Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, etc. There countless simple and impressive Islamic monuments near Delhi and other places.  Chor Gumbad in Narnaul, Haryana state is an interesting one. 
Atop the small  hill in the Jamalpur area  in Narnaul city  of Haryana state  stands a simple, but majestically looking  Chor Gumbad (1351-88 AD).  It is on the Singhana road. It is an important landmark of this town and the area is developed into a nice park by the district administration. A protected monument under the government control lots of people visit this site. This site does not have any grave. The Chor Gumbad was only recently repaired  with a view to restoring this monument by way of  improving its  structural stability  and look of the buildings. The structure is not visible from the road side owing to the presence of so may building that hide the view. The town is a growing one. 
Chor Gumbad, Narnaul, Haryana
It was built by an Afghan Jamal Khan as his tomb. The style and architectural features  such as  low dome and arches,  are suggestive of it possible construction during the rein of Firoz 
Shah Tughlaq (1351-88 AD), one of the early Muslim rulers of Delhi. 
Chor Gumbad, Narnaul, Haryana
Square  in shape with single chamber having  four minarets at each corner, this well planned big monument looks  like a two-story  structure from the outside. This being due to  due to an open veranda running  all around it. The word ''Chor'' in Hindi or Urdu means thief.  This unique structure possibly got the name for two simple reasons 01. Isolated location  and disuse for a long time; later fell into disrepair 02.  Obviously it became a sort of  hideout or haven for thieves, hobos and highway robbers. At last this name got stuck with it. It is in District-Mahendergarh. The town Narnaul is about 170 km from Delhi.  The surrounding park is a nice place , well maintained by the administration. The locals go there for relaxation, exercise and fun.

The European cemetery, Karnal, Haryana - victims of Cholera

he European  cemetery in Karnal

The European  cemetery in Karnal,Haryana.

Location map Karnal Haryana huighwqay com.

The cemetery in Karnal, Haryana State just  across  the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) on the Old GT Road is yet another European cemetery  where European soldiers were  buried. This historical site is supposedly one of the  vestiges of the past colonial era in this part of India. The cemetery covers  8,172 sq with more than 500 graves of European soldiers and their family members. They were  from the period between 1806 and 1843. Incidentally Karnal was the first modern town established by the British with  rows of houses, barracks, malls, etc.  General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of her Majesty’s Indian Forces, who died of cholera on May 27, 1857 was buried here.  Later, his family members exhumed his body and took it to England. 

Presently, under the control of the ASI, the cemetery is in a state of neglect with over growth of bushes, trees, creepers, etc. Thick bushes hide the pathways. It is likely, there may be poisonous snakes, etc inside the grave.  The Kurukshetra ASI office put the blame on the Horticulture dept. that was supposed to maintain a garden in that area. Any place of burial should be given due care and the govt. should take steps to repair and restore it back to old glory. If the grave is in a bad state, we are hurting the sentiments of those British descendants who come here  all the way to pay respect to their forefathers, Such colonial monuments need to be saved and restored for the posterity.  The Commonwealth War Grave Commission can be roped in  for the  restoration work. 
Also established with the graveyard was the church tower. Invariably the tall memorial gravestones show Gothic style, a feature common in the European graves of that period. What was the reason for the burial place for Europeans in this area? Several historians are of the view that this town Karnal became a cantonment in 1806 because of troop movements between this part to the western regions like East Punjab and North West frontier regions. 
Cholera was a dreaded disease in those days and the medication available then was not an effective one. Apparently the people who were buried in the graves at Karnal  had died of  malaria and cholera till 1842. “This (Yamuna) canal used to flow near the colony of the British officers (now Mall Road) and due to seepage into it malaria had become an epidemic, forcing them to leave Karnal” said, Prof. Raghuvendra Tanwar, Professor of history and Director of the Haryana Academy of History and Culture. The  canal  and the stagnant water could be the major reason  for the outbreak of malaria in the area. The living quarters of the British officers were close to the canal and the frequent seepage favored the breeding of Malaria mosquitoes. 

This forced  the shifting of the Army cantonment to Ambala in 1843. Even now, Ambala cantonment is one of the major Army and Air Force centers in this country. The Presence of unpredictable Pakistan close-by and the chaotic misrule is the reason for keeping the army base here. Strategically, Ambala was a better place than Karnal. 
At that point of time The British company had its eyes glued on the rich province of Punjab and Maharajah Ranjeet Singh  was a good administrator and posed a challenge to the greedy British officials. The mighty river Sutlej was yet another challenge to them. After the ruler's death in 1839, the English army moved over to Ambala. 
The links with our past history can't be established without monuments. They need to be safeguarded and preserved for future study.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The largest European cemetery, Ambala Cantonment - A protected monument of India

European cemetery Ambala Cantonment
European cemetery Ambala Cantonment
 As the British ruled India for a pretty long time (until 1947), there are many European grave yards in the cities like Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras), Delhi  and other places where a large European community  lived and the British army had  a barrack or a cantonment.   These Europeans came to India for jobs  with the English company later the Crown. There were countless soldiers, business people and missionaries. The latter landed here with a view to spreading Christianity among the natives and built churches and schools for Indians and Europeans. The European cemeteries in India, a legacy of the British empire, remind  us of  what John Donne, a 16th century metaphysical poet once described 'death' as the greatest leveler in his masterpiece 'Death', Be Not Proud. ''The paths of glory lead but to the grave''
Christian cemeytery, Ambala, Haryana.
The presence of a European  graveyard in Ambala Cantonment,  Haryana state  was a surprise. It was brought to light during the independence time in the past.  The European Cemetery built in 1902 in typical British architecture, is  now a  protected monument of the state.  Ambala Cemetery Committee and the Secretary of the Committee -  the Parish Priest of Holy Redeemer Church (Catholic Church)  were in charge of maintaining this historic site that  
spreads  across 23 acres. It is believed to be the biggest burial ground in the northern region with more than 2 lakh. “The discovery of the cemetery is significant as some British soldiers and even prisoners from the Second Anglo-Boer War are buried there,” said an  officer Madhav Acharya.

Many of the graves were built in European style with cubic and rectangular domes  over the burial ground.   The entrance of this grave has  two large cylindrical pillars with triangular dome on it. There are  also obelisk structures and it is said, they were meant for  the higher officials served for British India. A simple cement structure with a cross is  seen in the graves of  prisoners of war (POWS) and soldiers. The entrance of this grave is built with two large cylindrical pillars with triangular dome on it.  The graves here are the war heroes of Africa, British soldier's prisoners of war and its company officials. It is located in the Cantonment Area, Jagadhri Road, Ambala City. There are 20 boer graves here. 

It is observed that most of  the grave blocks  here  are made  of granite stones, clay bricks, sand stones and few are placed with marble stones.  Cross made of cement and jelly stones are found in the burial place of the common people. The marble stone plaque  has encryption of the blessed souls who were buried here.  St Paul's Church of Roman Catholic order, takes care of the rituals associated with the blessed ones. 
Location map Ambala, Haryana. jatland wiki
This European cemetery was established  in the 19th century by the English mercantile trading Company - East India company  who by that time, had captured many parts of India through dishonest means and manipulation.   This grave was built in the wake of 
the  great Anglo Boer War  of 1880 -1881 AD  and  1899 to 1902 AD fought  in the South African countries. The war broke out between  the British  Empire and   Bore Farmers who had been living there for a long time. Lots of British soldiers were killed in these wars and the British captured the revolting rebels in large numbers and sent them to colonies like Sri Lanka, India, etc. Lots of rebels from Africa were imprisoned in Ambala,  and later  executed  and buried  in  the graveyard. Similarly many Boer farmers  and Africans who were unable to return home were buried here.  
During the Independence time, one British officer came to Ambala to pay  homage to the great 'British War heroes' of Anglo Boer War. Then only the Indian media and others came to know of the presence of  a European graveyard here that included Boer farmers of Africa.   After Independence, the Roman catholic church took care of the rituals and now manages it with the ASI.
This grave is a reminder of  memories of Anglo Bore War held  fought  in South Africa. This place comes under Large Grave category of European Colonial  Era in the tourist chart of Haryana tourism.  Yet another historical importance is the grave is the final resting place of the last  EIC and their families.

Bineshwar Mahadev temple, Binsar dedicated to God Shiva - set in a serene ambiance, Uttrakhand

Bineshwar Mahadev temple
.Bineshwar Mahadev temple.
At an altitude of 2480 meters above mean sea level, in the village  Bisaona in the Pauri Garhwal District of the state of Uttarakhand, there lies  an ancient Hindu temple. That place of worship is  Bineshwar Mahadev Temple, also known as   Binsar Devta or simply Binsar. This 16th century temple popular in this region.       
In this place the presiding deity is God Shiva who is worshiped as  Bineshwar.  The Shiv Lingam was consecrated during the Chand dynasty - Raja Kalyan Chand  is said to be builder(?). Binsar is known for its majestic views of Himalayan peaks such as Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul and Chaukhamba along with being home to a wide variety of flora and fauna at the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.

This temple is in the middle of densely wooded areas with lots of deodar and rhododendron.  The original temple structure had  great archaeological significance, but it was pulled down by the authority to  build a new structure.  The central chamber of the temple  forms the sanctum/garbagriha where there are images of gods such  Ganesha, Shiva-Parvati and Mahishasuramardini.  The interesting feature is the presence of God Shiva and Parvati in the same chamber.  A fair is organized there on Vaikuntha Chaturdashi every year. 

It is said this temple was built by  Maharajah Prithu in memory of his father, Bindu in the 9th/10th century.  The exact origin of this temple is not clear. The design style is that of  the Katyuri.  Though there are no records, it is believed that it was a contemporary of the Jageshwar and Adi Badri group of temples.  Close to this temple in this area are found  many rock-cut idols, shrines, and Shiva Lingams.  The historians and researchers have yet to come up with the correct history of this old temple.  The temple was built by the Pandavas in one night while in exile, according to one legend. The other  legend says that the temple was built by a king named Bindu.  Yet others believe that  it may have been built by lord Vishwakarma himself and not by others. 

Way back in the past there existed a narrow circular water body, a sort of well/ reservoir  in the central room  forming the main shrine.  Many idols were kept around it. A snake was said to dwell inside the reservoir. Presently, the well like structure is covered  with flat stones. Later, water seeped out of the rocks, suggesting the existence of a reservoir underneath. It is highly a mountainous terrain with many ridges and water springs.The elevation is roughly 2480 m/8136 feet. It is likely that the temple was built on a rock formation in a terrain that is conducive to the formation of natural water springs. The main shrine of this temple, it is obvious, is on a rock formation that houses the natural spring. 

When the Chand kings were ruling this place, Binsar was one of the hilly places  chosen by the  then rulers to escape from the hot summer.  The temple that drives it name from Binasar, is situated at a distance of 6 km from Ayarpani. Binsar wildlife sanctuary is nearby.

Historical Anglican Christ Church, Kasauli, HP - a legacy of the early rule under the English Company!!

Christ Church Kasauli, HP, tripadvisor.
Christ Church Kasauli, HP.
The  Christ Church in Kasauli (in Solan district) is an interesting place to visit. It was previously under the organisation of the Church of England when it was known as Anglican Church.  It was in the year 1970,the church management came  under the organisation of the CNI (Churches of North India)  and is presently managed by the diocese of Amritsar. The Cantonment  in Kasauli was established by the British  in 1842  by the East India Company and it is about  77 km from Shimla, 65 km from Chandigarh, and 94 km from Ambala Cantonment (Haryana).  Kasauli has had a deep connection with the Army ever since the town  came up here in 1842. An important cantonment during the British-Raj protecting the summer Capital of Shimla, the town has had a steady presence of Indian Army troops after independence too.   The church is located on the Mall, no body can miss the impressive church. The best time to visit this hill station is the summer time, however, one can also visit it during the winters for gorgeous snow scenery. The months of November-May may be a good bet. 
Christ Church Kasauli, HP, Flicker com
The following are the interesting features of this historical Anglican Church: 

01. The Christ Church in Kasauli hill station of Himachal Pradesh is the oldest church in that state.  

02. The British families  laid the foundation of the little town of Kasauli in 1842. Here, a Cantonment came up in the same year.  In the early stage, about 30 families, belonging to the Protestant sect of Christians, worshiped at the church. 

03. Established on 25th July, 1853  by Chaplain Thomas John Edward Steel,  a post-graduate from Cambridge University,  the church has an impressive  architecture  of the Gothic  of style, a common design across the Europe in those days. 
Christ Church Kasauli, HP, Flicker com
04. The amazing paintings on the wall, the  detailed carvings, etc add beauty to this already wonderful structure. 
05. The Christ Church that is is dedicated to St Francis and St Barnabas has an eye-catching feature in its front that includes an impressive  clock tower with a sundial in the front -  the sundial  which does work even today showing  the time accurately as one stands in front of it and sees the shadow of the sundial falling into the angles of the watch. 

06. Quite impressive are the life-like  statues of Jesus along with Joseph and Mary. They were done with meticulous care and dedication to details. The cruciform flooring is equally impressive. 

07. This old church has many stained glass windows to let enough  light in during days and they are  the major attraction here.  Specially imported from England  they are quite  visibly colorful and inspiring with shades of different colors on the Sunny day.  The depiction of  Christ, Mary, St. Barnabas and St. Francis in the stained glasses is breath-taking.  

08. The stained glasses over the altar  carry the image of  Christ and  the Crucifixion. Here,  Christ is flanked by Joseph and Mary. The church is shaped like  a cross  and it was done by British families  who lived here way back in 1840s  and the foundation of the church was laid in  1842

09. The church  graveyard is  an  historical one with many  tombstones dating  back to 1850s.  This suggests a large settlers from Europe lived in this quiet part of Kasauli. 
Clocktowe, Christ Church, Kasauli, HP>
10. The nearly 155 year old clock of this  church i began to work in 2015. It was  in a state of disrepair for several decades with no efforts made to restore it.  Thanks to the  commitments and dedicated  efforts of the local Infantry Brigade of the Army and a good Samaritan from Chandigarh.

11. The old timers said that the clock on the imposing tower had worked for more than 50 to 60 years and used to  chime the hour.

St. Mary's Church, Kotgarh, Shimla - a historical English church

St Mary’s Church Kotgarh, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
St Mary’s Church Kotgarh, Shimla, HP.
Shimla city, now the capital of the state of Himachal Pradesh, used to be the summer capital of British India. During the colonial days the  government officials  of various departments and their families, paraphernalia, files, etc would move all the way from Calcutta, (then the capital of colonial India until early 20th century) to Shimla,  fleeing searing summer heat and humidity on the plains. The higher-ups ran the administration of the subcontinent and other near-by British colonies from here. After the summer, the entire officialdom would get back to Calcutta.  Shimla has been a popular tourist destination  for Indians for a long time.  The wooded areas with  tall Oak, Deodar and Pine trees, the sight of  snow-clad peaks of the majestic Himalayas at a distance,  fine  rivers like Sutlej and Pabbar and lots of tourist spots in the quiet, serene surroundings have made this historical city, one of the most preferred vacation destinations for people from Delhi and other cities.
St Mary’s Church Kotgarh, Shimla
There are popular colonial churches in Shimla and in the surrounding hills and they were all built to catering the European population, mostly government officials, soldiers, tea, coffee estate owners, etc. They were also open to the local Christian community living there then.  The Church Missionary Society from London established St Mary’s Church here, as far  back as in 1872 in  Kotgarh  about 80 km from Shimla  town  on the old Hindustan-Tibet Road. Then  Kotgarh was a part of the Punjab province.  This church is not a big one, one can see a semblance of Gothic style  of design. This simple church in yellow color is surrounded by rolling hills and winding roads leading to it. This historical church has never lost its old charm nor its majestic look in all its simplicity.  The main attractions are  the stained glass panel with Christ on it, stone and wood structure like every other old building here, tablets announcing information, wooden benches for devotees to pray or an old bell hidden in a bell tower above the entrance of the church. An interesting feature is there is an inscription in Urdu hanging on the walls of the church along with a hand drawn colorful map of the region. 
The church is active on Sunday morning for a mass that is held  around 11 am for the local community.  The mass is held in the local language - Hindi  and people who come here neatly dressed up read the Bible in Hindi. Services are not available daily, as the Christian community here is a small one. The school that is close to the church was  built at the same time as church.

Regarding the correct year of  construction of this colonial church by the British, there has been a controversy  that is not yet resolved.  Some records point out the church was built in 1843 but  other records reveal the year of construction was  872.  'Thanedar', is  an important historical place of Shimla  from where people come and visit this old church.  Visitors  have to drive through the Mustard Fields to reach the church.  It was one Samuel Stokes  who was responsible for  planting of the first apple orchard in Thanedar,  Shimla, in the year 1916.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Cops sacrificed two goats in the police station to propitiate the god to curb crime near Coimbatore, TN

sacrficial lambs cartoonstock
Goat sacrifice in a court, Uttrakhand stste. /
Above image: In  Sept. 2016 in a court case the High Court, Uttrakhand State   finally gave in and allowed sacrificial goats at Naina Devi temple inside the premises to be worshiped for slaughter.”
113th Mela was going on at that time. However, ''the ban on goat slaughter on the temple premises has continued in view of Supreme
 court ruling  --- Court order of July 13 last year (2015) mandating that ''the state must discourage animal sacrifice and  educate the masses against superstitious ritual slaughter''. None of the goats was slaughtered in  the temple. Each person with a goat was being verified under the CCTV camera. This move will slow down the public butchery of animals in the name of appeasing the goddess. (
goar sacrifice, TN police station. cartoon sock
When people are facing misfortune in succession, they become  either bewildered or confused. Then they control themselves and find out ways and means to get out of the mess. People who have no patience  hit the couch of a Shrunk and listen to his or her blabbering and shell out  big money on hourly basis, depending on how long they are  stuck to that couch. What about the cops, the guardians of the society when they are burdened with so many unsolved civil and criminal cases and the mounting official pressure from higher officials. In a tough situation, they have to  throw up their hands and seek the help of the God above us.  Worried over the rising rate of accidents and  crimes in their limits, the cops at the  Kovilpalayam police station found a naval method to curb the crime rate and the hurdles in their line of duty. Yes, they took refuge in animal sacrifice. Can you believe it?

The Kovilpalayam police station  that falls under the Karumathampatti subdivision (in Coimbatore district), close to Coimbatore city  in Tamil Nadu had run into headwinds and their action decided in haste without any discretion or possible repercussions became a subject of controversy  and a big scoop for the news-hungry media.   The cops did not realize the old saying: ''Acceptence of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any  misfortune.'' 

This bizarre incident  happened in July, 2019. What wrong did the cops commit as to  warrant  the attention of the public, media and higher-ups?  The officials  at the police station not only sought the help of the almighty, but  also  went a couple of steps farther and conducted something on the police station premises.  Yes, to propitiate the goddess, they  reportedly conducted a 'kida vettu'  ritual involving slaughter of a couple of male goats. The local media picked up the scent and brought to light this weird incident in which  two goats were sacrificed at the Kovilpalayam police station as part of  'kida vettu'. Thanks to the local politician who donated the sacrificial goats to the police station to solve their pressed problems. 
Goat sacrifice in a TN police
Upon inquiry  conducted by the rural police officials, they found out that as part of  prayer to the almighty,   two goats were sacrificed  on the station premises around 4 am in the early hours. A feast was then organised there  attended by police personnel and local politicians where the cooked meat of the two goats was served to the attendees. What made the cops resort to  animal sacrifice that too  within the confines of a police station?  The explanation that it was conducted "to control the crime rate and fatal accidents" occurring under the police station limits in the past year, made the people's eyebrow go up. The  police officials, at this station became upset and dejected over a slew of unwanted things happening in the station. In the past an inspector at the  Kovilpalayam police station  was arrested by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) officials  for accepting  bribery. A constable attached to the station recently passed away suddenly.  A few weeks before this animal sacrifice, three people while cleaning a septic tank died of asphyxiation  in a pig-breeding center at Keeranamatham that  falls under the limits of the Kovilpalayam police station. Besides, there are cases of thefts and and other crimes that remain standstill, not making any progress. The higher-ups keep giving them a lot of pressure. Reportedly, some local people had  given them wrong advice to perform 'keda vettu' (goat sacrifice) and sprincle the blood on the station premises.
sacrificial lambs – nakedpastor
Sacrificial lambs.
A DSP level inquiry had  been initiated  to get to the bottom of this weird incident that  was never heard of before.