Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Dutch army man John Hessing and the Red Taj, Agra


Red Taj, Agra, India. thestatesman.com

Red Taj, Agra, India. thehindu.com

Inscription tomb of John Hessing, the Red Taj,Catholic cemetery Agra. nerdstravel.com

The Roman Catholic Martyrs’ Cemetery of Agra, the final resting place of the Catholics of the by-gone era is unique and  is different from other Catholic cemeteries. Here, the tombs are made more of bricks and lime-sand mortar than marble stones.  With its Mogul legacy, obviously they appear to be more Muslim than Christian in design and style. Further, the  headstones have inscriptions mostly written in Persian script - positively  a rare feature in the Christian cemetery; the other languages used are Latin and English. The presence of "Crosses" on them makes all the differences, otherwise any new visitor  to this place would conclude that this is a Muslim graveyard.  First built by the Armenian Christians the cemetery camp up when Mogul king Akbar was the ruler. The Armanians laded in India during that period,  It is  mentioned that the oldest grave belongs to John Mildenhall, an Englishman who died in 1614, at a time when the English company  was in its infancy. The first burial of a Portuguese was that of a priest - Julian Pereira who came to Fatehpur Sikri in March 1578. The man who introduced him to the  ruler Agbar wa one  Pedro Tavares, the Portuguese commandant of Satgaon (present  Adi Saptagram).  The Agra Cemetery is the oldest Christian burial ground in North India, initially built for the Europeans. Many graves had Latin, English and Persian inscriptions on them.  
Red Taj in the Catholic Cemetery, Agra, India. thewingedsandals.com

In the early days of  colonial rule in India,  Europeans arrived here in large number for job, business opportunities, etc.  Once settled, because of their wide contact with the natives and the higher ups, some of them overwhelmed by the exotic custom, etc began to develop keen interest in local culture and customs.  At one stage, it became quite common for Europeans to continue to take keen interest in native customs.  William Dalrymple wrote  about the English community in Surat city, Gujarat and the factories being run by them.  He  mentioned that the Europeans  developed keen desire to adopt  Indian dress and diet so that they could mingle with the conservative natives with ease.  They purposely  followed the Indian dietary system  to avoid falling sick in a terribly hot country. Being adopted to living in mild cold climate,  adaptation to native style of living, etc helped them a lot. Equally common  custom in those days  among some Europeans  was to take   Indian wives or “bibis” for their harem  as Indian Sahibs did. In the past decades, the British were particular about their Britishness and British character and expected the prospective immigrants to England to learn their culture, etc.  These people, mostly from Britain,  centuries back had some kind of romance with  Indianness and no doubt, their tombs/mausoleums  carry the marks of Indianness in the design  and style.  
The tomb of “Hindoo”  Charles Stewart  and others in the   Calcutta’s South Park Street Cemetery (roughly 250 years old with 1600 tombs ) are good example. In July 2018, from  Charles Stewart's tomb, the lotus symbol was stolen by some culprits. It became a sensational news in Kolkata.    Stuart, an officer of the East India Company took so much interest in Hinduism, he  started following the Hindu culture and religion by way of going to the banks of the Ganges and take bath and keeping  in his house lots of Hindu arts, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist idols. When Stuart was buried in 1828, several idols from his collection were buried in his resting place which was built like a temple.

After the completion of the Taj Mahal by Shah Jahan in Agra,  later rulers used it as a model to build their tombs and mausoleums. The good examples are:  the Black Taj-- the tomb of Shahnawaz Khan, son of Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan, in Burhanpur ’and the Taj of the Deccan -- the  tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II in Bijapur. We may also include the Red Taj of Catholic cemetery in Agra. It is the burial place of  the Dutch  Trader and mercenary John William Hessing (5 November 1739 - 21 July 1803) who was in the services of the  Maratha Empire belonging to the Scindia dynasty in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a powerful military officer. 

Actively participated in many battles, he earned a good name as a brave army man. Though wounded on several occasions,never had he lost the military prowess in him and fought gallantly. He continued his services to  Maharaja Daulat Rao Scindia. When ill-health forced him to be inactive, Hessing was made the Commandant of Agra Fort by Scindia.  Born in Utrecht, Holland, in 1739  when Hessing was  just 24 year-old, he  landed in Ceylon; subsequently joined  the Dutch East India Company’s army and  fought many battles in India, Having gained vast experience as an army man, he became an integral part of the Maratha forces that  were pitted against the English forces.  

The most famous  battle is that the battle of Kardha in which Hessing commanded 3000 Maratha regular troops. The Maratha armies defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad on 12 March 1795. In a fierce battle  outside the city of Ujjain  under the Maratha ruler  Yashwantrao Holkar of Indore  against  the British forces - second Angelo - Maratha war  in June 1801, Hessing commanded four battalions. The Maratha army emerged victorious. Hessing died in Agra  on 21 July 1803 when he was in charge of the  Maratha army and the Agra fort.  Using the Taj as a model,  several monuments came  up displaying various salient features of the Taj built by Shah Jahan in honor of his wife Mumtaj  Mahal.  

Built by his wife, the Red Taj is simply a replica of the Taj made of red sand stone minus embellishments and exquisite artistic work in marble stones. The red stone tomb is a simple one and  is underneath as in Mogul types and  the total cost of construction was just one lakh rupees.  The domed structure, the four slender minarets, the vaulted entrance doorways, the cupolas crowned by pinnacles, the dome with its inverted lotus and finial rising  from the center and other features again following  mogul style. There are turrets, Chhatries,  arched niches, besides a Cross on them.  At its entrance to the Mausoleum, there   are two Persian inscriptions in the marble plague— an epitaph and a chronogram: the former expresses Ann Hessing’s grief and the latter marks the year of his death.  

Fanny Parkes in her journal Begum, Thugs and White Mughals, edited by William Dalrymple, describes the Hessing tomb as “a beautiful mausoleum” which is “well worth a visit”. It was built by a “native architect, by the name Lateef, in imitation of the ancient Mohammedan tombs”. She writes: “The tomb is beautiful, very beautiful and in excellent taste.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Last year this month Indian jewelry owned by the Indian rulers fetched the highest amount USD 109 plus million


Nizam's ceremonial sword studded with gemstones,etc.indiaaheadnews.com

Nizam's jewelry collection Christie's auction 2019 NYC. siasat.com
 Whenever the famous auction houses like Christie's conduct an auction sale of famed Indian jewelry, gem studded swords, daggers, boxes, etc, there will be  wild excitement and curiosity among the affluent people who do not know what to do with their money. However, such people, diligently invest money in antiques that have amazing heritage value. They can feel satisfied that that they have made a good investment as the value of such antique items goes up few times more than the value  as the years go by. 
Nizam's pink Golconda diamond. 10.42 ct. indiaaheadnews.com

 About one year ago on 20 June 2019  in New York city there was  a large and rich collection of Indian jewelry auction conducted  by the famous auction house  - Christie's.   What was special about this ballyhooed auction, that was the subject of discussion among the rich and famous? Yes, the items included an amazing and rare collection of  17-carat Golconda diamond "Arcot II", once owned by the Nawab of Arcot ( now Tamil Nadu), an alley of the British and an antique diamond Riviere necklace once owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad who were in the good books of the colonial rulers. 

The well attended   auction  was a successful one for the globally acclaimed auction house, because  they sold the collection of Indian jewels and jeweled objects for USD 109.3 million, a whooping sum.   A premium "once-in-a-lifetime" collection of royal Indian jewelry  auction sale hit the highest total ever for any auction of Indian art and jeweled objects, according  Christie's.The Arcot II diamond sold for a stunning USD 3,375,00 (Rs 23.5 crore).

The other attraction was  a  Ceremonial Sword of the Nizam of Hyderabad'  that fetched $1,935,000, establishing a new World Auction Record for an Indian Sword. The owner Hyderabad Nizam was in the 1930s the richest man in the world and he had a fleet of expensive cars including RRs. He once used a  big diamond as a paper weight in his office without knowing it, mistaking it for a glass stone. 
The other items included in the sale were: An antique diamond Riviere necklace once owned by the Nizams  which sold for nearly USD 2,415,000 (Rs 17 crore). The 33-diamond necklace was estimated to sell for USD 1,500,000 (nearly Rs 10.5 crore), Christie's announced on Twitter.  10.46 carat Pink Golconda diamond, internally flawless stone, the value of which is estimated to be between 1.5 million USD to 2 million USD. It got a better price. 

The privateauction  otherwise called  the Maharajah and Mughal Magnificence auction in New York achieved  the highest record sale. The reasons are:  their heritage value, amazing craftsmanship and beautiful design. These artistically rich   and flawless royal jewels with intricate design  bear testimony  to the sheer grandeur  and opulence of the Indian rulers, in particular the Nizam of Hyderabad - the Asaf Jahi dynasty. They were fabulously rich and the several items sold here were from the collections of   Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan. Equally rich Royal families of Jaipur, Indore, and Baroda were also represented in the sale. these families once had a very rich collection of diamonds, gemstones, jewelry, etc on a grand scale. 
On display were  400 lots in the auction including  finest jewelry gem-studded  swords, daggers, etc  once owned by famous Indian Maharajahs and Nawabs.  The current auction record is held by 'The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor' which totaled USD 144 million in 2011.

The auction took off with stylish  'Indore Sapphire Taveez Bead Pendant Necklace, mounted By Cartier' that owes its provenance to Indore's  Popular  Maharajah Yeshwant Rao Holkar II, who had his education in England. 
 Tipu Sultan, the Mysore ruler, who terrorized the East India company's army in the late 1700s   was fond of jewelry. His Magic Box' fetched more than  three times the estimate,  realizing $495,000.  The royal necklace (apparently of the Holker Dynasty) achieved USD 206,250 (Rs 1.44 crore), surpassing a high estimate of USD 60,000 (Rs 42 lakh), Christie's said  in a tweet. An antique diamond ring worn by queen mother  Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, Rajasthan  sold for Rs 4.45 crore.

Another major sale was of an enameled and jewelled 'huqqah' set from 1680-1720, "almost certainly made in the imperial Mogul workshop" as per Christie's description. This interesting item went under the hammer for USD 759,000 (almost Rs 5.3 crore) as compared to its higher limit estimate of USD 350,000 (almost Rs 2.4 crore).

Ye another attraction was a carved emerald brooch, and interchangeable 'Jigha' mounting depicting  Hindu deities Lord Rama, Sita and Hanuman sold  for USD 735,000 (close to Rs 5.12 crore). Another interesting item - a five-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace and a diamond brooch created by Mumbai-based jewelry house Bhagat sold for high prices as well - Rs 11.8 crore and Rs 1.5 crore respectively.https://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2019/jun/20/indian-royal-jewels-fetch-high-prices-at-global-auction-house-christies-1992844.html

Sunday, 14 June 2020

500 year old Hindu temple submerged in the Mahanadi, Odisha was recently found

A  60 foot tall  500-year-old temple  found submerged in Odisha’s Mahanadi came to light recently  this month by the experts  as a heritage project was underway by the National Trust for Art & Cultural & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in Odisha. A documentation  project of the heritage sites in the river valley had been going on for sometime since last year  and the temple was noticed in the mid-river near   Baideswar in the Padmavati area in Cuttack.  The temple was dedicated to Gopinath Dev.  It is said that nearly 50 ancient temples were lost due to the Hirakud dam that covers a vast area. 

Submerged 500 year old temple, Mahanadi, Odisha democraticaccent.com


submerged temple, Mahanadi, Odisha. deccanherald.com

Based on the style of  construction -  the Mastaka and the materials used in  the structure,  according to the project co-ordinator, Mr. Dhir. the temple dates back to  the 15th century.  The INTACH would  make a formal request to the  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take steps for relocating  it  to a much  safer site and  carry out the restoration work. The state government will also approach the ASI as they have the technology and manpower to do this delicate job.  The INTACH, it is said, had  so far located as many as 65 ancient temples in the Mahanadi river during its documentation project  and many of them are in the  Hirakud reservoir. The INACH director said, they need to be ''dismantled and  reconstructed''. The region where the temple was found submerged was known as  “Satapatana” in the early days.  Owing to catastrophic flooding,   the  over-flowing  river changed  its course of flow  and caused the submergence of the village.        

Herakud dam, Odisha one of the 10 largest dams in the world. trendrr.net
In the mid 19th century, it had been a practice by the temple administrators to  shift the idols and deities  of the vulnerable temples  to a much safer  and higher location  for the purpose of saving the structure and the deities for the posterity. The Gopinath Dev temple of Padmavati village was shifted to the present place way back in the past.   The heritage survey covering  the various sites all along its course  from the source of the Mahanadi to its confluence in the Bay of Bengal - a distance of 1700 km is in its final  phases   of completion, according to the INTACH. A multi-volume report of the nearly 800 monuments that have been documented will be released by 2021. For the heritage lovers, it will be a great boon to get to know  the temples that had not been seen or studied in detail so far. The heritage survey covers 9 districts through which the  river Mahanadi flows.  Mr. Dhir, who had earlier led the Old Jagannath Sadak and the Prachi valley documentation projects, was of the opinion that  the richness and diversity of the Mahanadi valley had not yet been taken up in depth so far. Perhaps, it may be a beginning to  know the hidden heritage structures of Odisha. There is also an urgent need to repair and restore numerous  heritage monuments that are slowly crumbling due to poor maintenance and  lack of protection from the vandals and hooligans.  


Saturday, 13 June 2020

A New Gallery on Mysore Rockets invented by Tipu Sultan opened in Shivamogga, Karnataka


Tipu Sultan of Mysore. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipu_Sultan


Mysore rocket gallery, Shivamogga, Karnataka  newindianexpress.com

The Mysorean rockets and Tipu Sultan. thebetterindia.com
When the East India company was on a land-grabbing spree and on an expansion mode across the northern states of India, in the south,  their imperialistic ambition did not show any fast growth. The de facto ruler of Mysore  Hyder Ali and his dynamic son Tipu Sultan stalled their progress and set a huge road block for the English company. Being a great warrior with well trained army and good artillery power, Tipu was a formidable enemy for the British Bobs. The added advantage was he had close alliance with the French army. Tipu Sultan never had a soft corner for the British company and its army as they happened to be cunning, diabolical and, most importantly, dishonest to the core. They grabbed countless kingdoms run by the Maharajahs and Nawabs through outright cheating. Tipu with a powerful  army  and unique war equipment,  posed a great challenge to the English army. Unlike other Indian rulers Tipu Sultan  and his father Hyder Ali  had a separate brigade trained in ''rocketry'' - launching of missiles fitted with sharp objects that could travel long distance - more than 1000 yards. 

Both Tipu and his father vastly improved the crude rocket-missile technology and increased  their efficiency and fire power. They had a separate trained troops in thousands to launch missiles in the battle fields. Their missiles were provided with well hammered, heat resistant and  iron cased pipes to carry the gunpowder. They had different kinds of missiles capable of travelling long distance more than 1000 yards. These missiles fixed on long bamboo sticks carry sharp spear and land on the target with a big bang and sharp edges facing the enemy.  Suddenly encountering a hail of missiles armed with sharp  objects  means hell, the English solders had to be on the gallop like a horse to avoid injuries and lacerations.  The British were introduced to an array of new rockets that were far superior than the ones used by them.  The Mysore metal cased rockets that could be launched in multiple, say 10 or 12 at the same time gave them nightmare. The instant bamboo stick or sword blade attached to the rocket passed through a man’s body on impact. It could kill or severely wound  10 to 15 men till the combustion chamber became empty.  ''Mysore was the first state in the world to have moved to the next stage of rocket development from wooden firework rockets to metal war rockets successfully,"

  Though roughly 220 years have gone by since his death in  his Srirangapatna fort on 4 May 1799 against the English company's army commanded by Arthur Wellesley, Tipu's  valor and war exploits are still remembered  by the people even today not withstanding the fact that  he still remains a controversial figure in the matter of religion. Tipu defended Srirangapatna  till his last breath. So, till his unexpected death the ‘Tiger of Mysore’ posed one of the strongest military challenges ever faced by the British in the sub-continent, His death in the battlefield gave a big break for the British. 

Late Dr. Abdul Kalam, our former Indian President and a well-known missile technologist was excited about Tipu Sultan's knowledge of rocketry and wanted to have a  museum built in Karnataka. His dream came true last year. On 22 November 2019 a Gallery dedicated to Tpu's metal cased  Mysore rockets was opened informally by the government.  The gallery is  housed at the Shivappa Nayaka Palace which is also a museum. 

It is said the gallery in Shivamogga  city is the first  and largest one  showcasing  the "Tipu rockets" or "Mysore rockets" in the world.  Gallery is named  as ''Mysore Rockets Gallery''. The Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich Arsenal in London, has  a collection of two such rockets and the Karnataka government in its museum  in Bengaluru  has just three rockets.  Believe it or not the gallery  cum museum at the Shivappa Nayaka Palace has a large collection of  1,700 such rockets. Apparently, they were accidentally  recovered from an old well at Nagara village in Hosanagar taluk last year. However, only 15 are on display in the gallery due to inadequate space.    
As for the measurements, etc  of the rockets on display, the length from 190 mm to 260 mm and the diameter ranges from 33 mm to 65 mm. While the lightest specimen weighs 372 g, the highest one weighs 1.75 kg.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Historical Gulburga fort, Karnataka - seat of power of Bahamani Sultanate


Gulbarga city of North Karnataka has many  monuments with  iconic Islamic style of architecture. Also called   Kalburgi (the stone city),  Gulburga, about 230 km away from Hyderabad, is a great destination for those interested in Islamic monuments that are plenty here, mostly built by the erstwhile Bahamani rulers. The city offers some  interesting places to explore  the  Nizami history as well. There are other tourist sites such as   the Sharana Basaveshwara Temple, Ghathargi Bhagayavanti Temple built  on the banks of Bhima river, Buddha Vihar,  Khwaja Bande Nawaz Dargah, and Sheikh Roza Dargah. Among the forts here  such as  the Ferozabad Fort, Bahmani Fort,  the most popular one being  Gulbarga Fort. This post is about the lat one.    

Gulburga fort entrance, Karnataka, www.youtube.com

The Gulburga fort was enlarged in 1347  during the reign of   Al-ud-din Hasan Bahmani of the Bahmani Dynasty after he  became an independent ruler  and severed his alliance with the Delhi Sultanate.  Alauddin Hassan, chose Gulbarga  his capital of Bahmini  kingdom (1347–1527).  After 1424, the capital was shifted to Bidar for administrative reasons. The Bahmani Sultanate, the first independent Islamic state of the Deccan in South India and one of the great medieval Indian kingdoms,  ruled the land  for 191 long  years (1347-1538 A.D.) with Gulbarga (Ahasnabad) and Bidar as their capital.

The Gulburga fort and the various impressive monuments inside it reflect a blend  of Indo-Persian  style of architecture.  Covering a vast area of about  57 acres (23 ha) of land with the periphery stretching  3 kilometres (1.9 mi), it is  well fortified with double fortification surrounded by a wide  (30 feet )  moat all around the fort.  The fort structure  is  ingeniously  fortified with 15 towers mounted with 26 powerful guns; each gun located inside the fort is 8 metres (26 ft) long and is still well preserved. Some guns were believed to be the most powerful. A unique  feature noticed in the fort and on the buildings - arches, arcades, etc is the presence of  motifs (emblem of the crescent and disc) implying their lineage with  the Sasanians  - Neo-Persian empire. 

Jami Masjid mosque:
 the Jama Mosque, Gulburga Fort, Karnataka, Getty images.com
 
Inside the Jama Mosque, Gulburga Fort, Karnataka. en.wikipedia.org
Jama Masjid, Gulburga, Karnataka.  deccanherald.com
Jami Masjid mosque, one of the first in South India, was built  by the ruler to commemorate Gulbarga as the capital of the Bahmani Sultanate.   Only one of a kind in India built on the model of  the Great Mosque of Córdoba in Spain, the  well designed masjid with  a symmetrical plan has a simple appearance.  It  dimensions  are:  216 feet (66 m) x 176 feet (54 m). The masjidi was   in ruins. and the state Archaeology dept carried out some major repairs and did some restoration work to increase the life of this heritage site.   
With  no open courtyard, characterized by  the outer passageways surrounding  the prayer hall on three sides and having  low open arcades with arches, the roofed interior bays are covered with low domes, faceted by pendentives.  The front yard across  the mihrab (niche in the wall) has nine bays with a single large dome. This masjid with strong Persian influence has  five large domes (One large and four small at the corners) and 75 small domes with 250 arches

The tomb of Khwaja Syed Mohammad Gesu Daraz:

Syed Mohammad Gesu Daraz,budgetindianvacations.wordpress.com

Above image:  Khwaja Bande Nawaz Dargah:  It is a shrine that  has  the tomb of Khwaja Syed Mohammad Gesu Daraz, a famous Sufi saint. People who visited this place said,  ''it is a serene place of worship. ...........................   

There  is a tomb of the Sufi saint Syed Mohammad Gesu Daraz, popularly known as Khwaja Bande Nawaz, who came to Gulburga in 1413 and engaged in spiritual pursuits and taught the people the essence of life.  The tomb is built in  the Indo-Saracenic style. The structure is  a large complex.

World's largest canon, Gulburga fort:


Yet another interesting fact is the world's  longest canon is located in Gulbarga fort.  Erected  during the reign of Bahmani Empire in the 14th century, it is made of an alloy of five metals (Panch dhatu).  Popularly called the Bara Gazi toph (canon)  it  measures about 29 feet in length. The circumference is 7.6 feet, diameter 2 feet and thickness is 7 inch. The  23 foot long canon which claims to be the largest one in the world is in the  Koulas fort in Nizamabad district, Telangana, South India. 


Bidar Fort, Karnataka, a splendid structure steeped in history that followed better water management system


Bidar fort - wide moat.karnatakatravel.blogspot.com

Bidar fort, /karnatakatravel.blogspot.com

Solah Kambha Mosque in Bidar Fort  thehindu.com

Among the old forts of India,  Bidar Fort of  Karnataka is a celebrated one and the town of Bidar became the seat of power of  Sultan Alla-Ud Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty  who, for many reasons, shifted his base  in 1427 from Gulburga to this new one. As the region  was prone to raids and invasions from other Islamic rulers, he had a strong fort  built along with several structures with its confines . It is said that  there are as many as 30  Islamic monuments inside  the Bidar fort. This fort also is well known for old water structures like the Karez underground aqua ducts, terracotta pipes lines that supply water in heritage structures and the step wells in the nearby farms. Bidar is a nice tourist destination that will never disappoint you if you look for new adventures. 

Standing on a natural plateau where laterite stones are available in plenty,  with the river  Manjira (a\tributary of Godavari) on the north,  Bidar is part of the Godavari basin in North Karnataka. The Bidar district is geologically a part of the Deccan plateau  (elevation is 2200 feet) made of mainly volcanic rocks called basalt underlain by  gneissic rocks forming the eastern boundary. Bidar is just 116 km (72 mi) northeast of Gulbarga and 130 km (81 mi) on NH 9 from Hyderabad.
Location map Bidar, Karnataka, mapsofindia.com

Bidar fort  built by Ahmad Shah Wali Bahman had  double  lines of defensive fortifications for extra protection which is not present now; the old fort forms the western extension of the present fort.   It was in the year 1321-22 AD  Prince Ulugh Khan of the Tughlaq dynasty (later was known  as Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq) of Delhi Sultanate, captured Bidar. When Bahmini sultanate was established in 1347, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah.   Bidar was made the capital city of Bahmani Kingdom during the reign of Ahmad Shah I 1422-1486.   Besides rebuilding the old Fort, Ahmed Shah I  also had madrasas, mosques, palaces and gardens  built there by 1432 CE.  Bidar had a chequered   history.  The fort was captured by the  Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20, later came under the control of Mogul  viceroy Aurangzeb in 1657. In 1686, it became the part of the Mogul Empire. In 1724, Bidar  changed hands and this time it became a part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Asif Jah (first Nizam)'s third son   Nawab Mir Sa'id Muhammad Khan  (the first Nizam of the dynasty), ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 till  1762,  when his own brother  Mir Nizam Ali Khan, also known as Asaf Jah II, imprisoned him and later killed him in the fort on 16 September 1763. 

Bidar Fort, Karnataka  /karnatakatravel.blogspot.com

 Mahamud Gawan, Bidar, Karnatka.  en.wikipedia.org/

Bidar fort is built mostly of laterite stones (laterite stones are equally strong as  small grains, pebbles,etc are well compacted and bound together by the leaching of iron oxide from the ground.  (Laterite  stones are widely used in the foundation work of many buildings in Tamil nadu, The Maratha buildings in Thanjavur town and elsewhere  are known to have foundation made of big blocks of laterite stones).  The fort is 0.75 mi (1.21 km) long by 0.5 mi (0.80 km) in breadth (?) The fort walls measure 2.5 km (1.6 mi) on the outside. The fort is surrounded by a moat whose width varies from 32 feet to 42 feet; the depth  is 30 feet. 

The fort can be accessed by 7 gates strategically located from east to west. They are:  Gate 1 - The Mandu Darwaza, the main gate, Gate 2 - The Kalmadgi Darwaza, Gate 5 - The Delhi Darwaza,
Bidar fort, Cannon in the bastion  karnatakatravel.blogspot.com

Gate 6 - The Kalyani Darwaza,  Gate 7 - The Carnatic Darwaz,,  Gates 3 and 4 are without a name.There are 37 bastions on the wall with canons made of bars of metals welded together and held firmly together with metal hooks mounted on the bastions. 
Bidar Fort, Karnataka. yatra.com

Within the fort there are many buildings that show the influence of Persian architectural style. The include  mosques, arches, gardens and the palaces built within and also outside the fort in  Bidar. 
Old Madrasa, Bidar findmessages.com

Entrance to the Karez system in Bidar   en.wikipedia.org/

Innovative systems of water management are seen in and around the fort and the town  of Bidar.  The salient feature is the unique  water management system called Karez system, which is of  Persian origin.  The rocky soil is not suitable for  water percolation downward. Hence this system was successfully employed here. It consists of a network of underground  canals punctuated by vertical shafts to the surface  at certain points. This system uses the ground water sources and  takes the water supply to the settlement areas where the canals end in the pond or a huge water tank. The water is used for drinking , washing, ablution, agriculture, etc.  The karez  system was built with a view to supplying water   to civilian settlements and the garrison inside the Bidar fort. This fort once had   21 vertical shafts, and extends for about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). Only 17 are visible rest were closed by the  real estate builders. In the past the Bidar fort could handle long sieges by enemies backed by sufficient water supply.   













Thursday, 11 June 2020

Fascinating Junagarh Fort of Bikaner, Rajasthan - 02


Junagarh fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan.  themaharajaexpress.org/blog

Junagarh fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan www.alamy.com/

Please refer to my early post on the Junagarh  Fort of Bikaner, Rajasthan (http://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2020/06/fascinating-junagarh-fort-of-bikaner.html).   

Within the confines of impressive  Junagarh fort, there lies an assortment of various palaces, court yards, balconies,  lattice stone windows, temples, etc offering us a chance to go  back on the days of the glorious rule of the Rathor Clan and their spectacular  style of living. The ingenious handling of the construction materials red stones and quality marble stones  in the  various buildings imparts  a fascinating look  to them.  The temple and palaces are well preserved despite the passage of time. The rare blending of decorative features in the fort, a military complex designed for the purpose of defense and security is unique. The entire fort in Bikaner, Rajasthan is set in a picturesque environment on a small hill in the midst of the Thar desert.   
Junagarh fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan.  www.agefotostock.com/

The layout of this massive fort is rectangular  with a peripheral length of 1,078 yards (986 m). The fort walls are  quite strong - 14.5 feet (4.4 m) wide and 40 feet (12 m) in height. Accessing such a tall fort is not easy  and further the enemy movements can be easily observed from the watch towers  built in strategic places. Being  massive, it covers  an area of 63,119 square yards (5.28 ha)   surrounded by a moat which was 20–25 feet (6.1–7.6 m) deep with a base width of 15 feet (4.6 m) and top width of 30 feet (9.1 m).
Presently, the moat does not exist, rather non-functional. With a view to retarding  any enemy attack, the fort is provided with 7 big  strong gates, besides 37 bastions (locally known as ‘burj’).   Early Ruler  Rao Bika built a stone fort  that was abandoned later  and  ruler Maharajah Rai Singh  built the new fort outside the ruins of the old fort. The purpose of the new fort that was built in 1594 after a few years of construction work, was to provide additional security to the rulers. Rajasthan was quite vulnerable to raids from the NW Muslim rulers  of Iran and  Afghanistan  and also from the Delhi Muslim rulers. 
Junagarh-fort-bikaner-rajasthan.  medium.com
Within the seven sturdy gates, there are palaces, Mahals (halls) women quarters (Zanana), etc including Hindu and Jain temples, the earliest is dated to 16th century.   When it comes to interior parts of the palaces,  they are  carefully  decorated and painted in traditional Rajasthani style.  An interesting aspect of this fort is the palaces have many  large rooms more than needed. This being due to the fact the rulers did not want to use the rooms  already used by their predecessors.  Mind you, starting from the 16th century,  this fort represents 16 successive generations of rulers who ruled the kingdom well using this place as a seat of power.  The overall features are considered to be comparable to that of  Louis’s France or of Imperial Russia". As for the style of  architecture, you can see a blend of many types, Mogul, Rajasthani, British and European. Maharajah Ganga Singh, the ruler with British influence revived the Rajsthani  design and incorporated local architecture in his buildings.  It is a ''paradoxical mix of  medieval military architecture and beautiful interior decoration".

Among the 7 gates to the fort Karan Pol or Parole  is the entry gate. However, presently the east facing Suraj Pol or Sun gate is the entry gate. Unlike  the other gates, this is made of golden or yellow  sand stones and the specialty is  morning Sun's rays fall on the gate which is considered a sign of good omen, implying positivity when the ruler goes out through the gate on a mission or any other assignment. Another distinctive feature of the gate is to prevent ramming of the doors by elephants  during  raids by the enemies; the strong  doors are provided with  iron spikes and studs. Two  stone statues of  elephants with mahout are placed on either side of the gate as sentinel. Only through this gate the royalty with their retinue arrive and depart and each time the trumpet will be played  from the gallery in the gate. Like the Sun gate, Karen Gate doors are impregnated with iron spikes and studs  to avoid   ramming by the war elephants. The other gates are  Daulat Pol, Chand Pol (provided with a double gates) and Fateh Pol; They provide access to certain parts of the fort.  

Between the main gate and the palace, there is a  space in the shape of a quadrangle  that houses  a large pavilion with a water pool made of quality marble -  Carrara Italian marble. The Karan Mahal, where public audience was held in the Diwan-i-Am by Karan Singh (1631–39) and his successors till the 20th century is in this space.   And this is followed by another gate called  the Tripolia gate (triple gateway). Only through this gate, the  royal chambers  can be accessed. The  royal family's temple Har Mandir  is next to the gate.   Besides,  there are many Havelies located both within and outside the fort in the Bikaner city's by lanes and they distinctive Bikaneri architectural style.

Anup Mahal,Junagarh Fort, Bikaner. en.wikipedia.org

As for the Daulat Pol (gate), there  are  41 hand imprints  seen on the wall in red color representing the wives of the rulers of Bikaner  and other royal women - a poignant reminder of the Sati (self-immolation), they committed on the funeral pyres of their husbands who died in battle against  the Muslim ruler. They would rather die than be  concubines in the harem of a Muslim ruler. 
Karan Mahal,Junagarh Fort, Bikaner.   en.wikipedia.org
Among the mahals (halls) in the Junagarh fort, the most beautiful  one is Karan Mahal (Public Audience Hall) built by Karan Singh in c.1680 .  It marks his victory over Mogul ruler Aurangzeb, the most impulsive and aggressive  Muslim ruler. Provided with stained glass windows, poly chrome glass, mirror  designs,  nicely carved balconies, fine stone screens /windows with a broad garden,   this hall is quite known for architectural niceties displaying the  aesthetics of the royalty.  Phool Mahal ("Flower Palace"), being the the oldest part of the palace,  was built by king Raja Rai Singh who ruled between 1571-1668.

Anup Mahal,Junagarh Fort, Bikaner. . en.wikipedia.org

Anup Mahal, a multi-story structure,  was meant for administrative puposes.  It has ornate wooden ceilings with inlaid mirrors, Italian tiles, and fine lattice windows and balconies.  The  gold leaf paintings in some places  are impressive. Yet another grand structure.
Chandra Mahal,  as the name suggests, has  some richly decorated rooms with  gold plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones.  Ganga Mahal is  a 20th century  addition by  Ganga Singh,  who ruled  for 56 long  years from 1887 to 1943. He  had good relationship with the British and was a great builder. The large durbar hall known as the Ganga Singh Hall now  houses the museum.  On display here are   war weaponry, etc  and also a World War I airplane (biplane).   Badal Mahal (The weather palace), an extension of  the Anup Mahal  has  several paintings of Maharajah, and  rare photos of people standing on nails, wood, swords and saws  (a sort of testing human endurance based on faith).  The walls carry fine  fresco paintings of the Hindu god Krishna and his consort Radha amidst the rain clouds. This fort is one of the splendid forts in India steeped in history spanning several centuries starting from the 16th century.