By viewership …
Frankly, I was surprised with the one that tops ! Enjoy.
24 Jul 2013 Leave a comment
By viewership …
Frankly, I was surprised with the one that tops ! Enjoy.
26 Jun 2013 Leave a comment
in BEAUTY, BUDDHISM, CELEBRATION, CULTURE, HIMALAYAS, HISTORY, HUMANISM, INDIA, JOURNAL, LIFE AND BEING, LOVE, MIND - THOUGHT & BELIEF, MUSINGS, POEM, SELF - IMPROVEMENT, TRADITION Tags: Asia, Folklore, Himalayas, History, India, Kashmir, Moriah, Nicholas Roerich, Pir Panjal, Russia, Tradition
A Travel Diary
[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]
Part X : INDIA (1924)
The Talmud relates that the dove brought the first olive branch to Noah from Mount Moriah. And Mount Moriah and the mountain Meru both lie in Asia. Here is the beginning of all things. Here is the source for all travelers and all searchers. Here is raised the first image of the Blessed Maitreya—Messiah—Muntazar, the Messiah now awaited by the Mohammedans. Thrice powerful M ! Here, above all disputes, the teachings have raised up the olive branch of the new world. Here is ordained the universal commune.
Some one voluntarily approached and touched our tent ! Who is this man, with his long black braid and a turquoise earring in his ear, and garbed in a white kaftan ? It is the Lama, Pema Don-dub, the local ikon painter. We ask, “Can you paint for us the Blessed Maitreya, exactly like the one in Tashi-lhunpo ?” He consents and now he sits on a tiny rug in the corner of the white gallery, and with various pigments, paints the Image full of symbols. He prepares the fabric for the painting and covers it with levkas (a mixture of chalk on glue), and irons it with a shell. He works exactly like Russian ikon painters. In the same way does he grind his colors, heat them on a coal pan; and thus does he keep an additional brush in his thick black hair. His Tibetan wife helps him to prepare his colors.
And so, in the corner of the white gallery is being conceived the ingenious image, many-colored. And each symbol upon it more clearly defines the Blessed One. Here is the frightful bird-like Garuda and wise Magi and Ganeshi, elephant of happiness, and Chintamani, the Steed, bearing on its back the miraculous stone, Treasure of the World. A sacred cycle of chosen symbols. And upon the image and the hands is laid pure gold.
Like our ikon painters, the artist lama chants hymns as he labors. The chants become more fervent; this means he is beginning upon the Image itself.
And another wonder occurs, only possible in this land. In the deep twilight when the waxing moon possesses all things, one hears through the house the silvery tones of a handmade flute. In the darkness, the artist lama is sitting upon his rug, playing with rapture before the image of Maitreya-Messiah-Muntazar.
The Strings of the Earth !
Where have passed the hordes of the great Mongols ?
Where has the lost tribe of Israel concealed itself ?
Where stands the “Throne of Solomon” ?
Where lie the paths of Christ the Wanderer ?
Where glow the bonfires of the Shamans, Bon-po, of the religion of demons ?
Where is Shalimar, the gardens of Jehangir ?
Where are the roads of Pamir, Lhasa, Khotan ?
Where is the mysterious cave, Amarnath ?
Where is the path of Alexander the Great to forgotten Taxila ?
Where are the walls of Akbar ?
Where did Ashvagosha teach ?
Where did Avan-tisvamin create ?
Where are the citadels of Chandragupta-Maurya ?
Where are the stones of wisdom of King Asoka ? . . .
All have passed by way of Kashmir. Here lie the ancient ways of Asia. And each caravan flashes by as a connecting link in the great body of the East. Here are the sandy deserts on the way to Peshawar; and the blue peaks of Sonamarg; and the white slopes of Zoji-La. And in the flight of the eagles is the same untiring spirit; in the fleet steed is the same unalterable motion. Nor does the world of roses and shawls of Kashmir resemble that forgotten and hidden world of Kashmiri blades.
“Sacre du Printemps“— when we composed it together with Stravinsky, we could not conceive that Kashmir would greet us with its very setting. In Ghari, camping out by night, when the vivid spring sky became afire with stars and the mountains were azured, we observed rows of fires upon the mountains. The fires started into motion, separated and strangely circled about. Then the mountain slopes became aglow with these fiery processions. And in the village below, dark silhouettes began to whirl about brandishing resin torches on long staffs. The flaming circles proclaimed the end of winter frosts. And the songs proclaimed the Sacred Spring. This is the festival of the Ninth of March.
“Bulbul,” the nightingale, sings on the apple tree. The cuckoo reckons out a long life. White linens are spread on the meadow and a samovar is boiling. Red and yellow apples and sweet cakes are passed around to those seated upon the spring grass. The eyes of the violets and the white and yellow narcissus are woven into a many-hued carpet. At evening, flocks of ducks and geese completely cover the tiny islands over the lakes. Small bears steal out on the spring glades. But none fears them—unless the mother-bear is with her cubs. . . .
The river banks are sloping. A line of boatsmen steer their canopied boats. . . . Upon a broad road the oxen drag themselves and the wheels grind along. Three-hundred-year-old plantains and tall poplars guard the ways. And the teeth of the encountered travelers gleam often in the smile of greeting.
In the sheds lie the sleighs—veritable Moscow sleighs. In the yard, a crane screeches above the well. The straw roof is overgrown with green moss. Along the road are gnarled willow trees. And the greetings of the children are noisy. But where is this ? Is it in Schuya or Kolomna? It is in Srinagar, in the “City of the Sun.”
Tiny, big-bellied pillars—small ornamental designs—steep little steps of stone—the gilded roofs of the temple—creaking, ornamented window-shutters—rusty locks—low little doors with their “curtesy”—carved balustrades—slanting tiles on stony floors—the odor of old lacquer—small windows with diminutive panes. Where are we then ? Is this the Kremlin of Rostov ? Are these the monasteries of Suzdal ? Are they the temples of Yaroslavl ? And what of the endless flocks of daws ? What of the naked branches behind the windows ? This is the chief palace of the Maharajah of Kashmir. How curious is everything which remains from antiquity. But the modern additions are hideous.
Upon the road are many Fords. In the hotel dining room one sees the faces of Americans. In the jewelry shop, side-by-side, hang two paintings—one of the view of Delhi, the other the view of the Moscow Kremlin. Among the crystals into which one gazes for destiny; among the sapphires of Kashmir and the Tibetan turquoises, are shimmering green Chinese jadaites—and like a garden, many-colored are the borders of the embroidered kaftans. Like precious shawls, the rooms of the museum are strewn with minute Iran-designs and “Gandhara,” belabored by destiny, unifies the cleft branches of West and East.
In the styles of the temples and mosques; in the angular carved dragons; in the tentlike, sloping hexagonal tower, is seen an unexpected combination of the old wooden churches of Norway and the Chinese pagodas. Out of one well is drawn the Romanesque Chimera, the animal ornaments of Altai and the tiny animals of Chinese Turkestan and China. The Siberian paths of the nations have carried afar the same meaning of adornment.
The fort of Akbar stands firmly planted. But after you have climbed the steepnesses and flights, you may perceive that the old bricks and the claybeaten cement barely hold together. The arches are ready to give way.
Nishad, the garden of Akbar, occupies the site from the lake to the hill—a high place. The structures are modest and upon the corners are the little towers so beloved by him. They are characterized by simplicity and brightness.
Shalimar—the garden of Jehangir—is also in character with its possessor, standing “for itself.” There is less of outward show, but more of luxury—of that luxury which brought the descendants of the Moguls to poverty. The last Mogul, in Delhi, secretly sold furniture out of the palace and destroyed the valuable facings of the walls of Shah Jehan and Aurungzeb. Thus ended the great dynasty.
The weaver of Kashmir accompanied the making of each of his designs with a special chant. Such a searching for rhythm reminds us of the great harmony of labor.
No song relates why the mountain “Throne of Solomon” bears this name. This is a place of such antiquity. Janaka, son of Asoka, had already dedicated here one of the first Buddhist temples. Seven centuries later the temple was rebuilt and consecrated to Mahadeva. . . . But whence comes the name of Solomon? The mountain received the name of Solomon from a legend that Solomon, desiring a respite from the conventions of a sovereign’s life and from the burdens of his court, transported himself upon a flying carpet to this mountain with his favorite wife. Here, again, we come upon the mention of that “flying apparatus” possessed by Solomon. A similar mountain is in Turkestan and in Persia.
It is not alone the mountain “Throne of Solomon” which transports the consciousness into biblical spheres. In the valley of Sindh the prophet Elijah is reverenced in a special manner. Most stirring are the legends; how the prophet sitting in his cave saves fishermen and travelers. Under various aspects, at times benevolent, at times stormy, the prophet appears to defend the works of justice and piety. Mohammedans and Hindus, divided by many differences, equally reverence the prophet Elijah.
Purple iris will always recall Moslem cemeteries. They are covered with these flowers. But there is also joy. The lilacs have blossomed, lilies of the valley are nodding and the wild cherry tree glistens.
13 Mar 2013 2 Comments
Personally, Mumbai sounds squeakish to me, like a rat. Bombay conveys the feel of the grand. But as with everything else in India, the place has a history … of how it came to be, who built it, who were its original inabitants, and what transpired in it over the ages.
This article below was written on February 7, 2010 by Tushar Gandhi, founder/president, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation. I might not agree with the man on much that he stands for, especially his political leaning, but I did find the write up interesting and informative.
WHO BUILT BOMBAY ?
According to ancient history, the group of seven islands comprising Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman’s Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel, and Matunga-Sion formed a part of the kingdom of Ashoka the Great of Magadh, ironically in North India.
The Bhaiyas and Biharis whom the Thackerays accuse of being outsiders in Mumbai, come from the region, which was a part of Ashoka the Great’s empire.. We judge everything according to history and the history of Mumbai proves that its earliest known ownership was with a North Indian.
The seven islands of Mumbai passed through many hands, the Sultans of Gujarat , the Portuguese and the British. Every ruler left behind his proof of residence in Mumbai.
The Mauryans left behind the Kanheri, Mahakali and the caves of Gharapuri, more popularly called Elephanta. The Sultans of Gujarat built the Dargahs at Mahim and Haji Ali, the Portuguese built the two Portuguese churches, one at Prabhadevi and the other [ St Andrews ] at Bandra.
They built forts at Sion, Mahim, Bandra and Bassien. The Portuguese named the group of seven Islands ‘Bom Baia’, Good Bay . The British built a city out of the group of seven islands and called her Bombay .
The original settlers of the seven islands, the Koli fishermen, worshiped Mumbai Devi; her temple still stands at Babulnath near Chowpatty. The Kolis called the island Mumbai, derived from ‘Mumba,’ the Mother Goddess.
In 1662, King Charles II of England married the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza, and received the seven islands of Bom Baia as part of his dowry. Six years later, the British Crown leased the seven islands to the English East India Company for a sum of 10 pounds in gold per annum. It was under the English East India Company that the future megapolis began to take shape. After the first war for independence, Bombay once again became a colony of the British Empire .
History has forgotten this but the first Parsi settler came to Bombay in 1640, he was Dorabji Nanabhoy Patel. In 1689-90, a severe plague epidemic broke out in Bombay and most of the European settlers succumbed to it. The Siddi of Janjira attacked in full force. Rustomji Dorabji Patel, a trader and the son of the city’s first Parsi settler, successfully defeated the Siddi with the help of the Kolis, and saved the day for Bombay .
Gerald Aungier, Governor of Bombay built the Bombay Castle, an area that is even today referred to as Fort. He also constituted the Courts of law. He brought Gujarati traders, Parsi shipbuilders, Muslim and Hindu manufacturers from the mainland and settled them in Bombay .
It was during a period of four decades that the city of Bombay took shape. Reclamation was done to plug the breach at Worli and Mahalakshmi, Hornby Vellard was built in 1784. The Sion Causeway connecting Bombay to Salsette was built in 1803. Colaba Causeway connecting Colaba island to Bombay was built in 1838.
A causeway connecting Mahim and Bandra was built in 1845. Lady Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, the wife of the First Baronet Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy donated Rs 1, 57,000 to meet construction costs of the causeway. She donated Rs. 1,00,000 at first.. When the project cost escalated and money ran out half way through she donated Rs 57,000 again to ensure that the vital causeway was completed. Lady Jamsetjee stipulated that no toll would ever be charged for those using the causeway. Today Mumbaikars have to pay Rs 75 to use the Bandra-Worli Sealink, connecting almost the same two islands. Sir J J Hospital was also built by Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy.
The shipbuilding Wadia family of Surat was brought to Bombay by the British. Jamshedji Wadia founded the Bombay Port Trust and built the Princess Dock in 1885 and the Victoria Dock and the Mereweather Dry Docks in 1891. Alexandra Dock was built in 1914.
A Gujarati civil engineer supervised the building of the Gateway of India . The Tatas made Bombay their headquarters and gave it the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel and India ‘s first civilian airlines, Air India . The Godrejs gave India its first vegetarian soap.
Cowasji Nanabhai Daver established Bombay’s first cotton mill, ‘The Bombay Spinning Mills’ in 1854. By 1915, there were 83 textile mills in Bombay largely owned by Indians.
This brought about a financial boom in Bombay . Although the mills were owned by Gujaratis, Kutchis, Parsis and Marwaris, the workforce was migrant Mahrashtrians from rural Maharashtra . Premchand Roychand, a prosperous Gujarati broker founded the Bombay Stock Exchange. Premchand Roychand donated Rs 2,00,000 to build the Rajabai Tower in 1878.
Muslim, Sindhi and Punjabi migrants have also contributed handsomely to Mumbai.
Mumbai is built on the blood and sweat of all Indians. That is why Bombay belongs to all Indians.
Apart from its original inhabitants, the Kolis, everyone else in Mumbai, including Thackeray’s ‘Marathi Manoos’, are immigrants. The “Mumbai for Marathi Manoos” war cry has once again been raised to shore up the sagging political fortunes of the Thackeray family.
When the Shiv Sena came to power in 1993, under the guise of reverting to the original name they replaced Bombay with Mumbai. I wonder when they will discard the anglicized Thackeray and revert back to their original Marathi surname Thakre ?
04 Jul 2012 3 Comments
Atharva Veda : Meat Eating – Ethics and Morals ?
This one is for the hard-boiled moralising Hindu, who is always on the quick to advocate for a vegetarian diet for everyone on the earth. His pitch is intensely moral, suggesting that flesh eating is exceedingly immoral for human beings. And, he does not fail to demand or passionately expect that his interlocutors stop consuming animal flesh for good.
Frequently, when without recourse to any further rationale, our Hindu “ Veg-Is-Pure ” Pundit will snap back :
“ Show us where in our religious or traditional texts, Vedas and Shastras, is it indicated that animal flesh is approved food for human beings ! Show us … “
I have always believed that what one eats is a matter decided by one’s income, culture or choice. Besides, non-vegetarians are invariably omnivorous, even if vegetarians are not. Over some decades, consumption of non-vegetarian food has begun to be unsustainable on environmental resources we globally have, the huge human population we need to feed to provide basic nourishment, which is simply vegetarian in the main, and the prohibitive opportunity cost humanity is paying for the fad.
Meat eating has hence become an ethical issue; though not a moral one. I would concede that meat consumption becomes irrelevant and any felt need for it drops off our life’s radar at a certain point along our spiritual evolution, when one is materially content and largely free from the worldly business of ambitious exertions. After a point, it even becomes unwanted and undesirable. But that, for one, is truly a consequence of individual preference, no matter the cause; and, two, less than 3% of the total population would actually verge on such spiritual excellence as would present meat-eating with moral dimensions for oneself.
There is reason to believe that, at a certain level of personal evolution, meat, especially red, does qualify the unaware or unsuspecting mind with a measure of aggression, a quality no longer welcome and even harmful. Which, in general, is not the case with vegetables and food preparations made from plant derived products.
* * *
This hymn, paraphrased from Atharva Veda
[ Book VI, Canto LXXI, of Ralph T.H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda (1895) ]
expresses a Vedic priest’s benediction upon food in general and meat forms in particular.
All of it is described as objects that “ pleases and delights ” the man.
Clearly, consumption of meat was not proscribed in Sanatan Dharma, the Hindu way of life.
On the contrary, it seems to have been a common fare, much desired and relished.
ATHARVA VEDA – BOOK VI : HYMN LXXI
O Agni, the Hotr !
Make all that I eat
As sacrifice well-offered …
All food, of varied form and nature
Whether bought with gold
Or received as a gift …
Horse, sheep, goat or bullock.
Whatever … sacrificed or not
Bestowed by men
And sanctioned by the Fathers
That comes to me
Pleases and delights …
May Agni, the Hotr
Render as sacrifice well-offered.
O Gods !
Whatever I eat unjustly
Of food bestowed and received
With a measure of doubt
Whether to accept or refuse
That I now swallow…
May the greatness of Universal Being
– Vaisvaanara, the mighty
Make it sweet and blessed to me.
[ II ] As rendered by Ralph T.H. Griffith, Hymns of the Atharva Veda (1895)
1 What food I eat of varied form and nature,
Food whether gold, or horse, sheep, goat, or bullock,
Whatever gift I have received,
May Agni the Hotar make it as sacrifice well-offered.
2 Whatever, sacrificed or not, hath reached me,
Bestowed by men and sanctioned by the Fathers,
Whereby my heart seems to leap up,
May Agni the Hotar make that as sacrifice well-offered.
3 What food I eat unjustly, Gods !
Or, doubtful between bestowing and refusing, swallow,
Through greatness of Vaisvānara the mighty
May that same food be sweet to me and blessed !
28 May 2012 5 Comments
20 May 2012 3 Comments
” Iranians need help, not war or sanctions, to oust their regime,” says Reza Pahlavi in Al Arabiya News today @ http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/05/18/214828.html
There is no doubt about the Persian influence in Middle East and Central Asian regions. It flows from history. Nothing that the West has in mind will change that.
Reza Pahlavi’s views comes across as sensible, sane and insightful, over the noises orchestrated in the media for a while now. He calls upon Israel to help the Iranian people in toppling the current regime instead of launching military attacks against the country to stop its nuclear program. And he’s spot on in his assessment of any misadventure on part of Israel and US : a war on Iran now will cause a tension with Jewish people worse than it already is. In fact, it would regress by milleniums, back to how it was during the reign of Cyrus the Great.
Besides, a war against Iran will not achieve the end… because the nuclear program will not really stop. It will only be delayed for a while, Reza says. The only real solution lies in overthrowing the present “Ayatollah” regime. I believe no one in the world would disagree with that.
The programme to waylay the current establishment does not pass through economic sanctions, but is best routed through standing by the Iranian people. People uprisings in recent past has reflected the public apathy for their government… but they are unarmed and know that violence would only bring out the regime’s superiority, its arms and massive cadres schooled and paid to serve their masters with dedication. Civil disobedience is the more viable option. When diplomacy fails and war is an unfavorable option, only the Iranian people weigh upon the regime from inside, Reza suggests. Taking the regime’s “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity would also be in order, for best effect… a proposal that would require the Security Council’s recommendation since Iran was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, as was done to bring the former president of Ivory Coast on trial. The Ayatollah aides could then be indicted by the reformed justice system within Iran.
Admitting to plaints of the Shah regime’s several drawbacks, Reza stresses that it was not as bad for the people of Iran as the present one. He slams the Iranian establishment for discriminating against minorities and wished making the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the foundation for Iran’s new constitution. The diversity prevailing in Iran could be protected through decentralisation, he feels, by granting a measure of autonomy to each of the provinces, which would then be able to safeguard the rights of minorities and guarantee equality among all citizens. The ethnic groups could have the right to keep their language and further their respective culture.
The response of people on the Al Arabiya web page have been encouraging. A reader lists the three groups of people who would oppose Reza Pahlavi’s suggestions : the Mojahedin, the Fadayain and the Republic’s Ayatollah regime. ” Apart from this minority, over 80% of the Iranian people support Reza Pahlavi or are neutral !” He remains a key political figure popular among the people of Iran.
A Parsi representative of pre-Islamic people of Iran points out that there was no other country he knew of with as extreme a chasm between the people and their government. The Iranian people were cultured, fairly well educated, tolerant, hospitable, hard working and enterprising. In contrast, he lambasts, “these scum bags” have taken the people of Iran to Arbestan of 1400 years ago and have left a legacy of widespread poverty, high unemployment, total lack of respect for women and human rights, oppressive judiciary as practiced in the seventh century, prostitution through poverty, six million drug addicts and corruption galore. The Iranian people have nothing against anyone except the mullahs and their ways.
Another reader lauds the Shah leadership while castigating the brutality of the ruling clerics. He says, the Shah brought modernity into Iran. He encouraged liberal education both at home and abroad, had social programs and policies to help women… while the Islamists were committing acts of violence across the country and blaming the Shah for cracking down on their brutality. These subhumans are doing the same…now.
A reader in the West compares Reza Pahlavi with Nelson Mandela, which seems a stretch. But, more fair on the balance, he adds, ” Though I cannot agree with everything Mr. Pahlavi says, the important point is that the people of Iran know his love for the country. He is seeking a better life for all Iranians, much like his father did. We had a very good life back during the Shah’s reign. I was young then and I don’t remember much but would want Shahzadah Reza Pahlavi back in Iran and back in power….”
Of course, at the head of a democratic government, the reader adds.
16 Apr 2012 Leave a comment
in Uncategorized Tags: Akbar, Ancient, Baji Rao, British India, Bundelkhand, Bundels, Chandels, Chhatrasal, Fort, History, India, Kalinjar, Khajuraho, Mahmud Ghori, Mahoba, Marathas, Mastani, Medieval, Modern, Neelkanth Temple, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Shazar Stone, Sher Shah
While I edit the encyclopedic work for the Kindle edition, here’s a preview in brief to stimulate our interest…
The Kalinjar Fort in Bundelkhand is an entire history in itself, a story through over 6000 human generations in recorded past alone. You cannot think of it without the convergence it includes – of people and events from the wide, wide world within the sub-continent and from abroad – over a span of one and a half millenia, during which developments in East, South, West and North West of India, Asia Minor, Middle East and Central Asia, and in Europe, as far as British Isles, gravitated to this now rather nondescript place.
That is too much of history, we note in astonishment, and far too many people of all kinds to be converging on this quiet forested periphery of one the oldest mountain ranges on earth – the Vindhyas. What accentuates our wonder are the legendary architecture the Fort and other ruins from antiquity in the region present, the exquisite temples and irreplicable sculptures at Khajuraho mere 100 km away, the economic and political significance it acquired, and the culture it spawned over the centuries as the Indian civilisation itself evolved from the ” Golden ” Gupta era through the Hun, Saka and Muslim invasions, the Turk and Mughal reigns in medieval times, the spirited movements it saw in British period, the remarkably endowed persons it raised and the rich traditions it fostered, and the fabulous hearsays natives in its vicinity still talk about !
Though associated principally with the Chandels and that fantastically temple – dense “city” of Khajuraho, from 10th Century through the 13th, the ‘ Kalinjara ‘ connection goes back to the Kalachuris of Elephanta and Ellora caves, the Rashtrakuts of Deccan, and further on to the Gujarat Parmars, the Kannauj Pratihars and Chauhans, the Vijaynagar empire, the Mughals, Afghans, the English, the armed rebellions against British occupation and for Indian independence, and to Mahatma Gandhi. It takes the wind out of me and leaves my heart brimming with humanity.
The Kalinjar Fort was a fortress with unparalleled strength, much culture and uncounted wealth. Together with its twin fort at Ajaigarh, Kalinjar formed a formidable line of defence against attacks from the north. In 1019, Mahmud of Ghazni ravaged much of north and west India but had to turn back from Kalinjar on account of the difficulties it posed and the opposition he encountered. The year 1022 saw a repeat, with Ghazni having to remain content with a few gifts from the Chandel ruler of Kalinjar, but without the keys to the Fort itself.
In its heydays, it is said that the Fort was ‘ a frightening embodiment of Hindu power.’ But the most significant place within the Fort still extant is the Neelkanth (Shiva) Temple, built in a cave in the mountain wall, which precedes the Fort itself by a couple of millenia, or more. The entire construction came up around this ancient place of worship. The wide platform in front of its small entrance includes a mandapa, with proud pillars that still stand, but which is now roofless. All around it are priceless, ancient rock cut relics and carvings.
It is certain that had the Kalinjar Fort fallen to Ghazni’s plunder, Khajuraho and its priceless expressions of art, thought and architecture, would not have survived. And the irony of ironies is that Khajuraho is a thriving well-promoted tourist hub today while Kalinjar is a grey area, seldom appreciated, rarely remembered and infrequently visited by the connoisseurs of history, art, architecture and defence strategy.
The Chandel supremacy was constantly under challenge since early medieval period and its kings had to face assaults from rulers of Kannauj in their north-west, Malwa in the west, the Chalukyas and Rashtrakuts in south and south-west, the Pals in the east, and of Kalinga in south-east. But the survival of Chēdi – Kalchuris through a millenium in such hostile environment, with their own dateline, currency and administrative institutions, speaks a lot for their commitment to the dominion and for their capability of shoring up order and security in the region to allow for pastoral and agricultural occupations, crafts and trade, arts and culture.
But it was the forts at Kalinjar and Ajaigarh that still remained with the Chandel line of kings, when their dominion had shrunk to a few districts in the neighbouhood and the last of them was finally submerged in the waves of history that saw attacks by Gonds… because the Gond king wanted the hand of the Chandel princess ! … and onslaughts of Afghan and Mughal armies, the rise of Raja Chhatrasal, the sway of Maratha power and, finally, its occupation by the British.
Today, the Fort is at peace. The battles have ended and the two old forts are gradually fading, much like old soldiers of yore.
Of the hearsays, it is said that even today the Queen’s Palace fills with spooky sounds at night, of ankle trinkets specially worn by courtesans and danseuse while they performed before a gathering of eminent persons invited by the royals for an evening of art, joy and pleasure !
* * *
The proposed Kindle edition will be structured under the following major heads, with several subheads in some :
02 HISTORICAL TIMELINE
03 THE KALINJAR FORT
04 THE CHANDEL KINGDOM
05 HISTORY OF CHANDEL DYNASTY
06 KHANGARS AND EARLY BUNDELS
07 RAJA CHHATRASAL
08 BAJI RAO AND MASTANI
09 A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF KALINJAR FORT
10 SHAZAR STONE
11 BUNDEL ARCHITECTURE
12 EARLY BRITISH INDIA EXPERIENCE