Category Archives: History

01 Nov

Why Kerala is known as God’s own country

Why Kerala is known as God’s own country

As per Hindu mythology, Kerala was created by Lord Parasurama, an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu by throwing his axe across the sea to create new land for his devotees to live peacefully. Heavenly natural resources and people are welcoming everyone to visit the state. No major communal issues happened in Kerala, like any other states in India.

Records of Kerala state in India / World

  • The first state to achieve 100% literacy rate in India.
    1. Kottayam is the first city in India to attain 100% literacy (in 1989). It is located in central Kerala area. Kottayam is a well-known place for education from history time. So Kottayam is known as “Akshara Nagari” (City of Letters).
    2. Ernakulam district,(Kerala state) was declared as totally literate in 1990. It’s the first district in India to have achieved 100% literacy.
    3. Kerala state achieved 100% literacy in 1991. It’s the first state to achieve 100% literacy rate in India. Now Kerala is top in the table of literacy rate in Indian states.
  • State’s sex ratio is 1048 females: 1000 males. The national average is 945:1000. A prior check-up is not allowed for knowing the baby’s gender. No abortion related to upcoming baby’s gender. Boys and girls are getting equality everywhere.
  • 1st rank in India for HDI (Human Development Index), which is comparable with some European countries. Kerala is the only State in India which remains in the “very high human development index (HDI)” as per, world-class standards.
  • WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF declared Kerala to be the world’s first “Baby-friendly state” in the world.
  • First complete digital state in India.
  • The first state in India which is 100% electrified.
  • Kottayam, Kerala became the first tobacco free district in India in 2008.
  • Kottayam Port: India’s first inland Port is located in Kottayam municipality.
  • Kerala is the least corrupt states in India. It’s 4%, which is far better than other states like, Karnataka (77%), Andhra Pradesh (74%), Tamilnadu (68%), Maharashtra (57%) and J& K (44%). (According to CMS – Indian Corruption Study 2017 and Transparency International Survey.)
  • Kerala is the first state in India to offer free cancer treatment to the poor.
  • Kerala state has the highest life expectancy in India, 77 years. The USA have 78.60 years & 71.59 years in Russia. Kerala state has a world-class level in health care. The state has a lot of hospitals in every corner including super specialty hospitals. Government hospitals are there in every village for free treatments. Private hospitals are getting a subsidy from the state government. So private hospital charges are less than any other cities in India.
  • It has the highest media exposure in India. Newspapers are publishing in nine languages, mainly Malayalam and English.
  • Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram is the first IT park in India and the largest IT park in Asia. Established in 1990 by the Government of Kerala. This ISO certified Technology Park has about 400 companies with more than 56000 employees. It is also known as the world’s greenest Technopolis.>
  • Cochin International Airport is the first airport in India developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model. It is the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international traffic and the world’s first fully solar-powered airport. In 2018, it got Champion of the Earth award, the highest environmental honor instituted by the United Nations.
  • Kerala has 4 international airport’s, which is the highest ratio in India.
  • Asia’s largest, and the world’s third-largest, Naval Academy-Ezhimala Naval Academy is in Kerala.
  • Idukki arch dam, the world’s second arch dam, and Asia’s first.
  • World’s first Teak Plantation, World’s Largest and Longest Teak are in Kerala. World’s only one Teak Museum is in Nilambur, Kerala.
  • Kerala is the first state in the country to have STD and ISD facilities in all its villages.
  • Ancient Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is the richest worship center in the world and in terms of assets gold and precious stones.
  • Kerala is one of the first South Asian states which abolished the centuries-old practice of slavery. In 1812, the Travancore ruler Her Highness Maharani Lakshmi Bhai abolished the slave trade in Travancore state. After that, the Travancore king His Highness Uthradam Tirunal Maharaja banned all forms of slavery and slave trade in 1853. Then the neighboring princely state Kochi also banned slavery in 1872.
  • The Travancore King His Highness Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma Maharaja abolished the ban of Temple Entry Proclamation (low caste people were not allowed to go to temples) in 1936. It was a milestone in the history of Kerala and India. Gandhi sent a message to Travancore king: “ People call me “The Mahatma” and I don’t think I deserve it. But in my view, you have in reality become a “Mahatma”(great soul) by your proclamation at this young age, breaking the age-old custom and throwing open the doors of the Temples to our brothers and sisters whom the hateful tradition considered as untouchables. “
  • In 2015 Idukki district, Kerala achieved the first district in India to be fully connected by high-speed broadband connectivity.
  • Kerala has emerged as a truly ‘digital state’ with a mobile teledensity of 98% and Internet access covering over 80% of the population.
  • Startup Village, Kochi is India’s first incubator business environment that is funded jointly by the public and private sector.
  • Cochin Shipyard is one of the major shipbuilding and maintenance facility in India which is famous for Ship design, Shipbuilding & Ship repair. Cochin Shipyard built India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier for Navy,  INS Vikrant.
  • India is the world’s 4th largest natural rubber producing country. Kerala state is producing 92% of rubber in India.
  • NH 47A was the shortest highway in India. Now it’s the second-shortest highway in India. Length is 6 km between Kundannoor and Willingdon Island in Kochi, Kerala.
  • Respects all genders with the same level:- Kerala government became the country’s first state to announce a transgender policy. Kochi have a special school for transgenders. Transgenders are working for Kochi metro rail.
  • The state has the lowest population growth rate in India.
  • Cleanliness. There is no house in Kerala without a bathroom or toilet. First rank in India as a state. Taking bath two times a day is a daily routine of Keralites.
  • Every place has good libraries. DC Books, Kottayam is the first publishing house to get ISO certification in India, one of the largest literary publishers of India, which is publishing average 1500 books/year.
  • Highest health rate in India. 2,700 government medical institutions in the state, with 330 beds per 100,000 population. Rulers of the states of Travancore and Kochi took the initiative to implement the western health care system in Kerala in the 19th century.
  • The Kochi metro project is the first metro in the country which connects rail, road and water transport facilities. World’s first metro whose entire management operations are handled by women.
  • School Arts Festival of Kerala (Kerala School Kalolsavam) is considered to be the biggest cultural event of Asia, which is conducted by the state government of Kerala.

Quick Facts about Kerala – The God’s own country:

Country: India
State: Kerala
Local languages: Malayalam, Tamil, and English
Sex ratio: 1048 female(s)/1000 male(s)
International Airports: Cochin International Airport, Trivandrum International Airport, Karipur International Airport & Kannur International Airport. [The upcoming, Sabarigiri International Airport will be in Central Kerala area.]

01 Aug

Kottayam – The city of Letters

The city of Letters, Kottayam is a municipal town in the Indian state of Kerala, which is the administrative capital of Kottayam district. Kottayam municipality was established in 1924. The name ‘Kottayam’ is derived from two Malayalam words, “Kotta” + “Akam”, which means ‘Inside the fort’.

Kottayam is famous for 3 L ’s:-

City of Literature and Literacy

Kottayam is the first town in India to attain 100% literacy in 1989. Kottayam is a well-known place for education from history time. So Kottayam is known as “Akshara Nagari” and City of Mural paintings also. The first college in India i.e., CMS College was started by the Church Mission Society in 1817, with the help of Travancore Kingdom.

Cms_college_old_building

City of Latex

Kottayam produces the largest quantity of natural rubber in India. Rubber board (Central Government Organizations ) headquarters is located in Kottayam town.

City of Lakes

Vembanad lake and Kuttanad paddy fields are sharing space with Kottayam. Many river types of waterways are available in Kottayam.

City of Letters (Akshara Nagari)

1200px-Mahatma_Gandhi_University_Kottayam_Entrance

Kottayam is a well-known place for literacy, education, and literature from many decades. Many first Malayalam dailies started publishing from Kottayam. Some famous and old publication companies have headquarters in Kottayam town. Kerala state’s 75% of publications are produced from Kottayam. Print and publishing ratio of Kottayam is very high in India. Many literature associations started here. Hence Kottayam is known as “Akshara Nagari”.

Eco City

Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India selected Kottayam as the first town in India to be transformed as an Eco-City in 2014.

City of Mural paintings ( Chuvar Chitra Nagari )

Planned by the authorities of Kottayam and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi. Many artists did initiative from India and outside of India.

History:

Present Kottayam town area was headquarters of Munjanad and Thekkumkoor rulers. Travancore kingdom attacked Thekkumkoor when Marthanda Varma Maharaja was ruling Travancore. Travancore military destroyed the palace and the fort [ Thaliyil fort ]. The Kottayam district court at Kottayam municipality was established in 1910 during the period of Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore. Mahatma Gandhi visited Kottayam in 1936 related to his freedom fighting speech. That ground is there in heart of Kottayam urban area, Thirunakkara Maithanam (Thirunakkara ground). Mahatma Gandhi statue also there in the memory of his visit to Kottayam.

Kottayam - Thirunakkara Maithanam

Thirunakkara ground. Mahatma Gandhi statue in the memory of his visit

 
Miscellaneous

  • In 2008, Kottayam became the first tobacco free district in India.
  • 15th ward of Aymanam panchayath in Kottayam is India’s first digitalized panchayat ward.
  • Upcoming Sabari international airport is a State and Central Government plan to build an airport near Sabarimala temple, in Kottayam. Aviation ministry estimated just six months to complete the airport.
  • Kottayam Public Library is the second largest public Library in Kerala, which was established in 1882. It is the first Library to be established and run by the public in Kerala. There are more than 1.5 lakh books in this Library.
  • The Plantation Corporation of Kerala has its headquarters at Kottayam. Kottayam have priority for the traditional type of spices like black pepper. So it is an important trading center for spices from many centuries. Kottayam have a history of direct trading of spices with Dutch and Portuguese traders.
  • Nearest railway station: Kottayam railway station [ KTYM ], which is located in the main area of Kottayam municipality. It is a major station in that region. Kottayam is the main gateway for Sabarimala pilgrimage. It has stopped for long distance trains connecting most major cities in India. Chingavanam railway station is located in the south of the Kottayam town railway station, which is a major goods station.
  • Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport is about 91 km from Kottayam.  The upcoming 5th international airport in Kerala state, Sabari international airport will be 44 km distance from Kottayam municipality.
  • Kottayam Port: India’s first inland Port is located in Kottayam municipality.
  • Famous companies from Kottayam: Kottayam is the hometown of big publishing companies like, DC Books, Current Books, NBS (National Book Stall), Labour India Publications etc., 8+ major daily newspapers are publishing from Kottayam including 30+ weekly, monthly publications, and Rubber based companies like, MRF Ltd. (Madras Rubber Factory) tyres plant also in Kottayam.
  • CMS Press: The first printing press in Kerala, was established in 1821. The first printed Newspaper “Njananikshepam” published in Kerala has been printed and published from 1848 at CMS press Kottayam. The press is doing printing works in the languages of Malayalam, English, Tamil, Sanskrit, Latin, and Syriac.
  • DC Books: First publishing company in India, which got ISO certification for publishing books. Headquarters in Kottayam municipality.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi University ( MG-University ) is based in Kottayam.
  • Deepika: is one of the oldest newspapers published in India, which started publishing in 1887 from Kottayam. It is the oldest Malayalam daily newspaper which is currently also in circulation. First Malayalam newspapers to go online. It is still the largest Indian online newspaper.
  • Malayala Manorama Company Limited: Founded at Kottayam in 1888. Started publishing in 1890 from Kottayam. It’s the third largest circulating newspapers in India. In 2011, it was the 5th most circulated newspaper in the world. Malayala Manorama is the only non-English and non-Hindi daily newspaper in India to cross 1.5 million copies in circulation.

 
Notable persons from Kottayam:-

  • K.R Narayanan. Ex-president of India. First person from Kerala state who got selection as Indian president.
  • E. C. G. Sudarshan ( Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan ) was India’s best known theoretical physicist and a professor at the University of Texas. His  Quantum theory for tachyons challenged Albert Einstein’s theory. Sudarshan was passed over for the Physics Nobel Prize on more than one occasion. He got Padma Vibhushan & Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.
  • Santhosh George Kulangara: is the founder and chief explorer of Safari TV, the first and only exploration channel in India. He’s the first Indian space tourist. His program Sancharam has entered into the Limca Book of Records for being a visual travelogue prepared by a person traveling solo to various nations, more than 100 & all continents.
  • Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam (IAS): is currently serving as the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism.
  • Kummanam Rajasekharan: is an Indian politician and the current Governor of Indian state Mizoram.
  • Kottarathil Sankunni: author of Aithihyamala (Garland of Legends).
  • Arundhati Roy: Indian-English novelist is a native of Kottayam. Her Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things contains her childhood experiences in Kottayam area.
  • Jayaraj is an Indian filmmaker, who have done many works in Malayalam film industry. He got 5 International awards, 8 National Film Awards & 5 Kerala State Film Awards.
  • Kottayam Pushpanath: He was a famous writer of crime thrillers.
  • Mammootty; is an Indian film actor and producer who works mainly in Malayalam film industry. He won three National Film Awards & five Kerala State Film Awards.
  • Parvathy Omanakuttan: crowned Miss India 2008 and first runner-up at Miss World 2008. She was also awarded the titles of Miss World Asia & Oceania at the Miss World 2008.

Quick Facts about Kottayam – The City of Letters:

Country: India
State: Kerala
District: Kottayam
Coordinates: 9.5947087°N 76.4855729°E
Local languages: Malayalam, Tamil, and English
Sex ratio: 1075 female(s)/1000 male(s)
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport. [The upcoming, Sabari international airport will be just 44 km distance from Kottayam City.]
Nearest railway station: Kottayam railway station [ KTYM ]

Reference:
https://kottayam.gov.in
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kottayam

 

05 Oct

Harappan city Lothal – World’s first port town in Human history

Harappan civilization city LOTHAL – WORLD’S FIRST PORT TOWN

Harappan city Lothal is one of the greatest Harappan ( Indus valley ) civilization site, excavated in the Indian border. A wide range of amazing antique things excavated from this heritage site. Lothal was a gemstone of Indus valley civilization, like other heritage sites Harappa and Mohan Jo Daro. World’s first dock is found in Lothal, which is dated back to 2300 BC. This site was excavated by Dr. S.R Rao in 1955-1962.

The ancient port town Lothal is located in Saragwala village, Gujarat, India. The meaning of the word Lothal is “Place of the Death”. It’s same to the meaning of the word “Mohan Jo Daro”, which is an another Indus valley civilization site.

The World’s first Dockyard :

Harappan city Lothal Dockyard

World’s first Dockyard

The dock is the main attraction in Lothal. Area of the dock is 37 meters length from east to west and width 22 meters from north to south. Once the dockyard could hold 30 – 60 ships. This would be comparable to modern time’s dockyards of Mumbai or Visakhapatnam. The dock was a hub of sea route trading with Egypt, Mesopotamia & Rome. It is built in 2300 BC and lost its importance because of high flood in 1900 BC The dock and town were well planned by ancient architectures. They build a future city for more than 400 years. This inland port connected Arabian sea via a branch of Sabarmati river. River route has been changed, because of the flood in 1900 BC Then people left the town for a short time period. Later they came back and restored the town. But unfortunately, the port lost importance forever because of the change in route of the river. So, people didn’t try to recover the port. Many warehouses were situated near the dock for keeping trading goods. Warehouses are located 3 meters above the ground level for protecting goods from floods and tides.

lothal warehouses foundation

The Town :

Archeologists found many heritage items from this excavated site, which is dated from 3700 BC. A well-planned drainage system is a hallmark of ancient Indus cities. Lothal also had a good underground drainage system, better than any other ancient civilization.

lothal-uppertown-godown-area

lothal-residence-area

lothal-multiple-bathrooms

lothal lowertown and cemetery under vegitation

lothal lowertown and cemetery under vegetation

The cemetery excavated at Lothal is clearly separated from the settlement, which had the form of brick chambers. Dead body’s head generally positioned to the north direction. Daily using things like, pottery, ornaments were placed in the graves with dead bodies. That’s giving a clear indication of Harappan people’s belief in an afterlife. Some graves took the form of brick chambers within which the body was placed. At Lothal many pairs of skeletons (male & female) were found in the same grave, like an indication of some form of Sati. :-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(practice)

Culture & lifestyle :

lothal kitchen burner

main-godown-building lothal well lothal-uppertown-wall lothal-well-near-dockyard
Harappan city Lothal was the only one port-town of the Indus Valley Civilisation. It was a metropolis like London, New York etc. Lothal had trade connection with many countries, Egypt, Iraq, Gulf etc, Some flat stones with grid markings and playing pieces also found, which shows that the Harappan people may have played an early form of chess.

lothal-drainage-system

lothal bathroom connected-to-drainage-system

lothal uppertown

Historians have identified a Harappan city Lothal seal which is showing someone sitting like a monk, the god as Proto-shiva – Pasupathi. Discovery of a large number of cylindrical stones shows that people worshipped Shiv Lingam, the symbol of God Shiva. Those things are considered as the Vedic culture of Harappan Civilisation.

The decline of Harappan city Lothal :
There is no evidence that Lothal town was ever burned or a big war. So natural disasters like massive flood, after rivers changed their course, was the reason for the decline. One more point is climate change. Many pieces of evidence telling, once rhinos, elephants etc., were living that area. Now Indian rhinos living in Himalayan area of India & Nepal. Elephants also not living in this area. So climate change also can consider as a reason for the decline of Lothal. That’s why might be people left the place. People came back to Lothal even after the flood. But then also, they were not able to restore the town. Lothal lost it’s power forever in 1900 BC, because of the course change of river. It lost importance as a center of trade through shipping. Finally, people migrated to other Harappan towns for the living.

lothal bird nature

Archeological Museum :

About 800 objects are on display in the museum, which Archeological Survey of India (ASI) got from Lothal – during the archaeological excavation.

Museum have ancient human skeleton, beads, bangles, terracotta ornaments, animal and human figurines, weights, painted potteries like jar, dish , game objects like chess dice, replicas of seal and sealings, shell, ivory, copper and bronze objects, potteries and tools like copper / bronze fish hooks unearthed from excavations.

Entrance Fee: Rs. 5/-
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Closed on – Friday

Note: Photography is strictly prohibited in Museum.

 

How to reach :

Bus :
81 km distance from Ahmedabad to Lothal via Ahmedabad – Bhavnagar route.

Get down near Gundi (Lothal-Bhurkhi) railway crossing. It will take about 2.5 hrs to reach there. Lothal site is located 7 km from this road. Auto rickshaw is available from near railway cross. There is little difficult to get any return vehicle from the Lothal site.

Daily Trains :
AHMEDABAD – 06:05 am
LOTHAL BHURKHL – 09:30 am

LOTHAL BHURKHL – 04:20 pm
GANDHIGRAM – 7:30 pm

Quick Facts:

Country: India
State: Gujarat
District: Saragwala
Coordinates: 22.52 N 72.24 E
Local languages: Gujrathi and Hindi
Best Time to Visit: September to March
Opening Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Closed on:  Friday
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad Airport

24 Oct

The Ruins of Belapur Fort

cbd belapur fort

Belapur Fort is a fort near the township of Belapur in Navi Mumbai (New Bombay), Maharashtra, India. The fort was built by the Siddis of Janjira. In 1733, the Marathas wrested control of the Belapur Fort from the Portuguese.  After the victory, the fort was renamed as Belapur Fort. In the early 19th century, the fort was captured by the British. After the British gained supremacy in the region, with the expansion of the Bombay Presidency, the strategic importance of the fort declined, and it fell into disuse.

navi-mumbai-municipal-corporation

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building

Once there were three watchtowers related to fort in the area. One watch tower is located opposite to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building. It is fully restored like a modern building and tower  is surrounded by a small garden. It’s hidden by vegetation even it’s locating next to a busy traffic junction. Fort is in ruined condition, but the traffic junction remains the name, Killa junction.  Killa means, Fort in Marathi language.

watchtower-near-navi-mumbai-municipal-corporation

Old Watchtower opposite to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building

Ruins under vegetation

Ruins under vegetation

belapur fort watch tower

Inside Watchtower near Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation

Second watch tower was a part of fort,  which is located inside the ruins of fort. We will get a clear view of Panvel Creek from the top of the watch tower. Once this creek area was an important place of sea route trading. And this watch tower was helpful for preventing  attack from sea. That was the actual reason behind the fort.  Nothing is remaining there, except the partially destroyed  watch tower and foundation of fort under the vegetation.

cidco guest house road

cidco guest house road

belapur fort surrounding by a small forest

Third watch tower was located in an abandoned place near by creek and nothing is remaining now.

History :

Fort was built in 1560–1570 by the Siddis, after they took control of the area from the Portuguese. It is located atop a hillock, near the mouth of the Panvel Creek. In 1682, the fort was recaptured by the Portuguese, who had managed to annex the regions controlled by the Siddis, near Belapur (at that time known as Shabaz).

The ruins of belapur fort and watchtower

The ruins of belapur fort and watchtower

In 1733, the Marathas, led by Chimnaji Appa, wrested control of the fort from the Portuguese. He had made a vow that if it were to be successfully recaptured from the Portuguese, he would place a garland of beli leaves in a nearby Amruthaishwar temple, and after the victory, the fort was named as Belapur Fort. The Marathas ruled the area until 23rd June 1817, when it was captured by Captain Charles Gray of the British East India Company. The British partially destroyed the fort under their policy of razing any Maratha stronghold in the area.

Top of Belapur fort

Top of Belapur fort

During its active days, the fort stationed four companies each of 180 men and 14 guns ranging from 4-12 pounds (2-5 kg) in weight. An underground tunnel is also supposed to exist, which many locals believe that it connects to Gharapuri Island, the site of the Elephanta Caves.

Inside the cbd belapur fort

Inside view of Belapur fort’s watch tower

Present :

The remaining parts of the fort are situated on the top of a small hill near panvel creek and CIDCO guest house.  Ruins are under vegetation. The fort is surrounded by several residential complexes. So it’s little difficulty to find out the fort and watchtower. There is narrow walk way to reach the fort and you have to find the way through bushes. CIDCO’s plans are underway to renovate the fort which is in danger of being lost to encroachments.

Panvel creek

Panvel creek

How to reach :

10 min walkable distance from Belapur – Uran road in between Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation building and Panvel creek.

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belapur_Fort
 

28 Jun

Elephanta Caves – The ancient cave city of lord Shiva

shiva thrimurthi elephanta cave

Three-headed (Trimurti) sculpture of the Lord Mahadeva

Elephanta (Gharapuri – the city of caves) is one of an island in Arabian sea, about 10 kilometres to the east of the Metropolis city of Mumbai (the commercial capital of India). The ancient cave city of lord Shiva is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. All caves are carved from single stone – in between 5th A.D and 8th A.D. Gharapuri was the old name of the island. There was a single stone elephant sculpture in the entrance of the island, when Portuguese navigators came to this island, hence the new name Elephanta was derived. Presently, the elephant statue is housed at Jijamata Garden in Mumbai.

Elephant statue of Elephanta island at Jijamata Garden

Elephant statue of Elephanta island at Jijamata Garden

History:

Ancient history of Elephanta caves is a mystery. The Elephanta caves are “of unknown date and attribution”. The date of the caves is different according to different Archaeology specialists. There were some inscriptions about the ancient cave city of lord Shiva, which is missing since Portuguese ruling.  Different dynasties ruled this island, the Konkan Mauryas, Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Yadavas of Deogiri, Gujarat Sultanate, Portuguese, Marathas and Britain. Once it was the capital city of Konkan Mauryas and there was a major port from 2nd B.C. The Kailashnath temple at Ellora and Badami caves has many similarities to Elephanta caves. The Kailashnath temple at Ellora was built by Rashtrakutas and Badami caves built by Chalukyas of Badami. Rashtrakutas were strongly influenced by Lord Shiva,hence contributed for these caves.

Elephanta cave 1 in 1972 and 2015

There are two groups of caves in Elephanta Island. All caves were painted (fresco painting) in the past, now only traces are visible.1st group contains five caves and 2nd group contains two caves. All caves are carved from solid basalt rock, like caves at Ellora and Ajantha. Brahmanical worship had happened, until Portuguese rule began in 1534. They used this island as a watchtower and installed cannons, targeted to see from the top of a hill. There are two British-era cannons at the top. Portuguese army did shooting practice hence there is maximum damage to all sculptures in the caves except Trimurti sculpture in cave 1. Hinduism was declining on Elephanta Island under Portuguese rule. All caves were abandoned and were under vegetation from 16th AD to 20th AD. The annual festival of Shiva – Maha Shivaratri only survived to this day.

Charles II of England married daughter of King John IV of Portugal. Portuguese left the island  in 1661, since Mumbai which included elephanta island was a part of the dowry.

Nataraja Cosmic dancer

Nataraja – The Cosmic Dancer

1st cave (Great Cave) is a brilliant example of glorious ancient Hindu civilization. World famous for its carving techniques. There are many forms of Lord Shiva in 1st cave. On the south wall of 1st cave, there is an unforgettable three-headed (Trimurti) sculpture of the Lord Mahadeva, representing three essential functions: Aghora (the destroyer – most powerful in the universe) on left side, Vamadeva (master of joy and beauty) on right side and Tatpurusha (preserver of positive and negative principles of existence) in the center. Famous sculptures of Elephanta caves are Trimurti, Ravana shaking the Kailash (same sculpture like cave 16, Kailashnath Temple, Ellora), Shiva-Parvati on Kailash, Ardhanarishvara (half men and half woman), Kalyanasundara (Wedding of Shiva), Shiva Linga, Nataraja (The Cosmic Dancer), Yogishvara (Master of Yoga)and Kartikeya and Ganesha.

Ardhanarishvara (half men and half woman)

Ardhanarishvara (half man and half woman)

Cave 2, 3, 4 and 5 are broken, small and unfinished. Cave 6 and 7 are located in the eastern side of the island. These Buddhist caves are hidden from visitors. Cave 6 and 7 need more excavation. Cave 6 was converted into a church by Portuguese during their ruling of Elephanta Island.

Elephanta cave 5

Ruins of Elephanta cave 5

Presently, ASI and UNESCO are doing maintenance of the caves properly. The Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered remains of bricks from which houses were built, stonewalls, Roman Amphoras (pots used to transport a variety of things like olive, dry fruits and spices), coins and broken parts of vessels from shores of elephanta island. Even the sand on the shore, at the north and the east of the Mora bundar, is full of small potsherds. The Roman artefacts date backs to the 4th to 6th centuries. This discovery shows that Elephanta Island was a major port and was trading with the late Roman Empire. Locals believe there was an underground tunnel from Belapur fort to Elephanta Island.

Interior of Elephanta cave 1 in 1880 and 2015

People:
There are 1000+ populations living in 3 villages in Elephanta Island, namely Shent bundar, Mora bundar and Raj bundar. Local’s earning mainly depends on cave’s tourism.

How to Reach:

The island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai City. Typically every 20 minutes a boat leaves from Gateway of India to Elephanta Island. Ferry Cost is Rs.130/person (Return ticket). It will take 1 hour for one side traveling. 30 min walkable distance from Elephanta Island boat jetty to the caves.

Ferry timings:
Gateway to Elephanta: 9 am – 2 pm
Elephanta to Gateway: 12 noon – 5:30 pm

Elephanta island view from boat

Elephanta island – a view from boat

Quick Facts:

Country: India
State: Maharashtra
District: Raigad
Coordinates: 18.96 N 72.93 E
Local languages: Hindi and Marathi
Best Time to Visit: September to March
Closed on:  Monday
Nearest Airport: Mumbai Airport

Reference:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephanta_Caves
http://asi.nic.in/asi_underw_fieldwork.asp
http://www.oldindianphotos.in

06 Aug

Kallil bhagavathi temple – An ancient Jain cave temple in Kerala

Kallil bhagavathy temple

Jainism was introduced to South India in third century BC by the order of Emperor Chandragupta Mauryan (321-297 BC). From that time Jainism was well established in Kerala. In 800-1000 AD Jainism wiped out from Kerala. The revival of the Vedic Culture (Hinduism) was the main reasons of the disappearance. People were back into the Hinduism or merged with Hinduism. And Jain temples were also crushed during Tipu Sultan’s raid.

kallil temple jain saint

Many Hindu temples in Kerala were originally Jain temples. For example, Kudalmanikkam Temple near Irinjalakuda (Thrissur) and Kallil bhagavathi temple near Perumbavoor. Similarly, several temples in North Malabar was once a Jain temple. At present, Jainism in Kerala has a very small following. Ilango Adigal was on of the notable person of the Jain religion in Kerala. He was a poet and a Jain monk of the 2nd century AD.

Kallil cave temple is sited in Kunnathunadu Thaluk of Ernakulam District in Kerala. Is 22 km away from Kalady. The name ‘Kallil’ means ‘in Rock’. Studies indicate that the inception of the temple might date back to third century BC. The nature made cave temple, located in a 28-acre (113,000 m²) plot in thick forest area, is cut from a huge rock. The rock temple of 75 feet X 45 feet X 25 feet which rests without any proper support. The visitor has to climb 120 steps to reach this rare historic temple. There is an ancient pond that offer drinking water nearby.

Durgadevi is the main deity of the temple. The idol of Brahma is seen carved at the top of the rock. Brahma is also worshipped along with Siva and Vishnu. The temple closes after Poojas at noon every day and poojas are not being done at night. The presence of the Jain deities Parshvanath, Vardhamaana Mahavira and Padmavati devi (worshipped as Bhagawathi by the local population) point to the Jain history of the Kallil cave temple.

This very rock holding on to its position solely owing to Bhagavathi’s grace which may perhaps be called one of the wonders of the world is the unique feature of this temple. This Jain cave temple was to become a Hindu temple in the 9th century AD. Even today Jain followers come here to offer prayers.

Quick Facts:

State: Kerala
District: Eranakulam
Languages Spoken: Malayalam,Hindi and English
Weather: Summers: 35 °C (95 °F). Winters: 20 °C (68 °F)

Getting There:

Nearest Airport: Cochin Airport – 25 Km
Nearest Town: Perumbavoor – 10 Km

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kallil_Temple
http://kallilcavetemple.com/about-en.html

http://ajaysekher.net/2012/02/20/gautamapuram-beyondtowards-cultural-history-kottayam/

20 Dec

Chhatrapati Shivaji The Legend

One of the most able administrators and ruler in India was undoubtedly Chhatrapati Shivaji. He was the founder of the Maratha Empire in India. With his flawless warrior skills and unlimited courage. Shivaji is to India what Napolean was to Europe.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj born in Shivner on 10th April, 1627. Since childhood, Shivaji was brave and never feared anything. There are many instances in his childhood that show he was a born ruler.At the age of 16, he took a pledge to establish a sovereign Hindu kingdom.

He founded the Hindu kingdom in the Deccan against all odds, fighting against the mighty Mughals. He inspired and united the common man to fight against the tyranny of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them.

He raised a strong army and navy, constructed and repaired forts, used gureilla warfare tactics,developed a strong intelligence network,gave equal treatment to the people from all religions and castes based on merit, and functioned like a seasoned Statesman and General. He appointed ministers with specific functions such as Internal security,Foreign affairs,Finance,Law and Justice,Religious matters,Defence etc.

He introduced systems in revenue collection and warned the officials against harassment of subjects.He thought ahead of times and was a true visionary.In his private life, his moral virtues were exceptionally high.His thoughts and deeds were inspired by the teachings of his mother Jijabai, his teachers, great saints like Dnyaneshwar & Tukaram and the valiancy and ideals of the Lords Rama and Krishna.

The tiny kingdom established by Chhatrapati Shivaji known as “Hindavi Swaraja” (Sovereign Hindu state) grew and spread beyond Attock in Northwest India (now in Pakistan)and beyond Cuttack in East India in course of time, to become the strongest power in India. After the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji & his son Sambhaji, their prime ministers or ‘the Peshwas’ became the defacto rulers. The Peshwas and the Maratha Sardars (Chieftans) like Shindes of Gwalior, Gaekwads of Baroda & Holkars of Indore contributed to the growth of the Maratha Confederacy.

Chhatrapati_Shivaji_Raje_Bhosale

The biography of Shivaji Maharaj has an answer for any problem faced by a Hindu or Indian politicians; however for this purpose the biography should be read with shrewdness and insight.

The history of India is incomplete without the history of Marathas and Shivaji is the nucleus of Maratha history. Shivaji has been a source of inspiration and pride to the past generations and will continue to inspire generations in future. We salute this legend and humbly dedicate this article to him. Please read and share the legendary life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, before his upcoming Birth Anniversary!.

Quotes

” Shivaji was the greatest Hindu king that India had produced within the last thousand years; one who was the very incarnation of lord Siva, about whom prophecies were given out long before he was born; and his advent was eagerly expected by all the great souls and saints of Maharashtra as the deliverer of the Hindus from the hands of the Mlecchas, and as one who succeeded in the reestablishment of Dharma which had been trampled underfoot by the depredations of the devastating hordes of the Moghals.”

Swami Vivekananda

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shivaji

http://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/national-icons/shivaji-maharaj/

 

20 Nov

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan – The Lion of Mumbai 26 11

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Arun Jadhav, Constable Ombale and many others. You were Heroes.. We shall never forget what you did for us till our last…. Salute to the lions!!!

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was a Major in the Indian Army serving in the elite Special Action Group of the National Security Guards (NSG). He was killed in action while fighting terrorists in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. His bravery was honoured with the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peace time gallantry award, on 26 January 2009.

“Do not come up, I will handle them”, were the last words which Major Unnikrishnan told his men as he was hit by bullets while engaging well armed terrorists inside the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower during Operation Black Tornado, according to NSG officials.

Later, NSG sources clarified that when a Guardsman got injured during the operation, Major Unnikrishnan arranged for his evacuation and started chasing the terrorists himself. The terrorists escaped to another floor of the hotel and during the chase Major Unnikrishnan was seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries.

Operation Black Tornado ( Mumbai 26/11 )

On the night of 26 Nov 2008, several iconic buildings in South Mumbai were attacked by terrorists. One of the buildings where the terrorists held people hostage was the 100-year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Major Unnikrishnan was the team commander of 51 SAG deployed in the operation at the Taj Mahal Hotel to rid the building of terrorists and rescue the hostages. He entered the hotel in a group of 10 commandos and reached the sixth floor through the staircase. As the team descended the stairs, they sensed the terrorists on the third floor. The terrorists had held a few women as hostages in a room and locked it from the inside. After breaking open the door, the round of fire by the terrorists hit Commando Sunil Yadav, who was Major Unnikrishnan’s partner.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishan led his team from the front and engaged the terrorists in a fierce gunfight. He arranged for Commando Sunil Yadav’s evacuation and regardless of personal safety, chased the terrorists who, meanwhile, escaped to another floor of the hotel, and while doing so Major Sandeep continuously engaged them. In the encounter that followed, he was shot from the back, seriously injured and succumbed to injuries.

At Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s funeral, mourners shouted “Long Live Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan”, “Sandeep Unnikrishnan Amar Rahee”. Thousands lined up outside the Bangalore house of the NSG Commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan as thousands lined up to pay their respects. The funeral of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan was held with full military honours.

“My son became a hero. I am proud of him, but I didn’t want to lose him ever. Sandeep laid down his life for the country’s safety. But I don’t know whether the country has become safer today. I feel that more people should join the army,” says his Father.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishna,

You will always stay alive in our hearts..
We are breathing peace today because you sacrificed your yesterday..
We are forever grateful. And our salute to your parents, who nurtured the adoration for the motherland, in you..
Still many indian’s remembering you.
I am only a member of this unit.
Ajmal kasab needs a brutal behavior that can do justice to our soldiers like you! Ajmal Kasab should be hanged without delay. Your sacrifice for our motherland had encouraged many of like me to die for our Nation..
We realy proud of you Sir.. Jai Hind !!

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandeep_Unnikrishnan

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