Khushwant Singh : The Man In Bulb


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 02, 2014           00.15 A.M.

Khushwant Singh's Iconic Image on Editor's Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

Khushwant Singh’s Iconic Image on Editor’s Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

This obituary is a much delayed blog post . I wanted to write it immediately after sad demise of Shri Khushwant Singh ji . He died on March 20, 2014 at the age of 99 . But due to work pressure of my acting institute , I was , unfortunately , not able to do that .

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

I came to know about him in 1969  . In my life , 1967 is a watershed year . I left Deoria , my home town in Uttar Pradesh and landed in Allahabad for higher studies . In the hostel of Government Inter College , Allahabad , I was introduced to new horizons , unknown vistas and leading Indian luminaries .

In 1969 , after completing intermediate , I took admission in Allahabad University . I started living in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . There I got to know about Khushwant Singh , who shot into fame because of the unprecedented success of   The Illustrated Weekly of India  . In the reading room of my hostel , for the first time , I had a chance to glance the above mentioned weekly magazine . A bearded Sardar ji sitting in a light bulb with volumes of books , bottles of booze and photos of buxom beauties , attracted my attention . I read his editorial page week after week and became a life – long fan . As I started knowing  him more , my admiration for him grew .

Khushwant Singh I Know

Khushwant Singh , I Know

Just look at the startling facts of his fascinating life :

+  In 1938 he started his professional career as a practising lawyer . He worked at Lahore Court for eight years.

+ In 1947 he entered Indian Foreign Service . He started as Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada . He was Press Attaché and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission for four years in London and Ottawa .

+ In 1951 he joined the All India Radio as a journalist .

+ Between 1954 and 1956 he worked in Department of Mass Communication of UNESCO at Paris .

+ From 1956 he turned editor. He had edited Yojana , an Indian government journal ; The Illustrated Weekly of India , a newsweekly ; and two major Indian newspapers , The National Herald and the Hindustan Times . During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India’s pre-eminent newsweekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000 .

I still have some old , dog – eared and pale copies of  The Illustrated Weekly of India   in the study of my Deoria house . I felt sad , when I read that one day on 25 July 1978 , a week before he was to retire, the management asked him to leave ” with immediate effect ” . He was the editor of the magazine for 9 years , from 1969 to 1978 precisely . The circulation rose to 4,00,000 from the previous 65,000 . After his departure it plummeted again .

I read that he woke up at 4.00 AM each day to write his columns by hand . His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry . He also wrote his highly popular column  ” With Malice Towards One and All “ regularly . It was widely syndicated in all the famous news papers .

Collage of Books

Books of Khushwant Singh :

Short story collections

  • The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
  • The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
  • A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
  • Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971
  • The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
  • The Portrait of a Lady
  • The Strain
  • Success Mantra
  • A Love Affair In London
  • ना काहू से दोस्‍ती ना काहू से बैर

Play

Television Documentary: Third World—Free Press (also presenter; Third Eye series), 1983 (UK).

 

Book - 1

I am his admirer and shall always be that , till I am alive . It is strange that he attracted large number of people , who became life – long fan . Though he was a Gandhi – Nehru sympathiser , still he had my unflinching admiration . Even Shri Lal Krishna Advani is an admirer , whom he vehemently criticized for his role in Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement of Ayodhya .

Shri Lal Krishna Advani - A Lifelong Admirer

Shri Lal Krishna Advani – A Lifelong Admirer

It is strange , as well as unique . I am baffled and amazed .

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I offer my condolences to the family and legions of admirers of Khushwant Singh ji.

VIDUR Editing Studio , and VIDUR Club also pray for the departed soul .

May you REST IN PEACE Sir ! I , a believer and idol worshipper , will always miss an unapologetic atheist and crusader iconoclast like you .

 

[ Acknowledgment : I have taken some facts of his life and information about his books from Wikipedia . I have copied the list from Wikipedia and posted it here . Expressing gratitude . ]

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Vidur’s Telly Tales – 12 : ” Ramleela – Ajay Devgn Ke Saath ”


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           NOVEMBER 30 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

” Ramleela – Ajay Devgn Ke Saath “  was the brand new show on Life OK , which just got finished . It was very unique concept . It encapsulated the whole story of Bhagwan Ram in just 5 episodes . Ajay Devgn is the narrator of the show .

In the first episode , he tells us about Bhagwan Ram and the Ramleela starts with Maharshi Vishwamitra‘s Ashram . From there , story meanders through several anecdotes of Bhagwan Ram’s life and first episode ends when Bhagwan Ram is banished from his capital Ayodhya to forest for 14 years .

After this rest of the story got finished in remaining 4 episodes . This show attracted me because Rajnish Duggal was playing Ram . I was intrigued . I have seen several actors essaying role of Bhagwan Ram . From Prem Adib in ” Ram Rajya “ to Arun Govil in TV serial Ramayan , I have seen them all . Rajnish Duggal is the new Ram on-screen . So I was curious .

He was very impressive and impressed me as the mythical Ram . He looked regal and powerful . He enacted the role with the required finesse and panache .

He is my old student and his respect and regard for me is unbelievable . I always follow his career and he seeks my advice if the need arises . From Vikram Bhatt‘s ” 1920 “ to Wizcraft’s ” Ramleela – Ajay Devgn Ke Saath “ , it’s a long and very fruitful journey for him . I am happy for his success .

My son Raunak Chaturvedi also did two small roles in the serial . In the first episode he appeared as announcer of Mithila , the kingdom of Maharaja Janak . After this he appeared in the Sanjeevani Booti episode as one of the mountains . With these small roles , he took baby step in the world of cinema .

Raunak Chaturvedi

Raunak Chaturvedi

An innocuous serial became important for me because of Rajnish Duggal and my son . It was a well – made serial and special effects were mind-blowing . Wizcraft should be congratulated for this unique show .

I , along with my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , congratulate Rajnish Duggal and Wizcraft for this magnificent concept and imaginative show on television . I am also happy for my son that he got this role without my help . It is his own success . A beautiful journey of his life has started with this baby step .

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Mr. Karnad’s Speech at Lit-Fest , Mumbai


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           NOVEMBER 07 , 2012           11.45 P.M.

This is the text of GIRISH KARNAD‘s speech at the Mumbai Literature Festival, as compiled by Outlookindia.com from various sources.

 

English: Girish Karnad visited Cornell Univers...

Girish Karnad visited Cornell University in Ithaca New York for screening one of his old movies – Kanakapurandhara on October 29, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

On Friday afternoon at the Tata Literature Live! festival in Mumbai, playwright Girish Karnad surprised audiences with an unexpected and spirited critique of Nobel laureate Vidia Naipaul. Naipaul was awarded the Landmark and Literature Alive’s Lifetime Achievement Award on October 31. Karnad was originally supposed to talk about “his life in theatre” in his session, but instead launched into a scathing critique of Naipaul and the conferring of the award to him

This is what he said at the festival, as reported by Sify:

At the Mumbai Literature Festival this year, Landmark and Literature Alive have jointly given the  Lifetime’s Achievement Award to Sir Vidia Naipaul.

The award ceremony held on the 31st of October at the National Centre of the Performing Arts coyly failed to mention that Naipaul was not an Indian and has never claimed to be one. But at no point was the question raised.

The words Shashi Deshpande, the novelist, had used to describe the Neemrana Festival conducted by the ICCR in 2002 perfectly fitted the present event: “it was a celebration of a Nobel Laureate…whom  India, hopefully, even sycophantically, considered an Indian.”

Apart from his novels, only two of which take place in India and are abysmal,  Naipaul has written three books on India and the books are brilliantly written—he is certainly among the great  English writers of our generation.

They have been hailed as a continued exploration of India’s journey into modernity, but what strikes one from the very first book—A Wounded Civilization—is their rabid antipathy to the Indian Muslim.

The ‘wound’ in the title is the one inflicted on India by Babar’s invasion. Since then, Naipaul has never missed a chance to weigh in against the ‘invaders’, accusing them of having savaged India for five centuries, of having brought, among other dreadful things, poverty into it and destroyed the glorious ancient Hindu culture .

A point that strikes one immediately about these books is that there is not a single word in any of them on Indian music.

Given that music defines our daily existence… you find it in the streets, in the restaurants and so on… you would expect an exploration of India to comment on that. Now Mr Naipaul has written three books on India, three very big books… and not one of them contains any reference to music. He has gone through the whole of India without responding to Indian music.

Now I think this only means he is tone-deaf. That’s my reading of the situation but then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be tone-deaf. It is a constitutional right we all have. But what happens is that if you don’t understand music, if you don’t respond to music, you can’t respond to Indian history because the real development of Indian culture has been through music. This explains his insensitivity  to the intricate  interweaving of  Hindu and Muslim creativities, through the Bhakti and Sufi movements, that gave us this extraordinary  heritage, alive in the heart of every Indian  home.

What Naipaul’s virulence against Indian Islam conceals is that he has borrowed his model of the history of Indian culture from the British musicologists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, like William Jones. These scholars were acquainted with many other ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptian, the Greek and the Roman. But they were mystified by the fact that while the musical traditions of these civilizations were entirely lost, the Indian musical tradition was alive and thriving.

They decided that this once pure-and-glorious music must have been, at some point during the course of its long history, corrupted and mauled—and they found the villain in the invading Muslim. So, according to them, once upon a time  there was a pristine Indian musical culture, which the  Muslims had disfigured. They therefore ignored the music that was being performed around them and went in search of the true Hindu music.

The foreigners come, they look at Indian culture, they see pristine Hindu culture, they see that it’s corrupted and it’s corrupted by Muslims. So you see, anyone who has read Naipaul’s book will immediately recognise this matrix, which actually he claims that he arrived at through himself but it is already there in any Indological study long before.

In his analysis of Indian culture Naipaul simply borrows this line of argument and reemploys it—as his original perception. And not for the first time.

Naipaul accuses R.K. Narayan of being indifferent to the destruction and death symbolized by the ruins of Vijayanagar, which to him was a bastion of Hindu culture destroyed by the marauding Muslims. But again he gets this interpretation of the history of Vijayanagar  readymade from a book by Robert Sewell called  A Forgotten Empire, published in 1900.

Naipaul, as always in awe  of his colonial sources, simply accepts this picture as the unadorned truth and recycles it wholesale as his own. That historians and archaeologists working on the site during the last century have proved the situation to be much more complex and have shown that religion had little role to play in the conflict is irrelevant to him.

Now again, what he says is predictable, which is that the Muslims destroyed Indian architecture, that everything went to pot. They were the raiders, they were the destroyers, and you have to look at any building to see what happened during the Muslim regime. And here is what he said about the Taj when people argued with him: “The Taj is so wasteful, so decadent and in the end so cruel that I found it painful to be there for very long. This is an extravagance that speaks about the blood of the people

None of us, if we were at the Taj, would think of the extravagance that speaks about the blood of the people! That’s why you get a Nobel Prize, you know.

He brushes off historian Romila Thapar’s argument that the Mughal era saw a rich efflorescence of the mixture of Hindu and Muslim styles, by attributing her judgment to her Marxist bias  and says, ‘The correct truth is the way the invaders look at their actions, They were conquering. They were subjugating.’

To Naipaul, the Indian Muslim remains an invader for ever, forever condemned to be condemned, because some of them had invaders as their ancestors. It is a usage would yield some strange results if applied to the USA.

As for Naipaul’s journalistic exploration of modern India,  mainly in the form of a series of interviews conducted  with Indians right across the board, one must confess they are supremely well written and that he is a master in drawing sharp and precise visuals of the people he talks to and of the places he visits.

What begins to bother one after a while however, is that he  invariably seems to meet brilliant interviewees whose answers to his questions are expressed with a wit and elegance that match his own mastery of the language. Even half-literate interviewees suffer from no diffidence in their expression.

How reliable are the conversations he records?

In a well-known essay Naipaul describes his visit to the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, where he stayed with his friend, Ashoke Chatterjee, the Director of the Institute.

In a recent email to me, Mr Chatterjee said, that Naipaul’s essay was “a scenario that could have been, but was not what he actually saw. Fragments of reality, selected and put together, into a collage of pure fantasy.”

Chatterjee’s friendship with Naipaul came to an abrupt end when Chatterjee told Naipaul that his book, A Wounded Civilization, should be classified as fiction.

In a recent book, Naipaul takes up for examination the autobiography of Munshi Rahman Khan, who emigrated to Suriname at the end of the nineteenth  century, and contrasts it with Gandhi’s.

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, the historian, has reviewed the essay in the London Review of Books and it doesn’t take him much effort to establish that Naipaul could only have read a third-hand, truncated translation of the text: “It is as if a reader in Gorakhpur was reading Naipaul in Maithili after the text had passed through a Japanese translation.”

That doesn’t prevent Naipaul from commenting even on the style and linguistic usage of Rahman Khan.

The question surely is by giving him the Lifetime Achievement Award, what statement is being made by the award-givers?

As a journalist what he writes about India is his business. No one can question his right to be ignorant or to prevaricate.

But the Nobel Prize has given him a sudden authority and his use of it needs to be looked at.

One of the first things Naipaul did on receiving the Nobel Prize was to visit the office of the BJP in Delhi. He who had earlier declared that he was not political, “that to have a political view is to be programmed”, now declared that he was happy to be politically “appropriated”.

It was then that he made his most infamous remark: “Ayodhya”, he said, “is a sort of passion. Any passion is creative. Passion leads to creativity.”

Salman Rushdie’s response was that Naipaul was behaving like “a fellow-traveller of Fascism and [that he] disgraces the Noble Prize.”

In the wake of Ayodhya close to 1500 Muslims were slaughtered in the streets of Bombay alone. I was attending a Film Festival in New Delhi when the riots broke out  and received anguished  calls from my friends in Bombay to say Muslims were being pulled out of their homes or stopped in the streets to be killed.

I rang my Muslim editor to say he and his family could use my flat, in a predominantly Parsi building, until the situation became safe.

The great Marathi actress, Fayyaz, whom I finally located after a week in a corner in Pune where she had fled in distress from Mumbai, described how Shiv Sainiks had thrown fire bombs into Muslim slums and how, when the inmates of the houses rushed out in terror, they were shot down by the police as trouble-makers.

Seven years later, in cold blood, Naipaul was glamorising  these  events as “passion”, as “a creative act”.

It is significant that this part of Naipaul’s sociologising was not mentioned in the citation of the Award, or by Farrukh Dhondy, who while  interviewing him, mentioned the book, Among the Believers and then quickly moved to a long-winded account of how he had helped Sir Vidia adopt a cat which thirteen years later was put to sleep lying on his lap—giving  Naipaul another chance to burst into sentimental tears.

Presumably Dhondy was trying to prove how ‘human’ Naipaul was.

But Landmark and Literature Alive who have announced this Award have a responsibility to explain to us where exactly they stand with regard to these remarks by Naipaul.

Naipaul is a foreigner and can make pronouncements as he wishes. But do they mean to valorise Naipaul’s stand that Indian Muslims are raiders and marauders? Are they supporting his continued insistence on  Muslim buildings in India being  monuments to rape and loot? Or are they by their silence suggesting  that these views do not matter?

The Award givers have much to answer for.

 

English: English:An image of most famous India...

An image of most famous Indian Muslims (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

[ I have taken this entire piece from the blog of Mr. Shivam Vij dated November 03 , 2012 . It was posted on http://www.kafila.org . I repost the entire speech of Mr. Girish Karnad for the friends and students of my Acting Institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , who visit my blog space . I express my gratitude to the writer and kafila.org . ]

Vidur’s Travel Diary – 13 : Varanasi


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 03 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

Varanasi or Benaras or Kasi or Kashi , this old and perennial city of India , which symbolises Hindu ethos and its timeless tradition , is a new metropolis , yet it existed and started its journey several millennium ago . As per tradition and folklore it is 5000 years old city . Its mythical and cultural name is Kashi . Rigveda mentions this city as Kasi or Kashi . During British era the name was changed and the city came to be known as Benaras . After independence the city was rechristened as Varanasi . Varuna and Assi are two rivers , which caress the city from two sides , hence the city was rechristened as Varanasi .

Varanasi predates history . It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world and the oldest city in India . As per Hindu mythology this city rests on the trident of Bhagwan Shiva . This city is closely associated with the legendary Raja Harishchandra , an ancestor of Bhagwan Ram . Harishchandra ghat still exists and bears his name and reminds us of his supreme sacrifices in pursuit of truth . Along with AYODHYA , MATHURA , MAYA [ HARIDWAR ] , KANCHI , AVANTIKA [ UJJAIN ] and DWARKA , Varanasi , for the Hindus , is the 7th Holiest Cities of India . I consider myself lucky and fortunate that I have chance to visit all the above mentioned seven cities .

I have been to Varanasi several times . I first visited this city with my parents and other siblings , while I was a toddler . It was for the MUNDAN [ Tonsure Ceremony ] of my younger brother . I still remember my first journey to Varanasi by train . I was a kid and I used to converse with my parents only in Bhojpuri . My father insisted that while in Varanasi , we all must converse in Hindi . I was finding it difficult and avoided speaking throughout the journey .

I have visited this city numerous times since then . Every year when I visit my native place Deoria , I have to make a halt either at Varanasi or Lucknow . This year in June , I took a morning flight from Mumbai on June 16 , 2012 and along with my wife , landed there in the afternoon . Varanasi now has a swanky and sprawling airport . Old airport was not worthy of the reputation of this ancient city . This new Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is truly impressive .

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport – Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport – Varanasi

I took a cab and drove to Hotel Gautam Grand near Varanasi Cant station .

Hotel Gautam Grand - Varanasi

Hotel Gautam Grand – Varanasi

When in Varanasi , you have to enjoy the crowded lanes and by-lanes of this mythical yet  modern metropolis . Godaulia is the nerve – centre of the city .

Godaulia - Varanasi

Godaulia – Varanasi

The world-famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the 12 JYOTIRLINGAS of Bhagwan Shiva in India . You dare not afford to miss this shrine . The old temple , built by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century , was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb , who built a mosque on the ruins of this temple , which , today , is known as Gyanvapi mosque . The present Kashi Vishwanath temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1717 . This temple was adorned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh , who donated 820 k.g. gold in 1889 .

Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Entrance

Kashi Vishwanath Temple – Entrance

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

 

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the t...

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the temple and mosque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After darshan of Kashi Vishwanath temple , you proceed to Dashashwamedha Ghat , where Ganga Aarti is performed in the evening . Dashashwamedha Ghat was built by Maharaja Savai Jai Singh II in 1693 . It is one of the 100 ghats of Varanasi . Originally Ganga Aarti was started in Haridwar by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya . Few years back it was started in Varanasi also and today it is major tourist attraction .

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Apart from Dashashwamedha ghat , Kedar ghat and Harishchandra ghat are other two major ghats of Varanasi .

Kedar Ghat - Varanasi

Kedar Ghat – Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat - Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat – Varanasi

Godaulia - Varanasi at Night

Godaulia – Varanasi at Night

A British Era Church at Godaulia

A British Era Church at Godaulia

Sankat Mochan temple is the another famous temple of Varanasi . According to the folklore , Sant Tulsidas worshipped here and Bhagwan Hanuman gave him darshan . After Kashi Vishwanath temple , it is the 2nd most revered temple of Varanasi for Hindus .

Sankat Mochan Temple

Sankat Mochan Temple

Varanasi is famous for Sants like Tulsi Das , Kabir Das , Ravi Das , Tailang Swami and Keena Ram . Tailang Swami and his disciple Keena Ram Baba followed AGHOR PANTH . Keena Ram Baba is most famous exponent of AGHOR PANTH . I visited his Ashram also . This was my first visit . I visited it twice . First visit was in the afternoon of June 16th and the second one was next day , on June 17 , 2012 .

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba - Main Entrance

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Main Entrance

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba  - Residence

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Residence

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

I left Varanasi on June 17 , 2012 in the morning . While proceeding towards Sarnath and Aundihar , I started remembering several luminaries of Indian history , who were born in Varanasi and spent their lives in this city .

Notable residents of Varanasi

Temple of Markandeya Mahadev in Aundihar is another famous shrine of Bhagwan Shiv , which I visited with my wife , while on my way to Deoria .

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

Varanasi is not a remote place for me . It is in between Mumbai and Deoria . I can and will visit it as long as I am alive . But then being alive is the big , unknown and unanswered question . Who knows it is my last visit or not ? Who knows whether I would be able to visit it again or not ?

I started for Deoria with heavy heart . Though I do hope to visit Varanasi again in winters for Allahabad Kumbh mela . Lines of Agyeya come running in my mind :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

Vidur’s Travel Diary – 9 : Orchha


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 29 , 2012           01.30 A.M.

After finishing sight – seeing of Datia on February 27th and Gwalior on February 28th , I still had one day left . So I decided to visit Orchha also . I had visited it once . Many years ago I went to Jhansi for the thread ceremony of my nephew Ashwary Chaturvedi and after the ceremony was over , I went to Orchha . But I reached there in the night , so I could visit only the temple . Orchha Fort complex was closed . I returned with a heavy heart .

So I was not willing to let this opportunity go again . This time I started from Dabra in the morning on February 29th . I passed through Jhansi and since Orchha is only 16 kilometres from Jhansi , I reached there before noon .

Orchha town was built in the 16th century by Bundela Rajput chieftain Rudra Pratap on the banks of rocky Betwa river . Situated on Jhansi – Khajuraho road , it comes under Tikamgarh district of Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh . Orchha is 170 km from Khajuraho and 16 km from Jhansi .

Rudra Pratap’s successor Bir Singh Ju Deo developed Orchha city in the 17th century . Orchha means hidden and in true sense of the term , Orchha is really hidden from the concrete jungles of modern-day .Even today it is a small town of few thousand people .

Starting from the 1531 AD , Bundela rajputs ruled Orchha for almost two centuries .

I first went to see Raghunath Ji temple . Idols of Bhagwan Ram , Sita and Lakshman are worshipped in a palace like structure . It is said that queen of Orchha brough the idols from Ayodhya . King of Orchha constructed a grand temple for the idols . This structure is known as Chaturbhuj Temple . It was ordained that the idol will remain where it will be kept first . When queen reached Orchha , it was night . Thinking that she will place idols in the main Chaturbhuj temple in the morning , queen kept the idols in her palace . In the morning , when queen tried to remove the idols from her palace to put it in the sanctum-sanatorium of Chaturbhuj temple , she failed . And since then her palace became the de – facto temple and grand Chaturbhuj temple , even today , remains vacant .

Raghunath Ji Temple Orchha

Raghunath Ji Temple Orchha

Original Raghunath Ji Temple in Orchha Which is Vacant

Original Chaturbhuj Temple in Orchha Which is Vacant

After darshan , I proceeded towards Fort complex . The complex has many palaces . Raja Mahal , Rai Praveen Mahal , Jahangir Mahal are magnificient example of Bundela art and architecture . I started from Deewan – E – Aam and Raja Mahal .

On The Betawa Bridge Connecting Orchha Palace Complex

On The Betwa Bridge Connecting Orchha City to Orchha Fort Complex

Palace Gate Orchha

Fort Gate Orchha

Entrance of King's Palace

Entrance of King's Palace

Deewan - E - Aam Orchha Palace

Deewan - E - Aam Orchha Palace

Front View of Darbar - E - Aam

Front View of Deewan - E - Aam

Deewan - E - Aam Balcony From Where Kings Used to Address Crowd

Deewan - E - Aam Balcony From Where Kings Used to Address Crowd

A View of Raja Mahal

A View of Raja Mahal With Stage for Plays

A View of Raja Mahal

A View of Raja Mahal

A View of Raja Mahal

A View of Raja Mahal

Ceiling of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Ceiling of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Walls of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Walls of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Ceiling & Walls of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Ceiling & Walls of King's Room in Raja Mahal

Ceiling & Walls of Queen's Room in Raja Mahal

Ceiling & Walls of Queen's Room in Raja Mahal

Front View Raja Mahal Orchha

Front View Raja Mahal Orchha

Once Royal Guest House - Now Heritage Hotel

Once Royal Guest House - Now Heritage Hotel

After Raja Mahal , I proceeded for Jahangir Mahal with my wife . We entered in the palace from the back entrance . This palace was built by Bir Singh Ju Deo in the early part of 17 century to commemorate Jahangir’s Orchha visit .

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Back Entrance of Jahangir Mahal

Jahangir Mahal Orchha

Jahangir Mahal Orchha - Interiors

Jahangir Mahal Orchha - Interior

Jahangir Mahal Orchha - Interior

Jahangir Mahal Orchha - Interior

Jahangir Mahal Orchha - Interior

Main Entrance  of Jahangir Mahal Orchha

Main Entrance of Jahangir Mahal Orchha

Main Entrance  of Jahangir Mahal Orchha

Main Entrance of Jahangir Mahal Orchha

Rest House for Camels in Outer Compound

Rest House for Camels in Outer Compound

Rai Praveen Mahal was built for Rai Praveen , the beautiful paramour of Raja Indramani [ 1672 – 1676 ] . She was a poetess , musician and dancer of her time .

Rai Praveen Mahal As Seen from the Courtyard of Jahangir Mahal

Rai Praveen Mahal As Seen from the Courtyard of Jahangir Mahal

Orchha Fort Complex

Orchha Fort Complex from the Back of Jahangir Mahal

It was time to leave Orchha . I left the small town with heavy heart . Pristine beauty of Orchha and its grand , beautiful palaces are source of joy for ever . I visited it years ago . I could again visit it after many years . I don’t know whether I would be able to visit it again or not .

heart longs for one more visit . Fate says nothing and gives only an enigmatic smile .

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

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Vidur’s Travel Diary – 6 : Kanchipuram


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA          DECEMBER 05 , 2011           01.00 P.M.

On the 30th morning , my last day in Chennai , I started for my journey to Kanchipuram . It is 71 km. from Chennai . I had read in the Holy scriptures that 7 holy cities have powers to give you salvation or Nirvana . They are Ayodhya , Mathura , Maya [ Haridwar ] , Kashi [ Varanasi ] in Uttar Pradesh , Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu , Avantika [ Ujjain ] in Madhya Pradesh and Dwarka in Gujarat .

अयोध्या , मथुरा , माया , काशी , कांची , अवंतिका ;
पुरीद्वारावातिश्चैव , सप्तैते मोक्षदायिका

This is the shloka from Garud Puran and I used to recite it during my childhood . I had already visited 6 cities and only Kanchipuram was left . So the excitement was palpable . After fabulous breakfast in a roadside restaurant , we reached Kanchipuram in 2 hours . The city , formerly known as Conjeevaram , is situated on the banks of Vegavati river and is known for thousand temples and silk sarees . It is also called City of 1000 Temples . Once upon a time , it was kingdom of Pallava empire for 200 years , and is one of the oldest cities of South India .

Our first stop was 3,500 years old Ekambarnathar Temple :

At The Gate of Ekambarnathar Temple

Gopuram of 3,500 years old Ekambarnathar Temple :

Gopuram of Ekambarnathar Temple

Kanchipuram is the centre of one of the four Mathas , stablished by Adi Shankaracharya . Badrinath in the North , Dwarka in the West , Jagannath Puri in the East and Kanchipuram in the South . So our next stop was Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham Meenakshi Temple :

Meenakshi Temple of Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham

Gopuram of Meenakshi Temple : Kanch Kamkoti Peetham

After Kanchi Kamkoti Peetham , we visited Varadharaja Perumal Temple :

Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Entrance of Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Kanchipuram is birthplace of famous Sanskrit poet Dandin . He is writer of Dashakumaracharitam . Another famous Sanskrit poet Bharavi , who wrote Kiratarjuniyam , also hailed from here . Bharavi wrote his Kiratarjuniyam here under the patronage of the Pallav king Simhavishnu .  So out of four most famous poets of Sanskrit , two ; Dandin and Bharavi belong to Kanchipuram . Other two are ; Kalidas and Magha . The famous shloka describing their eminence is still fresh in my memory :

उपमा कालिदासस्य , भारवेरर्थ गौरवं ;
डंडीनः पद लालित्यम , माघे सन्ति त्रयो गुणाः

It is irony of the fate that Kanchipuram , which is second only to Varanasi in Sanskrit learning and which is the centre of Hinduism since time immemorial , is also the birthplace of C. N. Annadurai , an atheist and most famous Dravidian leader , second only to E. V. Ramasami Naicker Periyar . He formed Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam in 1949 and led it to victory in Tamil Nadu assembly elections in 1967 . Though C. N. Annadurai ruled only for 2 years and died in 1969 but his influence on Tamil Nadu and Dravid politics is immense . He is the first Non – Congress and Dravid leader to become Chief minister of Tamil Nadu , then known as Madras  . He is the first Non – Congress leader to come to power with absolute majority in any Indian state and ended monopoly of Congress in Tamil Nadu . M. Bakthavatsalam was the last Congress Chief Minister and since 1967 to 2011 , it is 44 years since Congress lost power . C. N. Annadurai symbolized this Non – Congress sentiment .

Kanchipuram is his birthplace and his house is converted into a memorial . I visited his memorial also ;

C. N. Annadurai's House in Kanchipuram

After Kanchipuram , I proceeded to Vellore . It is a small town 145 km. from Chennai . It is situated on the banks of Palar river . It is famous for hospital and V.I.T. University [ Vellore Institute of Technology ] . Since my sister’s son is studying there I went there to meet him .

With My Nephew Kaustubh in the V. I. T. Campus

V. I. T. Gate

While coming to Kanchipuram from Chennai , one can see Rajiv Gandhi Memorial in Sriperumbudur also . This small place is situated 40 km. away from Chennai and comes under Kanchipuram district . It is birthplace of Sri Ramanujacharya , one of the most prominent Hindu Vaishnav saints . In 1991 Rajiv Gandhi was killed here during an election campaign and this small , unknown town became known to all . I visited his grand memorial ;

Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur

Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperumbudur

Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperubudur

It is a grand and opulent memorial . I am not against it  . But I am sad that crores are spent on Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial and Subramanya Bharathi’s memorial in Puducherry is now closed .

With this I finished my 12 days pilgrimage , said good-bye to Chennai , took train from Egmore on December 01st and reached Mumbai on December 02nd .

Egmore Station - Chennai

I don’t know whether I would be visiting these place again or not . I do intend to visit but …….? As usual I remember few lines of Hindi poet Agyeya and leave everything to my destiny .

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

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