Vidur’s Travel Diary – 8 : Gwalior [ C ]


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 27 , 2012           09.30 P.M.

Gwalior travelogue is really getting longer . This is the third one . 

But I clicked lots of photos and apart from that , Jai Vilas Palace and Gwalior fort are really historic and have many anecdotes worth telling , so I can not shorten the travelogue even if I wish to .

If I am remembering correctly , I visited Gwalior for the first time in 1977 / 78 . I went to visit Jai Vilas Palace and Gwalior fort for the first time on that visit . Since then I have visited these two places  3 / 4 times . But this time I went with renewed vigour and with different understanding and outlook .

I always knew that Gwalior is associated with legendary singer Tansen and Maharani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi also . But I was unable to visit their memorials on my previous visits . This time I made it a point to include these memorials in my itinerary .

So after finishing visit of Gwalior fort , I went to see Tansen Mausoleum . I was excited as it was my first visit . Passing through the lanes and by – lanes of old Gwalior , my car stopped in front of an unimpressive iron gate . But as soon as I entered in the compound I was shocked to see a grand mausoleum .

This grand mausoleum belongs to Muhammad Ghaus , a venerable Sufi saint of those times and the mentor of Tansen . Tansen [ born 1493 or 1506  – died 1586 or 1589 ] was born as Ramtanu in a Hindu Gaur Brahman family . His musical talent came to prominence at the age of 5 . Initially he learnt music from Swami Haridas of Vrindavan . He rose to national prominence in the court of legendary Man Singh Tomar , the 10th Tomar King of Gwalior . In Man Singh Tomar’s court he became exponent of Dhrupad and made this form of Hindustani Classical music world-famous . Man Singh Tomar gave him title of  ” Tansen ” . He , later on ,  joined the court of Ramchandra Baghela of Reva . Mughal emperor Akbar heard about him and invited him to his court . Tansen went there , joined his court and thus rose to prominence and immortality .

Later on he embraced Islam and married Akbar’s daughter Meherunnissa .

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor

Mausoleum of Muhammad Ghaus - Sufi Saint & Tansen's Mentor - Main Entrance

Mausoleum of Tansen

Mausoleum of Tansen

Mausoleum of Tansen & Muhammad Ghaus As Seen from the Entrance

Mausoleum of Tansen & Muhammad Ghaus As Seen from the Entrance Gate

Tansen's Mausoleum

Tansen's Mausoleum

From Tansen’s mausoleum , I drove to Maharani Lakshmi Bai memorial at Kotah Ki Serai near Phool Bagh . This world-famous queen of Jhansi [ November 19 , 1835 – June 17 , 1858 ] valiantly fought the British during 1st War of Independence of 1857 . She lost Jhansi fort due to treachery of her own people , came to Gwalior to seek help of Scindias but was not able to get their help . Scindia’s unflinching loyalty to their British masters and their non – cooperation to the freedom struggle drove Maharani Lakshmi Bai away from Gwalior and while crossing a nullah , which is still there , she was martyred by British army . She was only 23 years old at the time of her death .

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

Maharani Lakshmi Bai Memorial : The Place Where She Was Martyred

After paying my obeisance at the memorial of Maharani Lakshmi Bai , I was engulfed with emotions . It is sad to get martyred at the tender age of 23 . It is sad to not have a family life , which she definitely deserved . She died for the country at such a tender age but her memorial is not well – kept at all . Few months back I visited Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial at Sriperumbudur . It was so well maintained and beautifully kept , that I was amazed . I am not saying that Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial should not be maintained properly . But the memorial of Maharani Lakshmi Bai also deserves same treatment , if not better .

I am saddened by the neglect .

Evening started descending on the Gwalior city . It was time to leave . Same never-ending feeling engulfed me again and completely.

I remembered Agyeya’s famous lines and left Gwalior . Hope I would visit Gwalior again and really soon .

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 – 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

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