Category Archives: Travel & Tourism

Meet Salim Sheikh, Gujarat bus driver who risked his life to save Amarnath yatris; to be nominated for bravery award

GUJARAT  / Amarnath Yatra (JAMMU & KASHMIR )  :

If Salim, the driver of the bus ferrying Amarnath Yatris, had not acted wisely and shown exemplary courage, the brazen terror attack would have certainly claimed more innocent lives.

SalimMPOs11jul2017

Ahmedabad:

If Salim, the driver of the bus ferrying Amarnath Yatris, had not acted wisely and shown exemplary courage, the brazen terror attack would have certainly claimed more innocent lives.

Salim, the Gujarati driver of the bus that was ferrying the passengers, has now emerged as a hero by saving so many innocent lives while risking his own.

According to reports, Salim drove the bus to safety amid continuous firing by a group of heavily armed terrorists who attacked the bus which was returning from the Amarnath Shrine.

Despite being reportedly hit by a bullet, Salim locked the door from inside, refraining terrorists from entering into the bus.

Realising that if he stops the bus, terrorist would kill many innocent yatris, Salim drove for nearly two kilometers before finally stopping near an army camp.

“I spoke to the passengers and they were all praises for the driver. He drove despite the firing and took them to safety. It made a lot of difference and lives were saved. He did not stop. Had he stopped, more lives could have been lost,” Munir Khan, IG, Kashmir, told reporters.

One of the survivors of the attack also praised Salim for his bravery and said, ”We were asleep and were woken up by bullet sounds. He continued to drive and took us to safety. If not for him, it would have been worse.”

Back home in Gujarat’s Valsad, Salim’s family also expressed satisfaction that he managed to save several lives.

“He called me at around 9.30 pm and said that there was firing. Salim did not stop when terrorists fired but only looked for a safer spot for the pilgrims. He could not save seven lives but managed to move over 50 people to a safe place. We are very proud of him,” said Javed, Salim’s cousin.

Later, speaking to reporters, Salim said, ”God gave me strength to keep moving, and I just did not stop.”

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijat Rupani, who announced ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of victims and Rs 2 lakh for injured, said that he will nominate driver Salim for bravery award.

There were initial reports that the bus was not registered for the Amarnath Yatra and the driver had committed some lapses on his part.

However, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has rejected such reports and stated that reports of the bus not being registered were far from the truth.

“The bus was very much registered for Amarnath Yatra and they were also in a convoy. “They had finished their darshan just two days ago and had plans of visiting a few tourist places. Yes, they were on a different route than the yatra route but the bus was registered and in a convoy,” Munir Khan added.

The bus, which came under a dastardly terror attack on Monday evening, was from Gujarat, and all pilgrims were from the same state.

The bus – GJ 09 Z 9976 – was registered in North Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district, but the owner had sold the bus to one Jawahar Desai of Valsad, Gujarat.

Of the seven pilgrims – five women and two men – who lost their lives, two were from Valsad, two from Dharampur, two from Pardi and one from Vansda. Another fifteen sustained injuries, four of them serious wounds.

source: http://www.zeenews.india.com / Z News / Home> News> States> Gujarat / by Zee Media Bureau / Tuesday – July 11th, 2017

Palmyra of the Deccan

Vijayapura (formerly BIJAPUR ) , KARNATAKA :

A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.
A view of Gagan Mahal in Vijayapura.

The Adil Shahis made Bijapur (now Vijayapura) a city ahead of its time in terms of infrastructure development and security. This well-planned city had two fortifications, one around the principal Adil Shahi administrative and residential buildings, and a larger one around the rest of the city. Both were roughly circular and had moats and several gateways. To further strengthen the defence of the city walls, the Adil Shahis built many bastions and about 96 gigantic cannons were placed on them. Only a dozen of these canons exist today. Most of them are placed in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) museum housed in the Nagaad Khana in front of Gol Gumbaz and some of them still sit atop the surviving bastions.

First line of defence

The fortifications have crumbled due to neglect and the moats are overgrown with thorny shrubs and in some places, they are filled with sewage and garbage. The only gateway that the citadel still has is on the south. This was the principal gateway into the citadel but now wears an abandoned look. Just inside this once splendid gateway are the remains of guardrooms constructed entirely of pillars from Hindu temples mostly belonging to the Vijayanagara period.

One of the surviving bastions is the Sharza Burj or Lion Bastion which is also the largest bastion in the city. It is famous for housing the cannon Malik-i-Maidan or Lord of the Plains, which was a war trophy won after the defeat of the Vijayanagara Empire at the Battle of Talikota. The cannon is made from a special alloy and can fire not only cannon balls but also metal slugs and copper coins.

Nearby is Haidar Burj which is the highest gun platform in Vijayapura and is a very conspicuous solitary structure.

It is also called the Upri or Upli Burj by the locals. It was built in 1583 by Haidar Khan, a general during the reigns of Ali Adil Shah I and Ibrahim Adil Shah II. A spiral stairway leads to the top which houses two long cannons. The tower was most probably customised for the guns which needed to be fired from a height so that they can have a long range.

The Adil Shahis wanted to transform their capital city to match the Mughal cities in the North by building imposing courtly structures, gardens, wells, waterways and granaries. While most of the structures have fallen to ruin, some have been converted to government offices and only a handful are open to tourists. The Gagan Mahal was built by Ali Adil Shah I as a palace and an audience hall. Only its structural skeleton remains today. A short walk from the Gagan Mahal is the Sath Manzil (Seven Pavillions) or Haft Manzil built by Ibrahim II as a pleasure pavilion. Only a few storeys survive now and there is no way to go inside. Just opposite this is Jal Mahal or Water Pavilion that has been decorated exquisitely and is crowned by a dome. It is set in the middle of a square pool which is now dry and filled with garbage. Again, there is no way to go inside.

Reservoirs & stepwells

Water was and is a precious resource for Vijayapura and the Adil Shahis built a complex hydraulic system to bring water from distant sources into the city and supplemented this with reservoirs and stepwells. Only a few stepwells and reservoirs survive today and the system of aqueducts and horizontal wells are lost. The Taj Baoli is the biggest stepwell in Vijayapura and was built by Malik Sandal, a Persian architect, in honour of Taj Sultana, the wife of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. Sadly the well, its gateway and the gallery around it are in a very bad state. It won’t survive for long if no action is taken immediately.

Another well-known stepwell present here is the Chand Baoli. The stepwell was built by Ali Adil Shah I in honour of his wife Chand Bibi and it served as the model for Taj Baoli. Chand Bibi is best known for courageously defending Ahmednagar and Bijapur against the attacks of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. She was the regent of both Ahmednagar and Bijapur and was known to be a good warrior, musician, linguist and artist. The structure is now completely cordoned off from the public. One can only see it through the grill gate.

Present-day Vijayapura would have benefited if the administration had preserved the hydraulic system of the Adil Shahis and used the many stepwells and reservoirs instead of letting them turn into garbage dumps. Waking up to this, the Minister for Water Resources, M B Patil announced in April that starting with Taj Baoli, around 20 wells in Vijayapura will be rejuvenated at the cost of Rs 4.25 crore. As a part of the rejuvenation process, the dirty water present in the wells is being pumped out, the garbage is being removed, and the well is being desilted. Additionally, there are plans to repair the structures around them. When fresh water accumulates, it will be pumped and stored in tanks, from which people can collect water for domestic purposes apart from drinking. This will ease the water scarcity the city is facing to a certain extent.

Unless people surrounding these monuments understand their historical importance and realise that a clean baoli can help face water scarcity, all efforts to revive the heritage structures will be futile.

source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / by Rijutha Jagannathan / July 04th, 2017

An 800-Year-Old Piece of Indian Heritage in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM :

The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansari family in front of their house in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Did you know that there is a corner of Jerusalem that has a distinct Indian stamp to it and its various residents wear their Indian origin like a medal?

Next to the Al-Aqsa mosque in the city there is the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. The hospice is managed by the Ansari family and has a centuries-old connect to India.

The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

Indian pilgrims to the “holy city” of Jerusalem, can stay at the ‘Indian Hospice’ and pay homage to the Indian Sufi saint Baba Faridudding of Shakar Ganj, who visited the place 800 years ago.

Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Seen here, celebrated Indian chef Samjeev Kapoor at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Indian Connection Through Baba Farid

The year is 1200, a little over a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Christian Crusaders out of Jerusalem. And an Indian Sufi saint from Punjab named Baba Fariduddin of Shakar Ganj travels to the war torn city.

The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)
The victory of Saladin against the Crusaders. Balian of Ibelin surrendering the city of Jerusalem to Saladin, from Les Passages faits Outremer par les Français contre les Turcs et autres Sarrasins et Maures outremarins, c. 1490. (Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia)

 

Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)
Sufi saint Baba Farid (Photo Courtesy: Seeker of Sacred Knowledge)

It is said that Baba Farid swept the stone floors around al-Aqsa mosque as a mark of devotion. He is also known to have taken up fasting in the silence of a cave nearby.

Long after he went back to India, Muslims from the sub-continent who passed Jerusalem on their way to Mecca stopped at this spot in memory of Baba Farid. It became a sort of temporary residence for the pilgrims.

Ansaris Deputed To Care For Baba Farid’s Legacy

In early 1920s, Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council requested the leaders of the Khilafat Movement of British-ruled India to nominate someone to care for the hospice. The Khilafat leaders honoured the request of the Supreme Council then headed by Arab nationalist Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini. That is how in 1924 Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari – who was also part of the Khilafat Movement – was chosen to go to Jerusalem to take charge of the hospice.

Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Sheikh Munir Ansari who now heads the place, seen here as a boy. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

His son Sheikh Munir Ansari now heads the place. The two have during their respective years as administrator of the hospice, persuaded the rulers of several Indian Muslim states, including Hyderabad, to make contributions for the upkeep of the hospice. Munir’s son Nazeer proudly explains the glorious history of the place.

Not only pilgrims, but Indians from all walks of life who visit Israel like to meet the Ansaris. They are amazed by the way the Ansaris care for that piece of India in the land of Arab-Jewish confluence. Past visitors include famous journalists, presidents, Indian politicians, celebrities and commoners.

The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris have been gracious hosts to many Indian journalists. Seen in this picture, among other journalists is Suhasini Haider of The Hindu. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar at The Indian Hospice. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

 

President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
President Pranab Mukherjee too visited The Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansaris value the responsibility that comes with the inheritance of the heritage. Their FB page says:

Maintaining and protecting an Indian institution in Jerusalem’s old city is no easy task. But Sheikh Munir has accomplished the impossible with delicate diplomacy and extreme tact.

The Indian Hospice

The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)
The Ansaris on a visit to India. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/The Indian Hospice)

The Ansari family has been a steady presence in Jerusalem ever since and they all still carry Indian passports.

source: http://www.thequint.com / The Quint / Home> News Videos / by Kirti Phadtatre Pandey / July o4th,2017

 

From Fergana to Delhi

NEW DELHI :

BaburMPOs18jun2017

A Babur-focussed Uzbeki cultural project is using a common heritage to create a dialogue.

In July 1501, the great-great-greatgrandson of Timur (Tamerlane), Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur — the founder of Mughal empire — left his home in Fergana Valley in present day Uzbekistan. Five hundred years on, the Uzebki government is tracing his journey to India and his Indian connections as part of Cultural Legacy of Uzbekistan in Art Collections of the World project which began last year.

An effort to piece together the country’s history, researchers are connecting with international museums documenting the antiquity and artifacts connected to them. Till date, the Uzebki government has released 10 volumes and several short films on the cultural legacy of Uzbekistan with the help of information from leading museums in Russia, North America and Australia. “What they are doing is a first. They are not raising a dispute or demanding return of any antiquity. Instead, they are taking a holistic approach — using the common heritage to create a dialogue instead of stoking controversy,” says independent commentator Shashtri Ramachandaran, who participated in a two-day congress on the study organised by the Uzbek government.

An average Indian will be more familiar with United Kingdom, having followed their parliamentary and administrative methods or would be familiar with the cultural milieu of the United States, having developed an appetite for American TV shows. But barring academics, few are aware of the shared heritage between India and Uzbekistan that spans across centuries. A team of researchers from Uzebkistan visited the National Museum this April to piece together this lost history. “Their aim is to document material related to the Mughal era primarily. Once they present a formal proposal which is vetted by the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, they can start documenting work,” said Dr BR Mani, Director General, National Museum, who met with the Uzbekistan’s Ambassador last week to discuss the project.

The Uzbeki interest in the founder of the Mughal dynasty comes at a curious time, given that Babur’s successor Aurangzeb’s name was removed unceremoniously off Delhi’s roads for being an “invader”. Union Minister V K Singh even suggested that his grandfather Akbar should meet with a similar fate. In February this year, the BJP-led government in Rajasthan backed a proposal to rewrite history taught at the university level to attest that Rajput warrior-king Maharana Pratap won the Battle of Haldighati against Akbar’s Mughal army led by general Man Singh, despite historical evidence suggesting otherwise. In the same vein, RSS ideologue Indresh Kumar recently suggested that Babur and his army general Mir Baqi should be tried in court for destroying Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

History suggests that Babur lived in India for only four years and died at the age of 47 in 1530 after successfully ousting Ibrahim Lodhi (in the Battle of Panipat in 1526). But his legacy lived on. The Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992 triggered the campaign to decry the Mughals as invaders. “Labeling the Mughals as “invaders” is bogus, historically. But Hindu nationalists do not use this label as a historical claim,” says Professor Audrey Truscke, who received severe backlash over her recent book Aurangzeb: the Man and the Myth. She adds that maligning Mughals is only a means to fuel “anti-Muslim sentiment in the present”. “It is a shameful business, especially at a time when vigilante violence against Muslims is on the rise,” she adds.

Babur was not Indian, even less an Uzbeki. He tried at least thrice to win Samarkhand but failed. “Babur took Samarkand one last time with help from the Safavids of Persia in 1513. However, as he had to publicly acknowledge his support for Qizilbash Shiism, his subjects turned against him,” explains Professor Ali Anooshahr from the History Department of the University of California.

During his time in India, Babur influenced architecture, culture, warfare and even introduced Indians to the sweet melons of Fergana. When Babur reached India, he was disappointed that the only fruit available was mango. It is said that he personally monitored planting of watermelons and musk melons. “In Babarnama, Babur writes about the apricots and pomegranates of Marghilan, fruit trees of Isfara, the melons of Bukhara, and the apples of Samarkand. He also recalled with pleasure, the various flowing rivers and brooks in that region,” adds Prof Anooshahr.

At the museum, the Uzbeki experts are particularly interested in manuscripts of the Holy Quran, scribed in Uzbekistan, which were presented to the Mughal emperors, as is evident from the royal seals on the cover page. Also of interest are 15 illustrated folios of the Baburnama. He wrote his autobiography in Chagatai language, the spoken language of the Andija-Timurids. It was during the reign of Akbar that the work was completely translated in Persian. According to Prof Anooshahr, the most comprehensive copy of the original is the Hyderabad manuscript. “Although I do not know where exactly that copy is located right now,” he adds.

The Uzbeki researchers are now looking at sources beyond the National Museum. “It is gratifying to realize that the culture of such a great country is connected with ours. We are planning to publish a couple of albums in India, depending on the results of our work,” said Professor Andrey Zybkin, the Uzbeki project coordinator.

Few sites of the Babur era have stood the test of time. Some of them include, West Delhi’s Babur era mosque, the Babri Masjid and Ram Bagh in Agra. But it is not just the Mughal era that is of interest. India and Uzbekistan go as far back as the Kushan Dynasty. The Kushan Empire, spanning an area of 37 lakh kilometres, extended from Bihar to southern Uzbekistan. It was an era when the Indian sub-continent saw extraordinary exchange of art and ideas. “At present we do not have first-hand information on the Kushan period artifacts found in Uzbekistan. It will be interesting to see how the pottery, social behaviour and culture changed from Fergana valley to Mathura,” Dr Mani added.

Apart from the Mughals and Kushans, there are other points of convergence between the two nations. Gujaratis had close trade ties with Uzbekis, so did Parsis and Armenian Christians. Professor A K Pasha from JNU explains that somewhere this search for their history is part of a “resurgence of old identity”. “For years, the Uzbeki culture was subjugated and overpowered by Russians. The Islamic feeling is growing which is why they want to resurrect their old identity,” explains Pasha.

source: http://www.mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com / Mumbai Mirror / Home> Others> Sunday Read / by Sobhana K Nair, Mumbai Mirror / June 18th, 2017

Temper that enthusiasm

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

A female snow leopard photographed by Ismail Shariff
A female snow leopard photographed by Ismail Shariff

Hyderabad-based wildlife photographer Ismail Shariff on how the lens-totting tribe can exercise restraint in wilderness

The photograph of a snow leopard occupies a pride of place in Ismail Shariff’s edgily-designed studio. The Hyderabad-based wildlife photographer says he was blessed, not plain lucky, to have been able to capture the leopard from barely 15 feet distance in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, this year.

Shariff has been a part of three snow leopard expeditions. Earlier, he had to be content with images where the leopard was a speck in the frame. “Animals in regions like Spiti or Leh are shy. They sense human presence a mile away,” he says.

A cartload of patience helps photographers get the right shot. They wait for minutes or hours, anticipating the animal’s next move. Shariff’s experience was no different, “From where we were staying, we could spot the leopard sleeping and ran out with our cameras. The villagers were also keen to have a glimpse. We felt that when the leopard wakes up, it will walk away from the noise and make its way to a clearing. We positioned ourselves such that we can get images but not be in its line of sight.”

He’s elated to have captured these images, but he mulls over and says, “If the snow leopards could come this close to humans, either they were short of food or they’ve gotten used to human presence.”

Ismail02MPOs06jun2017

Shariff has been an avid wildlife photographer since 2008 and has observed the rise in numbers in his tribe. “There were fewer people exploring wildlife photography back then since not everyone could afford the flamboyant lenses,” he says.

In July, Shariff plans to visit Ladakh to photograph the Pallas’ cat (named after German naturalist Pyotr Simon Pallas). Besides these niche expeditions, he’s also frequented Tadoba National Park (92 times), Kabini and Jim Corbett National Park that are popular among tourists.

The observations while on these trips make him wonder if aspiring photographers compromise on the ethics of wildlife photography for instant gratification on social media.

It isn’t a case of sour grapes or a cry for exclusivity, Shariff clarifies, “There isn’t much money to be made out of photography in India. A few established photographers work with forest departments and voluntary organisations. Their work helps in documentation and conservation activities. For most others, it’s a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with more people exploring this line. The trouble begins when ego kicks in and you want to bend rules.”

There have been instances of photographers getting too close for the comfort of animals and birds — from attempting to veer off course during safaris to getting closer to bird nests. This isn’t limited to India, says Shariff, sharing instances where he spotted photographers getting off a safari vehicle in Yellowstone National Park in the US or crowding to take shots of a Broadbill’s nest in Malaysia.

Dos and don’ts

* The enthusiasm for a great shot needs to be tempered with restraint and respect for wildlife habitats. While on safaris in places like Tadoba, Kabini or Corbett, drive slowly, don’t talk loudly and never get off the vehicle. By irritating or threatening the animal, you also put yourself at danger. “I’ve seen people trying to bribe guides and drivers to take a different route or allow them to get off the vehicle, setting a wrong precedence to others,” Shariff points out.

* Don’t underestimate nature. Respect weather conditions. Shariff recalls being blown five feet high when a gust of wind changed director in Chopta, Uttarakhand.

* Steer clear of mothers with cubs. “Mothers, be it a tigress, lioness, deer, peafowl or a bear, will do anything to safeguard its offspring.”

* Don’t try to film animals in nocturnal situations unless permitted by forest department. Animal movement is pronounced and unpredictable at night. There have been cases of road-kills where vehicles have knocked down animals.

* If one is truly interested in turning their passion for wildlife photography into something meaningful, collaborate with forest departments or organisations that document wildlife and living conditions of people living close to these zones. A niche category that’s emerging, called conservation photography, helps initiate a dialogue.

Factoid: Collaborate for conservation

Dharmendra Khandal is a conservation biologist, researcher, botanist and photographer associated with Tiger Watch in Ranthambore. His efforts have led to capture of several poachers in Rajasthan. Khandal also helped identify several species of spiders.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> LifeStyle> World Environment Day / by Sangeetha Devi Dundoo / June 03rd, 2017

Sarah Cohen and kindred spirits

Mattancherry, KERALA :

House of lore: Sara Cohen with Thaha Ibrahim in her backyard. PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT
House of lore: Sara Cohen with Thaha Ibrahim in her backyard.
PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT

A nonagenarian Jewish woman in Mattancherry in west Kochi finds a pillar of support in a Muslim couple and a Christian maid.

Thaha Ibrahim is as keen on maintaining the sanctity of shabbat as he is of his Friday namaz. The devout Muslim spends almost all day taking care of a nonagenarian Jewish woman, Sarah Cohen, whom he calls aunt.

A strong bond of love binds them together in the sunset years of the Jewish community in Mattancherry in west Kochi, where Jews lived in the thousands in the past, contributing substantially to the city’s growth. The strength of the community waned over the years, with a large number of them migrating to Israel. A few like the Cohens stayed put, determined to live in the land of their birth that gave them the identity of Cochin Jews.

Sepia-tinted memories: A corner of the home dedicated to the past. PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT
Sepia-tinted memories: A corner of the home dedicated to the past.
PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT


Mr. Ibrahim found a place in the hearts of the Cohens and the Jewish community as a whole. The middle-school dropout used to earn a few rupees selling souvenir postcards to tourists arriving by ship at the nearby port a quarter century ago. One day, a ship docked and Mr. Ibrahim discovered he had no cards to sell as the place where he had stacked them had been locked by its owner. An inconsolable Mr. Ibrahim found a mentor in Ms. Cohen’s husband, Jacob, who allowed him to store the cards at his place. It soon developed into a familial tie, which got Mr. Ibrahim to take care of Ms. Cohen after Jacob’s death some 15 years ago.

A job shared: Thaha helps Sarah embroider a Kippa, the Jewish skullcap. PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT
A job shared: Thaha helps Sarah embroider a Kippa, the Jewish skullcap.
PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT

Mr. Ibrahim and his wife have been a pillar of support for Ms. Cohen, who runs an embroidery shop at the mouth of the narrow alley leading up to Pardesi Synagogue. They take care of the household and run errands for her.

Simple repast: Seli serving lunch to Sarah. PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT
Simple repast: Seli serving lunch to Sarah.
PHOTO: THULASI KAKKAT

They are like children to the childless matriarch, who is as much a Jew as she is part of the multicultural mosaic of west Kochi. Seli, Ms. Cohen’s Christian maid, who has been by her side for over a decade, adds to the mix.

Text and images by Thulasi Kakkat

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Thulasi Kakkat / May 28th, 2017

Memorial for Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan to be opened by CM

Dindigul , TAMIL NADU :

The Tipu Sultan memorial in Dindigul.
The Tipu Sultan memorial in Dindigul.

A manimandapam meant for Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, constructed near Aranmanaikulam at Anguvilas Irakkam here, would be inaugurated by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami shortly, said Minister for Information and Publicity Kadambur Raju.

Inspecting the manimandapam here on Saturday, he said the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had announced a manimandapam for Tipu Sultan under 110 Rule in the Assembly and also sanctioned funds to the tune of for ₹1.30 crore for the construction.

Now, the construction was over and manimandapam was ready for inauguration, he said.

While inspecting the Gopal Naickar Manimandapam at Virupatchi near Palani, the Minister said this manimandapam was constructed at a cost of ₹69 lakh to enable the public to know valour of this great warrior during the freedom struggle.

He asked Collector T.G. Vinay to display signboards on both sides of the Palani-Dindigul Highway to enable people to identify the place easily. Additional funds would be sanctioned for improving infrastructure and creating basic amenities for the public in the manimandapam.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Madurai / by Staff Reporter / May 27th, 2017

High five to 555

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

Cafe555MPOs03apr2017

 

Cafe 555’s Irani chai and haleem draws crowds from most parts of Hyderabad

In a steep lane dominated by biryani joints and residential blocks at Masab Tank, Café 555 is just a few metres away from one of the busiest roads in the city that connects one to Jubilee Hills, Panjagutta and Khairatabad. Their chai is so well known that you’re not amused by their tagline that reads, ‘Don’t drink and drive, Drink only Café 555 ki chai and drive.’ The café that enters its silver jubilee year in 2017 is now owned by Ali Raza Jowker and draws most of its crowds from the nearby Ahmed Nagar apart from other parts of the city.

Their chai was first sold at Rs 1.50. Now priced at Rs 10, nothing betters the warmth that their cup of Irani chai to begin your day or energise you on a tired evening. Most customers prefer to savour it with the crisp irani samosa. If you with to indulge in something sweet to go with it, there is the popular ‘bun butter’ option.

The cafe is frequented by a number of actors from Telugu film fraternity. Sania Mirza too makes it a point to visit Cafe 555 when in town. It not just their chai that’s popular — the manager Mohammed Ali proudly shows us the award the café won for its haleem.

The sight of Cafe 555 during the Ramzan season is a delight to your senses with its multi-coloured lights during the night adding to the festive aura. The haleem prepared by Ali Raza’s grandfather was a hit with the Nizams too, says the manager.

A cafe has other options as well; their quintessential dal rice and poori are sought out items during breakfast and lunch times. No full-course meal feels complete without the Lassi here. What makes Cafe 555 ideal is also their ability to cater to foodies with diverse choices over the years.

Employees from the nearby Telugu Samkshema Bhavan, Tribal Musuem, tailoring and stationery shops continue to see the cafe as a companion that has transformed itself and evolved with changing customer tastes without losing its charming nativity.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Food / by Srivathsan Nadadhur / April 03rd, 2017

After years of neglect, glass top to complete Satkhanda.

Lucknow, UTTAR PRADESH :

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Lucknow :

The 177-year-old iconic Satkhanda in Husainabad area of old Lucknow is finally going to live up to its name, of ‘seven storeys’, with the proposed glass roof to the monument taking shape, completing the unfinished Nawabi era structure. The iron storeys which will hold the glass have already come up. Part of the Husainabad beautification project, it is likely to be completed in six months.

Conserving the interiors of the monument along with keeping its circular staircase intact, the building will now provide people with an aerial view of the beautified area through the 360-degree glass facade. With a roof on top now, the monument won’t be subjected to rain water either.

“The plan is to conserve the monument and let people experience the building in its original form. Even though the glass roof covering will be on the uppermost storey, it will give the viewer the experience of being on the seventh floor because of the elevated height. The roof on top of this will be flat,” said Tracy, who is part of the Noida-based architecture firm working on the plan.

The Satkhanda, originally meant to be seven-storey-high was built in 1837 by Mohammad Ali Shah, the third King of Awadh, for moon-sighting by clerics. However, with his death, the monument was left incomplete at just four storeys. Considering it a bad omen, no other ruler bothered to complete it.

In the initial phase of the beautification work in 2014, only the park around then dilapidated monument was part of the plan. Converting the empty ground into a park with light fixtures, fountains, swings and a bridge was completed around November, 2014. Between 2011-13, restoration work on Satkhanda started. An approximate Rs 50 lakh was spent on the initial restoration that included getting rid of encroachment, grouting cracks, restoring parapet brackets, construction of a new roof and a Chhota Imambara-inspired dome. However, apart from removal of encroachment, nothing else was done then.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Lucknow news / TNN / February 28th, 2017

Bengaluru had its first date with air show a century ago

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bengaluru had its first date with an air show 106 years ago
  • In 1911, Jules Wyck and Belgian adventurer Baron Pierre De Caters were the two pilots who brought their aircraft to Bengaluru

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Bengaluru :

As the curtains were drawn on the 11th edition of Aero India on Saturday, thousands who thronged the Yelahanka Air Force Station need to know that they are not the first patrons of such a show. In fact, they are not even the first generation.

Bengaluru, India’s aviation capital, had its first date with an air show 106 years ago. February 3, 1911. Cricket hadn’t become the religion it is today in India. The Chinnaswamy Stadium was a barren land, and parts of Bengaluru were still a functional cantonment.

While people from districts neighbouring Bengaluru had made their way back then to catch what the organizers had called a “miracle in the skies,” Bengaluru’s quest for the flying machines remained intact in 2017 with at least three lakh people reported to have visited the aero show.

In 1911, Jules Wyck and Belgian adventurer Baron Pierre De Caters were the two pilots who brought their aircraft to Bengaluru, for a show that garnered a huge response. “But police had been prepared to handle the crowd here, after things had gotten slightly out of hand in Kolkata,” historian Vemagal Somashekar said.

If the elaborate preparations of the organizers a century ago are any indication then it only shows that a lacklustre event, like the 2017 edition of Aero India — just 53 aircraft on display and four aerobatic display teams — may fail to garner similar response in the coming years.

(The poster in Urdu, issued by merchants and businessmen from the Baidwadi (present day Shivajinagar) area. Photo Credit: fly.historicwings.com)
(The poster in Urdu, issued by merchants and businessmen from the Baidwadi (present day Shivajinagar) area. Photo Credit: fly.historicwings.com)

The fact that organizers did not reveal the right number of aircraft at Aero India 2017 is an indication that even they know it. When TOI enquired about the details of the show and the preparations in the run-up to the show, Mayaskar Deo Singh, director, Defence Exhibition Organisation, the nodal government agency organizing the show said: “An official release with final numbers on participation and other details will be issued so that there is no confusion.”

The official release days before the show had claimed that the number of aircraft participating would be 72, as many as the 2015 show, rated much better, had seen. Answering a specific question, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, however, had said on February 14: “There are 53 aircraft participating…”

Also, there are ways to watch the show for free, hundreds of citizens who stood with their cameras on terraces, the highway, some even got hospitality at villages around the air base.

But organizers in 1911 had figured out a plan for such free viewers. A poster in Urdu, issued by merchants and businessmen from the Baidwadi (present day Shivajinagar) area, reveals that the organizers, who had learnt that people would not buy tickets as they thought planes could be spotted even otherwise, had organized the show in such a way that only those with tickets (worth 25 paise each) had a one-hour exclusive.

“…Between 3.30pm and 4.30pm the planes will fly at a height of just 30 metre which only the ticket holders can see. For a few minutes after 4.30pm, the planes will fly a little higher,” reads a translation of the poster documented by the state archives department.

Mustafa Khan (mandi merchants, Ibrahim Sahib Street); Abdul Razak (businessman, Modi Road); Ibrahim Sahib (Meenakshi Kovil Street), Abdul Razak Sahib (steel merchant, Narayan Pillai Street) and Mastan Khan from Baidwadi (present day Shivajinagar) were the men who had signed off on the poster —they are an indication of how Bengaluru had a good trade set-up.
While TOI got a look at the poster, permission to take a photograph was denied. The poster, which has been sourced from fly.historicwings.com, further reveals as Somashekar had pointed out.

Police had been ordered to patrol major roads leading to the venue such as South Parade Road (now MG Road), Brigade Road and Church Street and even in Cubbon Park.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> News> City News> Bangalore News / Chethan Kumar, TNN / February 20th, 2017