Friday, 25 May 2018

Heritage Palace Narain Niwas, Jaipur - a building with nice ambiance

Narain Niwas palace. Jaipur
Jaipur, Narain Niwas Palace hotel.

Above image:  The Narain Niwas Palace in Jaipur,  Built in 1928 as a country retreat for General Amar Singh, it has since been converted into a hotel. it is  designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans in a palette of energizing azure-blue and white.......................

Narain Niwas palace.Heritage Hotels,Heritage Hotels Jaipur,

Built in 1928 by General Amar Singh, Thakur of Kanota & Commander of the erstwhile Jaipur State Force and a confidant of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh  Narain Niwas Palace is nice building designed in the Anglo-Indian style popular in the Victorian era.  General Amar Singh was the grandson of Thakur Zorawar Singh, founder of the Kanota family. It was Thakur Sivnath Singh, General Amar Singhji's brother who  took care of the construction work as it was a tedious undertaking done with meticulous care worthy of their prestige. The new mansion was aptly named after their father, Thakur Narain Singh, who was the  Chief of Police in the erstwhile Jaipur State, besides being   a minister in the neighboring princely state of Alwar. It is in the center of Jaipur city, haven for tourists.

Narain Niwas palace. Jaipur

 The palace was built not for regular residence and was used  Amar Singh to spend his time during breaks from his administrative and other works that kept him busy. Hence  it was more of a country side palace than a palace in a town. His stay here was mainly for relaxation purpose from mundane existence. This was done to carry on his duties with better vigor and vitality.  The Kanota family's Haveli within the walled city was his main centre of activities . 
Jaipur,Narain Niwas Palace image:Henry Wilson
Amar Singh built his "garden house"  close to that of Rambagh - yet another  pleasure garden and palace built by Maharajah Ram Singh (1835-1880).  In those days, it was a custom among the rich and noblemen of Jaipur to have a Country House cum palace built for the family members to relax far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. They preferred a quiet and serene place to keep themselves cool. Before WWII, the surrounding area of the Narain Niwas Palace was a thickly wooded area and it provided an ample opportunity for Amar Singh and others to go hunting wild boar, birds, black buck and once in a while panther.
Thakur Amar Singh, apart from being an excellent soldier, administrator and a sportsman of repute, had also cultivated  a good habit of writing diary for a long time -  for 44 years from 1898 to 1942, in 89 folio volumes, 800 pages per volume. It delves into various aspects of Rajput life in princely India in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Since India's independence, countless Royal families' properties were taken over by the Indian government, leaving them with one or two palaces and an annual dole.  Since maintaining such palatial palaces has become a costly affair, much of them  have been converted into Heritage Hotels to maintain the palace and also to meet ex-royal families' expenses. The hotel  with Rajasthani and ethnic furnishings, provides a nice ambiance of past era, and  is being run by the  Kanota Family where the visitors  get a taste of rich Rajasthani culture and unforgettable hospitality in modern context.

Mahavishnu Temple, Thrichittatt, Kerala - associated with Pandava brothers!!

Mahavishnu Temple,Thrichittatt,
The Mahavishnu Temple, Thrichittatt, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is in Chengannoor, Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, South India. Considered as one of the 108 Divyadesams -holy shrines  glorified in the Divya Prabandham, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD,  it is dedicated to Sri Krishna. Here, he is worshiped as Imayavarappan  and can be accessed from Chengannur town.  It is one among the five ancient shrines in the Chengannur area of Kerala, having close link  with the  Mahabharata

The five Pandavas (belonging to Pandu Vamsha) are said to  have built one temple each; Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple by Arjuna, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple by Sahadeva.  

According to the legend after crowning Parikshit as king of Hastinapura, five Pandavas  came down south on a pilgrimage and upon  arriving on the banks of river Pamba, they liked the serene and quiet place very much and  each one is believed to have installed a tutelary image of Sri Krishna at the afore-mentioned places. Yudishthira who was never given to lies once lied to Guru Dronacharaya during the great war. To make amends for this sin he did penance worshipping the lord here. Devas -Imayavar are believed to have come to this place prior to him, hence the lord is worshiped as Imayavarappar.  Nammalvar, in circa 800 AD, one of the Tamil Azhvar saints made reference to this temple in his devotional hymns. Stone inscriptions in the temple date it back to the Second Chera Empire (800 - 1102 AD).

The sanctum of Trichittatt temple,Kerala

Built in the typical Kerala style, the main entrance 
to the temple is an arch way. There is no gateway tower. The shrines are within the boundary walls called Kshetra-Madilluka punctured by gate ways. The other common features of the temple are the Dwajasthambam, flag-pole, outer pavilion Chuttuambalam followed by Nallambalam -mantap.   Thevrapura or Madapalli, the temple kitchen where naivaidyam food (offering to the god) is cooked is  on the left of Namaskara Mandapa from the entrance. Balithara is an altar is primarily used for making ritualistic offering to demi-gods and the festive deities.  The central shrine  with pyramidal roof called Sreekovil or Garbhagraha  houses the image of the presiding deity.  As a tradition, it is on an elevated platform with a single door accessed  through five steps. As per Kerala puja and ritualistic tradition being followed under the temple Board, only the main priest called Thantri and the second priest called Melshanthi alone can enter the Sree Kovil.
The sanctum  has a circular plan with the base built of granite, and the superstructure made of laterite and conical roof with terracotta tiles s is supported from inside by a wooden structure. The image of the presiding deity is 4 ft (1.2 m) tall. Krishna is in Vishvarupa pose as he appeared before Arjuna on the Kurushetra battle ground.  There are shrines  dedicated to Sastha, Yakshi, Nagaraja and Erangavil Bhagavathy Balarama in the lower shrine - in the second prakara. .

The two major festivals celebrated in the temple are Vaikunta Ekadasi and Thiruvonam are two important festivals celebrated here on a grand scale.

Thirupalkadal Sri Krishna temple. one of the oldest in Kerala

Thirupalkadal Sri Krishna temple.
Thirupalkadal Sri Krishna
In Kerala, there are many Sri Krishna temples, one of the famous temples among them is Sree Krishna Temple in Keezhperoor. Located near  Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India,  it is one of the oldest temples in this state. It also goes by the name of Sri Krishnaswami temple. It is believed that Kulashekhara Azhwar, (seventh in the line of the twelve Azhwars) is believed to have  been instrumental  in building the temple.  The Ay Family ruled (their dynasty lasted from 3rd BCE to 1200 CE; their land extended from Thiruvall in the north to Nagacoil in the south) this  place  over during the Sangam period and the kingdom and the family 
later came to be known as Venad Keezhperoor Swaroopam. Their primary deity was  Sri Krishna - Thirupalkadal Bhattarakar. The temple is known as Adikulakovil of Ay kingdom  and is one of the 108 principal Divya Desam ("Holy Abodes") shrines in Vaishnavism, glorified in the early medieval Tamil literature canon (Nalayera Divya Prabhandam) of the Tamil Azhwar  saints (6th–9th centuries AD). This shrine happens to be one among  the 14 Divya Desam in Malai Nadu (present-day Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu).

This ruling class was known by  different names - Venad, 'Thiruvadi' and 'Thiruvithamkur'; the latter  corrupted into Travancore.  It was in the  9th century AD temple renovation was undertaken by the Venad King Vallabhan Kotha of Keezhperoor Illam. The merger of the Chera dynasty based at Mahodayapuram with the Ays of Vizhinjam gave rise to the Keezhperoor Swaroopam. Ay royal family of Keezhperoor illam finally in the 12th century handed over the administration to the Uralar Sabha a council consisting of Brahmins and Madambi Nairs in the ratio 8:2. The council was formed by by Sri Vira Udayamarttanda Varman Tiruvadi, Ilayaguru of Venad. The king grated the village  of Kilimanoor with the forests, arable lands, etc and from the revenue the management had to run the temple, take care of puja protocols, daily expenses, festivals  feeding of Brahmins, etc. 

Soon after India's independence, much of the temple lands held on lease were transferred to the lessee and this adversely affected the functioning of the temple. As no revenue was forthcoming, major puja rituals were stopped due to financial constants.   In 1980's 3200 Ambikavilasam  Karayogam got ownership from Uralars and earnestly began the renovation work. In 2012 His Highness Uthradom Thirby Sri Vira Udayamarttandavarman Tiruvadi, revealed the long association of the  Travancore Royal family with Thirupalkadal Sreekrishnaswamy Temple. Following the conduct of an Ashtamangala Devaprasnam and Murajapam at the temple in 2015,  temple committee conducted  a 12-day pooja as prescribed  in the Devaprasnavidhi. This was done  in the presence of   Thantri Thekkedath Kuzhikkattillathu Vasudevan Bhattathirippadu.

The main idol in the sanctum - Sri Kovil is Vishnu  with four arms, carrying the conch Panchajanya (Turbinella pyrum), the discus Sudarshana Chakra, the mace Kaumodaki and a lotus with a Holy basil garland. The consorts are Bhoo Devi and Sri Devi.

This  temple design follows the  the ancient Dravidian tradition  with the presence of Lord Brahma and Lord Siva in the outer wall of circular shaped Garbhagriha (sanctum), which embodies  the presence of Parabrahmam. The roof of the sanctum has 36 rafters made into 12 wooden pieces, representing the 12 Rasis which when multiplied by 3 (the number representing the Hindu Trimurti - Trinity gods) equals 108 which is the number of peethas of Adi Parashakti. It is also believed that the Kollam Era started with the renovation of this temple.

The temple complex has other features native to Kerala temple design tradition such as Koothampalam (for conducting Kerala's traditional dances, etc) on an elevated platform, a large  Anakkottil (shed for elephants),  Belikkallu (meant for sacrifices) near the temple entrance, Namaskara Mandapam (where devotees prostrate before the deity) with wooden pilasters on four sides and  four stone pillars with two facing the sopanam carrying stone carvings. The granite sopnam connecting the Srikovil has six steps. The square shaped  sanctum has a roof with copper plate. There are well carved images of Shiva with Parvathi Devi sitting on his lap, a small Ganesha, Muruga and reclining Nandi.
It is a popular Vaishnavite Shrine and is being visited lots of people from other states as well, in particular, Tamil Nadu.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Taj Mahal is India's national symbol of pride, not an enigma!!

Emperor Shah Jahan and Empress Mumtaz Mahal. Pinterest
Taj Mahal is, no doubt, one of the wonders of the world and tourists who have been to Delhi would never leave that place without seeing that magnificent marble  edifice  built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is a symbol of lasting love for his wife. This awe-inspiring mausoleum built on the banks of the river Yamuna carries an unsolved mystery and this "mystery element"  associated with a great monument of exceptional beauty makes us more curious than before to know something about the secrets. The mystery was kicked off by a historian one  Mr. P.N. Oak in the past.
actual tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan - lower
Inside the taj.
It is to be borne in mind that theories  and hypotheses over the Taj Mahal  being once a Hindu   heritage site have been set aside for decades and such discussions do not fall in the realm of  historical perspective.
It is the purported mystery surrounding the Taj that keeps our  mind occupied to get to know what are. According to Mr Oak Taj Mahal is a  Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva named Tejo Mahalaya. How did Shah Jahan build the Taj in that place? Oak  suggested that Shah Jahan seized the Shiva temple palace from then Maharajah of Jaipur, Jai Singh. Once recovered,  Shah Jahan then redesigned and further embellished  the structure to suit his plan and converted it into a mausoleum - a memorial to his wife. 
In his 1989 book Taj Mahal: The True Story, revisionist historian PN Oak claimed the monument was built way back in 1155, decades before the Muslim invasion of India from NW. He  further mentioned that  its name is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit term “Tejo Mahalay”, meaning  a "Shiva Temple".

Many historians do not subscribe to his theory seriously because, in the past, he came up with incredible theories  such as Westminster Abbey was once a Shiva temple and Hindus once conquered Italy.  Such bizarre claims show him in bad light and lack of logic.

However, it is said that Shah Jahan admitted in  his own court chronicle, Badshah nama,  that an impressive beautiful  mansion in Agra was taken from Jai Singh for Mumtaz's burial. The ex-Maharajah of Jaipur is said to have retained in his secret collection of two orders from Shah Jahan for the surrender of the Taj building. Professor Marvin Miller of New York took samples from the riverside doorway of the Taj. Carbon dating tests revealed that the door was 300 years older than Shah Jahan and supports this theory.

Yet another theory is  European traveler Johan Albert Mandelslo, who on a visit to in 1638 (only seven years after Mumtaz's death),  gives a graphic account of the life of the town in his memoirs, but, surprisingly there is no mention of the Taj  that was in the making. Had the construction of the Taj  been going on, he would have mentioned it. His omission of the Taj  is a puzzle. 

 An English visitor to Agra within a year of Mumtaz's death, Peter Mundy,also suggest that the Taj was a noteworthy building long well before Shah Jahan's time.  That many rooms in the Taj Mahal have remained sealed since Shah Jahan's time, and are still inaccessible to the public adds new dimension  to the mystery. Oak Claims that the rooms contain a headless statue of Shiva and other objects commonly used for worship rituals in Hindu temples. Further, The Taj faces the East direction  and not West. The interior of Mumtaz's cenotaph contains figures of Sun and Cobra drawn in gold. Sun is redundant in Islamic structure. 

Taj. Controversial crescent symbol atop the dome. SlideShare
Mysterious Taj Mahal, Agra. YouTube 
In the recent past some BJP leaders resurrected some of the abandoned theories about Taj and its Hindu temple connection. The Pandora's box is closed tight and trying to break it open is not good. The Taj has been around us for a long time as symbol of India's  national pride  not only for Agra but also for the entire country. It surpasses caste, creed and religions. It is a great monument of grandeur and beauty, a sermon in marble that embodies the love between two souls who belong the Mogul dynasty.  English poet, Sir Edwin Arnold describes it as "Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor's love wrought in living stones."

English Prince Albert and fascinating Indian gifts worthy of him - 1875 02

Encouraged by his mother, Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales (heir-apparent and future king Edward VII) undertook a four-month tour of the Subcontinent in October 1875 with a view to getting himself familiar with India and the people that he was going to rule in the future. Particularly, he wanted to establish a close rapport with the Indian rulers.  On that tour he traveled   nearly 10,000 miles by land and sea, covering different terrains, different regions, etc.  According to  Sir William Howard Russell, writer of the official tour diary, noted that the Prince had 'seen more of the country in the time than any living man'. 

The royal tour was an opportunity to establish personal and diplomatic links with local Indian rulers, and sought to strengthen ties between the Subcontinent and the British Crown before the declaration of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. It included visits to a number of royal courts, allowing the Prince to experience the splendour and spectacle of Indian courtly traditions, and to learn about the cultures, history and religions of a country he would one day rule.

In accordance with protocols observed by the British rulers, the Prince was presented with valuable gifts  that would suit his tastes and status. The gifts presented to the prince were known for their unique design and craftsmanship  native to that region and represent items  of superb quality and amazing workmanship that can not be duplicated.  The prince received around 2000 gifts of historical significance and artistic splendor. The Prince of Wales Indian collections toured many places in England and Europe between 1876 and 1883 and was seen  by more than 700000 people.  Way back in December 2017, for the first time after a lapse of 130 years, the dazzling collection of Prince Albert was on display in Scotland - at The Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse. It brought back the historic and diplomatic  visit made by Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1875 when Lord Northbrook was the Viceroy of India. The exhibition in Scotland forms part of the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture and long standing relationship between these two countries.

Presented below are some of the exquisite gifts received by Prince Albert during that tour of the Indian subcontinent. Photo Credit:
India, casket.
Above image: Amritsar, Punjab, Casket and Address of Welcome circa 1875. Gold, velvet, silver-gilt thread, emeralds, rubies, diamonds, turquoises, enamel, gold sequins, paper, opaque watercolor, black ink; 7.8 x 33.0 x 13.1 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017
This casket with its inscription of ‘A E’ stands for Albert Edward in English, Gurmukhi, Urdu and Devanagar. It i was presented jointly on behalf of the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu communities when the Prince visited the city. The Prince also  visited  the Harmindar Sahib or Golden Temple, the principal Sikh holy temple completed in 1604.

South India. Spearhead.
Above image: South Indian. Spearhead, 7th century. Steel, 49.5 x 7.4 x 7.5 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
This spearhead dates from the late sixteenth century. The finely cut, pierced and chased motifs make reference to the monumental South Indian temples constructed in the same period by the Nayak rulers

S. India. Dagger and
Above image: South India. Dagger and scabbard, 1800-75. Watered crucible steel, gold, ivory, wood, velvet, diamonds, 37.2 x 12.7 x 5.0 cm, Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
This dagger is incised directly below the hilt with ten avatars (incarnations) of the Hindu God Vishnu. Apparently, it was made for a rich Hindu patron.
The scabbard mounts have been adapted for presentation with the addition of the Prince of Wales’s feathers.
India. Knife and sheath,
Above image: Indian. Knife and sheath, circa 1870 - 1875. Silver, gold, wood and rubies; 28.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
This ceremonial knife known as a pichangatti and traditionally carried by men in Coorg, was presented to the Prince during his attendance at the races at Guindy Park, Madras. The knife is fitted with various grooming implements including tweezers, a scraper, a file and an ear pick. Knives of this type would usually be made of steel, but in this exceptional example the blade is made of silver.

India. rosewater sprinklers,
Above image: Nahan Foundry. Pair of rosewater sprinklers, 1873-76. Silver, 37 x 10.7 cm ( Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017
The Raja of Nahan  founded  the Nahan Foundry in 1873. The foundry usually produced industrial objects such as sugar-cane crushers and railings, but as a gift for the Prince made these sprinklers that are supposedly automatic. However the pump mechanism seen at the base of the sprinkler’s neck is not functional.
S. India, Gold bangle with
Above image: South India. Bangle, circa 1850 - 1875. Gold and rubies, 3.3 x 8.8 x 8.8 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
Trichinopoly (now in Tamil Nadu) was well-known  for its highly sculptural gold jewelry.

 The Prince purchased this bangle depicting heads of makara (mythical sea creatures), the two largest heads being inlaid with ruby eyes. The Prince purchased this bangle from a peddler, referred to as ‘boxwallah’ in William Howard Russell’s diary, and presented it to Queen Victoria as a birthday present.
India, necklace - gold, diamond,
 Above image: Indian. Necklace, circa 1800 - 1878. Gold, enamel, diamonds, rubies, pearls and emeralds; 22.6 x 15.5 x 0.7 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
London-based jewellers Phillips Brothers & Sons admired Indian enameling and gem setting. This piece of  jewelry inspires  techniques of the subcontinent. Here they have encased the diamonds to preserve the original kundan setting. The red and green enamelled ornaments represent an attempt by the jeweler to emulate Indian enamel work.
India, Bottle and salver,
 Above image: Indian. Bottle and salver, circa 1870 - 1875. Gold, enamel, diamonds and a ruby; 26.5 x 18.8 x 18.8 cm, Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.
Jaipur was a well-known  centre for polychrome enameling. This enameled bottle and salver of remarkable quality showcases the skill and precision of the enameler.
India Paan Box,,
Above image: Indian, Indore. Pair of boxes for betel nut (paan), circa 1870 - 1875. Silver and silver gilt, 11.5 x 12.2 cm , Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Paan or betel-leaf chewing is common across India and is part of the culture among Hindus and also muslims. Paan is a mixture of ingredients such as shavings of betel nut (a mild stimulant with similar effects to caffeine), seeds, coconut and occasionally tobacco wrapped in a betel leaf, which was offered at the end of formal court gatherings. The individual hinged covers are designed to store the various ingredients used to prepare paan. The compartments are in the shape of betel leaves.

English Prince Albert and fascinating Indian gifts worthy of him - 1875 01

.Statue of King Edward VII, Bangalore, India en.
The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, EdwardVII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910. Before ascending the throne, he held
the title of Prince of Wales for longer than any of his predecessors. When his mother Victoria was the queen, he was kept away from the political involvement and he  enjoyed the trapping of a royal life, personifying the fashionable life of a British elite at the highest strata of the society and at the same time performing unavoidable ceremonial public duties. As a prominent royal member, he traveled across England and also abroad. His  royal tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 won him good name.  That he is a sucker for dames got a bad rap and  became a subject of media scoop.  However, his romantic liaisons  with wrong ladies made his mother  quite unhappy.  

As the ruler of Britain, Edward VII got a good name and brought about many administrative changes. His successful period Edwardian Era coincided with the discovery of steam engine and rise of socialism. He not only modenized the British Army, but also reorganized it. Unlike his predecessors, he improved the relationship with France. Further, he wanted to maintain his social contact by way of re instituting  traditional royal ceremonies as public displays. He died in 1910. 

In October 1875 Edward set off for India on an extensive eight-month tour of the sub-continent. He boarded HMS Serapis and made a passage to India. This would give the heir apparent to learn more about the Indian subcontinent  its  people that he  was going to rule  one day.

On this four-month trip, the prince visited many places across the Indian subcontinent using  boat, rail, carriage and elephant.  He  covered  more than 21 towns and cities in modern-day India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka and was the guest of honor at more than 90 royal courts. 

An interesting aspect of this tour is, in compliance with the  Indian protocol, each  ruler - Maharajah or Nawob had to present him with valuable gifts  worthy of his royal title  and  status as a foremost member of the British ruling class. The elaborate gifts covered a variety of items  from gold jewelry to weaponry, ceremonial objects to  small curios.  In total prince of Wales received more than 2,000 of them  from the Indian elite rulers. – the finest examples of Indian workmanship, design and artistic works native to the respective regions. Now they form the most important Indian artifacts of historical value in the Royal Collections.   mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
 The tour was undertaken when Lord Northbrook was the Viceroy of India. The gifts  given to the royal member were well planed, meticulously fashioned and executed.

His advisors remarked on his habit of treating all people the same, regardless of their social status or color. In letters home, he complained of the treatment of the native Indians by the British officials: “Because a man has a black face and a different religion from our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute.”
Prince Edward  returned to England on 11 May 1876, after a stop-over in Portugal.  At the end of the tour, Queen Victoria was given the  new title Empress of India by Parliament, in part as a result of the tour's success.

Below are presented some of the valuable gifts  presented to Prince Charles on his trip to India in 1875. They were all made with precision and artistry and reflect the  rich splendor of the Indian court. All were made with meticulous care with minute details and they bear testimony to the artistic and technical knowledge of the Indian goldsmiths and artisans.

A selection of them is presented to the public in the form of exhibition across England and other places and the Indian artworks and workmanship have been widely admired by the people for their
unique  design and quality of work. (image credit:

India. Fly Whisks.
Above image: Pair of morchals (fly whisks)  of peacock feathers, inlaid with diamonds and set with layered bands of gold tinsel.  “Fans like these were used by attendants to fan the ruler and try and keep him cool as India is a hot country. The ruler happened to be the most important person in the room.”
Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

India, ink
Above image: Enameled gold inkstand in the form of a state barge known as the Maurpankhi presented by Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh, Maharajah of Benares. It comprises 19 pieces including a penknife, two pen nibs and a pair scissors. It mentions  the identity of the presenter and the receiver: a small gold flag is emblazoned with the Benares crest of two fishes, and the mast is inscribed with a dedication to the prince.
 Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

India. Jewelcrusted Crown.

Above image: Enamelled gold and jewel encrusted crown presented by the Taluqdars of Awadh to the Prince of Wales in 1876. Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince's Tour of India 1875-6. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
India. Durbar set.
 Above image: Service of State or durbar set presented by Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, Maharaja of Mysore. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
India. address casket.
Above image: A silver-gilt address casket made by Edinburgh-based goldsmiths Marshall and Sons. The casket is engraved with the Prince's name, and decorated with Hindu and zodiac symbols, shamrocks, roses and thistles.
An incongruous gift from Agra, engraved with the prince’s name. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
India. Turban ornament.
Above image: A gold and enameled turban ornament (Sirpech) from Udaipur – one of the first gifts the prince received with  three large emeralds bordered by bands of bright red enamel.  Detailed with emeralds, diamonds and pearls. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

India. ornamented dagger.
Above image: Ornamented dagger and scabbard, presented by the Maharajah of Alwar. Featuring an enameled and be-jewelled handle and a scabbard, the blade is filled with loose seed pearls. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
India .gold articulated fish.
Above image: Ornamental gold articulated fish, featuring ruby eyes and an emerald set into the head, presented by Waghji II Rawaji, Thakur Sahib of Morvi. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
India. Silver gold scent  holder.
Above image: A silver and gold perfume holder in the form of a lotus bud.  Gift to the Prince of Wales by Jashwant Singh II, Maharajah of Jodhpur;  an attar-dan from Jaipur bowls.  This exquisite perfume holder resembles a lotus flower and sits on a plate enameled with foliage patterns and hunting scenes. It reportedly underwent five firings and took five years to complete.
Courtesy Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Over zealous Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings and Raja Chait Singh - early colonial rule in India

During the early East India Company rule Raja Chait Singh (Raja Sri Chait Singh Sahib Bahadur) (died 29 March 1810 in Gwalior) son of Raja Balwant Singh was a ruler of Benares State (now part of Uttar Pradesh). Upon the demise of his father, Chait Singh, being the legal heir took over the administration of a Zamindari. At that point of time in the Eighteenth Century in north India, the Mogul  Empire and its influence were gradually fading into insignificance for various reasons. Since the time of Aurangzeb, there had been slow  disintegration of Mogul power  that gave rise to many small kingdoms.  With the gain of Bengal, the British Empire had begun to spread its tentacles to other parts of India. Thanks to Robert Clive who rose to the position of eminence through hard work, right war strategy and effective administration with limited resources. He laid the basic foundation for the British Empire and later Warren Hastings, a dedicated servant of ESI further strengthened the foundation upon which the empire was built.  The power of the British East India Company was growing by leaps and bounds and the resources from India helped Britain come out of economic doldrums.  The British economy began to show quick upward mobility and India became its cash cow. Warren Hastings became an effective administrator and took keen interest in Indian society, thus winning the heart of the natives. 
Chait Singh. adhikaranjanmarxist.blogspot
Chait Singh's father Balwant Singh  was a zamindar and enjoyed the title of Raja. But the Rajas were formally under the control of the Nawob of Awadh (Oudh). Since the EIC had a hold on the Nawab, he was unable to exercise  total suzerainty over the zamindari. EIC advised the Nawob to recognize Chat Singh as Zamindar in 1773. Having become annoyed with too much interference by the British company in the internal affairs of the kingdom, the Nawob
in 1775  transferred the domain to the Company under the direct control of the Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings (6 December 1732 – 22 August 1818). The Nawob  died in the same year.
Arrest of ChaiSingh.
Above image: Arrest of the Rajah of Benares, Chait Singh, August 1781. Benares, India present day Varanasi, also known as Banaras.  It was initiated by Warren Hastings, it was a sort of political vendetta on the part of Hastings.
Contributor: Historical Images Archive / Alamy 
Stock Photo......................................
In accordance with fresh terms and conditions, Chait Singh who became the ruler of Benares,  had to  contribute cavalry and maintenance grants for the Company's Sepoy battalions. The British company, as per the agreement, could raise the  cost of maintenance of the British army at any time. This put the ruler at a disadvantage, considering his limited revenue from his kingdom. Warren Hastings put one Thomas Graham as  British Resident and  demanded exorbitant grant from the ruler- a sum of 2.3 million rupees plus tax rupees - five lakhs. The British company needed money to meet the war expenses in Madras. Till 1779, Chait Singh paid the huge sum with considerable difficulty.   Chait Singh in 1780 began experiencing financial crunch. In the meantime Chait Singh could not provide them with needed troops and in 1781 Warren Hastings and his officials paid a visit to Chait Singh. It was rumored  Hastings and his other officials received several lakhs of rupees from Chait Singh as bribes. The British, who  scented the secret plan of Chait Singh to protest against the company, stripped him off his position and placed him under house arrest in August 1781.
East India Co. Gov. Gen. Warren Hastings
OPEN Magazine
In this regard Warren Hastings' action became a serious issue in his later years when facing corruption charges in the British Parliament. He escaped from his confinement using turbans as a rope and sought the help of local rulers to go after the British company. None wanted to antagonize the EIC. With limited troops, he made a futile attempt to cow down the British forces. 

The British  confiscated  the Zamindari and gave it to  to his nephew  Raja Sri Mahip Narayan Singh Sahib Bahadur on 14 September 1781.

Chait Singh took refuge in Awadh, and then Gwalior, where he was granted a Jagir for a while,  for unknown reasons, it was  later confiscated. Once holding a vast power and title of "Raja"Chait Singh died in obscurity in Gwalior on 29 March 1810 leaving behind  three sons; he lived in exile for 30 long years. The incident greatly damaged Hastings' image and capability, leading to a failed attempt to impeach him by the British Parliament. His action in haste and lack of discretion in the matter of Chait Singh and the Begums of Awadh, etc.,   eclipsed his excellent contribution to the consolidation of the British Empire. By nature, Warren Hastings was a courteous man and began his career at the bottom of the rung and moved up in the company by establishing his ability and excellent strategy and management skill.  The impeachment trial lasted for seven  long years with Edmund Burke leading the prosecution. Many of the evidences were framed up and certain accusations in respect of administration lapses and misjudgement  did not warrant  punishments. In 1795, Hastings was acquitted as many evidences were inconclusive. In 1813, he was given standing ovation when he gave evidence on  his proposed new Legislation about India.  He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1814. After his solid contribution to the British Empire, not withstanding the unfortunate impeachment trial, he led a comfortable semi-retirement life and died at the ripe age of 85. There is a simple memorial in Daylesford  (Gloucestershire, England) churchyard.

01. Raja Sri Mahip Narayan Singh Sahib Bahadur, 
on 14 September 1781 succeeded his maternal uncle Chait Singh under the terms of the British East India Company.  He had the power  to dispense justice within his domains and make an annual contribution of 40 lakhs.

02. A carved stone from Chait Singh's palace was taken to 
Cossimbazar and set in the palace of the Maharajah of that place.

03. Warren Hastings took keen interest in India and  learned about Indian culture. He said,  “I love India a little more than my own country.” He understood the value of Sanskrit and made it popular.  He was fluent in Bengali, had a fairly good working knowledge of Urdu and Persian.

04. It was warren Hastings who brought to light the classical works in Hinduism and Buddhism that were neglected during the Muslim rule.

05. In 1784, along with Sir William Jones he founded Asiatic Society in Calcutta which became a cultural center for Sanskrit and related Indian subjects.

06. Besides, he encouraged the translation of the Bhagavad Gita and he himself wrote a fine introduction (4 October 1784).

07. Warren Hastings was the first Gov. General of India who touched on the subject of racial equality before the British government. He also impressed on them that India was culturally and intellectually was well advanced.

08.Carved stone from Chait Singh's palace was later taken and incorporated into the palace of the Maharaja of Cossimbazar

Sir Winston Churchill, a "hardcore racist" with conservative bark and bite!!

PinterestWinston Churchill.

The TelegraphWinston Churchill.
To a cross section of conservative people in the West, Churchill was the saviour of Western liberal democracy who sternly drove Nazism to the wall and finally wiped out the evil forces under Hitler. In its issue of January 2, 1950 "Time" magazine  hailed the British  Conservative leader as the  "man of the half century", the man who launched "lifeboats". The Western world knows the bright side of Churchill dominated by speeches, wise quotes and aura. Little do they know about the dark side of his life though he carried a plethora of eulogies about him and his wartime leadership which the western media showered on him and to prop up his image. His crime against humanity and his open racist approach and remarks were purposely ignored by many British Media and, no doubt, Churchill always hogged the limelight. So, the British could see one side of Churchill, the other side of him is just horrible, obnoxious and sickening.

To the liberal West and  countless people out side of West, Churchill remains an enigma, a despicable  racist on the wrong side of world history.  Fame and name were thrust upon this man whose only asset was to give fine speeches and hold the audience in thrall.
CartoonStockChurchill and cigar.
Any way, even today to the British, he is an embodiment of British character, a symbol of triumph in the face of tough odds. Churchill was posthumously voted by his countrymen as the greatest Briton. February 2015 marked  half a century since his  death and on that occasion, there were  many paeans and commemorations to the man, who was purported to have saved the world from the apocalypse - chaos caused by devilish Hitler.  The truth is  British wrongly think of him as a Savior of the world from the clutches of Nazism. Little did they know, it was the timely intervention of the Americans and the German Army's fiasco in Russia in the Winter season ended the WW II in favor of allied forces. Stoically the huge Indian Army played a crucial role on the side of the British. The British government and many British media failed to present the true picture of Winston Churchill whose arrogance, ego and over
confidence took the world to the end of exasperation during WWII.

The following are some of his unpalatable racial remarks:
01. Churchill  was a well-known India-baiter.  His  well-documented bigotry often spewing venom and contempt for Indian is well-known to his biographers. Unashamedly with with shocking callousness  Churchill said, "I hate Indians,". Once  he openly declared about Indians,  "They are a beastly people with a beastly religion."

02. Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command. Colville’s diary entry of 23 February 1945 records Churchill’s thoughts about the Hindus:  The PM said, "The Hindus were a foul race protected by their mere pullulation from the doom that is their due” and he wished Bert Harris could send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them. (

03. When Bengal and parts of other Indian states were reeling under the worst famine in 1943, partly caused by failure of monsoon, pest attack, etc. he wantonly turned the famine into a big calamity that insulted in the death of a few million people. When honest and efficient British India officials in Delhi wanted to import food grains to India, to rub salt on the wounds, Churchill  diverted the  cargo ship at Calcutta harbor  laden with food grains from Australia to Europe and made a carping remark in his reply to the officials in Delhi, If food is so scarce, "why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”

04. When the Bengal famine became a serious issue to be debated  in the British  parliament, Churchill made a disgusting comment,  “Famine or no famine, Indians will breed like rabbits.” Such preposterous statements were not worthy of a British leader of good standing. 

05. While he was a junior member of parliament, Churchill  wanted to have more conquests as he was a true believer of British colonialism and insisted  that its "Aryan stock is bound to triumph."Here he implies the superiority of the "White race".

06. With respect to Palestinians, Churchill considered them as   "barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung." it is nothing but a nauseating comment on the part of Winston whose wild tongue had a more poisonous sting than that of the Portuguese man o' war (Siphonophore) floating in the sea - a nightmare for the swimmers.

07. In the earlier days of his overseas  imperial career,  when putting down insurgents in Sudan, Churchill was boasting about his courage and wisdom in killing three "savages."( meaning Sudanese blacks).

08. To put down the restive people in NW Asia, Churchill resented the hesitation on the part of his colleagues, who were not in "favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes." Here, Churchill meant he would never feel nervous or scrupulous to kill the uncivilized denizens of this region by using life-threatening chemicals.

09. When it comes to races, Churchill was never color-blinded.  He was on a visit to the US: President Roosevelt, at a White House lunch, placed Churchill next to the publisher and ardent campaigner for India’s independence, Mrs Ogden Reid, and sat back awaiting the inevitable explosion. Mrs. Ogden Reid: “What are you going to do about those wretched Indians?”

Churchill: “Before we proceed further let us get one thing clear. Are we talking about the brown Indians in India, who have multiplied alarmingly under the benevolent British rule? Or are we speaking of the  red Indians in America who, I understand, are almost extinct?” —1943 (

10. Churchill is one of the few Conservative British politicians who hated  the Indian independence movement. Never had he failed to show his animosity toward its spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi, whom he described as "half-naked seditious fakir".  

11. Mahatma Gandhi was in London from September 12 to December 5, 1931 to attend the second Round table Conference. He stayed at Kingsley Hall and used an office at 88 Knights bridge  during this visit. Around the same time,  future prime minister Winston Churchill (1940-1945 and 1951-1955) shockingly described Gandhi thus: "It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king emperor."
.Mahatma Gandhi by Jacob Kramer.

Above image: Portrait of Gandhiji by Ukraine born Jacob Kramer, 1931. Place: Kingsley Hall, London. The image is made with black and white chalk on buff paper. It shows the apostle of non-violence smiling mischievously, perhaps portending the fall of the British Empire in the later years...............

12. It seems that  Winston Churchill's "seditious fakir" comment during his wilderness years has close connection with an  occasion when Mahatma Gandhi posed for portraits at Kingsley Hall in London. The artist was one Jacob Kramer (native of Ukraine). He was allotted a day during that period Kramer is said to have made three or four drawings of the Mahatma. Kramer's  impressions were published in the Yorkshire Post on January 31, 1948, after Gandhi's assassination in Delhi. Kramer's portrait of Gandhiji  became quite popular. 

13. Churchill once remarked that  Political enemies such as certain Indian tribes (meaning Pathans), Germans,  Russians and others need to be treated with  chemical  weapons.

14. He was of the opinion that Indians had neither competence nor ability to rule their own  land. They belonged to an inferior race and had to be civilized and further mentioned that it was the moral duty of the British to civilize these people. 

15. He never cared a fig for the plight of million of poor Indians who had to live hand to mouth life. Nor did he sympathise with those dying and starving for many reasons. 

16. Never had he failed to use brute forces in many countries when they protested against the British. 

17. During the chaotic Angelo-Afghan war, he saw for himself the treacherous Pathan tribes fighting against the British forces. He made some unsavoury remarks that such uncivilised barbarous tribes need to be bombed. 

18. His complaint that the  Irish refused to be British is quite well-known. He was a hardcore colonist and wanted many countries under the Crown - Britain, a country of Pure White race (?).
Indian politician, orator and  writer of repute Shashi Tharoor has observed about Churchill, an unabashed imperialist.  “This is the man who the British insist on hailing as some apostle of freedom and democracy, when to my mind he is really one of the more evil rulers of the 20th century, only fit to stand in the company of the likes of Hitler, Mao and Stalin”