Friday, 20 October 2017

The Jinnah Tower, a popular landmark in Guntur, Andhra - needs restoration

Jinnah Tower, Guntur, Andhra state.
With the exception of some people and Indian history freaks, many of u are not aware of the presence of jinnah Tower on Mahatma Gandhi Road, Guntur District, Andhra. By the same token, none of us is aware of  Chicago's main thoroughfare in Devon Avenue, part of it is named  Gandhi Marg after Mahatma Gandhi and its extension Jinnah Road, after the founder of Pakistan. This was done with approval from Chicago's city council; one part of the road dominated by Indian shops and the other part by Pakistani shops.  Jinnah Tower in Guntur is a popular landmark in this city and is considered a symbol of harmony and peace. That there has been no harmony and peace between these two nations since partition in August, 1947 is a well-known fact and the  revelry between these two nations  has not yet  shown any sign of  decline ever since the illegal invasion of the Princely state of Kashmir by Pakistan that lasted October 1947 and January 1949. 
Mr. Jinnah and Jinnah Tower,Guntur,Andhra

Jinnah Tower exhibits a typical Muslim architecture with a dome atop the tower supported by six well-built pillars. Like other monuments across India,  it is poorly being maintained and negligence is writ on this  historical structure and in some places it is crumbling. It is said that  efforts were made to repair and restore this tower dedicated to a man who was, in his early stages, worked hard for the Hindu-Muslim unity  and whose family came from Gujarat.

How the tower came into being is matter for 
discussion and there are two versions to it. During the pre-independence day,  Jinnah's representative one Judaliyaquat Ali Khan visited Gunter and as part of felicitation, Lal Jan Basha, grand father of Telugu Desam party leader S. M. Laljan Basha, had the tower built in honor of Mohd. Ali Jinnah. The other version being, two Municipal Chairman, Nadimpalli Narasimha Rao and Tellakula Jalayya , during their tenure, were instrumental in building this tower as a symbol of harmony and peace. But,it hangs in the thin air like LA fog and it is a reality we ought to face!!

 According to many people Gunter city has nothing to do with Mr. Jinnah, the man after whom the tower was named  and who split the subcontinent and, in the aftermath of independence,  several lakhs of innocent refugees  died in the name of religion during trans migration across the border. How can you consider this tower as a symbol of peace and harmony? Putting aside the past dark  days, some argue, that this monument  needs restoration to preserve its heritage.

Maps of India
Anyway, the central and state governments should preserve such monuments so that the vestiges of past history should not get lost in the melange of political opinions.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Connemara Hotel, a 125 year old heritage building steeped in history

Connemara htel, Chennai

The heritage building Taj Connemara (now Vivanta by Taj) located at the intersection of  Binny Road, off Anna Salai, abutting the Spencer Plaza, is  one of the most prominent landmarks of Chennai. Though it turns 127 years old come November 27, actually, Its history is 200 years old. That its hotel tradition goes as far back as 125 years bears testimony to the hotel's old charm, colonial ambiance and its outstanding hotel services to the visitors to the city.
Vivanta by Taj, Chennai ripAdvisor
Once it was the impressive House of the Arcot Nawab that was  sold to  John Binny who built a garden house there.  As to its name Connemara, the information is vague whether it was named
 after the Governor of Madras Residency Lord
Connemara (Robert Bruce, the Baron of Connemara in Ireland;1880-1890). Considering the facts that the Prince of Arcot Nawab Muhammud Munnawwar Khan Bhadur was close to the Governor and  used to throw lavish parties to Lord and lady Connemara suggest  the close relationship the Nawab had with Gov. Connemara. Yet another interesting fact is Mrs. Connemara (Lady Susan Georgiana Broun-Ramsay, eldest daughter of the 1st Marquess of Dalhousie (Doctrine of Lapse fame) who was the Governor-General of India)

Lord Connemara.
is beloved to have stayed in the hotel for about a year before leaving for England where she sought divorce from her discreditable husband, citing infidelity.
Lord Connemara with the Nawab of Arcot  Dream Of A City
 According to Chennai's historian  S. Muthaiah, Lord Connemara had a particular  liking for pretty young girls and his sexual overtures went overboard that created a chasm between him and his wife.

John Binny bought the building in 1799 and later sold it to Somasundara Mudaliar. in 1854 Rathnavaloo Mudaliar established the Imperial Hotel and later Mudaliar brothers (Kumaraguru Mudelly and Chokkalinga Mudelly) became the owners who renamed it as Albany in 1886 and in 1890, it became Connemara Hotel. The 9 acre property changed hands and now the owner of Spencer & Co Oakshatt in 1891 took over the property. Out of 9 acres, 4.37 acres were allotted for the construction of the most popular department store with a built-up area of 18000 sq. feet, the largest one in Asia then. No body could miss this impressive European-styled building on Mount Road. Connemara in 1919 came under 
the control of Spencer & Co. In the early 1930s, 
it underwent major renovation work and in 
1937 it sported an art deco look and fitted with  air-conditioning apparatus, delivering cool refreshing air. In those days in the late 1930s, the tariff  for single occupancy with breakfast is just Rs.10.00 and Rs, 17.00 for room plus full day meals, much lower than today's cup of coffee or tea. Since 1974, the Connemara Hotel had been managed by  the Spencer & Co. After the fire mishap in 1981 the hotel along with two other hotels came under the management of the Tata group's subsidiary Indian Hotels Co. Ltd in 1984. The name changed to Taj Connemara. Again after yet another long  major renovation work, with better look, the oldest hotel in Chennai emerged as Vivanta Taj, a stylish name with a spirited appeal, 

The Taj Group renovated the heritage hotel without disturbing its heritage values or marring the good old charm.

 01. Retention of a huge portrait of Lord Connemara with  IV Prince of Arcot Munnawwar Khan Bhadur.

02. The lounge in the heritage building carries the name of Lady Connemara.

03. Retention of  stone pillars in the hotel's Raintree pathway and the wooden carvings in the grand staircase wall. They   date back to the 16th 
and 17th centuries and are from old temples of Mahabalipuram.

04. A grand piano in the lobby made in 1922.  In the post-war period it was  played in the ballroom in the evenings.  Still it is in good condition.
04. The Nagavelli well located in the hotel, never goes dry even during hot  summer season, unlike other wells in the city!!

This heritage hotel still charms the visitors with old world elegance and  modern-day services.

Deepavali - quotes from Bhagavan Ramanar

Happy Diwali

Quotes from Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi:

Bhagavan Ramanar. The Hindu com.
"He is the king of hell who says that he is  
the body which is hell itself. He is Narayana who ascertains who Naraka is, and destroys
him with his vision of wisdom- Gnana Drishti
That is the auspicious day of Narakachathurdasi".

"The false belief that this hell-like house called body is me, is Naraka himself. To destroy that false belief and let the self shine as Self, is Deepavali".

                       .............Bhagavan Ramanar

Anshu Jamsenpa,- a double ascent in one season on Everest, a world world record

Anshu Jamsenpa,reviewNE
An Indian woman climber made history on Sunday 21 May 2017 by reaching the summit of Mount Everest for the second time in less than a week, a  challenging feat never achieved before. She had set a women's record for a double ascent of the world's highest peak  in a single season.

Mt. Everest.

On May 16, Mrs. Anshu Jamsenpa, 37, returned from the 8,848-metre (29,028-feet) peak and  then she took a short break for relaxation and rest. Instead of taking  a long deserved  rest  again she was on her feet to repeat the assault on the mountain  with more determination and vigor than before. For a woman of that age, it is not that easy to venture outdoor adventure like mountaineering. Besides physical well being, mental preparation is very important for the success of such adventure. Above all a favorable weather condition on the higher mountains makes all the difference between success or failure or delayed ascent on the peak.

"Anshu reached the summit of Everest at 8:00 am (0215 GMT) on 21 May, 2017  for the second time this season, setting a new record," according to Dawa Lama of Dream Himalaya Adventures. Jamsenpa, a mother of two, was blessed by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama before leaving for the expedition.

Anshu with Dalai Lama.
As to the  current female record, certified by Guinness World Records, one Nepali climber Chhurim Sherpa holds the record.  In 2012  she become the first woman to scale the peak twice in a season. Jamsenpa is an experienced mountain climber and she scaled Everest five times. She wanted to attempt double assault on Everest in 2014 season, A tragedy had happened as a result of an avalanche that resulted in the death of 16 Nepali guides. So, the climbing season was cancelled to avoid further untoward incidents. Following year her attempt ended in the dark, following an earthquake-triggered avalanche, resulting in the death of 18 people at Base Camp. The earthquake caused widespread damages in Nepal, leaving several swathes.
Jamsenpa, a mother of two, before embarking on her expedition to Everest, received the blessings from   Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Jamsenpa' husband, president of All Arunachal Pradesh Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Association, Tsering Wange told  Hindustan Times: “God has answered the prayers of her admirers in Arunachal Pradesh and elsewhere in India and beyond.” She is from  Bomdilla, headquarters of West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh, NE India. Her name was Deepa Kalita.


01.  In this season more than 120 climbers have made the summit with the first ascents delayed by high winds, fresh snowfall and unusually cold temperatures.

02. In May 2017, Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa set a new record. She  broke her own record for the greatest number o03. This year the casualty was far less than normal. Two people died this year,  one happened to be an ace mountain climber from Switzerland - Ueli Steck, who was killed during a preparatory climb before attempting the Himalayan peak.

04. Every year, hundreds of people attempt to climb to the top of the world’s highest mountain  during the short window of favourable weather before the monsoon season sets in June.  The short season normally sees traffic jams” on the high mountains and sometimes, the over-crowded mountains become dangerous. Highly respected mountaineers and others are concerned about the  a high number of summit permits being issued by Nepal that will make the  assault on Everest more dangerous and challenging than before. More people on the high mountain means more junks on the mountains that would mar their majesty and purity.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Agnes Smedley --Unsung American-born Indian nationalist!

Indian freedom fighter Agnes Smedle,
Agnes Smedley was not only an American born Indian nationalist, a journalist of repute and a social activist but also a secret  triple agent working  for the Soviets, the Chinese Communists, and the Indian nationalists. She got herself clandestinely engaged in the last activity with courage and commitments. Considered as one of the most prolific female spies of the 20th century, she was not well-educated. Nor did she have the luxury of  formal education in a posh school and fairly good  family background. A battered woman, she surmounted every road-block in her life with aplomb. Her semi-autobiographical novel Daughter of Earth as well as  her sympathetic chronicling of the Communist forces in the Chinese Civil War won her international fame. Her 125th birth anniversary was celebrated in February 2017.  Smedley wrote six books, including a novel, reportage, and a biography of the Chinese general Zhu De, Her reports / contributions  appeared in newspapers such as New York Call, Frankfurter Zeitung and Manchester Guardian, All these were well received and credited.
Her deep involvement in India's struggle for freedom, unfortunately, did not  hog the limelight it deserved, unlike her works on China. In this regard, she was an unsung Indian freedom fighter from abroad. A noteworthy moment  during World War I was, she worked in the United States for the independence of India from Britain by receiving financial support from the government of Germany.

Agnes Smedley,,China, 1985 Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Born on 23 February 1892 in Osgood, Missouri -the second of five children, in a working class background, the  family suffered untold miseries in the small town of Trinidad, Colorado that in 1903 and 1904 witnessed  coal miner's strike and lack of jobs. She was just 13 then. When she was 14 years old. her father walked out on his wife  and to supplement the family income, she became a domestic help.  Valiant as she was, to make up for her basic education, she qualified herself as a teacher and began teaching in Torico, New Mexico. In early 1910, her mother Sarah died (she was barely 38) and  from 1911 to 1912 Smedley enrolled in Tempe Normal School, Arizona and got a name as an activist. Her stint at Teacher's college gave her a chance to come closer with Emma Goldman. She became a socialist and in 1917 her marriage with Earnest Brundin ended in divorce and the relationship lasted barely for five years. Later, she moved over to New York where she stayed with her sister-in-law Thornburg Brundin, Smedley got a chance to work with Margret Sanders, a birth control activist.  

Agnes Smedley

Above image : Agnes Smedley, Bernard Shaw, Soong Ching-ling, Tsai Yuan Pei, and Lu Hsun in Shanghai in 1933

At New York University- 1912, Smedley had a close contact with a group of Bengali students from India who supported their country's  freedom movement. She in 1918 took a decisive step and  joined the "Friends of Freedom for India", a secretive organization under close surveillance  by the U.S. Her close interaction with some of the Bengali nationalists in New York such as M.N. Roy,Sailen Ghose, etc. drew the attention of the US government
Smedley's intention was to espouse  India's cause to the world through her writings and contacts. She had contact with Lala Lajpat Rai (1865 - 1928;  Indian writer, politician and an advocate of a militant anti-British nationalism in the Indian National Congress). World War I provided an opportunity and the nationalists based in the US wanted to distract England from European battlefront. It was called the Hindu German conspiracy because they received funds from Germany.  Smedley's activities along with Bengali revolutionaries invited  serious trouble  and 
she  was arrested and jailed for two years  in New  York under the Espionage Act for supporting Indian freedom struggle against the British.  After release from the prison, she moved over to Germany in 1918 to carry on her activities against the British. There she married V. chatoupadyaya, brother of woman freedom fighter and poet Sarojini Naidu  and carried on her other social activities and ran birth control clinic in Berlin. She taught English at the university of Berlin and  did graduate work in Asian Studies. It was here in 1929, she published her first naval "Daughter Of Earth".

Later, she moved over to China in 1928 where in the 1930s she helped Soviet super spy Richard Sorge in Shanghai  establish himself as a master spy in Tokyo. She also befriended Chinese writer  Lu Xun.
While reporting for news papers such as Frankfurter Zeitung and Manchester Guardian, etc., As usual, she continued her social work on birth control, children's welfare and women's rights, etc. So to say, she did a pioneering work in these areas that had received least attention in those days.

She wrote numerous reports on China. She made a daring trip along with  8th Route Army (the Red Army) during the Sino-Japanese War and in 1938 published China Fights Back: An American Woman with the Eighth Route Army, on her experiences in Shanxi province. In Hankou  she worked with the Chinese Red Cross Medical Corps, collected supplies for the Red Army, and served as a publicist for the communists until the city fell in 1938. 

Back in the USA,  she lived in Writers' Colony, 
New York and wrote many books on China  and became an advocate for China in the west. During the McCarthy Era (period  marked by  making of accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence by the government), Smedley had troubled time  with the American government because of her sympathy for Communists and she  left for England where  she died  on 6 May 1950. Her  ashes were interred in the National Revolutionary Martyrs Memorial Park in Beijing. In England she completed her work before her death - The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh, her biography of the Chinese communist military leader Zhu De, published posthumously in 1956.

Her  famous novel Daughter of Earth was out of tune with Women's novels of 1930s that mostly focused on unhappy marriages, women's education, etc. However, Smedley's works concentrated on such serious issues like birth-control, motherhood, women sexuality, women's rights, etc. In this respect, she was one of early trailblazers in the above subjects, breaking away from traditions and asking radical questions.  A battered woman who never gave up and compromised on her ideals till her death.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Mall, Shimla - once Indians were not allowed to enter - British India

The Mall, Shimla.

 During the colonial period in India  racial discrimination was visible in many parts of the land, in particular, in cities and in cantonments. People of all faiths were affected by this British assertion of power, pelf and superior race.  At one point of time, the discrimination and repression reached the summit and ultimately it led to a big rebellion in 1857. With barely 80,000 British soldiers in India, it took a while for them to put down the mutiny. When the Indian administration came directly under the  Crown, the British, smart as they were, continued their divide and rule policy in a subtle way. Earlier, the divide and rule maxim in collusion with the powerful Indians did not succeed. This time, they planned the laws as a ruse and smartly  passed them in the British parliament to divide, break and fragment the Indian society. For example the Rowlatt Act-1919, Indian  Police Act-1861, Land  acquisition act-1894, etc. With respect to higher appointments on the civil and administrative sides, they were occupied by British civilians and in some places army officers. Though there were many capable Indians to hold such positions, the highest positions they could reach in the early 19th century colonial India were of a subaltern in character. So, subtle discrimination against the natives in the subcontinent continued unabated as before 1857.  In the summer capital of Shimla, the Mall was a famous place and the British officials of the municipality introduced some nobnoxious laws to keep up their superiority. and insult the natives, in particular poor people.

 The Mall Road is an important landmark of  Shimla, now the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, India. During the colonial period, it was the summer capital of the Raj and countless European families used to make a beeline to this hill town (now a city) nestled in a quiet mountainous area to beat the heat waves  and hot sun on the plains.  Constructed during British colonial rule, the Mall road is located a level below the ridge and here are located the offices of municipal corporation, fire service, and police headquarters, etc. It is a heaven for tourists and locals who can comfortably walk on the wall and go shopping because except  emergency vehicles, other  vehicles are prohibited. No air pollution, no din and noise from passing vehicles.

On the Mall road are available native handicrafts items, woolen clothes, etc., in addition, there are department stores, shops, restaurants and cafes.

Though British India was governed from Shimla during the summer months, Shimla itself was governed by the Municipal Board. Established in December 1851, the Board  was  a powerful body that  oversaw everything from water-supply, sanitation, taxation, road-building, lighting and traffic regulation..

 The Board  did something that was unpalatable, disgusting  and racially discriminatory. The infamous traffic by-laws which came into force targeted against the Indians. They prevented Indians from using the major thoroughfares in Shimla, thereby preserving the Britishness or English 'feel' to the town. The "Shimla Municipality By-Law for the Regulation and Prohibition of Traffic" reads:-

By-law"1. No person shall take, keep, or use an elephant or camel in any place within Municipal limits without the previous sanction of the President or Secretary of the Municipal Committee.

By-law 3. No cattle, sheep, goats or pigs and no mules or other animals used for draught or burden shall be permitted in the roads and streets specified as prohibited in the second schedule annexed to these rules.

By-law 5. From the 15th March to the 15th October, both days inclusive, and between the hours of 4pm and 8pm, no job porter or coolie shall solicit employment, loiter, or carry any load in any street mentioned in the first schedule annexed to these rules.

By-law 6. No person shall solicit alms, or expose or exhibit any sore, wound, bodily ailment or deformity in any street with the object of exciting charity or obtaining alms."

It caused indignation and anger among some  Committee members. 

The following are the important landmarks on The Mall or near the Mall:

Shimla: Sandal point view from the ridge
Above image: Scandal point is where the Mall road joins Ridge road on the west side. The name arose from the sensational news of the elopement of a British lady,  the daughter of the  highest official - British Viceroy, with an Indian Maharajah of Patiala (Punjab).  Later, the Maharajah was denied entry into Shimla by the British authorities. In a retaliatory  move, the rich Maharajah built a new summer capital with residence – now the famous hill resort of Chail, 45 km from Shimla.  The most prominent feature of the point today is a statue of the Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai  Next to Scandal Point is the General Post Office, Shimla.

he Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex,Shimla

Above image: Gaiety Theater, located on the Mall, was opened on 30 May 1887. Many popular film personalities have performed on its stage.In the colonial days, many English dramas were staged here

Kali Bari Hindu temple shimla.TripAdvisor
Above image: Kali Bari Temple, a famous hilltop pilgrimage site and one of the oldest temples in Shimla, was built in 1845. It is dedicated to the goddess Kali. It is believed earlier  it was dedicated to goddess Shyamala (the name Shimla is derived from this name). Bengali pilgrims  in the 19th century converted this place of worship into a Kali temple.  Painted in intense red, orange, and white colors, the temple houses a blue wooden image of the goddess Kali whose grace attracts lots of pilgrims.

Shimla: Municipal corp. building ,en.wikipedia
Above image: Municipal corporation building..  Constructed in 1908 in the half-timbered Tudor style-all-wooden frames and shingled eaves, currently houses the Shimla Municipal Corporation. It is a typical Raj-era  building, highlighting the essence of Tudor elements

Restoration work was going on Its exteriors and interiors would be refurbished by polishing and repairing the stonework. The windows and rooftops would be replaced and the Gothic facade would be improved.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

David Scott Trail, Meghalaya - a historical trail since 1800

David Scott Memorial
 David Scott who was in the employ of East India company during the very tough colonial days. considered as a sincere and dedicated worker, he became an  agent to the Governor General on the North-East Frontiers of Bengal. David Scott was sent to Cherrapunji in his capacity as the  Commissioner of Revenue Circuits of Assam.

Shillong: David Scot Trail. MakeMyTrip

 A commemorative monument is  erected in Saitsohpen, Sohra in honor of David Scott, A glowing tribute in the stone inscription on the pillar by the British Raj goes as follows:

    "By his demise the government has been deprived of a most zealous, able and intelligent servant, whose loss it deeply laments, while his name will long be held in grateful remembrance and veneration by the native population, [Come ON!!! Absolutely wrong!!!] to whom he was justly endeared by his impartial dispensation of justice."

A massive brick structure - memorial built in honor of  David Scott is standing high in the land of rain - Cherrapunjee. The mountainous expanse of Meghalaya  and the surrounding terrain is mesmerizing. The obelisk is made of ashlar stone masonry raised over a square platform. An inscription is engraved on the memorial pillar.

Brainy Quote
Jantoo Cartoon
Born in Scotland in CE 1786, David Scott worked in India in various capacities.He died on  20th August 1831 at the age of 45 years. David Scott was both an outdoor freak and a trail blazer. In those early days of the English company's rule, going into an unknown terrain was fraught with dangers. The pioneers had to tackle wild mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, wild animal and extremely heavy rain in this part of NE India.The areas were heavily wooded, cutting a taril was a strenuous job. David, with the help of natives, explored many areas of Assam that had not been tried before. Sometime, he would venture into dense wooded areas with a hunting party. Thus, he covered a vast area with careful planning and courage and gathered data needed for better administration of natural resources, etc.

Shillong: David Scot Trail. Tourism of India

David Scott Trail is one of the most popular trekking routes in Meghalaya state and countless hikers use this trail/path established by David Scott.  In the early 1800s,  it was widely used by  people, traveling  from Assam to Bangladesh and  total length of this historical trail is over  100 km and normally it takes about five days to  cover the distance. In those days,  the British workers and others covered  long distances on horse-back, part on foot. The best known existing portion of this horse track is located between the villages of Mawphlang and Lad Mawphlang. The trail  takes you across the beautiful terrain of East Khasi Hills and covers around 16 km. When you go for a long hike, using this trail you will run into a variety of terrains that have  streams,  waterfalls, meadows,  sacred groves, valleys and Khasi villages, etc. You have to cross them carefully. People in groups normally set up camps on the way for relaxation, rest and food. While hiking, you will be overwhelmed by the captivating  green rocky cliffs, rolling greenish hills  in the Umiam valley. The ideal time is in the months of October and November, right after the monsoons and when the climate is favorable. Incidentally, a part of this state is known to receive the highest rain fall in the world. 

Jantoo Cartoons

01.Meghalaya state has numerous deepest and longest caves. 

02. Near Shillong, you can enjoy visiting old  colonial bungalows  Polo Ground  and participating in the age-old game of teer (archery). Khasi cuisine of jadoh (red rice) and pork in Trattoria, available in local joints is native to this place.

03.Privately-owned Butterfly Museum at Riatsamthiah.

04. The Rhino Heritage Museum is an interesting one Once an ammo store and dungeon for Japanese POW during WWII it takes back to the last crucial world war and shows  glimpses of the Indian Army’s successful defense of the invading Japanese soldiers.

Friday, 13 October 2017

British Magazine, Delhi and 1857 Sepoy Mutiny

Delh: British Magazine

This fort-like structure made of Lakhori brick is the surviving gate of the Delhi Magazine (for storing arms and ammunition) and it is now located in the small park in the middle of a traffic island on the main Lothian Road near Kashmere Gate. There is also a small canon placed over the gateway which  is a low vaulted building steeped in history. It is is attached to the gateway that has openings facing both   sides of the roads,  The  semi octagonal projections on the outer sides  lead to a vaulted gateway with two small rooms on either side.  In the  early days of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the  Delhi Magazine became a major target for the rioting rebels whose aim was to scoop as many arms as possible to revolt against the corrupt, oppressive East India company rule. However, it was well   defended by Lieutenant George Willoughby of the Bengal Artillery, the Commissary of Ordnance, and his band of eight British soldiers and civilians. 

Delhi: British Magazine, Delhi. Inditales

On 11 May 1857,  hundreds of mutineers from Meerut, where the rebellion had first started, marched toward Delhi to control the city. As they moved  across the Yamuna River, expecting trouble, Lt. Willoughby, assisted by Lieutenants Forrest and Raynor, two sergeants (Edwards and Stewart) and four civilian clerks (Buckley, Shaw, Scully and Crow) barricaded the outer gates of the Magazine. By doing so, they thwarted the attempt by the rebels to get to the Magazine and its contents.
Presently, all that is left of the the British magazine is the gateway and the magazine was  destroyed during the siege of 1857. The magazine, ammunition and gunpowder stores that were close-by were also blown-up by the British soldiers / custodians of the magazine  to prevent them from falling into the hands of the rebel soldiers.

Marble Plague Delhi- British MaagazineGoBuzzinga

In the main gateway, there is a commemorative marble plaque describing the events that occurred here during the siege of 1857.  There is another plague fixed right below it mentioning that
 the ‘multineers’ were actually fighting for independence. Close to this historical gate is a small commemorative column in granite that was erected in 1901in memory of a Postal employee who  died during the rebellion.

Bethune College, Kolkata - oldest women's college in Asia!!

Bethune women's College, Kolkata (Calcatta), Wikipedia

Bethune College, Kolkata (Calcatta) is the first  women's college not only in India but also in Asia and its founder was John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune (1801-1851). The college began as a  Hindu girls' School and grew into  Bethune School on 7 May 1849. The credit goes to John   Bethune who was a Barrister and Law Member of the Governor General's Council. Educated at  Trinity College, Cambridge  since his arrival in India in April 1848,  he had evinced keen interest  in native women's education  that would help  them think  on their own, lead a better life and promote the welfare of the society. Indian intellectuals like Pandit Madan Mohan Tarkalankar, Ram Gopal Ghosh, Raja Dakshina Ranjan Mukherjee and others gave him the needed support. Raja Dakshina Ranjan Mukherjee donated the land for the proposed college.

John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune (1801-1851)/
Like a river that starts out with droplets,the   Bethune School had a humble beginning with just  twenty-one girls on its roll. After the unexpected death of  Bethune on 12 August 1851, the then Gov. General  lord Dalhousie kept the work wok going forward.  The foundation stone was laid on 6 November 1850 and the school  now shifted to a new building on the West of Cornwallis Square, The merger of the well-known  Banga Mahila Vidyalaya, with Bethune grabbed the attention of the people. It became a necessity for the reorganised and better equipped school to start a college, offering higher studies for women.

The college started in 1879 with one student, one  Kadambini Bose. In 1883 there was another girl, she  was a native Christian girl from Dehradun. Both of them successfully   completed the degree course  of  the university of Calcutta. In 1887-88 batch, there were 11 girls on roll, one being in the MA class. In February 1888, Bethune College received affiliation to the University of Calcutta up to the BA standard; Chandramukhi Basu who had already completed her MA with Honours in English, became its first Principal.

The women's college  began to progress well and by 1914-15, there 72 students and by 1925-26, the number of students went up to 151. By next decade, the progress of the women's college was unstoppable and the studentship reached 260. The freedom struggle that saw many civil disturbances and strikes  and  world War II in the early 1940s  had interfered in the functioning of the school. After independence in August, 1947 the studentship showed upward mobility by 1849, and to cope with the demand and   rise of students, the college introduced several subjects in the degree courses. The note-worthy feature was the college had excellent, dedicated faculty members.  From the very inception, Bethune College made a mark in producing notable students and stood almost on par with the presidency college, Kolkata.

Many outstanding women, including many Muslim women  graduated from this college  made a mark in their respective fields of studies. Some among the old students were pioneers in the cause of education and liberation of women.