West Bengal Wiki Community’s Participation in Wikipedia Loves Monuments Project

Wikipedia Loves Monuments 2016

Wikipedia Loves Monuments 2016 in West Bengal Community
Wikipedia Loves Monuments” one month long photography contest cum Photo drive has been organized by Wikipedia in the month of September 2016, internationally, to photograph those monuments world wide whose photos are not present in the Wiki repository. Like other countries, Wikipedia India Chapter also took part in this grand project. Wikipedian Santanu Chandra informed us about WLM project in a monthly meeting of Wikipedia WB community and unanimously agreed upon to participate in this grand event.

The main focus of the project was to photographed those monuments, whose photos are not present in the Wikipedia repository and also to encourage for creating new articles from captured photographs. In community meeting it has been decided, Sumit Surai would select the place and as well as prepare the list of monuments of that place to be photographed for WLM. In the process of selection, he would have to consider those monuments whose photos are not present in Wiki’s ‘List of Monuments of National Importance in West Bengal’ and as well in the ‘List of State Protected Monuments in West Bengal’. On the next Wikipedia meeting, he placed his proposal for the monuments of Burdwan and Ambika Kalna along with a detailed itinerary. Initially, we decided to visit there with a large group of Wikipedian photographers but unfortunately due to some internal technical issues we had to postponed the plan. Finally, a small group has been formed consists of five person including me and the date of journey was finalized as on 24th September 2016 for WLM.

Day 1
Just one day before the journey, I informed Sumit about my eye infection and told him that I might not join them. But he insisted and as usual I got convinced. On early morning of 24th I reached Howrah by 6:45am and Sumit joined me after few minutes. Both of us waiting for Santanu Da, Sujay and Kalyan and by that time I started photographing the surrounding areas of Howrah station. They reached Howrah in time and joined us. Although, I, Kalyan, Sumit, Santanu Da and Sujay finally boarded a local train at 8am for Ambika Kalna. We reached there around 10am and according to our plan we went to Raj Bari temple Complex at first. In the afternoon, a new Wikipedian from Burdwan Prithwish Jash joined us. During the day, rain and low light every so often spoiled some of our plans. Although, we managed to take photograph of almost all major temples in Kalna. It was also in our agenda to capture maximum number of Terracotta panels of every individual temple. Finally, we have succeeded to some extent to capture maximum number of Terracotta panels with limited resources and time. Here is the list of temples, we photographed on the first day.

Rameswar Temple
Rameswar Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Lalji Temple
Lalji Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Krishna Chandraji Temple
Krishna Chandraji Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Girigobordhon
Girigobordhon - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Pancharatna Temple
Pancharatna Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Rashmancha
Rashmancha - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Ratneswar Temple
Ratneswar Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Rupeswar Temple
Rupeswar Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Jaleswar Temple
Jaleswar Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Pratapeswar Siva Temple
Pratapeswar Siva Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India

Stretching Horizon – Wiki Outreach
I and Sumit, always keep in mind to do some offline work for Wikipedia that may not bring instant or immediate result but somehow will help in future. That’s why both of us were in search for information of lesser known heritages of the district Burdwan. Also, in search for new involvement or contributors from local scholars. In between, Sumit collected the phone number of a local Historian Sidheswar Achariyya. At the late evening of that day I called him for fixing up a meeting with him. Initially, he refused to meet us because he was suffering due to old age issues. Fortunately, I managed to convince him and fixed a meeting with him on the next day at 9am at his residence. He is working with the history of Burdwan district especially Kalna over a long period of time and also one of the founder member of Kalna Mahakuma Itihas O Puratattwa Charcha Kendra. He wrote many books on the history of Kalna. It was in my mind that he would be a helpful source for future for developing existing and creating new unique articles for Bengali Wikipedia.

Day 2
All woke by 6am and left the guest house early to photograph Nava-Kailasha Temple. We spend some time there and went to Gopalji Temple. We had fixed a meeting with Sidheswar Achariyya and accordingly went to his place after Gopalji Temple. In between, a small incident happened just after we left Gopalji Temple and on the way to Sidheswar Achariyya’s house. Basically, my presence is enough for …………. and disaster is inevitable. Quite naturally I made a disaster that day. We hired a Toto (Toto is a 3 wheeler battery operated vehicle) and suddenly, a wish was popup in my mind to drive the Toto. Initial 1 or 2 minutes of driving was okay but suddenly I loose control over the vehicle. Even the driver could not control the vehicle as well and we hit the wall of a house. This has broken the front wheel axle of the Toto and also damaged the main water supply pipeline of the house. Although, managed well and I had to pay an amount from my personal account for the sin. This incident made me serious for the time being. Now, I would love to tell, I am not really very sorry or ashamed what I have done that day because this incident made our tour memorable. Even I have named the incident as “Bordhomane Barabari” or “Kalnai Kelo”.

Glimpses of Meeting
WLM Team with Sidheswar Achariyya - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Sidheswar Achariyya
Biswajit Gain - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India

Nava-Kailasha Temple
Nava-Kailasha Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Gopalji Temple
Gopalji Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Sidheswari Kalibari
Sidheswari Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India

We reached at his residence in time and he gladly welcomed us. I started the discussion with a introduction of WLM project to him and also discussed about the heritages of the district. We learned some historical facts about Kalna from him that was really new to us. Here would like to mention, everybody attended the meeting except Kalyan. When we came out from his house, discovered Kalyan was taking a nap outside his house. Although, we purchased some of his books from him and he suggested us to meet Biswajit Gain, a local photographer and historian. Achariyya Ji fixed a meeting in between Biswajit Gain and us at the guest house where we stayed. The meeting was fruitful in perspective of outreach. We went back to our guest house to meet Biswajit Gain. Meeting with Biswajit Gain was also came out very fruitful as he showed interest to contribute and interested in workshop at Kalna.

Two Ancient Temples (joined together)
Two ancient temples (joined together) - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Baidyapur, West Bengal India
Panchratna Brick Temple
Panchratna brick temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Baidyapur, West Bengal India

After the small break for refreshment we went to Baidyapur to photograph one state and one National protected monuments. Baidyapur which is situated 16 Km away from Kalna. Other than these two there were many ancient temples which were not in our list. Still, covered most of the temples for creating future articles and for documentation purpose. Around 3Pm we closed the chapter of Baidyapur and reached to nearby bus stand to go to Burdwan via Bainchi. There were no frequent bus service for Bainchi and we had to wait there. After waiting for half an hour discovered a overcrowded bus and there were absolutely no place inside the bus. Four of us except Sumit, climb up the roof of the bus and settled ourselves. Sumit forcefully boarded inside the bus and we went to Bainchi. Then we had plan to go to Burdwan from Bainchi and other two places. But it was completely impractical matter to cover all those places in two days. It was drizzling when we reached to Bainchi station and condition of sun light was too poor. So, we took the decision to postponed our Burdwan Plan and end the WLM tour. Boarded a local train from Baichi for Kolkata.

Unforgettable Frames
Indrajit and Sujay - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Group Photo - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
WLM Team - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Sumit and Sujay - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Sujay and Santanu Da - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Sujay - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India

Contribution of Bengali Wikipedians from WB Community for WLM 2016
(Click on the Name to see the individual Contribution)

Indrajit Das
Sumit Surai
Sujay Chandra
Prithwish Jash
Santanu Chandra
Rangan Datta
Biswarup Ganguly
Amitava Sengupta
Arup Chowdhuri

Note – Please carry enough food otherwise it will be difficult for someone to locate a good place for eating. Also keep in mind there are only 3/4 hotels for accommodation.

Special Thanks
Wikipedia West Bengal Community for the trip.
Sumit, Santanu Da, Kalyan, Sujay and Prithwish for tolerate me.
Sidheswar Achariyya and Biswajit Gain.
Shibo Ramokrishna Lodge

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Kashmir Diary: Tomb of the Mother of Akbar of Kashmir, Zain-Ul-Abidin

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

I faced so much of issues rather harassed during my Srinagar tour because I visited those places surrounded with so much of controversies. I didn’t face any such issues in this place, the way I harassed in Roza Bal or during the visit to Pathar Masjid and some other places in Kashmir. However, I went there twice. First time, I went there with a separate set of ideas about the place. My thought process and perspective about this place changed after the visit to the Temples of Awantipora. So, I went there one more time to clear some doubts. Soon after the second visit, I understood this place was also a controversial place. But fortunately, I didn’t face any resistance or harassed. Either locals had no idea about the controversy or I was fortunate enough.

I have visited a place called, Mazar-I-Salateen, a graveyard in Srinagar. The tomb of Empress Miran (Jonaraja’s Meradevi), the mother of Budshah Zain-Ul-Abidin is there, known to all as Budshah’s tomb, located in the fussy lanes of Shahr-e-Khaas near Old Zaina Kadal area of Srinagar. I have never seen such a magnificent tomb before and this monument looks more as a mosque instead of a tomb.

Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Mazaar-I-Salateen
The mausoleum is a bulbous brick masonry structure decorated with blue tiles, built in 15th century (1465 AD) by Zain-Ul-Abidin. The structure is influenced by Persian architecture, which is quite similar to the architecture found in Central Asia. I am no one to comment about the architecture, still, I found it very unusual in South Asian architecture. The main tomb chamber is domed shaped and flanked by four auxiliary domed rooms. There are two entrances for the graveyard, one is little far from this grand tomb and is a normal iron gate. The other one is just next to the tomb and interestingly the architecture is quite similar to the tomb. The boundary wall is also made of stone, similar, I have witnessed in Awantipora temples.

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

After my visit to Awantipora, couldn’t sleep that night and I spent the whole night with referring books and searching the net extensively. Next day early morning, I went to the cemetery for one more time. I noticed, (may be) the tomb was erected on the basement of an ancient Hindu temple. The layer of bricks and the basement made of stone has followed completely two different architectures. Even, the entrance attached to the tomb and the boundary wall were also a part (My interpretation, Not sure) of the ancient Hindu temple. Although, the temples architecture of Awantipora influenced by Gandhara School of art (The Gandhara School of art developed and patronized during the reign of Emperor Kanishka in the first century AD. This art was primarily Mahayana and influenced by Greco-Roman.) and same I have noticed on the basement of the tomb. The main gate of the tomb was closed during my visit. But on the second time, I peeped through the main door and saw an iron chain hangs in the central dome. What is the significance of the iron chain in an Islamic monument? Seriously, I have no idea. Similarities between the Awantipora temples and the basement of the tomb, boundary wall and the entrance of the cemetery, importantly the chain made me confused. Please don’t think that my intention is to provoke controversy.

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Here I would like to mention some historical facts. Zain-Ul-Abidin or Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (1418–1419 and 1420–1470) ruled Kashmir for fifty years and before him Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan (1389 -1413 AD) was the ruler. Zain-Ul-Abidin, the eighth Sultan of Kashmir, was known for his liberal religious policy, promoted learning, interests in art, architecture and he promoted Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages in Kashmir. He withdraws all the orders issued by Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan. He appointed Hindus to high posts and also abolished Jizya. He was the first man who forbade cow slaughter in Kashmir. People of Kashmir still remember him as Akbar of Kashmir. But during the reign of Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan, stone temples of Hindu in Kashmir suffered destruction, some were modified and some converted into mosques. On the other hand, wooden temples suffered natural decay or were converted into tombs or mosques. It is understandable, what was the situation of Hindus during his rule.

The tomb adjoins a small graveyard, containing royal graves, including Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin’s grave, and his wives and children. The grave of famous the Tartar invader Mirza Haidar Dughlat, the cousin of Babar is there. Many important persons were buried in this cemetery. But unfortunately, I couldn’t locate those graves as all tombstones were written, either in Persian or in Arabic languages.

Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

I want to share something with you all. I read books or some articles on the same but suddenly I noticed that nobody mentioned the name of Zain-Ul-Abidin’s mother in their Articles/Books. I thought, I have skipped her name and go through one more time, but no, no nobody mentioned her name. Again I started searching for her name and was completely frustrated. I searched in Wikipedia and found a step ahead information. They referred this tomb as a tomb of Budshah Zain-Ul-Abidin and even they didn’t mention her name. I intimated the same to Wiki with proper references and they rectified it. Searching for over two months, finally, I learned the name from a book written by P. Pal. One more thing, during my visit to this place, I was also in search for a house called “Bamzai” or “Bamjai”, it is said that Rabindranath Tagore stayed in this house during his visit to Kashmir in 1915. I have tried so much to locate the house but couldn’t.

References

  1. “Jammu and Kashmir Guide” by M. Saraf
  2. “Arts of Kashmir” by P. Pal
  3. “Archeological Monuments” by A. Iqbal.
  4. “Temple Architecture of the Kashmir”
  5. “The Shrines and Temples in Kashmir” by K. L Butt
  6. “Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Ancient Kashmir”

 

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Kashmir Diary: Story of A Desecrate Mosque – Pathar Masjid

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar - Jammu & Kashmir, India

After so much of drama at Roza Bal, I was tensed but not scared. Also, I got an overall idea about the place and thereafter planned my trip accordingly. That day I reached the bank of Jhelum and standing on a small bridge on the River. On my left was Khanqah Shahi Hamadan and on the right was Pathar Masjid. I deeply felt as if I am Robert Kincaid but It was an another mistake. Robert went there in a beautiful place called Madison and I was standing in a beautiful but controversial place called Srinagar. A beautiful lady didn’t come out but a group of locals gathered behind me. Before I could understand anything they snatched my camera. My dream to be like Robert was shattered and I came into the reality. This was for the second time I got into trouble. Although, It was a separate episode.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Somehow I managed the situation and reached Pathar Masjid. But I couldn’t find the entrance of the mosque. The outer wall of the mosque was surrounded by shops and was closed during that time. The entire locality was also completely empty. I started loosing my confidence and felt lonely. The Old Zaina Kadal police station was just opposite side of the mosque and I went there to know the location of the entrance of the mosque. Basically, I was in search for some mental support. I found an Indian Military outpost in front of the police station. A tall and handsome Military came out from the bunker. We exchanged smiles and after that, I started gaining confidence. I asked him about the entrance and also the reason for the curfew-like situation. Then I learned from him that the situation of the valley is not well and he suggested me not to roam in the remote areas.

The mosque was not very impressive from the outside. But I was eager to see the mosque as because It was built by Mughal Empress Nur Jahan. Few months before the trip, I don’t know what happened to me I was so obsessed about Nur Jahan. By the way, this was not the only reason for the visit.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Pathar Masjid – This mosque is locally known as Naev Masjid and built by Mughal Empress Nur Jahan the wife of Emperor Jahangir, in 1623 AD, constructed under the supervision of Mughal historian and architect Malik Hyder Chaudhary. Generally, mosques in the valley were built with wood while this mosque built with stone, as most of the Mughal edifices were built with Marble. Pathar masjid was built with locally available grey limestone and the style is practically the same as edifices found in Delhi and Agra. The grey limestone was generally used in Kashmir for face work and this stone is an excellent material for carving and for moldings. Also, high grade of polish is possible on this stone and same testified in the pavilion of Shalimar Bagh. The facade of Pathar Masjid, “The Stone Mosque” consists of nine arches including a large arched portico in the middle. The arched openings are enclosed in shallow decorative, cusped arches and horizontal construction of these arches is outstanding. If this mosque compared with the other Mughal architectures in India, certainly it is not as grand like other but it is really unique in Kashmir. The plinth of the mosque is very impressive, as lotus leaf coping on it and looks excellent. Also, this mosque does not have the traditional pyramidal roof that visually separates this mosque from other mosques in the valley.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The mosque is unique in many sense, especially for the atmosphere. Although, why this beautiful mosque never used as a place of prayer, there is a very interesting story. Once a Mullah questioned to Empress Nur Jahan regarding the costs of its construction and instead of a proper answer, she pointed to her bejeweled shoe and replied: “As much as that”. The mockery was reported to Mullahs and this remark reached to all highly respected religious leaders of Kashmir. They unanimously decreed by the sacrilegious pointing this mosque was unfit for any religious use. Henceforth, the mosque has never been used. It is a fact, comparison a religious place with a shoe was really unacceptable. I am really astonished, how a woman of seventeen century from Islamic clan passed such comment publicly.

There are other interesting stories behind this Masjid. (It is said), this was actually a site of an ancient Buddha Vihara. During the rule of Fateh Khan (1510-1517), a Sunni mosque was erected on (demolishing) the place of Buddha Vihara. It is said Shia Empress of India Nur Jahan rebuilt it as a Shia mosque. In around 1819, Akali Baba Phula Singh defeated Jabbar Khan and Ranjit Singh captured Kashmir. Phula Singh was the military general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. During this time Pathar Masjid was taken over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and used as a storehouse. The military of Maharaja installed a cannon on the roof of Pathar Masjid to blown up Khanaq Shahi Hamadan which is situated across the Jhilam. Pandit Birbal Dhar intervened into the matter and saved the shrine.

Entry – Free
Location – Zaina Kadal

How to reach
Mosque is situated 9Km away from Srinagar. There are several ways to reach the place.

By Road
Pathar Masjid is very well connected to Srinagar main town. You will get Rental Car/Bus from Srinagar. If you opt for rental car, in that case, you have to hire the car for a day trip and will cost you 1500 – 2000 (NonAC) approx. Bus will cost you only Rs 10 for one side or opt for shared car which is available from Dal Gate, cost you Rs 30.

By Air

The nearest airport is Srinagar International airport known as Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport. It is located at Aerodrome Road, Srinagar, approx 12Km from the city, Srinagar.

By Train
Nearest railway station is Srinagar.

 

Reference

  1. “Archeological Monuments” by A. Iqbal.
  2. “Jammu and Kashmir Guide” by M. Saraf
  3. “The Shrines and Temples in Kashmir” by K. L Butt

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Kashmir Diary: Ruins of Ancient Temples of Awantipora

Awantiswami Temple in Awantipura, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Awantiswami Temple in Awantipura, Jammu and Kashmir, India

June this year, I went to Kashmir and this was my second visit. The first time, I went there along with my wife and this time I traveled solo. The experience I gathered altogether from both the trips is wondrous. But whenever I have been there, never felt like that I am touring in India. Maybe the reasons are situations of Kashmir over the few decades, ambience, people, culture and some other reasons can be there. Probably, I could not connect myself with the place, this can be another reason. However, the local people were so nice to me but sometimes the behavior of the Indian Army was disheartening. I discussed the same with my friends. According to them, I preoccupied with the thought that Hindus are a minority over there that can be the reason. Seriously, I could not come to any conclusion. It’s a fact, it is very difficult to travel solo like me in the entire region and as I have faced so many issues.

I went to Awantipora twice and for the first time, I felt connected with the place. On the first look, I was mesmerized watching those marvelous architectures. Still I regret, the situation was not in my favor during both the time of my visit. On my first visit, I went there with my tiny camera and that’s why I could not capture the place as I wished to. Second time, the situation of the place was under threat. The entire place was cordoned by the Army and they suggested me not to go in the surrounding area of the temples.

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Avantiswamin Temple
– This temple was built by King Avanti Varman before he ascended to the throne of Kashmir. The temple is small but more ornate and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple was destroyed by the earthquake and reclaimed after removal of debris. This temple was neglected more than thousand years…………………………

Sculpture in Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India Sculpture in Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India

 

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Kashmir Diary:History of Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas

Hazrat Bal (Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas )Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Hazrat Bal (Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas )Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

There are many hidden truths with the history of “Moi-E-Muqqadas”. There are mysteries, fantasies, and betrayal, still engrossed with. “Moi-E-Muqqadas” or Beard hair of Holy Prophet Mohammad is also associated with faith and to some extent linked to mysteries. Although, people believe that the holy relic keeps in Hazrat Bal Mosque in Srinagar. How Beard hair of Holy Prophet Mohammad came to India far away from Medina? How it traveled to in Bijapur, near Hyderabad to Kashmir? There is an abundant history behind this. What was there in the place before Hazrat Bal was erected? Where it stands now…………………………

Ziyarat Naqshband Sahab – Ziyarat Naqshband Sahab, also known as Hazrat Khawaja Naqshbandh Sahib or Khanquahi Naqashbandia or Khanqah of Khwaja Moinuddin Naqshbandi is a Muslim Shrine (Ziyarat). It is situated in the center of Srinagar and very significant religious place for the Muslims because the “Moi-E-Muqqadas” was kept…………………………….

Hazrat Bal Mosque – Sadiq Khan was Subedar during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He built a pleasure house called Ishrat Mahal along with a huge garden in the year of 1623 in Kashmir. Emperor Shah Jahan visited Ishrat Mahal in 1634 and he ordered Sadiq Khan to convert the place into…………………………………………..

 

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Kashmir Diary: Roza Bal – Is It Really the Tomb of Jesus Christ?

Roza Bal - Tomb of Jesus Christ in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir

Roza Bal - Tomb of Jesus Christ in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

My Visit to Roza Bal

I asked myself, is it fact? Am I really standing at the tomb of Jesus Christ? I don’t know, whether it is the tomb of Jesus Christ or as per recent claim, it is the tomb of Adolf Hitler? I was simply thrilled. Initially, it was a thrilling experience for me but as time grows it becomes little scary.

Recently, after my Amarnath Yatra 2016, to explore the heritages of Srinagar I stayed there for a couple of days and visit the place called Roza Bal or Rauza Bol was on top of my list. Now I don’t understand, where and how do I start to write about this place. Because of the vastness of the subject and also it is an extremely controversial place.

Finally, on 3rd July 2016, I reached Roza Bal, which is located in the middle of Srinagar’s old town, Anzimar in the Khaniyar area, which is around 2Km from Khaniyar crossing and near to Bohri Kadal. It was in my knowledge that visitors are not permitted inside the shrine and also photography is strictly prohibited. I found a board in front of the shrine, clearly mentioned that photography is strictly prohibited but I could not resist my photographer instinct. Hastily, I have started taking photographs and captured three photographs of the shrine from outside. It was also in my knowledge that the controversial tomb of Jesus Christ can be viewed from the window. Without wasting much of the time, I enter my camera lens through the window and captured two photographs of the tomb. Suddenly, a group of (8-10 people) indigenous people cordoned me and literally, snatched my camera and started questioning me. After few minutes, they decided on their own that they would hand over me to J&K Police. Seriously I was scared and for that reason, I repeatedly apologized for my deeds………………………………………….

What Made Me Curious

I read a book named “Proribrajok Swami Abhedananda – Kashmir, Amarnath O Tibbet Bhraman” by Swami Abhedananda during my college days. Swami ji mentioned in his book about Dr. Notovich a Russian traveler, who finds some handwritten documents in the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh, near Leh, which proves that Jesus was traveled to India. A monk showed him the manuscript in the Tibetan language during his visit to the Hemis Monastery in 1922. The monk told him that it was an exact translation of the original documents which could be found in the Marbour Monastery near Lhasa and written in the Pali language. He able to read and translate it, which he discussed in his book. That much of the information was enough to make me curious about Roza Bal, Kashmir, and Jesus in India.

Suzanne Olsson, who claiming to be Jesus Christ’s ‘59th descendant arrived in Srinagar in 2002 and seeking DNA testing of the controversial tomb. What happened after, I don’t have any idea but this incident again made me more curious. ……………………………………………….

Some Information About Roza Bal

Roza Bal or Rauza Bal or Rauza Bol or Raza Bal, which means “Tomb of the Prophet”.

There are two tombs inside the Roza Bal (which is small wooden mausoleum) one tomb is of Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) and another grave is of Syed Nasir-u-Din (Islamic saint, a descendant of Imam Moosa Ali Raza, said to be a great devotee of Jesus, who buried here in 1451).

As per some ancient records, that indicate that the grave of Youza Asouph or Yuz Asaph (or Asaf) is to be as far back as 112 CE.

The Hebrew name of Jesus was Yuza, in Arabic or in the Koran his name was Hazrat Isa or Isa and Issa in Tibetan. Farhang-Asafia, which explains how Jesus healed some leper and then became Asaf (purified or healed) and the word Yuz mean “Leader”. Yuz Asaph or Youza Asouph mean “Leader of the Healed” which pointed to Jesus Christ.

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Disciple of Ramakrishna – Yogin Ma’s House

House of Yogin Ma in Bagbazar, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Many good sayings are to be found in holy books, but merely reading them will not make one religious.
-Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Nearly one year back, reading a book on Ramakrishna, I found some information from the book about his disciples. It was obvious that contained some names of his devotees and their contributions. Other than Swami Vivekananda, he had sixteen Direct disciples and they became Monks. Apart from these Sixteen Direct disciples, he had direct Householder Disciples and devotees and one of them was Yogindra Mohini Biswas or Yogin Ma or Yogini Ma or Gonur Ma. Ma Sarada Devi (Wife of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa) described her as one of her two eternal companions (Another one was Golap Ma or Golap Sundari Devi).

Yogin Ma

Yogin Ma – She was born on 16 January 1851 at Bagbazar in North Kolkata to Prasanna Kumar Mitra. Her father was a well-known physician during that period. He was married at a tender age of seven to Ambika Charan Biswas but her marriage was not turned successful. She returned to her parent house with her daughter Gonu. Her life took a turn while she met with Ramakrishna for the first time at Balaram Bose’s house in 1882. After the meeting, Yogin Ma commenced to bring various dishes prepared by herself for Ramakrishna and he ate with relish. She had the spiritual inclination and that has been noticed by Ramakrishna. Yogin Ma had been initiated into a Devi Mantra and by the instruction of Ramakrishna, she kept on repeating it. She soon met with Sarada Ma and they were immediately drawn towards each other. She traveled to Vrindaban with the permission of Ramakrishna and stayed there for many years. She went back to Calcutta (Now Kolkata) and started living to the next to the room (I have talked to the present Maharaj of Udbodhan but he couldn’t confirm the exact room of Yogin Ma) where Sarada Ma had lived (Udbodhan House in Bagbazar, Calcutta, which was built by Swami Saradananda for the use of Ma Sarada Devi). She underwent Purna–Abhisheka (Tantric Rite), on 20 November 1900. She was initiated into Vedic sannyasa by Swami Saradananda in Puri. On 4 June 1924  Yogin-Ma passed away at the age of seventy-three at Udbodhan.

Yogin Ma's House at Bagbazar Street, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

 

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List of Ghats in Varanasi

Ghat in Varanasi, Uttarpradesh, India

Varanasi Ghat, Uttarpradesh, India

Kashi Ke Kankar Mein Shiva Shankar” the literal meaning is Lord Shiva is in every pebble of Kashi. Yes, some extent it is true. But as you walk you will find important Mosques and Sufi Shrines there, these are also significant parts of Varanasi or Benaras ,making it an important Islamic city as well even it is known as a Hindu City. I have been there for only 2/3 days and it was impossible for me to explore the true colours of the city. Although, I have tried so much, at least to touch those important places. Among everything, the most important are Ghats (Embankment of on the riverfront) on the river bank of Varanasi. It is indeed a fascinating and charming city. The city is special for all, but I feel like, especially for Bengalis and there are many reasons for that but among them, one reason is a connection of Satyajit Ray‘s Film “Joi Baba Felunath” and Varanasi. The film had been shot extensively in Varanasi and the impressions are so deep into the minds of Bengalis. When I was there, I was in search of those shooting locations. Happily I found one shooting location of the film over there. One very important sequence of the film “Joi Baba Felunath” was filmed there.

The most of the Ghats of Varanasi are associated with legends or Mythologies and many ghats are also associated with Empires like Marathas, Peshwa, Holkars, Bhonsles and Scindias. Most of the Ghats were Built around 1700 AD , although in 800 BCE, the main city was located near the northern bank of RajGhat, where river Varana flowed into the Ganges. The dock was also important for the trade route from Bengal to northern regions.

List of Ghats in Varanasi, Uttarpradesh, India

Varanasi Ghat, Uttarpradesh, India

1. Darbhanga Ghat – This Ghat is located next to south of Dashashwamedh Ghat next to Rana Mahal Ghat. This ghat is an extension of Munshi Ghat, as it has been purchased by the King of Darbhanga. The extension part became Darbhanga Ghat. Beautiful Darbhanga Palace is Satyajit Ray Film "Jai Baba Felenath" shooting Location - Varanasi Ghat, Uttarpradesh, Indiaover there, an intricate and outstanding structure. It was erected in 1915 by King of Darbhanga, Bihar but it has been sold and now it is converted into a luxury hotel. When I was there, It was under renovation and I have tried so much to enter into the palace but security didn’t allow me. An important sequence of Satyajit Ray’s Film “Joi Baba Felunath” was filmed there, as I am very fond of Ray’s Films, that’s the reason behind this that I have tried many times to convince the security guards to let me allow to sawing the palace but felt heartbroken.

Satyajit Ray Film "Jai Baba Felenath" shooting Location - Varanasi Ghat, Uttarpradesh, India

2. Assi Ghat – This is the city’s most popular and spiritually important Ghat. According to Mythology or if we refer ancient texts, Assi was a rivulet that flowed to the river Ganges. Assi river and Ganges presence made this place auspicious for bathing. There is an another faith of Hindus is associated with Assi Ghat that is, Tulsidas left this place for heavenly abode. There is Shiva Linga and a Hanuman Shrine in the Ghat under a Peepal Tree (Ficus Religiosa) has Puranic significance. Apart from everything this Ghat is very spacious and the huge staircases that’s made it more popular and due to these tourists and even Varanasis like the place very much. It’s views northward to Malviya Bridge and Pontoon Bridge is just superb, especially at dusk. Every day at dusk a festive atmosphere, thousands of people arrive on a daily basis to chat on the steps, also take boat rides.

 

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Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show 2016 in Kolkata

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When I have been officially selected and invited as a Blogger and Photographer by Indian Chinese Association for Culture, Welfare and Development for their annual “Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show 2016” on 31st January, seriously I was extremely happy. This cultural evening has been organized to welcome Chinese New Year 2016. As all we know that Lion Dance is usually performed as part of festivities like Chinese New Year, weddings and in any happy occasions. This year it has been shifted to St. Joseph College Campus, Bowbazar, Kolkata, earlier used to be held at Tirretibazar area. I think, in comparison to previous years, this year it was more organized and a bigger show ever. However the festivities starts just day before the Chinese New Year and continue till 15th day of New Year, which is also called “Lantern Festival“.

Chinese New Year – This year it’s called the year of Monkey. It will start on 8th February 2016

Chinese Symbol For Monkey
Chinese Symbol For Monkey

and will end 27th January 2017, according to Chinese Calendar. Actually Chinese new year is characterized by one of 12 animals according to the Chinese zodiac and it has 12 houses. Each house has a time length of one year. This year of Monkey falls on ninth animal in the cycle and next year of Monkey will be in 2028. Every animal has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. So according to that, Money’s Strengths are self-assured, innovative, enthusiastic and weaknesses are arrogant, jealous, suspicious and cunning.


Lion Dance
– As I have already mentioned that Lion dance is usually performed as a part of the Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show 2016 in Kolkata,Indiafestivities. The tradition of Lion Dance is cultivated from ancient time in China and there are several versions of history and roots of the lion dance. One popular belief is that the Lion Dance finds it’s roots in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906). The Emperor of Tang Dynasty had a strange dream one night and in dream one creature had saved his life. After a extensive research he understood that the creature was a Lion, who saved his life. Most interestingly during that period Lion did not exist in China and this is the reason for another belief is Lions were entered via the famous Silk Road to China. Rulers from regions, which are today Iran and Afghanistan sent lions to Chinese emperors as a gift in order to get the right to trade with Silk Road merchants. Although, because of his dream the lion came to symbolize good luck, happiness, and prosperity. Lion plays an important role in Chinese folklore. Chinese Lions are not resemblance to real Lions and portrayed as peaceful creatures. Also considered divine animal of nobility and dignity, which symbolize strength, courage and wisdom.

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Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show in Kolkata -I have already mentioned that I was officially Indrajit Das and Subhadip at Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show 2016, Kolkata, Indiainvited by Indian Chinese Association (ICA). Program was scheduled to start at 5PM and that’s why I went there around 4PM along with my fellow blogger Subhadip Mukherjee. I was little worried that day about my camera because it was not operating properly and now it’s in coma. Just one week before the show, I came back from trekking of Kedarkantha Summit 2016. During the final day Summit I fell down from a inclined icy trail along with my DSLR camera and that’s made my camera faulty. With a almost handicapped camera along with my cell phone camera, I have tried so much to capture the spirit and the essence of the festival.

Opening Frame – A soft spoken gentle man with smiling face approached me and handed over a official ID card issued by ICA, he was Mr. Robert Hsu. Really felt proud for the privilege given by ICA to me.

Practice Session – From the very beginning my camera was refused to work. Alas, I had to depend on my cell phone camera. When I reached the venue few people were there but the entire campus was decorated with banners and beautiful Chinese lanterns. Noticed that students from Taiwan were practicing a Dance sequence and I have captured few moments.

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Ancestral House of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

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Statue of Subhas Chandra Bose at Five Point Crossing, Shyambazar, Kolkata, India

How do we, common man recall Subhas Chandra Bose
When we utter Taihoku, Mystery, Renkōji Temple, Ashes, Anita, research centers, foreign aids for research, INA, Jai Hind, Azad Hind, National Holiday, Congress, Gumnami Baba, Ohhh most importantly “Air Crash”…………. and latest edition is golden teeth. Ohhh M G !!!! I forgot to mention widely used, “Declassified”¿¿¿¿

When
Every year on 23rd January(Our emotions for him lasts up till 24th) – From our drawing room we make demand to Govt that 23rd should be declared as a national holiday. One week before 23rd January, when painting about to start on every statues of Subhas Bose for Birth Celebration.
Every year on 15th August – Again we starts nagging with same demand of national holiday.
Apart from that what we have done so far for him. These are the interpretation about Netaji by a illiterate common man or a Mango Man, that’s ME.

Are we really and seriously pay respect to him? Is he still in our heart? or his life only confined in statues? are we consider him as a human being? or He became a brand which has high brand value?

I read a news in 2013 about restoration work of ancestral House of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose in Subashgram. This news was seriously made me happy. Recently I went there and found how restoration works done so far.

Ancestral House of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Shubashgram, West Bengal, India

 

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Haji Jamaluddin Mosque

Haji Jamaluddin Mosque in Kolkata, India

Haji Jamaluddin Masjid is a very simple single storeyed mosque. Artistic design of floors with combination of white and black marble in Persian style is really beautiful but from outside the mosque is very simple. Minarets of this mosque is lofty and designed beautifully. Haji Jamaluddin Mosque was established on 5th of March 1884 and founded by Hafiz Jamaluddin. Now the mosque is under Wakf-estate.

Hafiz Jamaluddin was a leather merchant from Munger or Mungyer, Bihar and in mid 19th century he came to Calcutta (Now Kolkata) along with his family. He settled down in Calcutta (Now Kolkata) permanently and started his business in leather and footwear. Shoe shop near to the mosque is belongs to clan of Jamaluddin in the fourth generation.

Main Entrance of Haji Jamaluddin Mosque in Kolkata, India Fountain for Wadu in Haji Jamaluddin Mosque in Kolkata, India

During my visit, there was some restoration works was in progress inside the mosque but apart from that, I have noticed there was some new construction works.

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Fountain for Wadu in Haji Jamaluddin Mosque in Kolkata, India


Location of Haji Jamaluddin Mosque Kolkata:-
Crossing of Rabindra Sarani and M.G.Road.

Address of Haji Jamaluddin Mosque Kolkata:- 149/B, Rabindra Sarani, Kolkata.

 

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