Hampi: Story of A Ruined Citadel – Part 1


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Ariel view of Hampi 01

A huge circular, open-air venue with raised sitting and full of audiences roaring like anything on an occasion of a gladiator combat. Roman Empire, a civilization that conquered a vast stretch of land. Although I am holding a big sword that shines like a diamond, with my raised head looking at the juncture where deep blue sky melted down on the audiences, I entered the arena. All of a sudden my imagination took a swift turn from the alley of Roman Amphitheater to the era of Ramayana. Where huge stone Mandapa has been decorated with flowers and Nartakis were (Female Dancers) performing a dance. A warrior roaring, while standing on the summit point and about to set ablaze his fierce bow. All ludicrous thoughts engrossed me while I first got the glimpse of the city, the city called “City of Victory” or “Vijayanagara“. A piece of an ancient civilization that still exist on this modern planet and my journey to that place, the place called Hampi or Hampe, the Kingdom of Vijayanagara.

Hampi is a small hamlet, which stands on the southern bank of Tungabhadra river in Hospet, district Bellary of Karnataka, India (Earlier name Mysore or State of Mysore, on November 1, 1973, the name Mysore was changed to Karnataka. The name of the land Karnataka has come from `Kari-nadu` meaning the land of black soil). The group of monuments at Hampi declared as UNESCO World Heritage site for its outstanding universal value. The visual delight of Hampi is dominated by craggy hills, Tungabhadra river, plain surfaces or vale and widespread of ruins. The entire region consists of 1600 surviving remains which include temples, mandapas, forts, royal complexes, lofty towers, water structures, pillared halls, gateways, defense architectures, stables, and many more. The monuments in the core area are consists of many monuments, among them, only 56 are protected by UNESCO, 654 monuments are protected by the state government and left 300 await for protection.

Download Hampi Map

Download This Map JPG/PDF

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi 01 Ancient Market in Hampi 01

Hampi has two distinct aspects, one is mythological and other one is Historical. We need to consider few things for better understanding such as the history of pre and post-Vijayanagara empire, Vijayanagara style of architecture, and mythological aspects of Hampi. One more thing I want to add here regarding architecture. Although I am not an expert neither have the knowledge about the subject. Still, I feel like to share a point, which I think it’s relevant. It’s about the Islamic architecture in the Kadirampuram area. I found the monuments here are structurally quite similar what I have seen in Mandu. So, here in Hampi, I have seen a piece of Mandu or I can say a shadow of Mandu. It may sound little awkward to many but its a fact.

My trip to Hampi was a result of a sudden plan. I went to Bangalore this year to attend Wikipedia Conference and I made a sudden plan to visit Hampi, Pattadhakal and Aihole after the conference. It was a 6 days tour and I planned to stay 2 days each for a single place. As usual, it was a  solo trip for me. I had no idea before the trip, how architectural gems are scattered in 30 square kilometer area of Hampi and to explore the place I need to devote adequate time. Instead of covering many places half-heartedly, it would be better to explore a single place thoroughly. That’s why later on during my trip, I took the decision to drop the plan to visit rest of the places. Hampi literally consumed my entire vacation. But I spent really a beautiful time there. Apart from the fierce sun ray, which burnt my skins of my both the hands and forehead. Other than this episode the entire trip was exuberant and memorable. And obviously very enriching too.

Hampi & my memories
In my childhood days, few TV shows had a huge impact on me. Among those shows, there was one, Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj (Discovery of India). I don’t know whether people still remember it or not. But certainly, I remember those episodes on Vijayanagara. Where Om Puri played the character of Krishna Devaraya and I’ve developed a deep fascination for the Vijayanagara since that time. As time grows, the desire to see the place was gone into hibernation mode but didn’t erase it completely from me. There were many reasons for the presence of Hampi in my mind. One of them was certainly the impact of movies. In certain intervals, I have seen many movies which were filmed in Hampi and that made my desire for the place kept alive.

Vittala temple in Hampi 01

Temple in Hampi 01

Some Hindi or other Indic language’s movies extensively filmed in Hampi. I don’t remember the name of those movies. But I have noticed temples of Hampi in many Mithun Chakraborty starter movies, especially during his dance sequences in some songs. The Jackie Chan-Mallika Sherawat starer “The Myth“, the major portions of the film were shot in the Hampi region. The recent one is Rowdy Rathore that ignited my desire once again. Although, I have already been there. But nowadays, when I see the latest 50 rupees note that commemorate the famous stone chariot of Hampi that provoke me.

Tungabhadra or Pampa River in Hampi 01

History – Pre Vijayanagara Period
If we keep the history of Vijayanagara empire aside, there was a civilization in this site many centuries ago before the Vijayanagara Kings selected it for their capital. There are many artifacts has been unearthed which proves that the history of Hampi dates back to NeolithicChalcolithic times. Discovery of handmade pottery and neoliths of that period during an excavation near Vitthala temple. Discovery of Asoka’s rock Firman, one from Udegolam and other from Nittur both are situated in Bellary district. Those are the pieces of evidence which proved that the region was within the Asoka’s Kingdom during 3rd century BC. Prior to the rise of Vijayanagara empire, this site and its environs were under many dynasties such as Chalukyas of Kalyani and Badami, Hoysalas, Yadavas, Kadambas, and others.

If anyone visits Bangalore Government Museum, can see many artifacts of Neolithic – Chalcolithic times discovered from Hampi.

History – Vijayanagara Period
Delhi Sultanate was shattered and divided after the attack by Timur. It was not the death but the entire power of Delhi was gone into a coma. It was difficult for Delhi to regain, mobilize and channelize the power in north India. On same time frame, if we look at the scenario of south India, there were many Hindu kingdoms. Islamic rulers always dominated the north India but couldn’t invade satisfactorily in South India. Muslim rulers had the tendency to threaten each and every existence of Hindu dominion in south India. At the beginning of 14th century, about 1310 AD, Malik Kafur, who was the general of Alauddin Khilji of Delhi attacked Deccan (the province of Karnataka spreads over the Deccan Plateau) with immense power and captured Warangal. Within the span of two years, he abolished two dynasty, Hoysalas, and Yadavas.

The history of Vijayanagara had witnessed many ups and downs but as soon as Hindu rulers ascended the thorn about 1336 AD and founded Vijayanagara empire, for more than two centuries remained as an iron wall from the Muslim invasion. The history of the rising of Hindu kingdom was started, two brothers Hakka and Bukka who were actually served Kakatiya Prataparudra of Warangal and during the Muslim invasion in Warangal in 1323 AD they fled to Kampili. They started working as a treasury officers in Kampila. When Muhammad Bin Tughlaq invaded in Kampili, two brothers were arrested and taken to Delhi, where they embraced (perhaps forcefully) Islam. In 1329 AD, there were many rebellions started against imperial rule, when Muhammad Bin Tughlaq left for North India. Many movements were started and the Muslim governor was unable to handle the situation of Kampili, sought help from Delhi. Hakka and Bukka were then sent to the province.

Not only they restored the law & order of the province, also declared independent Hindu empire “Vijayanagara”. They gave up Islam and once again embraced Hinduism. It was quite natural and expected from these two brothers. Hakka ascended the thorn as Harihara, with the assistance of his brother Bukka. This was the beginning of Hindu kingdom Vijayanagara by Sangama dynasty. The name of the dynasty “Sangama” named after their father’s name. Sangama had five sons Harihara, Kampana, Marappa. Bukka, and Mudappa. Among the sons, Harihara was the eldest one.

First Dynasty of Vijaynagar, Hampi Second and Third Dynasty of Vijaynagar, Hampi

It would be tough for me to furnish the rest of the history of 400 years, here. But without mentioning Krishna Devaraya (1509 -1530), this post would be incomplete. According to many historians, the period of his reign was a golden age and he was the greatest ruler of all time in the history of Vijayanagara. His imperial authority was established all over the south India. Not only he was a great ruler but also an accomplished scholar and a poet. He wrote many Sanskrit and Telegu texts. His court was consists of eight great poets known as an “Astha-Diggaja“. Among them, Allasani Peddanna was his poet laureate and a noted Telegu poet. Temples, Gopura, Ranga-Mandapa and many others structural gems were erected under his patronage. He also made many improvements to the existing structures of Vitthala and Hazara Rama Temples. After his death, the empire encountered steady decline and never get back to its old glory.

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi 02 Stone Chariot in Hampi 01 Stone pillar of temple in Hampi 01

Hampi in Mythology
Hampi is an important pilgrimage center for the Hindus, as many legends from Ramayana are associated with this place. Hampi or Hampe the name believed to be derived from the Pampa river, the ancient name of the river Tungabhadra. It is believed that Kishkindha of Ramayana has been situated near to Hampi. As all, we know that Vali and Sugriva were the rulers of Kishkindha. Rama and Lakshman came to the south in search of Sita. When she was abducted by Ravana and he took her to Lanka. There were feuds between Vali and Sugriva and Sugriva took refuge to the Matanga Parvat. Here Lord Rama met with Hanuman and Sugriva. Rama killed Vali in a war and he restored the kingdom of Sugriva. After that Sugriva stayed at Malyavanta Parvat. Both the hills are still there and popular among pilgrims. Matanga Parvat is situated on the east side of Hampi and the summit point of the hill is very popular among normal tourists for the splendid view. Malyavanta Parvat is situated in Kampili and there is Raghunatha temple dedicated to Rama. Just beside of the temple there is the famous cave of Sugriva. There are tons of legends associated with the entire region of Hampi.

Vijayanagara Architecture
To be very honest, I am no one to comment or write about architecture neither I have the knowledge nor have the ability. But, there is always a but, because when I was there, I was literally mesmerized seeing the structures and developed an interest to know about it little further or you can say, feel deep urge inside. Basically, what I learned is that Vijayanagara style of architecture is a mixer of many styles like Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola. That’s why, one can notice Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola influences in many temples or in other architectures in Hampi. Vijayanagara temples are normally surrounded by a strong encirclement. Small shrines are consist of a garbhagriha (sanctum) and a Veranda. Medium-sized temples have a garbhagriha, shukanasi , a navaranga (antrala) connecting the sanctum and outer mandapa (hall), and a rangamandapa (enclosed pillared hall). Large temples have tall Rayagopuram (a large pyramidal tower over the entrance gate to a temple) built of wood, brick, and stucco in Chola style. Temples of Vijayanagara period made with local hard granite stone in Badami Chalukya style. Whereas sculptures were made of soapstone (chloritic schist) because soapstone is soft and can be easily curved. One more thing, I have noticed that one mythical creature called Yali engraved in most of the temple pillars and that same can be seen in many Hindu temples in the other parts of India. This creature may be portrayed as a part lion, part horse, part elephant, sometimes part lion and part griffin or sometimes some bird-like features. Yeli is basically a motif in Indian art.

 Stone pillar engraved Yeli in Hampi 01 Stone pillar engraved Yeli in Hampi 02 Stone pillars of temple in Hampi 02

Virupaksha Temple in Hampi 03 Mural painting in Hampi Temple 01

Secrets of Hampi
There are many myths and secrets surrounded in Hampi. Some I read and some are I heard. Here, I will state two secrets that I have witnessed on my own.

Musical Pillars – Yes, you read it correctly, musical pillars. On the first go, I was literally mesmerized and felt awe. How come stone pillars can produce musical notes? Yes, it’s a fact and I heard it. Vittala temple of Hampi standout for the architecture. There are 7 pillars inside the Vittala temple which can produce musical notes when they tapped. And each of the pillars produces a different musical note. A group of people stood beside me with their guide at the temple. I heard the guide saying to the group that during the British rule in India, Britishers found it very mysterious. They wanted to know the secret behind these pillars. So, they broke 1 or 2 pillars and found nothing inside. Only, the pillars were hollow from inside and nothing else.

Inverted Image – Virupaksha temple another architectural gem of Hampi. Its gopuram (a large pyramidal tower over the entrance gate to a temple) is a 9 storied structure. And this secret is related to it. The inverted shadow of this gopuram can be seen in a small room, which is located far away from the gopuram. There is a small hole in a wall and when light passes through it that creates the inverted image of the gopuram. Basically, its something similar to a pinhole camera. The astonishing fact is that how they created camera effect with the stonework few hundred years ago. I have captured the inverted image with my camera. But unfortunately, I have lost most of the photos of my Hampi tour. Photographs were stored on my laptop and one fine morning it was crashed. Although, some photographs I have recovered. But a major portion has been lost.

Hampi at Present Day
I wrote enough about the past and now I should talk about some present. I must say that present condition of Hampi at stake. This account is based on, what I have noticed on my own eyes and some I get to know while interacting with villagers during my visit. The politics were there in ancient times and its still exists in modern time in the name of conservation. Cutting a long story short. Smuggling of mineral from the region is no more secret to the public and political goons have made it legalized. This could harm the environment of the entire region. But this is not my concern and shouldn’t talk about it. But one thing we must know that many gangs are still active and digging in the core and surrounding area of Hampi for treasure trove. These gangs are active since when treasure trove was discovered from Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple worth over Rs 1 lakh crore. When I asked about it from villagers, most of them refrained to make comment. But some of them opened their mouth and what they stated me if by any chance have little truth in it. Undoubtedly, Hampi is in danger. According to them goons and political leaders have a nexus. Many gangs are still operating in the area to unearth treasure trove with the patronage of political power. Huge treasure trove has already been discovered from Hampi a few years ago and it was shared among goons and political leaders. They added, whenever someone digging in any area of Hampi, something would be recovered. I don’t know whether this is right or wrong but if a portion of it is true. That would be very dangerous.

Ancient Market in Hampi 02
New construction work in progress in Hampi core area 01

Here, I must comment about the roles of the authorities directly involved in restoration work, conservation, and also the preservation of the monuments of Hampi. The policies and especially the role of Archeological Survey of India, Hampi World Heritage Area Management Committee, and UNESCO are questionable. Questionable for the outsiders like me and quite obviously questionable for the locals as well, especially those who lost their homes in the name of conservation. In the name of preserve the ancient look and feel of Hampi, all modern structures at Hampi Bazar area were demolished, left 326 family homeless and forced them to live under the open sky. On the other hand, building illegal structures in the core area of Hampi and no steps have been taken yet. All the new construction works are taken place under broad daylight and it’s hard to believe that our law and order have no idea about it. The first one, the construction work that I have noticed at the river bank area which is located just back side of Virupaksha Temple. When I asked the construction workers about the new construction, the answer I got was so irritating. They asked me to go to the police station and as well as to minister to ask about it. And they advised me to behave like a tourist, otherwise, it would be difficult for me to roam around. In fact, I have noticed under construction building near Krishna temple, which falls under core area.

Ancient Market in Hampi 03

One more thing to add. It’s a known fact that ASI uses some chemical compound while cleaning ancient monuments. This is completely my observation that there have some issues with the chemical compound. This chemical compound has bad effects on the monuments. It cleans up in such a way the precisions of the monument gets lost and monuments lost it ancient look and charm. Most of the time, the craftwork on the wall of a monument erased or faded out after the cleaning. I have noticed, the same in many places which are protected by ASI. Sometimes due to the chemical effect, the joints of a monument gets hurt and become fragile and loosen up. After the rain, water leakage from the joints happen. Not only in Hampi, same I have noticed it in Mandu. That happens after so-called cleaning. I have no clear idea about it because of lack of knowledge. But seriously, I doubt the process and as well as the materials used for conservation by ASI.

The Monuments of Hampi
A) Citadel
1) Queen’s Bath
2) King’s Palace Enclosure (Large Tank, Mahanavami Dibba, Base of Kink’s Palace, King’s Audience Hall)
3) Hazara Rama Temple
4) The Mint
5) Danaik’s Enclosure (Mosque and Idgah, Muhammadan Watchtower, Band Tower)
6) The Zanana Enclosure ( Water Pavilion, Women Guards Quarter, Base of Queen’s Palace, Lotus Mahal, Hazara Rama Bazar, Pattanada Ellemma Temple, Ranga Temple, Elephant Stables, Guards Quarters, A Group of Temples, Octagonal Bath, Chandra Sekhara Temple, Water Tower)
7) Ganigitti Temple
8) Pattabhirama Temple

B) Kamlapuram to Hampi
1) Octagonal water Pavilion and Bhojana Sala
2) Underground Temple
3) Uddhana Virabhadra Temple
4) Chandikesvara Temple
5) Lakshmi Narashima
6) Siva Temple
7) Sarasvati Temple
8) Krishna Temple
9) Sasivekalu & Kadalekalu Ganesha Image
10) Vishnupada
11 ) Temples on Hemakuta Hill
12) Virupaksha Temple
13) Temples near Virupaksha

C) Along the Bank of the Tungabhadra
1) Kodandarama Temple
2) Achyuta Raya Temple
3) Matanga Parvatam
4) Varaha Perumal Temple
5) Rama Temple
6) King’s Balance
7) Stone Bridge
8) Raya Gopura
9) Vishnu Temple
10) Vitthala Temple
11) Malyavanta Raghunatha Temple

D) Anantasayanagudi
1) Vishnu Temple

E) Malpannagudi
1) Soolai Bhavi – Stone Well
2) Mallikarjuna Temple
3) Well and Watershed

F) Kamalapuram
1) Nagaresvara Temple
2) Stone Well
3) Some small temples

G) Kadirampuram
1) Muslim Tombs

Complete list of monumnets in Hampi download

Download the complete list of monuments of Hampi

When to go:
Winter, Winter, and Winter. Avoid traveling to Hampi from the month of March to May. In winter it will be easy for you to explore the place. Summer would be pathetic. Do not plan to visit during summer, there will be a risk of dehydration and also sunburn. I got a sunburn during end February, so be careful.

Getting there:
By Plane
There are two domestic and one International airport, which connects Hampi. Bangalore is the nearest international airport, 350 km away from Hampi. Bellary is the nearest domestic airport, which is 60 km away and Hubli is another airport, 143km away from Hampi.

By Train
The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction, which is 13km away from Hampi. Overnight trains are available, which run several times a week from Bangalore.

By Bus
I think Bus is the best option available from Bangalore. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has daily bus service to Hospet from Bangalore and Mysore. There are private bus companies operating from all major places which connect to Hampi. Book your tickets in advance and you can book your ticket online through Apps. The bus ride would cost you 600 INR onward.

By Car
Bangalore is 353km from Hampi and one can hire car but certainly cost high. The road to Hampi is excellent but deteriorates after Chitradurga. You are also likely to encounter traffic jams. So, if you are planning a road trip by car, start your journey at night.

Where to stay:
You can look for your accommodation in Hampi or Kamlapuram or in Hospet. There are several guest houses in all those places at in any price range starting from INR 300. But staying at Hospet gives easy accessibility to Railway Station and better Hotels. Most guest houses in Hampi are rather basic. Budget guest houses are situated across the river on the Hampi Island, popularly known as the ‘Hippie Island‘. If you are there with your family, I will suggest you to avoid “Hippie Island”.

Eat and Drink: There are lots of places where you will get satisfying and inexpensive food and also can try famous south Indian beverages. Thai, Italian and continental foods are available in southindianised style. 

Getting around:
1) Guides:
Guides are available for whole sightseeing and also available in the major locations, on the spot. But I would suggest, request a guide from Karnataka Tourism Dept.
2) Walk:  Walk, Walk and Walk there is no alternative way to explore the sites of Hampi. Have to be covered by foot.
3) Bicycle: Can be hired to visit on the cost of 100/150 Rupees per day but a lump sum amount has to be deposit as a security.
4) Motorcycle: A Scooty or Moped will cost you about 250-350 INR for a day and 100CC motorbikes for 350-500 INR a day with additional fuel charges. 2-3 Liters of petrol is sufficient for a day.
5) Car: You can hire a car, that would come around 3000 INR onward and this is easiest and quickest way to visit.
6) Auto-rickshaw: Normally it charged ₹750 to ₹1,000 for a day site seeing with pick and drop facility from Hotel.

Points to be Noted
1) Be aware of Monkeys. They can snatch anything from you.
2) Mosquitoes are like big birds. So, keep mosquitoes replant with you.
3) Do not take drugs and alcohol in Hampi area, as it’s not a regular tourist place but its a religious place for Hindu. Please respect other and other’s religion.
4) Please wear proper cloth, cover your skin properly. I have noticed during my visit that most of the foreign tourists have a tendency to wear revealing attire, which is not acceptable by the locals.
5) Hampi is also popular among mountaineers. If you climb over boulders take extra precautions.
6) Sun Screen lotion is a must.

1) Hampi by Devakunjari
2) Temples of Bellary by C.S Patil
3) Karnataka – Temple Architecture by R. Gopal and A.V.N Murthy
4) Hampi guidebook by ASI
5) A Forgotten Empire Vijaynagara – Robert Sewell
6) Sources of Vijayanagar – Francis Dewsbury
7) Hampi Ruins Described and Illustrated – A.H. Longhurst


Thanks – Special thanks to Karnataka State Department of Archaeology and Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation for their help.
Dr. Aarya Joshi for your inputs about stone chariot. Tito Dutta for all your help.

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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 - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
Pancharatna Temple
Pancharatna Temple - During Wiki Loves Monuments 2016, Kalna, West Bengal India
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

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.


  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.



  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”¿¿¿¿

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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