My travels is all about... My views on random places of interest, persons, things, events & issues etc,.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The Curious Case of the Mummy of Hyderabad

The chill of the morning was gone. A sudden surge of sunshine was vital to get things done during winter. And so, it was, a sudden raise in temperature. Such baffling inconsistencies in the weather of the Deccan, within a day would scare a farmer. But for a student, they did ensure an encouraging sign of things to come. The workers at the great Public Gardens of Nampally toiled hard - the image of the city was important, more than anything else. After the Global Entrepreneurship Summit & the opening of the Metro, the city is about to host the World Telugu Conference on 15th of December. And I asked one such toiling worker, the way to the Museum.

Within the sprawling Public Gardens lies an old building, housing the Telangana State Archeological Museum. The Piece de Resistance of this museum is an old Mummy - the likes of which scared me as a kid when I visited it as a school going boy. But now, I was no longer a boy to be scared. And so, once again, I stared into the glass ceiling.

Egyptians, like many other civilizations had a firm belief of life after death. However, they took this passion to rituals of epic proportions. All Emperors, Queen consorts and Royalty, after death were preserved as mummified bodies. All vital organs were separately preserved in separate jars, and elabarote rituals followed where the ancient gods of Egypt like 'Ra, Seth, Horis, Anubis' were invoked to protect the body till the soul reaches the Egyptian Eden.

About the mummified body, it was not even 5 feet long, and was assumed to be that of the daughter of the VI Pharoah of Ptolemaic Egypt (c.300-100 BCE). Allegedly, she died young, aged around 16-18 years. There was, virtually, no information about the name of this once Princess of Egypt. The way this mummy made to Hyderabad is a tale of Luck and grandeur of the Nizams. Nazeer Nawaj Jung, the son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan (VI Nizam of Hyderabad) brought the mummy for an allegedly throw away price of 1,000 Pounds in London, and then, gifted it to the Nizam. Thus, did the mummified body of the Princess of Egypt reach this Museum of Hyderabad.

As I stepped down, I was fascinated by the Mummy who could've once walked on the banks of the Nile alive. And now, this Mummy could'nt hear the ambient & fiery sound of the new Metro Rail just few feet away. Or can she?

1.Place and Time
@ - Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy Telangana State Museum, Public Gardens, Nampally, Hyderabad, Telangana
On - Wednesday, 6th of December, 2017.

2. Subject -
"The Curious Case of the Mummy of Hyderabad" on the Mummified Body of a supposedly Ptolemaic Egyptian Princess preserved at the Museum.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Be Like Buffon


(For the first time since 1958, Italy failed to qualify for the Football World Cup to be held in Russia, 2018. One of the greatest goal-keepers & inspiring footballers of all time, Italy's own Gianluigi Buffon retired from International Football. The Poem is a tribute to him and his inspiring presence in the Global football arena for almost 22 years.)

Not always does man's valiant efforts yield results,
Not in every tale does success follow struggle. 
In a game of Genius, chance intervenes and strikes...
The tables get turned, bringing all troubles. 

But when the Azzuri's own numero uno takes guard, 
Standing tall at the citadel of Juventes and Italy's defence, 
Goal-keeping seems an art & skill much like the verse of the bard, 
Many duels emerge in a team's game in a strictly speaking sense.
An example - In 2006, a flying push to deny Zidane's header in Berlin,
Laurels and awards, 175 appearances, consistently saving...
Beyond a mad rush of statistics, the control and the gentle grin, 
Being honest to the game and not to winning or losing.

Too much to learn and get inspired from one of the greatest goal-keepers of all time!
Still, times change and legends weep, and all that's good comes to an end. 
Those acrobatic saves and that inspiring presence shall be missed for nostalgia is not a crime.
When life kicks at you, be like Buffon and say - "I'll stop but not bend." 

Place & Date
Tuesday, 14th of November, 2017.
#16-7-16, Bhramara Ground Floor, Saladi Jamindar Street, Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh - 534 260.

"Be Like Buffon" (Tribute/Poem)
Gianluigi "Gigi" Buffon (born 28 January 1978) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper. He captains Serie A club Juventus, and formerly also captained the Italy national team. He is widely regarded by players, pundits and managers to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and, by some, to be the greatest ever. Buffon is known for his "outstanding shot-stopping" and for being "a vocal organizer of the defence and a key dressing room personality"

Picture source

Friday, 1 September 2017

Rock cut cave temple of Undavalli

As a passenger of APSRTC, I consider myself duly punished for my lack of attentiveness. I was supposed to get down at Undavalli, but skipped the stop and got down only at the next village, Penumaka. New route for me but most of the passengers in the bus are employees of the State Government, commuting towards our new capital, Amaravati. But, my destination was the famous Rock-Cut Cave temple at Undavalli. Well, a good 2 kilometers walk-back never did any harm, especially on a cloud kissed sunny day.

After the false start, it was a good visit. As I climbed the steps towards the main cave temple, surrounded by lush green paddy fields atop a hill with the distant Narla Tatarao Thermal Power Station in the vicinity, I was struck by the history of the cave(s). They belong to early 4th or 5th Century, originally Jain structures, but were later converted into a Buddhist Bhikku Monastry. Much later still, probably during the era of the Ikshvakus or Reddy Kings, a part of the cave(s) were rechristened for Hindu deities. The monoliths are amazing, what with the carvings and all, considered as 'Vishwakarma Stapathis' i.e, designed by the celestial engineer Vishwakarma himself.
An inner chamber consisting of a large statue of Sri Maha Vishnu in a reclining state (Ananatasayana posture) is all that's left and protected now. Watching the intricately carved monolith statue reminded me of the famous poem by Bammera Potana  in 'Gajendra Moksham', -

అల  వైకుoఠపురం లో  నగరిలో  నాముల  సౌధంబుదా 
పల  మందారవానాంతరామృతసర :  ప్రాంతేందుకాంతోపలో
త్పలపర్యం కరమావినోదియగునాపన్న ప్రసన్నుoడు వి  
హ్వల నాగేంద్రము పాహి పాహి యన గుయ్యాలించి సంరంభియై !

There were two other caves, intricately carved, yet unfinished. Later, I returned to the city of Victory, along with many of the shuttling employees from the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. 

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Undavalli, CRDA - Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
On -31st of August, 2017

2. Subject - "Rock cut cave temple of Undavalli"
Undavalli caves, or more popularly the rock cut cave temple of Undavalli in the district of Guntur is located exactly 6 kms from Vijayawada in the new Vijayawada - Amaravati State highway. It is a popular destination, and a monument of national importance, although crying for major potential as a historical and tourist spot. Pictured above in order - A side view full hill, Lord Sri maha Vishnu in anantasayana stance, and the main cave temple entrance. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017


(Poem - On our Pet, Lucky {2004-2015}) 

When I was in 9th class, my father brought a pup home, and we were all very happy.
A fluffy little female Pomeranian, we named her 'Lucky'.    
A loyal and lovable creature we had, a bright bragging right before relatives and friends -
It was a great joy to watch Lucky, that's where all the tension ends.

A cheeky constant in my mother's kitchen and a companion to my father's walking, 
A playful knight of my brother, and welcoming me always with eyes so shining!
With a fearsome bark, she acts funnily as if to protect us from dangerous cats,  
One egg and a cup of milk for one day - she cared for diet unlike other dogs!

Always so disciplined yet full of fun, she was one of life's big joys.
Wonder how dogs are so selfless, there's music in their barks even if it's just noise.
Even if it was midnight when I reached my home after long trips from office,
She greets me with infectious bliss - all just for a gentle pat and rub - maybe a dog's solace. 

And so for 11 long years, it was a picture perfect joy...
But all great things do come to an end, O boy...! 
Farewell my canine companion, what did we do to deserve you?
As is said - 'Don't be sad that it's over, Be happy, it has happened'.  Bark and Smile, wherever be you!

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh.
On -29th of July, 2017

2. Subject - "Lucky" (Poem)
Lucky (c.2004-2015) was our pet dog - she was a female Pomeranian and a bundle of joy for our family members. After 11 long and memorable years, she passed away due to old-age, exactly on this day, 29th of July, two years ago (2015). 
Picture on top - Lucky in 2014, taken by me.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Always the People's President

(Reminiscence/Memory - APJ Abdul Kalam)

One of my greatest bragging right is that I have seen him. I had the pleasure of listening him speak inspiring words. It was during the 93rd National Children's Science Congress, held in January, 2006 at Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad. And he was his excellency, the then President, Sri APJ Abdul Kalam. As a 16 year old kid, I was enthralled as he spoke endearingly to us all, eagerly taking questions, very humble and patient.

Sample this question. Someone asked him why he had chosen Science over other subjects. He explained how one day, he asked his Science teacher about how birds fly and the later took him to a beach, elucidating the principle of aerodynamics and practically showing him birds in flight. Then he said, quite famously, to a roaring audience, slowly , - 'And, then I fell in Love with Science'. 

Dubbed as the 'Missile Man of India', this Scientist turned Statesman is a classic & rare role model for the youth of the country. And, as I read his 'Wings of Fire', I understood and admired great qualities of the man himself, mostly his respect of elders & seniors (Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan), the way he dealt with failure (SLV-3 Launch). And as President of India, I remember with awe the way he reacted during the infamous Indian Ocean Tsumani of 26th of December, 2004 (defining them as 'Shock Embedded Tidal Waves'), and his principled opposition to the Office of Profit bill during the first term of UPA rule. And who would not remember his inspiring speeches (like the one at the European Parliament, where he quoted extensively from 'Tirukkuraal'.)

It is not an irony that one of India's greatest sons is remembered as People's President!   

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Home Sweet Home, # 16-7-16, Sree Bhramara, Saladi Jamindar Street, Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh - 534 260
On -27th of July, 2017

2. Subject - "Always the People's President"- Remniscense/Memory - APJ Abdul Kalam
Two years ago this day, his excellency, the 11th President of India, Sri APJ Abdul Kalam passed away. He was  a towering personality in his own right - a great, patriotic Indian, a scientist and brain behind India's 2nd nuclear tests, the man who made 'Agni missile' possible, and a true and never before/never after kind of People's President of the Republic of India. 
Wherever you are sir, rest in peace!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

They spilt their blood so that...

(Tribute - Poem -18th Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas) 

A shepherd brought a shuddering news - another silent betrayal by the neighbour,
We forgot to verify the trust, and time now to pay the price of this backstabbing saber.   
As men descend with blessings from Rawalpindi, towards the valley of Kashmir,
And an Asian giant is drawn into an unwilling battle, there was always a chance of nuclear threat, damn here.

Slowly but surely, plans were drawn to beat the repeated intruders untamed,
Because of the sacrifice of the brave, the territorial sovereignty was reclaimed .
An aggrieved nation rose in fury, for once all petty differences were ditched.
But battles were won by strategy and sacrifice, not by passion or propaganda stitched.

As the Gurkhas sang 'Ayo Gurkhali', and the Howitzers fired tirelessly,
The National Highway to Srinagar was targeted by the foes, most dastardly.
As we waited in bated breadth, the select few made us hold our heads high,
The fighting was fierce, death was imminent to many, but they never said 'Nahi'. 

And the armed forces fought, for every inch, like every time...
The Tricolor flew high - At Dras and Kargil, On the peaks of Tiger Hill and Tolo-Ling. 
That just meant another decisive victory attained within two months.
Every year this day, we salute the heroes of Kargil....
They spilt their blood so that we may have tears of joy, and not sorrow.

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh.
On -26th of July, 2017

2. Subject - "They Spilt their blood so that...!" (Tribute - Poem - 18th Anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas)
26th of July, 2017 marks the 18th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas, which commemorates India's famous and decisive victory in the Kargil War (May-July 1999). Facing International diplomatic pressure and the capable strategy and tactics employed by the Indian Army (Operation Vijay, more popularly affiliated with the entire Kargil Operations) and Indian Air-Force (Operation Safed Sagar), Pakistani paramilitary forces and insurgents withdrew from Kargil and other occupied areas.

The war was anxiously observed all the world over, because, perhaps, for the first time in Human History, two nuclear-armed countries were engaged in a conventional war, and thankfully, the conflict did not escalate.

However, a terrible price had to be paid by India, in the form of loss of lives of brave soldiers (c. 527 causalities). To them, this poem is dedicated. Jai Hind!

For further details  -

Picture on top - Indian soldiers during the war at Batalik Sector

Sunday, 2 July 2017

For the Scape-Goat, At the Least!

(Tribute - Poem) 


At the turn of the 90s, the double digit inflation was a persistent reality, 
The nadir of macro-mismanagement evident as the economy's an amputee.
Even before the Sickle and Hammer fell, a minority government's in order,
Will the reforms be a reality, that is the question, more hard than the word 'harder'.

Then in the Durbar of Delhi, one man organized a team of mis-fits,
To borrow from IMF and join the global village, the beginning was just in bits.
Amidst the dust of political bickering, the wheels of the Indian Economy started moving,
The License Raj was slayed as the doomsday pundits of India stopped mocking.

Let there be competition, however small the beginning, 
Let there be fair play and celebration of private innovation, but no skimming. 
The Great west took notice, as the Elephant marched on,
Alas, the one man responsible was forgotten, seems the nation moved on.

He was neither a messiah, nor incorruptible, But when an old dynasty...
needed a scape-goat, he was the answer, a perfect mis-match finally!
A few words of respect and a few moments of remembrance....
A few acknowledgements and a few thank yous....
Would suffice for the scape-goat, At the least! 

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Vijayawada, Krishna, Andhra Pradesh.
On -28th of June, 2017

2. Subject - "For the Scape-Goat, At the Least!" (Tribute - Poem)
Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004) (Telugu: పి.వి.నరసింహ రావు) was an Indian lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of India, from 1991–1996.[3] His ascendancy to the prime ministership was politically significant in that he was the first holder of this office from a non-Hindi-speaking region, belonging to the southern part of India. He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation and several home incidents affecting national security of India.[4] Rao, who held the Industries portfolio, was personally responsible for the dismantling of the Licence Raj, as this came under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.[5] He is often referred to as the "Father of Indian Economic Reforms".

Today is his birth anniversary (Jayanthi), and his role and legacy is often understated in the context of Indian Politics and Indian Economy. However, it is rather reassuring to note that things have started to change, at least now. This Poem is a tribute to him,especially during the famous Macro-Economic reforms in 1991, when India was forced to go for a conditional loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and grudgingly accept Globalisation, Liberalisation and Privatisation in the wake of the notorious License & Inspector Raj, Double Digit Inflation and overall mismanagement. And on top of it, the sad reality that he is remembered for all the wrong reasons, as a scape-goat.

For further details and due credit to the first para supra in 'subject' -

Picture on top -

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Elementary or Singularly Grotesque....

(On Sherlock Holmes)

Long before I understood the true meaning of the words 'Detective Fiction', 'Genre', I read a book whose protagonist is a lanky British fictional detective. He had an air of superior ego and perceived selfishness so much so that, Prima Facie, one can't help but be helplessly resigned and confused like his faithful companion and partner in crime, Dr.John Watson. But when his intellect comes into play, solving many crimes, with abundant powers of deduction, Sherlock Holmes is suddenly a wonderful and lovable character.    

I'm happy to be one among the many fans of Sherlock Holmes to have read every book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on his best creation (aptly called 'Canon' by loyal fans). It was a treat to read about how the greatest plans of crime (fictionally, of course) were frustrated by an unlikely duo from a humble room at 221B Baker Street, London. Without Sherlock Holmes, surely the world of detective fiction is incomplete! Although there are many TV and Film adaptions based on Sherlock Holmes, I find reading the best as it has an additional pleasure of pacing at my own time.    

All works of Sir Arthur involving Sherlock Holmes are terrific tales of suspense, literally inventing the word 'UNPUTDOWNABLE'. Whether involving secret societies and revenge ('Valley of Fear', 'A Study in Scarlet'), treasure and betrayal ('A Sign of Four'), a hound and criminal lust for richness ('Hound of the Baskerville') - the detective & doctor duo's exploits are legendary and continue to command great following, to this day.                  

As we celebrate International Sherlock Holmes day (22nd of May - Birth anniversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), What would be Sherlock Holmes reply if he were real and alive today when Doctor Watson explains to him about his fan following in different parts of the world & various spin offs and TV, Film adaptions based on him?
Would he say - 'Elementary, my dear Watson!' (which despite popularity was not used by Sherlock Holmes)...
Or would it be - 'I find this singularly grotesque, Watson!' 

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Home Sweet Home, # 16-7-16, Sree Bhramara, Saladi Jamindar Street, Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh - 534 260
On -23rd of May, 2017

2. Subject - Sherlock Holmes- "Elementary of Singularly Grotesque..."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes was born on 22nd of May, 1859. Consequently, 22nd of May is celebrated as International Sherlock Holmes day.
The name, Sherlock Holmes, does not need any introduction for fans of detective fiction. There may be comparisons with another towering fictional detective, Hercule Poirot (created by Agatha Christie), but Holmes has his own special niche.
Obviously, it's all elementary,...
Please click -

3. Picture -Sherlock Holmes- "Elementary of Singularly Grotesque..."
Credits to me, a part of my Sherlock Holmes canon. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Scorched in Summer

(On Summer Season) 

There's no escape from the heat, even before the Ides of March,
But when it's May, we are just sitting ducks being so out marched.  
When the blazing Sun sizzles and scorches in his terrific might, 
The People of the East bow down, and make up a miserable sight!

Long before the clock strikes 9 AM, Temperatures flare and flame,
Alas, steaming hot main roads being empty, for every soul is so tame!
Is it Global Warming or are we just losing touch with reality?
Whatever be the reason, it's Summer, and helplessly let it be...

Sweaty days so profuse, Sultry is everything that moves...
There's no respite even during evening -a logic of weather, all by itself, disapproves! 
Every new day another deadly wave of Heat Stroke rears it's ugly head, 
May the season be over soon, we pray every night before going to the bed.

But, not everything's bad - consider the Mangoes - such yummy summer fruits!
Only two weeks for the Monsoon rain which brings forth many happy attributes!
As yet another brutal day of heat comes to an end, 
In the words 'Wait' and 'Hope", do all our thoughts depend!

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - # 16-7-16, Bhramara (Ground Floor), Saladi Jamindar Street, Palakollu, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh - 534 260.
On -20eth of May, 2017

2. Subject - "Scorched in Summer" (On Summer Season)
Once again the month of May resulted in record of sorts regarding Temperature in Andhra Pradesh. 43 Degrees Celcius is being routinely breached, and, well, this poem is about the ferocity of the scorching Summer season.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

This Day, That Year

(On 2nd of April 2011, India Won the ICC Cricket World Cup)

Exactly six years ago, this day, India won the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup defeating Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai by 6 wickets. What a day it was, ended by Ravi Shastri's epic words "And Dhoni, finishes it off in style". A nation of a billion erupted in joy, an irrational surge of patriotic fervor, which ironically no scientific achievement or social success could inspire. I still remember everything like it was yesterday. The celebrations on streets, being glued to television sets till the end, the euphoria and grandeur.....

But very sadly, I missed the first innings, almost completely, save for a few overs, as I had to be away at Office on an engagement. Everyone at office pre-planned a holiday (Ha ha - Lucky all), and I grudgingly took up the task. The second innings (India's run chase), I had the pleasure of watching at my hostel room along with friends. As we just stepped out for a stroll (unlucky thing to do while watching a cricket match, some would say), a sudden gloom fell over-a deafening silence at every home, followed by 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' - the master blaster, Tendulkar was out for just 18.

Another wicket after a steady partnership meant that Yuvraj would come to the crease, but alas, it was the captain! Few jokes were cut at the expense of the out of form Dhoni, criticsizing the 'nightwatchman captain for his disastrous decision'. But all critics quickly converted to fans and cheered on, and an epic partnership between Dhoni and Gambhir meant only one thing - impending Indian victory, India about to lift the cricket world cup after 28 years.

Around 11 PM, I was waiting for a bus to my home town (Since, I took study leave from the next day), when I got to witness the six that won the world cup for India. After I boarded the buss, I saw a great deal of revelry all through the route, and people still thronged streets, shouting in joy, by the time I reached my hometown at 3.30 AM. Then, I watched the complete game replay,ball by ball, and slept happily!

Cricket, despite being a British legacy and shamefully commercialized, is one of the few factors which binds the country in a patriotic grip, which acts as a safety sink of our emotions, which makes a few of us fanatics and most of us expertly interested. And 2nd of April gives an exclusive right for fans, like me, to brag about 'This day, That year'.

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - #16-7-16 Bhramara (Ground Floor), Saladi Jamindar Street, Palakollu (West Godavari), Andhra Pradesh - 534 260.
On -2nd of April, 2017

2. Subject - India winning ICC CWC (ODI) 2011- "This day, That Year"
After a span of 28 years, India won the ICC ODI Cricket World Cup on 2nd of April, 2011, defeating Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai. Just a nostalgia filled rememberance of the day, for me personally, and to all of Indians!
Please see -

3. Picture -India winning ICC CWC (ODI) 2011- "This day, That Year"
That's the winning shot - The Man of the Final (MS Dhoni) and the Player of the tournament (Yuvraj Singh)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Four Towers of Gratitude

(Travel/Historical Monument - Poem) 

میرا شہر لوگوں سے مامور کر
راكهيو جوتو دريا میں مچھلی جيسے

- Mohd. Quli Qutub Shah's prayers on Hyderabad, while laying the foundation of Charminar (c.1591-92 CE, 'Deccani Urdu')
Translation - Fill this city of mine with people, as you filled the river with fishes, O Lord ! 
Long back, against all odds, when there was an end to the  Deccan's Great Plague...
The Sultan wished to show gratitude, yet all his thoughts were vague.
But a monument was built, the 'Four Towers' of gratitude,
The best minds of Persia, Delhi and Deccan, all worked to exactitude.

This was a balm on the Deccan, where great battles of pride raged
Around this structure, people now have their own battles to be staged.
For the bangles of Laad Bazaar, Pearls of Pather Gatti, the Ittar and all exquisite items -
bargaining wars in 'Deccani' - The old city's still game for little stratagems. 

In the city of Hyderabad, despite the separation by language and religion,
With A Sufi Dargah, Bhagyalaxmi temple and Mecca masjid on the near horizon,  
This citadel stands aloof, unmindful of the hoary past and the pestering present.
But, more awareness and better management needed badly, to put it so blunt.

The taming of River Musi by Sir Viswerayya, the grandeur of Qutub Shahis' rule,
People's struggle and Operation Polo ending the last Nizam's delusional mis-rule...
To all these events, this global icon stood as a witness...
And would continue to do so, but the onus is on us!

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - Charminar (Char Kaman), Ghansi Bazaar, Hyderabad - 500 002, Telangana.
On -26th of February, 2017

2. Subject - "Four Towers of Gratitude" (Travel/Historical Monument - Poem)
Charminar (c.1591-92 CE) is a monument constructed by the fifth and the greatest Qutub Shahi rulers of Golconda- Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah (c.1565-1612 CE). A prime example of Indo-Saracen architecture, there are many legends and theories associated with the reason as to why it was constructed. The major reason seems to commemorate the end of a Plague in Deccan and the shifting of capital from Golconda to the present day city of Hyderabad. Now considered a global icon of the city of Hyderabad, it is a square structure of four towers each of 20 meters high (66 feet), on a raised platform with 149 long winding steps to reach the upper floor. Located close to the iconic Mecca Masjid, the Laad Bazaar (Jewellery and Bangles), Pather Gatti (Pearls), and with a small Bhagya Laxmi temple at the base, Charminar is a popular tourist destination and a must visit!

More details (Including credit to Urdu Couplet at the beginning) -

Picture on top - Charminar, credits to By Gopikrishna Narla - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, is an Old Picture evidently as there is restoration work going on in one of the minarets)

Pictures on bottom - 'Itar' has a history (Information Plaque inside Charminar) & Mecca Masjid as viewed from Charminar

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan

(On Vijayawada's 28th Annual Book Festival 2017)

On the banks of River Krishna, in the district named after the river, lies the business capital of Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada - The city of Victory). This Railway Junction is famous for it's scorching heat and it's motivated, active citizenry. Although devoid of any old world charm (Chennai), benevolent cosmopolitan culture (Bengaluru), historically secular traditions (Hyderabad), the city has it's potential. It is raising, albeit slowly and sadly, a long way to go! In here, the Karl Marx Road (Eluru Road) runs almost parallel to the Mahatma Gandhi Road (Bandar Road), a stark remainder of the times when people briefly flirted with Socialism and Communism. The Kanakadurga temple atop Indrakeeladri hill, the Prakasam Barrage and a violent near past with the dual dark undertones of Caste and Politics make up this engrossing place!    

It is in this city, on the sprawling Swaraj Maidan (PWD Grounds), that every year (usually 1st-11th January) an annual book festival is conducted by the Vijayawada Book Festival Society. Year 2017 marks the 28th edition of this event, a visit after 4 years! A Plethora of subjects and view points represented by 235 stalls, regular intra-festival meetings and panel discussions mark the multi-day event. In the era of Kindle and Internet, books do hold a space, although diminishing. The scent of a new-bound paper, the dynamics of turning a page, the idea of being and feeling, an irresistible and irrational urge to read and write - some vices are, as yet, not recognized as such!  

Judging by number of footfalls and stalls, there is a year-on year decline. But, few things are beyond statistics. A husband coaxing his wife to read Maxim Gorky's 'Mother', an excited village boy seeking any book for English communication skills finally happy with 'Word Power Made Easy', aspirants of government jobs scrambling for competitive books (AP Group exams are around the corner), a lady sharply scanning English novels for run-away prices, youth thronging stalls of Spirituality and Religion (emulating their role model, Swami Vivekananda), a visible treat for a Bibliophile with a range to choose from Telugu and English. The list of authors, as always is impressively diverse - from the regularly respected Agatha Christie, Fyodr Dostoevsky, Gabriel Marquez, George Orwell, Munshi Premchand, Sri Sri to the shockingly well received Adolf Hitler, Mao ze Dong.                

The publishing houses embraced technology - PayTM, Card Reading Devices and Net Banking -a welcome step this year. The world's greatest book fairs (Frankfurt, New Delhi etc) combine a liberal celebration of freedom of speech and expression with a local flavor. For Vijayawada's book festival, the key issue, is to never lose track of it's patrons - the middle class. Discussions are welcome, but discounts matter. Or, as my father once jokingly advised after I ranted about the prices of  an old Frederick Forsyth novel there - make a list, try second hand at another place, the Lenin Center. May their pockets be deep, who delve into reading! To me personally, after Blossoms Book Store (Church Street, Bengaluru), these "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan" shall remain a favorite.

References (If any)

1. Place and Date -
@ - 28th Annual Book Festival, Swaraj Maidan, (PWD Grounds), Vijayawada - 520002, Krishna, Andhra Pradesh
On -9th of January, 2017

2. Subject - 28th Annual Book Festival, Vijayawada - "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan"
The Vijayawada Book Festival Society organised the 28th Annual Vijayawada Book Festival at Swaraj Maidan from 1st till 11th of January, 2017. During my brief stay at Vijayawada, I was a regular visitor, but this time it was after a gap of 4 years. Lively discussions on varied topics (this time on Demonitization, Water Conservation etc), Greed and Need filled hunt for books, mark these 11 days.
I do earnestly wish that one day, the society would start a permenant website too, so that I could happily tag-link them here! 
Please click - The City of Vijayawada

3. Picture -28th Annual Book Festival, Vijayawada - "Book Hunting Grounds of Swaraj Maidan"
Book Festival Entrance from the Mahatma Gandhi Road (Bander Road)