Sunday, October 28, 2007
The foreign visitors during the Vijaynagar Era, Nicolo Conti in 1420 & Abdul Razzak in 1443 were mesmerized by the grandeur of Mahanavmi festivity unleased.
A procession of Elephants, followed by folk dancers, mimicry artists, chariots, gymnastics show, magicians and jokers entertaining the crowd enroute.
The carnival atmosphere was heightened by courtesans dancing to the classical tune of the times. The King worshipped the goddess and signalled the beginning of the nine days of unparalleled festivity earning accolades of the masses and ire of the Sultans. Gems and jewellery were showered upon, the loyalists, generals brave feats at war, artisans finesse, and courtesans as token of recognition. Entire royal treasury was adorned by queen, her relatives & consorts lending a sparkle to the festive atmosphere.
Streets were lighted with lamps, temples were decorated with flowers and 1000 lights, palaces adorned a festive atmosphere buzzing with activity.
Every day a different program was enacted in front of the royalty, Yakshaghana – a dance cum drama, puppet show, circus, magic show, rural plays, fancy dress competition etc, formed the agenda. The royalty joined to witness the various shows daily linking them to the masses of their time.
Grand Fireworks running into late nights bought the curtains down on 9 days of festivity. Year after year, rulers upgraded the scale of festivity, which was a form of vacation for the army and artisans to indulge in orgy and revelry.
The Government of Karnataka have revived the celeberation in form of HAMPI UTSAV, minus the orgies. It is an abridged version for 3 days showcasing the Mahanavmi festivity of Vijaynagar. Generally it is held during first week of November every year. This year it is on NOV 3 to 5. HAMPI UTSAV is a nostalgic re-creation of History of VIJAYNAGAR.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Diamonds are the ultimate gem stone. They are a symbol of love, romance and power. They are the perfect gift for a wedding or an engagement and one of the most precious and valuable stones of today.
Another interesting lesser known fact is that Indian diamonds were considered to best in the world from the ancient times. As early as 500 B.C, diamonds were discovered in deccan plateau. Kings were the main patronisers, who gave lease for diamond mining in Vijaynagar empire. Mining rights were given to nobles, under the condition that all diamonds above 34 carats will be surrendered to the king immediately as royalty. The monarch used to deploy spies and stooges in the mines to report discovery un-officially.
Van Linschoten, a Dutchman comments on Bisnagar ( Vijaynagar mis spelt) system of diamond lease, “ If anie man bee found that hideth anie such, he looses both life and goodes “
In this manner royalty ensured they had the possession of all the precious stone discovered, lesser carat diamonds were sold in the open market of Vijaynagar. The royalty used the diamonds for jewellery, rewarding loyal subjects, purchasing horses and weapons. Some of the finest diamonds were gifted to courtesans for their services rendered They adorned it as rings and necklaces depending on their patrons. It also ended the misery of courtesans, who committed suicide when they became old and unwanted. No wonder diamonds are classified as women’s best friend.
Kohinoor diamond is fabled for its curse, was discovered in Golconda mines. It originally weighed more than 300 carats. It was later refined and cut to its present size of 240 carats. The british queen came to possess the prized jewel from East India company, who had in turn seized it from Maharaja of Patiala. Earlier Nadir used the turban trick exchange to take possession of Kohinoor “ meaning mountain of light”. Kohinoor has bought bad luck to all the men who possessed it in a gradual manner. Fable has it that only women can possess this diamond, without much adulation and grandeur. It should be worn occasionally, the british monarchy was aware of these facts. Only Queen Victoria & Elizabeth have lived long enough to escape its curse.
The discovery of Brazilian diamonds changed the scenario in 1726. These diamonds were of slightly inferior variety, Portuguese traders bought it to GOA and started trading them in European markets as Indian diamonds. The discovery of Kimberly diamonds changed the equation in 1866. DE BEER’s cartelized diamond trading to reign in prices.
The EAST INDIA COMPANY, started systematically taking possession of all the treasures by paying some royalty to the earstwhile kings. In fact when Robert Clive was recalled from India as Governor General he remarked in his impeachment trial “ There was so much to take from India, I regret that I have taken so miniscule “
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, without the treasures Hampi still manages to attract, tourists from all over the globe for its grandeur. Maybe someday someone may still manage to discover the hidden treasures of HAMPI on the rocks.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Om Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha Tat Savitur Varayneyum l Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat ll
Oh, Lord of the universe, beyond cosmos
creator of the sun and the earth,
We urge you to illuminate our lives,
With divine knowledge beyond compare.
There existed a SULE BAZAAR @ Hampi, which means a market of prostitutes. Everything is up for sale, of course for a price. The civilization flourished at Hampi during the reign of Krishnadevaraya, wherein Pearls and Gems were traded quite openly at the market place. Traces of imported pottery, being sold at Hampi bazaar has been unearthed. The signs of prosperity among the legions, is clearly evident.
Since the river tungabhadra was located in the vicinity dearth of water was never felt, no wonder such beautiful edifices and sculptures were carved out because of the well fed artisans. Maybe the kings felt that artisans deserved the earthly pleasure for sacrificing their family life, a SULE bazaar was devised to take care of the carnal pleasures after work.
The Konkan roots of the word RAYA, which means in TULU ruler is quite evident. No wonder they were able to manage a secular army with muslim soldiers for some time. Once the Vijaynagar empire was invaded from all sides by Sultans and enemies within emerged, in the form of muslim soldiers, the vijaynagar empire crumbled.
Looting and plundering of work of art at Hampi went on for months by the invading armies and sultans, one wonders how the edifice of art still gives a glimpse of the great civilization. Probably, the Sultans after erasing fifty per cent of the Hindu architecture wanted to rebuild the city as their Sultanate.
It is obvious, Sultans were looked down upon as messengers of death and destruction by the people who fled the city. They in turn invoked wrath of majority of the public who revolted. The Sultans stopped in their tracks of destruction midway sensing public opinion and started planning to build their own edifice.
The outcome of the muslim architecture is exposed @ Elephants stable, Noblemens Quarters, Queen’s Resting place LOTUS MAHAL, bathing place and the darbar. If only the Muslim rulers had the foresight of preservation, they could have built a much better monument than the TAJ MAHAL @ Hampi.
What a contrast in emancipation of Women ? Vijaynagar rulers gave their women the freedom of expression and profession. Whereas they were enslaved by the Sultans in Pardah (curtain) and Burka ( veiled clothing). Thus began, the age of conflict between the Bikni and Burkha. Hampi now stands a testimony to this conflict. The creators Hukka & Bukka will be literally rolling in their graves. The Indian Muslims, maybe realizing this fact and trying to make amends by visiting Hampi. Better late than never, the show must go on !
Chitradurga is 4 hours drive, 196 kms away from Bangalore on a beautiful highway N4. One wonders how this magnificient fort has been sidelined for so long by the Government & ASI ? One can find the combination of adventure ( because of physical exertion - 2 hours walking , witnessing sculptures, listening to Heroic tale of OBAVVA who thumped 12 enemy soldiers trying to sneak into the fort and Indian spiderman Yogiraj showing his skills of climbing and doing some gymnastics on the wall. Well to add spice to life one can find crabs, monkeys trying to snatch foodstuffs, and Cobra raising its and blessing, if one is lucky. The best time to visit the fort will be obivously in the winter, if one takes it as a morning walk at 6 am when the Fort opens for public it will be ideal.
The FORT is known as KALLINA KOTE, made of natural stones. Chitradurga fort is said to have had 19 majestic doors, 38 smaller doors, 35 special entry points and four secret entrances. The main entrance to the fort, Kamanbhavi, has carvings of the seven – hooded cobra the legendary twin headed bird, Gandaberunda, the royal swan, Rajhamsa and lotus flowers.
It is better to hire a guide along with you to the FORT by paying a fee of Rs100/- maximum after bargain, security guards are willing forever to accompany you as guide. Visit to the Fort during rainy season would be adding another dimension with water flowing everywhere. One has to keep a watch for exclusive spots for not only photography but for sheer adventure, which is normally avoided by guides, just tip them they will be obliging. The ASI is waking up to the tremendous tourist potential of this fort and beautifying the same with landscaping and lighting. It would be wonderful to visit the Fort at Night. Parking can be cumbersome authorities have to wake up to the realities and do something quickly.
“Life gives you a second chance” ! how true it turned out to be. I was wondering after exhausting the film roll at the famous spot of “ Gun powder Grinder “ at Chitradurga fort. Swoosh ? an olden days shutterbug sound of camera’s flashing, I was wondering who is clicking, to my utter surprise it was a raised Cobra hood raised just 5 feet away from my face. Mr Cool in me took over being a cricketer used to facing bouncers with new ball. I just casually turned around and just coolly commented to my wife let’s go it is time for lunch. Well after moving a safe distance of 15 feet I told my security guard & guide, who we hired for Rs 50/- to have a look at the venomous cobra with a hood raised and ready to strike, if we cross its path. The guard prayed for retribution and my wife was shell shocked, how come they did not listen to the hiss of the Cobra and near kiss of death. Later we visited the temple, wherein the priest interpreted it as the blessing of Lord Shiva. No wonder it proves the fact that I was born on a Shivaratri night. I thank almighty for blessing me.