Tag Archives: India

The Point is Poetry

“This is what poems are for:

Telling other people things

I can no longer tell you.”

This quote by Trista Mateer is one of my favorite quotes of all time. Because every time I read this quote, I cannot help but wonder what was going on in the minds of those great poets when they wrote the poems we read today, or rather who was going on in the minds of those poets?The center of almost every poem is the poet missing their lover or their mother or their home or they are extremely happy or extremely sad and there’s no other way to express that feeling but poetry. ‘There’s no other way to express that feeling but poetry.’ Everything makes so much more sense when it’s in the form of poetry.

Truth be told, I haven’t always been this big of a poetry fan. For the longest time poems for me were just lessons in my English textbook. The emphasis was more on finding the figure of speech and not on connecting with the poet. Every line had a hidden meaning, the red dress was a symbol of pain or sometimes pleasure, the blue eyes symbolized the oceans of tears she held in her eyes, the daffodils symbolized happiness. We were always told to read between the lines. But what if, just what if, the red dress is just a red dress symbolizing nothing but how much does our girl in the poem like the color red or maybe not even that. What if blue eyes are just the color of her eyes and the poem mentions daffodils because it’s the only flower that grows around her house? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that poems are just plain sentences that symbolize nothing. I’m sure that many poems like ‘the road not taken’ actually do have a deeper meaning. All I’m trying to say is that we don’t always have to search for deeper meaning. The point of poetry is for you to enjoy it, it’s for you to connect to it.

Shakespeare rightly said that the only thing that will outlive everything is poetry. The feelings you feel now of pain or heartbreak or misery or happiness or love, you think those feelings are unique to you, you think that no one in the world could understand what you’re feeling and then one day you come across a poem that speaks to you in a way you didn’t think was possible. It seems like that poem is something from your own head. And that part of you is a bit more defined, a bit sharper, and a bit easier to understand and explain to others. And in a while, you realize that this poet felt exactly what you’re feeling just some hundred and fifty years ago. Told you that everything makes so much more sense when it’s in the form of poetry.

What’s more interesting is we all read the same poetry and miss different people, different places, different homes. How that poem is written for none of us but somehow for every one of us. Don’t you think that’s the entire point of poetry? You don’t have to understand the poetry to enjoy it. You don’t have to read every work of your favorite poet to say you’re a fan. You don’t have to go look for the deeper meaning, sometimes there isn’t any and sometimes the deeper meaning is how the poem resonates with you. Sometimes the point of poetry is poetry.

Four famous pilgrims of India

Char Dhaam Yatra – India

There are four holy shrines in Uttarakhand dedicated to Hindu Gods and holy rivers of India. The four shrines are situated within the Garhwal Region. These are collectively referred as “Char Dhaam of Uttarakhand” . Pilgrims from all over India and abroad visit the shrines as “Char Dhaam Yatra”. In Hindu religion, Char Dhaam Yatra holds has great importance and sanctity. It is believed that every Hindu should undertake Char Dhaam Yatra at least once in a life time to avail the blessings of gods adorning the shrines.

Haridwar is the traditional point to start Char Dhaam Yatra of Uttarakhand. Haridwar is in the plains and easily accessible by Road & Train from other locations of India, including New Delhi. It is also accessible by Road from Dehradun, which has Airport. So, Piligrims can fly to Dehradun from Delhi & other locations in India and then proceed to Haridwar by Road travel.

Haridwar is famous for Ganga Aarthi which takes place in evening daily and through out the year.

From Haridwar, Piligrims can travel by Road to the next stop in Char Dham yatra ie Rishikesh, which is also in plains. Ganga Aarthi takes place in Rishikesh also in the evening daily.

From Rishikesh, Piligrims can travel to Four places of Chaar Dhaam yatra i.e, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Details are given below.

Yamunotri Dham

The Shrine of Yamunotri at the source of river Yamuna. Atop is a flank of Bandar Poonch peak (3615 meters). The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at the height of 4421 m above sea level is about 1 km further up is not easily accessible. Hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The Temple of divine mother Yamuna was built by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The tiny Yamuna has icy cold water and its absolute innocence and the infantile purity heightens that deep feeling of reverence, which Yamunotri has for the devout. According to the legend ancient sage Asit Muni had his hermitage here. The trek to Yamunotri is truly spectacular, dominated by a panorama of rugged peaks and dense forests.

The deity or Goddess Yamuna is made of black marble. The temple is dedicated to the river Yamuna, who is represented in the form of a silver idol, bedecked with garlands.

Close to the temple are hot water springs gushing out from the mountain cavities. Suryakund is the most important Kund. Near the Suryakund there is a shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Pilgrims prepare rice and potatoes to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs, tied in muslin cloth. Rice so cooked is taken back home as prasadam.

The pujaris and priests who perform in Yamunotri temple come from the village of Kharsali near Jankichatti.

Gangotri Dham

The Gangotri temple was built by the Gorkha General Amar Singh Thapa, in the 18th century and is situated on the left bank of Bhagirathi river. The temple is nested amidst the beautiful surroundings of deodars and pine trees. It lies close to the holy rock or the Bhagirath Shila where King Bhagirath had worshiped Lord Shiva. The Gangotri temple is dedicated to Goddess Ganga.

The Pujaris and Priests who perform in the temple belong to the village of Mukhwa. The water from Gangotri is carried to offer to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this water has nectar in it and will soothe the throat of Shiva who gulps the poison.

Shree Kedarnath Dham

Kedarnath temple is one of the sacred pilgrimage centre in Northern India, located on the bank of Mandakini river at an altitude of 3584 meters above sea level. The historical name of this region is “Kedar Khand”. Kedarnath temple is a part of Char Dhams and Panch Kedar in Uttarakhand and one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva in India. 

There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand itself, the most important one is Kedarnath. According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own Kith and Kin and sought blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bafellow.

On being followed, the Lord dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface at Kedarnath. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms of the Lord appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. The Kedarnath and four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar (Panch means Five in Sanskrit).

The Temple at Kedarnath presents an imposing sight, standing in middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The temple was originally built in 8th century A.D. by Jagad Guru Adi Shankaracharya and stands adjacent to site of an even earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bafellow stands as guard.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kedarnath temple has exquisite architecture Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut grey slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs were moved and handled in the earlier centuries. The temple has a Garbha Griha for worship and a Mandap, apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.

Shree Badrinath Dham

The main entrance gate of Badarinath temple is colourful and imposing popularly known as Singhdwar. The temple is approximately 50 feet tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The Badarinath temple is divided into three parts (a) The Garbha Griha or the sanctum sanctorum (b) The Darshan Mandap where rituals are conducted and (c) The Sabha Mandap where pilgrims assemble.

At the Badarinath Mandir Gate, directly opposite the main Idol of Lord himself, is seated idol of Bird Garud, vehicle / carrier of Lord Badarinarayan. Garud os seen is sitting position and in prayer with his hands folded. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.

The Garbha Griha portion has its canopy covered with a sheet of gold and houses Lord Badari Narayan, Kuber (God of wealth), Narad rishi, Udhava, Nar and Narayan. The complex has 15 idols. Especially attractive is the one-metre high image of lord Badarinath, finely sculpted in black stone. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badarinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present loction of the temple. It represents Lord Vishnu seated in a meditative pose called Padmasan.

Darshan Mandap: Lord Badari Narayan is armed with Conch and Chakra in two arms in a lifted posture and two arms rested in Yogic Pose. Badarinarayan is seen under the Badari tree, flanked by Kuber and Garuda, Narad, Narayan and Nar. As you look, standing to the right side of Badarinarayana is Uddhava. To the far right side are Nara and Narayana. Narada Muni is kneeling in front on the right side and is difficult to see. On the left side are Kubera-the god of wealth, and a silver Ganesh. Garuda is kneeling in front, to the left of Badarinarayana.

Diversity in Indian Architecture

Ajanta-Ellora Caves:

Built during the time period of 2nd century B.C. to 6th century A.D., these caves are the finest examples of rock-cut caves. Honed out of volcanic ballistic formations while existing in a linear pattern, there are 34 caves, containing the remnants of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain temples. These walls are equipped with engravings showing the life of Lord Buddha. The purpose of these caves was to provide a sanctuary for the monks to meditate. Ellora in particular is famous for the world’s largest monolithic excavation leading to the discovery of the great Kailasa temple.

VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE, KARNATAKA

Located in Hampi, Karnataka, and part of grouped monuments, designated as UNESCO world heritage site. This temple was dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, a form of Shiva. The temple is the main center of Hampi and built by Vijayanagara Empire situated near the Tungabhadra River. If we talk about its architecture, you will find a shrine hall with a number of pillars, and three anti-chambers. There are pillared monasteries, courtyards, a few small shrines, and entrances that surround the temple. This temple has found several engraved inscriptions of Lord Shiva and considered a holistic sacred retreat.

Vittala Temple Complex, Hampi, Karnataka

At its prime, the historic temple town of Hampi was one of the richest and largest cities in the world. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a key attraction for tourists visiting India. Located within the ruins of Vijayanagara (city of victory), which used to be the capital of the historic Vijayanagara Empire (1336-1646 C.E.). Out of the many building complexes that make up the ruins, the Vittala Temple is particularly well known. Featuring an iconic stone chariot, famous musical pillars, and impressive sculpture work, the temple is a wonder everyone should aim to see at least once.

Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

The largest monastery in India and the second largest in the world, Tawang Monastery in the state of Arunachal Pradesh was built in 1680-1681 as per the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama. Located at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, with a remarkable view of the Tawang River valley and nearby mountains, the majestic three-storey-high building features striking and colourful details as well as an 18-foot-high image of the Buddha. The monastery also has an impressive library featuring several rare ancient scriptures.

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur: A Stunning Palace of Breeze

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur: A Stunning Palace of Breeze

With a history of over 200 years, Hawa Mahal is perhaps the most iconic monument in Jaipur. What makes this palace one of the top attractions in Jaipur for travelers is its unique architecture that comprises 953 windows. If the Pink City of India is next on your list of holiday destinations, keep aside some time to explore this iconic structure once you step out of your hotels in Jaipur.          

Swami Vivekanand

Vivekananda, original name Narendranath Datta, Datta also spelled Dutt, (born January 12, 1863, Calcutta [now Kolkata]—died July 4, 1902, near Calcutta), Hindu spiritual leader and reformer in India who attempted to combine Indian spirituality with Western material progress, maintaining that the two supplemented and complemented one another. His Absolute was a person’s own higher self; to labour for the benefit of humanity was the noblest endeavour.

Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring personality was well known both in India and in America during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colourful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.

In America Vivekananda’s mission was the interpretation of India’s spiritual culture, especially in its Vedantic setting. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In America he became India’s spiritual ambassador and pleaded eloquently for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.

In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.

The Swami’s mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, he strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soulstirring language of poetry.

The natural tendency of Vivekananda’s mind, like that of his Master, Ramakrishna, was to soar above the world and forget itself in contemplation of the Absolute. But another part of his personality bled at the sight of human suffering in East and West alike. It might appear that his mind seldom found a point of rest in its oscillation between contemplation of God and service to man. Be that as it may, he chose, in obedience to a higher call, service to man as his mission on earth; and this choice has endeared him to people in the West, Americans in particular.

In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902), of which only ten were devoted to public activities-and those, too, in the midst of acute physical suffering-he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, all of which are outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his many friends and disciples, composed numerous poems, and acted as spiritual guide to the many seekers, who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is the most outstanding religious organization of modern India. It is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in the Swami’s native land, but also in America and in other parts of the world.

Swami Vivekananda once spoke of himself as a “condensed India.” His life and teachings are of inestimable value to the West for an understanding of the mind of Asia. William James, the Harvard philosopher, called the Swami the “paragon of Vedantists.” Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. “His words,” writes Romain Rolland, “are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years’ distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!”

India tourism:growth and classification

Tourism is an important socio-economic activity. It provides enormous scope for economic development of a particular area.

According to Ziffer (1989), “Tourism involves travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects (both past and present) found in these areas.”

In India, temple towns, historical monuments and sea beaches were traditionally sought out as tourist attractions. But now the fabric of tourism is changing rapidly as nature, heritage, and recreational destinations are gaining more importance. In this background, eco-tourism has of late become a top attraction for the tourists.

Tourism growth in India

For a country that is surrounded by the Himalayas to the north, the Indian Ocean to the south, The Bay of Bengal to the east, and the Arabian Sea to the west, India quite hasn’t tapped into the full potential of tourism. Even the tourism industry is the largest service sector in India, the tourism growth in India is something that is still a work in progress.

With 37 UNESCO heritage sites and a land blessed with rich heritage and cultural diversity, each region in India has a unique story to tell. People have different expectations for tourism. Some prefer beaches, while others may like forests, some other people may be into deserts, etc. No matter what the preference, India has different regions to cater to everyone’s expectations. 

As per the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council), about 9.2 percentage of India’s GDP in the year 2018 came from Tourism. From just over 2 million tourists in 2000 to over 42 million jobs in the Indian travel and tourism industry in 2018, and 10 million foreign tourists visiting the country in the same year, the growth of tourism in India has been steady. Despite these good tourism growth statistics, India has a long way to go to fully exploit this domain.

Tourism Development in India

The growth of tourism in India, although steady, is quite not up to the expectation. For a country with a population of 1.25 billion people, that is a minimum of 1.25 billion tourist visits. India, as a result, is doing great when it comes to domestic tourism with over 1.6 billion tourist visits to other states. However, when it comes to international tourists, this isn’t the case. The FTAs ( Foreign Tourist Arrival) in India is way below other developed countries. With an FTA of just over 10 million, it is almost one-eighth of what France has. Granted that this could be due to the free travel between Schengen countries, but there are several non-Schengen European countries, as well as other nations, such as Mexico, Turkey, Russia, etc that have FTAs more than twice that of India. One of the main reasons for this is the stringent immigration rules in India. Apart from this, other reasons that restricted a full flow of tourism in India were underdeveloped travel infrastructure, poor sanitation, as well as concerns about safety. These are aspects that every tourist look for while visiting a country. 

Areas of apprehension

Medical tourism: Indian has been the origin of Ayurvedic therapy, and even after centuries, the country is successful in sustaining its remedial inventions. Over the years, several specialised hospitals are incorporated in India, which are served by many skilled doctors. In addition, the presence of well-equipped medical facilities has also taken the standard of medical dealing of the country to a new feat of success across the globe. The government should understand the need of medical tourism in India and excel on various tourism policies targeting the medical tourism destinations like Kerala, Chennai and Mumbai. Accordingly, various infrastructural initiatives can be put into practice to promote medical tourism in India.

Medical tourism

Pilgrimage tourismHarmony in diversity; this can best be experienced when in India. The country is laid out with plenty of religious destinations creating immense exposure for pilgrimage tourism. It is observed that most of the popular religious Indian sites are visited by thousands of pilgrims on regular basis. In addition, there are certain places as well which are believed to be quite religious but due to lack of promotion and government intrusion, these destinations are out of limelight. Hence, the respective state tourism authority should step forward in promoting pilgrimage tourism in India.

Pilgrimage tourism in India

Eco tourism: It is something new in Indian tourism sector, which invites tourist to visit and explore various locations without impacting its fragile ecosystem. Eco tourism in India basically aims to create environment awareness amongst the visitors and service provider. Starting from wildlife reserves to naturally blessed regions, there are plenty of enticing spots in India that are idyllic for eco tourism. Through eco tourism, the rich variety of flora and fauna in the country can be preserved for tourists. Therefore, by bringing in various initiatives pertaining to energy efficiency, water reuse and recycling of waste products, the concept of eco tourism can be made more impactful in the country. And most importantly, the revenue generated from eco tourism can further be utilised for funding various conservation projects and training programs.

Eco tourism in India

Youth tourism: This kind of tourism is specifically targeted for the youth travellers, who not only enjoy exploring new places but very adventure enthusiasts as well. Youth travel and tourism can also be included in the academic excursion wherein, the institute will arrange effective tourism program for the youth students. Besides, the craze of biking and many other rousing activities can equally be encouraged under such tourism schema. Today, youth visitors are considered as the most candid travellers all over the globe. Keeping in mind the volume of youth travellers, youth tourism market can further be segregated into independent youth travel and youth group travel. Independent youth travel may include an individual traveller or a group of independent travellers. On the other hand, independent youth travel includes a group of 6 or more youth (school/non-school group).  Under Youth Tourism, government should execute more enticing and academic execution program for the students.

Youth tourism in India

Cultural tourism: One should visit India to witness its cultural diversity. India is full of fiestas and traditional practices all round the calendar making the country one of the worth visiting destinations across the globe. Apart from religious variety, one can also get influenced by the diverse range of cuisines, languages, music tastes and architectures in the country. Considering the cultural affluences in the country, government and tourism authority should join hand in developing awareness program on cultural tourism.

Cultural tourism in India

Heritage tourism: The scope of heritage tourism in India is immense. Over the periods, it has been emerged as a major segment in tourism industry and an important source of revenue. Stepping in India will portray you its flourishing history that can still be witnessed in various majestic monuments, imperial fortress, holy shrines and other historic destinations. Indian government should come along various private enterprises in developing and preserving the significance of heritage tourism in India. Based upon the wide scope of heritage tourism in the country, this segment can further be grouped into various segments like industrial heritage, majestic heritage, religious tourism, ethnicity and urban renewal.

Heritage tourism in India

Agricultural tourism: Agricultural tourism or agritourism is a rapid growing sector today, which invites travelers to visit and explore various agricultural properties, farms, wineries and ranches. Under agritourism program, traveller can visit the working farms, involve into various activities and buy different agricultural products. In a country like India where majority of the populace is involved in farming and cultivation, agritourism should be promoted at higher level. Government should utilise its farming land by accommodating small gardens, activity areas, relaxation zone where traveller can come and spread its utility to enhance the scope of agricultural tourism in India.

Agricultural tourism in India

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms. He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way; and Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

In 1884, Tagore wrote a collection of poems Kori-o-Kamal (Sharp and Flats). He also wrote dramas – Raja-o-Rani ( King and Queen) and Visarjan (Sacrifice). In 1890, Rabindranath Tagore moved to Shilaidaha (now in Bangladesh) to look after the family estate. Between 1893 and 1900 Tagore wrote seven volumes of poetry, which included Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat) and Khanika. In 1901, Rabindranath Tagore became the editor of the magazine Bangadarshan. He Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school based on the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. In 1902, his wife Mrinalini died. Tagore composed Smaran ( In Memoriam ), a collection of poems, dedicated to his wife.

In 1905, Lord Curzon decided to divide Bengal into two parts. Rabindranath Tagore strongly protested against this decision. Tagore wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity of undivided Bengal.

In 1909, Rabindranath Tagore started writing Gitanjali. In 1912, Tagore went to Europe for the second time. On the journey to London he translated some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali to English. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. Yeats was enthralled. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 in a limited edition by the India Society in London. Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V.

In 1919, following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore renounced his knighthood. He was a supporter of Gandhiji but he stayed out of politics. He was opposed to nationalism and militarism as a matter of principle, and instead promoted spiritual values and the creation of a new world culture founded in multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance. Unable to gain ideological support to his views, he retired into relative solitude. Between the years 1916 and 1934 he traveled widely.

1n 1921, Rabindranath Tagore established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. Tagore was not only a creative genius, he was quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and science too. Tagore had a good grasp of modern – post-Newtonian – physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos. His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G. Wells, epitomize his brilliance.

In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan and awarded Rabindranath Tagore with Doctorate Of Literature. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore passed away on August 7, 1941 in his ancestral home in Calcutta.

Culture capital of India-Rajasthan

A country as diverse as India is symbolized by the plurality of its culture. India has one of the world’s largest collections of songs, music, dance, theatre, folk traditions, performing arts, rites and rituals, paintings and writings that are known, as the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage‘ (ICH) of humanity.

Unity in variety is one of the major characteristics of Indian culture which makes it unique. A synthesis of various cultures came about through the ages to give shape to what is predictable as Indian culture today.

India is characterized by different castes. People of different castes possess different living standard. Even people of dissimilar castes live life with different standards and values. Each caste has its divide rituals and traditions of marriage and other religious ceremonies.

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History of Rajasthan

History of Rajasthan

Rajasthan, one of the most sought-after destinations for domestic and international travelers, exudes an aura of royalty, culture and tradition. With varied locales to offer, ranging from hills, golden desert, lakes and forests, Rajasthan is a land of wonder. Home to the erstwhile Indian royalty, the state has many forts which are reminiscent of the rich lives and opulence of the kings and queens. Architectural marvels in themselves, the forts, temples and other historical sites leave the tourists in complete awe.

Rajasthan is known to be atleast 5000 years old with many parts being occupied by Indus Valley Civilization. Kalibunga in northern Rajasthan is one of the famous excavation sites which have revealed ancient human settlement. Rajasthan has witnessed the rule of the kings since the early 11th century upto 19th century when the British rule took over. During these years, many empires flourished in the state, leading to the development of varied architectural styles, traditions, rituals, clothing styles, cuisines and culture. Many temples, mausoleums, dargahs and forts were built during these centuries, each one outdoing the other.

Culture of Rajasthan

Rajasthan has a collective belief in “Atithi Devo Bhava”, meaning that God resides in every guest. The people of this state are warm, indulgent and happy to assist visitors and tourists in every way. With a lot of people involved in hospitality and tourism here, one will not find any problem in travelling here.

From colourful clothes, jewellery, dances and food, it is a delight to be here.

  • Clothes :Women like to dress in an attire called “odhni” which consists of a dupatta, blouse and a skirt. Available in different colours and materials, the dressing is attractive and vibrant. Men like to dress in kurta and pajama with a headgear called “pagdi”.
  • Folk music and Dance :Rajasthan has varied forms of folk music and dances. One of the few folk music groups include Manganiyars, Langas, Banjaras, Mirasis and Jogis. These groups are divided because of geographical diversity and follow their own set of beliefs which are reflected in the music and performing styles. Famous dancing styles belonging to this state are Tejali, Ghoomar, Chang, Bhopa and Kathipuli. Most of these performances revolve either around sagas of bravery or love.
  • Food :Rajasthan is known for its various hot spices and sweets. Famous eating items include dalbati choorma, kachori, ghewar, laal maas and more. These delectable items are traditionally prepared in pure ghee and have their roots in the royal kitchens. Spices are said to ignite the fire in the bodies of royal warriors and sweets are said to calm the mind.
  • Handicrafts :Unique handicraft items like blue pottery, metal work, marble and stone statues and decoratives are famous in Rajasthan. Mirror work, embroidery, bati work and tie-and-dye are also famous here. These make for lovely souvenirs for tourists coming here.

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Frescoes of Rajasthan

Frescoes of Rajasthan

The Shekhawati region of India lies in the eastern part of the state of Rajasthan. The region is very large and has many buildings which were once where the royals of Rajasthan lived. The buildings, mostly havelis, are either abandoned or rented out to the local people

The Shekhawati region is situated in the middle of the former major trade route or the ‘SILK ROAD’ which connected the modern-day India, Pakistan and China. This benefited the local traders, called the Marwari, who built these havelis as a public show of their wealth. With the decline of the Silk Road, the Marwari’s moved on but left behind the treasure trove of the art and architecture that is their homes.

The havelis depict many themes – the daily life of the locals, gods and goddesses, folk mythology and the relatively newer buildings, those of the 19th and 20th century, depict the advent of the British. Each haveli is a piece of splendour and each has its own story to tell. The frescoes in these buildings are made with natural pigment. The oldest frescoes use ochre, red, white lead, lamp black, Indian yellow. The newer ones use synthetic pigments that were imported from Europe.

For the most part, the frescoes depict the god and goddess and folk mythology. The meeting of the gods, the armies and their battles are all depicted in rich colours and few of them gilded in 22 karat gold leaves. The gods Ganesha and Krishna have been depicted several times over. The popular loves stories of Laila -Majnu and Heer-ranjha , the equivalent to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet have been depicted, besides these, Rajasthan’ s most popular romantic tale of Dhola and Maru and also of other lesser known tales are recurrently seen. The murals depicting the Europeans have a funny undertone and are an insight into how they were viewed by the Indians there.

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Jewellery of Rajasthan

Jewellery of Rajasthan

Other than the historical monuments the amazing thing to explore in Rajasthan is the market place. Markets in Rajasthan are glorious. Many different varieties of things can be found in there, people are often amazed to see how beautiful, colourful and variant those markets are.

Let us tell you about the most eye-catching product in these markets, the ethnic jewelleries. First of all, you can see people dressed in colourful ethnic outfits. Women’s mainly wear ‘Lehenga choli’ or ‘Saree’ and these outfits usually come in vibrant colours like red, orange, yellow and green or the bright shades of other colours and to compliment these bright ethnic dresses comes the ethnic jewellery. These jewelleries are not just limited for women but men in Rajasthan also wear some special jewelleries.

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Leather Embroidery in Rajasthan

Leather Embroidery in Rajasthan

Most of the dresses in Rajasthan are vibrant in colour and have some work done on it like mirror work bandhani work or embroidery. These works are not just limited to fabrics they are also done on jewellery, shoes, hats, bags, containers and other products. Leather embroidery is one of the specialities of this State.

When exploring the markets one can notice that the most common thing in almost every product there is the embroidery. It is like the identity that the product is bought from Rajasthan. Many bright colours are used for the embroideries. There are different types of embroideries and done on different products. Rajasthani Embroidery gives everything an ethnic look and these multi coloured embroidered products matches with almost every outfit.

5.Miniatures of Rajasthan

Miniatures of Rajasthan

The Miniature painting of Rajasthan is an old art form known for its intricate painting and rich colours. The first evidence of this art form exists in the form of illustration of old Buddhist texts which were executed by the Palas of Northern India. The 16th century painting were presented to the rulers by their partisans as a symbol of a significant event. These were collected by rulers and displayed in their courts.

But the miniature paintings developed mostly in the Mughal period when the emperor Humayun brought Persian artists into India. The next emperor, Akbar set up a National painting school, in which an atelier for the miniature painting, artists from various parts of India trained under the Persian masters. Simultaneously several other school of painting were set up in Mewar (Udaipur), Bundi, Kotah, Marwar (Jodhpur), Bikaner, Jaipur, and Kishangarh.

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Pottery in Rajasthan

Pottery in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is a state marked by its distinct art and culture. Hand crafted products are a major speciality here and one of those specialities is Pottery. There are varieties in this category too. Some of them are Blue pottery from Jaipur, Black pottery from Sawai Madhopur, Kagzi Pottery from Alwar, Golden Pottery from Bikaner etc.

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Wood work and Furniture

Wood work and Furniture

The existence of jungles in some parts of Rajasthan like Jaipur, Kota and Udaipur is what gave rise to Suthars or the carpenter class of craftsmen. Suthars either belong to the Meghwal community who are known for the cots and camels’ carts or from Barmer, who are known for their intricate craftsmanship

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Stone Carving in Rajasthan

Stone Carving in Rajasthan

Rajasthan is a land of rich culture. It is famous for its heroes and their valorous deeds and sacrifices. It is also very famous for its architectural monuments made of stone. Rajasthan is home to temples, forts, palaces which have no competition.

The architecture in Jaipur grew under the Rajputs. The marble and the sandstone are used in the City Palace, Jantar Mantar ,Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal and Tripola gate in Jaipur. Jantar Mantar and Amer Fort are world Heritage sites. These architectural master pieces have been instrumental in putting the city in the world map. Jaipur forms part of the golden triangle, consisting of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The Golden Triangle is called so because they are three most visited places in India.

Jhodpur is another city with palace like the Ummed Bhawan and Chittar Palace, forts made with red sandstone. The perfect beauty and brilliance of the palaces will be bound to sweep you off your feet.

The city of Jaisalmer is situated in the heart of the Thar Desert is called the ‘The Rose in the Desert’ because of its red stone buildings. Places of interest include the Jaisalmer fort with its massive sandstone walls which turn into a magical honey gold as the sun sets.

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Rajasthan’s Travelling Temples: Phad Paintings

Rajasthan’s Travelling Temples: Phad Paintings

For almost 700 years ago, every evening the Bhopa and Bhopi, the priest and his wife, unroll their scrolls of Phad paintings depicting the deities and performed dramatic renditions of stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata any other mythological tales. The priest and the priestess belong to a nomadic tribe which are a tribe of camel and goat herders Originating from the Bhilwara region of Rajasthan, this tribe realising that there was no one temple they could visit, travel from village to village with their ravanhatta, a two-string instrument, performing their own form of oral worship.

Phad paintings are scroll paintings which are created on hand-woven coarse cloth. It is a complex process which takes a certain level of talent and hard work in equal proportions. The threads of the cloth are made bulkier and is starched and rubbed with moonstone to make a smooth canvas. The colours are derived from flowers and herbs and are mixes with gum which acts as a binding agent.

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Paper Making Industry

Paper Making Industry

Paper making industry is another interesting thing to know about Rajasthan. The art of making paper was given importance in those areas by the Mughal emperors centuries ago. This paper making industry is quite different from other paper making industries. A lot of factors make it different from others. The prime factor here is that its eco- friendly.

Quad to become Quad plus

Theme

On 12th march 2021, India, the USA, Australia and Japan conducted the first ever summit to discuss regional and global challenges. Till now there were only semi-regular meeting.

What is Quad?

  • India, Australia, the USA & Japan came together to collaborate in relief efforts after the Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami in 2004. This Tsunami core group formed ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)’ in 2007.
  • The primary objective of Quad nations is to ensure a free and open Indo-pacific region, which is increasingly being misused by China to its advantage. Quad nations conducted their largest joint naval exercises in 2020.
  • Quad is informally called ‘Asian NATO‘ since it has the scope to become a powerful coalition just like NATO in Europe and North American countries.

Benefits of Quad:

  • Collaboration in defence, maritime security, counterterrorism, and information exchange is highly beneficial to all the Quad nations.
  • Many countries in the world are importing raw materials and goods from China and hence suffered a lot in the pandemic time due to broken supply chains. At present, all the Quad nations have trade relations with China. Quad is a great opportunity to diversify supply chains to reduce dependence on China and to opt for Free Trade Agreements among each other. This kind of economic collaboration is helpful to all the countries involved and also for the global economy.
  • In order to diversify supply chains, Quad nations may help among themselves with the investments to tap the resources. This is very helpful in getting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). For example, at present Australia has the world’s sixth-largest reserves of rare-earth minerals, which is essential to manufacture smartphones, EV batteries and high-powered motors. China supplies almost 60% of the world’s rare earth minerals. The positive thing is that most of Australia’s are untapped and needs investment to extract the minerals. And by this, dependence on China for rare earth minerals will be reduced. This cooperation is a great opportunity for all the Quad nations to increase exports and to improve the economy.
  • Quad meeting in 2020 included New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam too, which is signalling towards the Quad-plus coalition.
  • It was announced that financing for Covid vaccines is the top priority for the latest meeting, which is going to be conducted on 12th March 2021. This cooperation is very beneficial to strengthen global health security.

Conclusion:

Quad is a great opportunity to diversify supply chains and to counterbalance China’s aggression. There is a high possibility that some other countries too will take part in it and it may become Quad plus. Quad has the potential to become a strong coalition like NATO in Europe.

Population control:Need of the hour

It’s a hard fact to digest that the population on the planet earth has bombastically raised to 7.9 billion. As a matter of fact it took 2 million years of human prehistory and history of world’s population to reach 1 billion and this number got multipled so fast that it took just 200 years to grow to 7 billion. India and china alone contribute to 36% in population of the total population of the world. And India is expected to add 273 million people to its population between now and 2050. A UN report said in 2019,forecasting that the country will cross China as the world’s most populous country by 2027.

Population growth in India

In 2019,India has an estimated population of 1.37 billion. But denying the fact the good news is that the fertility rate of women have dropped significantly. It has dropped down from 3.31 children per women in 2000 to 2.2 children per women in 2017.Over the period of time it is nearing the replacement rate of 2.1. In spite of the fact that the population policies, family planning and welfare programs undertaken by the government of India have lead to continuous decrease in fertility rate, yet the actual stabilisation of the population has not been achieved. There is also decline in decadal growth from 21.15% in census 2001 to 17.64% in census 2011.

Causes of overpopulation

1.The decline in death rate- Due to science and technology we have excelled ourselves in field of science and medicine. And as a result we have come up with better treatment facilities of any disease.

2.Agricultural Advancement- Agriculture advancement in 20th century have allowed humans to increase food production using fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and yield further. This allowed humans with more access to food that leads to subsequent population explosion.

3.Better medical facilities- Technological innovation was perhaps the biggest reason why the balance has been permanently disturbed. Illness that had claimed thousands of lives until now were cured because of the invention of vaccines.

4.More hands to overcome poverty- Families that have been through poverty, natural disaster or are simply in need of more hands to work are a major factor for overpopulation. According to the UN the 48 poorest countries in the world are likely to be the Biggest contributors to population growth.

5.Technological advancement in fertility treatment- with the latest technological advancement and more discoveries in medical science, it has become possible for couples who are unable to concieve to undergo fertility treatment methods and have their own babies.

6.Lack of family planning- most developing nations have a large number of people who are illiterate, live below poverty line and have little or no knowledge about family planning. Those people are unable to understand the harmful effect of overpopulation and lack of quality education prompt them to avoid family planning measures.

7.Poor contraceptive use- Poor family planning on the part of partners can lead to unexpected Progencies. As per statistics 76% of women aged between 19 and 49 in great Britain used at least one form of contraceptive, whereas study by WHO shows that this figure drops to 42% in underdeveloped countries, which leads to higher birth rate.

Effects of overpopulation

1. Uneven relationship between resources and demography- earth can produce only substantial amount of resources like food and water which is falling short for current needs.

2.Degradation of environment- with the overuse of coal, oil, and natural gases, it has started producing some serious effects on our environment.

3.Conficts and wars- conflicts over water are becoming a source of tension between countries which would result in wars. Starvation is a huge issue that the world is facing and the mortality of children is being fuelled by it. Poverty is the biggest hallmark we see when talking about overpopulation.

4.Rise of unemployment- unemployment is a major cause of overpopulation. As there are fewer jobs to support a large number of people. This gives rise to theft, crime as people want to feed their families and provide them with basic amenities.

5.Pandemic and Epidemic- Overpopulation lead to unhygienic living conditions, malnutrition and inaccessible, inadequate or non extant health care for which poor are more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases.

6.Malnutrition, Starvation and famine- when the availability of resources is scarce, starvation, malnutrition along with ill health and disease caused by diet deficiency such as rickets become more likely.

7.Water shortage, sewage treatment, inadequate rainfall- Roughly 1% of the world’s water is fresh and accessible. Overpopulation is a major issue that creates immense pressure on the world’s fresh water supplies.

8.Extinction-the impact of overpopulation on the world’s wildlife is severe. As deemed for land grows, the destruction of natural habitat such as forest, becomes common.

9.Faster climate change- According to 97% scientific community, human activities are changing global temperatures. If more is not done to reduce individual carbon footprint on a large scaleb, large population may spped these changes up.

Solution to overpopulation

1.Better education- the fastest and most efficient way to stabilize the world population is to send girls to school and empower women and to give everyone access to and education on birth control.

2.Making people aware of family planning- we must focus on agressive campaigning to make people aware of the overpopulation and it’s adverse effects on the future generations to come. Public participation campaign is must needed to Make them aware. As a culture we need to emphasize the benefits of having one- child family.

3.Population Stabilization- Delay the age of first marriage but you may shrink the reproductive age by getting people to have their question first child later by spacing out the number of children.

4.Tax benefits or Concession- people having one chilld should be benefited by exemption from paying taxes as this would encourage others to have one child.

5.Knowledge of sex education- It is one thing we people don’t talk about. This should be spoken to people and imparted proper knowledge of the biology of human body.

The Mughal Empire

Indian history and culture are rich and dynamic. The country has been home to some of the worlds greatest empires, including the legendary Mughal Empire. Today let’s take a trip to the past, about 500 years ago, when the founder of the empire came to India and defeated Ibrahim Lodi to form the legendary Mughal Empire.

In 1524 the descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, Babur came to India on the invitation of Daulat Khan, a rebel of the Lodhi dynasty, to overthrow the king of the dynasty, Ibrahim Lodhi. Many thought that he would leave the country after defeating Lodhi. Little did they know that he had no intention of doing so. Babur defeated Lodhi at the famous First Battle of Panipat in 1526 and established the Mughal Empire. He was opposed by Rana Sanga of Mewar, but the Rana was defeated in the Battle of Khanwa. Thus began the rule of the empire. 

Babur died in 1530 in Agra, where he was buried. Later, his remains were moved to Kabul as per his wishes. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. Babur had decided to divide the territories his empire between his sons, with Humayun succeeding his father to the throne of Delhi, and his half-brother Kamran Mirza inheriting the northernmost parts of his father’s empire. This was not a common practice in India at the time, but was a common Central Asian practice from the time of Genghis Khan. Many believed that Humayun was an unqualified king as he was only 22, and several of his brothers revolted against him when he came to the throne. 

In 1539, Humayun faced the founder of the Suri empire in India, Sher Shah Suri at the battle of Chausa. Humayun had to escape the battlefield to save his own life, and Suri was crowned the winner.He fled to the refuge of the Safavid Empire in Persia, and with their aid successfully won back his empire. The death of Sher Shah Suri and his successor Islam Shah rendered the Suri empire weak, and Humayun defeated the armies of Sikandar Shah Suri in 1555, re-establishing the Mughal Empire in India. Unfortunately, Humayun died due to an unfortunate accident. During his short time as a ruler, he managed to further expand the empire and was succeeded by his son Akbar.

Akbar was popularly known as Akbar The Great because of the many accomplishments he achieved during his successful rule. He defeated the Hindu king Hemu at the Second Battle of Panipat, which wasn’t far from the site where his grandfather had defeated the Lodhi’s, and occupied Delhi and Agra. After conquering most of Northern India, he sought to take over the Rajputana, and did so by defeating Pratap Singh who was the descendant of Rana Sanga at the legendary battle of Haldighati in 1576. Akbar introduced many social reforms during his time as ruler. He left a rich legacy for the Mughal empire was praised by many. He died in 1605, and was succeeded by his son Jahangir, a lover of literature, architecture and the fine arts. His successor, Shah Jahan is considered one of the greatest Mughal Emperors, and many believe that under his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its peak.Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, who is considered one of India’s most controversial king. After his son Bahadur Shah Zafar died, the Mughal Empire declined significantly. The last ruler of the empire was exiled by the British East India Company in 1868.

The Mughals made several contributions to the culture of India, including the development of the Mughlai cuisine, large scale urbanisation, and the magnificent Taj Mahal. The Empire is considered to be one of the greatest ones in India