Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flying high

Pigeons fly on over Jama Masjid (above & below), Old Delhi, Indi


Friday, March 20, 2009

"वादों के पुष्प"

"वादों के पुष्प"

बिखेरता रहा वादों के पुष्प वो
मै आँचल यकीन का बिछाये
उन्हें समेटती रही....

अपने स्पर्श की नमी से वो
उन पुष्पों को जिलाता रहा
मै मासूम शिशु की तरह
उन्हें सहेजती रही......

हवाओं को रंगता रहा वो
इन्द्रधनुषी ख्वाबो की तुलिका से
मै बंद पलकों मे
उन्हें बिखेरती रही ....

आज सभी वादों का वजूद
अपना आस्तित्व खोने लगा .......
मै अवाक टूटते मिटते हुए
उन्हें देखती रही........


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Going back home

Birds on way back to their home as sun sets in New Delhi, India


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Random Alphabets: 'L' for Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple: Located in Kalkaji in the south of Delhi, it is lotus shaped and has rightly been given the name. It is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It is open to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace and tranquility

It is a very recent architectural marvel of the Bahai faith. The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions.
Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation and that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of unification.


Friday, March 13, 2009

City Heritage: Safdarjung's Tomb

Safdarjung's Tomb (Hindi: सफ़दरजंग का मक़बरा, Urdu: سفدر جنگ کا مقبره Safdarjang ka Maqbara) is a garden tomb in a marble mausoleum in Delhi, India. It was built in 1754 in the style of late Mughal architecture.
The top story of the edifice houses the Archaeological Survey of India. The garden, in the style evolved by the Mughal Empire that is now known as the Mughal gardens style known as a charbagh, is entered through an ornate gate. Its facade is decorated with elaborate plaster carvings.
The tomb was built for Safdarjung, the powerful prime minister of Muhammad Shah who was the weak Mughal emperor from 1719 to 1748.The central tomb has a huge dome. There are four water canals leading to four buildings. One has an ornately decorated gateway while the other three are pavilions, with living quarters built into the walls. Octagonal towers are in the corners. The canals are four oblong tanks, one on each side of the tomb


Monday, March 9, 2009

Let the colors of Holi spread the message of peace and happiness.

Mohe Rang de:What’s the most unholy place to play Holi – kichad, mitti, bhang, the works? Campus

Holi re!: Some traditions can sure be weird. Whoever heard of a baraat minus an actual marriage ceremony, or a mud bath to celebrate the festival of colours? But it all happens in our very own Delhi, the occasion being Holi. And the proud keepers of the traditions are none other than the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and St Stephen’s College.
Holi hai!:The revelry at JNU kicks off the evening before Holi with a wedding baraat. In the two-decade-old custom, nobody actually gets married but that does not stop it from being a fun-filled affair. The celebration has a name — Chaat Sammelan — complete with a Chaat King.
Sprinkle of spring: May you have the most blessed holi festival than you ever had.The sammelan, attended by more than 1,000 students, faculty members and alumni, is one of the two main functions celebrated at JNU. ‘‘Preparations for this grand sammelan start a week in advance.
Lets change colors for a day : And it is like any other Hindu wedding. Taapti hostel is the groom’s side and Jhelum hostel is bride’s
side. The baraat starts from Taapti after a tilak ceremony by the warden’s wife and the groom, who is selected unanimously, is dressed in weird attire and rides a donkey till the wedding venue. A gulal shop in the heart of city :The previous year’s Chaat King officiates as his ‘‘father’’ and the one of the year before is the groom’s ‘‘grandfather’’. And they all reach the venue on their respective donkeys. The ‘‘baraatis’’ dance, sing and play with colour as the procession progresses towards the venue where the warden of Jhelum hostel greets the bridegroom. What follows is a series of dance performances, poetry sessions, etc
A kid checks his 'weapons' for the festival of colors.
Gujiya-A traditional Indian holi food being prepared in a road side hotel in Patel Nagar, west Delhi .
The most interesting part is the memorial awards, which are named after living people. For example, there is a Dr Karan Singh memorial award, named after the university’s very-muchalive chancellor. The idea is not to run down people, but to have some fun. At St Stephen’s College, the revelry takes the form of mayhem in a ‘‘mud bath’’. Students dig a pit and fill it with colours and water. And everybody has to take a dip in it. ‘‘From the principal to professors to students, everybody is pushed into this pit. Third year students organize it,’’ said Aarushi Bhargava, a final year student.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday with Ghalib

हैं और भी दुनिया में सुखनवर, बहुत अच्छे,
पर कहतें है की ग़ालिब का है अंदाज़े बयान और.
Inside of Ghalib's house at Gali Qasim Jaan, Ballimaran, one of alleys of the oldest street of Delhi, Chandni Chowk (Pic above)
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (Urdu/Persian: مرزا اسد اللہ بیگ خان ) was a great classical Urdu and Persian poet of India. Ghalib died in what are known as 'Gulabi Jadey' (rose-tinted mild winter) but this year's freak weather has made it as cold as mid-January and Mirza Nausha would have refrained from exclaiming: अब तो जी मे आता है के मर जाएँगे हम, मर के भी चैन ना पाया तो कहाँ जाएँगे हम(now it seems I'm going to die, but if I don't get rest even after death then were else would I go?). Certainly he wouldn't have liked to die in this sort of weather just as he bemoaned that his brother had passed away at the height of summer during the Mutiny when the British had retaken control of Delhi and a virtual curfew order was in force making it difficult to even bury the dead.
The great poet stayed here during 1865 to 1869 and spent last phase of his life
हमारी सादगी थी इल्तिफ़ाते नाज़ पर मरना,तेरा आना ना था ज़ालिम मगरतमशीद जाने की -ग़ालिब
(It was our simplicity to die for dignity of courtesy, Your coming was nothing but a preparation for your leaving.) The walk from Town Hall, past Ballimaran to Gali Mir Qasim Jan, was not as pleasant as it would have been had it not rained so hard the previous day. For one long familiar with the area, many old places and people were
missing. Mohammad Mian Akbar was not at his Boot House, chain smoking away.
मेहरबान हुए कह बुला लो मुझे. चाहो जिस वक़्त,
मे गया वक़्त नहीं हूँ कह फिर आ भी ना सकूँ -गा़लिब(As a favour call me any time
I am not time that cannot be recalled) Haji Hotel has vanished and so also Hafiz Hotel, where Dr. Zakir Husain used to eat before he became famous. The mianji who told tales of those days is also missing. Bhai Sadiq's shop is there but his grandson manages it.
ज़िंदगी अपनी जब इस शक्ल साए गुज़री ग़ालिब
हम भी क्या याद करेंगे कह खुदा रखते थे.-गा़लिब
(Life when passed in such phases oh GhalibWhat could I console myself as a creature of God.)
He is dead, so is his son and so too Akbar Bhai and the bearded owner of Hafiz Hotel. Bismillah Hotel is not what it used to be and the Kababwallah who sat at the gate of Basti Punjabian is also no more. Nobody else makes such delicious kababs. Uma Sharma, eminent Kathak dancer, who led the walk had to face some embarrassing moments at Ghalib's memorial (the poet would have certainly fallen in love with her) when a woman of the area got nasty. But things smoothened out by the time lunch was served after a Moghul times mushaira at the nearby Rabea Girls School, the erstwhile haveli of Ghalib's wife, Umrao Jan.
The Haveli has been since considerably renovated and was used lately as shops till December 1999 when Delhi Government acquired a portion of the Haveli and set up a memorial museum dedicated to the great poet. You will notice that the acquired portion of the Haveli has been restored to its original splendor. Originally the Haveli consisted of arched corridors on three sides enclosing an open courtyard. Now only the Northern part of the Haveli is open for the tourists. The ASI has put a lot of care and effort to make tourists relive and experience the nineteenth century grandeur. The special features of the Haveli were highlighted in order to give it a feel of 19th century. Mughal Lakhori bricks have been used on walls and the flooring is strictly done with the sandstone. Wooden entrance gate welcomes the visitor and so are the chhajja in the courtyard. Don't skip the museum inside the haveli. The museum houses various important things related to the great poet, which gives an insight into the life. It contains the letters of Ghalib written in his own hand. These are both in Urdu as well as English. There is also a photograph of the poet, which is considered as his last photograph. Besides you can also find chronology of events, selected couplets from his works (in Urdu Only), books and some personal belongings of the poet.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekend hangout: Damdama Lake

Damdama Lake- Moody and withdrawn, the lake unites a haunting loveliness to a raw desolateness. Tired of crowded week-end malls? Pissed of queuing to buy a Mc’ Donald’s burger? Bored of another 'Devdas' type movie? Try this for a week end outing, its Damdama Lake, away from crowded city centers, it’s much peaceful and enjoyment for all. Get the village feeling in the walled city.So take a break from the noise and pollution of Delhi to refresh and rejuvenate.

Sun set at the lake: Often did I wonder why the setting sun Should look upon us with a blushing face: Is't not for shame of what he hath seen done, Whilst in our hemisphere he ran his race? Water Banks lakeside village style resort is an island in the Damdama Lake less then an hour's drive from Delhi and only 30 minutes from the airport. The Resort has 15 ethnically village style independent cottages with modern luxuries- all facing the beautiful environs of Damdama lake.
A small hut by the side of lake-Many miles away there's a shadow on the door of a cottage on the Shore of a dark beautiful lake. Only reached by boats, activities here include rowing, fishing, bird watching, nature walks in the nearby Aravalli mountain ranges, rock climbing and hot air ballooning. Ideal for conferences, training program, leisure retreat, bar-be-cue dinners and weekend breaks. You will love the swinging Burma bridge and the 30 feet tall private machans to enjoy the quite interiors of the lake and its bird life.
In quest of top: One does not climb to attain enlightenment, rather one climbs because he is enlightened. A smooth blend of comfort and nature where you naturally revel in its richness and relax in its serenity. Tune your body and free your spirit at Waterbanks. Peaceful and eco friendly, it encourages people to live in harmony with the environment. In the tranquil surroundings of the Damdama lake, framed by forests, wildlife, bird life and the Aravalli ranges, Waterbanks captivates the romantic and releases the adventurer in you.
Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. There is never a dull moment here, not even when the sun goes down. In fact, the real fun begins when dusk brings in a subtle change of mood around a bonfire and a barbecue at the lakeside. A perfect time for socializing perhaps with light and soothing music.See that flush back on your children's faces as they ride, boat, trek and breathe the clear fresh air or just climb up the exciting machaans for a view over the beautiful lake and its environs, only an hour away from Delhi. On the whole, have a whale of a time.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring & Mughal Garden: Double the Splendor

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"” Flowers in full bloom at Mughal garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House, New Delhi) Britishers and Mughals have left a common legacy in Delhi known as the Mughal Gardens. The garden was made and commissioned by Britishers but the design is totally Mughal / Persian. This striking 'mini-paradise' exalts the beauty of Rashtrapati Bhawan, the presidential home. The Mogul garden was originally commissioned by Lady Hardinge to beautify the Rashtrapati Bhawan to Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush The garden occupies an area of 13 acres, divided into three sections, sporting a blend of Mughal Planning with British Design. The garden is open to public only in February-March every year.
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems The garden is basically divided into five parts, categorizing each with a theme. Lutyens combined the soft English borders, small flower beds and lawns to produce a virtual paradise. For this, horticulturist W R Mustoe was specially recruited in 1929 who converted the place into an oasis.
The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring: The Main Garden has two water channels each running north to south and east to west with six lotus shaped fountains magnifying its splendor, reflecting the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The lawns have Doob Grass, Moulsri, Putranjiva Roxburgi, Cypress, Thuja Orientalis and China Orange trees overlooking the channels.
Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people. The Circular Garden is also known as the sunken or butterfly garden. The centre of the attraction is the sunken pond with a fountain with circular rows of flowers around it. Since a large population of different butterflies can be seen fluttering, it was named butterfly garden.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself The Herbal Garden is a very recent addition. It has medicinal herbs from different countries and is truly a sight to watch. It has herbs like Ashwagandha, Bhumy Amalaki, Bergamot Mint, Bramhi and Citronella.
In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . . it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . . in short, the period was so far like the present period . . . . Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest;
keep us hereAll simply in the springing of the year


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Crumbling Heritage: Tughlaqabad Fort

Tughlaqabad Fort (Hindi: तुग़लक़ाबाद क़िला, Urdu: تغلق آباد قلعہ Tughlaqabad Qila) is a ruined fort in Delhi, strecthing across 6.5 km, built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty, of the Delhi Sultanate of India in 1321, which was later abandoned in 1327. People of dharchula did not come here because it was cursed

The origin of the historic city of Tughlaqabad and the Tughlaqabad Fort goes to the period of the Delhi Sultanate (AD 1191–1526). The Tughlaqs (AD 1321–1414) who followed the Khiljis (AD 1290–1321) were great builders and the city of Tughlaqabad and Tughlaqabad Fort were their first major architectural achievement.
TOMB OF GHIYAS-UD-DIN TUGHLAQ : The story behind the foundation of Tughlaqabad is an interesting one. Ghazi Malik, the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty,was once a slave of Mubarak Khilji, the last Khilji sultan. One day, while walking by the area where the Tughlaqabad Fort is now located, Ghazi Malik suggested to his master that the rocky prominence would be an ideal site for building a fort.

The Khilji sultan laughed at his slave and suggested that the slave build a fort there when he became a sultan. When Ghazi Malik, as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, founded the Tughlaq Dynasty in 1321, he did just that—Tughlaqabad is Delhi’s most colossal and awesome fort, even in its ruined state.
The fort of Tughlaqabad was completed rapidly in a short span of four years (1321–25). The fort’s massive battlements and bastions (some as high as 15–30 m, built of enormous blocks of stone and walls 10 m thick in places) do not look as if they are the handiwork of mortals. Within its sky-touching walls, double-storied bastions, and gigantic towers were housed grand palaces, splendid mosques, and audience halls. The city lay on the eastern outskirts of the massive fort.
Tughlaqabad is a formidable reminder of Delhi’s embattled past and the terror and valor associated with that period. It was a period of political unrest and the Delhi Sultanate had to face a number of attacks from hoards of marauding Mongols, who descended on it in waves from the north. Ghiyas-ud-din, in order to counter the Mongol threat, repeatedly routed them and raised pyramids of enemy’s heads and used elephants to crush the captives to death. The massive fortifications of Tughlaqabad, with immense circular bastions, were raised by Ghiyas-ud-din to protect his subjects.
TOMB OF GHIYAS-UD-DIN TUGHLAQ On the southern side of the fort is a causeway that takes one across the (now) dry bed of a lake to the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. The tomb was built by the ruler himself and is enclosed in a private courtyard with fortified walls. The structure of this simple but elegant building reminds one of the Alai Darwaza—an elegant gateway built by the erstwhile Khilji ruler Ala-ud-din Khilji, near Qutab Minar, in his endeavor to beautify the Qutab complex. The style of the tomb conforms to the Indo-Islamic style of architecture, which was in vogue at that time and was the hallmark of the buildings belonging to the period of the Delhi Sultanate.
LEGENDS OF TUGHLAQABAD There are a number of legends associated with Tughlaqabad. It is often said that the skulls of the killed Mongol marauders were used in the construction material of this awesome fort. The demise of Tughlaqabad was not brought about by any foreign invasion, but to the curse of a Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din.
The legendary quarrel between the two started when Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq did not allow his people to work for the saint on the construction of a baoli (step well). This angered the saint. A protracted tiff followed, which offended the saint and led to his famous prophecy “Hunuz Dilli dur ast” (Delhi is yet far away), for the sultan was then out in Bengal. He made another ominous reference to the sultan’s fort when he remarked “Ya rahe usar, ya basé Gujjar” (Either it remains deserted or be peopled by men of the Gujjar tribe). Both these prophecies proved true. Ghiyas-ud-din was killed at a place near Delhi when a shamiana (canopy, marquee) collapsed over him during a reception arranged by his son. The sultan could not reach Delhi alive. His successor chose to build his own fort and deserted Tughlaqabad. It soon became a haunt for the Gujjars tending their cattle within the abandoned fort of Ghiyas-ud-din.

It is generally believed that the death of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq was engineered and plotted by his son. One story describes that Muhammad bin Tughlaq (Ghiyas-ud-din’s son and successor) killed his father by building a false wooden balcony, which collapsed and killed Ghiyas-ud-din. The son murdered and ascended the throne of Delhi, thus making the prophecies of Saint Nizam-ud-din come true.


Monday, March 2, 2009

"तुम चाहो तो"

एक अधूरे गीत का
मुखडा मात्र हूँ,
तुम चाहो तो
छेड़ दो कोई तार सुर का
एक मधुर संगीत में
मै ढल जाऊंगा ......

खामोश लब पे
खुश्क मरुस्थल सा जमा हूँ
तुम चाहो तो
एक नाजुक स्पर्श का
बस दान दे दो
एक तरल धार बन
मै फिसल जाऊंगा......

भटक रहा बेजान
रूह की मनोकामना सा
तुम चाहो तो
हर्फ बन जाओ दुआ का
ईश्वर के आशीर्वाद सा
मै फल जाउंगा.....
राख बनके अस्थियों की
तिल तिल मिट रहा हूँ
तुम चाहो तो
थाम ऊँगली बस
एक दुलार दे दो
बन के शिशु
मातृत्व की ममता में
मै पल जाऊंगा .....


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oriental White-Eye

Oriental White-Eye This tiny restless bird is a frequent visitor, sipping on the flowers. Even if you can't make out the white ring around the eye, you cannot mistake the yellow-orange colour, and the tiny size, as it jumps from branch to branch, sometimes in small groups. Getting a white-eye to sit long enough for you to photograph it is a rarity. This image is from the bottlebrush tree in October from a Delhi park.


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