Cow & Gate

Cow & Gate at Mathura temple
Cow & Gate at Mathura Dwarakadish temple

Cow & Gate was a popular Milk food available in India till the 1960’s probably imported from the UK. Now the product is not seen on the Indian shelves, though some online stores seem to offer it.

I distinctly remember the logo of the product. -a cow (a Jersey?) standing beside a picket fence and a wooden gate. Wikipedia describes the logo thus: “A cow looking uncomfortably through a somewhat untypical four-barred gate, rather as if its neck had got stuck between the bars”.

The name and the logo are also connected with one of the founders – a surrey grocer named Charles Gates. ( Perhaps an ancestor of Bill Gates!)

The above scene reminded me of the Baby food tin from my younger days. Those were the days of recycling of such packing materials especially used tins of Ovaltine and Britannia biscuits and Horlicks bottles.

The scene is from the famous Dwarakadish temple, Mathura. The temple had just closed when we reached there. The cows, like us, were peering disappointedly at the temple door.

You can view more street scenes from Mathura here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/21kiPT3admQIoIsf2

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Taj – an optical illusion

View of Taj from Agra Fort
View of Taj from Agra Fort

This is the view of Diwan-e-Khas and the Taj Mahal from the Meena bazaar side in Agra Fort. To me somehow the Taj appeared to be bigger than what it looked from the Diwane Khas. Our guide confirmed that it is an illusion created by the clever architecture of the Taj.

I had the same feeling when I viewed the Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh
Northern View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

Badami

On the way to Shivalaya temple, Badami
On the way to Shivalaya Temple, Badami

On the way to the Shivalaya group of temples Badami, Karnataka.

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a town in  Karnataka, India. It was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock rock-cut structural temples. See wikipedia for more….

Amma Veedu

Amma veedu seen form another amma veedu

Amma veedu seen from another amma veedu

Amma veedus are the palatial houses where the minor queens or the consorts of the Travancore king used to stay. There are still a few  amma veedus in the West Fort area of Trivandrum. One of these has been tastefully converted into a fine dining restaurant.

The house in the image is opposite that restaurant, taken from its second-floor window.

It is real: not all bull

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Nonchalant Nandi  in a shop

In January 2015 on a visit to Varanasi, a curious sight caught our eyes. It was a bull squatting non chalantly in a textile showroom under a Shiva idol  while the  customers and the staff went about their business uninterrupted. We captured the image and moved on.

Only later we learnt that the bull visits the shop every day without fail. The locals attribute this to the Siva idol in the shop. Maybe the shopkeeper feeds the bull too. On holidays, the bull just hangs around outside. The shop is called Chikan House – Exclusive.

I have seen many social media posts of this bull and the shop. This post is only to assure that the bull’s visit is real and not all bull like many social media forwards. These images are taken by me. I can not, of course, vouch for the regularity  of the bull’s visit as I was there only for two days.

shiva's bull
Bull in a textile showroom
Nandi in a kurta shop
Chikan House – Exclusive. Kurta, pyjama,sarees, salwar suits, tops, and materials

There are episodes where the Nandi hides darshan of Shiva, but here is a situation where the Nandi provides not only unhindered darshan from the street but  uninterrupted business too.

There are a couple of YouTube videos  taken in 2011 and 2014. You may watch those too if you wish.

 

Frugal resting place of a mighty emperor

Most of us know Aurangazeb as a tyrannical and bigoted emperor who tortured and killed his family members, suppressed non-Muslims,fought many unnecessary wars which drained the exchequer. He is also known as the one who paved the way for the decline of the Mughal Empire.

But how many of us know the ‘softer’ side of this emperor? I have read in my school history book that Aurangazeb used to stitch caps and transcribe by hand copies of the Koran to sell anonymously to earn money for his burial and tomb.

The remains of the mighty emperor who lorded over the sub-continent for about five decades lie in a modest tomb in a non-descript town of Khuldabad, about 30 kilometers from Aurangabad.

Aurangzeb died in Ahmednagar(1707 C.E.),  but he had a desire to be interred near the tomb of his Islamic guru, Sayyad Zainuddin Shirazi at Khuldabad.

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Entrance to the complex

Originally, his tomb was open and on all sides. Lord Curzon directed the then Nizam to put up marble panels all around. The top is still open to the sky.

A blind caretaker Sheikh Hakim was at the site when I visited and was most helpful.

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Sheik Hakim -the helpful caretaker

_DSC5063Aurangazeb’s son and his wife are also buried near the emperor’s tomb and Zainuddin Shirazi’s dargah is just behind. Behind the dargah there is a small room which is believed to house the robes of the prophet.

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tomb’s of Aurangzeb’s son, his wife and another woman
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The enclusre with the sacred robe and Md Altaf

Across the narrow and busy street is the dargah of Sayyad Burhanuddin another notable teacher. The tomb of the first Nizam is also in this complex.

The whole complex is devoid of any visual or architectural attraction but it stands as a testimony to the frugality of a mighty emperor who hailed from a dynasty which took pride in building grandiose monuments and tombs.

Bibi ka Maqbara, the poor man’s Taj Mahal

Bibi ka Maqbara,, Aurangabad - Taj Mahal on a budget
Bibi ka Maqbara,, Aurangabad – Taj Mahal on a budget

The Bibi ka Maqbara was built by the son of Aurangazeb, Azam Shah, in memory of his mother. Aurangazeb was never keen on building monuments and he was also stingy. He sanctioned only Rs.7 lakh for this project.The son finished the project in about 6,68,000 Rupees (cf. Taj Mahal Rs 320,00,000) . Only the domes and doors are made of marble. A lot of it is brick and lime mortar with eggshells.
The monument resembles Taj but it is clear that it is an imitation. Yet it is worth a visit.