Biggest Cannon, but Never Used

Jaivana, the biggest cannon

If you are visiting Jaigarh fort in Jaipur you are sure to see Jaivana, believed to be the biggest cannon in the world. It was cast by Maharaja Jaisingh II in 1720. Jai Singh II took a keen interest in developing armory and munitions. Perhaps he also wanted to impress his Mughal overlords. The gigantic proportion of the gun is quite impressive. It is 20 feet long and weighs 50 tonnes. But the size and weight itself would have been a weakness. It was (test) fired only once. Folklore has it that the 50 kg cannonball traveled 45 kms. Ballistics experts reckon that it would not have been more than 5 kms. Definitely worth ticking the box if you visit Jaigarh.

 

Historical Structure in Ruins

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Reflections on the ruins of Poosimalai kuppam Palace
Reflections on the ruins of Poosimalai kuppam Palace

Poosimalaikuappam Palace in Arni was built as a guest house by the Jagirdhar in 1860 CE. To keep up with the British, he added 4 fireplaces and chimneys even though the place is always hot. It was one of the early structures to use steel girders. CI pipes serve the dual purpose of pillars and drains. It is believed that the Jagirdhar built it for his British wife. It was used as a hunting lodge. Locals refer to it as Glass Palace. Today, it is in ruins and wears a ghostly look with graffiti on the walls by vandals.

Chand Minar, Daulatabad

Chand Minar 15 C.C.E Daulatabad
Chand Minar 15 C.C.E Daulatabad

Daulatabad or Devagiri was established in the 12th Century CE by the Yadavas. The present fort was built in 13-14 C.CE. It is 16 Km from the present day Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

The Chand Minar stands tall inside the Daulatabad Fort. It is 210 feet high and is about 70′ in diameter at the base. It was built in 1445 by Alauddin Bahmani to commemorate his conquest of the fort. Originally it was covered with Blue Persian tiles.

 

Pachisi- the Game Emperors Play

Do you want to feel like royalty, playing an ancient Indian Game?

A game for which emperor Akbar built a huge courtyard in his palace at Fatehpur Sikri to depict the squares of the board. Akbar is believed to have used women from his harem as game pieces.

Pachisi Courtyard at Fatehpur Sikri
Pachisi Courtyard at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri in front of Panch mahal
Chaupad squares at Fatehpur Sikri

I have also seen the board carved on granite floors of ancient temples and monuments.

Yes, I am referring to Pachisi. The game that is also known as Dayakattam, Chokkattam, Chaupad, Chaupar etc. The Western versions of this game, go by many names like Parchisi, Ludo, The Game of India etc.

Now you can buy an authentic version of this game online at Amazon and Flipkart. The game board is made of hand embroidered cotton and comes with cowrie shells, wooden pieces, cotton pouch, instructions etc.

For Amazon click here.

For Flipkart click here.

Ludo made out of recycled elephant dung is available at www.golisodastore.com

Pachisi Indian Board game
Pachisi authentic Hand embroidered game board

Largest monolithic Nandi at Lepakshi

Granite Nandi at Lepakshi
Granite Nandi at Lepakshi

The monolithic granite Nandi (Bull) is believed to be the largest in India. Built during the Vijayanagar period(14th C CE) it is part of a large temple complex. The exquisite carvings of bell garland, jewellery etc. stand out beside the size.

It is 4.5 Mtrs high and 8.25 Mtrs long. The Thanjavur Big Temple Nandi is smaller.

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.

There was also an Indian Ghee brand called Cow & Krishna.

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

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….

Surprising find in heart of Delhi

A historical town like Delhi can throw up surprises. One such surprise to me was the Agrasen ki Baoli. It is situated on Hailey lane a kilometer from CP but still under the shadows of its multi-storey buildings.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

This was believed to have been built by king Ugrasen of the Mahabharat era but rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the14th century. It is about 60 m long and 15 M wide. It has about 100 steps.

The main well shaft opens out to the sky and there was no water when I visited. The rubble and stone masonry is well preserved (probably recently renovated).

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Unlike the step wells of Gujarat,this  has no sculptures.

Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli

There were hardly any tourists when I visited but many young students and couples. The monument became more popular thanks to a controversial Hindi movie.

Agrasen ki Baoli
100 + steps

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