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….

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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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.

The Gates of Aurangabad

I came across the word ‘Darwaza’ when I entered  IIM, Ahmedabad in 1969.The city’s Lal Darwaza and Teen Darwaza were commercial centres as well as traffic hubs. I knew little about their historical significance.

During my summer job in Delhi in 1970, I became familiar with Ajmeri Gate and Kashmiri Gate and also Lahori Gate and Delhi(!) Gate. In fact, I was staying in a college hostel right on Ajmeri gate not far from the seamy quarters of this historical city.

Historically, these darwazas or gates have been integral parts of the fortified medieval cities. They aided in security and defence and also in collecting taxes and tolls.

In term of number of gates, Aurangabad tops the list with 52 gates. Of these 52, only 10 or 12 remain today. I could see and capture in my camera 5 or 6 of these during my visit last month.

The original name of the city was Khadki. it was the seat of power of Malik Amber, the Prime Minister of Murtaza Nizam of Ahmednagar. Some of the earliest gates (Bhadkal?) were built by him. His son who succeeded him renamed the city Fatehnagar. When the Mughals captured the city Aurangazeb was made the Viceroy by the Shah Jahan. Auraganzeb renamed it after himself – Aurangabad.

Delhi Darwaza
Delhi Darwaza (North)
Rangeen Gate
Rangeen Gate
Mahmud Darwaza at Panchakki
Mahmud Darwaza at Panchakki
Zafar Gate
Zafar Gate
Makkai Darwaza - Mecca Gate
Makkai Darwaza – Mecca Gate (West)

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.