Friday, June 29, 2007

The Red Fort

A good news for India- the Red Fort has been included in the Unesco's World heritage list. Qutub Minar and Humayun's Tomb are other two monuments in Delhi that made it to the list in 1993. Unesco norms bind the government and all other organizations concerned with the monuments with an obligation to maintain and preserve the site. The Unisco's World Heritage Committee lists properties that it considers part of the planet's cultural. They recognize heritages that have 'outstanding universal value'.

History: The Red Fort was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh Muslim city at Delhi. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign, and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests. The Red Fort stands at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, and gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone that defines its four sides. The wall is 1.5 miles long, and varies in height from 60ft on the river side to 110 ft towards the city. Measurements have shown that the plan was generated using a square grid of 82 m.
The fort lies along the
Yamuna River, which fed the moats that surround most of the wall. The wall at its north-eastern corner is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, a defense built by Islam Shah Sur in 1546. Construction on the Red Fort began in 1638 and was complete by 1648. On 11 March 1783 Sikhs entered Red fort in Delhi and occupied the Diwan-i-Am. The city was surrendered by the Mughal wazir in cahoots with his Sikh Allies. This task was carried out under the command of the Sardar Baghel Singh Dhaliwal of the Karor Singhia misl.

After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, when the Fort was used by the rebels, the British army occupied and destroyed many of its pavilions and gardens.
The Red Fort still attracts the tourists from all over the world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Humayun's Tomb

The rule of Sultans over India was almost over by 1526. Next in hordes came the Mughals. They ruled over India till 1857, when the British took over the charge. Mughals too contributed to the spectacular architectures of India. One of the most spectacular Mughal buildings, Humayun's tomb in Delhi was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1993. Built by Haji Begum, the widow of Humanyun, the second Mughal Emperor, the mausoleum is regarded as the precursor of the Taj Mahal. Built with a cost of about one and a half million rupees, the monument heralded the construction of garden-tombs in the Indian subcontinent.
As soon as one enters the massive double-storeyed gateway, the majesty of the building infuse awe. High walls surrounds a square garden which is divided into four large squares separated by causeways and water channels.
Each square, in turn, is divided into smaller squares by pathways. This is a typical Mughal style garden known as charbagh. Highly developed engineering skills were employed in the laying out the fountains. Red, black and yellow sandstones were used to give variation. Humanyun's Tomb came into the limelight during the First War of Indian Independence also called Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. When the uprising failed, Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor, took refuge in the tomb, before he was sent to the Rangoon jail in Myanmar by the British.
The tomb stands majestically at the center of the enclosure and rises from a platform faced with a series of cells with arched openings. The Humayun's Tomb contains many small monuments. Chief among them are black and yellow marble tomb of Humayun's wife and the tomb of Humayun's barber. Referred to as Nai Ka Gumbad, the barber's tomb is an impressive square tomb with a double-dome

Monday, June 25, 2007

Razia Sultana

The Sultans (a king is called Sultan in Turky language), who ruled over India from Delhi have were reputed for a their colourful lifestyle. They ruled with passion, and perhaps it was their passion (for debauchery) that spell their doom. However, there was one remarkable women ruler among the Sultans of Delhi. She was Razia Sultana. She succeeded her father Iltutmish to the Sultanate of Delhi in 1236. Iltutmish became the first sultan to appoint a woman as his successor. He designated his daughter Razia as his heir. (Iltumish's eldest son had initially been groomed as his successor, but had died prematurely.) But the Muslim nobility had no intention of acceding to Iltutmish's disregard for tradition in appointing a woman as heir, and after death of sultan in 1236, Razia's brother, Ruknuddin Feroze Shah, was elevated to the throne. Ruknuddin's reign was short. With Iltutmish's widow Shah Turkaan for all practical purposes running the government, Ruknuddin abandoned himself to the pursuit of personal pleasure and debauchery, to the considerable outrage of the citizenry. On November 9, 1236, both Ruknuddin and his mother Shah Turkaan were put to death--after only six months in power. With reluctance, the nobility next agreed to allow Razia to reign as sultana of Delhi. As a child and adolescent, Razia had had little contact with the women of the harem, so she had little opportunity to learn the customary behavior of women in the Muslim society in which she was born. Even before she became queen--during her father's reign--she was preoccupied with the affairs of the state. As sultana, Razia adopted men's dress; and contrary to custom, she would later show her face when she later rode an elephant into battle at the head of her army. A shrewd politician, Razia managed to keep the nobles in check, while enlisting the support of the army and the populace. Her greatest accomplishment on the political front was to manipulate rebel factions into opposing each other. At that point, Razia seemed destined to become one of the most powerful rulers of the Delhi sultanate.
But the sultana miscounted the consequences that a special relationship with one of her Assyrian slaves,
Jalal-ud-din Yaqut, would have for her reign. According to some accounts, Razia and Yaqut were lovers; other sources simply identify them as close confidants. In any case, before long she had aroused the jealousy of the Muslim nobility by the favoritism she displayed toward Yaqut. Eventually, the governor of Bhatinda, a childhood friend named Malik Ikhtiar-ud-din Altunia, rebelled, refusing any longer to accept Razia's authority.
A battle between Razia and Altunia ensued, with the result that Yaqut was killed, and Razia taken prisoner. To escape death, Razia agreed to marry Altunia. Meanwhile, Razia's brother, Muiuddin Bahram Shah, had usurped the throne. After Altunia and Razia undertook to take back the sultanate from Bahram through battle, both Razia and her husband--neither more than 30 years of age--were killed on October 14, 1240. Bahram, for his part, would later be dethroned for incompetence.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

British Architecture

Various buildings built by the British in India are our most prized heritage. South Block, administrative building in New Delhi is no less than Taz Mahal in grandure. India is full of such great buildings constructed by the British under their rule. The Archetecture of the building adapts to the climate of Delhi.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moving In Delhi

Delhi is cooler today. Jaiselmer in Rajasthan (India) recorded a maximum of 51 degree celcius. Wow! that's not cool man! I love wandering in Delhi with my backpack whenever I find the temperature a bit down the scale. I have seen most of Delhi just by roaming using cheap public transportation like Buses and the Metro. Autorickshaws ofcourse are not cheaper. The Metro rail has also made it much easier to coummute in Delhi. Though it doesn't take you to every places in Delhi. The Metro network is expanding. I have also taken pictures of many monumments and places in Delhi. Soon I am going to post them on this blog.

Heat and the Taz Mahal.

The heat in Delhi shows no sign of abetting. A few dozen people, mostly poors have died due to heat stroke. But many people keep going about their business unmindful of the heat. I found Deshehri and Safeda variety of Mango selling cheaper. They were a tasty lot. This year I haven't tasted the litcchis from Bihar. The fruit,though of Chinese origin, is widely cultivated in hotter parts of Northern India. They are blood red with a thin coveing and the white juicy pulp inside tastes simply great. Everybody in Delhi is presently hoping for rains to cool down the temperature a bit.

Delhi has so many meadival monuments to see. They were, most of them built by the Muslim rulers of India. They are prized possesion of India. Agra, a two hours journey from New Delhi has a great monument called Taz Mahal. It is majestically beautiful. The taz Mahal is also in fray to be included in the 7 wonders of the world. I hope that it does get included so the tourist flow to it would increase manyfold. Taz deserves to be admired and appreciated for its grandure.