How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Name:
Location: India

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

ek yaatraa - IV

Day 1: Varanasi, 28 Dec. 2004, Tuesday

Vishalakshi temple
On the way back through the alleys from the Kashi Vishwanath temple, we paid a quick visit to a temple to Goddess Vishalakshi, which held more significance for South Indian devotees of Goddess Kamakshi, according to the boatman. The idol was invisible being behind a curtain, and so we just made a quick pradakshiNaa and came out.
We made our way back to Lalita ghat and into the boat, and the boatman rowed us back to Kedar ghat, where we got back into our autorickshaw.

'Ye PSPO nahin jaanataa!'
My father asked the auto-wallah if he knew where Ustad Bismillah Khan's house was. Far from knowing the house, the auto-wallah did not know who the Ustad was :(. He had to call a passerby who informed us about the way. But ultimately, we did not visit the place.

Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalay
We were now very wary of temples, so we asked the auto-wallah to take us directly to Banaras Hindu University. After a while, we entered the imposing archway of the famous place of learning. The entire campus is huge and we noticed a lot of departments, including Sanskrut,
Hindi, botany, chemistry, the Institute of Technology, etc. The central library was also a big building. The library had been built by Sayajirao Gaekwad of Vadodara.
Here, the auto-wallah led us to another temple - the new Vishwanath temple. Here there are no panda-s and so we went in. In the centre of the huge compound of the temple stands the statue of the founder of BHU - Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya. The temple is also an imposing structure. Inside, it has a vast hall with the ling at the end and a big nandi outside the right door. The marble flooring inside was very cold to the touch.

Ramnagar Fort
Our next halt was on the other side of the river Ganga, where Varanasi gives way to Ramnagar. The road on either side of the river-bridge was extremely bad. In fact, there was no asphalt road. It was just a brick road that gave an exercise to every bone in the body inside the autorickshaw. The bridge is a historic one constructed by the king who ruled from the Ramnagar fort. It has stone railings with the floor consisting of iron sheets supported below by wooden sleepers. Now the entire bridge has pontoons below for support. Here the Ganga is
very wide indeed, for the bridge is easily more than a kilometre long.
The fort made of red stone is a prominent sight in rustic Ramnagar. It is vast inside, housing numerous structures. One of the buildings has been converted into a museum. It houses the usual regalia - numerous weapons of all kinds (guns, daggers, swords, arrows), royal clothing, palanquins, foreign and local-make clocks, portraits, etc. One room had portraits of friendly kings including those of Gwalior, Patiala (the infamous Bhupinder Singh) and the Rao of Kutch. The king of Ramnagar had bowed to the British and many photographs of British
gents and ladies were present.
The other buildings are all closed to the public and so we made our way back to the auto.

Sankat Mochan temple
The auto-wallah next brought us to the Sankat Mochan (Hanuman) temple. This temple also has very large grounds with a large number of red-faced monkeys. There was quite a crowd in the main temple and so we just made one pradakshiNaa of the temple and came out. There were a large variety of sweets available as prasad here and we bought magdal from here. Now we just wanted to go back to the hotel as we were tired and hadn't had lunch. The auto-wallah really wanted us to see the Durga-ji temple and the Tulsimanas Mandir, but we just asked him to go on. He also wanted us to see the market for Banarasi saari-s, but we were not
interested in that as well.
The auto-wallah took a route from the lanes and bylanes of Varanasi. The whole maze seemed never-ending as we were tired. But we got the real view of Varanasi. It is cramped for space and very dirty, as most Indian towns and cities are.
The rest of the day was spent in the hotel and we just got out in the evening to buy some wool and have dinner. Ultimately, it had been a good day in which we had taken in a lot of sights and sounds.

(continued...)

3 Comments:

Blogger ASHOK VAISHNAV said...

The competing institution of (almost)equal fame- AMU was established by Sir Syed. I have now to find whther he is the same person who owned erstwhile Swaraj Bhavan.

9:26 AM  
Blogger ASHOK VAISHNAV said...

" Aligarh Muslim University should take maximum benefit of new opportunities which globalization of world economy has presented to it", said Sh. A.R. Kidwai, eminent scientist and Governor of Haryana while speaking on the occasion of Sir Syed Day 2004. Sir Syed was one of the first leaders who fully understood the significance of scientific temper and free enquiry, In 20th century Aligarh Muslim University was successful in achieving the high goals set by its founder but 21st century has come up with new challenges in the field of information technology, genetics and bio-technology. The University must update its existing syllabi and start new and relevant professional courses so that it retains the position of being leader in academic world in this century as well," said seasoned parliamentarian and former faculty member of Aligarh Muslim University.

Paying glowing tribute to the founder of AMU, former Governor of Bihar and West Bengal recalled his memories of Aligarh and said that whatever he achieved in life is only due to Aligarh and the training he received here. He owes all his achievements to this great seat of learning.

Mr. Naseem Ahmad, Vice Chancellor, AMU in his welcome address highlighted the ideas of Sir Syed and urged the University Community to make concerted efforts to achieve excellence so that the University fulfils Sir Syed's dream. He expressed his satisfaction that the university has a long list of icons as its alumni. He hoped that the university will now focus in achieving excellence because Sir Syed was interested in making Aligarh Muslim University as one of the best institution in the world.

Prof. Farhatullah Khan, a renowned Professor of English said that the freedom movement against British was in fact started by Sir Syed in 1858 when he listed the reasons of revolt of 1857. Islam itself emphasizes education and the very first word of Quran revealed to the Prophet was Iqra i.e., read, said ex-chairman of Department of English.

Prof. Hamida Ahmad, former Member of University Grants Commission called upon the students to develop competitive sprit. She said success ratio of Aligarh students is much higher compared to other universities. The best student of A.M.U. is comparable to the best in the world. said eminent psychologist and former chairperson of psychology department.

Mr. Naseem Ashraf, newly elected President of AMU students' Union also paid rich tributes to the founder and expressed the hope that the new generation of Aligarh will live up to the high standards set by its founder."
Copied from www.amu.ac.in on Sir Syed Day 2004

9:36 AM  
Blogger ASHOK VAISHNAV said...

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, one of the architects of modern India was born on October 17, 1817 in Delhi. His father Syed Mohammad Muttaqi was a Mughal noble descendent who had, in the time of Akbar, migrated to India from Herat.

The 1857 revolt was one of the turning points of Syed Ahmad’s life. Before it, his career had been that of a civil servant and a scholar. Most of the historical works, which were to win him an honorary fellowship of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, were completed before 1857. In 1847, he published the famous archaeological masterpiece, ‘Asarus Sanadeed’ – a book that provided a wealth of information on countless historical monuments in Delhi from the eight hundred year long Muslim era.

In 1855, he published yet another book ‘Ain-e-Akbari’. After the 1857 revolt, Syed Ahmad authored the marvelous book ‘Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind' (The causes of Indian Revolt). The publication of this book in 1859 was, in fact, Syed Ahmad’s induction to public life. He also witnessed the terrible revenge the British wrought on Delhi and its inhabitants after the city was recaptured in September 1857. At personal level, he found an uncle and a cousin dead; his aunt died of thirst before his eyes; he succeeded in rescuing his mother only for her to die because of the privations she had experienced. Muslims were the main target of the Government’s wrath.
In spite of all the suffering, Syed Ahmad was highly impressed by the culture and customs of Western society. He instituted Scientific Society in 1864 to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims and to make the Western knowledge available to Indians in their own language. He got translated many scientific works from English into Urdu.
The Aligarh Institute Gazette, an organ of the Scientific Society was started in March 1866 and succeeded in agitating the minds in the traditional Muslim Society. Anyone with a poor level of commitment would have backed off in the face of strong opposition but Sir Syed responded by bringing out another journal ‘Tehzibul Akhlaq’ which was rightly named in English as ‘Mohammedan Social Reformer’. The Tehzibul Akhlaq succeeded in infusing a new desire amongst Muslims for acquiring modern knowledge. It also gave a new direction to Muslim social and political thought. It advocated the stance that Muslims should avoid getting involved in political issues until they achieved parity with the Hindu community in the field of education.

9:39 AM  

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