Monday, April 21, 2014

Explore stunning Islamic architecture in historic Bidar, Karnataka

Ararb News posted Bidar News in its website..

The historic Bidar in the federal state of Karnataka in India now finds itself on the world map of heritage tourism as it figures in the 2014 World Monuments Watch list released by the World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based NGO working for the protection of monuments. I was in Bidar last year especially to feel what a premier madrasa (religious seminary) would look like in the yore. It was in a Muslim country that the world’s first university was established in 859 in Fez, Morocco.
Madrasa Mahmud Gawan in Bidar, a university of repute in the 15th Century, still reverberates with sounds of teaching and reminds us that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition. I could not hold my breath when my journalist friend Ramjan Dargah and I stood in awe in front of a massive structure, still intact with substantial damages. “This is Madrasa Mahmud Gawan,” my journalist friend proudly told me. Anyone who visits this site will seemingly get bowled over by the sheer magnitude and grace of this once great abode of learning.”
Dargah shared with me that this madrasa or college was built by Khwaja Mohammad Gilani, fondly called Khwaja Mahmud Gawan, a merchant who arrived from Persia in Bidar when it was ruled by the Bahmani kings in 1453. The splendid university, built in 1472, bears unmistakable testimony to the scholarly genius of Mahmud Gawan, who first came to Delhi as a trader from Gilan in Iran and moved to Bidar in 1453.

Remembering a titan of Hyderabad’s heritage

Remembering a titan of Hyderabad’s heritage

He played cricket and football for St Stephen's Delhi with distinction. He did his masters in English as well as Arabic and he topped Punjab University in Persian. And if you are to name a saviour of the cave art of Ajanta and Ellora it is him: Ghulam Yazdani, a Padma Bhushan awardee as well as a recipient of OBE (Order of British Empire).
As the Archaeology Department of Andhra Pradesh marks its 100 years the coming Friday, it is time to remember the man who created the department out of nothing.
If Hyderabad has a vestige of its heritage left, it is thanks to him. Deputed to Hyderabad as a Superintendent in 1914, he brought with him his expertise, energy and accountability. Not for him the claptrap of archaeology department doing the job of cataloguing and executing conservation work, Yazdani was a hands on man who got a road laid between Hyderabad and Bidar to protect the Bahamani heritage of Bidar and also between Toli Masjid and Golconda.
A man of sharp wit, he dismisses the decorative motifs of Toli Masjid as: "The impression made by such buildings overloaded with decorations is like the impression left by the ostentatious and lavish display of personal adornment, generally favoured by lowly persons suddenly become rich."
For the restoration of the Ellora cave art, he tried to get Luigi Cavenaghi, the man linked to restoration of Leonardo's Last Supper, to work on the paintings. Unfortunately, he could get only Lorenzo Cecconi, who applied shellac on the paintings, ruining them further. Ghulam Yazdani published a series of photographs and reproductions of the cave art with his explanations.
And by the way, Ghulam Yazdani's salary was ` 560 per month. And just recently, the Archeology Department found it fit to name its museum after YS Rajasekhara Reddy!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

There is cause of action to hold trial against Ashok Kheny: High Court

In a setback to Bidar South MLA Ashok Kheny, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday held there was “cause of action to hold trial” against him based on the allegations made in a petition that has questioned the legality of his election.

Justice K.N. Keshavanarayana passed the order, while rejecting an application filed by Mr. Kheny seeking dismissal of the petition. The petition was filed by T.J. Abraham, who contested against Mr. Kheny in the 2013 Assembly elections. Mr. Kheny, in his application, claimed that the material produced by Mr. Abraham did not show any cause of action to conduct trial to decide on legality of his election. The court observed: “It can’t be said that there are no triable issues in the case and it can’t be said that petition does not disclose a cause of action. By reading the petition as a whole, I am satisfied that it discloses cause of action and this is not a matter which can be thrown out at the threshold.” The petitioner had claimed that Mr. Kheny could not have been allowed to contest the elections as he ceased to be a citizen of India after voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of a foreign country as per the Citizenship Act. The petition also claimed that Mr. Kheny was disqualified from contesting elections under Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as he had a business contract with the State government pertaining to the Bangalore–Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project in addition to “not [being] a voter” in Bidar South constituency.

Denying these allegations, Mr. Kheny said he was a citizen of India and was a voter of the constituency.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bidar abounds in wildlife

Diverse fauna B V Prakash finds a sizeable population of blackbucks in the plains
of blackbucks roaming freelyin the wild together witha variety of birds, foxes, porcupines and hares.

The northern part of the state is generally considered to be a dry belt, devoid of water bodies, vegetation and wildlife. But the surroundings of Bidar, the northern most district, seems to be an exception.

For not only a few large reservoirs like the Karanja are around, but pockets of sparsely wooded forests are found fairly well in these parts.

The vast grasslands and the wooded country are home to blackbucks and a plethora of bird species.

After Ranebennur Blackbuck Sanctuary in Haveri district and Jayamangali Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in Tumkur district, a sizeable population of blackbucks is found in the plains of Bidar as I learnt during a recent visit here.

Apart from sighting free roaming blackbucks in the wild, one can also spot a good variety of birds, some rare species at that.

Some smaller animals like the fox, porcupine, black-naped hare and wild boars add to the diverse fauna.

The weather was fair and the sky, a clear blue as I arrived after an exhaustive train journey of 18 hours.

As the drive to the grasslands to sight the blackbucks was slated for the afternoon, lunch and rest was the only immediate occupation.

However, I utilised the time to take a walk around and familiarise with the place.

Abundant greenery

Situated near a small village called Khanapur at about 16 km west of Bidar, the location itself is in a scenic surrounding with a gently forested hill to the east gradually sloping towards west to the brink of a beautiful blue lake.

Called Vilaspur tank after the village nearby, it is an expansive reservoir built for the purpose of drinking and irrigation.

With a chain of not so tall hillocks on the other side, the lake is almost hidden.

The afternoon safari took off in right earnest with Nipun, the enthusiastic manager joining me for the drive.

It was not just a driver but a well-informed naturalist as I learnt during the safari. Passing through the town, we drove southward to a vast field of grassy meadows.

The terrain with undulating ups and downs, abundant grass and bushes and a small tank is quite ideal for the blackbucks.

The far side of the plains is walled off by the air force station which being out of bounds for visitors, has become a boon for the these animals to roam around freely.

As we drove into the fields, we could see groups of blackbucks like tiny specks from the distance.

But the first denizen that we bumped into was the Indian fox, which is a rare sighting here.

When the fox felt our presence was not too comfortable, it galloped away into the bushes.

Driving further we were more closer to the blackbucks.

They usually wander in groups of 10 to 30 or even more with one or two males in charge of the herd.

The males have a pair of antlers and are dark brownish and black.

The females are light fawn coloured and smaller in size.

It was a surprise for me to know that the blackbucks are native only to the Indian subcontinent.

The blackbucks once roamed freely all over the plains of India but their numbers reduced drastically with excessive hunting and encroachment of their habitat for agriculture and industry.

However, categorising blackbucks as ‘near threatened species’ by International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2003, has come as a blessing and their population seems to have stabilised to some extent.

We drove along several herds of them, grazing, strolling or sparring before spotting a rare bird, the Indian Courser.

The following morning we went out for a nature walk amidst the nature.

The bird-life here is pretty good with scores of green bee eaters, robins, sunbirds and red vented bulbuls.

But the best sighting was that of the white-browed bulbul.
The evening was spent on a coracle ride spotting more birds.
As ducks, cormorants and kingfishers passed by, a panoramic sunset marked the end of the day.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Call to conserve Bidar’s architectural heritage

World Monument Fund representatives visited Bidar recently to visit important monuments and discuss plans to protect them with officials.

Mark Weber, field projects director, and Amita Baig, WMF representative in India visited the Karez system of underground water canals, the fort gates and the triple moat surrounding the royal enclosure in the fort on Monday.

Later, they held discussions with historians like B.R. Konda, and officials of the district administration.

Mr. Weber said that in Bikaner, Rajasthan, the city municipal council and NGOs had organised a Watch Day with the theme of ‘Keep Bikaner Clean’. He suggested celebrating Watch Day in Bidar with a similar theme. This would contribute towards creating awareness about the heritage of the city and the need to conserve it, he said.

Ms. Baig appreciated the plans of the district administration to organise an international seminar on the Karez systems in a few months. She assured of all technical support to the government in protection of monuments.

Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said the district administration was seeking the partnership of various agencies to protect monuments and promote tourism. Subir Hari Singh, chief advisor, Indian Heritage Cities Network, Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, Zilla Panchayat chief executive officer, Sunil Panwar, deputy conservator of forests, were present.

Suggest organising a ‘Watch Day’ to spread awareness on cultural conservation