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Vol 24 No.

1/2010 ISSN 0970 5074

VOL 24 NO. 1/2010


Man milking a cow, Krishna Mandapa, Mamallapuram, 7th century.

This is an endearing image of a cow being milked, while she lovingly licks her calf.
Such depictions bring alive the village scene made in the Krishna Mandapa cave.
Photograph: Benoy K Behl.

Navdeep Suri
Assistant Editor
Neelu Rohra

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This edition is published for the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi
by Navdeep Suri, Joint Secretary, Public Diplomacy Division.
Designed and printed by Ajanta Offset & Packagings Ltd., Delhi-110052.
Bonding through Melody: Tribute
Indian Music Goes Global Leela Naidu
In this issue of India Perspectives, the first one of 2010, we bring
to our readers an unusual blend of articles that reflect not
just India’s magnificent cultural heritage but also its growing
technological sophistication. Aesthetic Grandeur
Benoy Behl’s essay on the finesse displayed by our craftsmen in of Mughal Gardens
the 7 th century temples at Mamallapuram is juxtaposed with SHUBHRA MAZUMDAR 2
Shubhra Mazumdar’s write up on the aesthetics and symmetry Dhokra Craft: Heritage Sports
of the Mughal Gardens. Leela Venkatraman links Protima Bedi’s Transcending Time Hockey on Horse Back:
dramatic encounter with Odissi dance with the establishment REKHA SHANKAR 38 Manipuri’s Traditions
of Nrityagram, while Madhushree Chatterjee brings out the of Polo
growing global popularity of different strands of Indian music. Lucknow DEBABRATA BANERJEE 78
To add variety, we explain the intricacies of Dhokra craft and and its Street Food
Sacred Plants in
the inducements of Lucknow’s street cuisine. The articles on ANIL MEHROTRA 44 Indian Lore...
Manipur’s tradition of polo and on India’s sacred plants, the PRAN NEVILE 82
tribute to Leela Naidu and the report on the Jaipur Literature A New Spring in
Festival continue our magazine’s tradition of bringing a diverse India-Bangladesh Ties
menu of cultural offerings to our readers. MANISH CHAND 50
The Indian Institute of Science, now a hundred years old, Living Rocks of
Mamallapuram Bandra-Worli Sea Link:
provides the bridge between the ancient and the modern, An Engineering Marvel
between the cultural and the technological. It is part of our QUAID NAJMI 54
on-going series to profile some of India’s finest academic
institutions and leads us to the quartet of articles on science and Automobiles
technology. The two on tele-medicine and on stem cells research Designed to Win The Charms of the
explore the quest for cutting-edge technology for delivery of 58
ANNAMMA OOMMEN Jaipur Literature Festival
high quality and affordable health care, while the ones on
automobiles and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link are a testimony to
One Hundred Years of
design and engineering skills. The Indian Institute Book Review

The important visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the of Science Himalaya:
wide-ranging agreements signed during the visit add a slight P. BALARAM 66 View from a
Camera in the Clouds
political flavour to this issue.
A unique experiment in SUDHIR SAHI 94
Our next issue will be a special edition on Rabindranath Tagore Tele-Medicine 70
but more about that later.
Meanwhile, happy reading. As always, we value yyour feedback. Nrityagram and Stem Cells towards a
the Passion for Dance Disease-Free Tomorrow Front cover: Bijayini Satpathy
LEELA VENKATARAMAN 22 RICHA SHARMA 72 and Surupa Sen in an Odissi pose.
Photo: Deepak Mudgal

Navdeep Suri
Grandeur of

A garden by any yardstick

is an ordered design of
the outdoors, particularly
if the garden is one of the
numerous Mughal gardens
in India, designed to exude
the feeling of an exquisitely
enclosed bit of paradise on
earth, through its dignified
rules of layout philosophy.

F or the emperor himself,

the garden space was an
exterior imagery depicting
the grandeur of the imperial
power, while for the mystic
and religious minded, its
serene landscape embodied
the concept of the Charbagh
(four gardens) or the even
older concept, described in
the Book of Genesis, of a river
that ran out of the Garden of
Eden and thereafter, parted into
‘four heads’.
Paradoxically, this highbrow
thematic connection with
ideology completely sloughs
off when one is actually inside
one of the Mughal gardens.
What strikes one at that time is
Amit Mehra

the manner in which the space

Nishat Garden, Srinagar, Kashmir

has been arranged for both Their rectangular arrangement sides carved, with the wash of
utility and ornamentation. The is the most economical way of the stream running over these
engineering skill of constructed irrigating land. Instead of letting designed engravings. In the
water channels to irrigate the these channels run mundanely moonlight, when the carvings
garden forms its rigid persona. the Mughal penchant for were obliterated, the pearly
On the other hand, the planted aesthetics exploited this lustre of the water element
fruit trees and exotic plant essential element into the focal suggested a living force,
species growing luxuriantly, point of their garden art. caressed by the surroundings.
relay a comfortable duality of
Using feats of engineering, Who then were the builders
form and freedom.
visual appeal and even aural of these gardens? Apart from
Currently, these gardens might accents the water was made the emperors themselves, it
have outlived their horticultural to descend into the garden was the princesses of the royal
importance as fruit orchards from a height, simulating the household who have left their
or botanical exhibits, but their effect of a cascading waterfall. mark on garden building in
close link with agricultural Dismissing notions of creating Mughal times. The very first
traditions lives on, as these the wild outdoors, these significant one of them was
Chasma Shahi and Shalimar Bagh,
Srinagar (right & below) and Charbagh,
spaces were outstanding channels were contained within Hamida Banu Begum, the
Agra (facing page). examples of water utilization. a stone cascade, which had its principal widow of Emperor
Amit Mehra

Humayun, who had ordered a piece of paradise. Centuries oasis of peace away from the was nurtured at the emperor’s the idea of eternity. The dark
garden to be laid around the later, other princesses of the intrigues of the Mughal court. behest. Naturally, ceremonial cypress tree symbolized the
tomb of the late emperor. It royal household, notably the At about this time, one of the occasions of importance were dark unknown, or death. It
became the first tomb garden in daughters of the Emperor Shah Emperor’s wives Akbarabadi, preferably held in the garden, was invariably intertwined
India, with its 30-acre premises Jahan, pursued the art with built a garden in Delhi’s explaining why Aurangzeb chose with a flowering creeper or
adjoining the banks of the river aplomb. Princess Jahanara, Shalimar Bagh. It was a replica to be crowned at the Shalimar a rose in bloom, symbolizing
Yamuna. While incorporating carried the tradition to the town of the garden by that name in Bagh, rather than the grander life. The cycle of life and the
the Charbagh design style of Ambala, located at the water Kashmir. Red Fort, built by his father. continuation of eternity was
of Emperor Babur, its square divide between the Ganga and even engraved in stone as
Not just pleasure retreats for In life as in death, the garden
grid was subdivided with the Indus river systems. is evident in the floral inlay
royalty, the Mughal garden also complex of the Mughals was
help of water channels. A wall adorning the Taj Mahal.
Her sister Roshanara, has left symbolised territorial control. to serve the emperor in equal
built of rubble surrounded this
behind Delhi’s Roshanara The emperor resided in this measure. Hence the plants for Settings for these cameo-like
The garden around the tomb of
Bagh, earlier a surround of orderly space and every blade these gardens were chosen spaces of greenery was another
Emperor Humayun at New Delhi. dense forestry, creating an and every bough, grew and with a view to keeping alive of the astute aspects of the

Ashok Dilwali
Indian Mughal Garden. They
were showcased beside the
bank of a river, nestling at
the bottom of a hillside, or
overlooking a valley. Of the
latter, the best example is
the garden built in Kashmir,
between the surrounding hills
of the valley and beside the
largest natural lake of the state,
the Dal Lake. The flow of water
as it is channelised from a
height, gives the feeling of life
coursing through the veins of
greenery. The placid lakefront
and the progression of majestic
chinar plantings simulate the
approach of the emperor.
Sans hills, the garden drew its
strength from the adjoining
riverfront. The river flowing
beside the Taj entombed the
mausoleum almost womb-like,
while the walls demarcated the
hustle of the bazaar and the
dusty expanse of the Yamuna
plains beyond. Similarly, the
gardens in forts and palaces
offered a panoramic spread
overlooking the countryside. It
was an uninterrupted view of
one’s conquest as one gazed
at the sprawl at the foot of the
Gradually from being scenes of
grandiose ceremonies, sources
of indulgent pleasures, resting
places of the high and mighty,
the garden became a place
for interpreting the colonial
presence. When Delhi became
the capital of India, the architect
Amit Mehra

An aerial view of Mughal Garden at

Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.

Lutyens, designed a Mughal
style garden in the Viceregal
Palace, now known as the
Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati
Bhavan. In its architectural
setting the garden of the 20th
century interprets the traditional
Mughal garden technique by
enclosing the space within
a walled compound. Water
channels running north to
south and east to west divide
the rectilinear plot into four,
while the borders of annuals
hark back to an English country
garden. Instead of becoming
a medley without a motive, it
is the Mughal element in this
garden framework that works as
its holistic formula.
And it is this ability to
incorporate into its fold the
adjustments of the times that
make Mughal gardens such
a resilient entity. Begun as
a beloved imperial pastime,
the Mughal Gardens are now
blueprints of formal layouts. In
their ability to accommodate
flexibility and preserve for
posterity, these gardens have
injected a keynote angle to our

The author is a noted writer on arts.
Prakash Israni

Another view of the Mughal Garden at

Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.

Living Rocks of
Text and photographs: BENOY K BEHL

The magnificent temples of Mamallapuram reflect

the fully developed styles of South Indian temples.

Shore Temple, Mamallapuram, 8 th century.

The balance and proportions of the two slender towers of the
Shore Temple make it one of the finest examples of Indian
structural temples. The sculpted details are in great harmony
with the overall conception. Nandis, made along the outer wall,
greet you and invite you into the sacred space beyond.

O n the shores of Tamil Nadu, on the eastern coast of peninsular
India, is a marvellous town of temples, carved out of rock.
Mamallapuram was one of the greatest sea-faring ports of
ancient times. In early times, this bustling town would have had a
great cosmopolitan culture. In its markets, people from Southeast
people. Boulders were carved into fine temples. Rocks were chiselled
into the shapes of animals.
The magnificent temples of Mamallapuram reflect fully developed
styles of South Indian temples. Obviously, such temples must have
been made for a long time prior to this period. The earlier ones must
Asia would have rubbed shoulders with Romans. Coins found here
have been made out of ephemeral materials and have not survived.
testify to extensive trade with Rome and other places, since at least the
1st century. Colonies of Romans are also known to have been present Facing the ancient port and not very far from it is one of the marvels
in this part of Tamil Nadu at that time. of the sculptural art of India. The face of a vast granite rock, almost
100 feet by 50 feet, has been transformed into a world of divine and
This port town was called Mamalai, or ‘great hill’. Narasimhavarman
earthly beings. This giant relief is believed to be of the early or middle
Pallava, known as Mamalla or the ‘Great Warrior’, expanded the
7th century.
facilities of the port in the 7th century. Ships sailed constantly from here
to Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Narasimhavarman changed the name This tableau presents the auspicious moment of the descent of the
of the port to Mamallapuram or ‘city of Mamalla’. river Ganga, to bestow her blessings and her treasure of fertility to
the world. Some scholars have also interpreted this scene to be of the
Here, over perhaps a hundred years, from about 630 to 728 AD,
penance of Arjuna, the hero of the epic Mahabharata. A deep cleft
marvellous monuments were cut out of outcrops of hard grey granite.
in the rock has been artfully used to represent the great river, as she
Cliff faces were transformed into a teeming world of animals and
Mahishasurmardini Cave, Mamallapuram, 7 th century. Even while great themes were made
Descent of the Ganga, Mamallapuram, 7 th century. One of the wonders of the art of in rock-cut relief at Mamallapuram, caves were excavated out of the hills, continuing the
Mamallapuram is the sensitive and naturalistic depiction of animals. The elephant appears as tradition seen in Western India. In the depth and silence of the interior, the worshipper was
if alive and its little ones steal the heart with their tender portrayal. presented the stories of deities, who personified great concepts and the qualities within us.

Gajalakshmi, Varaha Cave, Mamallapuram, 7 th century. This is the theme of the deity Varaha Avatara, Varaha Cave, Mamallapuram, mid 7 th century. To fight the confusion
Lakshmi, being lustrated by elephants. Since the Buddhist art of the 2nd century BC, and evil of ignorance, the deity Vishnu is envisaged as descending upon the earth as the
Gajalakshmi has been a perennial theme in Indic art. In fact, while it was mainly yakshas and powerful Varaha Avatara, in the form of a boar. He saves the earth goddess Bhu-devi from
yakshis, which were depicted then, she was the first formalized deity to be seen. Like the being drowned, representing the great power within us, which can save us from the ocean
yakshis she also represents the fruitful abundance of nature. of ignorance. The depiction is imbued with the grace and sophistication, which is seen in the
regally sponsored art of the Pallava period.

descends. In fact, there is a storage tank made above. On ceremonial Close by is another relief depicting the same subject. However, it is
occasions, water must have been let out to rush down the cleft, giving unfinished. A little to the left of the great ‘Descent of the Ganga’,
a sense of reality to the sacred scene. a Krishna Govardhan scene is carved out of a boulder. Lord Krishna
holds up the Govardhan mountain to protect the village from the fury
A teeming world in a forest has been created around the river. of the storm. It is a charming scene. With peace restored and the storm
About a hundred figures of animals, men, women and divine beings, forgotten, a cowherd plays the flute, another milks a cow. This is one
all turn in reverence towards the life-giving river. These are all made of the finest depictions of rustic life in Indian art.
approximately life-sized and with great sensitivity and naturalism.
In Pallava times, when this relief was made, there was no mandapa
The many beings, which populate the world created around the river, made in front of it. Therefore, we saw clearly the whole mountain
are made with a great sense of liveliness. In these there is a sense of above Krishna as he lifted it. In later times, with the coming of more
freedom and the joy of creation expressed by the artists. formalized norms, a mandapa was made in front of the scene, to
accord the due status to the deity. Of course, in this the effectiveness
The realism and life-like softness of the elephants is remarkable. The
of the theme was largely lost.
details of the baby elephants show the artists’ deep concern for all the
beings of the world. Another detail of a deer scratching his nose shows The soft rendering and slender forms of the Pallava idiom are
great sensitivity and observation of the natural world. again seen in the Varaha Mandapa of around the middle of the

The Adivaraha cave is notable eternal. Therefore, art did not They are a marvellous record
for having the portraits of traditionally depict ephemeral in stone of the many forms of
King Narasimhavarman, with personalities. From here onwards, temple architecture in South India
his queens. There is also a we see a shift take place and at that time.
representation of his son with emphasis begins to come upon
his wives. After the period of the personality of the monarch. The monoliths are named after
the Kushanas, who hailed from the five Pandava brothers of
There are nine monolithic the epic Mahabharata and their
southern China and had portraits
freestanding temples, cut out of common wife Draupadi. They
made of themselves in royal
boulders. Five of them are in form a coherent group and were
shrines in the 1st century, these
one group. These are the earliest probably made in the middle of
are the earliest surviving portraits
such edifices in India to be the 7th century.
of Indian kings.
carved both on the outside and
In early India, the purpose of art the inside, out of rock. They are Built right next to the lapping
was always to take our thoughts popularly called rathas, or temple waves of the sea, one of the
away from the passing reality chariots. This is a misnomer as glories of Mamallapuram, is
of the world, to that which was they are meant to be temples. a temple with two towers,

King Narasimhavarman’s portrait, Adivaraha Cave, Mamallapuram. After the 1st century AD, in the period of the Kushana rulers,
Above: Seated Cow, Krishna Mandapa, 7 century. Here we also see is given to the relief by figures who came from southern China, the Pallava period brings us the first portraits of rulers in India. King Narasimhavarman is depicted
Mamallapuram, 7 th century. The life of here and in a close-by panel, his son is also represented. This marks the beginning of a new sense of royal importance and
man is not seen in isolation in the vision of the developments of Pallava that turn inwards and others that grandeur, which was largely to influence the future course of Indic art and architecture.
these artists. We live in a world pervaded iconography and architectural are seen from the back. Such
with so many beings and the truth of life is
presented here with none of these forgotten.
styles. Seated lions made on the arrangements of figures were also
It is this cow and so many of the other bases of pillars are characteristic. seen in the paintings of Ajanta
living inhabitants of this world, which create
the warmth of life presented by the artists of
of the 5th century and in the art
There are four major sculptural
Mamallapuram. of the Krishna Valley in Andhra
panels in the cave. Vishnu is seen
Right: Elderly man and child, Krishna Pradesh.
Mandapa, Mamallapuram, 7 th century. in the Varaha avatara, saving
Amid all the grandeur of the divine themes, the earth goddess Bhu Devi from One of the most magnificent
the pulsating details of life are not forgotten
by the artist. To the side of the scene where being submerged in the ocean. depictions in Mamallapuram
Lord Krishna holds aloft Mount Govardhana, All Indian myths operate at many is that of Mahishasuramardini,
this delightful detail of the life of the village
is endearing. levels and this also signifies the made in a 7th century cave. It
saving of mankind from the is entirely different from earlier
ocean of ignorance. Vishnu is representations of this subject.
also presented in the form of Durga, battles the demon buffalo
Trivikrama, the conqueror of the or Mahisha, who represents the
three worlds. evil of ignorance. It is a most
animated scene and, unlike
The rear wall of the cave has
before, the scale is naturalistic.
Gajalakshmi made on it. Lakshmi,
Here the demon has a human
who represents prosperity, is
body and the head of a buffalo.
lustrated by elephants here. Also
The natural poses of the figures,
on the rear wall is a relief of
advancing from one side and
Durga, who represents victory
pulling back upon the other,
over ignorance.
enhances the drama and realism
In Pallava art, the figures are of the subject. The self-assured
slender and delicately made. ganas of Durga’s army of
The scale is naturalistic. A depth Righteousness are unforgettable.

known as the Shore Temple.
The finely worked slender
towers are among the most
beautiful of any structure in
the Indian subcontinent. The
temple was probably made by
Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha,
in the early 8th century. He is
believed to have established the
tradition of building structural
stone temples in Tamil Nadu.
Perhaps the most memorable
aspect of the art of Mamallapuram
is the depiction of the many
beings, which inhabit the world,
the deer, the cows, the elephants
and others. Man is seen amidst
the world of nature, as one of its
many manifestations. The Indian
sculptor manages to communicate
the living, breathing quality and
emotions of animals with a rare
empathy. What gives the art of
ancient India a special place is
its vision of the world: a vision
which sees the same in each of
us, men and women, in animals,
plants, trees, even the breeze
which moves the leaves. It sees
a unity in the whole of creation,
which imparts a great harmony
and compassion to this vision.
First published in Frontline.

The author is a film-maker, art-historian

and photographer.

The Five Rathas, Mamallapuram, mid to late

7 th century. These five temples, misnamed
rathas, or chariots, depict the various forms,
which the south Indian temple structure
had taken. These are cut out of huge
boulders, in imitation of structural temples.
There would have been many structures
of these shapes made out of wood and
other ephemeral materials, which have not
survived. The numerous kinds of temples
seen here, along with rock-cut relief and
caves, give a fairy-tale like quality to this
fascinating town of divine structures.

become a well known Odissi
Nrityagram performer.

and The idea of a dance village, in

the manner of Rukmini Devi’s
the Passion for Dance Kalakshetra, (coincidentally
Rukmini Devi too started
learning Bharatanatyam when
she was nearly 30 years old) far
from the assaulting sounds and
distractions of a city possessed
Nrityagram the dance village is a paradise where dancers, Protima a few years later.
musicians, writers and theatre people frequently come Haunting the home of the then
together for workshops to pool their creative energies. Chief Minister Ramakrishna
Hegde, she finally succeeded

N estled amidst the sylvan woods of Hessargetta, Nrityagram in getting for lease, in the
the dance village, thirty miles outside the urban limits of same region, where land was
Bangalore is a ten acre farmland, a paradise where dancers, demarcated for the film city,
Doyenne Kalanidhi Narayanan conducting a worskshop on interpretative dance ten acres for a dance village.
musicians, writers and theatre people frequently come together
for workshops to pool their creative energies, enthused by the “I think the Chief Minister got
overwhelming fertility of Nature all round. This brainchild of the late Protima Bedi was the Cuttack by train tomorrow and so driven and fed up of seeing
unlikeliest dream for one see a saree-clad woman, with me everywhere – when he was
A view of some of the Nrityagram cottages growing amidst high society a bindi on the forehead, sitting in office, when he went home,
and the glare of Bollywood on the doorstep of my house, when he came out of the room
in Bombay, whose life turned will I consider the request.” to the gardens – he decided
topsy-turvy the day she casually Sure of having gotten rid of this the only way to get rid of me
went to an auditorium to pick oddity, Kelucharan Mohapatra was to lease the land”, Protima
up a friend and was held forgot about the incident till – lo was to remark comically much
mesmerised by the magic of the and behold – alighting from later – though she never denied
late Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra the rickshaw, he was greeted that but for a forward looking
performing Odissi. Gone were by a demure figure in saree CM, her vision would have
the images of the near-bald and blouse with a neat bindi remained unfulfilled. Then came
male performer, with paan decorating the forehead sitting the gruelling months working
stained teeth. All that remained “like patience on a monument” with architect Gerard De Cunha
was the ecstasy, passion and on the verandah steps! Unable to raise funds, design and build
melting grace of the dance and to deny such persistence, cottages as lodging and teaching
the conviction that she had Guruji asked Protima to join his space for gurus and students.
to learn it, come what may. class and do as the others did, Living in a tent, with snakes and
Backstage after the performance still convinced that this flash scorpions as frequent visitors,
she accosted Guruji “Guruji, in the pan interest would soon and toilet facilities at a distance
please teach me this dance,” peter out. Protima persevered to be reached with the help of
Looking up and down at this and only much later when a torch guiding one at night,
pant-clad, pony-tailed figure Guruji went to Bombay to Protima took all the hardship in
in stiletto heels, the Guru conduct classes did she get the her stride. Finally it was a proud
nonchalantly set a condition. necessary individual attention to moment in 1990 on the 11th
“Only if by the time I reach polish up her dance, to finally of May when Nrityagram was

inaugurated by none less than groomed under Gangadhar as Managing Trustee, was
the then Prime Minister of India Pradhan of Bhubaneswar. an actress and light designer
V.P. Singh. Surupa’s superbly creative having worked with theatre
mind with her imaginative people like Barry John, Joy
Sharing her dreams and
choreographic concepts, Michael and Lillete Dubey. She
aspirations was Protima’s prime
visualised by the incredible was persuaded by Protima to
disciple Surupa Sen, who as
body of Bijayini along with the visit Nrityagram. After a two
the soul mate of her Guru, was
ensemble productions, which month stay there, getting a
destined to step in overnight as
have raised the bar for group feel of the place and helping
the person presiding over the
choreography, have made Protima in a friendly manner
dance Gurukul, when death
Nrityagram a place to reckon in various ways, she was
prematurely snatched Protima
with in Odissi. caught off guard when Protima
away from the scene in 1998,
in a landslide in the Himalayan Protima’s instincts in certain told her that she was making
region. Surupa was left with her other areas were unerring. her the Managing Trustee of
fellow disciple Bijayini Satpathy Lynne Fernandez who since Nrityagram. “But why?” asked
a priceless dancer initially 1993 has been with Nrityagram the bewildered Lynne. “I am

Protima in a concluding pose while interpreting a lyric from Jayadeva’s Geeta Govind (facing page) and
three profiles of a movement executed by Protima (below).

not even from the dance field dance put in by this ensemble, of Nrityagram performances more common to Mayurbhanj
and know little about classical has to be seen to be believed. sets them apart. The dancers Chhau but which Odissi
dance.” “I have Surupa for that. With Yoga, Meditation, Martial work on the farm too and dancers with the usual training
You need not worry. For the arts training, study of Sanskrit, this feel for earth imparts to are not able to accommodate.
last several days that you have Mythology and Literature, the the dance a quality that is It has to be said that in
been here with us, you have opportunities for integrated special – a view shared strongly dance based on the Jayadeva
worked without once asking for learning are endless. With by both late Guru Kelucharan Ashtapadis for instance, there is
anything for yourself. You have artists from all disciplines and Mohapatra (who attributed his no dearth of lyrical grace in the
thought only of the institution. I choreographers from round the art sensitivity to having worked Nrityagram dancers.
am convinced that you are the world dropping in constantly in a betel leaf orchard watering
person I need for Nrityagram” to interact with the students, and looking after the plants) The Ensemble has found in
and ever since Lynne has made the inmates have a rare artistic and Protima herself. musician Raghunath Panigrahi
Nrityagram her home, working ambience, inculcating an (who after the premature
As Protima always maintained and sudden death of his wife
for the institution day and night. awareness of the give and take
“Nrityagram is a way of life.” Sanjuktha Panigrahi was at a
between art forms. Each aspect
The Odissi Gurukul goes of dance presentation, music, During the annual Vasantahabba loose end and found in the
from strength to strength, its rhythm, costuming, lighting and celebration, to watch over Nrityagram commitment to
proficiency earning Nrityagram space coverage is meticulously 40,000 spectators seated in the Odissi shades of Sanjukta’s
the highest of laurels. The attended to in all productions. open air amphitheatre watching involvement), an ideal music
amazing number of hours of The finesse and excellence all night performances of music composer. His musical
and dances of all hues is an knowledge along with his
Bharati Shivaji demonstrating a pose in
Dancers performing in the amphitheatre of Nrityagram unforgettable sight. Mohiniattam. understanding of Sanskrit and
Surupa’s own intense creative
It was in 1996 that the National Dance Project of the endeavours find the right
Ensemble’s life-changing New England Foundation for alchemy. The Carnatic violin
New York debut made the the Arts and most recently duo brothers Ganesh Kumaresh
landmark break into mainstream Joyce Theatre. Apart from the have also worked composing
performing in North America Tribhanga (the three bend music for Nrityagram.
– a status very few classical posture and Chauka (square
Indian troupes have been given. half-seated stance with the Nrityagram’s first full length
This tour was without Protima knees turned out), the main production “Sri – In Search of
who had to keep the home stylistic concerns of Odissi, the the Goddess”, premiered in
fires burning in Nrityagram Nrityagram approach to Odissi Delhi in 2001 and in the United
and unfortunately she never makes use of leg extensions and States in 2002-2003, evoked
lived to see the mainstream high leaps which the orthodox high critical acclaim. Ansh
performances of Nrityagram. community of purists feel are was a re-conception of items
Performing to sold-out shows an extension taking liberties from a typical Odissi format.
in Hawai and Bozeman, with the form as taught by “Sacred Space” inspired by
USA, Middle East, Far East temple architecture like that of
the Gurus. They feel that such
and Europe, the Nrityagram the Chausat Jogini in Orissa,
robust physicality will dilute
Ensemble has created a niche premiered in Chennai during
the lyricism of Odissi one of its
for itself in the world of art. the Music Academy Festival
main characters. The point is
Apart from the Odissi inherited that the stringent body training in December 2005 and was
from the Guru, Nrityagram that the Nrityagram performers judged the best production of
has done a lot of innovative go through gives them a felicity the season. Commissioned by
work enabled by grants from for movements which may look the Joyce Theatre’s Stephen and

Cathy Weinroth Fund for New and Choreographer carries
Work “Pratima: Reflection” in on tirelessly. Her duet
which the dancer’s relationship performances with Bijayini
with the dance is built round provide some of the best
the truths of “Creation, Odissi one can see. Their Gita
Contemplation, Separation and Govinda Ashtapadis have an
the Duality of the human spirit” enthralling lyricism suiting the
premiered in 2008 and Joan poetic splendour of these songs.
Acocella of The New Yorker Bijayini who has herself been
(12/9/2008) listed Vibhakta, a the recipient of several awards
scene from Pratima, among the like the Mahari Award (2003),
ten best dance performances. Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar
by the Sangeet Natak Akademi
Surupa Sen who has received in 2007, the Yagaraman Krishna
the Raza Foundation award Gana Sabha award in 2008,
for excellence in Dance in Sanskriti award in 2007, has
2007, the Yagnaraman award worked very hard on creating
from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha new techniques for Odissi
in 2008 as Artistic Director dance training. Pavitra Reddy,

Radha and Krishna in a Manipuri item (facing page) and a performance of Yakshagana
at the Nrityagram (below).

Rasmi Raj and Manasi Tripathy
are the other permanent dancers
of the Ensemble.
The dance studio, auditorium,
exhibition space, physiotherapy
unit are all Lynne’s new
inductions into Nrityagram.
Working throughout the year,
it is still a back breaking task
keeping the institution going,
primarily because of its location
which is both a blessing and a
drawback, for getting resident
musicians and percussionists
is never easy. Many dance
aspirants who want to be
day scholars learning in this
institution, find the logistics
of to and fro movement too
difficult. Nrityagram’s outreach
programme in the village
and city, however, has many
students who are benefited.
For anybody a stay in
Nrityagram is like a dream
come true, where Dance and
Nature are in close company.
Sustaining this dream are very
hard working professionals who
have dedicated their lives to art
and who deserve all the help
and encouragement possible.
The winner will be Dance and
Odissi in particular.
The author is a dance critic.
Deepak Mudgal

Bijayini and Surupa showing the bee

getting attracted to the Lotus – the image
is a metaphorical depiction for the love of
Radha and Krishna.

Bonding through Melody

As the world joyously hums “Jai Ho”, the Oscar

winning song scored by composer A.R. Rahman,

Photo Division, Government of India

the two words meaning ‘glory be’ sum up a golden
moment for Indian music. The country’s
1,000-year-old musical legacy has just acquired a
global outlook and a new face.

H.E. Nikolai Bulganin, Russian Prime Minister presenting bouquet to the artists of the
Shadow Play “Ramlila” staged by Uday Shankar and his troupe. Prime Minister Baba Allauddin Khan
Jawaharlal Nehru is also seen in the picture.

T he international spotlight is on Indian music like never

before, especially fusion which combines traditional classical
ragas and ethnic folk beats with sounds from the West. The
country’s first ever Oscar for a song has come at the same time as a
Grammy for India’s Ustad Zakir Hussain, famous for making magic
with the tabla, a percussion instrument.

“The world is discovering our music all over again. We have

so much to give,” said Hussain, who collaborated with Western
musicians on the Grammy winning “Global Drum Project”.

Vocalist Lakshmi Shankar, who bagged a Grammy nomination

and specialises in Hindustani classical music that has roots in
the country’s northern half, describes this period as “the second
renaissance of Indian music. I find in the west that everyone is
craving for our music; they want to hear more of it”.
Photo Division, Government of India

Indian music, however, has been making forays past geographical

boundaries for almost seven decades, though not as dramatically
as now.

Many historians concur that Indian music first went abroad in

1930 with dancer-musician Uday Shankar – whose company,
headquartered in Paris, toured Europe, North America and
Southeast Asia for eight years.

Mickey Hart, drummer of the popular American band The Grateful
Dead, found it hard to believe that Chatur Lal was playing the
‘tabla’ with bare hands! Hart, one of the best percussionists that
western contemporary music has ever had, felt: “Indian rhythm was
very Arabic, very Moorish with intense multi-layered detail.”
Musician-author Peter Lavezzoli, a professional drummer and
musician based in Miami and St. Louis who spends his winters in
India listening to and writing about Indian classical music, says
developments in technology have made it possible for Indian music
to travel west.
In his new book, “Bhairavi: The Global Impact of Indian Music”,
Lavezzoli says before the invention of the long playing record,
Indian classical recordings were limited to three-minute 78 rpm
discs, manufactured solely for the Indian market.
Technology also made it possible for sarod maestro Ali Akbar
Khan to appear on television in the US – the first Indian classical
musician to do so.
If 1955 was the year when the seed for Indian classical music was
planted in the west, then 1967 was a watershed when the search
Conductor and violinist Yehudi Menuhin presented Indian classical music to the west
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in a concert

The ensemble boasted of some of the biggest names in the history

of Indian classical music like Baba Allauddin Khan, a legendary
player of the string instrument ‘sarod’; vocalist and instrumentalist
Vishnu Das Shirali; and composer Timir Baran.

In 1955, famous conductor and violinist Yehudi Menuhin presented

to the west “Music of India: Morning and Evening Raga”, the first
long-playing record of Indian classical music. The album featured
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan on ‘sarod’, Pandit Chatur Lal on the ‘tabla’
and Shirish Gor on the string instrument tambura.

In a foreword, Menuhin introduced each musical instrument and

the sounds that it created for the western ear.

When American composer La Monte Young first heard the drone Photo Division, Government of India
of the ‘tambura’ on the radio that was broadcasting the concerto
in 1957, he drove to the nearest store to purchase the LP. Young
eventually studied Indian music for 26 years with vocalist
Pandit Pran Nath.

Menuhin also famously partnered Ravi Shankar, the Indian legend

known for his mastery over the string instrument ‘sitar’, for the
album “West Meets East” in the 1960s.

for an alternative worldview led musicians to Asia, especially India,
to explore its spiritual and aesthetic traditions.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian seer who spread the ancient
science of transcendental meditation in Europe and America,
captured the imagination of the Beatles – one of the greatest British
pop-rock bands that ever existed.
The quartet from Liverpool spent nearly six weeks at the seer’s
retreat in Rishikesh and composed more than 30 songs there. It
also saw the beginning of a lifelong association between George
Harrison, one of the Beatles, and Ravi.
The spread of Indian religions like the International Society for
Krishna Consciousness, Buddhism and the Chinmaya cult also
helped open the doors for Indian music in the west.

Photo Division, Government of India

Lavezzoli reminisces in his book about the time Ravi Shankar and
late tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha performed at the Monterey Pop
Festival in California in 1967.
“The weekend’s events were filmed... capturing several of rock’s
legendary figures in their prime – Jimi Hendrix, the WHOs, Otis

Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and Ustad Zakir Hussain on tabla, a percussion instrument in a concert
Music Director and Oscar Award winner A R Rahman performing at the Doordarshan’s
50th Anniversary celebrations in New Delhi on August 11, 2009.

Redding and Janis Joplin... almost all the musicians were there in
the audience for Ravi Shankar’s set; most of them never having
seen him before... And the response of the audience was ecstatic,
further catapulting Shankar to stardom.”
In 1994, Indian musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who invented
the string instrument ‘mohan veena’, won a Grammy along with
Ry Cooder for the album “A Meeting By The River”.
The crowning glory has been recognition for the country’s film
music industry – be it for a composer like A.R. Rahman or a sound
designer like Resool Pookutty, both of whom hail from southern
India and brought home Oscars for the film “Slumdog Millionaire”,
made by British director Danny Boyle.
As Vishwa Mohan Bhatt sums it up: “If the 1970s were about
Beatlemania and Ravi Shankar, 2009 is about Indian musicians
moving westward for the next musical wave. The west is overawed
by our ragas and discipline. They are overwhelmed by the
emotions in our music; that is what gets the attention of the world.”
(Source: Indo-Asian News Service)

Dhokra Craft
crafted products have been a popular metal for casting,
in the folk or fine art style, is an alloy of Copper and
depending on the community of Tin. Both these metals have
the craftsperson. The materials the glow of Gold. Over the
TRANSCENDING TIME have been clay, metal, wood years, metal craft, like all other
REKHA SHANKAR and hand spun yarn and the crafts developed under royal
artisan – the weaver, potter, patronage and metalworkers
The “artistic elegance” of Dhokra craft has stood the test of metal smith or wood worker developed mastery over metal
was an integral part of the local casting and sculpture making.
time. As one of the oldest known methods of non-ferrous community.
metal casting known to human civilisation, it is still evolving Dhokra craft is the earliest
and breaking new grounds. The use of metal in India can be method of non-ferrous metal
traced back to Vedic times. The casting known to humankind.
metalworker, called Karmara, The word Dhokra literally

T he cultural creative mosaic of the country known as India has

a recorded history of over 5000 years. One of humankind’s
earliest civilisations, the people of this ancient land have over
enjoyed a high position in
society. There is reference in
the Yajurveda to Rudra, the lord
means “oldest” and comes from
the name of the Dhokra Kamar
tribes of West Bengal who are

Dr. Bimla Verma

the years developed skills and techniques that are passed down
of lightning, paying respect traditional metal smiths. They
from one generation to the next in the oral tradition and through
to the family of the Karmara. are a group that specialises in
family and community activities. Indian craftspeople have worked
Metalworking like other this art form. Some historians
with their hands creating objects of beauty, utility and for worship
artisanal activities is infused feel that the tribes originally
with local materials and images from the world around them. The
with religion. In fact, before an came from the Bastar region
artisan begins work, he prays of Chhattisgarh and being
for guidance to Tvastram, nomadic, moved around in
the son of Visvakarma, the adjoining areas and have
described in the Hindu epic over a period of time, settled in
Mahabharata as “the Lord of the tribal areas of the states of
the arts, executor of a thousand Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,
handicrafts”. Metals have Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand
religious significance for the and Andhra Pradesh. Though
average Indian and metal icons they are ethnically the same,
find place in family temples or they are identified by different
prayer rooms in homes across names in each state. Their
the country. Over 2000 years method of metal casting is
ago, Indian metalworkers made known as cire perdue, the lost
a breakthrough in the field of wax technique, and has been
metallurgy. They succeeded practised in India for over
in producing Brass – an alloy 4000 years. Evidence of similar
of basic metals, which looked casting of Copper-based alloys
almost exactly like Gold. has been found in China, Egypt,
This was achieved by fusing alloy called Panchdhattu made Malaysia, Nigeria, and some
Zinc and Copper where the with five metals – Copper, areas of Central America.
percentage of Zinc had to be Zinc, Gold, Silver and Lead and
Dr. Bimla Verma

controlled between 10 and 12 has been a popular metal for One of the earliest known
per cent. Another noteworthy crafting religious idols since artifacts, sculpted in this
creation was that of a metal then. Brass and Bell metal, also technique is the ‘dancing

cane. It seems that these artisans of Chhattisgarh, craftspeople
worked with grasses earlier and use wax thread and strips
when they discovered metal while in the Sarguja area, they
they used the new material with use a resin called Dhuvan. In
the same textural treatment. Orissa, the wax is mixed with
There are some differences Dhuna, resin from the Sal
in the kind of furnaces used tree – Shorea Robusta. Details
and minor variations in the of the final design can be seen
materials of each region but the on the pattern created with
basic method is more or less this coating of wax threads.
the same. In West Bengal, the The thin threads, 1/16th of an
furnace is above the ground inch, are wound so tightly that
whereas in Chhattisgarh and no part of the sand and clay
other states, it is under ground. mould is visible. This layer is
In Jharkhand, the heating then covered with clay and sun
apparatus is fixed to the mould dried. The clay coating takes
itself. Initially, the metalworker the negative form of the wax
has to work as a sculptor and on the inside and becomes a
an artist. First, a rough mould mould for the metal that has to
of sand, clay and paddy dust be poured inside it. Drain ducts
is made. In West Bengal, this is are left for the wax to melt

Dr. Bimla Verma

covered with a thread made of and drain out when the mould
gala, a paste of mustard oil and is heated. Once the mould
bees wax. In the Bastar region has dried, it is heated gently

girl,’ of Mohenjo-Daro, a describing the sculpture thought

10.8 centimeter high bronze that the little Baluchi style girl
statuette. Believed to have (from Baluchistan) is, “for the
been crafted in around 2500 moment, perfectly confident of
BC, it was excavated in 1926 herself and the world. There’s
from a house in the ancient nothing like her, I think, in the
city of Mohenjodaro, now in world” – an ageless creation.
Pakistan. People who have The painstaking and laborious
seen the piece feel that the technique of this method of
statuette seems to speak to its metal casting has remained
viewer, reaching out through much the same since then and
the ages, from its distant past unlike other crafts in India, in
to the present with a posture Dhokra casting, any process
and expression that are as can be done by either men or
relevant today as they were on women. The surface treatment
the day it was made. British of objects is very reminiscent of
archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler, items made in grass, bamboo or

and as the wax starts to melt, instruments used in their daily goddess so they assume she ventured into tableware and
molten metal is filled in the case life. Oil lamps with peacocks is riding the elephant they cutlery, which lends an air of
to replace the wax. It is this are popular and made in many have made. With inputs the unusual to the simplest of
process, the losing of wax that designs because they are a from development agencies, settings. The sonar, bhat and
gives this technique its name. traditional gift to a daughter. government sponsored bhotia communities craft tribal
The molten metal replaces the The traditional, pyalae, development projects and jewellery in brass to create
wax over the inner mould and measuring cups, in various sizes designers, their repertoire has stunning impact. These are
hardens between the core and earlier used to measure grains, grown to include a variety worn at festivals and on special
the clay covering. It takes the have today found a ready use of products. These include occasions. Amongst the items
same shape as the wax. Once as containers for nuts or finger statues, bowls, animal forms, made are necklaces, anklets,
cooled and set, the outer layer bowls. In Bastar, the image of mythical creatures, gods, earrings, hairpins and bracelets.
of clay is broken open with the elephant, which is perceived goddesses, and a range of
Some objects found today seem
a large hack knife and the to be the state goddess, known home accessories like lamp
almost untouched by time and
metal sculpture is removed. It as Dhanteshwari is commonly stands, doorknobs, handles
yet are strangely relevant while
is now ready for the finishing made. Interestingly, artisans and chains. A few of the more
others seem to have evolved
process. Except in hollow three believe they cannot see the skilled craftspeople have even
into almost another genre,
dimensional sculptures, the clay sophisticated and contemporary.
cores are allowed to remain Each of their creations reflects a
inside the metal covering to add naivety and primitive simplicity,
weight to the piece, particularly whether it is in their enchanting
if it is a votive image and has to folk motifs or the whimsical
be placed on an altar. rendition of scenes from their
life in compositions, depicting
The quality of the finished
topics as diverse as a tribal
product depends not only
woman handling a computer;
on the skill of the artist who
a mother giving her baby an
makes the mould but also
oil massage or a cow basking
on the one who does the
under the shade of a tree.
finishing. The surface is filed
Untrained in formal institutions,
to make it smooth and pellets,
the skill and aesthetic sense of
lattices and spirals are used for
these people are the result of
its ornamentation. A unique
their special worldview, still
aspect of this craft is that no
largely protected from foreign
two Dhokra products can ever
influences. India is indeed a
be identical as each item is
privileged country to own this
moulded and cast in a new
timeless heritage and be able to
mould. The mould cannot be
offer to the world the creative
re-used as it has to be broken to
beauty of its Dhokra artisans.
extract the item. Every piece is
perfected with great love, care The writer is involved with the Dastkari
Haat Samiti and was a director of the India
and artistry and items are priced Sponsor Foundation where she led a team
according to their weight, finish to train women from marginalised sections
of society as commercial drivers for the first
Dr. Bimla Verma

and the fineness of the work. time in Delhi.

Traditionally, artisans made

religious deities, vessels and

Thus, when assigned to write about Lucknow’s street food I choked.
I do not consider myself a blue-blooded foodie in the true sense of the
word, though I can discern and appreciate a good recipe, dish, and
taste. Lucknow has so varied a gastronomical spread on its streets as
well as off it, that to savor and write about it would unnerve the most
seasoned of gourmand. Where the differentiation between the daily
food is so prominent that it is referred as Aam Faham and festive food
becomes Taqualluf Ke Khane!
Historically speaking, the credit to put Lucknow on the gastronomical
map of the world goes to its Nawabs – right from its first Nawab
Burhan-Ul-Mulk to the flamboyant, poet and dancer Nawab Wajid Ali
Shah. For the statistically oriented, 19 types of Kebabs, 37 types of
bread, 35 types of Zarda (sweet rice preparation), 47 types of pulao
(rice dishes), 37 types of sweets were created through gastronomical
innovations during the reign of Nawab Shuja-Ud-Daula alone! Coupled
with it is the fact that Lucknow was also the cradle where the world
Siddarth Kak

famous Dum Pukht cuisine was born, nursed and matured. From the
most humble of beginnings Dum Pukht has conquered the imagination
and taste-buds of food-lovers the world over. But more about it, later.
The Nawabs who hailed from Iran were great lovers and patrons of
Lucknow and its Street Food visual as well as performing arts in all its forms viz, dance, music,
theatre and cuisine. The story goes that the water of Gomti River did
ANIL MEHROTRA not suit the fragile constitution of the Nawabs who then summoned
the royal vaids/hakims (someone practising alternative medicine) to
Lucknow-the erstwhile seat of power of the Nawabs of Awadh, come up with a solution to their gastronomical problems! After many
deliberations the royal doctors suggested using turmeric recipes and
centre of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (mannerisms), a cornucopia
the remedy worked.
of chikankari, zardoji, mellifluous Urdu and delectable cuisine,
Yet another story explains creation of the melt-in-the-mouth variety of
is the proverbial melting pot of cultures and cuisines, art and
Lucknow’s famous Kakori Kebabs. An aged, toothless Nawab from the
artisans, traditional and the modern. Cuisine here transcends nearby village of Kakori, unable to resist the mouth watering delicacies
the confines of kitchen and is revered as a work of art. ordered his Khansama (cook) to come up with a recipe permitting him
Spicy Mutton Korma Mouth-watering Tunde Kebab

A t Lucknow, different cuisines come together unlike other States

which are food specific. Thus, where Bengal prefers its rice with
Macher Jhol (Fish curry), Gujarat is predominantly vegetarian.
Southern states and Bihar lean heavily on coconut and rice but
Kashmiri’s relish their mutton gushtaba and Wazwan (formal meal)
and the next door Jammu is Rajma- Chawal (kidney bean preparation
with rice) oriented. While eastern states are meat and rice specific, in
Haryana and Punjab wheat rules and neighboring Himachal banks on
rice and corn. At Lucknow rice and roti (a type of baked bread) are
at par and Biryani (meat and rice dish) occupies the same exalted
Anil Mehrotra

Siddarth Kak
status as roomali roti (a thin round type of bread baked individually)
and Mutton-do-Pyaza (meat and onion dish) is as revered as Malka
Masoor (pink lentils).

to taste the kebab without having soufflé with the most delicate
to chew or upset his tummy. kiss of butter yellow colour!
What the Khansama produced
We caught a cycle-richshaw
to please his master is today the
to Aminabad, yet another old
world renowned Kakori Kebab!
market where food dominates.
We decided to embark upon Besides an outlet of Tunde
our gastronomical tour with Kebabi, its lanes also boast of
Shahi Gelawati Kebabs from the a number of chaat (savoury
famous Tunde Kebabi’s shop at snacks) shops. At the junction
Chowk, in old Lucknow. The of Nazirabad and Aminabad
kebab riot was started by Haji market is the famous Prakash’s
Murad Ali who, it is said, fell Kulfi (sweet thickened milk with
off the roof and lost an arm and pistachios frozen into icecream)
was hence called Tunde (Tunde shops and numerous namkeen
or a one armed man). Though

Anil Mehrotra
(salty snacks) shops line up

Siddarth Kak
the original shop is religiously the main thoroughfare. During
thronged by food aficionados, winters these shops are stocked
commercialization has crept in with rewri, til (sesame) ladoos
and Tunde’s kababs can now be and gazak (winter savouries
had at various malls and other popularly known to ward off
up-markets locations in the city. winter chill). Opposite to Tunde
For discerning tastes one has is a narrow, dingy lane leading
to intimate whether one desires to Alamgir Restaurant serving out
kebabs of Bade ka or chotte ka. of the world fare of Boti Kebab
Bada (literally large) refers to and roomali roti. The ambience
the size of the animal and hence may not be modern but the
would signify beef and Chota preparations are ‘finger licking
is small and hence mutton from good’. And lest I may be blamed
goat or sheep. The recipe, a for being partial to the non-
closely guarded family secret, vegetarians there is the macabre
consists of hundreds of spices sounding Purani Qabar wali
and is claimed to be good for Anil Mehrotra Dukan offering the most crisp

Siddarth Kak
digestion! Poori and Kachauri Alu (a fried
snack with potato preparation).
Nearby is Ajmeri Gate, where
Chowk and Nakkhas markets Succulent Mutton Chops (top) and Tandoori Chicken in a roadside eatry Wahid Biryani – a 55 spices secret (top) and Tunde Kebab – legacy of a one armed cook Shiv Restaurant at Kaiserbagh,
come together. In its bylane a short distance away from
called Thandi Sarak is Rahim’s Gali also known as sheermal Also at Gol Darwaza exists complete without tasting Namish Nawabs and my friend, Namish Aminabad serves the thick,
Nihari shop. Set up in mid gali. Saffron, originally used to Raja’s Thandai (cooling spiced or Malai Makhan (soufflé was part of the regular fare and sweet, curd drink Lassi topped
nineteenth century by Haji Abdur impart the distinctive orange milk beverage) shop a glass of like creamy delight) at Gol savored with taftan – a saltish with dry fruits which fills you
Rahim his gilafi kulche (very colour has now been replaced which is guaranteed to quench Darwaza. Available only during roti. Its metamorphosis into its up for hours. A little distance
soft leavened bread) and nehari by synthetic colours. Close-by, the most parched soul. Those winters, the uniqueness of this dessert avatar is a much later away at Novelty crossing is the
khaas (special beef/lamb trotters) in Ban Wali Gali is Ram Asrey’s desirous can also ask for lacing dish-cum-dessert lies in the development. Produced by Sharma Chaat House and Tea
are worth dying for. For the over three centuries old sweet their glass with Bhang (cannabis) fact that it is not found in any placing whipped milk under the corner being run by two Sharma
orange coloured sheermal (rich shop known for its lal-pedas for that additional kick. other part of the country. As open sky where the inter-play brothers. The tea corner does
flat bread made of flour, milk fat (milk thinkened into chewy flat, per Nawab Mir Zafar Abdullah, of night-dew produces the most roaring business selling tea and
saffron) we visited Chawal Wali round sweets). No visit to Chowk can be a direct descendant of the soft, lighter than any French bun-makhan (bun and butter)

and has been doing so as far as I LIC building in centre of At the GPO end of Hazratganj
can remember. Hazratganj, tables are being set and short of Raj Bhawan
up as people line up to have (Governor House) is the well
Come evening and the Jains set
up their Chaat stalls at Novelty the crunchiest of Batashas known Dahi bade walla (lentil
crossing, vying in taste with (a paper thin wheat preparation balls fried and dunked in sweet
Sharma. Both have their loyalists filled with spiced liquid) with curd and chutney). The shop,
who would swear for their six different types of Paani. more of a kiosk actually, opens
respective brand of Chaat. For The clientele consists of at 2 pm on all days except
me, however, it is either King of regulars for whom a round of Mondays and by evening there is
Chaat or Shukla, both located batasha (Gol Gappa in Punjab/ nothing left. The swirling crowd
in the upmarket Hazratganj. Just Delhi and Paani Poori in outside the bright green painted
outside Halwasiya Market, also Kolkatta) after an evening stroll kiosk can provide food for
in Hazratganj, is the Matarwala is a must. thought to any MNC food chain.

Anil Mehrotra

Siddarth Kak
selling a patta (a bowl made And beyond in the swanky
Much later, as the evening starts Cantonment in the ubiquitous
with dried and compressed
melting into night and traffic Sadar Bazaar is Chappan Bhog
Banyan leaves) of tastiest of
lights and cops cease to matter selling the best of sweets and
matar (boiled and mashed peas) Delectable desserts – Zauk-e-Shahi (above) betel leaves are brought-in from
probably since this world came the crowd outside the vintage chaat. and Makhan Malai (above right).
Moti Mahal queue up for the A meal in Lucknow is not complete as far away as Kolkatta, Varanasi,
into existence. So famous has he without a paan (right). Hamirpur and Mahoba. Prepared
become that he is now known deliciously creamy kulfi, hot, At the China Gate (Press Club)
just off the wok imarti (sweet end of Lucknow’s Mahatma with nafasat (refinement)
for the stuff that he churns and almost to the point of sinning, bordering on reverence and
sells. deep-fried snack), gajar ka Gandhi Road, under the very
the flavours of Awadhi street laced with the choicest of
halwa (gajrella in Punjab/Delhi, shadow of the starred Gemini
At the proverbial stone’s food are here to be enjoyed in flavourings, nuts, condiments
grated carrot cooked in milk and and Clark’s Awadh Hotels is
throw from Shukla’s, opposite all its nuances. The tanginess and scented tobaccos (for those
topped with dry fruits), gulab Lucknow’s food street of the
of chicken kalimirch (black who desire), sprinkled with
Kachauri – a fried snack (below) and
jamuns or hundreds of other drive-in variety. Biased heavily
pepper) blends with the subtle rosewater and gulkand (rose
making of a refreshing cup of tea (right). varieties of sweets. in favour of non-vegetarians

Siddarth Kak
fragrance of fresh coriander leaves marinated in sugar syrup)
and cumin seeds of Dal it is offered with utmost grace.
Tadka. Aromas from dum A blue blooded Lucknowite is
pukht biryanis, chops, tikkas, likely to see red if after his meal
mussallam, rogan josh, kebabs, he doesn’t visit his favorite paan
and stuffed, pooris and naans...
chicken marinated and roasted shop which can be any where in
The list is endless.
to perfection, boti kebabs, butter the city.
chicken and numerous other Muskuraiye Ki Aap Lucknow
Main Hain (Smile, now that you Is it any wonder that the poet
mouth watering varieties vie
are in Lucknow) is how a visit to has said:
for attention with fish chatpati,
kali dal, paneer kali mirch Lucknow is supposed to be. And Aye Shehar-e-Lucknow tujhe
and its several variants. The for a perfect smile you ought mera Salaam hai;
gastronomical spread cannot to have a paan (betel) without Tera hi naam doosra Zannat ka
be said to be completed as which no meal in Lucknow can naam hai...
they are to be wolfed down be said to be complete. And
(O Lucknow I salute you for
with a mind boggling variety there are paan shops galore, being the other name of Heaven)
of complimentary breads viz each a favourite of someone,
Anil Mehrotra

The author is a noted travel writer.

Siddarth Kak

Tandoori roti, roomali, kulche, some where. As the discerning

bhature taftan, phulke, parathas clients are fastidious regarding
and its variants of laccha, varki types of leaves, various types of

Signaling a new trust on an issue that had shadowed their ties earlier,
the two sides inked three treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal
matters, mutual transfer of convicted prisoners, and cooperation in the
fight against international terrorism, organised crime and illegal drug
The two sides took important steps to improve connectivity, including
a decision on starting a rail link between Akhaura in Bangladesh to
Agartala in India. They also decided to declare Ashuganj in Bangladesh
and Silghat in India as ports of call.
Reciprocating India’s warmth and resolve to walk the extra mile to
put bilateral ties on a new footing, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladeshi
territory would not be used for anti-India activities by insurgents from
northeastern states. However, it is clear that more needs to be done on
the security front though a beginning has indeed been made.
In a sign of transforming relations, India also acceded to a long-
Looking back in history: India’s late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi walks with the founding
father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at a dinner party she hosted for him in pending demand of Dhaka by allowing road and rail transit between
April 1974, one year before he was assassinated along with several members of his family. Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Sheikh Hasina agreed to open up the
Twenty-six years later, his daughter Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi as Prime Minister to
take forward the relationship with India. Bangladesh ports of Mongla and Chittagong for transit of goods by
India as well as Nepal and Bhutan.
The camaraderie was in full flow at the state banquet the Indian
A new spring in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted for the Bangladeshi leader.

India-Bangladesh Ties The Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, inspecting
the guard of honour at the ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on
January 11, 2010.

I n the misty chill of Delhi’s fierce winter, India and Bangladesh

heralded a new spring in their bilateral ties. Taking inspiration from
the unity themes in the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi
Nazrul Islam, the two iconic poets of the subcontinent, Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed
on Jan 11 took pathbreaking steps to bring their countries closer in the
joint task of confronting terrorism and building a new future around
three Ts – trade, transit and transport.
In the first state visit hosted by India in 2010, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh announced $1 billion line of credit to spur the
economic transformation of Bangladesh.
The aid could be crucial in addressing Bangladesh’s burgeoning
infrastructure needs and helping Sheikh Hasina realise what she calls
Vision 2021, which aims at transforming Bangladesh into a middle-
income country by 2021.
India also agreed to supply 250 MW of electricity through its central
grid and inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on expanding
power cooperation that will include building inter-grid connectivity.

The high-profile guests, water and energy security to our
particularly Bengalis, raved peoples”.
about the delicious hilsa bred in
Sheikh Hasina’s four-day visit to
Bangladesh’s Padma river.
India scored in both substance
Sheikh Hasina spoke movingly and atmospherics.
about six years she spent in
exile in India after her father, The bilateral relationship has
the legendary Bangabandhu been on an upswing since Sheikh
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, was Hasina and her secular allies
assassinated in 1975. swept the December 2008 polls.

“Your visit will open a new The significance of the visit, said
chapter in our relations”, Wahiduddin Mahmud, Professor
Dr. Manmohan Singh said of Economics at the University of
warmly, stressing increased Dhaka, lies not in “terms of the
collaboration to address number of agreements and MoUs
“common challenges of climate signed; much more important is
change, and assuring food, the expression of political will for

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Hiranmay Karlekar, Bangladesh

Mrs. Sheikh Hasina with the Prime Minister, expert and author of
Dr. Manmohan Singh (right) and at a
delegation level talks in New Delhi on “Bangladesh: The New
January 11, 2010. Afghanistan?”, hailed the results
The President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil presenting the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2009 to the
Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mrs. Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi on January 12, 2010. The Prime Minister
Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Chairperson, UPA, Smt. Sonia Gandhi are also seen in the picture.

of Sheikh Hasina’s visit, but India’s Bharti group has proposed neighbours”, The Daily Star said
contended that there was no US$ 300 million to build its in an editorial.
room for complacency if the telecom network and Meru Cabs
But the two principal architects of
process of win-win improvement along with Tatas are planning
the ongoing transformation best
had to be lasting. a transport service with 20,000
encapsulated the visit. Sheikh
radio cabs in capital Dhaka.
By taking bold steps to address Hasina said that she would not
each other’s long-standing The Bangladesh media hailed the only work for “Sonar Bangla” (a
concerns over terrorism, trade, visit. throwback to the golden era of
transit, transport and river water- bountiful and prosperous Bengal
“Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina
sharing, India and Bangladesh, of yore) but also for lasting peace
and Dr. Manmohan Singh seem to
are scripting a new chapter in in South Asia.
be inspired by a higher call than
their bilateral ties. mere diplomacy in dealing with Added Dr. Manmohan Singh:
the bilateral relations between “This visit has opened a new
On the economic and trade side the
Bangladesh and India,” said chapter in India-Bangladesh
opening of Demagiri-Thegamukh
Financial Express. relations, reflecting the true unity
on the Mizoram border,
The summit between them “bears of minds and hearts.”
Sabroom-Ramgarh on the Tripura
Border and border haats on the a mark of maturity in handling (Source: Indo-Asian News Service)
Meghalaya border bodes well for the sensitive issues vital to the
the North East states of India. mutual interest of both the

engineering marvel that heralds a new era in infrastructure
Bandra-Worli Sea Link consolidation in the country.

AN ENGINEERING MARVEL Ten years in the making, the bridge that was inaugurated recently
has used nearly 40,000 tonnes of steel, 90,000 tonnes of concrete,
Text: QUAID NAJMI weighs 270,000 tonnes and cost $327 million. The high-speed open
Photographs: N.K. SAREEN eight-lane carriageway, which is nine metres above the surface of
the water, rests on two main towers, each equivalent to a 43-storey

I t rises out of the blue grey waters with its two main towers
disappearing into the low slung monsoon clouds and stretches
for 5.6 km to connect two busy points of India’s financial hub
Mumbai through the Arabian Sea. India’s first open sea bridge,
called the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli Sea Link, is a cable-held
building, and 180 steel piers to weather the rough waves.
The two main towers connecting the cables that hold up the
bridge rise in a gigantic but perfect ‘Namaste,’ the traditional Indian
greeting. It also has two cable bridges, one 500 metres long on
the northern side and another Rs.50 and Rs.100 per trip Overwhelmed by the
350 metres long on the southern (about $2) depending on the compliments pouring in from
side, to allow the passage of size of the automobile. all over the country is the
fishing boats below. unassuming BWSL Chief Engineer
Regardless of the toll, residents S.M. Sabnis of the Maharashtra
The bridge – which was are thrilled with the latest State Road Development
conceived way back in 1963 – infrastructure wonder that Corporation (MSRDC).
encompasses some of the most curves one kilometre away from
modern security systems, shore and cuts out so much of “We have done our b-est and
including electronic eyes on the their drudgery. are happy that everybody
top and underneath. has liked it. It has been a
Mumbaikars, who drove up and tremendous morale-booster for
The project involved some down the bridge with the angry my entire team,” said Sabnis.
3,000 professionals from 11 Arabian Sea waves lashing at it
countries, including China, on both sides on the first day, Sabnis said that the new link
Egypt, Singapore, Thailand, and returned awe-struck. between the southern island
even Serbia and Switzerland. city and the northwest suburbs
“It has been an unreal would last for over a century
Beyond the figures and the experience, better than the with proper maintenance.
technical expertise, however, best we could have imagined.
He said it could withstand
is the sheer ease that it has The drive is not only pleasant,
earthquakes of very high
brought to the lives of millions it transports you to a different intensity and stormy gales of
of Mumbaikars, as the residents destination,” said management over 125 km per hour speeds,
of the city are referred to, by professional Venkat Iyer. the maximum on this stretch of
cutting down driving time. the Konkan coast.
“I was born in the city and have
The eight-kilometre distance seen it grow and develop in the Even the highest recorded
between suburban Bandra and past four decades. The bridge waves of six metres would not
Worli, in the central part of has completely floored me, the disturb traffic movement on the
the city, which used to take beautiful approaches on both carriageway, Sabnis explained.
60-90 minutes to cover during sides, the majesty of this great
the morning-evening peak city zooming past... It is most Sabnis and his team are
hours, can now be completed in impressive,” added investment now focused on completing
flat six-eight minutes. consultant Nigam R. Pandya. the remaining 20 percent of
work, on the second four-lane
Bypassing 23 signals that Businessman Pratap S. Bohra, carriageway. “Then, traffic
commuters have to presently who lives in suburban Juhu, movement will be greatly
endure, it is a new alternative said he had long abandoned enhanced on all the eight
to the existing Mahim Causeway his office in the central business lanes that make up the bridge,”
where daily traffic volumes district of Nariman Point in he said.
had exceeded 1.4 million downtown Mumbai on account (Source: Indo-Asian News Service)
vehicles, leading to massive of the time wasted in the traffic.
traffic snarls, especially during
“We kept hearing about the sea
peak hours.
link. Now that it is ready, I am
Authorities hope to see some seriously planning to attend my
150,000 vehicles use it each day office in south Mumbai,” said
for a toll that ranges between Bohra.


DESIGNED TO WIN I V Rao, managing executive

officer (engineering), MSIL,
succeeded in his mission – eight
Detroit-based auto engineers,
experienced designers, making it
difficult to execute new projects.
The newly-recruited global
ANNAMMA OOMMEN designers would help the auto-
specialising in auto design,
maker in grooming in-house
styling and modelling, and engine
designers and transferring know-
The Indian automotive industry is attracting global design development and manufacturing,
how, adds Rao.
have now been taken on MSIL’s
talent, as leading companies are hiring expatriate Other Indian auto-makers
rolls. Some of the engineers and
designers to help them launch a rash of new models, designers from the US are of including Tata Motors, Mahindra
even as some domestic giants have acquired international Indian-origin and were eager to & Mahindra, Bajaj Auto and
auto design firms. grab the Maruti offer. Royal Enfield, are also in talks
with international auto designers
According to Rao, the
as they launch ambitious drives
international design talent that the
to expand their in-house design
company is tapping into would
help it launch innovative new
models and also help train its Many international auto designers
engineers. “For a long time, we have also been visiting India
had limited resources,” points out in recent months, interacting
Rao. “We would get new designs with top executives of domestic
from Suzuki and the testing and automobile majors. These
development would be done designers have expertise in
here. We had less number of design and model-making

I ndia’s rapidly growing automobile sector is on the look-out for

international design talent, with several top auto-makers hiring
designers and engineers from different parts of the globe in recent
Unlike the US, where the auto industry has been facing a crisis, India’s
two-wheeler and four-wheeler industry is on a roll with record sales
being registered in financial year 2009-10. Top professionals, including
designers, engineers and researchers, who see tremendous possibilities
for growth in the burgeoning automobile sector in India are willing to
relocate to the country on medium- and long-term assignments.
A top executive of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the country’s largest
car-maker, was in Detroit earlier this year, meeting designers and
engineers in Motown, and urging them to relocate to India.

“We are looking at launching
electronic fuel injection models in
India,” says Padmanabhan. Royal
Enfield hopes to sell about 50,000
bikes this year.
FOR THE X PRIZE According to V G Ramakrishnan,
senior director, automotive and
transportation sector, Frost &

T ata Motors, which took

the global auto industry
by surprise with the launch
environment and provide
exception levels of customer
say the organisers of the
contest. “This progress is
needed because today’s oil
Sullivan, the new focus on the
role of design reflects the aim of
the Indian auto companies to tap
of the Nano, has made it to consumption is unsustainable global markets.
“It is with this vision that we
the new, narrowed down and because automotive
have entered the Progressive The change in the global auto
list of 43 contestant teams emissions significantly
Automotive X prize manufacturing landscape,
for Progressive Automotive contribute to global warming following the downturn in the
competition with the Indica and climate change.”
X Prize. US and Europe has also triggered
Vista EV-X in the Alternative
There were nearly a hundred class,” points out a company The organiser of the contest, off a ‘reverse brain-drain,’ with
teams in the original list of the X Prize Foundation, is best many designers seeking work
contestants for the $10 million known for its Ansari X Prize, in India and China. Pininfarina,
The contest aims to inspire which saw the first manned the legendary Italian auto design
prize – including established
a new generation of viable, firm, is also on the look-out for a
car-makers and even private space flight about five
super fuel-efficient vehicles white knight to rescue it from the
engineering students from years ago. The foundation is
ongoing crisis. There was talk of
Cornell Univeristy – who have that offer more consumer also sponsoring contests in
to develop next-generation choices. The $10 million prize genomics, healthcare and a
relating to hybrids, engines and
❛❛ an Indian auto major acquiring
the firm, but with many of the
green vehicles. The teams will be awarded to the teams moon landing. We had limited resources. top designers having quit the
submitted a list of over 50 that win a stage competition Two-wheeler giant Bajaj Auto We would get new designs Italian design house, there seems
“The teams and vehicles recently hired Edgar Heinrich
vehicles. for clean, production-capable from Suzuki and the little interest in the deal.
represented in this group (of from BMW Motorcycles to head
vehicles that exceed 100
Tata Motors, which has 43 contestants) are the most its design function. “The world development would be Design aspects such as proto-
miles per gallon or energy
been at the forefront of
equivalent (MPGe). The
viable in our competition has woken to the paradigm done here. typing and clay-modelling,
innovation, attributes and we believe that together shift in the Indian automobile which typically used to be
the spirit of ‘questioning
major focus is on efficiency,
they are positioned to industry, with out-of-the box ❜❜ done out of France, the UK and
safety, affordability, and the
the unquestioned’, for make a huge impact on the designs playing a vital role,” I V Rao, Italy, are now being executed
environment. points out Heinrich. The Pune- Managing Executive Officer, MSIL
by many automobile firms in
encouraging it to participate automotive marketplace,”
in the Progressive Automotive “It is about developing says Peter Diamandis, CEO headquartered company has been India itself. And both domestic
engineering from the University
and Chairman, X Prize launching a slew of new motor- and international auto firms
X Prize. The company aims real, production-capable of Pittsburgh, Padmanabhan
cycles to take on the challenge are investing significantly, both
to develop cars that are cars that consumers will Foundation. The winner of had worked with the advanced
posed by international majors in terms of investments in
more fuel efficient, cleaner, want to buy, not science the contest will be announced engineering team of General
including Harley-Davidson, who technology and human resources,
with minimum impact to the projects or concept cars,” in September 2010. Motors in the US, served in the
are poised to enter India. in design centres in India.
DaimlerChrysler Mercedes car
Royal Enfield brought in Venki division and was managing While GM and Chrysler have
Padmanabhan as chief operating director South East Asia global R&D centres in Bangalore,
officer this year to handle design sourcing operations for Chrysler Renault has a design centre in
and product development. before being picked up by Royal Mumbai. These design and R&D
With a doctorate in industrial Enfield. units not only do India-specific

projects, but also work for the high-tech, glamourous car bodies
parent companies. to serve as the main differentiator.
“The basic objective of setting Indian auto companies are keen
up a full-fledged India design to buy out global design houses
studio was to learn from Indian in a bid to produce contemporary
designers and the market about products, upgrade their R&D
‘DREAM COME TRUE’ local tastes and preferences,”
points out Jean-Philippe Salar,
and also become more globally
FOR AUTO ENGINEERS, DESIGNERS chief designer and head, Renault
competitive through better
management of costs.
Design India. According to him,
Renault’s design studio of 16 Utility vehicle major Mahindra &

M aruti Suzuki India Ltd,

the country’s largest
auto-maker, is putting up a
building the R&D capability
of Maruti Suzuki, and enable
us to offer superior products
According to Nakanishi,
the project “will be a
dream-come-true for Indian
persons operates as a satellite
to the parent studio in Paris. “In
the last 30 months, this studio
Mahindra recently acquired the
business of G.R. Grafica Ricerca
Design Srl (GRD), an Italian auto
sprawling, 700-acre high-tech to our customers in the engineers and automobile has handled end-to-end design designing, body-engineering and
R&D complex at Rohtak in future as well,” says Shinzo designers.” The ambitious for the Indian market and is now feasibility and styling company
Haryana. The new facility Nakanishi, Managing Director outlay for the Rohtak project capable of working on global based out of Turin. With this
will emerge as a global R&D and CEO, MSIL. According to highlights the growing `India- projects for Renault,” he adds. acquisition M&M intends to
develop a global design centre
hub for small cars for Japan’s him, Osamu Suzuki, Chairman focus’ by the Japanese auto Some Indian auto majors have
for the group and cater to global
Suzuki Motor Corporation of the Japanese auto major, giant towards making Maruti also started acquiring global
auto OEMs.
(SMC). had six years ago promised Suzuki the R&D hub for small design companies. A series of
that MSIL would be made the cars outside Japan, he adds. equity partnerships between “The synergies resulting from this
The Rohtak project, estimated
R&D hub for Asia, outside local companies and global firms acquisition will not only help us
to cost about US$ 325 million, The Rohtak facility is also the
Japan. in the past few months have strengthen our existing design
will feature a crash test latest of a series of big-ticket underscored the importance of capabilities, but will also help us
facility, emission labs, wind With the allocation of 700 investments by MSIL, which this aspect of the automobile emerge as a global auto design
tunnel testing, durability acres of land for MSIL by the has made Haryana a global industry, as a worldwide power house,” explains Pawan
testing facilities as well as Haryana government recently, manufacturing hub. For its consolidation wave prompts Goenka, president, automotive
performance evaluation “we have taken a step further latest global model, the ‘A
facilities for components. The in realising this promise,” he star’, SMC has chosen MSIL as
Rohtak complex will augment avers. The sprawling complex the sole manufacturing base
the full vehicle design and will feature a dedicated, for its global requirement.
development capability of 100-acre suppliers’ park for The decision to induct
Maruti Suzuki, which is on vendor companies. The test designers from the US at
course to design a car on its
tracks are expected to be its facility in India reflects
own and launch a made-in-
ready during the first phase the confidence of MSIL in
India car by 2012.
by 2012 and the overall R&D designing cars for global
“The facility in Rohtak would facilities will be completed by markets.
be a big step forward in 2015.

sector, M&M. “Complementary Adds Dilip Chhabria, managing
capabilities between Mahindra director, DC Design: “The current
and GRD will enhance the
The world has woken to the move of Indian OEMs acquiring
product development capabilities, paradigm shift in the Indian front-end design capability
IN TOP GEAR provide a solid European automobile industry, with is more in the nature of off-
footprint for M&M to leverage outof-the box designs playing shoring.”
technologies and skill sets by
a vital role. S D Pradhan, CEO, Argentum
Auto sales in India have Mahindra & Mahindra, Fiat, – expanded by 10 per cent harnessing the talent pool of
Engineering Design – which was
revved up dramatically in BMW and Audi have launched in September 2009, to 1.09 designers and engineers.”
set up by B V R Subbu, former
recent months, as consumers several new models in recent million, as against 990,000 India chief of Hyundai Motors
As global auto manufacturing Edgar Heinrich,
splurge on the new models months. units a year earlier. capabilities shift to Asia, design
Design Head, Bajaj Auto – says the firm has positioned
that have been launched by firms are setting up offices in itself as a contract designer
Overall vehicle sales For the first half of 2009-10
manufacturers. India to focus on back-end to prototype manufacturers.
– including cars, two- fiscal (April-September), total
operations, post the ideation Argentum has tied up with
According to the Society wheelers, three-wheelers vehicle sales grew by 14.51 costs are getting commoditised.
stage. Many global design Dassault Systemes, a French
of Indian Automobile and commercial vehicles per cent to 5.78 million units. Says Arun Jaura, head, R&D,
houses have also seen declining software major, to provide
Manufacturers (SIAM), auto Eaton Corporation, a diversified power-train solutions to various
business, partly as automobile
sales surged by 21 per cent industrial group: “Indian OEMs companies.
manufacturers have moved more
in September 2009 to 129,000 Segment April-Sept ‘08 April-Sept ‘09 % change design work in-house. A growing are committed to building
capabilities and acquisition of As the Indian automobile
units, as against 107,000 number of these firms are now
Passenger vehicles 779,217 884,118 13.46 design houses in developed industry presses hard on the
units in September 2008. prepared to sell equity stake in
economies seems to be the fastest accelerator and speeds on the
Thirteen of the 16 automobile Commercial vehicles 221,685 220,529 -0.52 their businesses in the hope of fast lane, design and research
manufacturers reported an revving their fortunes. way. With the engineering talent
Three-wheelers 184,934 207,809 12.37 pool in short supply, global and development will feature
increase in sales during the prominently in its overall strategy
Two-wheelers 3,864,443 4,470,464 15.68 Design will be the differentiator OEMs and suppliers will set up
month. to emerge as a global leader.
in the globalised environment, captive design centres in India
Total 5,050,279 5,782,920 14.51
Leading automakers including since performance, quality and and other developing markets.” (Source: India Brand Equity Foundation)
Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Source: Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM)

One Hundred Years of
The Indian Institute of Science Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata Maharaja of Mysore Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV Morris W Travers

behalf, and Lord Curzon the Bangalore, generously donated The Institute began with only

T he Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was conceived as a Viceroy of India, whose first by the Maharaja of Mysore two departments: General and
‘Research Institute’ or ‘University of Research’ by Jamsetji task on arrival on December in March 1907. Indeed, the Applied Chemistry and Electro-
Nusserwanji Tata, in the dying years of the 19th century. A 31, 1898 was to receive a contribution from the princely Technology. The first Director,
long period of almost thirteen years was to elapse from the initial draft proposal prepared by state of Mysore was the decisive Morris W Travers began the
conception in 1896 to the birth of the institute on May 27, 1909. the Provisional Committee set element in determining the task of organizing the Institute
The early history of the Institute is a fascinating chapter in the up to plan the establishment location of J.N. Tata’s proposed shortly after his arrival in India
story of higher education and scientific research in India. The of the Institute. The plan was institution. Remarkably, in at the end of 1906. Travers
cast of characters in the drama that led to the establishment of shepherded through many a gesture unmatched in the began the construction of the
the Institute includes, in addition to its charismatic and generous difficult years by Burjorji annals of private philanthropy main building, which is one of
founder J.N. Tata, figures from the pages of Indian history. Padshah, a close associate in India, Tata did not wish Bangalore’s landmarks today.
There is Swami Vivekananda, whom J.N. Tata befriended on his of J.N. Tata. Unfortunately, his name to be associated The Departments of Organic
famous voyage to the United States, the Maharaja of Mysore, J.N. Tata died in 1904 unaware with the Institute. His dream Chemistry and Biochemistry
Shri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother then acting on his that his vision would indeed was to create an institution were among the earliest to
be realized a few years later. that would contribute to the be established. The Physics
When the British Government development of India. The Department came into being in
finally issued the Vesting name, Indian Institute of 1933, when C.V. Raman became
Order in 1909, an unmatched Science, which was finally the first Indian Director of the
experiment in higher education chosen, reflects in every Institute. In the century that has
and research was launched way the wishes of J.N. Tata. passed since its inception, IISc
in India. IIsc is truly the first Visitors to Bangalore who has grown to become India’s
example of a public-private seek out IISc still have to ask premier centre for research
partnership in this country; an local residents for directions and postgraduate education
institution, whose evolution to the ‘Tata Institute’, a clear in science and engineering.
over a century is testimony recognition that Jamsetji Tata’s Several new areas of research
to the robustness of its act of generosity has remained have been established, many of
foundations. undimmed in public memory, them for the first time in India.
The Institute occupies nearly despite the passage of a The institute’s departments in
400 acres of prime land in century. fields ranging from Biochemistry

to Aerospace Engineering who was the Director of IISc Development (SID) promote
have served to nucleate in the critical period 1939-48, collaborative interactions with
research and development in during which much of the industry, while the Centre for
both the public and private activity in engineering was Continuing Education (CCE)
sectors. The faculty and alumni initiated at the Institute. Many provides an opportunity
of the Institute have been of India’s most distinguished for working scientist and
responsible for establishing scientists have been associated engineers to enrich themselves
and spearheading many new with the Institute as students or academically. The institute’s
institutions and programs across faculty. Notable among them Young Fellowships Program
the country, reflecting in a real are G.N. Ramachandran, Harish in Science and Engineering
sense, a major development. Chandra, S. Ramaseshan, A. seeks to bring young students
Homi Bhabha conceived Ramachandran, C.N.R Rao to the campus in summer. The
the idea of the Tata Institute and R. Narasimha. Alumni of Institute also administers the
of Fundamental Research the Institute head many major Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan
(TIFR) and an Atomic Energy organizations in India and Yojana (KVPY) program of the
Program while working in the abroad. Department of Science and
Department of Physics. Vikram Technology (DST) aimed at
Sarabhai, the founder of India’s The Institute offers a variety encouraging students of Basic
space program was an alumnus. of Master’s degree programs The Solid State Structural Chemistry Laboratory Sciences, Engineering and
Following his premature death, in Engineering, an integrated Medicine to take up research
the Indian Space Research (post-B.Sc.) program in Science amongst the best in India. A Integrated Systems. These careers in these areas. The
Organization (ISRO) was built and Ph.D programs in a wide major program for modernizing programs are intended to blur Institute’s commitment to
under the far-sighted leadership spectrum of disciplines in laboratories is underway, the traditional boundaries socially relevant research is
of Satish Dhawan, who science and engineering. The catalyzed by a special grant between disciplines, thereby specifically emphasized by
simultaneously held the position research laboratories at the provided by the Government promoting cross-disciplinary the activities undertaken at
of the Director of the Institute Institute are well equipped. of India in 2006. The Institute research. An M. Tech program the Centre for Sustainable
with the greatest distinction. Many national facilities are hosts hundreds of visitors from in Climate Science has also been Technologies (CST), together
The first Indian Institute of housed at the Institute. The India and abroad every year introduced. New centres in the with the Karnataka State Council
Technology (IIT) at Kharagpur library and computational and is the venue for many areas of Earth Sciences, Climate for Science and Technology
was established by J.C. Ghosh, facilities at the institute are major national and international Change and Neuroscience have (KSCST), which is housed on
academic events. been established. The Institute the campus.
The Aerospace Engineering Laboratory hopes to foster collaborative The evolution of the Institute
The face of science and
and interdisciplinary research in over the past one hundred years
engineering research has
a vigorous fashion in the years has mirrored the development
been changing very rapidly
to come. The Institute is also of science and technology in
over the past few years. In
committed to promoting post- India. A long history, a strong
approaching the second
doctoral research in the areas of tradition of academic research
century of the Institute many
science and engineering. and ambience that favours
new activities have been
initiated. Notable among them The Institute is engaged in scholarly activity have been
are the interdisciplinary Ph. interactions with society and important elements in making
D. Programs in Mathematical industry through a variety of the Institute a most attractive
Science, Chemical Biology, outreach programs. The Centre place for students and faculty.
Earth System Science, for Scientific and Industrial The author is Director, IISc, Bangalore.
Nanoscience and Nanotechnogy Consultancy (CSIC) and the
and Nanoengineering for Society for Innovation and

A unique experiment in
Tele-Ophthalmology provides a new hope in preventing
infant blindness in rural India.

A s of today, Retinopathy of
Prematurity (ROP) is the
leading cause of infant
blindness. According to the
WHO, middle-income countries
in the country, screening (and
treating) these babies especially
in the non-urban setting, is an
unmet challenge.
To address this issue, Narayana
such as India are believed to
Nethralaya Postgraduate
be in the midst of ‘the third
Institute of Ophthalmology,
epidemic’ of ROP.
a leading tertiary eye
care provider situated in
The figures speak for
Bangalore, has undertaken
themselves. Over 27 million
a unique experiment in
live births are recorded in
Tele-Ophthalmology over two
India annually and over 8.4%
years ago called “KIDROP”
of these are low weight births
(Karnataka State Internet
below 2000 grams. Upto 47%
Assisted Diagnosis of ROP).
of these low weight births
and premature babies share Under the leadership of over 7 districts of Southern to shift the baby to the city. “We are in the process of
the deadly risk factors of Dr Anand Vinekar, who heads Karnataka to image these Over 80% of this has been done expansion. Some other states in
potentially blinding ROP. Upto the Institute’s Pediatric Retina premature infants, and store, entirely free or at subsidized India as well as a few countries
15% of these may require department, trained technicians process and analyze these costs. Recently, the National in South-East Asia and Africa
treatment. With less than 300 armed with a portable wide- images. Using an indigenously Rural Health Mission (NRHM) have evinced keen interest in
retinal surgeons and less than field digital pediatric retinal developed web based Tele-ROP has extended support to this our model”, said Dr Anand
20 pediatric retinal surgeons camera (Retcam Shuttle), travel platform, the technicians were project to include six more Vinekar.
matched with ROP experts districts in Northern Karnataka.
With increasing neonatal
situated elsewhere validating
survival, rural and semi-urban
a unique model which has Since 2009,with the help of
infants are as much at risk as
obviated the need for the an indigenous company,
their city based counterparts of
physical presence of experts in i2i Tele-Solutions, the images
developing ROP. At this point in
the rural areas. acquired in rural areas are now
time, Tele-ROP seems to offer
being received on a specially
the best option to meet the
Thus far, over 2100 infants designed software application
standard of care for these tiny
from over 20 neonatal care on the Apple iPhone. The
and precious citizens.
centres, covering a radius of specialist can now provide live
350 kilometers have been diagnosis and a report using the Based on inputs provided by Narayana
Nethralaya Postgraduate Institute of
screened. Of these, over 230 GSM network further reducing Ophthalmology, Bangalore.
have undergone sight saving the dependence on the variable
(laser) treatment without having speed of the internet.

Stem Cell Lab, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore

IISc, Bangalore
Stem cells have been labelled stem cells to treat more than 85

Stem Cells the natural repair kit of the

human body. The cells, collected
from the umbilical cord blood
diseases is being undertaken.
India is catching up fast.
TOWARDS A DISEASE-FREE TOMORROW at the time of birth, are the Though there are no estimates of
building blocks of our blood and the size of the business, the stem
RICHA SHARMA immune systems and have the cell banking business is growing
potential to grow into any other rapidly with international
With stem cell therapy clearly emerging as the treatment type of cells. They form the companies like Cryo-Save,
for the future, India has joined a handful of nations white cells that fight infection, Cryo-Cell and Cryobank opening
red cells that carry oxygen and their branches in various parts of
in banking on technologically advanced healthcare options the country.
for humankind. platelets that promote healing.
“With a high birth rate (43
Stem cells present in bone million births a year), India

L ike all parents, Arvind cord blood cells of their babies marrow and umbilical cord can holds a huge market for the stem
Tripathi, a schoolteacher in to give them a way to fight generate new cells throughout cell banking business. Though
India’s pink city of Jaipur, blood, genetic and immune our lives. Umbilical cord blood in a nascent stage, awareness
wants to gift his unborn child system diseases for the rest of stem cells have been used about umbilical cord blood stem
a disease-free future. As India their lives. over the years in an increasing cell banking is catching up fast
walks the path of cutting-edge number of treatments including in India,” says Mayur Abhaya,
From 2001, when the first leukaemia, malignant tumours,
technology in healthcare, the president and executive director
stem cell bank in India was blood disorders and red cell
once unthinkable is actually of Life Cell International.
launched in the southern disorders.
within grasp and Tripathi is
city of Chennai by Reliance “To make people more aware
planning to achieve his dream
Life Sciences, now part of In the last few years, more than about the benefits, the company
by banking his baby’s stem cells.
the Reliance Group led by 10,000 patients in over 150 has tied up with several
He will soon join the ranks of Mukesh Ambani, benefits of countries have been treated with gynaecologist associations in the
30,000 other parents in India the technology have percolated cord blood stem cell transplants. country. We are also teaming up
who have banked the umbilical down to thousands of people. Currently, research in the use of with hospitals in the country to


“In the case of a private stem

cell bank, the client holds the
right to retrieve or access the
stem cells for his own use or by
his family members for which
purpose there is a periodic or
one-time payment which he
needs to make. These stem cells
Stem Cell Lab, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore

cannot be sold or transferred to

third parties,” Abhaya said. As
the stem cell revolution gains
strength in India, researchers in
the country are also marching
ahead for the therapy that has
the potential to radically change
the treatment of human disease.
The Centre for Cellular and
Molecular Biology in the
southern city of Hyderabad is
reach out to expecting mothers instalments) payment plans. collaborating with the Deccan
and counsel them about the Medical College for liver stem
“A couple interested in storing
benefits of storing cord blood,” cell research and with the
stem cells may contact the
Abhaya said. L.V. Prasad Eye Institute for
company two months before
He estimates that the business scheduled delivery. Our growing cornea cells.
is growing at a steady pace of counsellors will approach them The All India Institute for
25 to 30 percent per annum. and guide them about the Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
Realising the huge potential in process. After 21 years, we will in New Delhi is developing
stem cells banking business in charge a minimal annual fee to treatments using bone marrow
India, European company Cryo- store it for a lifetime,” explained cells for spinal cord injury, heart
Save launched its operations
in India last December with
an investment of Rs.10 million
(approx $206,000).
V.R. Chandramouli, managing
director of Cryo-Save, India.
Families that cannot raise the
tissue damage, diabetes, stroke,
peripheral vascular disease and
certain eye surface diseases.
Leela Naidu
money at the time of birth can The Armed Forces Medical
Stem cell banking kits – which bank the cord blood in a public College (AFMC) in the western Text & Photographs: SMM AUSAJA
include harvesting, processing bank and then arrange for it to Indian city of Pune has set
and storage of cord blood –
range from about $300 to about
$15,000 depending upon the
kind of facilities being offered.
Though not extravagantly
be transferred for exclusive use.
Public stem cell banks operate
like regular blood banks. It
doesn’t cost anything to donate
stem cells to a public bank
up one of the biggest stem
cell research centres in Asia.
With stem cell therapy clearly
emerging as the treatment for
the future, India has joined the
N ot many actresses leave a mark with just a few films in their
lifetime. Leela Naidu had a spark that made her stand out
in the film industry – even though she was never a part of
the ‘top’ star bracket that usually identified a popular actress in
the 60s. Launched in films by the legendary filmmaker Hrishikesh
priced, the facility is out of reach and the ownership of the cells rest of the world in banking on Mukherjee, Leela went on to do very few films and yet managed
for many Indians. To make doesn’t belong to the donor. The the best healthcare options for to win hearts across the country and form a loyal fan following
it affordable to the average unknown recipient pays for the humankind. that lingers even decades after her debut. Born in 1940 to nuclear
salaried person, companies are stem cells when he finds suitable (Source: Indo-Asian News Service) scientist Dr Ramaiah Naidu (who hailed from Chittor, Andhra
offering EMI (equated monthly matching stem cells. Pradesh) and his Swiss-French wife Marthe (who was herself an

indologist), Leela loved music of her best roles. The film was
and her mother would often a Hindi-English bilingual, based
play her lovely lullabies and on Ruth Jhabwala’s novel of the
French songs, often on the same name. Its Hindi dialogues
piano. Hindi and English songs were written by Prayag Raaj,
enchanted her on the radio. and Satyajit Ray had composed
Polish composer Frederic the music.
François Chopin’s music Leela worked in Ram Dayal’s
influenced her most as she Baghi in 1964 opposite Pradeep
crossed her fifth year. She began Kumar – Vijya Chowdhry and
learning the piano and also Mumtaz were also in the cast.
became one of the youngest The film however could not
entrants to the Music Academy sustain itself at the box office.
in Geneva. Graduating from Her career in Hindi films began
music to dance, she even learnt to wane after this film. She was
Leela Naidu and Sunil Dutt in
ballet at the age of eight. Her Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke, 1963 directed by seen in a guest appearance in
grooming for dance happened R.K. Nayyar (above) and the cover of the
soundtrack of Anuradha (right). Merchant-Ivory’s Guru in 1969,
at the Institute of Eurhythmics. the year she married writer
It was here that she also faced Dom Moraes, her childhood
the film camera at the age of films in 1960. Anuradha was
friend. Years later Leela Naidu
nine during the filming of a a sensitive story that required
returned to arc lights with
documentary. a matured performance. Leela
Shyam Benegal’s Trikaal, a
surprised the critics with a
In 1950 she appeared in a play brilliantly shot film set in Goa.
seasoned performance in
‘Leela – the soul who wanted to Leela once again delivered a
the title role, and the film
equal the gods’ at her Geneva memorable performance in this
went on to win the national
school. One of her school film which won two national
award for Best Film. Its music
mates was so impressed with awards. The last film she did
by Pandit Ravi Shankar still
her performance that he went was Pradeep Krishen’s Electric
delights the listeners. Her next
on to feature her in one of his playing an adulterous wife. Moon in 1992. In her entire
film – Ummeed – was released
experimental films ‘Birth of a The murder mystery was career she did very few films,
in 1962. It was directed by the
Soul’ years later. This film was inspired by a famous court but the impact of her few
legendary Nitin Bose. In fact
honoured at the Cannes film case ‘K M Nanawati v/s State of performances is such that she is
Bose had triumphed a year back
festival. Leela continued to do Maharashtra’ which had made still admired and respected as a
with Gunga Jumna – a film formidable performer on screen.
French and English plays in headlines across the country.
considered to be his best work. She died in Mumbai on 28th July
her European schooling, while Though the songs composed by
Leela shared the screen with Joy 2009, leaving behind wonderful
frequent trips to India kept her Ravi – ‘Yeh raaste hain pyaar
Oberoi who owned the Oberoi spiritualism under philosopher Mukherjee and Ashok Kumar in memories of her roles to
in touch with her roots. In 1954, ke...’ and ‘Yeh khamoshiyan...’
Hotels chain. They had twin J Krishnamurti. Ummeed, while composer Ravi millions of fans.
Leela shot to limelight by not soared at the charts, the film
daughters – Maya and Priya scored the music.
only winning the coveted Miss Director Hrishikesh Mukehrjee couldn’t get much success at The author is a film historian.
India crown but also a rank Oberoi, but Leela’s marriage chanced upon Leela’s Yet another memorable role for the box-office. The same year
among the ten most beautiful ended in a divorce with her photograph and decided to Naidu came in 1963 with Sunil Leela was seen and admired
women in the world, a listing husband getting the custody cast her in the title role of his Dutt’s ‘Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar in Merchant Ivory’s The
by Vogue magazine. Two years of the daughters. This setback forthcoming film Anuradha Ke’ directed by R K Nayyar. This Householder as she played the
later, Leela married 33 year old made her emotionally weak and opposite Balraj Sahni. Thus film gave her the opportunity free spirited wife with such
Tilak Raj Oberoi, son of Mohan vulnerable, and she turned to began her career in Hindi to stand out in her performance dedication that it remains one

Heritage Sports


The number ‘seven’ is sacred to the Manipuris, it represents the
seven ancestral clans of the people. Each player is outfitted with
a polo stick made of cane having a narrow angled wooden head
MANIPURI’S TRADITIONS OF POLO fixed at the striking end. The ball, 14 inches in circumference is
Text: DEBABRATA BANERJEE made of bamboo root. The mounted players hit the ball into the
Photographs: DILIP BANERJEE goal. Extremely vigorous and exhilarating, the game is played
in two styles – the PANA or original Manipuri style and the

The Manipuri name for Polo is Sagol Kangjei or Hockey on International style i.e. Polo. The ponies are also decorated fully
Horse. The traditional game is played seven a side mounted with metal guards protecting the eyes, forehead, flanks etc. The
on ponies which are often not more than 4/5 feet in height. Manipuri polo field measures 160 Sana-Lamjei by 80 Sana Lamjei,

a Sana-Lamjei being equal to
6 ft. The duration of a game
depends on the preset number
of goals to be scored by a side
for a win. If the wining number
of goals is not scored on the
day, the game is continued
into the next day! There are no
goal posts in traditional Sagol
Kangjei, the entire back line
being the goal target. There are
few rules in traditional Sagol
Kangjei. The game is started by
the Huntre Hunba or referee by
throwing the ball high up in the
air. A player is allowed to catch
the ball in mid air, run and hit it
with the mallet to score a goal.
In mid-play a player can roll
the ball from the ground up the
mallet into his hands and score
with mallet. Some semblance
of a rule was imposed by the
King Churachand Singh in 1928
when crossing the right of way
and hooking of the opponents
stick above the Pony’s height
was prohibited. Although the
royal patronage of the game
has ended, the game is still
played in its indigenous form.
There are over 30 polo clubs in
Manipur today and visitors are
amazed by the massive crowds
that turn out to witness the
tournaments at the Imphal Polo
The author is a noted writer.

Sacred Plants in Indian Lore...

Since time immemorial, certain trees and plants in India

have been invested with divine attributes. The Hindus were
taught to worship and revere them in the belief that it would
influence their own personal well-being. Evergreen trees
were regarded as symbols of eternal life. The groves in forests
were looked upon as habitations of the gods...

T he Banyan tree takes the pride of place amongst the sacred

trees of India. It has aerial roots that grow down into
the soil forming additional trunks. It is, therefore, called
Bahupada, one with several feet symbolising long life and also
representing the divine creator Brahma. It is invariably planted
in front of Hindu temples. Its numerous stems are even regarded
as the home of gods and spirits. It was under a Banyan tree that

Hindu temples and the Banyan tree at Agouree on the river Soane, Bihar by Thomas Daniell,
c. 1796 (below) and a Hindu woman performing a religious ceremony around the Tulsi plant
by D.V. Dhurandhar, c. 1890 (facing page), courtesy V&A Museum, London.

beneath its hallowed foliage. dangers and difficulties. Among
The most famous of these trees other virtues of the Tulsi are its
is the sacred Peepul at Gaya medicinal properties. Its leaves
under which Buddha sat when have a pleasing aroma and act
he attained enlightenment. as a cough elixir. Leaves are
Since then the Peepul tree is also eaten to help digestion
also called the Bo or the Bodhi and prevent other maladies like
tree. It is also believed to be a colds and chills. No wonder,
symbol of fertility and women the Hindus deified the plant for
worship it for progeny. its numerous qualities. Fanny
Pooja of the Tulsi by Fanny Parks c. 1830 Parks, the first Indophile, writer
The other sacred trees are the and artist makes a special
Bilva or oak-apple and the Besides the sacred trees, there mention of the worship of the
Asoka trees associated with are certain sacred plants too, “Toolsee” plant. She describes
different deities. The Asoka notably the Tulsi plant which is the rituals and ceremonial
tree is sacred to Kama, the found everywhere in sandy and ‘pooja of the toolsee’ and the
god of love, and according to fallow lands. An ancient variety way it was planted in a number
folklore, its buds will open up of the basil, Tulsi is considered of pillars hollowed at the top
in full bloom when the foot of a to be the wife of Lord Vishnu in Benaras where the devotees
young beautiful maiden touches and worshipped by the Hindus. walked around these pillars
its roots. The Bilva with its three In homes, Tulsi is grown in pots pouring water on the sacred
leaves resembling the Trishul, and worshipped daily. A mere plant.
or the trident held by Lord touch of the plant is believed Darbha or Kusha is a sacred
Shiva, finds mention in Hindu to purify the person and giving grass essential in all rituals.
The sacred tree of the Hindus at Gyah, Bihar by Thomas Daniell, c. 1796 mythology. Its fruit is a blood a twig of Tulsi to anyone is This plant is found in damp
purifier. considered as a protection from marshy ground. It is rough to
the Hindu sages sat in trance In Hindu mythology, the tree
seeking enlightenment, held is called Kalapvriksha, the tree touch and pointed at the top.
Women engaged in tree worship by William Carpenter, c. 1850, According to an old legend, it
discourses and conducted that provides fulfillment of courtesy V&A Museum, London.
holy rituals. Some Banyan wishes and other material gains. was produced at the time of the
trees reached a height of over The worship of the tree is also churning of the ocean by the
100 feet and more than a represented in Buddhist texts. gods and demons. It is also said
thousand feet in circumference. Another great tree of India is the gods while drinking amrita
No wonder, it is stated that ten the Peepul, found all over the or the nectar of immortality
thousand men could be covered country. Known for its antiquity, shed some drops on this grass
by a single tree. We come it finds mention in many Hindu which thus became sacred.
across mention of the Banyan scriptures as a sacred tree There is a mention of it in the
tree in many travellers’ account. whose worship is regarded as Hindu scriptures and the epics
Bishop Heber (1825) was so homage to the Trinity – Brahma, and is used in various religious
impressed by the sight of this Vishnu and Shiva. The tree is ceremonies, as it is believed
tree that he exclaimed, “what also associated with the old to have the virtue of purifying
a noble place of worship”. Vedic rituals of lighting the everything.
Travellers’ tales even inspired sacrificial fire with a twig of the The author is a noted writer.
the great English poet Milton to Peepul tree. Every village has
allude to the banyan tree in his its special Peepul tree and the
Paradise Lost. village elders hold their councils

Jaipur Literature Festival

T here are few women in the world busier than celebrity

Manhattan editor Tina Brown whose latest venture is a
news website called “The Daily Beast” which gets 50 million
hits a day but for two years in a row she has made it a point of
taking out a week to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival.
“I’m addicted to it. It’s the most wonderful gathering of the
world’s top authors and the best Indian writers. It’s stimulating
and fun,” she said while enjoying a hot spiced cider in Flow café
located on the sprawling lawns of Diggi Palace, the faded but
charming palace turned into a resort where the festival is held
every January.

Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka Tina Brown with Vir Sanghvi of Hindustan Times

Before arriving in Jaipur, Ms Brown had been interviewed on Twitter

by The Sunday Times in the UK. When asked what she was doing
at that moment, she replied that she was having breakfast in a New
York diner and looking forward to attending the festival.

“After Tatler, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker (all magazines that
Ms Brown has edited) isn’t an Indian literature festival a bit low-rent?”
her interlocuter asked.

She was withering in her reply: “What are you talking about? The
festival has the world’s best writers. If that’s slumming it, I’ll do
it every day.” Later, writing on The Daily Beast, she called it ‘the
greatest literary show on earth’.

For the ‘Pink City’, the festival was once again a source of local pride
as Wole Soyinka, Michael Frayn, Amit Chaudhari, Pavan Varma,
Louis de Bernieres, Vikram Chandra, Alexander McCall Smith, Hanif
Kureishi and nearly 200 other top authors kicked off five whirlwind
days of literary activity.

The festival’s origins, five years ago, were exceedingly humble.

“I read in a room full of dusty sofas with six persons sitting in the
audience. When the slide projector failed, three of them left despite
my begging them to stay,” related co-founder and British writer
William Dalrymple, who has made his home in India.

Two years later, in 2007,
Dalrymple and the other
founder, Namita Gokhale, got
about eight to ten authors. Last
year proved to be the tipping
point when, suddenly, the
festival became ‘big’, attracting
160 authors, 20,000 people and
establishing itself as the biggest
literary festival in India and Asia.
The event prides itself on being
the ‘most democratic’ book
festival in the world with free
entry for everyone and no
special treatment for famous
authors or celebrity visitors.
Last year, film star Julia Roberts
visited (unrecognised) while
Vikram Seth sat cross legged
on the lawns to eat his dinner
because there was no space at a
There are no separate
enclosures. The authors use
the same toilets and eat the
same food. Anyone, including
the 200 local school children
and students from Delhi who
are invited, can buttonhole an
author and engage him or her in
This year, Nigerian Nobel
prizewinner Wole Soyinka found
himself dining with a bunch of
wide-eyed schoolgirls. “He was
telling us how to lead a good life
and what it means to be a good
human being,” said Asha Gupta,
a Jaipur schoolgirl.
British writer Hanif Kureishi
found himself ambushed by
schoolboys demanding his
autograph. “I haven’t read his

A view of the evening gathering

novels but I’ve heard of him,” is with chandeliers and frescoed the winter than the sun shining
said a delighted Nikhil Rathore, walls, could accommodate all in Jaipur?” Mr Dalrymple says
15 when an initially reluctant the Indians and foreigners – over that the idea of a festival in
Kureshi relented. He added: “I 26,000 this year – who descend India first occurred to him when
have never in my life seen so on Diggi Palace. he used to attend festivals in
many famous people.” other countries and would
Much of the appeal of the
find celebrated Indian authors
At this point, actor Om Puri, who festival lies in Diggi’s manicured
everywhere, except in India.
was promoting his biography, lawns and old world charm. As
walked past, chased by a posse award-winning biographer, Claire Poetry readings and concerts
of photographers and reporters, Tomalin, explained the art of lasted till past midnight with the
and Rathore ran off to join them biography in a tent of vast pink, lawns overflowing not just with
to get Mr Puri’s autograph too. green, lime, yellow and magenta festival guests but with locals
stripes, she was interrupted by curious to see the event that has
At this festival, no matter how
the neighing of horses tethered put their city on the literary map.
famous you are, you have to
nearby in the royal stables. “Jaipur is the perfect festival
fend for yourself, whether it’s
city,” said festival producer
for a place to sit or to grab some “The festival still has the feel
Author Chetan Bhagat in a session with Meenakshi Madhavan, Ira Trivedi and Anjum Hasan Sanjoy K. Roy. “It’s not just about
food which is on a first-come, (from left to right).
of a group of friends putting
books but about the music,
first-served basis. A frazzled and it together for a lark,” said
colour and fun of Rajasthan.”
lost-looking Michael Frayn, a Dalrymple. “The city itself is an
The festivity is the best of singers from Bengal led by
celebrated British playwright, attraction. What can be nicer in Every session offered something
Rajasthan – colourful outfits Paban Das Baul, were equally
was seen wandering around the
and wonderful folk musicians popular.
lawns looking for a chair. A performance by the Rajasthani folk musicians
and dancers, brightly coloured
As eclectic as ever, the music
The same rules apply to marquees and turbaned men
ranged from Sufi and Indian
everyone. Dalrymple himself was serving masala chai in ‘khullars’
folk to Moroccan and popular
ticked off by a guard outside or clay cups.
fusion musicians such as Biddu
the Full Circle book stall for
The concerts in the evening Unplugged (Biddu was born in
taking his coffee inside, against
are an integral part of the India where he started his career
the rules. Like an obedient
festival. After a day’s intellectual playing in a pop band whose
schoolboy, he obeyed.
stimulation, visitors are eager to influences lay in the classical
Unlike other big literature enjoy a rollicking good show and repertoire of the Beatles and the
festivals which have become they were not let down this year. Rolling Stones). The grand finale
hierarchical and money-making The audience went wild when – a Writers’ Ball with a sound
machines, at Diggi Palace, the Susheela Raman, an acclaimed and light show – took place at
atmosphere is relaxed, cheerful, British Tamil singer, gave them Jaipur’s famous Amber Fort.
informal, and almost carnival-like a taste of the rich, bold voice
But to come back to the daytime
with large crowds milling around which won her a nomination
activities, these are packed with
day and night. Anyone, from for the 2001 Mercury prize for
serious discussions on literature
a journalist or diplomat to a her debut album, Salt Rain. Her
in the marquees which attract
student can buttonhole an author partner and guitarist Sam Mills
enthusiastic audiences prepared
or someone like actor Rahul also performed with her. In this
to sit on the floor to hear the
Bose who did a wonderful job performance of UK and Indian
writers they love and admire.
of moderating a discussion on music, Nathoo Lal Solanki, a
adapting books into screenplays, classical Nagara player and folk These tents are put up on the
and have a conversation with musician Chugge Khan also lawns because there is no way
them or lunch with them. delighted the crowd. The Baul that the Durbar Hall, grand as it

new. Alexander McCall Smith,
author of the hugely successful
No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
series, and a wonderful
raconteur, treated the audience
to some hilarious stories.
In the Baitak tent, everyone
was so absorbed in hearing
Omprakash Valmiki speak
about his childhood that no one
noticed former Rajasthan chief
minister Vasundhara Raje walk in
and quietly sit down.
On another day, a poetry session
honouring the Pakistani Urdu
poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz took
place to commemorate his 99th
birthday at which his daughter
Salima Hashmi recited his poetry
and spoke on his legacy.
Fans of actress Shabana Azmi
were thrilled to hear her talk
about her mother’s book,
‘Kaifi and I’ in a conversation
with Urvashi Butalia.
If the festival continues to grow
at its currently phenomenal
rate, it will be difficult for
Diggi Palace – which is already
bursting at the seams and looks
like a bombsite at the end of
every day – to continue hosting
it. If, perchance, this lovable,
cuddly gorilla of a festival ends
up moving to another venue, it
just won’t be the same.
The author is a freelance journalist.

Susheela Raman and Sam Mills performing

at the festival.

Book Review

Quicker access to distant locations, larger disposable incomes
and rising lifestyle aspirations characterise the growing numbers
of leisure seekers today. As with other locations, within the four
VIEW FROM A CAMERA IN THE CLOUDS corners of India, the Himalaya presents extensive opportunities for
a unique outdoor experience. This extends to winter as well when,
SUDHIR SAHI for example, the frozen Zanskar turns to a white sheet, or Chadar,
and briefly allows winter access to the Zanskar valley.

F or many years now Ashok Dilwali has dexterously captured

the facets of the Himalaya. As Dr MS Gill says in his Foreword,
“The mountains being a passion with Ashok, he simply wanted
to capture every mood and nuance of each ray of the sun, in all its
hues – over the snowy peaks...”
In the vastness covering this sprawling ampitheatre, lie high
mountain passes, lakes and valleys, often rising above 20000 ft to
the summits of the world’s most fascinating mountain faces. Access
by land is therefore usually feasible during summer when the high
passes are clear of snow, usually from May to October.
The fragile eco-system of the Himalaya arches across from the
Indus to the Brahmaputra. To its south, as indeed to its north, it Ashok Dilwali has seen it all. But for him, the wonder of the
faces threats on a magnitude not imagined before. Its impact on Himalaya never ceases, revealing to this day, the vestiges of its
our life support systems is critical, bordering on extreme climatic great ethno-cultural cauldron. It is a region where mountain
variation. It engenders the drainage basins of some of the world’s journeys to distant lakes resonate to the call of the brahmini duck,
greatest rivers, plains and forests which are home to countless life the barheaded geese and the crested grebe. And on the fringe
forms. of survival, in a barren rocky profile, the sensitive visitor may

chance upon the habitat of the most elusive and threatened of all
predators, the snow leopard.
Ashok has trodden on trading routes, trekking trails and grazing
tracks that radiate in numerous directions. Many festivals that mark
local lifestyles have been captured at altitude through his lens and
There is a message crying out from Ashok’s many frames. When the
balance between natural processes is subjected to heavy pressure,
the resultant damage can create positions where weather patterns
and lifestyles are thrown out of gear. Burning of fossil fuels and the
ensuing greenhouse effect has led to global warming while the use
of non-biodegradable containers such as aerosols has dented the
ozone shield, raising ultra-violet radiation.
In the fragile eco-system of the Himalaya, this takes on a crucial
dimension. Local communities become the motive force for
sustainable practices, especially in the preservation of local
traditions and habitats. While tempering the impact of the
ecological footprint, this also creates the pressure point for an
equitable local share in the economic benefits of ‘development’.
The author is a noted travel consultant.


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