Greetings

Congratulations to Mirabai Chanu for winning two Gold Medals in Common Wealth Games - 2018, in Weight Lifting sport. We are all proud of you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mom's Surgery

I am busy with my mothers health check ups and her surgery. I just hate the visits to hospitals or doctors. I feel the facilities here are quite costly and for a common man its not affordable.

Though we have Government hospitals, where the doctors are well experienced and one of the finest, lack of equipment and other facilities along with the serpentine queues and unhygienic conditions are a real put off. Most of the poor, lower and middle class have no other option but to go there. We cannot blame the staff working in such hospitals for lacking service motive as they have their own problems, though this should not be an excuse for their rude behavior.

Then there are corporate hospitals.The facilities and the services are good but the cost is quite high. But who can take risk where health is concerned? So people like us are forced to somehow mange the finances and go for costly treatments selecting carefully the services vs cost as per our budgets. But boy here too the queues are huge and they really test our patience.

One of the most irritating things is that, no one ever lifts the phones or simply keep them of the hook,no matter even if there are so many sitting idle at the reception desk. Even if by some very remote lucky chance they do lift it, they say there is no appointment just come register and wait. So me and my mom went  by ten o'clock, registered and had to wait hour and half as there was a power cut and the generator was not working. I forgot to take along a book or my embroidery project with me in my hurry, so I was just watching others there. There were very old and invalid in wheel chairs, children, mothers with new born and so on. How difficult it was for them to wait for so long.

When the power came, there were a series of tests to be done initially, before referring to the experts. We were shuttled form one room to the other. We did not know what tests they are doing and why. We dare not ask because even before we can form the question, we are asked to go for next test. Even if we ask, they look down upon us as illiterates. No doubt they have to deal with so many people but is not a patient human? If the doctors talk to them and assure them , I feel the patient is half cured then and there. It gives them a hope a confidence to face the illness. But who is bothered or who has the time? Then again not all are like that. We do come across some caring persons who are very gentle and answer all our doubts patiently. If I come across such a doctor, I do make it a point to take time and thank him properly.

If one knows someone in those hospitals they manage to jump the queues and also get special treatment. Those who have been waiting in the queues have to just wait and watch helplessly. After all our tests finally when it came to expert opinion, the doctor was on leave that day. So what to do? Again visit the hospital on some other day.

Next day we visited another hospital. It took us the whole day for the checkups. we had to forgo our lunch and wait. Who wants to come another day and waste one more day? At the end of the day we returned home in the evening exhausted and  hungry . My mother was also very tired by the end of it but she bore it well with a smile. If this is the case with me, think about the senior citizens, invalids and children who has to face this. What about those who are working and who are not given leave so often?

Any way friends I may not be able to post during the coming week. I have so much to share with you. But I am so tensed up and my mind refuses to relax . I just want to make sure everything goes well .Still I will try....Please bear with me...Keep watching

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I was busy

So sorry. I was busy with Diwali. We have not celebrated it full fledged as we donated the entire amount to be spent on crackers and other festivities to the flood relief. But still there was cleaning and weeding out old and unused stuff, decorating the house with flowers and diyas. This too we kept it to bare minimal. But visiting friends and relatives...after all this is the time to renew our bonds even those people whom we were not able to contact for some time.

I wanted to bring you so many glimpses of our festivities but with my sis and mother ill, I just could not do any thing much.

Now I am relatively free so am going to post on Indian embroideries and other arts and crafts ...Keep watching

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A helping hand

Some regions of Andhra Pradesh have been hit by floods last month. Though there was not much loss of lives, there was of loss of property, crops, livestock worth millions of rupees.

India is a country of villages, where agriculture was and still is the main occupation. The crops that are grown here are diverse as the climatic conditions are. Our agriculture is dependent on monsoons mostly. The rivers and tanks are fed during the monsoon season.

This time around the monsoon which begins by mid June and continues till almost November-December, did not give much rains till mid September. A drought situation prevailed. But the heavy rains during the last weeks of September had resulted in floods in one of the main rivers-Krishna. Uasually in such situations the poor or lower middle class who settle along the banks of the rivers or tanks are the ones who are most affected. But this time around, the higher middle class and even the rich were not spared as Krishna waters entered the town of Kurnool. We all watched the horrifying scenes where people were perched atop fifth or higher storied buildings submerged up to fourth floor were crying out for help. Then they were rescued and shifted to camps. But their belongings and houses were destroyed by water. Even for the middle and upper middle class is it possible to replace all their belongins, repair their houses at one go?

They lost everything in their homes either to water or to the vandals who make most of it during the absence of the residents. All of us glued to our TV sets were praying for the safety of the people there. Hospitals, shops, police stations, everything was submerged under water. Thanks to our rescue teams, the people could at least save their lives.

The first few days we were busy packing food, water and medicines and sending them through various relief groups. Later on we pitched in by collecting cash, clothes, blankets, food stuff and other required articles as much as we could and send them there. We are still on the job.So many organisations, institutions, individuals are coming forward to help them. Specially the media helped a lot not only by telecasting the hardships, but they them selves rescued many and helped them by providing food and shelter. No matter how much we help, it is much less as millions, lost their everything and it will be months before they can even settle down. Those who were rich once and were giving a helping hand to others were seen embarrassed to be put in relief camps, but what could they do?

But what moved me the most were some little snippets of news. Children giving away their pocket monies and savings, beggars begging and donating from their earnings. One daily wage earner who is not sure of earning one square meal a day, donated his earnings of two days for flood victims. Its these selfless acts which should motivate other people who can afford but don't help out.

We have already decided not to celebrate Diwali and donate to those people. We are just going to restrict it to very low key-offering prayers and praying for all those brothers and sisters out there. How can we be happily celebrating when our own fellow country men are thrown out of their homes?

My humble request to any one reading this, please do help the victims by donating what you can however small it is . The Government or some organisations/institutions alone cannot help so many millions out there.

I just hope after reading my plea even one person helps in any way, it would be a blessing for all those suffering there........

Monday, October 12, 2009

Toda Embroidery "Pugur"

Toda is tribal embroidery from the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. The tribe known as Todu inhabit the Nilgiri hills. Both men and women wear a shawl known as"Puthukuli", which is their traditional costume and looks some what like Roman attire Toga. But the way women wear this is different from the way men wear it. The shawl is adorned with embroidered .Heavily embroidered attires are worn during ceremonies and festivities.

About Toda embroidery :

This is a very distinctive and intricate form of embroidery. It is known as"Pugur" meaning flower.The women of the tribe do the embroidery. The ground fabric used is cotton, which is coarse in texture and unbleached-off white colour. The fabric has alternate broad stripes of red and black length wise.,each six inches apart. Embroidery is done in a long, continuous length wise bands between these stripes.

The technique used is an intricate form of Needle Weaving using only one stitch that is Darning. Motifs are worked, by counting the threads. So the beauty of the embroidery depends upon the precision with which these ladies count the threads of the fabric and then embroider.

Embroidery is done from the back side of the fabric using a long darning needle, weaving a short distance, turning around the fabric and weaving the thread back. The embroidery is so finely executed that it looks like weaving. Embroidery is reversible and Todas use the rougher under side of the fabric as the right side.

The patterns used are geometric, reflect Macedonian influence and are inspired by the nature; Sun, Moon, stars, flowers, snakes, etc. Buffalo horn is widely used motif. Other motifs used are Izhadvinpuguti, which is a motif named after their priest, mettvi kanpugur is a box. Rabbit ears is always embroidered at the edge of the fabric to avoid it from unraveling itself. These days the embroideries are not just restricted to shawls but also to borders, table mats, bags, pouches and other such articles are made for tourists. But this art is dying and may vanish altogether if not properly safeguarded.
Toda woman wearing the Puthukuli
These are some of the wares on display at a recently held exhibition
See the red and black embroidery and the motifs used
I spoke with the person managing the stall.  He gave the above information.
I just could not resist buying two bags and some borders
These are the bags, I bought from the stall.
Another pattern on the bag below
This is the waist coat with the embroidery
This is a skirt below with the embroidery
These are the borders which I bought. These can be used as attachment to a blouse or a tunic.
Somehow I don't feel like cutting them up and using. I may retain them in my album of textiles and embroideries.

Just look at the beauty of the hand work.
Below the design on the reverse. It looks like its woven.
So how do you like it? let me know please.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Folk embroideries of India

So lets us start with Folk/Tribal embroideries of India.....

Some say folk and tribal embroideries are different. I feel there is a very thin line of division between the two, since India was and still is a country of villages, inspite of flourishing cities /urban areas since ancient times.and most of the arts and crafts came from rural areas. Any way I have grouped them together for convenience.

Folk or tribal embroideries of India are  very beautiful and have been handed over generations since a long time. Its generally the women folk who do this art.Girls take to embroidery at a very young age learning from their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and other ladies of the community. After men leave for their daily work, women gather together in their houses, or under tress and while gossiping, embroider on various articles.

The grand mothers start embroidering and making clothes for the young ones as soon as their daughters or sons are married. So also mothers and grand mothers start making dowry goods for their young girls,and the girls them selves make them. The dowry goods may include wedding dress of the bride, bed spreads and various other such items.

Mind you these embroideries are mostly usable items and not just for decorative purpose. Women's clothing, like saris, skirts, blouses, dupattas (stoles), bags, purses, tray clothes, bed spreads, quilts, torans, men's clothes, children's clothes, handkerchiefs, tents, to decorate cradles, even for decorating the animals like, horses, camels, bulls and cows are also made. The horns of the bulls and cows, their foreheads, drapes on their backs are made. The decorations for horses and camels are also embroidered and the result is so beautiful, colorful and intricately done patterns.

The basic ground fabric used is cotton most of the time and sometimes silks, made from hand spun yarn and hand woven. Yarn used may be cotton, silk or wool. Both the fabric and the yarn were dyed in natural colours. But now  slowly fabrics and threads available in the present markets are being used. Applique, beads, small bells (ghungroos), mirrors (shisha), cowries (sea shells), beads, coins, metallic objects, fringes, tassels, sequin and braids.

Motifs can be geometrical, birds like parrots, peacocks, swans, cranes, animals like lions, tigers, horses, camels, goats, cows, bulls, snakes,  flowers, fruits, trees village scenes, festival scenes, gods, goddesses and many more.

Each region has its own unique and distinct features. That helps in identifying the region, area, group or community to which they belong to.
 
This is an example of Aari work on a silk saree
 
This is shisha and bead work by the Banjaras;  a beautiful bag

From the next post I will be dealing with each style separately....Keep watching my blog

Friday, October 9, 2009

Diverse varieties of Indian Embroideries

Embroidery can be defined as Painting with a Needle? That's what I think embroidery is. Isn't embroidery a form of self expression for us women? The fabric is a canvas, where we women, paint pictures our lives, reflecting our desires, hopes, aspirations, using the colours of our cultures, traditions, religious beliefs and regional influences.

In India, for the Rich, embroidery always meant flaunting their wealth, status and for standing out amongst others. For the poor and middle class, it is a way to strengthen old and much used cloth, to cover tear and wear, to lengthen life of the clothes for some more time, to indicate the region or group to which they belong and a way to reflect the love of the woman doing it for her man or son or daughter. I for one believe that embroideries are an expression of our love for the person for whom we are stitching them.

Indian embroideries according to me can be broadly classified into two categories:
  • The Folk and Tribal embroideries and
  • The embroideries for the Rich and the Nobility or Urban
What is amazing is that  most of the Indian embroideries are folk or tribal embroideries and came from the hands of the nomads, villages and the poor. Due to invasions and trade links with other cultures and countries, there was always an intermingling between the people from different areas so also their cultures, languages, arts and crafts and cuisines. This has greatly influenced our arts and crafts and also embroideries to a great extent and evolved in into a very beautiful art.

The following are the various types/styles of Indian embroideries ;
  1. Aari Bharath
  2. Ahir Bharath
  3. Abhla Bharath 
  4. Agothi
  5. Applique
  6. Bagh
  7. Banjara
  8. Bharath
  9. Bidri
  10. Chamba
  11. Chikankari
  12. Darawadi
  13. Dhebaria
  14. Gota Kinara
  15. Heer Bharath
  16. Jhat
  17. Kabira and Khudi Tebha 
  18. Khambhiro
  19. Kharek
  20. Kanbi Bharath
  21. Kanta
  22. Karchobi
  23. Kasuti
  24. Kashida from Bihar
  25. kashida from Kashmir
  26. Kathi
  27. Mochi Bharath
  28. Moti Bharath
  29. Mutwa
  30. Neran
  31. Pakko Bharath
  32. Patch work
  33. Patti ka kaam
  34. Phulkari
  35. Pichwai
  36. Rabari 
  37. Sadu Bharath
  38. Sindhi Taropa 
  39. Soi Bharath
  40. Soof
  41. Sujani
  42. Toda
  43. Zardosi
  44. Leather embroidery


This is the applique and mirror work from Pippli Orissa



This is the patch work with mirrors and gold threads from Gujarath

I have covered major styles here, might have missed some and some may be same technique but with different names. As I am still gathering information on these styles, I am learning along with you all. So as and when I take up a particular style, I will try to give as much information about it as possible. But the subject is so vast and material is not so easily available. I am referring various books and articles and trying to bring them all together and organise them into proper form. Let us see. But if any one reading this post can add to or correct it, I will be very happy please.

Free Apron Patterns

This is one amazing site, I landed on browsing. There are lots of patterns for Aprons and very neatly classified into various categories. They have pattern for children, men, knit, crochet, vintage, full aprons, smocked, for housekeeping, lined and reversible and some using jean cloth. My its an awesome collection. Links to Tutorials and Free Patterns have been  provided. Adding of bottom pleats, chicken scratch embroidery and other such Apron Goodies are also there. Thanks a lot Tipnut. A great site.


This being festive season in India and my friends who are gearing up for Christmas, why not try this site. I for one want to recycle my brothers jeans and do something with it. Why not an apron for my sis and mom? What do you say? Well I will try and post the results here soon.

Hope you all try the patterns of your choice and let me know the result. Here is the link:

http://tipnut.com/56-free-apron-patterns-you-can-make/

Keep smiling :)

Free patterns

Who would not love free patterns? All of us who are interested in needle work and crafts are always looking out for free patterns. I for one keep on browsing  net for various free patterns in hand embroidery-free style, needle point, cross stitch, appliques, quilting blocks, crochet, paper crafts, and other crafts and sewing patterns. Though I don't have the time to attempt them myself.  I will share all such sites/blogs offering them as and when I come across them

For Vintage patterns  visit the following;

I love the blog of Floresita. She has got tons and tons of the most beautiful vintage patterns. Just peep in once and you will be hooked forever. I have give the link below;

http://mytransfers.blogspot.com/

Another one is Patternbee.com. I like the flowers of the month designs and various other designs. They have some nice floral, red work and other designs. The link is give below:

http://www.patternbee.com/

So enjoy the free patterns

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Header

Some one was asking me the other day about the collage I have on my header. I don't know whether I can call it as a collage or not. Any way, you can see lots of arts n crafts there; Crochet, Kutch work, Kanta work, Applique, mirror work, Banjara work, Kalamkari, dolls, wooden toys, bangles and embroidery materials.

Some of them, I have done myself, some are from my collections.

I have many more but could not fit in there. Already I think its too garish, but I just wanted to give you all a glimpse of at least some of the beautiful Indian arts and crafts.

I am going to post about each of them separately in my posts on various arts and crafts of India and across the world.

So keep watching my blog.......

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Traditional Indian Embroideries-An Intro

India has been and still is famous for its rich and varied textiles, as well as embroideries since ancient times; that is the Indus Valley civilization which was around 2500 BC. I will be doing separate posts on textiles as many of my friends wanted it. Here I am going to discuss embroideries of India as briefly as possible and post separate articles on each of the techniques including tutorials, stitches involved and free patterns.

Embroidery has always played a very important part in our Indian societies. Whether in rural or urban lives, embroidered goods/textiles figures in our weddings as dowry, religious ceremonies and almost all auspicious occasions and festivities and also as group or region identifier. Richly Embroidered textiles using precious gems, gold and silver threads and pearls etc, were worn by the kings and royalty, adorned their walls, beds and thrones. Of course, our embroidered textiles were a great source of income and helped us in trading with other countries since ancient times.

Indian embroideries are different from that of the others may be due to;
* Natural dyes were used for dying the cloth and the yarn,
* Use of delicate fabrics like fine, silks, cottons and muslins as ground fabric,
* Use of gold silver, gems and pearls and other semi precious jewels for embroidery,
* Exquisite, fine, intricate and detailed patterns
* Highly colorful and unique embroidery forms and diversity in styles and designs

There also some similarities with embroideries of other countires which I will point out when I am writing about specific styles.

Embroideries here are as different and varied as our cultures and languages. There may be many similarities in different styles, but then each embroidery is distinct from the other, has a mark of its own. This difference in styles patterns or motifs used, ground fabric and yarns used, are all influenced by the factors like diversity in cultures, religions, traditions and availability of local indigenous materials.

For example Bengal is famous for its fine cottons, muslin cloths and a particular type of silk known as “Tussar silk”. Hence these from the base for the famous Kanta work. In Kashmir Woolen clothes and wool yarn is used for embroideries. In South again there are fine cottons and silks.



This is the beautiful Aari work from Kashmir done with wool yarn on wool blended fabric, since the winters are very cold and severe. Aari is a needle or awl which is popularly known as Tambour work in other countries, which is chain stitch.



This the famous Kanta work from Bengal on fine Handloom cotton sari with Zari Border.



This the famous Chikankari work from Uttar Pradesh. Its like shadow work.



This is the famous Phulkari work from Punjab, done with silk threads on a synthetic background.

Similarly the embroideries from Gujarath and Rajasthan, mostly dessert regions are very colourful and vibrant. The Chikankari embroidery from Uttar Pradesh is very intricate but soothing in pastel colours. Some  embroideries use geometric patterns. But mostly the patterns are derived from everyday lives-floral, animals and birds, temple towers, festivals and celebrations, village lives, gods and goddesses etc. Use of mirrors, coins, cowrie and beads is also a common practice in tribal or folk embroideries. Some of our embroideries have almost disappeared, where as some have been revived and have been modernised to suit the present tastes.

So come with me to explore the wonderful, beautiful and fascinating world of Indian Embroideries over the following weeks to unravel the intricacies of each style.

This is such a vast ocean, so what I know is very less when compared to what I have still to learn. So friends some of you out there may be experts, professionals, fashion designers or having interest in this subject, if there are any omissions, or errors please correct me, by leaving your valuable comments, suggestions so that I can also learn something more.


Please do leave your comments and suggestions...they will motivate me to post more ...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Disappointed

I was the week end winner on JMD  for the week ending 20th September and won two of Janets, lovely designs. But I was so busy and my net giving me problems, I failed to check her site for the winner. Actually I was not so sure of winning also. But I just knew about my winning only when she announced the next week end winner. Alas! thus I have lost those lovely designs.

Now you tell me which is more sad? Not winning or winning but not able to contact Janet and collect my prize in time? So I am so disappointed. Who would not want to try out some of her lovely designs that too free? I just love the variety of her designs, and so many different styles of embroideries. Its really amazing. Her tutorials on different styles are really good. Do visit the JMD site

http://www.jmddesigns.co.nz/
 
and try your luck at the week end winner...

http://weekendwinner.blogspot.comr.blogspot.com

May be better luck next time for me?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Blogs and Sites on Embroidery

I love to browse net when I get spare time which is very little. I specially love to read about arts and crafts, cooking and gardening.One of the sites which I first land on is Mary Corbet's NeedlenThread.
She of course needs any introduction from me. All the crafting people who love hand embroidery know her.
She covers a lot of things in her posts.Be it the tips and tricks, free embroidery patterns, online books and what not. Her reviews on embroidery books and various links she provides to resources are really very helpful. I just love her site.
Her video library on embroidery stitches is really very helpful for beginners as well as others alike. I am giving the link here.
http://www.needlenthread.com/2006/10/video-library-of-hand-embroidery.html
My favorite so far are the Lessons in Long and Short Stitch. Though it seems a very simple and easy stitch, I always had many doubts as to how to stitch different shapes and especially the shading part. No matter how hard I tried my stitches never came out as I visualised them. She has explained it very beautifully and after reading them, I am now more confident in trying out the stitch.

Thanks a lot Mary...Keep up the good work...

I am giving the link to her site here.

http://www.needlenthread.com


Happy  Crafting...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Stash

I have this desire to learn something new every day, experiment with different media and create something new. Though I am a working person juggling between my home and work is really something, like walking on the rope-a balance act. However, at the end of the day before  I go to bed, there are two things I have to do. One read at least a page-I just love books and two at least go through one of my craft books and plan some creation. But actually creating some thing new is something altogether different. I don't have time. So at week ends and holidays I do try to attempt  my craft projects. But again I have so many unfinished ones lying with me.
Oh, when ever I visit the Bazaar, I just go through the craft shops and try to find out the latest craze. I also interact with the ladies who visit these shops and min you many a time I learned so many new crafts of techniques that way.
But every time I visit these craft shops, I am tempted to buy something. Now, I have ended up buying these things, thinking that I will use them sometime to create something beautiful and boy I have so much stash that storing them has become a real headache. My family teases me by saying that you have more stock than those shops. So now that I am a bit free I will pull out all these and experiment and also finish of at least some of my pending projects abandoned at various stages. Of course I will share all of them with you...
These are the silk threads in such beautiful colours, I just could not resist picking up whole lot of them and that too at reasonable prices since it was a whole sale selling point.Wouldn't you be tempted?
These are the beautiful blues...
The bight yellows and oranges...
Peaches and pinks...
After that I just could not resist purples, lavenders, greens and of course turquoise, and then whites, creams, black and browns....So I have this whole lot of lovely shades of silk threads...Well  I promised you some tutorials /posts on Indian Embroidery techniques...See how I use them...
These are of course tatting threads. At one time I did not know how to do tatting. In my teens I was fascinated by this art. One my friends knew it, but in spite of  a lot of begging she refused to teach me; knowledge is power. But that made me more determined to learn it. In those days Internet was not so very popular or reachable. So, I had to struggle to get the right reading materials, which is difficult In India, and then to read and understand the basics.
But then, hard work always pays off. I am self taught and today can do any motif or lace. But its a bit time consuming, so don't indulge in it much except when someone asks me for some motifs or laces. I will share with you some of my tatting .
These are kundans, all shiny like the real stones and gems and are the latest fad now...
Here are some more threads....

These are the pearl cotton threads, in single an double shades. I had to move heaven and earth for just finding where they were being sold. These days no one is using them here. But I wanted them for learning Brazilian embroidery, as we dont get Rayon threads here. But at last I found a shop where they were selling these and ended up buying most of the colours. You can see my BE sampler shortly....

These below are known as kora,  a type of hollow long springs which are used in Zardosi embroidery. I have many colours including the standard gold or silver and many varieties also. I will  write on them, where I will discuss in depth.

These are the knitting threads. One day I was just browsing through our old market and in a very small dusty shop I just enquired about pearl threads though not hopefully. The shop owner did not know what they were and placed before me some boxes containing these threads as well as pearl threads. Since the colours were so beautiful,I bought some just to practice my stitches and see how they work out with different weights of threads.
So keep watching my blog to know about my experiments...the count down starts now...

The Mahatma

Some great souls are born in this world, to resurrect humanity, fighting against all odds, society, selfishness and setting the role model, showing us the path. These men are the ones who rekindle hope in the most despaired by making us believe that  kindness and  compassion  still  exist in this world. These men are revered by one and all and are remembered for ever. One such great soul is The Mahatma (meaning great soul).
Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi (M K Gandhi), known as Mahatma, Gandhi, Bapu (father), or Mahatma Gandhi. He lead India to fight for its freedom. Today if we Indians are free and living happily, it is the selfless struggle of many known and unknown freedom fighters lead by Gandhiji.
Gandhiji was born to Karamchand Gandhi (father) and Putli Bai (mother) in Porbandar a coastal town in Gujrath state. Putli Bai was a devout Hindu and observed all the traditions of a Vashnavite. Gandhiji was greatly influenced by his mother. Vegetarianism, fasting for self purification, kindness, compassion towards the weak and helpless, tolerance, simple living, believing in truth and so many other such qualities were instilled from a very young age. Epics, other classic Indian stories  and mythological heroes like Sravana Kumar, Raja Harischandra and most of all Lord Rama had great impact on the young mind of Gandhiji.
At the age of 13, he was married to Kasturbai. He went to London (1888), became a barrister, and after returning (1891) to India, he struggled for his career in law. In 1983, he went to the Colony of Natal in South Africa, on a contract with an Indian firm.
Here he was a victim of the racial discrimination. Many such incidents made Gandhiji think about social injustice and sowed the seeds for his fight against all such social injustices and atrocities against the week and down trodden. It was here he started the famous, Satyagraha (devotion to truth) through non violence, mass civil disobedience, protesting in a peaceful manner.
In 1916, he returned to India, and was exposed to various, social and political ills plaguing India and the hardships faced by the Indians. He traveled across India saw the plight of the poor, learned about their miserable lives and prevalent social evils,. He took to wearing Khadi (home spun)- a dhoti and an upper cloth. He was ridiculed as half naked fakir by some. However, his promotion of khadi and indigenous products had a high impact on Indians, who took to home spinning and using indigenous clothes, articles and simple way of life by shunning  foreign goods.
He awakened the Indians to fight for their freedom and lead the Indian Freedom struggle though , Satyagraha, non violence, non cooperation, civil disobedience and other such peaceful ways of protesting.  He became a role model across the world for peaceful protests against injustice. Many men and women, irrespective of caste, creed, education, rich or poor joined him. Motivated by him many women urged their menfolk to join him. My own grandmother also participated though not on the forefront, but motivating others, singing songs of freedom, helping with cash and kind, educating women and children and supporting the struggle in general.
He succeeded  in freeing India in 1947 through this non violent struggle much to the amazement of the world. He was assassinated on 30th January 1948. It was a shock to the nation and world and Indians observed the mourning period, as if they lost a member in their family.
His birthday today is being celebrated as Gandhi Jayanthi by us and across the world as International Day of Non Violence. The title of honor Mahatma was bestowed upon him by the famous poet  laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Gandhiji is our role model as, he practiced, vegetarianism, non-violence, tolerance towards all religions, simplicity, wearing home spun, uplifting of down trodden, fighting against all social evils and many more. Is it any wonder he is called The Father Of Nation by us Indians?
His autobiography-An Autobiography of My experiments with Truth is one of my most favorites. I read it time and and again. Please read it at least once and I promise you that you will be hooked to it forever. It beautifully portrays the lives of Indians at that time, his beliefs, struggle, feelings and inspires those who read it.
He was fond of some Bhajans devotional songs like Vaishnava janatho, Raghupathy Raghava Raja Ram, and Hymns like Wondrous Cross, Rock of Ages and many more. One of the Hymns, Abide with me was also very much liked by him. Vaishnava jantho and Abide with me are one of my favorites too.
My gran used to remember those days of freedom struggle and we used to listen her all the hardships they faced. She used to sing us the songs of freedom struggle, which are still popular today.
With Salutations, to the Mahatma, I leave you with his picture and some quotes;



Mahatma Gandhi

GAndhi Quotations


Gandhi Quotations

Gandhi Quotations

Alchemy Gothic

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chandragiri Fort

Chandragiri Fort is near Tirupati. It is a very famous monument and has lot of historical importance. This fort is said to have been built around 11th century. For nearly three centuries Chandragiri was ruled by Yadavarayas -a dynasty. Later on around 1367,this was brought into control by the famous Vijayanagara emperors, who were famous for their architecture, renovation/construction of temples, literature, music and other arts. They made Chandragiri as their fourth capital and shifted here when Penukonda (their capital) was attacked by the Golconda sultans. Later on however, Golconda sultans sized the fort and subsequently the fort was taken over by the Mysore rulers. After 1790 this fort lost its importance and sort of went into oblivion.

The fort when built was fortified with bastions and a steep moat all around. Later on around 16th century many other structures like the temples etc were added by the then rulers. The entire fort consists of Raja's Mahal (King's Palace), Rani's Mahal (Queen's Palace), eight temples some dedicated to Shiva and some to Vishnu, and a Bath.

Raja's Mahal is a beautiful example of Indo-Saracenic architechture, for which the Vijayanagar emperors were famous for. It is an imposing three storyed structure, constructed with stone, bricks and lime-mortar as was the then tradition. No timber was used in the construction.
The crowning towers represent the Hindu architectural elements. The central tower is huge, raising through two stories covers the Durbar Hall, where the Emperors conducted their stately business. The magnificent and massive pillars support the three storyed structure.


One can see the fine finishing on the walls using plaster and decorated with stucco. It is said that here in the Durbar Hall, Sri Rangaraya donated the site for construction of St. George Fort to the British in 1640.This palace now houses a museum.


Rani's Mahal is similar to that of the Raja's Mahal in design and structure, but much smaller. Interestingly the ground floor is pillared open space, the first floor contains quarters with a beautiful well adorned tower.


Though this was popularly know as queen's palace, the records available in the fort show that this was commander's quarters. May be that explains the stable like structure in the ground floor.



The temples and other structures along with a Bath are very beautiful. The Bath is connected to the Rani Mahal through an underground tunnel.




This is the wall surrounding the Fort and other structures. This was a very long and sturdy one and still as strong as it was earlier.
We could only visit this around five in the evening. we were really spell bound by the huge and lengthy wall running around the entire fort and its gardens and other structures, beautiful palaces, temples, the architecture, and their beauty the can be seen even today. We marveled at the expertise and skill of the then artisans. There was a sense of peace and tranquility. I could imagine the Kings, Queens and royalty enjoying the various arts and music. It is said that many a literary gems were written here.

But as the Sun began to set, we had to leave with a heavy heart, for our rest rooms leaving back the beautiful Fort thinking of all the royalty and the festivities, their grandeur in good old days, as Vijayanagar Empire was famous for the sale of heaps of gems and many precious stones on the main street of its bazars like one would sell the vegetables or fruits.