About My Project...

As a kid every time I would cross a river in India, be it the Ganga or the Yamuna or any of their tributaries, I would have a feeling that the water levels of these rivers were receding... my heart would sink seeing the industrial pollutants making their way into these rivers...

On the contrary the feeling I would get seeing these rivers close to their origins… especially the Ganga in Rishikesh is indescribable… no pollution, no signs of water level depletion … so calm and so serene… the scent of freshness in the air…

I am documenting the life around river Ganga… the life as Ganga sees and feels it... the culture the river has supported for thousands of years, the people it has sustained over the centuries, and also the human interference it has suffered over the last one century or so...

Towards that I am following the river from its origins high up in the Himalayas all the way to where it merges with the Indian Ocean. All the while I am meeting with people who have been close to the river to narrate their feelings about the river, what they feel about the part Ganga has played in the Indian civilization and culture, what we human beings have done or could do or have not done to save this mighty river…

My final aim is to narrate the whole documentary as a multimedia and a book. I invite anyone and everyone to please help me with suggestions... critique... and hospitality. I would love to hear your suggestions and incorporate them into my project.

Note: The contents of this blog including the pictures are copyrighted and may not be copied or downloaded without prior permission of Rahul Rathi.
Disclaimer: This is a personal project of Rahul Rathi. He is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents here in and may not be sited as a reference without confirming the accuracy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dalmau, where Holi is celebrated 3 days later!

Dalmau, is a small town situated on the banks of river Ganga located not far from Kanpur. It's true... the festival of Holi (Badi Holi or Khelne waali Holi) is celebrated 3 days after the actual date, although the Chhoti Holi - that falls a day before the main Holi (Badi Holi) is celebrated the same day as rest of the world where ever Holi is celebrated.

This is because, some 600 years ago, the founder of the town of Dalmau - Raja Dal Deo - was murdered on the day of Holi by Sultan Ibrahim Sharqi. Dal Deo had fallen in love with Salma, daughter of Baba Haji - a minister of Sharqi's, and had asked for her hand. This was not acceptable to Baba Haji nor to the Sultan who then attacked Dalmau on Holi and beheaded Raja Dal Deo who was in the state of festivity.

To commamorate his death people of Dalmau celebrate Holi 3 days after the actual date of the festival.

Dalmau is also famous for being the work place of Surya Kant Tripathi "Nirala", famous Indian Writer and Poet. Although born in Unnao he worked mainly in Dalmau which was his wife's hometown too.

OK, history aside, what is Dalmau like right now? As expected the fort of Dalmau is in complete ruins. Part of it is being used by the irrigation department of Uttar Pradesh government as a guest house. It's a pitty that nothing remains of the fort although locals still refer to the almost non existent ruins as "killa" or fort.

The ghats on the banks of river Ganga, said to have built by Raja Tikait Rai in the 18th century, are a piece of marvel, still intact pretty much, but as expected not clean. No caretaker could be seen around and only a few pilgrims or locals could be noticed. The ghats also lacked a good road link from the main road which was only a couple of kilometers away. I hope these ghats remain intact till some government can think about them and get them cleaned and well taken care of. On the contrary all around the Dalmau area, there were big colleges and schools being constructed, apparently by those close to the present chief minister of Uttar Pradesh ...  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lord Brahma idol ... there is one in Garh Mukteswar too!

I, like many others, always thought there was only one temple dedicated to Lord Brahma - creator of universe - in the world, and that was in Pushkar in the Indian state of Rajasthan. But when I searched over the Internet I found out there were other places that had Lord Brahma temples or idols (Wikipedia). However, no where is it mentioned that there is one Lord Brahma idol also in Garh Mukteswar.

This idol is adjacent to the Goddess Ganga temple. Lord Brahma's idol is placed here - as per the priest of the temple, Sri Anil Kumar Tiwari - because Goddess Ganga reveres Lord Brahma as her father. There are other beliefs about Ganga's birth, however, all declare her to be raised under the guardianship of Lord Brahma. The idol of Lord Brahma used to sit next to Goddess Ganga's idol but now it has been moved into a new room. The difference between this idol and the one in Pushkar is that this one is carved out of white stone and the idol is depicted as sitting, unlike in Pushkar where the idol is carved out of black stone and is standing.

There was a Sanskrit phrase written on the walls of the temple that translates into: One attains Nirvaan if s/he take a dip in the waters of river Ganga during months of Ashaad at Ganga Sagar (where Ganga merges with the Indian Ocean), during months of Kaartik at Garh Mukteswar, during months of Vaisaakh at Hardwar and during the months of Maagh at Allahabad (Link to Hindu Calendar).

There's also a Lord Ram temple in the vicinity. All these temples are situated up on a hill and there are 101 steps leading to the temples. There is a mysterious sound associated with these steps.  If one walks down the steps, the sound reverberating from the foots is that of pebbles thrown in a river or lake... amazing!! The sound can only be heard by someone standing on the top of the hill and not by the person walking down ... 

Another uncommon thing I noticed was the presence of the priestess (Smt Maheshwari Kaushik) and not a priest in the Lord Ram temple. She told me that her family has been taking care of the Lord Ram temple for last 18 generations. One can thus imagine how old the temple must be. One unique thing about the Lord Ram idol here is that its is carved out of a black stone, unlike any other Lord Ram idol one must have seen. There is another in Nasik in Maharashtra also in black stone.

The priest at the temple told us that till 1947 river Ganga was flowing just a few yards from the steps. However now it is not even visible even from the hill top. According to the priest there are plans towards bringing Ganga closer to the temple in the form of a men-made canal.

I asked him about the name Garh Mukteswar. Contrary to what others on the Brij Ghat told me - related to Garhwal rulers - he had a different but a more likely version. According to him the city was called Shiv Vallabhpur initially and then the name was changed to Gan Mukteeswar (Gan: People - here depicting followers of Lord Shiva; Muktee: Nirvaan; Iswar: Lord Shiva). It slowly changed to Garh Mukteswar. It is believed that it is the Mukeswar temple in Garh Mukteswar where Lord Shiva's followers were absolved of their sins and attained Nirvaan (Nirvana). Mukteswar Temple Nakka Kuan (नक्का कुवाँ)  - dedicated to Lord Shiva - is another famous temple in the city and is presently occupied and taken care of by the followers of Lord Shiva belonging to the Juna Akhara