Friday, 30 October 2020

Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameshwaram

Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is a showpiece of architectural excellence built in the 17th century. It is located on Rameswaram island in Ramanathapuram District in the state of Tamil Nadu in south India. The temple is considered a holy pilgrimage centre for Hindus – Shaivites, Vaishnavites and Smarthas. Here Shiva is worshiped in the form of a Jyotirlinga, meaning ‘Pillar of light.’ And this temple has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples all over India. Besides the temple is famous for the fact it’s the southern most Jyotirlinga in India which makes it a top religious spot to visit.

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Most people know Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram as the temple which has the longest corridor among all the temples in India. And this picture of corridors have become very popular because of its precise architecture and aesthetics. Rameswaram (also spelt as Ramesvaram, Rameshwaram) is a town and municipality in the Ramanathapuram district of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 40 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. It is in the Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of the Indian peninsula. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Varanasi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage which devote Hindus undertake once in their life-time.

It is written in the Ramayana that the Divine King Rama built a bridge with Hanuman’s help from here across the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from her abductor Ravana. The Ramanathaswamy Temple, dedicated to the Vedic god Shiva, is at the centre of the town and is closely associated with Rama. The temple and the town are considered a holy pilgrimage site for Shaivas. Rameswaram is the closest point from which to reach Sri Lanka from India, and geological evidence suggests that the Rama Sethu was a earlier land connection between India and Sri Lanka. Rameswaram is administered by a municipality established in 1994. The town covers an area of 53 Sq km and had a population of 44,856 as on 2011. Tourism and fisheries employ the majority of workforce in Rameswaram.

The Ramanathaswamy Temple is the most notable historic landmark of the town. Located in the centre of town, Ramanathaswamy Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva. The temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines, where Shiva is worshiped in the form of a Jyotirlinga meaning 'pillar of light'. It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples and is glorified and remembered in hymns by  three of the most revered and popular Nayanar saints (7th century Saivite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar. The temple in its current structure was built during the 12th century by Pandya Dynasty. The temple has the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. The breadth of these columned corridors varies from 17 to 21 feet with a height of 25 feet. Each pillar is sculpted in Nayak style as in Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple.

The contribution of the kings of the Sethupathy dynasty (17th century) to the temple was considerable. Large amount of money was spent during the tenure of Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai towards the restoration of the pagodas which were falling into ruins – the Chockattan Mantapam or the cloistered precincts of the temple was reconstructed by him. The rulers of Sri Lanka contributed to the temple – Parakrama Bahu (1153–1186 CE) was involved in the construction of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple The eastern tower and shrine of Nataraja were built by Dalavai Sethupathy in 1649 CE. The second enclosure is ascribed to Chinna Udayar Sethupathy and his son Ragunatha Thirumalai (1500–1540 CE). The third enclosure was constructed by Muthu Ramalinga Sethupathy (1725–1771 CE) – his statue is located in the entrance of the corridor.

Rameswaram means ‘Lord of Rama’ in Sanskrit, an epithet of Shiva, the presiding deity of the Ramanathaswamy Temple. According to one of the versions of Ramayana, Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, prayed to Shiva here to absolve any sins that he might have committed during his war against the demon-king Ravana in Sri Lanka. According to the Puranas (Hindu scriptures), upon the advice of sages, Rama along with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, installed and worshipped the lingam (an iconic symbol of Shiva) here to expiate the sin of Brahmahatya incurred while killing of the Brahmin Ravana. To worship Shiva, Rama wanted to have a lingam and directed his trusted lieutenant Hanuman to bring it from Himalayas.

Since it took a long time  to bring the lingam, Sita built a lingam, made of  sand from the shores, which is also believed to be the one in the sanctum of the temple. Sethu Karai is a place 22 km before the island of Rameswaram from where Rama is believed to have built a floating stone bridge, the Ramsetu bridge, that further continued to Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram till Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. According to another version, as quoted in Adhyatma Ramayana, Rama installed the lingam before the construction of the bridge to Lanka. However, both Valmiki and KambaRamayana do not have any evidences about this Rameswaram story.

The history of Rameswaram is centered around the island being a transit point to reach Sri Lanka and the presence of Ramanathaswamy Temple. The Chola king Rajendra Chola I (1012 – 1040 CE) had a control of the town for a short period. The Jaffna kingdom (1215–1624 CE) had close connections with the island and claimed the title Setukavalan meaning custodians of the Rameswaram. Hinduism was their state religion and they made generous contribution to the temple. Setu was used in their coins as well as in inscriptions as marker of the dynasty.

During the early 15th century, the present day Ramanathapuram, Kamuthi and Rameswaram were included in the Pandya dynasty. In 1520 CE, the town came under the rule of Vijayanagara Empire. The Sethupathis, the breakaway from Madurai Nayaks, ruled Ramanathapuram and contributed to the Ramanathaswamy temple. The most notable of them are the contributions of Muthu Kumara Ragunatha and Muthu Ramalinga Sethupathi, who transformed the temple to an architectural ensemble.

Rameshwaram is located in the southern part of India and hence the climate is on the tropical side. Ideally the best time to visit Rameshwaram will be from October to April as during this period, you will find the climate on the pleasant side.

Also read: Mangaladevi Temple       The Mookambika Devi Temple

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Suez Canal – 150 years of operations


These days one doesn't hear much about Suez Canal. And many are not aware of it's significance or how and when it was constructed.Most of us have heard about Suez Canal during the middle-east conflict between Egypt and Israel. Its 150 years since the inauguration of the Suez Canal. It’s an artificial waterway in Egypt connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez, and then on to the Red sea. Suez Canal took 10 years to build. The canal is 193 km long, 24 meter deep and its width varies, 60 meters at its narrowest. Nearly 60,000 workers were hired to remove about 74 million cubic meters of earth. The canal was completed at a cost of 433 million Francs.

The Suez Canal is a sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez. Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it officially opened on 17 November 1869.

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Saturday, 24 October 2020

Maqbool Sherwani, saviour of Kashmir

 

Come October, Kashmiris remember the sacrifice of Maqbool Sherwani, a young and proud Kashmiri who sacrificed his life for Kashmir and Kashmiris. Maqbool Sherwani was a Kashmiri Muslim youth and National Conference member, who delayed the march of Pakhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan and rebel forces in Baramulla, in October 1947. By doing this, he played an important role in buying time for Indian Sikh Regiment troops who landed in Srinagar once the accession to India was accepted and signed.

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It was in October 1947, Maqbool, a young man spotted tribesmen planning to invade Kashmir. He realized their intention. He misguided them to a wrong path when asked to guide for road to Srinagar Airport. He was crucified by the angry rebel forces when they realised that he misguided them to delay their march. Maqbool Sherwani is considered as a hero and martyr of Kashmir in India by National Conference and Indian Army. In his memory, at Maqbool Sherwani Auditorium and Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani Memorial in Baramulla, tributes are paid by Kashmiris and government officials. Balidan Stambh monument by Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry also has name of Maqbool Sherwani. Writer Mulk Raj Anand wrote an account of Maqbool Sherwani's story in his novel, Death Of A Hero.

The valour of Maqbool Sherwani is still heard in chivalric tales, fables, parables, and folklore of the Kashmir valley. The separists hate him and his thoughts. A number of youth groups have been formed on his name, as well as several institutions have been operating there which bear his name on their respective titles. An ordinary local Kashmiri youth became their hero. He was their inspiration and still is.

In August 1947, India and Pakistan came into being as two separate nations. Kashmir, a muslim majority state ruled by a Hindu King, Hari Singh preferred to remain independent. And Pakistan wanted to forcibly annex Jammu and Kashmir as it was a muslim majority state, against the wishes of the people of Kashmir. As Jammu and Kashmir and the entire nation mark the Black Day of tribal invasion in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947 by a Lashkars of 20,000 Kabailis (Pakistani tribesmen), tributes from all across the nation are pouring in for the less known martyr--Maqbool Sherwani. He sacrificed himself to save the lives of Kashmiris and to resist invasion on Indian soil.

With the knowledge of the Pakistan government and support of the Pakistan army, Pakistani tribesmen and the army dressed as Kabailis entered Kashmir to forcibly takeover the state and spread anarchy. They looted and plundered. After entering Jammu and Kashmir loaded in trucks and other vehicles, the wild, tall and shabby tribesmen plundered the quiet city of Baramulla on October 26. The attack was so lethal that only 3,000 citizens of Baramulla out of a total population of 14,000 were said to have survived, a fact that Akbar Khan, a Pakistani commander and main perpetrator of the attack, has himself agreed to in his book- Raiders in Kashmir. Their motive was to spread fear amongst the Kashmiris and capture as much territory as possible. And Srinagar airport was the main target. With this they expected Kashmir to fall in to their hands.

Until then Baramullah was a multicultural city, Maqbool Sherwani rode  on his motorcycle and found the Pakistani raiders threatening  killing any opposition and plundering the city. He held public meetings in villages on his motorcycle to unify them and collectively take on the raiders. Seeing a local citizen on the deserted road, the raiders asked him for the route to Srinagar airport. The idea of Pakistan was to seize Srinagar Airport as it was the only means for arranging urgent procurement and deployment of the Indian army in case of immediate action to drive them out. Controlling the Srinagar airport meant cutting off the valley from the rest of India. And it would be difficult for Indian forces to reach Kashmir with the airport in enemy control.

Sherwani displayed his presence of mind and in a convincingly misguided the raiders and directed them to a wrong path that was going to lead them to nowhere. He also led them for some distance astray. However, after wandering on the wrong path for some time and realizing about being misguided, the raiders returned back to find Sherwani and punish him for misguiding them and causing intentional delay. Sherwani was in Sumbal, 35 km away from Baramulla when raiders found him, abducted and brought him back to Baramulla to teach him a lesson and set an example to the locals and Indian patriots.

Realizing they were misled, the angry raiders found him, tortured Sherwani and shot 14 bullets into him. Showing their anger and hatred for Sherwani, raiders mutilated his body and then crucified it before firing bullets on him. His body, nailed to a wooden plank, was tied to two pillars of Khan Hotel, near Regina Cinema and kept hanging for several days as no one dared to come out. The raiders also pasted a note on his head that read--He is a traitor, his punishment is death. His death spurred the locals.

Sherwani died a martyr’s death, which did not go in vain. Kashmiris rose up against the raiders with a new found courage all over the valley as soon as the news of his martyrdom spread like a wildfire. Most importantly, the misguiding of the raiders by Sherwani helped in providing precious time for the Indian soldiers to reach Srinagar and save the airport and the city. The locals attacked, chased and caught hold of the raiders and handed them over the Indian army. The Kashmiris were angry with the raiders for disturbing their peaceful life and the killing of local Kashmiris.

On the other hand time was a crucial factor. The consent on accession was yet to come from Maharaja Hari Singh, without which the Indian army would have been unable to be deployed. After many meetings eventually, Maharaja signed the agreement of accession on 26 October and New Delhi sent the Indian Army to Kashmir the very next day. In the morning of 27 October 1947, soldiers of the Sikh Regiment landed at Srinagar airport after being airlifted from Gurgaon base. Dewan Ranjit Rai, who was martyred in the war with the raiders, he was commanding the unit. When the Indian army reached Srinagar, it was received warmly by the Kashmiris and seen as their saviors. A famous Kashmiri journalist Sofi Ghulam Mohammad shared the anecdote and recalled when they entered the city, there were cheers. They were garlanded. He also recalled the slogans raised by Kashmiris like- You invaders beware, we Kashmiris are ready to fight you and Long live Hindu-Sikh-Muslim unity.

The importance of what Maqbool Sherwani did and his presence of mind and action in the nick of time can be gauged from the fact that when Indian army reached Srinagar, the raiders had already reached the outskirts of Srinagar, just a few kilometers away. And a difference of a few hours could have cost the entire Srinagar and made it more difficult for Indian army to reach Srinagar and Kashmir. For the next ten days, there were intense battles between the Indian Army, raiders and Pakistani soldiers commanding the raiders. Eventually, after taking a lot of casualties, on November 7, Lashkars realized their game was up and the remaining raiders began to flee towards Pakistan with the forceful counter attack by the Indian army.

Sherwani, a bright young man, was an ardent opponent of the Muslim League and the idea of Pakistan. Locals still share the incident of how he, along with his supporters, disrupted a public rally of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Baramulla on 25 July 1944. Sherwani celebrated the pluralistic culture of Baramulla. Locals also share stories highlighting his efforts to promote harmony and religious tolerance. According to a few anecdotes, it is believed that Sherwani kept shouting, Victory for the unity of Sikh, Hindus, and Muslims when he was being executed.

Pakistan has been viewing him as a threat to the promotion of separatism in the valley. During the beginning of Pak-supported insurgency in the valley, pro-Pak forces set ablaze the memorial named after Maqbool Sherwani in 1988. During those days, one could easily hear the slogans of - Maqbool Sherawaniam beol, khudayan gol, meaning may the almighty destroys the seeds of Maqbool Sherwani.

Thoughts of Sherwani are one of the major forces behind promoting peace and national integrity in Jammu and Kashmir. Two weeks after his martyrdom, Mahatma Gandhi paid tributes to him in a prayer meeting in Delhi. Gandhiji shared his story in the meet and remembered him as a true patriot.

But within 48 hours of his cold-blooded murder and sadistic torture, Sherwanis prophecy came true and the invaders ran out of Baramula, with Indian troops in hot pursuit... This was a martyrdom, of which every Kashmiri is proud of. Margaret Bourke White who travelled to Baramulla just after the attack in December 1947 described Sherwani as a sort of Robin Hood character, from stories the townspeople told me. Similarly, Francis Rath, a scholar acquainted with Sherwani, described him as happy-go-lucky guy.

Several public institutions like Maqbool Sherwani Library, Maqbool Sherwani Auditorium, Mohammad Maqbool Sherwani Memorial are witness to his heroism. Mulk Raj Anand wrote his detailed biography and heroic deeds in his book- Death of a Hero: Epitaph for Maqbool Sherwani. The Jammu and Kashmir Infantry has also erected a Balidan Stambh Monument, dedicated to Sherwani. He is remembered as a true Kashmiri and patriot.

Also read: You too can design your home    The Velankanni Basilica

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The Sun you don’t know!

The sun has a diameter of about 1.4 million kilometre (870,000 miles). To put this in perspective, this is almost 110 times the diameter of the Earth. What this means is that about one million Earth’s could inside the sun. The sun accounts for 99.86 per cent of mass in the solar system. It is three quarters hydrogen and most of the remaining mass is helium. The sun will continue to burn for 130 million years and after it burns through all of its Hydrogen, instead burning helium. During this time it will expand to such a size that it will engulf Mercury, Venus and Earth. When it reaches this point, it will have become a red giant star.

The average distance from sun to the Earth is about 150 km. Light travels at 300,000 km per second so dividing one by the other gives you 500 seconds – eight minutes and 20 seconds. This energy can reach Earth in mere minutes, but it takes millions of years to travel from sun’s core to its surface.

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Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple,
 Kerala, India

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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Munnar –Kashmir of South India!


While Kerala itself is known for its magical beauty, Munnar in the Idukki district is famous as one of the most visited hill stations in God's own country. Located in the Western Ghats at a towering height of 6,000ft, this scenic hill station is a true paradise for travellers, visitors and tourists. Munnar is a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in south India’s Kerala state. A hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite, it's surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, is also home to the Lakkam Waterfalls and hiking trails and 2,695m-tall Anamudi Peak are the major attractions.

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Coorg, Ooty, Munnar, Wayanad, Kodaikanal, Idukki, Chikmagalur, Savandurga, Yercaud, Coonoor, Kudremukh, Yelagiri, Kotagir and many more are the popular hill stations in South India. Munnar, one of the most famous hill stations, has the world's largest exotic tea estates and is known to be the epitome of natural beauty, and is popularly known as the Kashmir of south India. While Kerala itself is known for its magical beauty, Munnar in the Idukki district is acclaimed as one of the most desirable hill stations in God's own country. Located in the Western Ghats at a towering height of 6,000ft, this scenic hill station is a true paradise for travellers and tourists who love to explore new places.

Munnar rises as three mountain streams merge  - Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. 1,600 m above sea- level, this hill station was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in south India. The top officials would escape the summer heat by relaxing in the hill stations.

Munnar town is situated on the Kannan Devan Hills village in Devikulam taluk and is the largest panchayat in the Idukki district covering an area of nearly 557 square kilometers. One of the most sought after honeymoon destinations in Kerala, Munnar is replete with resorts and lodging facilities that fit a wide range of budget. Sprawling tea plantations, picturesque towns, winding lanes and holiday facilities make this a popular resort town. Among the exotic flora found in the forests and grasslands here is the Neelakurinji. This flower which bathes the hills in blue once in every twelve years will bloom next in 2030. Munnar also has the highest peak in south India, Anamudi, which towers over 2,695 m. 

Munnar came to be known to the outside world in the 1870s with the visit of the British resident of the then Travancore kingdom John Daniel Munro. Munro, who visited the place as part of settling the border dispute between Travancore and the nearby state of Madras literally fell for the beauty of the region.

Munnar is considered to be far better than Ooty and Kodaikanal because of its serene beauty. It is also less crowded as compared to Ooty and Kodaikanal. If you go to Munnar, then Anaimudi is a must visit. It’s the highest point in the peninsular region of south India and is 10-16 km from the Munnar town.

Munnar is a town and hill station located in the Idukki district of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Munnar is situated at around 1,600 metres above mean sea level, in the Western Ghats mountain range. Munnar is also popularly called the Kashmir of south India and is a favourite honeymoon destination. One of nature's most mesmerizing creations, the Attukal Waterfalls in Munnar is truly spectacular. Set amidst looming hills and the thick forests, this scenic spot is ideal for a family picnic or a romantic evening stroll. Tourists are mesmerized by this panoramic view of natural beauty.

The aesthetically mounted heads of tigers — relics from the days of the British Raj — can still be seen in most planters' clubs in Munnar, Kodaikanal and the Nilgiris. The national animal, the tiger ('Panthera tigris') is the largest of the cat species. Tea County Munnar is a gorgeous honeymoon resort in Munnar which is located amidst the dense forests making you capture the stunning sights of the rolling hill plantations. The soothing sound of chirping birds and the misty fragrance of vibrant flora makes it one of the best places to stay in Munnar for couples and others.

The former Kunda Valley Railway in Munnar was destroyed by a flood in 1924, but tourism officials are considering reconstructing the railway line to attract tourists. This will make it very easy and convenient for tourists to reach Munnar.

Most of the native flora and fauna of Munnar have disappeared due to severe habitat fragmentation resultant from the creation of the plantations. However, some species continue to survive and thrive in several protected areas nearby, including the new Kurinjimala Sanctuary to the east, the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Manjampatti Valley and the Amaravati reserve forest of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north east, the Eravikulam National Park and Anamudi Shola National Park to the north, the Pampadum Shola National Park to the south and the proposed Palani Hills National Park to the east.These protected areas are especially known for several threatened and endemic species including Nilgiri Thar, the grizzled giant squirrel, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, elephant, the gaur, the Nilgiri langur, the sambar, and the Neelakurinji (that blossoms only once in twelve years).

There are four major directions in Munnar - Mattupatty Direction, Thekkedy Direction, Adimaly Direction and Coimbatore Direction. The climate and tea plantations are the main reason for tourism in Munnar. Tourists come here to see the plush green carpet that is strewn all around. The tourist count increases every year with a major number during the months of April–May when summer vacations begin across the country. In 2018, a large number of tourists and visitors arrived during the months of August–September to see the spectacle of the Kurinjiin full bloom, which happens once in 12 years.

For tourists on the move, short of time and to explore many more places, a two day trip is ideal to cover Munnar. Day one is spent to view and soak in the panoramic view, atmosphere and beauty of the place. Day 2-  after breakfast, sightseeing travel to Echo point, Mattupetty lake and Dam Eravikulam National Park , Tea Museum, Kundala dam, Photo point, Shooting point, Top station, Tea plantation tour , Hydel park, Rose garden, Bating National park , elephant ride etc.

It's absolutely trouble-free to find hotels in OYO Rooms. Most of the resorts will permit couples, along with their local ID proof. If on a vacation with your partner, book a couple friendly rooms in a good hotel in Munnar, for absolute privacy and fun. One of the best restaurants in Munnar, the Saravana Bhavan, it’s known for its delicious assortment of typical South Indian dishes like Dosas, Idlis, Appams and Sambhar.

There are many resorts in Munnar to suit your budget and you can choose from a wide range. Another place suggested for a comfortable stay in Munnar, is Pallivasal Chithirapuram located at the most scenic location in Munnar, the bonus is one can enjoy the beautiful tea plantation view from the hotel rooms. The hill station does not witness snowfall and even then numerous tourists throng Munnar in the month of December and January during Christmas and New Year. Ideal time to visit Munnar is December to February: The winter months are by far the best time to visit Munnar since the weather is pleasant. March to May. March marks the beginning of summer in Munnar.

Blame it on the climate change, the intensity of snowfall have reduced in the past few years but the temperature still goes downhill below zero degrees sometimes even  in the middle of February in Munnar. Winter here is from September to November and January to March. The best time to visit Munnar would be October to November and from January to May when it is comfortably cold. There may be occasional rains which will give a misty experience of Munnar.

Here are our pick of four Munnar specialties which you can buy before you head back home from your enjoyable Munnar trip – fresh Spices, Tea, is perhaps the best Munnar specialty that you should take back from your visit, local Chocolates which are delicious with its own special flavour and Aromatic Oils.

You can reach Munnar - By Air: The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is around 125 km away from Munnar. The Coimbatore and Madurai airports in Tamilnadu are about 165 km from Munnar.

By Rail: The nearest railway station is located at Kochi or Ernakulam.

By Road: Once you land in Kochi, Aluva or Ernakulam you can hire a cab or take a bus to Munnar. Kochi to Munnar Taxi fare – you can choose from the wide range of Kochi to Munnar car rental options, approximately Rs 2000, 2500 to 3000 one way, depending on the model of the vehicle, AC Sedan, AC SUV large to AC Minibus.

Munnar is well connected by both, national highways, state highways and rural roads. The town lies in the Kochi - Dhanushkodi National highway (N.H 49), about 130 km from Cochin, 31 km from Adimali, 85 km from Udumalpettu in Tamil Nadu and 60 km from Neriyamangalam. Distance from major cities,from Kochi - Ernakulam it’s about 150 km by road.

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Can all the nuclear bombs wipe out humanity?

It’s always said a nuclear war will wipe out humanity and will bring about the end of this world. Nothing that humans do will wipe out humanity off the face of this Earth, writes American astronomer Seth Shostak in Quartz. Even if all the nuclear powers used all their bombs together, billions of us would survive.

10,000 is the approximate number of nuclear weapons in the world at present and 7.5 billion is the current human population. The worst-case scenario will be 1.6 billion deaths. 6 billion will survive, roughly equal to the world population in 1999.

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Immaculate Conception Church, Goa, India
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Thursday, 15 October 2020

Where Meghdoot Force dare!

The exploits of Meghdoot Force Commandos undertaken in September 1965 during the Indo-Pak war was daring and helped the army to move forward. Meghdoots, raised and led by Major Megh Singh, the creator of Indian Special Forces, the first Commanding Officer of 9 Para Commando now 9 Parachute Special Force. Lt Col Megh Singh, born on 1 March 1924, an Indian military officer with foresight. Hailing from Rajasthan, and from a Rathore Rajput family, he joined the Patiala State forces. Lt Col Megh Singh is known as a person who created the Special Forces in India. His creation was a role model for the other Special Forces and has served the nation at times of need.

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Lt Col Megh Singh is the person who created the Special Forces in India. Then Maj Megh Singh who was surpassed for the promotion to Lt Colonel approached Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh and he volunteered to raise a Special Commando for India. Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh accepted Maj Megh Singh's proposal. Maj Megh Singh raised a special force of volunteers personally chosen by him. The formation was not formally authorized by the Government so it was informally named as the 'Meghdoot force' in the name of Maj Megh Singh. Harbaksh Singh in his book ‘In the Line of Duty: A soldier remembers’ mentions that Megh Singh was demoted to Major after a court-martial and after his daring raid across the enemy line when he returned with a bullet injury in his thigh, Harbaksh Singh again promoted him as a Lt Colonel.


He was awarded the Vir Chakra for his bravery in battle. His Vir Chakra citation reads as under: Lieutenant Colonel Megh Singh, then a Major, with a Brigade in Jammu and Kashmir, successfully conducted three important raids into enemy territory from 1 to 11 September 1965. On 2 September, his force blew up a big culvert on the Kotli Bandigopalpur road, disrupting the enemy's line of communication inside their territory. On 6 September, his column captured two important piquets Neja Pir and Ari Dhok. Again on 10 September, his column went two miles deep into enemy territory and affected the Uri-Poonch link-up at Kahuta in spite of heavy enemy fire. In all these actions, by his exemplary courage and initiative, Lieutenant Colonel Megh Singh inspired confidence in the volunteers under him, causing confusion and casualties in enemy camps and facilitating the success of the brigade's operational plan.

So, just a company size force without, any fire support was able to capture two important enemy held posts in depth with just one wounded. In comparison Raja and Chand Tekri were captured only after heavy fighting and a very large number of casualties. With capture of Aridhok the route to Kahuta was wide open and Meghdoots had ensured that the elusive Uri Poonch link up now looked a real possibility for the Indian Army. Thus the Mission Next ended for the Meghdoot Force with success.

Also read: India-China diplomatic row almost erupted into a full scale war in 1967

                 How a Cargo Ship helped win World War 2

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Army Day

In India, Army Day is celebrated on 15 January every year. On January 15, 1949, the command of the Indian army was handed over from Gen Sir Francis Butcher to Lieutenant General KM Cariappa. Army Day marks the transfer of power from the British to Independent India, an important event in Indian history.

The Day is marked by a display of military strength at the Cariappa Parade ground in Delhi cantonment. The parade showcases various routines such as aerial stunts and bike pyramids. Bravery awards such as unit credentials and Sena medals are also presented to deserving personnel.

According to Global Firepower Estimates, India has the second largest military manpower in the world. As of 2019, total available active military manpower is 13, 62, 500 personnel.

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