Hast Minar – A Mughal Site Struggling for Its Existence

Once bustling with the presence of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, an unfortunate Mughal era structure is today desperately waiting for its upheaval. Famous as Chota Qutub Minar, this historical site is situated in Hastsal Village in Delhi’s Uttam Nagar.

Its original name is Hast Minar. Made with brick and red sandstone, this Mughal era building is also known as Kaushal Minar. It is quite astonishing that this has been completely forgotten. I, myself, got to know about it recently.

Shah Jahan commissioned Hast Minar’s construction as his hunting lodge in the 17th century. That time, it was a five-storey building with internal stairway leading to the chhatri (dome-shaped pavilions) at the top. But with the passage of the time, now only three storeys have remained. For this, much of the blame goes to government negligence.

Two-wheeler or walking is the best bet to reach here. If you plan visiting this place by car then you will have to park it to a safer place, which is quite difficult to find. Reason being, the way proceeding to the minar is too narrow. 

After entering the minar, I had huge disappointment with the view. All efforts in crossing the narrow lanes only to cover this minar instantly went in vain. How can such a historical site be consigned to oblivion?

The surrounding dense population has become a serious threat for its existence. Few years back, Delhi government’s archaeology department took the responsibility of its restoration. However, that does not seem to make much difference to its plight. Iron poles have been erected all around it. At present, the minar is acting like a shelter for pigeons and chickens. In addition, people living nearby have made it a dumping ground.
In such conditions, how can one believe it to be related to Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan? The sheer government indifference and locals’ careless attitude have made the minar sustaining itself quite difficult. The Hast Minar, which once used to be Mughals’ one of the favourite recreational sites, today is waiting for urgent attention.

वजूद के लिए संघर्षरत ऐतिहासिक हस्त मीनार 

कभी मुग़ल बादशाह शाहजहां की मौजूदगी से आबाद ये इमारत आज अपने कायापलट के लिए तरसती नज़र आती है। छोटा क़ुतुब मीनार के नाम से मशहूर ये ईमारत दिल्ली के उत्तम नगर के हस्तसाल गांव में मौजूद है।

हालाँकि इसका वास्तविक नाम हस्त मीनार है। ईंट और रेड सैंडस्टोन से बनी इस मुग़ल कालीन इमारत को कौशल मीनार के नाम से भी जाना जाता है। हैरानी की बात है कि इस ऐतिहासिक इमारत को आज बिलकुल भुला दिया गया है। खुद मुझे इसके बारे में हाल ही में पता चला है।

17 वी  सदी में शाहजहां ने इसे अपने शिकार गाह के तौर पर बनवाया। उस वक़्त इसमें 5 मंज़िले थी और सबसे ऊपर एक छतरी भी।  लेकिन कुछ तो समय के साथ और उससे कहीं ज़्यादा प्रशासनिक अनदेखी के चलते आज इसकी 3 मंज़िले ही रह गई हैं।

यहाँ अगर पहुंचना है तो कार को थोड़ी दूर पार्क करना होगा। वैसे इसके लिए टू व्हीलर या पैदल चलना ही बेहतर है। वजह मीनार की ओर जा रहे रास्ते में बेहद संकरी गलियां होना।

मीनार के अंदर पहुंचकर वहां के नज़ारे से बेहद मायूसी हुई। तंग गलियों को पार कर यहाँ पहुँचने में जितने ऍफ़र्ट्स लगाए, वो सब बेकार लगने लगे। कोई भला कैसे ऐसी ऐतिहासिक इमारत को उपेक्षित रख सकता है?

आस पास की घनी रिहाइश इसके अस्तित्व के लिए एक खतरा बन चुकी है। हालाँकि कुछ साल पहले दिल्ली सरकार का आर्किओलॉजी डिपार्टमेंट इसकी रेस्टोरेशन का ज़िम्मा ले चुका है।
सरंक्षण के नाम पर मीनार को सपोर्ट देने के लिए लोहे के खम्बे लगाएं गयें हैं। फ़िलहाल तो ये मीनार कबूतरों और मुर्गियों की पनाहगार बनी हुई है। उस पर यहाँ के लोगों ने इसे नुकसान पहुँचाने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ी है। मीनार में मौजूद कचरे का ढेर इसकी तसदीक कर रहा था।
ऐसे में भला कोई कैसे यकीन करे कि ये इमारत मुग़ल बादशह शाहजहाँ की देन है। सुस्त प्रशासन और लोगों की लापरवाही ने इसके अस्तित्व को चोट पहुंचने में कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ी है। एक ज़माने में मुग़लिया सल्तनत की चकाचौंध से रोशन ये हस्त मीनार आज सरकार की मेहरबानी की मोहताज है।

My Mother’s Terrace Garden

“My extravagance is my garden – it’s the first thing I look at every morning when I wake up. It gives me so much pleasure.” Ina Garten

I have seen my mother literally living these words. Every morning while walking on my terrace, I see her going straight to her garden and closely inspecting plants and trees. Gardening work as a therapy for her. Since childhood, I have been seeing my mother spending considerable time in growing various plants and trees, which include flowers, fruits and vegetables. In our earlier home, we used to have plants of cotton, lady finger, turmeric, ginger, onion and garlic along with lemon, papaya, pomegranate, jack fruit trees to name a few.

Continuing the same, my mother has maintained a terrace garden in our current home. She has been organically growing her garden by using kitchen waste and natural fertilisers only. Her constant efforts are now visible in her garden, which boasts of many beautiful flowers, vegetables and few fruit trees.Some of the plants and trees we are currently having in our terrace garden:

Aparajita (Asian Pigeonwings)

Jatadhari (Cockscomb)

Lilly

Magic Rose

Neelkalmi (Japanese Morning Glory)

As Robert Rodale has said, “In almost every garden, the land is made better and so is the gardener,” just like with this garden my mother has honed her gardening skills for sure. Whereas, I have started praising God’s creation more than ever. All thanks to my mother’s terrace garden!

The Glorious Jaunapur Dham of Neeb Karori Maharaj

After visiting the Kainchi Ashram dedicated to Shri Neeb Karori Maharaj, I recently paid a visit to a temple in Delhi for which Maharaj ji himself chose the land in 1970.

This temple, in Mehrauli’s Jaunapur village, is believed to be a jagrit (glorious) place which has witnessed immense grace of Maharaj ji. For centuries, Jaunapur village was bearing the brunt of a sage’s curse and eventually this place got relieved from that curse after Maharaj ji’s arrival.

Entrance to Lord Hanuman’s Temple

The statue of Lord Hanuman in this temple was installed by Maharaj ji himself. It is present at the same place from where His small swayambhu (self-existing) idol was dug out on Maharaj ji’s instructions.

Beside this there are temples of Maharaj ji, Gauri-Shankar ji, Goddess Vaishnavi.

There is a place called kuti (cottage) which houses idols of gods, goddesses, Maharaj ji along with pictures of great sages and saints. Inside the kuti, there is narrow staircase leading to another place called gufa (cave). Next to kuti, is a temple of Nag Devta.

One more temple dedicated to Maharaj ji was got built by a sewadar (volunteer) late Baba Sevanand ji. Sundar Kaand is often recited in this temple on Saturday.

The entire temple area is spread in 40-50 acres approximately. One of the priests in the temple told me that people in this area donated this entire land to Maharaj ji.

The vast area of the temple boasts of its serene beauty and is surrounded by abundant greenery.

Exploring the temple area and sitting here is very peaceful.

Here, Lord Hanuman ji’s temples exceed the number of other ones.

The temple committee also runs a hospital and a school from 1st to 12th class in two shifts, where around 3000 students study.

Across this temple, there is a gaushala (cowshed) which has about 150 cows and calves.

Before entering this cowshed, one can see a well which ended the centuries-old water scarcity after Maharaj ji blessed this area with his presence.

Be it the Kainchi temple in Uttarakhand or the Jaunapur ashram in Delhi, the profound divinity engulfing these places touches everyone’s heart. Various temples constructed across the country during Maharaj ji’s lifetime as well as after his mahasamadhi (the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one’s body) literally follow his teaching – “Love All, Serve All, Feed All.”

Y+ Category Security to Kangana Ranaut – Is It Justified?

If one has to describe Kangana Ranaut in few words, it would surely be – bold and undaunted. The way she has kept on speaking about the petty politics in bullywood (bollywood), has earned her more enemies than friends. Moreover, the way she has come forth consistently by spilling the beans of this dirty industry, this was imminent. I do not find anything wrong in nepotism as everyone helps his/her own family members in establishing themselves. This is quite obvious. But, stopping talented outsiders from growing, bullying them and doing their character assassination by writing blind items on them; all these shallow tactics must be strongly opposed. And when Kangana openly confronted bullywood people on this, she started offending their eyes.

Kangana appeared on interviews with Arnab Goswami where she boldly revealed about nepotism, sycophancy, drug abuse and anti-India rhetoric prevalent in the industry. One-by-one she made sensational revelation even if it was related to her own life or someone else’s. As a matter of fact, everyone is well-aware of powerful people’s dominance in bullywood.

Ex-RAW officer Mr. NK Sood has many times mentioned about the dominance of global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and Dubai-Karachi (DK) gang in bullywood. It was Mr. Sood who very first revealed about the role of underworld in the murder of Sushant Singh Rajput. According to him, there are total 11 gangs in bullywood, including orgy and charas (marijuana) gangs.

Now, Kangana has avowedly meddled with all high and mighty in bullywood. Palghar sadhus’ lynching, nationalism, terrorism, anti-India stance of bullywood; she is so vocally speaking about these issues which will naturally trouble them. It could be possible that she might be getting patronage from BJP or any other political party. What’s wrong in this? People like Swara Bhaskar, Javed Akhtar, Tapsee Pannu are doing the same thing. Then why such hullabaloo is being made? Kangana has raised such issues, which have been affecting India for years. By being so upfront, she has greatly risked her career, her and her family members’ lives. When Maharashtra was setting new records in the growing cases of corona virus, the state government hired bullywood to heap praises on it. The same way, the Uddhav government is returning the favour to them. It is the simple rule of give and take and clearly visible in the case of Sushant and Kangana.

This is the reason for Maharashtra government’s such irresponsible approach in the Sushant murder case. From government to police and bullywood, the way they have done injustice to Sushant at least people will never forgive them. This public aggression is unprecedented in each way and people are playing their parts to ensure justice to Sushant.

Many say that BJP and other political parties are doing politics in the cover of Kangana and Sushant’s case. This is not a new thing. In a way, this is proving to be a positive thing towards the cleaning of Hindi film industry and ensuring punishment to culprits involved in the brutal murder of Sushant. Nothing can be said about political parties because in politics no one is permanent friend or enemy. Parties change their stance at every moment according to their vested interests.

Even before the tragic death of Sushant, Kangana openly spoke against bullywood people which always made me to think how was she able to still survive in the industry and at the same time surprised at her well-being. The cases of Vivek Oberoi, Sridevi, Jiah Khan, Divya Bharti are well-known. Also the case of Ravindra Patil, the bodyguard of Salman Khan who was present with Salman in his car during hit and run incident, is worth mentioning. Patil was a constable with Mumbai Police and gave the statement that it was Salman, who was driving the car that night. Patil paid for his honesty by getting himself suspended by Mumbai police. Eventually, Salman Khan was acquitted of all charges and Patil died of TB in absolute penury. Till his death, Patil stood by his statement and said that nobody supported him, not even Mumbai police.

Another reason for the Maharashtra government, bullywood and political parties to be afraid of Kangana is her statements, which are now opening up the pandora’s box of their deadly nexus. The pace with which CBI, ED, NCB are progressing in Sushant’s case, there is a high possibility of NIA making its entry which will definitely become a reason of huge worry for all such anti-India elements. As per Mr. Sood, ED has already started interrogating Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone.

The links of Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul with David Coleman Headley, American terrorist of Pakistani origin, came to light few years ago. Rahul was in touch with Headley, who conspired in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks and currently serving a lengthy sentence in a US jail. But this matter was hushed up by the then ruling UPA government. When people like Mahesh Bhatt can have such huge influence then imagine about those people’s dominance, who are ruling this industry for the last 20-30 years. Recently, the pictures of many celebs surfaced on the internet with an ISI agent Anil Mussarat. The same time, Shahrukh Khan and his wife Gauri’s photos with JKLF separatist Tony Ashai were also doing the rounds.

Kangana has put forth such issues which involves the state government, bullywood, police, underworld and drug mafias. So, the threat to her life is quite evident. Ministers and Shiv Sena members are threatening her with consequences like breaking her mouth, saying that she has no right to live in Mumbai, calling her names several times then the whole pictures get clearer. The Indian Government providing her with Y category security is absolutely right as we do not want another Sushant like case.

This is the same Maharashtra government who inspite of Sushant’s family’s request did not provide him any security. It made all-out attempts to declare Sushant’s cold-blodded murder a case of suicide but failed miserably. The question is at whose behest it did so and what is its compulsion for such stand? Now, the misdeeds of these people are visible they will vent their frustration in this way or the other. However, it is clear that they all will have to pay a huge price for it which has started with bullywood.

Roopkund – the Centuries-Old Mystery of the Himalaya

Courtesy: Google

Located at a height of approximately 16,500 feet in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, the Roopkund Lake is a popular site among all adventure junkies. It is one of the popular treks in Uttarakhand which boasts of its enchanting beauty varying from the magnificent views of the great Himalayas, dense virgin forests, gurgling brooks, lush green Ali and Bedni bugyal (meadows). The spectacular scenes of Mt. Trishul and Nanda Ghunti will leave anyone mesmerised. In addition, adventure fanatics get to see Chaukhamba range, Neelkanth peak, Kedarnath, Kedar Dome and many other mountain ranges during the Roopkund trek. Among them, the Chaukhamba range is clearly visible from my house in my paternal village in Uttarakhand. 😀

Courtesy: Google

However, this two-meter deep lake has remained an unsolved mystery for scientists, anthropologists and historians for so many years. And the reason for their keen interest in this area is 800 human skeletons which are found all around this lake. This entire area remains snow-covered throughout the year. It is only during autumn season, when the snow starts melting, when these human skeletons scattered all over this place become visible. Scientists and experts hold different views in terms of the history of these skeletons.

Courtesy: Google

Courtesy: Google

These skeletons were very first found by a British forest guard in 1942, who chanced upon this lake. Initially, these skeletons were believed to be of Japanese soldiers of the WWII. Whereas, many British explorers and scholars held that these skeletons were of General Zorawar Singh and his men, who while returning after the 1841 Tibbet War lost way in this area and eventually succumbed to bad weather. The radiocarbon tests in 1960s rejected this theory and established the time of all these skeletons from the 12th to 15th century. This led many historians to maintain that the skeletons belonged to the unsuccessful attack of Muhammad Tughlaq on Garhwal Himalaya. Others believed this to be the case of an epidemic while some anthropologists saw it as a ritual suicide. Thus till the initial years of 2000, DNA studies supported the theory of these skeletons’ South Asian ancestry.

Courtesy: Google

In 2019, a special report by National Geographic presented a clear picture on these skeletons’ history. After the full genomic analyses of 38 sets of skeletons, experts reached to a new conclusion. According to their findings, out of those 38 people, 23 had South Asian ancestry who died between the 7th and 10th centuries. Other 14 died there between the 17th and 20th centuries – probably in a single event. Unlike the South Asian skeletons, all these 14 skeletons were found to have Mediterranean genetic ancestry of Greece and Crete. The last person, who died at the same time as these Mediterranean people, belonged to East Asia ancestry. The analyses also suggested that all these individuals were  not related to one another in any way. Further, the additional isotopic studies revealed that the South Asian and Mediterranean groups used to eat different diets. Even after these findings, researchers still do not know the reason of this Mediterranean group’s travel to Roopkund and their cause of death.

Courtesy: Google

Courtesy: Google

Scientists do not believe them to be the casualties of war. These skeletons include both, males and females. There is no proof of any kind of combat violence nor any weapons have been found here. All these individuals were healthy during their death, thus it rejects the theory of death due to any epidemic. 

If a popular local folk lore of the region is to be believed, it talks about a royal procession. For centuries, a pilgrimage named Raj Jat is organised every 12 years in this area which is dedicated to the Goddess Nanda Devi. It is believed that during medieval times the King of Kannauj Jasdhawal undertook a pilgrimage to the Goddess Nanda Devi in the Garhwal Himalaya on the occasion of his heir’s birth. During the journey, the boisterous dance and music infuriated the Goddess. As a result, “iron balls” thrown from the sky killed all of them.

This strengthens the possibility of these people being the pilgrims who got killed during heavy hailstorm. Experts have found parasols that were used during the procession from those human remains. There have been unhealed fractures found on some of the skulls which indicates towards a severe hailstorm – the “iron balls” as mentioned in the folk lore.

That’s why to verify this and other aspects, an international team of researchers was formed which performed genomic analyses of the Roopkund remains. The finding of the Mediterranean ancestry in the Indian Himalaya came as a big surprise for the team.

Courtesy: Google

Now, the question arises did this Mediterranean group come here for this pilgrimage and stay here for a long time during which they died. William Sax, head of Heidelberg University’s anthropology department and author of Mountain Goddess, a book on the pilgrimage, does not see any sense in this belief. Sax, himself, visited the lake thrice with his last trip made in 2004 as part of a National Geographic television show. 

This year in 2020, researchers had the plans for another expedition to the Roopkund Lake to study the artifacts associated with the skeletons. At present, the chances of this are very low seeing the current scenario of the coronavirus pandemic.

बाल मिठाई – उत्तराखंड की शान

बाल मिठाई उत्तराखंड की प्रसिद्ध मिठाई है। बचपन में जब भी मेरा परिवार गांव से घर वापिस आता, बाल मिठाई का हमारे सामान के साथ होना तय था। ऐसा माना जाता है कि 7वी या 8वी सदी में ये मिठाई नेपाल से पहली बार यहाँ आई और 20वी सदी की शुरुआत में अल्मोड़ा के लाला जोगा राम शाह ने इस मिठाई को एक नए तरीके से बनाना शुरू किया। ये मूल रूप से खोये से बनती है और इसके उपर चीनी के दानें लगे होते हैं। लेकिन लाला जोगा राम के समय चीनी के दानो की जगह इस पर खसखस के बीज लगे होते थे। गढ़वाल और कुमाऊँ दोनों ही क्षेत्रोँ में ये बहुत लोकप्रिय है। बल्कि अब तो ये पूरे भारत में काफी मशहूर है।

चित्र: गूगल

दिल्ली दंगो का एक गुनहगार – ख़ालिद सैफ़ी

फरवरी 2020 में हुए दिल्ली दंगो के दौरान चाँद बाग़ इलाके में भड़की हिंसा के मामले में खालिद सैफी के तथाकथित रूप से मुख्य षड्यंत्रकारियों में से एक होने की बात सामने आई। जिसके बाद दिल्ली पुलिस की क्राइम ब्रांच ने उसे गिरफ्तार किया। 8 जनवरी को शाहीन बाग़ में हुए anti-CAA प्रोटेस्ट में भी इसने भाग लिया था। पुलिस Chargesheet के मुताबिक जाफ़राबाद और चाँद बाग में हुए दंगे दिल्ली में अराजकता फ़ैलाने की एक सोची समझी साज़िश थी। सैफ़ी वही इंसान है जिसने JNU के टुकड़े टुकड़े गैंग के उमर खालिद और आप के सस्पेंडेड councillor ताहिर हुसैन के बीच मुलाकात करवाई थी।

चित्र: गूगल

सैफी दिल्ली दंगो की एक अहम कड़ी है जिसका कांटेक्ट anti-caa रुख रखने वाले सभी पत्रकारों, नेताओ और अन्य हस्तियों से रहा है । दिल्ली पुलिस ने जाफराबाद दंगो और अंकित शर्मा मर्डर केसों की FIRs में कहा है कि ताहिर हुसैन दिल्ली में हो रहे दंगो के दौरान उमर खालिद और खालिद सैफ़ी के सम्पर्क में था।

वही रेडियो मिर्ची की आरजे सायमा के साथ भी इसे देखा गया। इन मोहतरमा ने अपने रेडियो प्रोग्राम्स के दौरान कई बार भीड़ को प्रोटेस्ट साइट्स पर इकठ्ठा होने की अन्नोउंसमेंट्स की थी।

रविश कुमार, राजदीप सरदेसाई, सिद्धार्थ वरदराजन, अभिसार शर्मा, अरफ़ा खानुम, राणा अयूब, नेहा दीक्षित सरीखे पत्रकारों के साथ भी दिल्ली दंगो के इस मास्टरमाइंड के संबंध उजागर हुए। इनके अलावा, कई लेफ्ट, प्रो-जेहादी शिक्षाविदो, JNU और DU के स्टूडेंट लीडर्स भी सैफी के सम्पर्क में थे।

सैफी United Against Hate नाम की संस्था का संस्थापक है। हालाँकि इसकी संस्था का काम उसके नाम से ठीक उल्टा है। ये वही संस्था है जिसने anti-CAA प्रोटेस्ट को पूरे देश भर में चलाया था। दिल्ली दंगो पर पार्लियामेंट की एक डिबेट में गृह मंत्री अमित शाह ने भी इस संस्था का उल्लेख किया था। इससे पहले भी सैफी को दिल्ली पुलिस ने 26 फरवरी को anti-CAA प्रोटेस्ट के चलते खजूरी ख़ास से गिरफ्तार किया था। एजेंसियों का मानना है कि सैफ़ी की संस्था का इस्तेमाल इस्लामिक देशों से फंड्स लेकर भारत में विरोध प्रदर्शन करवाने के लिए किया जाता था। केरला और तमिलनाडु के प्रो-जिहादी संस्थाओं से इसका नाता रहा है। पत्रकारों, शिक्षाविदों और advocates के साथ सैफ़ी के मनी रूटिंग लिंक्स की भी पड़ताल की जा रही है। एजेंसियों के अनुसार, सैफ़ी Popular Front of India (PFI) जैसी देश विरोधी गतिविधियों में संलिप्त संगठन का भी हिस्सा रहा है। PFI का अक्सर प्रतिबंधित संगठन SIMI और आतंकवादी संगठन ISIS के साथ लिंक्स होने की बात भी सामने आती रही है। लव जिहाद, पोलिटिकल किलिंग्स में PFI का हाथ रहा है। जनवरी में उत्तर प्रदेश में हुए anti-caa विरोध प्रदर्शन में भी PFI का रोल रहा है, जिसके चलते उत्तर प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री योगी आदित्यनाथ ने गृह मंत्रालय से इस पर प्रतिबन्ध लगाने की मांग भी की थी।

आदित्य ठाकरे और बेबी पेंग्विन का क़िस्सा

जुलाई के महीने में ट्विटर पर #BabyPenguin बहुत ट्रेंड हुआ।

चित्र: गूगल

समित ठक्कर नाम के एक व्यक्ति ने महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव ठाकरे, उनके बेटे आदित्य ठाकरे और ऊर्जा मंत्री नितिन राउत को लेकर एक ट्वीट किया जिसके चलते समित के खिलाफ़ FIR दर्ज की गई।

चित्र: गूगल

FIR के बाद भी समित का वही स्टैंड रहा और लोगों ने भी समित को सपोर्ट करते हुए इसे खूब ट्रेंड किया।

आलम ये है कि आज तक समित का आदित्य ठाकरे को बेबी पेंग्विन कहना जारी हैं। लोगों में भी अब आदित्य ठाकरे बेबी पेंग्विन के नाम से ही ज़्यादा पॉपुलर हैं।

आदित्य ठाकरे को बेबी पेंग्विन कहने के पीछे कहानी ये है कि शिव सेना द्वारा संचालित बृहन्मुम्बई म्युनिसिपल कारपोरेशन (BMC) ने 2012 में लोकल टूरिज्म को बढ़ावा देने के लिए मुंबई के Byculla ज़ू के लिए Humboldt पेंगुइन्स को मंगवाने का फैसला किया। ऐसी खबरें हैं कि इसके लिए शिव सेना ने BMC पर दबाव बनाया था। उद्धव ठाकरे और आदित्य ठाकरे का ये महत्वकांक्षी प्रोजेक्ट जल्द ही एक बड़ी कंट्रोवर्सी की वजह बन गया। तमाम विरोधों के बावजूद आखिरकार जुलाई 2016 में साउथ कोरिया से 8 Humoldt पेंग्विन Byculla ज़ू पहुंचे। इस पूरे प्रोजेक्ट की लागत थी कोई 10 करोड़ रुपये जिसके तहत उन पेंग्विन्स के लिए ज़ू में एक आर्टिफिशियल एनवायरनमेंट बनाया जाना था। लेकिन यहां आने के कुछ दिनों के अंदर ही उन 8 पेंग्विन्स में से एक की बैक्टीरियल इंफेक्शन के चलते मौत हो गई। इस बात पर भी बहुत कॉन्ट्रोवर्सी हुई। एक्सपर्ट्स के मुताबिक वातावरण में हुए अचानक बदलाव और ज़ू प्रशासन के पास ऐसे एगज़ोटिक पक्षियों की देखरेख को लेकर कोई ट्रेनिंग, संसाधन और जानकारी न होने के कारण उस पेंग्विन की मौत हुई। कई विशेषज्ञों ने भारत जैसे गरम देश मे उन पेंग्विन्स को लाना ही एक ग़लत निर्णय बताया। बाद में उन पेंग्विन्स से पैदा हुए एक और पेंग्विन की मौत हो गई। कुल मिलाकर यह एक अपरिपक्व कदम था जिससे नुकसान ही ज़्यादा हुआ – फ़िर चाहे वो नुकसान आर्थिक हो, पेंग्विन्स की जान का हो या आदित्य ठाकरे की इमेज का।

River Rafting in Rishikesh

In Arpil 2018, my friend, her husband and I decided to go for river rafting in Rishikesh. We decided to first go to Har Ki Pauri as the couple wanted to conduct their daughter’s mundan (tonsure) there. My mother, friend’s mother-in-law, my another friend and her mother also joined us in this trip.

We were supposed to leave Delhi by 12:30 a.m. to avoid heavy traffic. Thinking of having a thrilling rafting experience in Rishikesh, we were so excited but for us the adventure started right from Delhi.

On the night of departure, the driver came so late at around 3:30 a.m. with excuses of traffic. By 4 a.m., he picked all of us and finally we set off for Rishikesh. It was not even 2 hours since we started our journey, my friend saw the driver dozing off many times. When asked, the driver told us that he had not taken proper rest so my friend’s husband took the wheel while the driver was sleeping on the middle row of the seat. He was in such a deep sleep that many times, he fell towards my friend’s shoulder.

At Har Ki Pauri with friends

My friend’s husband drove till we reach Har Ki Pauri around 10 a.m. By that time, the driver had a good sleep and was ready to drive us. My friend’s daughter was tonsured there. After that, we all took a holy dip in the holy River Ganges followed by breakfast and then left for our hotel in Rishikesh.We reached there around 11. Our mothers stayed back in the hotel with kids and soon rest of us left for rafting. We stuck in heavy traffic jam there for almost 30 minutes but somehow reached the rafting spot.                                             

Ready for a thrilling experience

Waiting for our turn

Like our driver, our raft guide also contributed in making the entire adventure memorable. Before going, he gave us few instructions on how to raft throughout the trip. But only my friend and I did it properly.

Rafting on calm waters

Entering the rapid

Thrill unleashed

Many times our instructor lost his cool. It was really very hilarious. His frustration with us can be easily seen in this video. 😆

Once it was over, we had light meal and came back to our hotel.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel. Then, we visited Ram Jhoola as much as we could because of time limit and finally set off for Delhi.

Mothers

Throughout the entire journey, the driver showed us tantrums. Therefore while we were still in Rishikesh, he received a strong rebuke from my friend for his misbehaviour. Her strong dosage of rebuke worked and after that he drove us to Delhi without any drama. But no, there was still some adventure left in that journey.

We were supposed to reach Delhi maximum by 11 a.m. But due to severe traffic at many places in Uttar Pradesh, we were late by many hours. During the journey, I fell asleep only to wake up with the scaring views of huge fields in night. It was all dark and nowhere we could find any road or houses. There were only and only fields. To avoid heavy traffic, they took the route suggested by google map and ended up there. This thing again happened to us during our Dehradun trip in 2019. So, I suggest you never to take any shortcut route suggested by Google Maps when you are not sue about it. Except kids, we all were awake and bit scared. But finally, we crossed that entire area and found the main road to Ghaziabad. We all breathed a sigh of relief!

From there it took us around 1 hour to reach Delhi and finally we all reached our homes safely by 3 a.m.

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