Monumental Jhansi Fort: Abode of many historical & personal memories!

Recently I saw a post from Balwant Jain ji with the backdrop of a fort and out of curiosity,  checked which place it was? To my great surprise, I found that our तन, मन, धन से घुमक्कड़  Balwant ji had reached Jhansi and the photographs were from Jhansi fort – Manikarnika Tambe aka Rani Laxmi Bai’s post-marital abode. Forts always fascinate me! More on that some other time…

…Many memories rolled down my eyes when I had visited the Jhansi Fort as a little school girl owing to my father’s brief posting in Jhansi and we studied in KV Jhansi. My father’s office organised a trip for families to Jhansi Fort then and for the first time I saw this fort. Till then I had only seen Gwalior Fort as my grand father’s house was in Gwalior Fort’s arena. Gwalior Fort is very magnificent and richer in every aspect. In comparison to that Jhansi fort was quite small and raw, when I mentioned this to my mother, she replied: Yeh freedom fighter ka fort hai, woh rajwadon ka fort hai!

Every corner of the fort tells the story of the freedom struggle and how many wars were fought under its aegis. Stories of love, compassion, hatred, betrayal, blood, gore, chivalry are written on its walls. Worth mentioning is the spot from where Rani Laxmi jumped from the horse with her 4-month-old son tied on her back. Balwantji was kind enough to share that picture with me.

The post enlivened the memories of our brief and memorable stay in Jhansi which was a bed of very different culture from Bhopal from where we had shifted. The language is sweet, the people are humble and food is amazing! Unfortunately, I never revisited Jhansi after leaving from there but down memory lane, it was great living there!

 Jhansi Fort or Jhansi ka Kila is a fortress situated on a large hilltop called Bangira, in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. It served as a stronghold of the Chandela Kings in Balwant Nagar from the 11th through the 17th century.

The Jhansi fort is located in the middle of the Jhansi city. It is 3 km from the Jhansi Railway station. The nearest airport is Gwalior, which is 103 km from Jhansi.  You can also reach the fort by getting down at the Jhansi Museum Bus Stop.

The fort standing in the hilly area shows how the North Indian style of fort construction. The granite walls of the fort are between 16 and 20 feet thick and on the south side meet the city walls. The south face of the fort is almost perpendicular.

There are 10 gates giving access to the fort. Some of these are Khanderao Gate, Datia Darwaza, Unnao Gate, badaGao gate, Laxmi Gate, Sagar Gate, Orchha Gate, Sainyar Gate and Chand Gate. Notable sights in the fort are the Shiva temple, Ganesh temple at the entrance, and the Kadak Bijli cannon used in the uprising of 1857. The memorial board reminds one of the hair-raising feats of the Rani Lakshmibai in jumping on horseback from the fort. Nearby is the Rani Mahal, built in the latter half of the 19th century where there is now an archaeological museum.

The fort extends to a sprawling 15 acres (61,000 m2) and this colossal structure measures about 312m in length and 225m in width. On the whole, there are twenty-two supports with a mammoth strengthening wall surrounded by a moat on both sides. The shattered upholder on the eastern side was rebuilt by the British, who also added a floor to Panch Mahal.

In 1842 Raja Gangadhar Rao married Manikarnika Tambe who was the given the new name of Lakshmi Bai, She gave birth to a boy, later named Damodar Rao, in 1851, who died after four months. The Maharaja adopted a child called Anand Rao, the son of Gangadhar Rao’s cousin, who was renamed Damodar Rao, on the day before the Maharaja died.

In March 1854, Lakshmibai was given an annual pension of Rs. 60,000 and ordered to leave the palace and the fort. In 1857 the revolt broke out and she took the control of the fort and led Jhansi forces against those of the British East India Company.

Jhansi was besieged by the company forces of General Hugh Rose in March and April 1858 and was captured on 4 April 1858. Rani Lakshmi Bai was able to make a daring escape on horseback from the fort and the city before the city was pillaged by Rose’s troops.

In 1861 the British Government gave the Jhansi fort and Jhansi city to Jiyaji Rao Scindia, the Maharaja of [Gwalior], but the British took back Jhansi from Gwalior state in 1868.

Every year in the month of January–February a grand occasion is held known as Jhansi Mahotsav when many eminent personalities and artists perform their play.

Information courtesy: Wikipedia

Rani Laxmi Bai – great Indian warrior – by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

सिंहासन हिल उठे राजवंशों ने भृकुटी तानी थी,
बूढ़े भारत में आई फिर से नयी जवानी थी,
गुमी हुई आज़ादी की कीमत सबने पहचानी थी,
दूर फिरंगी को करने की सबने मन में ठानी थी।
चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

सुनिए शुभा मुद्गल जी की पुर ज़ोर आवाज़ में … खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी

कानपूर के नाना की, मुँहबोली बहन छबीली थी,
लक्ष्मीबाई नाम, पिता की वह संतान अकेली थी,
नाना के सँग पढ़ती थी वह, नाना के सँग खेली थी,
बरछी ढाल, कृपाण, कटारी उसकी यही सहेली थी।
वीर शिवाजी की गाथायें उसकी याद ज़बानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

लक्ष्मी थी या दुर्गा थी वह स्वयं वीरता की अवतार,
देख मराठे पुलकित होते उसकी तलवारों के वार,
नकली युद्ध-व्यूह की रचना और खेलना खूब शिकार,
सैन्य घेरना, दुर्ग तोड़ना ये थे उसके प्रिय खिलवार।
महाराष्टर-कुल-देवी उसकी भी आराध्य भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

हुई वीरता की वैभव के साथ सगाई झाँसी में,
ब्याह हुआ रानी बन आई लक्ष्मीबाई झाँसी में,
राजमहल में बजी बधाई खुशियाँ छाई झाँसी में,
चित्रा ने अर्जुन को पाया, शिव से मिली भवानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

उदित हुआ सौभाग्य, मुदित महलों में उजियाली छाई,
किंतु कालगति चुपके-चुपके काली घटा घेर लाई,
तीर चलाने वाले कर में उसे चूड़ियाँ कब भाई,
रानी विधवा हुई, हाय! विधि को भी नहीं दया आई।
निसंतान मरे राजाजी रानी शोक-समानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

बुझा दीप झाँसी का तब डलहौज़ी मन में हरषाया,
राज्य हड़प करने का उसने यह अच्छा अवसर पाया,
फ़ौरन फौजें भेज दुर्ग पर अपना झंडा फहराया,
लावारिस का वारिस बनकर ब्रिटिश राज्य झाँसी आया।
अश्रुपूर्णा रानी ने देखा झाँसी हुई बिरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

अनुनय विनय नहीं सुनती है, विकट शासकों की माया,
व्यापारी बन दया चाहता था जब यह भारत आया,
डलहौज़ी ने पैर पसारे, अब तो पलट गई काया,
राजाओं नव्वाबों को भी उसने पैरों ठुकराया।
रानी दासी बनी, बनी यह दासी अब महरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

छिनी राजधानी दिल्ली की, लखनऊ छीना बातों-बात,
कैद पेशवा था बिठुर में, हुआ नागपुर का भी घात,
उदैपुर, तंजौर, सतारा, करनाटक की कौन बिसात?
जबकि सिंध, पंजाब ब्रह्म पर अभी हुआ था वज्र-निपात।
बंगाले, मद्रास आदि की भी तो वही कहानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी रोयीं रिनवासों में, बेगम ग़म से थीं बेज़ार,
उनके गहने कपड़े बिकते थे कलकत्ते के बाज़ार,
सरे आम नीलाम छापते थे अंग्रेज़ों के अखबार,
‘नागपूर के ज़ेवर ले लो लखनऊ के लो नौलख हार’।
यों परदे की इज़्ज़त परदेशी के हाथ बिकानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

कुटियों में भी विषम वेदना, महलों में आहत अपमान,
वीर सैनिकों के मन में था अपने पुरखों का अभिमान,
नाना धुंधूपंत पेशवा जुटा रहा था सब सामान,
बहिन छबीली ने रण-चण्डी का कर दिया प्रकट आहवान।
हुआ यज्ञ प्रारम्भ उन्हें तो सोई ज्योति जगानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

महलों ने दी आग, झोंपड़ी ने ज्वाला सुलगाई थी,
यह स्वतंत्रता की चिनगारी अंतरतम से आई थी,
झाँसी चेती, दिल्ली चेती, लखनऊ लपटें छाई थी,
मेरठ, कानपूर, पटना ने भारी धूम मचाई थी,
जबलपूर, कोल्हापूर में भी कुछ हलचल उकसानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

इस स्वतंत्रता महायज्ञ में कई वीरवर आए काम,
नाना धुंधूपंत, ताँतिया, चतुर अज़ीमुल्ला सरनाम,
अहमदशाह मौलवी, ठाकुर कुँवरसिंह सैनिक अभिराम,
भारत के इतिहास गगन में अमर रहेंगे जिनके नाम।
लेकिन आज जुर्म कहलाती उनकी जो कुरबानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

इनकी गाथा छोड़, चले हम झाँसी के मैदानों में,
जहाँ खड़ी है लक्ष्मीबाई मर्द बनी मर्दानों में,
लेफ्टिनेंट वाकर आ पहुँचा, आगे बड़ा जवानों में,
रानी ने तलवार खींच ली, हुया द्वन्द्ध असमानों में।
ज़ख्मी होकर वाकर भागा, उसे अजब हैरानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी बढ़ी कालपी आई, कर सौ मील निरंतर पार,
घोड़ा थक कर गिरा भूमि पर गया स्वर्ग तत्काल सिधार,
यमुना तट पर अंग्रेज़ों ने फिर खाई रानी से हार,
विजयी रानी आगे चल दी, किया ग्वालियर पर अधिकार।
अंग्रेज़ों के मित्र सिंधिया ने छोड़ी रजधानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

विजय मिली, पर अंग्रेज़ों की फिर सेना घिर आई थी,
अबके जनरल स्मिथ सम्मुख था, उसने मुहँ की खाई थी,
काना और मंदरा सखियाँ रानी के संग आई थी,
युद्ध श्रेत्र में उन दोनों ने भारी मार मचाई थी।
पर पीछे ह्यूरोज़ आ गया, हाय! घिरी अब रानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

तो भी रानी मार काट कर चलती बनी सैन्य के पार,
किन्तु सामने नाला आया, था वह संकट विषम अपार,
घोड़ा अड़ा, नया घोड़ा था, इतने में आ गये अवार,
रानी एक, शत्रु बहुतेरे, होने लगे वार-पर-वार।
घायल होकर गिरी सिंहनी उसे वीर गति पानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

रानी गई सिधार चिता अब उसकी दिव्य सवारी थी,
मिला तेज से तेज, तेज की वह सच्ची अधिकारी थी,
अभी उम्र कुल तेइस की थी, मनुज नहीं अवतारी थी,
हमको जीवित करने आयी बन स्वतंत्रता-नारी थी,
दिखा गई पथ, सिखा गई हमको जो सीख सिखानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

जाओ रानी याद रखेंगे ये कृतज्ञ भारतवासी,
यह तेरा बलिदान जगावेगा स्वतंत्रता अविनासी,
होवे चुप इतिहास, लगे सच्चाई को चाहे फाँसी,
हो मदमाती विजय, मिटा दे गोलों से चाहे झाँसी।
तेरा स्मारक तू ही होगी, तू खुद अमिट निशानी थी,
बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी,
खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।।

By: सुभद्रा कुमारी चौहान

550th Prakash Parv celebrations turned out truly special for me!

नानक नाम चढ़ दी कला, तेरे बाने सरबत दा भला

November 12, 2019 – The day was truly blessed as the world celebrated  550th Prakash Parv – Birthday of Guru Nanak Devji. We are also blessed that this very special day came in our lifetime.

Day’s program was set with a visit to Gurudwara in the morning for darshan, kirtan, aarti, seva, bhog and langar. I set out for Gurudwara in the morning and what a day it turned out to be. The kirtan in the morning hours was a heavenly experience. Having lived in Delhi for many many years, I understand Punjabi well so I could understand the Path and Kirtan. Being in Mumbai, I hadn’t visited a Gurudwara ever, till my friend Anu Bhateja took me there one fine morning.

I am fortunate to have many visits since…

Once again, Anu was instrumental in planning the day at Gurudwara. I loved being part of the morning rituals, till afternoon, when we returned home after having sumptuous langar. How graciously and generously the food is served by sevaks, can’tbe described in words.

After taking some rest, once again I got ready to be the part of evening Aarti, Gurbani, Kirtan, Seva and Langar with my daughter Tanya in tow. I wanted her to be part of this unmissable divine experience as a representative of Gen X.

In the evening, Gurudwara was overflowing with devotees and I must say what phenomenal management skills were at play. Right from 8-year-old to 80 years olds were involved in doing seva, serving langar, managing thousands of footwear, guiding devotees, managing crowds, distributing prasad…whatnot.

I hope and wish that other religious places also take some lessons from our Gurudwaras where devotees are treated like prince and princesses. In Babaji’s darbar, everyone was ONE. There was no discrimination on any ground, everyone followed queue, be it for darshan or langar.

Many people greeted me, not even knowing me, they just thought that they were greeting a fellow devotee.

Evening kirtan was by Bhaiji’s from Jammu Gurudwara and it was just out of this world. Their rendition of beautiful thoughts of Nanak Dev ji was simply divine. I was totally into it!

Now was the time for evening langar, which became enjoyable after some initial chaos but it was worth it. We enjoyed it very much. Tanya had eaten langar for the first time and she enjoyed it very much. While returning we brought along a very special memento of Babaji which will stay with us forever beside his special blessings.

The day was special in one more way as my dearest and lovely and only brother Prabhat was born on this great day and is imbibed with many special values. I faintly remember his birth as a child when I returned from Gurudwara with my bua after Guru Purab celebrations, my grandmother told me, “Bhaiya aaya hai.”

Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day of Kartik month, also known as Kartik Poornima. This year, followers of Guru Nanak celebrated the Guru Nanak Jayanti on November 12 (Tuesday).

To mark the celebration, Sikhs start doing Prabhat Pheris 15 days before the celebration. Two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib) is held in the Gurdwaras. A day prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as Nagarkirtan, is organised.

I wish to celebrate Guru Purab someday at Golden Temple Amritsar.

Such a wonderful day of my life!


The Essence of Light and Water – An Exciting Photo-Contest

Grundfos India, a global leader in advanced pump solutions and water technology, is launching their annual online photography contest – The Essence of Light and Water to spread awareness around the need to conserve water and energy. Emphasising the importance of these two intertwined resources in our lives and promoting sustainable use, this contest will go live on Grundfos India’s social media platforms, Ek Boondh Pani and i Save Energy on Facebook and Twitter from November 4 to December 3, 2019.

 To take part in this contest, participants must upload photographs that creatively capture the interplay of both elements – light and water, on the link provided on EBP and ISE. The top three creative photographs will win exciting prizes, such as One Plus 7, GoPro Hero 7 and Bluetooth Soundbar Blaupunkt speakers. While five consolation winners will receive Amazon Echo dot.

Commenting on this photo-contest, Mahathi Parashuram, Regional Head – Public Affairs, Communications & Engagement, Grundfos Asia Pacific Region said, “Water and light are elements that can be captured well through photography. So, when given the opportunity to showcase both together we are confident that contestants will create masterpieces. While this photo-contest focuses on the creative elements of water and light, the subtle message we are trying to spread through this campaign is the importance of water and energy conservation.”

Link to enter the contest:

 To know more about the contest, visit the EBP & ISE pages:

About Ek Boondh Pani

Ek Boondh Pani is a forum hosted by Grundfos India on the social media sites, Facebook and Twitter. The name translates to ‘a drop of water’ in Hindi – signifying the importance of each drop of water. Through this page, members share water conservation tips and facts to encourage this awareness to be driven home.

 About i Save Energy

i Save Energy is a forum hosted by Grundfos India on Facebook and Twitter. The forum aims to encourage people to spread the word on adopting energy-efficient approaches and investing in energy-efficient solutions across the nation.

Grundfos Pumps India Pvt. Ltd. (Grundfos India) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Grundfos Holdings was established on March 13, 1998. Grundfos India is responsible for sales of Grundfos products in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, and Nepal. Currently, Grundfos India has more than 360 employees and works with 200 distributors and dealers with 14 offices across India.

Grundfos India provides energy-efficient pumps and smart pumping solutions for various applications – heating and hot water service systems, cooling and air-conditioning systems, industrial applications, pressure boosting and liquid transfer, groundwater supply, domestic water supply, sewage and wastewater, dosing, chlorination systems, disinfection systems and pumps running on renewable energy.

For more information, visit:

Are we running on a hedonic treadmill?

All of us know about the treadmill, as we have used it at some or the other point of our lives to shed that excess baggage (read weight), acquired over a period of time. So, when that excess baggage is shed, we are happy, we stop using it. Now that excess baggage returns, we become unhappy again, hence, we are back on the treadmill!

Probably hedonic treadmill draws its inspiration from here, which is a tendency of a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness, despite major positive or negative changes to life goals or achievements.

So, what it actually means? Say you make a certain amount of money and achieve certain life goals, but expectations and desires rise in relative proportion to these achievements, resulting in no permanent gain in happiness. Now, you are perennially unhappy!

In modern times, say since the 1850s, with the onset of the industrial revolution, consumerism boomed, today after 150 years, consumerism boomeranged. Things which made us happy then, are making us unhappy now!

No amount of money can add to your happiness quotient if you are not happy within. Sadhguru aptly describes happiness, “If you want happiness then you should peep within yourself, you will not find it anywhere else.”

Still, there is no denying that money has a critical role to play in every individual’s life and in every nation’s life. If you have money, you are considered successful, happy! In India, there is a perception that whenever you say some good thing about someone like, “He is a nice gentleman, very jovial and helpful” Quick would be the reply, “Why not, he has so much money.” Implying only rich people are nice, jovial and helpful. What do we make out of this?

Money is a double-edged sword – you are going to get cut either way!

“Money is not the most important thing in the world. Love is. Fortunately, I love money.” – Jackie Mason

There we are! Money makes the world go round. Certainly, you can buy anything you want from money, but are you rich enough to buy those things which money can’t buy. All of us need to ask ourselves this question.

Money may have a correlation with happiness but it is not directly proportional to happiness. Having a good income can give us all comforts of life, but once our earnings reach a level when our basic needs for food, medicine, security and shelter are met, the positive effects of money are diluted by the negative effects, like we have to work longer hours, lead a stressful life to achieve targets, worry about how to park the money in safe havens or even worse IT people knocking our door.

What to say of intangible losses like lack of quality time with family, friends and relatives?  Or the inability to pursue hobbies, passions or activities which provide us with happiness. Now we start hankering for happiness again, so it is a kind of vicious cycle – a Catch 22 situation.

Times are such that we assume that material possessions like an iPhone, Zara Handbag, Mercedes, Rolex watch will make us happy, they do, of course, maybe in the short-term, over going to a Concert, Zumba class or going on a budget vacation. Eventually, these possessions fade in the background, whereas happiness acquired from the experiences increase over time.

Don’t you remember the incidence of your father making a saving of six months’ salary and surprise you with a bicycle on your birthday?

All your friends admired your bicycle, there was a double celebration of sorts…

…Can that happiness be equated with the happiness that you get after buying a luxury car by signing a cheque every few years? That was the symbol of love of your parents, who worked hard to make you happy. Now nobody has time to come to wish you or celebrate your new car.

This is the irony of life. Happiness on a bicycle ride takes you much far than the ride in your luxury car.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, money buys CHOICES. It’s what you do with those choices that makes you happy.

If you have money, enjoy it! Invest it in making others around you happy, pursue hobbies, explore destinations, acquire books to read, relish good cuisine, dress – up well, help those who are not so privileged. You would be really happy.

If you don’t have money, enjoy whatever you have, work hard for more but don’t ride a hedonic treadmill, it is nothing but rat race!

If you want to feel rich, count all the things that you have that money can’t buy.

You will know how rich you are!