So neighboring tribes don’t abduct them. That’s the Apatani tribe for you in Arunachal Pradesh – a region in the north-east of India bordering China. And one of the few must-visit places not overrun by tourism yet.
I drove from state capital Itanagar to Kibithu
– the latter being the easternmost motorable point of India where you have to take a U-turn. Going any further would earn you the ire of Chinese soldiers with fidgety fingers playing with their triggers. As long as you follow these road signs, you will be in paradise. You will meet tribes whose lifestyles and culture might vanish in a matter of years. The drive will take you through forests and over river beds, there will be an adventure waiting at every turn and all through you will be surrounded by a landscape that would seem like heaven. And don’t be surprised if you get marriage proposals on the way. More on this later.
Little wonder then that this drive is included in Kunzum 100 Great Journeys. Join me.
The trip may start in Itanagar but the town itself holds little attraction – the journey truly starts when you take the road to Ziro. A misty, winding road takes you to what is truly a wonder of a destination, inaccessible for those unwilling to drive for at least two days from the nearest airport.
ZIRO: MEETING THE APATANIS
Home to the Apatani tribe, the valley is literally a breath of fresh air. A flat terrain with rice fields, fishing pools, and traditional homes, it is ringed by hills with a halo of mist and clouds to make for a perfect picture. People are busy doing something or nothing, with no sense of urgency – when you have arrived in Nirvana land, where is the rush to go anywhere else?
How were the women ‘defaced’ to protect their lives and honor? By sporting big, round black nose plugs and earrings, and by tattooing their faces. Men have tattoos too and tie their hair in a knot but not to look ‘ugly’. Such portraits will not be there for long to see – it is only the older generation who have such adornments.
It’s a society in transit. The younger lot wear modern clothing, go to salons, and can be found on Facebook. Ziro has also emerged as hubs for high standard schools, attracting teachers from across the country, enabling a pursuit of non-agrarian professions for locals.
But an Arunachali’s traditional bamboo hut continues to be his or her castle. Most stay in their ancestral homes, even when they can afford better; you can see cars parked outside though. An old woman, nearly blind, in Hong village allowed me to have a look around her house. It had a central fire for cooking and warmth, and the family sleeps around this. There was one additional bedroom, with the toilets on the outside. The hut was raised on bamboo stilts, and I could see pigs living below. These pigs are important food, and they help clean the toilets by eating what people leave behind. Ugh! The walls of an outer room carried a display of heads and horns of Mithun cows sacrificed by the family over generations; their number is a matter of pride for them and indication of their affluence. The lady did ask my guide why I was taking so many pictures.
Next stop was Daporijo – a community set amidst beautiful forests, hills, and rivers. As I approached Ligu, a tourist village I had booked a homestay in, I had to watch out for cars coming from the opposite direction; they were full of happy people driving a bit recklessly. I learned they were all members of a marriage party – from the groom’s side – and going to the nearby village called Don to get the bride already in a state of high.
Ligu village was set up and funded with Government support to promote ethnic and rural tourism. It was quite a pleasant village to walk around in. There was the usual livestock roaming freely; a mommy pig got upset and would have knocked me over but for a strong chain when I got too close trying to shoot her family comprising new-borns. We were recommended to go the Menga caves located a few miles off the highway when going to Aalo, my next destination. It was supposedly promoted as a labyrinth of caves with a Shiva temple too. When I reached there, it was no more than a single cave – more like a cavity on the rock face – and nothing beyond that. The Shiva temple here was badly designed with white tiles – whoever came up with this idea?
युवा लेखक आशीष को नेपाल में अंतरराष्ट्रीय साहित्य सम्मान
मित्र देश नेपाल के प्रमुख वाणिज्यिक केंद्र बीरगंज में आयोजित दो दिवसीय नेपाल-भारत साहित्य महोत्सव में प्रदेश के युवा लेखक व ग़ज़लगो आशीष राज सिंघानिया ‘तन्हा’ को साहित्य के क्षेत्र में उनकी लगातार सक्रियता व बेहद कम समय में हासिल किए गए तमाम उपलब्धियों हेतु प्रथम नेपाल-भारत साहित्य रत्न सम्मान 2018 से बेहद गरिमामयी समारोह में सम्मानित किया गया.
नेपाल के नवनिर्मित प्रदेश क्रमांक 2 के प्रथम मुख्यमंत्री लालबाबू राउत सहित अन्य विशिष्ट अतिथियों व लब्धप्रतिष्ठित साहित्यकारों ने दोनों देशों के विभिन्न वरिष्ठ साहित्यकारों का सम्मान उक्त आयोजन के अंतर्गत किया. नेपाल में प्रथम बार आयोजित इस महत्वपूर्ण आयोजन के द्वितीय दिवस के प्रथम सत्र में आयोजित आलमी मुशायरे में आशीष तन्हा ने अपनी शानदार ग़ज़लों व नज़्मों की प्रस्तुतियों से नेपालवासियों का दिल जीत लिया. बेहद कम समय में हासिल अपनी तमाम उपलब्धियों के बीच आशीष तन्हा ने अपना यह प्रथम अंतरराष्ट्रीय सम्मान अपने दिवंगत पिता को समर्पित किया. उक्त अवसर पर अपने उद्बोधन में उन्होंने आयोजन समिति के प्रति आभार जताते हुए साहित्य व अदब के प्रति अपनी प्रतिबद्धता को दोहराया व खुद की क़ामयाबी का श्रेय अपने प्रदेश के लोगों द्वारा मिल रहे असीम प्यार व लगातार सहयोग को दिया.
Music Is Life
“Where words leave off, music begins”
Music is the fine art of expressing ideas, thoughts, and emotions in significant sound forms by using the element of rhythm, melody, and harmony through voices or instruments or both.
Music plays a huge role in everyone’s life. It keeps us busy in spare or busy time and makes our life peaceful. There are various forms of music which we can enjoy according to our need and requirement. Everyone wants to listen to music in their free time to get some enjoyment and relief their mind. Music helps us to get prevented from the mental and emotional problem.
I like music so much from my childhood. I still remember that during my childhood days the weekend means all the Sundays was fixed as music day. All through the day, the slow music was running in the center of the house and every family member was busy doing their work. It helps us in keeping our mind strong, powerful and busy.
Music is like yoga, it makes us joyous and helps in keeping hormonal balance in the body, relief our minds and body, thus keeps us physically and mentally healthy and fit.
Music plays a great role in making us happy in our difficult time and gives a lot of comfort to our mind.
Music is very powerful and has the ability to convey the positive message to all sorts of emotions without telling and asking anything to anyone. Music also increases or improves the concentration power of human being by removing all the negative thoughts.
The Baghela’s And The White Tiger Of Rewa
What fascinates me about history are not the facts and figures that have thrust on us, but the stories – especially the ones that are untold. Staring at the crumbled bricks of an old building, the faded walls, the dilapidated pillars, the rusty doors, my imagination takes me into a different era. Who would have lived here and what were their stories? Is there an unseen ghost roaming around? Are there haunting memories that just vanished into thin air?
Every dusty town and village in India have these stories to tell if only someone had documented them. I found myself in one of them a few days ago – a town called Rewa in Madhya Pradesh which lived under the garb of yet another unassuming city that went about its business as usual. And yet, there were stories that were waiting to be heard. I stopped at a little lake called Rani Ka Talao. An old temple emerged from the waters while there were several shrines around the lake. Families were walking, couples were on a boat ride, kids were playing while the devout were praying. I was however lost. The child in me came alive.
Stories usually start with ” Once upon a time there was a king..” perhaps, here you would say, there was a queen. After all, the lake is named after her. An incoherent watchman muttered reluctantly something about a queen who had a dream and who built a temple here based on a deity’s wish. I wondered if he was making it all up. But ruins of old monuments stood out from behind trees like shadows from the past. Perhaps there was a story here.
I walked around and other crumbling remains of a temple stood in a corner while a few boys were playing cricket. They wanted me to take their photographs. In return, they told me that the old dilapidated monument in front of me was a Kali temple that was built here by one of the queens.
Rewa I later learned is one of the princely states of India and was part of the Bagelkhand Agency created by the British. Standing in a dusty, dingy Baghel museum under the eyes of a paranoid caretaker who refused to even let us take our mobile phones out, I saw some of the priceless treasures of the Baghela Dynasty. There were stories of friendship between Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Bagela king, Rewa Ram Singh. Birbal and Tansen came from their courts.
The entire museum was a treasure trove with old clocks and curious, porcelain from China, priceless colonial gifts from the Queen, guns that put James Bond to shame and several daggers. And I saw photographs of Shah Rukh Khan on the sets of Ashoka with some of the weapons used by the rulers. A story goes that a daring robbery in the museum which resulted in the countless loss of treasures had made the caretakers more vigilant that they do not allow you to even take notes on your mobile phone or write notes in a book.
Hunting was a passion among the kings of yore and while they loved to show their trophies, capturing a live, unusual animal probably was one of their fantasies. And so, Mohan the white tiger cub was found and captured by the Baghela Maharaja Martens Singh in the forests around Govindgarh. He decided to create an entire lineage of white tigers and brought a tigress, aptly titled Begum to mate with Mohan. Begum was not white and apparently, she gave birth to three cubs, all of them were normal Bengal Tigers. In order to keep the experiment going, Mohan had to mate again, this time with one of the tigresses he had fathered. And therein lies another tale.
Tragically, Rewa’s history has got somewhere mixed up with the story of the white tiger, at least for me. Walking around the beautiful ruins of Govindgarh, where time stood still, I wondered if the lineage of the Baghelas had more interesting tales tucked away amidst these pillars and columns which were far more exciting than stories of forcing tigers to mate and create hybrids. Perhaps I need to make another trip again.
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