Friday, December 30, 2016

Discoverers worry for the 'world’s longest cannon'

Source:: TOI.


Researchers say a cannon in a fort in Kalaburagi is the longest in the world.
The cannon is known as Bara Gazi Toph and measures about 29 feet in length.
In India, the largest recorded cannon is about 23 feet long and is located in Koulas Fort in Andhra's Nizamabad.    Mohammed Ayazuddin Patel, Dr Rehaman Patel and Mohammed Ismail measuring the Bara Gazi Toph

The three researchers, Mohammed Ayazuddin Patel, the national award winner, artist and photographer, Dr Rehaman Patel, artist and researcher at Indo-Islamic Art, Kalaburagi, and Mohammed Ismail, Bahmani researcher and coin collector who recently discovered a cannon in a fort in Kalaburagi, which they say is the longest in the world, are worried over its preservation.

It was their visit to Gulbarga Fort in search of the name of the first Bahmani sultan, Alauddin Hasan Bahaman Shah among the Persian inscriptions on the Jama Masjid that led to its discovery. Speaking of the cannon to Bangalore Mirror, Mohammed Ayazuddin Patel said, "Since 2010, I have been researching on the subject. The existing world record is in the name of Tsar Cannon that is 17.5 feet long and was built in the 15th century in Russia. The cannon has been named in Guinness Book of World Records, when the fact remains that the top three longest cannons exist in India. It is a matter of pride for the people of Kalaburagi and the Hyderabad-Karnataka region that the longest cannon in the world is located in Bahmani Fort and was manufactured during the reign of Bahmani Empire in the 14th century. It is made of the alloy Panch dhatu."

The cannon is known as Bara Gazi Toph and measures about 29 feet in length. Its circumference is 7.6 feet and diameter 2 feet. The barrel is 7-inch thick. In India, the largest recorded cannon is about 23 feet long and is located in Koulas Fort in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh. Asaf Jah-1 (first Nizam) granted the Koulas Fort to the Rajput king Raja Kunwar Gopal Singh Gaur in 1724 AD for his bravery in the battle of Balapur and Shakkar Keda. The biggest cannon on wheels, built by Raja Mansingh, is in Jaipur and measures 20.6 feet in length.

"The Jaipur cannon weighs about 50 tonnes. We assume that the weight of the Kalaburagi cannon could be around 70-75 tonnes. While, the firing range of the Jaipur cannon is about 35 kilometres, that of Bara Gazi Toph could be 50-55 kilometres," Ayazuddin Patel said.

The Bahmani monarchs, who ruled from the present Kalaburagi (Ahasnabad), stand out among other rulers for their contribution to the city. The founder Alauddin Hasan Bahaman Shah (1347-1422) made Gulbarga the capital and before his death he became the master of a vast empire. Even as they extended their territory, the rulers made significant contribution to the fields of art, architecture and literature.

The Bahmani sultanate was the first independent Islamic state of the Deccan in South India and one of the larger medieval Indian kingdoms. They ruled for 191 years (1347-1538 AD). Their other capital was Bidar.

The Gulbarga Fort was significantly expanded in 1347 by Alauddin Hasan Bahmani after he cut off ties with the Delhi sultanate. Islamic monuments such as mosques,
palaces, tombs, and other structures were also built later within the refurbished fort. The Jama Masjid built within the fort in 1367, is a unique structure of Persian architectural. It is fully enclosed, and has elegant domes and arched columns, which is unlike any other mosque in India.

The biggest challenge about historic monuments in the state is their protection, a fact not going to be any easy with the region being a backward area. "The Archaeologi-cal Survey of India and state archaeology department should take steps to protect the cannon at the Bahmani Fort and it should be included in the world record list. It should be fenced. The cannon is filled with sand and pebbles, so should be properly cleaned. Also, a signboard stating its details as the longest cannon in the world is a must. The fort and Jama Masjid must be declared heritage centres," added Ayazuddin.


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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Famed Bidri art awaits modern touch

Source: deccanchronicle

The question troubling the Bidri craftsmen in Bidar, where this art developed and flourished for centuries.
National award winner Bidri artist Abdul Rauf making statuettes of Rani Chennamma at his workshop. Inset is Rani Chennama’s statuette which was presented to PM Modi recently – DC

Amidst the glint of gold and silver and the lure of synthetic ware, is the famed Bidri art which dates back to medieval times, losing its charm?
That’s the question troubling the Bidri craftsmen in Bidar, where this art developed and flourished for centuries.

Promoted by the Bahamani kings, the intricate craft is at the crossroads with the tastes of people changing and less and less youth interested in embracing it as a means of livelihood.

Bidriware has always enchanted art lovers across the country and globe and includes exquisitely designed flower vases, jewellery boxes, royal hookahs and paan holders. The big question is whether it can be diversified to meet the tastes of the present generation. This does not mean that the traditional ware, painstakingly prepared by craftsmen, has no market as they still command high export value. But trends are changing and unless the artisan can style his product according to changing preferences, Bidri art may well be relegated to some dusty shelf in an antique or handicraft shop with buyers hardly casting a glance at them.

Popularised by sultans who ruled Bidar in the 14-15 centuries, Bidriware was brought to India from Persia by followers of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. It derived its name from the unique soil, which is available only inthe world famous Bidar fort. Till today, no one has been able to find out why this soil is so special for making Bidriware. Some artisans claim the soil has remained hidden from sunlight and rain for years and has great oxidizing properties that give Bidriware a lustrous, black colour.

There are others who believe thatthe part of the fort from where the soil is collected for making the items,was a mine in the past. Even the test conducted by craftsmen to identify the soil, is unique and amazing- they taste the soil! The skill comes from experience and ispassed on from generation to generation.

Preparing a Bidri artefact is a long and complicated process wherein silveris inlaid on a blackened alloy of zinc and copper. The material is first cast in moulds made from clay, sand, resin and oil. Chisels of varied sizes and shapes are used to engrave the design. Silver metallic wire is then laid in the engraved area. The item is cleaned and polished to be finally put in copper sulphate solution which gives it the dark colour. The entire process is either performed by one person or by various artisans specialized in their respective areas.

Realising the need to preserve the art form for future generations,National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) started the Bidriware Cluster Development Programme in 2002 and formed 15 self help groups of artisans. The Krishna Grameena Bank has given loans to these groups.

Artisans have also been issued Artisan Credit Cards and covered under Janashree Bhima Insurance Scheme. Faculty of the National Institute of Design have trained artisans to reducecosts and make new designs to enable them hone their skills and produce world class work for export. All these efforts seem to be bearing fruit. The Bidriware cluster members have been regularly attending national competitions and exhibitions.

Abdul Rauf, national award-winning master craftsman, says he has no problem in marketing his products as he produces the items required by the market. “I keep innovating and producing new products according to changing needs of the market. I get orders from Bengaluru, Hyderabadand Mumbai and I produce what they want. So I have no problems inmarketing my ware”, he said.

However Rauf admitted that only a handful of artisans were adapting to the new designs, while most were still stuck with age-old styles. Though there is steady growth in the market, the craft is not attracting the new breed of artisans. On the contrary, the number is dwindling year after year.

“In a way, Bidri craft has become a hereditary profession and very few outside the family take it up. This is because artisans develop eyesight problems early in life and most of them are not paid well enough for their effort. Even in the families of craftsmen, few children are willing to take it up now”, an art lover commented.

The legacy of the Bahamani kings can endure the changing times only if Bidriware evolves to catch the fancy of Gen-Next with a mind-boggling and attractive set of products and designs matching the mindset and needs of the modern connoisseur. For an art which has retained its pristine form through the tumultuous course of five centuries, this is no big challenge provided the artisan can change and give his work a touch of contemporary times.

Major attraction in museums
The art forms created by artists from Bidar city centuries ago, are now major attractions in museums such as Victoria and Albert Museum, London, National Museum, New Delhi and Indian Museum, Kolkata. All dignitaries and guests of the Commonwealth Games 2010 were presented mementos handcrafted in Bidri style.

This art form was the Union government’s choice for souvenirs at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Among the new Bidriware are paper clips, key bunches, lockets, envelope openers, pen stands, lampshades, kajal boxes, tiles and tabletops. Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi was presented with a memento of Kittur Rani Chennamma crafted by Bidri Artist Abdul Rauf.


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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scientists in Bidar have a simple solution for Delhi smog

Source: The Hindu:

Scientists and students of KVAFSU demonstrating how to convert farm waste into nutrient fodder in Ballur village.

The Delhi smog may have a simple answer, if the farmers of Punjab were to heed to the advice of scientists from the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University.

Scientists here feel that stubble burning or the practice of setting fire to crop residue before a sowing season, is adding to the problem of air pollution in the national capital. This can be completely avoided if farmers stop burning and reuse residue as fodder, they say.

“We have been asking farmers not to burn crop residue for decades now. But farmers are slow to change ,” says KVAFSU former vice chancellor C. Renuka Prasad . He says that the methods of using crop residue as fodder or feed inputs have been fairly standardised. KVAFSU has developed at least three methods to convert stubble and lops and tops of crops into fodder in the farm backyard.

Central institutions like the National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology (ICAR-NIANP) have even developed processes to make fodder at an industrial scale, using discarded crop residue. Farmers should use these and abstain from burning farm waste, he said.

There is a widespread belief that such burning is adding to the pollution. Agencies like NASA have claimed that stubble burning is a major component of the smoke. To find lasting solutions to such issues, we should explore long term measures like changing the habits of farmers, Dr Prasad said.

“Farmers in Punjab tend to burn wheat chaff as they think that animals don’t like it. But it can be treated to make it edible and nutritious by some simple techniques that we have developed,’’ says Chandrapal Singh, nutrition scientist and former registrar of the university. We are willing to share these formulae with farmers or the government for its extension activities, the registrar said.

“The university has come up with methods that are simple, cost effective and replicable even on a small scale. We have come up with a formula where grains and crop residue of maize, jowar, cotton seeds, can be mixed in a proper proportion to ensure a healthy meal for milch animals. We have also perfected a system of using residue of annual crops like banana and sugarcane. Banana waste is treated in Urea and salts for a few days and fed as vitalizing inputs to animals. Similarly, bagasse or lops and tops of sugarcane are mixed with jaggery or molasses and some grains to create a balanced dietary compound. All these can be made at home, by farmers with minimal lands, without much expense. All they need is a little training,” says Dr. Singh.

Scientists in the depament of animal nutrition in Bidar and Bengaluru are working on projects to further simplify such methods, Dr. Singh said.

Source: :

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Plans afoot to set up hi-tech library in Bidar

Source: The Hindu

The district administration plans to set up a hi-tech library in Bidar to aid the development of the educationally backward district.

The library will have a large reading room, a conference hall, and a cyber corner with high-speed internet connectivity, apart from books on various subjects.

The library would be shaped by fusing two schemes — the district central library sanctioned for the city and the Mohammad Gawan Library allotted by the State government, Anurag Tewari, Deputy Commissioner, has said.

Work on the project has begun. Officials have identified land on Janawada Road in the city. A detailed project proposal has been submitted to the Department of Libraries. “We have requested the Director of Libraries to give approval to a proper design for the building and a format for the library. We hope to start work in a month of receiving due approvals,” he said.

Before finalising the design of the library, officials went through heaps of pictures and sketches of interesting libraries of the world. A committee headed by Assistant Commissioner Venkat Raja went through pictures of iconic libraries such as the Trinity College Library, the National Library of Kolkata, the Central Library in Panjim, Goa, and the Heritage Library Building at Cubbon Park in Bengaluru. Finally, they decided on a modern library in a building that will remind one of Bidar’s heritage, he said.

Mr. Tewari described this as a labour of love. This is a tribute to Mohammad Gawan by a grateful city. The grand wazir or the Prime Minister of the Bahmani Sultans set up the Madrassa of Mohammad Gawan, a world class university in the 15th century. He established a library with over 3,000 manuscripts and also maintained a personal library of at least 1,000 books according to historian Ghulam Yazdani. “The least we can do is to set up a well-equipped library in his name,” he said.

The district administration will try to learn from the digital library set up in the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University under the National Knowledge Network programme. The university has a dedicated an internet line of one gigabyte speed.


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