Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jaivana - World's Largest Cannon

The Jaivana cannon is the world's biggest wheeled cannon ever made. It is located at the Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur. It was cast in 1720, during the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur.

Jaivan rests on a high 4 wheeled carriage. The front wheels are 2.74 m in diameter and the rear wheels are 1.37 m in diameter.

The length of the barrel of the cannon is 20 feet 2 inches and it weighs 50 tons. The circumference near the tip of the barrel is 7 feet 4 inches and that of the rear is 9 feet 4 inches. The barrel has floral design. An elephant rests on the tip of the barrel and a pair of peacocks are carved in the centre. A pair of ducks also decorates the rear of the barrel. The diameter of the bore of the barrel is 11 inches and the thickness of the barrel at the tip is 8-1/2 inches. The thickness gradually increases as one moves towards the rear of the barrel. The two thick rings on the barrel were used for lifting it with the help of a crane which, though incomplete, is still lying in Jaigarh. A 776 mm long elevating screw was used for raising and lowering the barrel. Reportedly, it took four elephants to swivel it around on its axis.

About 100 kg of gun powder fired a shot ball weighing 50 kg.

The uses and range of the cannon and cannonballs vary over different sources. Some say the Jaivana Cannon was only fired once by the Maharajah Jai Singh, as a test-fire in 1720. Others say that it was fired many times, indicated by the fire marks on the inside of the barrel. The most exaggerated myth claims that the it had a range of 40 km with the Maharajah's test fire, other sources say it is 35, 22 and 11 km, although the exact range could perhaps never be determined without adequate scientific computation. Most sources agree that it was fired in the direction of Chaksu, where the impact was said to be so colossal that it formed a depression that has since formed a pond. Cannons always had a water tank beside them, for the gunner to jump into to avoid the massive shock wave. Jaivan's gunner is said to have died on the spot on firing the cannon, before he could jump into water.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bharatnatyam - World's Oldest & Most Popular Classical Dance

Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, India. One of the oldest of the classical dance forms in India, it is also known as the fifth Veda. It started as a temple dance tradition called Dasiyattam (the dance of the maid-servants) 2000 years ago and is perhaps the most advanced and evolved dance form of all the classical Indian dance forms.

Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical music. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. Bharatanatyam comes from the words Bhava (Expression), Raga (Music), Tala (Rhythm) and Natya (Classic Indian Musical Theatre). In this dance form the dancers make considerable use of hand-and-eye movements to express different emotions. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by many dancers all over the world.

Bharatanatyam is considered to be a fire-dance — the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire in the human body. It is one of the five major styles (one for each element) that include Odissi (element of water), Mohiniattam (element of air), Kuchipudi (element of earth) and Kathakali (element of sky). The movements of an authentic Bharatanatyam dancer resemble the movements of a dancing flame. Contemporary Bharatanatyam is rarely practiced as Natya Yoga, a sacred meditational tradition, except by a few orthodox schools. It is a solo, lasya (feminine) type of dance, which is tender & erotic.

There are a number of musicians and instrumentalist who provide the musical accompaniment. Typically there is one or more vocalist, a person reciting the dance syllables, and a mridangam. Additionally, one usually finds violin, vina (saraswati vina), or venu (bamboo flute). There is also a thallam (manjira) which is usually played by the person reciting the dance syllables.

E.Krishna Iyer was one of those who raised the social status of Bharatanatyam and greatly popularized it. Rukmini Devi Arundale was instrumental in bringing it to the attention of the West.

At present, Bharatanatyam recitals are usually not performed inside the temple shrine but outside it, and even outside the temple compounds at various festivals. Most contemporary performances are given on the stage with a live ensemble. In popular culture, the adapted, or "semi-classical", Bharatanatyam has been exposed largely through depiction in popular movies and TV programs.

The most intriguing aspect of this dance is that its root deep into the religious and rich mythological heritage of India. Bharatnatyam, though underwent through a lot of changes has still retained its ancient quintessence. The technique, costume, style nad theme of the dance tell apart it from the other classical dances of India.

Bharatnatyam dance is renowned for its grace, purity, tenderness and sculpturesque poses.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vishwanathan Anand - India's Greatest Sports Personality

Viswanathan Anand is an Indian chess Grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion. He is one of the greatest sports personalities of India. In fact Vishwanathan Anand has received the highest sports award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, as well as the second highest civilian award, the Padma Bibhushan, from the Government of India as recognition of his immense contribution in sports and making India taking pride in his success.

He was born in 1969 in chennai, India. He learnt the game from his mother, susila visawanathan, at the age of six.

He held the FIDE World Chess Championship from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the world title was split. He became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 and defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008. With this win, he became the first player in chess history to have won the World Championship in three different formats: Knockout, Tournament, and Match. He then successfully defended his title in the World Chess Championship 2010 against Veselin Topalov.

Anand is one of five players in history to break the 2800 mark on the FIDE rating list, and in April 2007 at the age of 37, he became the world number-one for the first time. He was at the top of the world rankings five out of six times, from April 2007 to July 2008, holding the number-one ranking for a total of 15 months. He has won the annual event Monaco Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Championships in years 1994, 1997, 2003, 2005 and 2006. He is the only player to have won five titles of the Corus chess tournament. He is also the only player to win the blind and rapid sections of the Amber tournament in the same year (twice: in 1997 and 2005). Anand won three consecutive Advanced Chess tournaments in Leon, Spain, after Garry Kasparov introduced this form of chess in 1998, and is widely recognized as the world's best Advanced Chess player, where humans may consult a computer to aid in their calculation of variations.

His game collection, My Best Games of Chess, was published in the year 1998 and was updated in 2001.

Anand is sometimes known as the 'Tiger of Madras'.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Indian Constitution - World's Largest Written Constitution

India ie. Bharat is a Union of States. It is a Sovereign Socialist Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950.

The Constitution of India, the longest and the most exhaustive among constitutions of independent nations in the world.

Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties, of the government and spells out the fundamental rights, directive principles and duties of citizens. Passed by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, it came into effect on 26 January 1950. The date 26 January was chosen to commemorate the declaration of independence of 1930.

It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, containing 395 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 94 amendments, for a total of 117,369 words in the English language version. Besides the English version, there is an official Hindi translation.

B. R. Ambedkar , as chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

IGNOU: World's Largest University

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is the world’s largest, with its student base extending to three million, Unesco has said.
“IGNOU is the largest University in the world. Almost three million students in India and 33 other countries study at IGNOU, which is also India’s National Resource Center for Open and Distance Learning and a world leader in distance education,” Unesco said in a positng on its website.

“Enrollments of nearly three million students and networks across the country making the best use of Information Communication Technology (ICT)– IGNOU’s accomplishments are recognized worldwide,” Unesco director general Irina Bokova said.

“With the launch of EduSat (a satellite dedicated to education) in 2004, and the establishment of the Inter-University Consortium, IGNOU has ushered in a new era of technology- enabled education,” the website said.

Through its 21 schools of study, 59 regional centres, 2,300 learner support centres and some 52 overseas centres, the university offers certificate, diploma, degree and doctoral programmes, comprising around 1,500 courses, it said.

It said that the university provides access to sustainable and learner -centred education and training to all through quality, innovative and needs-based programmes at affordable costs, thus reaching out to the disadvantaged and also promotes, coordinates and regulates the standards of education offered through open and distance learning in India.

The website further said that IGNOU’s staff consist of 380 faculty members and academic staff in headquarters and regional centres while some 36,000 counsellors from conventional institutions of higher learning and professionals from different spheres.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

World Record for Launching 10 Satellites at one go

It was a red letter day for space history of India on April 28, 2008. After a 52 hours countdown, India’s polar rocket PSLV – C9 placed 10 satellites including the country's remote sensing satellite, into orbit in a single mission.

The ten pack launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) saw the 230-tonne Polar Satellite launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) carry the heaviest luggage--824 kgs--and put into orbit an Indian Mini Satellite and eight foreign nano satellites besides the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite.

This is for the first time that ISRO has put ten satellites in orbit in a single launch. This is also PSLV's twelfth successful flight.

It is for the first time in the world that ten satellites were launched in a single mission. Russia had earlier launched eight satellites together.

Besides the 690 kg Indian remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2A and the 83 kg Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1), the rest eight Nano Satellites were from abroad. Most of these belonged to Germany and Canada and are aimed at boosting the country’s space research capabilities.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

DDLJ - World's Longest Running Movie

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) an Indian film which was premiered on 19 October 1995 and was released nationwide on 20 October 1995. It was directed by Aditya Chopra, and stars Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, and Amrish Puri.
The movie remains the longest running film in the history of Indian cinema. In 2001, it broke the continuous-exhibition record, established by the movie ‘Sholay’ at Minerva Theatre (5 years: 1975 – 1980). And now as of March 2009, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ has set yet another world records by completing “700 weeks” of continuous play in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir theater. On October 20th, 2009 the movie completed 15 years of non-stop running. This makes ‘DDLJ’ one of the largest grossers in Indian film history and is still counting!
The film swept that year’s (in which it was released) every major award and picked up every single accolade of consequence, not to mention the unconditional love of movie goers all over and still continues to top the list of “the best Indian romantic film” of all times. Indiatimes Movies ranks the movie amongst the 25 Must See Bollywood Films. It was also listed among the only two Hindi films in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list.
People come and fall in love with ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ again and again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bhut Jolokia - World's Hottest Chilli

The Naga Jolokia Chili Pepper is also known as Bhut Jolokia, Ghost Chili, Ghost Pepper or Naga Morich - this is a chili pepper recognized as the hottest in the world. In 2007, the Guinness World Records held it to be the hottest chili, replacing the Red Savina strain of habanero chili. It is a naturally occurring interspecific hybrid originating from the northeast of India, particularly Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

The name Naga Jolokia means in English (King Cobra Chili) due to the extreme heat of the Chili being compared to the deadly poison in the venomous snake, Bhut translated into English is ghost and is probably used as a name to its ghostly bite.

In 2000, India's Defence Research Laboratory (DRL) reported a rating of 855,000 units on the Scoville scale, and in 2004 a rating of 1,041,427 units was made using HPLC analysis.

One seed from a Bhut Jolokia (Hottest Chilli in the World) can sustain intense pain sensations in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before subsiding. Ripe Bhuts measure 60 mm (2.4 in) to 85 mm (3.3 in) long and 25 mm (1.0 in) to 30 mm (1.2 in) wide with an orange or red color.

The pepper is used as a cure for stomach ailments. It is also used as a spice as well as a remedy to summer heat, presumably by inducing perspiration in the consumer. In northeastern India, the peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance.

In 2009, scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation announced plans to use the chillies in hand grenades, as a less lethal way to control rioters.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tansen - The Legendary Musician

Miyan Tansen or Ramtanu Pandey (1493 or 1506 – 1586 or 1589) was the greatest musician of his age. He is considered among the greatest composer-musicians in Hindustani/Pakistani classical music. Everybody who heard him singing was spellbound.

Tansen, the legendary musician, was born in Gwalior in 1506. He was born in a Brahmin family, but it is said that later he was converted to Islam. Upto the age of 5, he did not show any musical talent but when he

became a disciple of the great music teacher Guru Hari Dasa, who trained him in different aspects of music, the hidden talent of Tansen came to surface.

Tansen, was one of the 'Navratna' (nine gems) at the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was c

onferred the title of Miyan, by emperor Akbar and since came to be knonw as Miyan Tansen. Legend has it that in his first performance, he was gifted one lakh (100,000) gold coins.

He is said to have no equals in music and it is believed that he had performed miracles through his music. He was supposed to have the ability of creating rain by singing rag Megh Malhar and creating fire by singing rag Deepak. Other legends tell of his ability to bring wild animals to listen with attention (or to talk their language). Once, a wild white elephant was captured, but it was fierce and could not be tamed. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him. Several of his raga compositions have become mainstays of the Hindustani/Ancient Pakistani tradition, and these are often prefaced with Miyan ki ("of the Miyan"), e.g. Miyan ki Todi, Miyan ki Malhar, Miyan ki Mand, Miyan ka Sarang; in addition he is the creator of major ragas like Darbari Kanada, Darbari Todi, and Rageshwari.

Besides being a great musician, Tansen was also a poet who composed many couplets.

He died in 1589, and was buried according to his wishes near the grave of his mentor, Sufi guru Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus in Gwalior. A national music festival known as 'Tansen Sangeet Sammelon' is held every year in December, near the tomb of Tansen in Gwalior as a mark of respect to his memory.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ganges Delta - World's Largest Delta

A delta is a large deposit of sand and soil at the mouth of a river formed from sediment carried downstream by the river water.

The Ganges Delta (also Sunderban Delta or the Bengal Delta) is a river delta in the South Asia region of Bengal, consisting of Bangladesh and the state of West Bengal, India. It is the world's largest delta, and empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is also called The Green Delta

They are vast tract of forest and saltwater swamp forming the lower part of the Ganges Delta, extending about 260 km along the Bay of Bengal from the Hooghly River Estuary in India to the Meghna River Estuary in Bangladesh.

It arises from the confluence of the following major rivers:

  • Ganges (Same river named in India) or Padma (Same river named in Bangladesh) - The long river running horizontally in the picture stretching from West (India) to East (Bangladesh). This river ends at the point, where it's direction is vertical in the map. While, the vertical extension of this river that met the ocean is called Meghna.
  • Brahmaputra (Same river named in India) or Jamuna (Same river named in Bangladesh) - The wide river in the picture stretching from North (India) to South (Bangladesh) in North-Western part of the map. This river has ended where it has met The Sacred Ganges or Padma.
  • Meghna (In Bangladesh) - The wide river flowing vertically in the Southern part of the map, starting from the adjacent area near the confluence of River Padma and ending into the Bay of Bengal with new alluvial land (Chars) each year.

The Ganges delta has the shape of a triangle, and is considered to be an "arcuate" delta (arc-shaped). It covers more than 105,000 km2 (41,000 sq mi). Most of the delta is composed of alluvial soils, with red and red-yellow laterite soils found as one heads farther east. The soil has large amounts of minerals and nutrients, which is good for agriculture. The enormous delta of the Ganges-Brahmaputra River is the lifeblood for one of the largest populations on Earth.

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