Tag Archives: Burma

Some more memories of Ratnagiri

Although now I have gone far away from Panvel from where Ratnagiri was not far, the memories never die. Many times I have been to Goa where my son was studying, Ratnagiri was on the way and train halted there for sufficient time. I read about the city and particularly about the King of Burma Thibaw Minh who was confined to this place by the British after he lost the to battle to them and Burma was annexed to British empire. I don’t know how they thought to bring him and his family at such a distance away from his home. He was not old and his whole life was spent in Ratnagiri in a palace called Thibaw Palace. He was very much respected by the local people. Since his palace is located at a lofty place, he would sit with his binoculars and watch the Arabian sea and boats coming and going to the various landings. Area being the coastal, the main occupation of people was and is fishing. They waited for the fishing boats coming home. The king would announce the arrival of the boats as he was able to spot them through his binocular and people would then make for the landings.

English: Thibaw Palace, Residence of Burmese K...

English: Thibaw Palace, Residence of Burmese King exiled in Ratnagiri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also it was the habit of the King to visit the Bhagwati temple which was located on another hill. Only for this activity he went out. All this information excited me to visit the place and see for myself. So once we decided to visit the place while returning from Goa. This has been described in another entry. From here we went to see the Ganapati Pule which is religious place as well as a beautiful beach. In fact whole area possesses breathtaking beauty. There is blue Arabian sea and coconut groves. There are cashew trees growing in the wild and the world famous Alphonso mango tree orchards. Here are some beautiful pictures.

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English: Alphonso mango tree in a dense cultiv...

English: Alphonso mango tree in a dense cultivation orchard at Kotawade, Ratnagiri distirict, Maharashtra state, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forest Owlet: The new State bird of Maharashtra

I saw the green pigeons first time in Sibsagar Assam. Firstly I was confused and took it for doves. I thought may be it is due some genetic defect in this bird. On close look, I discovered groups of them hanging on to the branches of Pipul trees and eating merrily the fruits which the trees bear when after autumn  these are covered with new trees. I also observed another trait in these birds that unlike their cousins which prefer to roam on the floor and live in the houses, these pigeons never even came down and touched the earth. The birds were in plenty there. From the literature, it became known that they have Bangladesh, North-Eastern India and Burma as their habitat.

I am not sure that this is exactly the bird which is called Hariyal in the other parts especially Maharastra where the bird had been the reigning state bird.

Green Pigeon

After it dawned on the people who gives these titles to the birds that this bird is not unique to the state, the green pigeon has been stripped of this title and instead the Forest Owlet, a bird that is active during the day unlike its cousins, has upstaged the green pigeon as the state bird.
The honour is being taken away from the green pigeon because it has just dawned on the state that this bird isn’t unique to Maharashtra; it is found across not only India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Although this argument is arbitrary as can be seen from the fact that Magpie Robin is the state bird of Bangladesh, it is found in wide spread regions as far as Maharashtra in the Western edge of India. I am not giving arguments against the Forest Owlet being chosen to replace the green pigeon. It is us humans who tend to label the things. Neither the Green pigeon not Forest Owlet could care less about all this fuss about them.

The New Prince

Another one

On the other hand, the Forest Owlet that was struck off as extinct for 113 years, was spotted one morning in November 1997 at the foothills of the Satpuras, northeast of Mumbai.
“The recommendation to change the state bird will come up for approval when the wildlife board meets next,” said Anna Dani, additional chief secretary of the department of revenue and forest. The board, headed by the CM, last met in 2009. Later, in June 2010, the Bombay Natural History Society asked the government to take off the Harial (the green pigeon) as the state bird and elevate the snow-white Forest Owlet (duda) to that post.

Forest Owlet is also known as Athene Blewitti or Blewitt’s Owl after the man who discovered the species in 1872 in Busnah-Phooljan in eastern Madhya Pradesh, now Chhattisgarh. From 1884 the species was missing and was considered extinct. But after a gap of 113 years it was rediscovered in November 1997 by Ben King, Pamela Rasmussen and David Abbot at Shahada near Taloda in the Nandurbar District.

Now from this statement, it is clear that boundaries are for human beings not for the birds. A pigeon perches on ledges of a mosque with same ease as on the parapet of a temple. Some traits of the birds are given below:

•The Forest Owlet is slightly larger (8-10 inches) than the spotted owlet

•Ornithologists say it is bold and comfortable in the presence of humans

By the way, if you are really a bird lover then visit this exhaustive website.

When Bamboo Flowers!!!

Yes, bamboo species called Melocanna Baccifera blossoms copiously approximately every 48 years. While the blossoming of flowers is heralded as spring and is the nature’s way to be happy and show the joys to the world, flowering of bamboo is considered the coming of an calamity in the North East states of India. This variety of bamboo grows densely in Mizoram, Manipur and adjoining Burma. Bamboo is a natural resource extensively used in the construction activities to build scaffolding. It helps in the conservation of soil with its strong roots and also beautifies the landscape of the area.

So, why the flowering of bamboo considered as ill omen?

When the bamboo flowers, whole bamboo jungle is filled with flowers which lead to the formation of copious quantities of seeds and signals the death of the tree. It takes many years for the new bamboo trees to grow. Since the area experiences heavy rains, with the soil having become nude, there is heavy erosion of fertile upper crust of soil.

The floor of jungle is now full of bamboo seeds which are packed with nutrients especially the proteins. Rats from the nearby places are attracted to the seeds like iron fillings towards a magnet. They gorge on these seeds and gets very hefty and indulge in the procreation. There population increases exponentially. After cleaning out the seeds, the hordes of the rats turn their attention on the provisions stored by the people living nearby. In the matter of days, they eat up every thing creating the famine.

Due to the shortage of food, the inhabitants are forced to eat anything they find in the jungle or contaminated left over food and fall ill. Thus along with the famine, a epidemic visits the people. In the past, due to the casual attitude of the government, people revolted against the state.

Many of us have heard the story of pied piper of Hamelin which charmed the hordes of rats which had made the life of people a hell and lured them to their death. May be such a pied piper was there also when these disasters occurred. But no cheating with him in the payment for his services as the governments generally do, otherwise it can invite his wrath and he can lure the innocent children and take them with him.

Thibaw Min & Bahadur Shah Zafar: Unfortunate Kings

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mogul king of India. After 1857 war of independence by Indian princes and inspired people, when the rebellion was crushed by British, he was imprisoned and exiled to Rangoon Burma (Mynamar) along with his family. He was sent away from his kingdom, his people, to yearn for his beloved country and his people. British has no room for sentiments, they were heartless and bent on exploiting the resources and wealth of any place in the world. Asia and Africa were their easy preys. They filled their coffers with unlimited wealth from the countries in these continents. Today we say that India is a poor country and this is not true. If this were the case, the British were not fools to waste their time of two hundred years in India.

So the king was humiliated and along with family consigned to Burma. He was 83 year old. Two of his sons were brutally murdered by British. The British needed some pretext to rule this country and they found it in the form of 1857 rebellion. After this there was no looking back for them till 1947. They ruled with impunity. Took away untold wealth from this country. There were diamonds, cotton, oil, wood and what not.

The king died on 7th November 1862 and was buried near Shwedagon Pagoda. The British thought it prudent to bury him in Rangoon itself. It was not the lot of the King to return to India, his kingdom, even as a dead person. His wife Zeenat Mahal also died there. It is very sad to note that some of members of his lineage are living in utter poverty.

Equally sad is the story of Burmese King Thebaw Min. He was the last king of Burma or should we say of upper Burma with its capital at Mandalay which was once an golden city. The king lived in a Glass Palace. He was born in 1859 when Bahadur Shah was still alive. Who knew then that one day the last king of Burma will be exiled in India along with his family like Bahadur Shah Zafar. Both happened to be the last kings of their countries. Both were gentle and kindhearted.

Like pilfering the wealth of India, the British eyed coveted teak wood which grew abundantly in the upper Burma which was at that time not under the control of British. Also there was lot of petroleum oozing by itself from the ground. They were looking for some pretext and found one in the form of king’ encouraging the French and exhorting his people to throw out the British from whole of Burma. The queen Supayalat was more dominating and had eliminated the princes which were contenders along with Thebaw for the throne. The British defeated the Burmese forces and arrested the king  1885 and was sent to Ratnagiri in Maharastra for exile. At that time, there were two small daughters and queen was expecting the third child which was born on way at Madras.

The family lived in a place called Thebaw Palace on a hillock. The locals began revering the king. He was benign. His pastime was to scan the sea at Mandovi Jetty. The family visited the Bhagwati temple. It was the king who first noticed the arrival of boats and monsoons and informed the local people through an loyal Indian servant by the name of Sawant. The family especially children learnt to speak fluent Marathi and dressing like the local women. The eldest princess had children by Sawant and married him.  The king died in 1916 when he was 58 years old. He died of the heart attack after his second daughter eloped. It is said that one woman of the royal lineage is still living in Ratnagiri. She has married some local mechanic and living in great penury.

Such was the fate of Last Muslim King of India and Last king of Burma.