Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Visited Shivneri. Really well maintained place. Went with people who knew a lot about the history of the place. There were a whole bunch of really interesting doorways. There were seven, built over the long period of existence of the fort.

Many doorways had unique motifs, like a lion attacking an elephant. It was an allegorical animal, that was bigger than an elephant, and that looked like a lion. Buddhism was spreading fast, and overcoming the teachings of vedism all over India. The Marathas got back derivative forms of vedism as the popular religion (both, being branches of Hinduism)... which is the reason for the motif, with the elephant representing Buddhism and the Lion representing Hinduism.

Each of the doorways had a small guard room for storing the ammunition, and for the guards to rest. The doors themselves were solid, and spiked, but the doors were not on every one of the doorways. The stretches between the doorways themselves were well maintained, with gardens brimming with flowers and birds. This was one of the most beautiful forts I have visited, but Raigad was better for being more scenic and more natural.

Shivneri, interestingly was always called Shivneri, even from before the time Shivaji was born there. Shivaji, is not named after the God Shiva, but the goddess Shivaidevi, whose temple is at the fort. The fort was called Shivneri because of the temple, and Shivaji was named after the temple as well.

Each of us were guiding a blind student from a college in Mumbai. We spent most of the time describing what we saw. However, some volunteers went overboard by going "there is a step now... there is a step now... there is a step now..." and so on for the entire duration. They didn't have to tell the blind students of every step. The blind were smart enough to measure the height of the steps when they held on to your elbows. The fellow I talked with was pretty smart, and as long as I let him hold me, he needed no guidance whatsoever. Heard of people who were only half blind, people who went blind soon after birth (the light of the incubators affects the albinos, which is why there are so many albino blinds), and others who went blind after four or ten years - these remembered people, objects and colours, but could not see them anymore. Surgery has a low chance of working, and is bound to fail sooner or later.

The most interesting thing I heard about was the blind's terminology for those with different degrees of sight. Those who are completely blind are called "batti bujao" that is a blown out candle. Those who can see dimly are called "zero-watt" after 0 watt bulbs, which illuminate as much as a candle. Those who can see clearly are called "halogens". What inspired me was that the blind looked at light as being projected from a person's eyes, instead of falling onto the person's eyes.

There were a whole bunch of structures at the top of the fort. There were at least three tanks, this was what I think was some kind of dining quarters, or a guest house. There was this well made up palace that looked like a large temple, which was the place where Shivaji grew up and was trained. There was the Shivaidevi temple at the topmost point of the fort. Elephants and arms were held here. The building where Shivaji was born, is a two storeyed structure. The bottom room is cordoned off, with a commemorative statue and a cradle.

For most maharashtrians, this is one of the holiest places in the land. The whole place brims with history, and the locals mixed with us as we discussed the implications of Shivaji, and how he is used as a political force till date. The ideals of the man, of self-rule, and a preference for non-violent, and above the belt attacks were what eventually emerged, along with his love for all religions, and arts.

That's the entire group. Called "Kalpavihar Adventure"

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