Archive for December, 2010

The Jal Mahal

Posted by on Dec-26-2010

Jal Mahal of Jaipur is a pleasure palace built in the 18th century. It was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799 AD in the midst of the Mansagar Lake as a pleasure spot. It is situated amidst the picturesque Mansagar Lake, the palace has the Nahargarh hills forming its backdrop. It is an intrinsic example of Indo-Mughal architecture, stands like a vigilante of peace in the serene and quiescent waters of Man Sagar Lake. With first four floors inside water, the majestic palace stands tall with its top floor outside the water arena. One can enjoy the tranquil waters of the lake while sitting under the elaborately modeled and exquisitely carved balconies and arched roofs, thinking about the royal menus of the duck shooting parties.

The Jal Mahal palace is considered an architectural beauty built in the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture providing a picturesque view of the lake and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. The palace, built in red sandstone, is a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed. The rectangular Chhatri on the roof is of the Bengal type. The Chhatris on the four corners are octagonal. The palace had suffered subsidence in the past and also seepage due to water logging, which have been repaired under the restoration project undertaken by the Government of Rajasthan. On the terrace of the palace, a garden was built with arched passages. At each corner of this palace semi-octagonal towers were built with an elegant cupola.

The restoration works done in the palace in the past were not satisfactory and an expert in the field of similar architectural restoration works of Rajastahn palaces carefully examined the designs that could decipher the originally exisitng designs on the walls, after removing the recent plaster work. Based on this finding, restoration works were redone with traditional materials for plastering. The plaster now used consisted of an organic material of a special mortor mix of lime, sand and surkhi mixed with jaggery, guggal and methi powder. It was also noticed that there was hardly any water seepage, except for a little dampness, in the floors below the water level. But the original garden, which existed on the terrace, had been lost.

The Devil’s Triangle

Posted by on Dec-18-2010

One of the legends of the sea that has persisted even to today is the story of the Bermuda Triangle also known as the Devil’s Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is a strange and mysterious place in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It is roughly the shape of a triangle and it is said to have sucked planes and boats into its dark and murky waters. A number of ships and airplanes have disappeared more often than in other parts of the ocean. Usually the craft are never seen again, which is not too surprising in an area noted for hurricanes and high waves. No one knows what happened to the planes and boats. When some enter the waters of the triangle they disappear forever.

According to the US Coast Guard within the last century more than 50 ships and 20 planes have gone down in the Bermuda Triangle. Many theories have been given to explain the extraordinary mystery of these missing ships and planes. Evil extraterrestrials, residue crystals from Atlantis, evil humans with anti-gravity devices or other weird technologies, and vile vortices from the fourth dimension are favorites among fantasy writers. Strange magnetic fields and oceanic flatulence are favorites among the technically-minded. Weather, bad luck, pirates, explosive cargoes, incompetent navigators, and other natural and human causes are favorites among skeptical investigators.

There are some skeptics who argue that the facts do not support the legend, that there is no mystery to be solved, and nothing that needs explaining. The number of wrecks in this area is not extraordinary, given its size, location and the amount of traffic it receives. Many of the ships and planes that have been identified as having disappeared mysteriously in the Bermuda Triangle were not in the Bermuda Triangle at all. Investigations to date have not produced scientific evidence of any unusual phenomena involved in the disappearances. Thus, any explanation, including so-called scientific ones in terms of methane gas being released from the ocean floor, magnetic disturbances, etc. are not needed. The real mystery is how the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery at all.

Over the years a number of articles, books, and television programs promoting the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle have come up. Rather, it passed on the speculations of their predecessors as if they were passing on the mantle of truth. In short, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery by a kind of communal reinforcement among uncritical authors and a willing mass media to uncritically pass on the speculation that something mysterious is going on in the Atlantic.


Posted by on Dec-11-2010

WikiLeaks, the name sounds familiar right? Yeah it sounds similar to Wikipedia. On hearing the term WikiLeaks anybody would feel that it’s affiliated to Wikipedia but they have no connection with each other. The confusion is due to the word ‘Wiki’ in both the terms and to a user it looks much similar.

WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization which is aims to bring important news and information to the public through anonymous sources and leaks. It was launched in 2006 and within a year the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. The primary objective of WikiLeaks is to expose oppressive regimes and to reveal unethical behavior in government and corporations in any region. The creator of WikiLeaks has not been identified but it has been represented by Julian Assange and others since January 2007.

It was launched as a user editable site like wiki where anybody can post and edit. In WikiLeaks, the leakers can post the documents where their identity would remain anonymous and the users can discuss it publicly and analyze its credibility. But now it is no longer possible for anybody to post to it or edit it. Instead, submissions are regulated by an internal review process and some are published, while document which do not fit the editorial criteria are rejected by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers. The reviewers of WikiLeaks investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.

WikiLeaks is hosted by PeRiQuito (PRQ) AB, a Swedish Internet service provider and web hosting company. It is the same ISP host which became famous for hosting BitTorrent website The Pirate Bay. The Swedish law according to which forbids the government for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspapers and the PRQ service which doesn’t hold any information about their clients helped the WikiLeaks to remain Offline. WikiLeaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.

WikiLeaks have exposed many major stories like the Collateral Murder, Afghan War Diary, The Iraq war Logs in major media outlets. ‘Collateral Murder’ which was released in April 2010 was a video from an incident in 2007 in which the Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by U.S. forces in 2007. In the same year in July, it released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan. In October, the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organizations. In November 2010, it began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables which gave people around the world an unprecedented insight into the US Government’s foreign activities.

WikiLeaks does not censor any material for which it had won the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression. It has also won the 2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award UK Media Award (New Media) for publishing “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances” which was a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya. Due to its very nature it had faced many legal and illegal attacks which includes the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former president of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies which it has successfully overcome since its inception in 2007.

Monuments In Singapore

Posted by on Dec-6-2010

Singapore, widely known for its recreational extravaganza, also hosts impressive buildings and monuments, mainly from the colonial era. These landmark monuments and sites tell the tale of the evolution of Singapore, how it developed from a fishing village to major trading centre. The Government of Singapore has under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts has gazetted 58 buildings and structures in Singapore as the National Monuments of Singapore. These buildings are deemed to be of special historic, traditional, archaeological, architectural or artistic value. Some of the monuments in Singapore are the Armenian Church, the Cathay Building, Empress Place Building, Siong Lim Temple, Hong San See Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple. Now let’s have a look at these monuments.

Cathay building, the tallest skyscraper in Singapore at the time of its construction came into being in 1939. With the height of around 80 meters, the building was the first air-conditioned theatre in the country. With the passage of time, the building has acquired several roles. The Empress Place Building or the Government Offices of the colonial era currently houses the second wing of the Asian Civilisations Museum, which is one of the foremost museums of South-East Asia. The MacDonald House is counted among the first multi-storey buildings in Orchard Road. It was the first important office building after the World War II. The building which once suffered a terrorist attack is still very impressive.

Siong Lim Temple is large Buddhist temple, erected in 1908, remembers Lord Buddha’s birth and death. People from all over South-East Asia donated for the construction of the temple. The temple, which underwent elaborate restoration work with assistance from the experts of China, keeps on working as a monastery. Hong San See Temple, originally built in Tanjong Pagar in 1829, the Temple now resides at Mohammed Sultan Road. Dedicated to the God of Wealth, the construction of the later temple was completed by Lim Law, a well-known building contractor. Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest and largest temple in Singapore is dedicated to Goddess Sri Mariamman, who is adored for health and wealth. The temple is of utmost importance for the adherents of Hindu faith on the island.

The Armenian Church is the first church in Singapore. It is a fine creation of George Coleman, who was the architect of the country’s several historical buildings. A circular structure, the Church is based on the British Neo-Classical style. Coleman painstakingly chose a design which was completely in harmony with the island’s tropical climate. The Telok Ayer Church, played a significant role in the birth of Methodism in Singapore, is one of the oldest Chinese Christian churches in Singapore. It is a fascinating unification of the Chinese and Roman architectural styles. The Holy Infant Jesus Chapel is a famous historical building complex in Singapore, Convent of Holy Infant Jesus Chapel or CHIJMES was founded in 1854. Rev Mother St. Mathilde started it with three other sisters. The purview of the Chapel services kept on expanding with time.

These were a few monuments which I found pretty interesting.