Saturday, 3 November 2018

Travelogue of Araku Valley: An Epic life Time journey A Balm For Tired souls

Journey to Araku Valley was an epic life time journey. Araku Valley is a Balm for tired souls.This journey was long time since we were planning a trip to one of the southern hill stations, a memorable trip for me and hence, I decided to pen this, so that the memories remain a fresh.

I was in Hyderabad after a long travelling from Aligarh (near Delhi) at a a distance of 1750 Km.Now We planned a tour of Vizag (Visakhapatnam) and Araku Valley.

Araku is a famous hill station of AP. It is located at a distance of 120 KM from Visakhapatnam (Vizag). It is famous for its scenic beauty. Located on the Eastern Ghats, water falls and streams flowing by the side of the train track and roads. The journey to Araku Valley is the most enjoying as the rail passes through tunnels, hill sides and streams.

Journey for Araku Valley starts 

Kirandel passenger leaves at 6.30 AM from Vizag railway station.we were in retiring room, so after a cup of hot coffee with special aroma and some snacks, we took our reserved seats.Fortunately my seat was window side seat. To add my excitement, train moved and left the platform and got speed.

It was early morning, a light breeze was blowing, sky was clear Blu and red sun was playing hide and seek with a chain of hills the train was passing from one hill to other hill, in sharp curve. I was very excited in clicking and clicking.

The journey on this route is an epic in itself. I stopped counting the tunnels coz there are plenty of them. One after one, a lot of tunnels, bridges and splendid views across.

The rail passes through 58 tunnels and over 84 bridges. Marvel The Kottavalasa-Kirandul line on East Coast Railway is engineering marvel of Indian Engineers.

On the way to Araku is Shimliguda, a station perched at 997 m above sea level, which was the first highest broad-gauge railway station in the country till the construction of Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir. On this route, there is only one train that leaves Visakhapatnam early in the morning and returns late at night.

After 3.30 hrs magical  journey ,we reached Bohra ghoul station.Out side station there were plenty of taxis waiting for tourist for a  pleasant trip around valley.We also hired a Tata sumo for our ride of valley and in last drop us to Araku railway station.

Borra caves-our first stop
The million-year old Borra Cave is located at a short distance from railway station. It is deep in the Earth; the cave is at a height of 800-1300 m from mean sea level and was discovered by British geologist William King in 1807. 

One baba was sitting inside a tiny hole where the natural Shiv ling was. There was no light so couldn’t see and discuss much. The total length of the cave is about 200 meter.

The beauties of the stalactites and stalagmites inside the caves, that have stood the test of millennia, have now been enhanced with a thematic lighting scheme. The Paleolithic cave is revered by the natives and is a tourist's delight.

Natives believe that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lived in the caves for a while during their 14-year- exile and that the forest was a part of the mythological Kishkinda forests. The way and stairs inside cave are very sharp deep and slippy, it needs special care to walk.

Katiki Waterfalls
Katiki  Waterfalls was our next stop. The falls is named after Katiki, the place where it is located. The waterfall is about 50 ft high and lies around 4 km away from Borra Caves. Katiki Waterfalls originate from the Gosthani River and contains greenery and clear water in its vicinity.

Considered as the most beautiful waterfalls of Araku Valley, the surroundings of this water fall is very popular for trekking activities. At the foot of the waterfall there is a pool formation.

Landscapes and gardens are located surrounding this place.One can experience the beauty of water gushing through natural rocks.

Bamboo Chicken
On way to every tourist point, local tribal women were selling bamboo chicken- Bamboo Chicken is a traditional tribal cuisine of Araku Valley Tribal near Vizag, locally known as “Bongulo Chicken”.

Bamboo Chicken is cooked inside a piece of green bamboo stalk without oil, making it healthy but delicious.

Bamboo Chicken is cooked inside a piece of green bamboo stalk without oil, making it healthy but delicious.

Galikonda view point

Galikonda view point (3800 ft above sea level) the view of valley is excellent.  On the way from Anantagiri after 15 KM there is a small market place known as Sankarmatha.

 This serves as a market place for local tribal and many traditional vegetables and forest products are available in this rural market It is a popular point among film and T.V serials shootings.

Araku Tribal Museum

Araku Tribal Museum is situated on Araku Road in the heart of Araku Valley. Located in the vicinity of Padmapuram Botanical Gardens, the museum offers a glance at the lifestyle and cultures of the tribal communities indigenous to the Eastern Ghats. Araku Tribal Museum is built with mud and clay and has a rugged theme to it. 

Araku coffee aroma captures global market

Araku is popular for its famous coffee plantations. India’s first tribal growers' organic coffee brand was launched in the Araku Valley in 2007.Organic Coffee cultivated at Araku and Anantagiri in Visakhapatnam district has earned a name for itself in the international market.

The organic coffee cultivated in non-traditional areas is being marketed as “Araku Emerald.On our way we found in plenty tribal women selling hot coffee on road,at different tourist points.The coffee was rich with unique flavor and aroma.

After a long drive and walking to enjoy the natural beauties of the  Araku valley, we were tired and hungry. So asked taxi driver to drive fast for main Araku town. There we have our lunch in a hotel.After a visit to local market, we reached Araku Railway station.

Our return journey ticket to Vizag was reserved in a sleeper coach .Station was in a small building .a clean and peaceful place,no crowed and loudness .Some lazy local tribal folk were lying on floor ,tribal ladies were selling guavas and some wild fruits. The train was late by one hour. There were some group of tourists from Colcatta and Andhra Pradesh.

 I utilized this time in clicking some good shots of Araku locals at station .Refreshed us with coffee, selling on platform .The train arrived, we took our births.We were tired ,so laid down on our births.After 4 hours journey train reached Vizag railway station.

The end of journey
The beauty of Araku Valley the gushing rivulets, surging waterfalls, plantations and swathes of green fields sprinkled with small villages, was etched in my heart for ever. My camera is fully loaded with shots of sweet memories.

Though civilization has made deep inroads, still steeped in the culture of its ancient tribes. In the interior parts of Araku valley, the PTG (primitive the valley is tribal groups) have still not changed their lifestyle, and are hospitable to outsiders.

This ends ,Travelogue of Araku Valley: An Epic life Time journey A Balm For Tired souls.

Written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sir Syed Day-2018: Through Camera of Engr Maqbool Akram

It was a nostalgia occasion for hundreds of Aligarh Muslim University alumni and AMU fraternity, to attend the AMU celebration of Sir Syed Dy.2018.They assembled again in a huge pandal .constructed at Athletic ground of Chaman-E-Syed to connect with each other to refresh their old memories.

For AMU Fraternity all over word this day i,e 17th October is not  an ordinary day of the year. For them It is above many festivals.They celebrate Sir syed day in full sprit. After sun set ,all the main buildings specially,Bab-e-Syed,Maulana Azad Libray,Arts Faculty, Victoria gate ,University’s grand Masjid and residential halls are well decorated with special light effects.

 People of all ages use to roam in campus, special to mention that young students use to run on their motor cycles to show breath taking stunts.
The proceedings of the day began with a Quran Khawani (Quranic Recitation) at the University Masjid. Prof Mansoor with senior professors and officers of the university paid floral tributes at the Mazaar (grave) of Sir Syed after the traditional ritual of 'Chadar Poshi'.
  Earlier in the day, AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof Mansoor inaugurated an 'Exhibition of Books and Photographs pertaining on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan' at the Sir Syed House. The exhibition was jointly organised by Maulana Azad Library and Sir Syed Academy.
Main function of Sir Syed Day was started in pandal at Athletic ground by recitation of Holy quran Shareef. Chief guest of Sir Syed Day 2018 was Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Dr S Y Quraishi.
Dr S Y Quraishi today delivered the commemoration address as the chief guest on Sir Syed Day, the 201st birth anniversary of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan at the University's Athletics Ground.
 "Sir Syed initiated English education and scientific temper among Indians, which made us world citizens. Sir Syed's message was not anti-Islam and among his admires were equal number of non-Muslims and Muslims," said Dr S Y Quraishi.
Dr Quraishi pointed out that during his trips to US, European countries, African countries and West-Asia, he always met AMU alumni, which is reflective of the famous line from AMU anthem, 'Jo abr yaha se utthega, wo sarey jahan par barsega' (The cloud which rises from here, will rain all over the world).

In the welcome address, AMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor said that Sir Syed changed the destiny of the nation by devoting his entire life for education, plurality and secularism through his versatile writing and farsightedness.

 Prof Mansoor pointed out that the supreme interest of Sir Syed's life was education in its widest sense as he wanted to create a scientific temperament among the common Indians.
"There are positive changes and developments in AMU with active cooperation of all concerned," said the Vice Chancellor adding that Times Higher Education has ranked AMU as the fifth best Indian University, while National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) has ranked AMU as the 10th best Indian university.
"AMU has started new courses such as Masters in Architecture, B Voc (Hons) and M Voc. We are in the process of starting a MBA course in Hospital Management," he said adding that the University has also increased courses running through the distance learning mode which includes a Bachelor in Computer Sciences. 
Dr S Y Quraishi and Professor Mansoor honored Professor Christian W Troll (Noted theologian and Honorary Professor for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule St. Georgen in Frankfurt).Dr Victor Edwin received a cash prize of Rs two lakhs with a citation on behalf of Professor Christian W Troll who could not travel to India due to health problems. 

and Mr Sanjiv Saraf (Founder, Rekhta Foundation) with the International and National Sir Syed Excellence Awards respectively.Meanwhile, receiving a cash prize of Rs one lakh and citation for the National Sir Syed Excellence Award, Mr Sanjiv  Saraf said, "We, the lovers of Urdu language, take great pride in how this language conveys complex emotions and experiences." He pointed out that Rekhta is an initiative, which targets to bring Urdu's charming cadence in dimensions of poetry, aesthetics, and tradition to the masses. 
The top three winners of the 'All India Essay Writing Competition' on the topic of "Importance of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's Thought on Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence in Today's World" also received their prizes from the Chief Guest and the Vice Chancellor.
With a cash prize of Rs 25,000, Ms Jagriti Sanghi, a BALLB student at the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi, Kerala bagged the first prize while Mr Mohd Umair Khan, student of MA Economics at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh won the second place with a cash prize of Rs 15,000. 
Ms Kiran Francis, student of M Phil (Applied Geology), University of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu has emerged third with a prize of Rs 10,000.
Fourteen other participants representing different states have been given State Topper prizes with prize money Rs 5,000 each.
Prof.Seemin Hasan (Department of English), Prof Abdur Raheem Kidwai (Director, UGC HRD Centre), Mr Wajahat Monaf Jilani (BA LLB, Final-year student) and Ms Aafia Rizvi (BA Hons, First-year student) delivered special speeches on teachings, philosophy, works and mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
The programme ended with University Tarana and National Anthem.Fully packed Pandal at Atheletic ground was burst into clapping like a thunderbolt.

Ye dasht-e-junoo diwano ka, ye bazm-e-wafa parwano ki
 ye shahr-e-tarab roomano ka, ye khuld-e-barin armano ki
Whole day function of Sir Syed Day 2018 was concluded with a grand dinner in every Halls.
Written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Alumni Meet-2018 of A.M.U. Aligarh: Through Lense of Engr Maqbool Akram

It was a Nostalgia occasion for hundreds of Aligarh Muslim University alumni, to attend the AMU Alumni Meet—2018.They assembled again in Kennedy Auditorium of Chaman-E-Syed to connect with each other to refresh their old memories. 

It was one day meet: 16th October 2018. Followed by High Tea, Lunch breaks in Guest houseNo1. and a grand dinner at Lawn of Sir Syed House. The seed which Sir Syed sowed in 1877 had grown up into a mighty tree: that is now Aligarh Muslim University.

After break fast in lawn of Kennedy Auditorium and registration and networking, Alumni Meet was started with recitation oh Holy Quran.
Welcome Address
Prof M M Sufyan Beg Chairman of Alumni Affairs Committee and Principal Zakir Husain College OF Eng.and Technology, AMU. Aligarh said in his welcome address, that AMU was waiting eagerly for the alumni meet and we seek the help of our alumni to take AMU to new heights. Speeches of Guest of Honors:
(1)Prof Shah Alam Khan (Department of Orthopedics, AIIMS) urged students to continue to realise their beautiful dreams with the required hard work and dedication and follow footsteps of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Mahatma Gandhi to take AMU on greater heights.
(2) Dr Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz (Vice Chancellor, MANU University, and Hyderabad) said that it is imperative to follow the path of justice, no matter what we do and where we live. We need to be good professionals with the best in our education and contribute to society in the best of ways, he said. 
(3)Prof Neelima Gupta (Vice Chancellor, CSJM University, Kanpur) recalled that as a student she used to attend programmes in the Kennedy Hall and never thought that one day, she will be sitting on the dais and addressing the current students. "This success passage, which has made me sit on the dais, has been given to me by AMU," she pointed out.    
(4) Mr M J Alam (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi) shared that he left the University after failing to qualify the Civil Services exams in the first attempt, but his teachers convinced him to come back. "I owe my success of qualifying the Civil Services exam to my teachers in AMU, who guided and mentored me," said Mr Alam.
(5) Mr Rizwan ur Rahman (CEO and Secretary, Maulana Azad Educational Foundation/ Chairman MANAS, New Delhi) spoke on the importance of following Sir Syed's path of spreading education to masses. Mr Rahman said that he quit his job in the power sector of the Government to join the Ministry of Minority Affairs for the purpose of providing education to girls, especially those of the marginalized sections.
 (6)Prof (Retd.)M Farooque (Department of Orthopedics, AIIMS) shared anecdotes and experiences from his life. He pointed out that the AMU alumni community spread all over the world shares a bond of love and brotherhood. He also urged students to recognize and hone their skills.
Address by the Chief Guest
Mr Rizwan Ahmad (1978 batch IPS officer and retired DG-Police, Uttar Pradesh), who attended the inaugural function at the Kennedy Hall auditorium as the Chief Guest spoke on Sir Syed's mission of ardent reform and how he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought among Indians by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking basic belief system.

He said that Sir Syed always believed that religious differences should have no political and national significance. 
Presidential Address
Presiding over the function, AMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor said that it is heartening to see how alumni from the United States of America, European countries, Middle-East, Mauritius and other parts of the world are connecting their successes with their alma mater and contributing in all possible ways. 
 "Alumni are our brand ambassadors and what they achieve is a direct reflection of our University," said Prof Mansoor.
Vote of Thanks
Prof Anwar Khursheed, Vice Chairman, Alumni Affairs Committee proposed the vote of thanks, while Dr Faiza Abbasi conducted the programme.
University Tarana
Now it was about 11.45 am the time for University Tarana and National Anthem.Fully packed Kennedy Auditorium was burst into clapping like a thunderbolt.
Ye dasht-e-junoo diwano ka, ye bazm-e-wafa parwano ki
 ye shahr-e-tarab roomano ka, ye khuld-e-barin armano ki
After Tarana and National anthem, a high tea was there in lawns of Kennedy auditorium lawn.
Session I-Panel discussion 
Topic of panel discussion was “Prospective Role of Alumni in Accredit ion and Ranking”
Session I-Panel discussion 
Topic of panel discussion was “Prospective Role of Alumni in Accredit ion and Ranking” 
Session was chaired by Professor D.P.AGarwal, former Chairman of U.P.P.S.C. Moderator of pannel discussion was Prof.M Rizwan Khan.Speakers were Prof. Imteyaz, Prof.M Salim Beg, Prof.M.M.Sufyan Beg, and Prof. Asad U.Khan.
Lunch in Guest House No 1
Alumni Affairs Committee has arranged transport facility for guests at lunch in Guest House No 1.
Session II: Faulty Level program with respective Alumni proceeding to their faculty.
Guests were offered tea in their respective Faculties.
Tea and Dinner: A very colorful and intoxicating evening was waiting for guests at lawn of Sir Syed House Complex. A musical programme was organized there by Cultural Education Center, and that was followed by Grand dinner.

Written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram.