Showing posts from 2016

Oldest gun salute at Durga puja in mumbai

Kolkata is an early riser. From the farthest east of the country to Allahabad, the sun takes two hours to travel, which is why the City of Joy, despite its sleepy legacy, is up and about when the rest of the country is still dreaming. However, it's only at this time of the year the city needs no excuses, no threats, no alarm clocks to greet the dawn. Durga Puja is here with its call of festive duty.
But, while this annual Bengali carnival sees millions milling the streets, hopping from one pandal to the next, taking in all kinds of odes to the goddess — artistic, macabre and sometimes, outlandish, there's also another, more intimate side to this festival, that quietly lingers among the misty chandeliers of the baithak-khanas, the dappled porticos and the thakur dalans of Kolkata's very ancient family homes, some of which date back to around 200 years. These are, what the Bengalis call the "bonedi baris" or homes of the aristocrats. Their antique a…

Mughal era gunsmiths now struggling businessmen

Gunsmith Hafiz Fariduddin posing with an antique 12 bore gun made in England by acclaimed gunsmith Charles Lancaster. The gun is only one-of-its-kind in India, says Fariduddin. (Prabhakar Sharma/HT Photo) Jaipur: Once celebrated Mughal era gunsmiths to present-day struggling gun dealers, this Rajasthan family can tell you in single breath how warfare and guns have evolved over the years.
But, now they regret how they are losing their gun-making skills in an effort to maintain themselves as gun dealers, thanks to the government restrictions on private gun manufacturing since 1961.
The ministry of home affairs is in the process of drafting the Arms Act Amendment Bill, which will allow open arms manufacturing to private firms again with some restrictions. So far, the manufacturing is limited to government ordnance factories and 92 licensed firms. The family has set their eyes on the amendment for achche din.
Royal assignments
Meet 65-year-old Hafiz Fariduddin, w…

Jim Corbett’s 100-yr-old rifle returns home

Marc Newton, MD of a firm specialising in antique guns, and Samir Sinha of Corbett Tiger Reserve with Corbett’s gunNAINITAL: A rifle once used by the legendary hunter-turned conservationist Jim Corbett was brought to Chhoti Haldwani, the village he set up, on Sunday by Marc Newton, managing director of John Rigby & Co, a London-based company specialising in antique guns.
Sameer Sinha, director of Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) told TOI on Monday that the rifle had been able to come back to India after more than a year of sustained efforts. ''We are thankful to Marc for bringing the rifle back to the land where Jim Corbett lived and worked."

The rifle would be on display at the Corbett Tiger Reserve for the next 10 days.


In the hills of Coorg, a martial tribe celebrates an annual festival with worship of guns

Kodava elders hope the festival of Kailpodh will encourage the community's youth to enter international sporting events. Deep in the sanctum of his 150-year-old ancestral home, Lokesh Achappa is surrounded by weapons. Dressed in a Kupya, the traditional Coorgi outfit of knee-length black overcoat, a gold and maroon sash with an ornate, carved silver dagger tucked in its folds, Achappa prays to an array of weapons: an antique double-barrel, a .22 mm rifle, traditional daggers and swords, all garlanded with flowers and smeared with sandalwood paste.
Once the ritual is complete, he steps out of the house, and a series of thundering gun shots reverberate across the valley.
Coorg, a district in Karnataka famous for its coffee, is home to the Kodavas, a martial hill tribe with a population of less than six lakh. Historically, the community has shared a deep connection with its weapons. Valiant guerrilla fighters and agriculturists, the Kodavas once defended territories with …

One of two large cannon on display at Jhansi Fort

One of two large cannon on display at Jhansi Fort. This one is the Bhavani Shankar cannon which was operated by Moti Bai.


28 Rare and Amazing Photos of Indian Soldiers from World War I

T he Indian Army is built upon a long and proud tradition of valour. During World War I, Indians formed a large contingent of soldiers in Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Over 1 million (10 lakh) troops from undivided India served overseas, of which over 60,000 were killed. Claude Auchinleck, who was commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, had said that the British "couldn't have come through both wars if they hadn't had the Indian Army." Here are some photos from that forgotten time. 1. Sikh soldiers arrive in FranceSource: Old Indian Photos2. A young French boy introduces himself to Indian soldiers in MarseillesSource: Old Indian Photos3. Wounded Sikh soldiers at the Royal Pavilion, BrightonSource: Old Indian Photos4. A regiment of Indian lancers preparing to chargeSource: Old Indian Photos5. Gurkhas in campaigning kitSource: