Sunday, 14 December 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Qutab Minar

Delhi Metro provides a lot of opportunities for discovering the historical heritage of Delhi through walks around the metro stations. This post is about some heritage sites in Mehrauli area of Delhi around the metro station "Qutab Minar" on the Yellow line.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The image above shows  the tomb of Ghiyasuddin Balban who ruled Delhi for about 20 years in the thirteenth century. It is one of the riches awaiting you on this walk.

DELHI AROUND MEHRAULI

According to the legends, the city of Delhi was first settled in the areas around Old Fort and it was called Indraprastha.

Mehrauli is one of the oldest parts of the city, inhabited at least from 10th century onwards, when Lal Kot fort was built by Tomara kings Surajpal and Anangpal. The name of the city "Dhilli" was given in that period.

The Tomara dynasty ended in 1149 AD when Prithvi Raj Chauhan became the ruler and converted Lal Kot into a new fort called Qila Rai Pithora. Chauhan ruled the city for more than 40 years. Chauhans were defeated by Qutubuddin Aibak around the end of 12th century, who built the well known Qutab Minar in Mehrauli.

Aibaks were replaced by Khilji dynasty and then the Slave dynasty of Mamluks in the 13th century, who continued to live in Mehrauli, though Khilji did initiate the construction of a water reservoir called Hauz-e-Alai to the north, in the area now known as Hauz Khas. Later, as Mughals arrived in Delhi in the 16th century, Delhi moved even further towards north-east, but Mehrauli continued to be inhabited. For example, the last Mughal king Bahadur Shah Zafar had built a palace in Mehrauli and one of his sons was buried here.

1. QUTAB MINAR METRO STATION

Qutab Minar metro station is on the Yellow line of the metro that connects Jahangir Puri in the north-west to Huda city centre in Gurgaon in the south of Delhi. Coming from the city centre Connaught Place, where the metro runs under-ground, "Qutab Minar" is the first over-ground station. The station is situated 2 km from Qutab Minar.

The map below shows the path for this walking tour. Qutab Minar metro station is shown on the bottom of this map (1). The blue dots indicate the path on Anuvrat Road going to Qutab Minar (2), a historical landmark of Delhi.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

I preferred to take an auto-rickshaw from the metro station to Qutab Minar, and then walk back towards Mehrauli flower market and the Mehrauli Archeological park. However, if you wish, you can walk the whole way!

2. QUTAB MINAR

When I was a child, it was possible to climb to its top. Going up the narrow stairs going round and round was not an easy trip but I still remember standing on the small  terrace at the top and looking out from there. At that time, someone had explained that king Qutubuddin was married to a Hindu queen, who refused to eat without first praying to the river Yamuna. Thus, the king had ordered the building of the tall tower so that his queen could see the river and do her daily prayers.

The history books do not repeat this story any more, so probably it was just a local legend. Another local legend at that time was that the tower was even taller with 2 additional floors and that a plane had crashed into it, destroying the upper 2 stories. Even this story is no longer repeated so I guess it was also an urban legend.

The walls of the tower and other buildings nearby are adorned with words from Koran in Arabic.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The other buildings around the Minar include a couple of mosques, including one with an imposing gate called Alai Darwaza (The gate of god).

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

One of the courtyards near the Minar has a 4th century iron pillar, made from an alloy in such a way that it does not get rusted. Different legends are linked to this pillar. One legend says that if you stand with your back towards the pillar and then try to reach out and circle it with your arms - if your hands can meet, you will become a king. However, some years ago, the pillar was surrounded by an iron railing so it is not possible to test this legend any more.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Another legend says that this pillar called Killi in the local language, gave the name of Dhilli and then Dilli (Delhi in English) to the city.

Qutab Minar is a World Heritage site of UNESCO.

3. MEHRAULI FLOWER MARKET

As you come out of Qutab Minar and start walking towards the metro station, take the small lane on the right, and it will bring you to the flower market of Mehrauli. The market works mainly early in the morning when retailers from different parts of the city and families preparing for a marriage, come here to buy flowers.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

It is a very unassuming street, dusty and full of pot holes, but it has a lot of ambiance.

As you come out of the market on the Anuvrat road, if you are interested, you can climb up the hill across the road to visit the giant Mahavir statue, a contemporary of Buddha, who gave a message of non violence and love towards all living beings. The followers of Mahavir are called Jains, who usually observe strict dietary norms and do not eat any kinds of meat, fish, eggs and even some vegetables such as onions and garlic.

I wanted to spend more time in Mehrauli Archeological park, so I gave a miss to the Mahavir statue, promising myself that soon I will go back there to visit it.

MEHRAULI ARCHEOLOGICAL PARK

The ruins of Mehrauli archeological park surrounded by a forest are one of the most enchanting places of this city. To reach the park, continue on Anavrat road towards the metro station and you will see the park board and gates on your right.

As you enter the park, if you turn towards the right, you will reach the tomb of king Balban (4) from 13th century, presented in the first image of this post. All around the tomb, there are ruins of old houses and buildings.

A short walk will bring you to the Jamali Kamali mosque and tombs (5). Sheikh Fazulullah or Jamali was a sufi saint and poet in the 16th century. The tomb was built in 1528 and has two graves - that of Jamali and his close friend Kamali. Some persons believe that Jamali and Kamali were not just friends but also lovers. The tomb has lovely glazed blue coloured tiles.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Across the entrance to the mosque, on a hillock there is a small chhattri (umbrella), built by an Englishman called "Metcalf's folly". Baron Thomas Theophillus Metcalf was the British Resident in the court of the last Mughal king Bahadur Shah Zafar II and is credited with different buildings in Mehrauli area.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

As one proceeds inside the park, some distance down the road is the tomb of Quli Khan, from the time of Mughal emperor Akbar. The tomb building was restored and converted into holiday place called Dilkhusha by Baron Metcalf, who also built a boat house (6) near by. The small lake near the boat house is now dry and covered by the forest.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

About half a kilometre later, walking on a narrow forest path, you will reach (7) Rajon ki Baoli (King's stepwell), a famous stepwell built by noble Daulat Khan during the reign of Sikander Lodhi in the 15th century.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Across the entrance to the Baoli, if you climb on the hillock, you will find numerous important looking tombs, indicating that once this was an important place.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Further along the road, you will see other ruins of buildings and tombs, till you reach a small street of Mehrauli residential area. Along a mosque on the right, you will see another old stepwell, (8) Gandhak ki Baoli (Sulphur well), which is supposed to be a place for miracle cures of illnesses and disabilities. While there, I saw a poor family with their disabled child, going down towards the dirty looking water of this well.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Near by is the (9) dargah of a Sufi saint Bakhtiar Kaki. People come from far away places to ask favours from this saint.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

CHANGES IN RELIGIONS IN MEHRAULI

Before the arrival of the Turks, this part of the city was an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus with different temples. Some of those temples were destroyed and their buildings were used for making the new monuments of the Muslim rulers, as you can see from the following picture of a column in the Qutab Minar courtyard.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Today, Mehrauli is also a symbol of syncretic traditions of Hindus and Muslims. In October every year it celebrates a flower festival called "Phoolwaalon ki Sair" (The walk of persons carrying flowers) that passes from the ancient Yogmaya temple to the Sufi dargah of Bakhtiar Kaki. This occasion is marked by a lovely cultural programme that runs for 3 days.

Legend has that the ancient Yogmaya temple, dedicated to the sister of Krishna, is one of the old temples from Mahabharata times. This temple had given the old name of Yoginipura to this part of Delhi. I did not visit this temple this time, but I hope to go back to it soon.

CONCLUSIONS

I was getting late and after the visit to the dargah I decided to walk back through the Mehrauli Archeological park and towards the metro station. The whole walk had taken more than 3 hours. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed out on many other important places in Mehrauli including the Lal Kot walls, Jahaz Mahal, Zafar Mahal, tomb of Adham Khan and Bhul Bhulaiya (maze). To visit all those other places, I needed at least 2 additional hours. So I plan to go back one day and complete this walking tour of Mehrauli.

Thus, if you are planning this walking tour, keep plenty of time, wear comfortable and simple shoes and carry water and other ncessities with you. The whole area is almost wild, that gives it a lovely air, but it means that you will not find any services or shops on the way. In my opinion, it would not be advisable to women travelling alone to attempt this walk - there are just too many lonely stretches.

Delhi Metro Walks - Mehrauli, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

This walk will take you through a dead city. There is no way to find out the names of the persons who lived and died here or the historical events linked to them. Often you will reach rough paths dividing and going into different directions - it does not matter which path you will take, you will end up with some interesting ruins. Thus, if you like adventure, you will love this walk!

***

Friday, 12 December 2014

Delhi Metro Walks - Hauz Khas

Delhi Metro provides wonderful opportunities for discovering Delhi and to visit its rich trove of historical monuments. This post is about discovering the Delhi of the 13th - 15th century through a walking tour from the Hauz Khas metro station.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Chor Minaar or the "Tower of thieves" in the image above can give you an idea of the historical riches awaiting you on this walk.

DELHI IN THE 13th - 15th CENTURIES

13th to 15th centuries in Delhi are known as the "sultanat" period. In this period, Delhi was under different dynasties of Turkish origins. This period continued till mid 1500s, when Hamayun arrived in Delhi and gave rise to the Mughal dynasty.

13th century saw the arrival of Slave (Mamluk) dynasty in Delhi. They made their city in Mehrauli area of the present day Delhi. Sultan Qutubuddin Aibak from the Mamluk dynasty built the well known Delhi landmark Qutub Minar.

Near the end of 13th century, the Mamluks were replaced by the Khilji dynasty. Sultan Alauddin Khilji, who became Delhi's ruler in 1296 AD, named his city Siri and moved it to the present day "Siri fort" area near Hauz Khas. He also constructed a a water reservoir for his city that was called Hauz-e-Alai and gave the name to Hauz Khas (King's water reservoir).

Khiljis were replaced by the Tughlaks in the early 14th century. Initially Tughlaks tried to shift their capital from Delhi to Daulatabad in Maharashtra, but it did not work out and they returned to Delhi. Their Delhi was then shifted to Tughlakabad to the south of Hauz Khas. One of the Tughlak kings, Firoz Shah, is buried in Hauz Khas (his tomb in the image below).

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

In the second half of 14th century, the Tughlaks were replaced by the Lodhi dynasty and their Delhi moved towards the north. The Delhi map in the image below, shows these shifts of the power centres in Delhi during 13th to 15th centuries - first to (1) Mehrauli, then to (2) Hauz Khas, (3) Tughlakabad and finally towards (4) Lodhi Gardens.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

This whole area is full of historical buildings, especially tombs, mosques and madarsas (Islamic schools) from that period. The Hauz Khas metro walk is an opportunity to discover some of those forgotten buildings.

With the arrival of the Mughals, Delhi was shifted further to the north-east - first to the old fort and then towards Red Fort. Thus, gradually the Delhi of 13th to 15th centuries was abandoned and the Aravalli forests covered many of these buildings. Most of them have been rediscovered and repaired over the past 2 decades.

With this brief introduction to the city's history, now we are ready to start our walk.

1. HAUZ KHAS METRO STATION & WALK

Hauz Khas stop is on the yellow line of Delhi Metro connecting Jahangir Puri and Kashmiri Gate in the north to Rajiv Chowk in the centre and to Huda City centre in Gurgaon towards the south of Delhi. For this walk, take exit 3 from the metro station, that goes towards the College of Home Economics and Mayfair gardens.

As you come out of exit 3, continue along the same road and follow it as it joins Sri Aurobindo Marg. Cross to the other side and continue in the same direction. You will pass in front of the Aurobindo market. After the market, turn left on the Hauz Khas village road towards the Deer Park. The total walking distance is around 3 km and if that is too much for you, you can take an auto for this part.

The different places to see on this walking tour are marked on the map below. Exit 3 of Hauz Khas metro station is marked as 1 on this map. For a better view, look at this area on the Google map.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

2. DADI AND POTI TOMBS

A short walk on the Hauz Khas village road brings you to the Dadi (Grand mother) and Poti (Grand daughter) tombs on the right side, enclosed inside a tiny garden. The names of the tombs are misleading - they are just a way to denote a bigger and a smaller tomb.

The smaller tomb (Poti tomb), has a distinctive lantern on its top and is from the Tughlaq period (14th century). The bigger tomb (Dadi tomb) is from a later (15th century) Lodhi period.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

3. OTHER TOMBS ON HAUZ KHAS VILLAGE ROAD

A little further down the road, on the left side is a building called Barah Khambe (12 columns), a harmonious looking square building with 12 columns of varying widths. It has different tombs inside and outside, and has some other constructions including a curious bastion like structure. This building also dates from Lodhi period (15th century).

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Just across the road from Barah Khambe is the Sakri Gumti (Narrow building), also from 15th century.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

A few meters down the road is Chhoti Gumti (Small building) with a small park, very popular with local families, who come and sit here in the evenings.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

All these buildings are from the Lodhi period and were probably tombs of important persons of that time.

4. JAGGANNATH TEMPLE

A little walk brings you to the white coloured Jagganath temple on the left side of the road. Lord Jagganath, representing Krishna, is a deity from Odisha state of India, that has the famous ancient Jagganath temple at Puri. The massive chariot of Lord Juggenath in Puri has given rise to the word "juggernaut".

The temple on Hauz Khas village road is a recent construction that makes for a nice stop for its intricate workmanship and the colourful lions at its entrance.


History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

5. HAUZ KHAS VILLAGE AND THE DEER PARK

A short walk from Jagganath temple brings you to the entrances of Hauz Khas village and the Deer Park.

The Deer Park has an enclosure for the deer and another one for rabbits. Parts of the park are covered with a dense forest.

The deer are protected by different layers of metal nets and barbed wires, probably denoting difficulties in controlling the behaviour of the crowds visiting this park. Because of these big and ugly barriers, personally I did not like this part of the park.

However, the park also has different historical buildings, such as the walled mosque and Kali Gumti (Black building) in the image below.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

One of the most beautiful buildings in this area, "Bagh-i-Aalam ka Gumbad" (The dome of the garden's king) from the 15th century Lodhi period is also in the Deer park. It is very similar to the better known tombs in the Lodhi Gardens. Decorated with blue and dark red stones, it is a little jewel of a building.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

After the visit in the Deer Park, you can continue your journey in the "Hauz Khas village", an area full of chic shops, art galleries and restaurants, that used to be a village till 1980s. If you are interested in cuisines from different parts of the world including Italian espresso coffee, French patisserie and the Persian kebabs, you will find them all here.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

6. HAUZ KHAS OR HAUZ-E-ALAI

A short walk through the main road of the Hauz Khas village, will bring you to the numerous ruins around the water reservoir built by sultan Khilji in the 13th century.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

There are different buildings here including the ruins of a madrasa (Islamic school), a three-domed building used for meetings, different chhattris (stone umbrellas) and mosques, from different periods between 13th to 15th centuries. There is no entry ticket to visit these ruins.

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

While you walk around the ruins, below you can also admire the old water reservoir at a lower level. It was restored a few years ago with paths for walking. The way to the reservoir walking path is through the Deer park.


History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The Hauz Khas ruins also include the tomb of the king Firoz Shah Tughlak mentioned above.

These ruins are a popular meeting place for students and young persons, who sit around the different buildings - reading, daydreaming, gossiping or playing. They also give a wonderful lived-in alive air to the ruins.

7. GADIYA MATTH AND CHOR MINAAR

If you are not tired from the walk, on your way back to the gate 3 of the Hauz Khas metro station, you can visit a small side lane which has a Hare Krishna temple called Gadiya Matth (monks' house) and the Chor Minaar (Tower of the thieves).


History & monuments of Delhi around Hauz Khas, India - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Chor Minaar was a police tower on an ancient 14th century Delhi road, and was used as a look-out for thieves and bandits.

CONCLUSIONS

Like Chor Minaar, there are many other buildings from this period of Delhi's history in this area, hidden behind houses in the residential colonies, or closed inside traffic round abouts.

For example, across Ring Road and Sarvapriya Vihaar, you can take Maharishi Dayanad Marg and then follow on the right side to Geetanjali Marg, where you can take a look at the 14th century Begumpuri mosque.

For most of these buildings, it is not easy to find information about specific buildings such as who was buried there or what was their historical importance. The Delhi chapter of INTACH, a citizens' organisation, has done pioneering work in promoting the conservation of numerous heritage buildings in the city including the Hauz Khas complex. If you are interested in learning more about these buildings, you can take a look at the INTACH publications "Delhi - The built heritage" and "Delhi - A thousand years of building".

Finally if you do not mind missing on the Chor Minaar, you can also reach Hauz Khas village road from the Green Park metro station!

***

Monday, 8 December 2014

Monuments to celebrate freedom, peace and dignity

During my travels I often see monuments built to remember and celebrate events that have marked the history of the countries and their people. These monuments can be about freedom from colonialism, freedom from despots and oppressive regimes, finding a safe sanctuary where their families can live with dignity and hopes for peace. This post is about such monuments from different parts of the world.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The Uhuru monument (Freedom monument) from Nairobi, Kenya (Africa) shown in the picture above is a good example of what makes the freedom monuments. Usually it has freedom fighters, national flag, common men and women of the country and symbols expressing hopes for peace and prosperity. Most such monuments have some of these elements.

In this photo-essay, I have taken the significance of "freedom" in a wider sense, and thus, the events represented in this post are very different. We may not even consider all of them as "freedoms", some could even be monuments made by regimes to showcase false freedoms that are missing from their daily realities.

This post is the second part of a photo-essay that had focused on war monuments. With this brief introduction, lets start with liberty monuments from Africa.

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM AFRICA

The image below shows another part of the Uhuru monument in Nairobi (Kenya) where the dove symbolizes the desire of the people for peace and prosperity. The Uhuru monument celebrates the freedom of Kanya from the colonial rule.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The image below is from Robben Island in Cape Town (South Africa) where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. It was taken in the courtyard where Mandela used to break stones, shown in the central picture in this image. Mandela is a symbol of freedom from tyrannies and injustices through peaceful protests, along the path of non-violence shown by Mahatma Gandhi.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is of the President's house from Bissau (Guinea Bissau) in west Africa. The house was damaged during the military coup followed by a civil war that took place in Guinea Bissau around 1998. 10 years later the house still showed the signs of the war and was abandoned, though a fragile democracy had returned to the country. Guinea Bissau had won freedom from colonialism in the 1970s.

It seemed that some of its islands had become a convenient transit point to manage drugs towards Europe, with the complicity of some military persons. For me, this building in Bissau was a symbol of difficulties of finding peace and freedom for the people, when more powerful interests prefer to continue wars and poverty. Thus it is not a real freedom monument but a symbols about its absence.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

The two monuments from the Middle East in this post are both from Palestine. The first one shows the rotor blades of a ship that had tried to force its way through the Israeli blockade of the sea around Gaza. For me it symbolizes the continuing struggle of Palestinian people for their freedom.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The second image from Palestine is of the flag monument from Ramallah in the West Bank showing a boy climbing a pole to hoist the Palestinian flag.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

While the Palestinians fight for their liberty from the Israeli occupation, some parts of Palestine also seem to be going towards a more conservative version of Islam, that curtails the civic liberties, especially of the women and minority groups like gays and lesbians.

Thus the fight for freedom, peace and dignity can be seen at different levels - against others and also against our own societies.

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM ASIA

I have selected three images of the freedom monuments from India. The first one shows a statue of Veeranga Jhalkari Bai from Jhansi during the war with the British in 1857.

I like this image for different reasons - first of all, because it represents an ordinary soldier. Most of the recorded history is about kings and queens and India is no different. Thus, when history mentions the Indian freedom fight of 1857, it is mostly about nobles and royals like Laxmi Bai and Nana Saheb. Jhalkari Bai had dressed up as the queen during the war, allowing the real queen (Rani Laxmi Bai) to escape.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Another aspect of the 1857 freedom fight is about who wins the war and writes the history. Thus, while Indians talk of the 1857 war as their freedom struggle from the British, British historians call it "mutiny" or "rebellion".

The second image from India is of the monument depicting Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi march in 1930, when he had launched the protest against the British by challenging their law that prohibited Indians from making the salt. It was a key event in India's freedom struggle and it brought common persons into active protest against the British. This monument is in New Delhi.


Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The third image of freedom monuments from India is again from New Delhi - a 27 metres (60 feet) long national flag on a a 63 metres (207 feet) high pole in the central park of Connaught Place was placed in March 2014, and has quickly become one of the most photographed monuments of Delhi.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next freedom monument is from Tien-a-men square in Beijing, showing China's war against the nationalist forces and the role of chairman Mao Tse Tung in shaping the destiny of the country.

Reading the history of events in late 1950s and early 1960s, including the personal testimonies of persons affected by it, Mao's Cultural Revolution led to freedom of the peasants and atrocities against its thinkers, artists and philosophers.

Thus, we can discuss if that event and the monument representing it can be called a "freedom monument" but without doubt, it was a period that had a profound impact on the lives of millions of persons.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from the Parliament square in Ulaan Baator in Mongolia showing the monument to Changis Khan, considered a symbol of national pride.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Thus persons symbolising national pride and freedom in one country, can also be seen as oppressors or invaders by other countries.

The next two images are from Manila in Philippines. The first image shows Lapo Lapo, an indigenous leader who is considered the first freedom fighter for the liberation of Philippines from colonialism.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The second image from Philippines is from a park in central Manila where statues of different leaders who played an important role in the liberation struggle and building up of the nation, are displayed.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The last image from Asia is from Vietnam - the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi. On one hand, the fight between south Vietnam supported by USA against the communist regime in north Vietnam, was supposedly for freedom from communism. But for the Vietnamese, it was the fight for freedom of a small country against the mighty forces of a powerful nation.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

For most of twentieth century, the overt and covert wars waged by USA with support from its Western allies against communists regimes, were usually waged as "wars for freedom". On the other hand, the communist regimes justified the curtailing of civic liberties to liberate the poor peasants from the oppression of their own rich classes, sometimes leading to immense disasters as in Cambodia.

Those kinds of wars have become less important in the recent histories because even communist regimes have embraced capitalism. Only future will tell if these changes will lead to real freedoms for people or they will only substitute oppressors, equally ruthless against the poor persons and their environments in their quest for profits.

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM NORTH AMERICA

The next 3 images are from New York in USA. The first monument is the Irish Hunger monument from the Battery park, that remembers the journey of thousands of Irish immigrants to USA to escape the great famine in Ireland between 1847 to 1852.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The second image is of the Immigrants monument that expresses the feeling of freedom among the immigrants from different parts of the world on reaching the American shores. I have preferred to show this rather than the better known "Statue of liberty" to talk about immigration and freedom.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

Every years, hundreds of thousands of persons try to escape from oppressive regimes or from poverty, to more developed countries. On the other hand, the receiving countries almost always look at these immigrants as "problems" and try to block their entry. Every month, hundreds of people die trying to cross from Mexico to USA or from North Africa to Europe.

"Illegal" immigrants are considered a problem in many parts of the world, including in India, and thus it is not easy to find monuments celebrating the immigrants.

The third image from New york is of the monument to the people who had died in the September 11 attacks in 2001. Increasingly terrorism and killing of civilians is an increasing problem in different parts of the world and it is rare to find monuments remembering the victims of such attacks.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

When faced with relentless oppression by a powerful regime, some times people justify terrorism, and say that terrorism is a "freedom struggle" of those without power. Personally I do not agree with this view point - I feel terrorism and killing of civilians can never be justified because blood baths never lead to justice and peace, they only lead to a different group of oppressors.

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAS

The next 3 images are about persons who played an important role in the liberation of countries in South and central Americas but these monuments are from New York (USA).

The first monument is to Jose de San Martin who played an important role in the freedom of Argentina from the Spanish colonialism.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next monument shows Jose Marti Perez, a national hero from Cuba, who was a poet, journalist and revolutionary philosopher.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The third image from New York is of the Simon Bolivar monument, who is considered a national hero in many countries of Latin America including Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next three images are from Brazil in South America. The first image shows the peace monument in Goiania (Goias) that is an hour-glass shaped construction carrying small pieces of earth from different countries of the world.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image shows the Flag monument from San Paulo in Brazil, built to celebrate 4th century of foundation of San Paulo city.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

To me, this monument also symbolizes the power of time to cancel part of our unpleasant memories - if we think of the Amerindian people living in Brazil before the arrival of colonialists and of the African slaves brought by them, we can also see it as a monument to remember the killing of Amerindians and slavery.

The third image is from Salvador in Bahia state of Brazil and presents the monument remembering Zumbi dos Palmares, a slave brought from Africa who led the rebellion against the colonialists.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The last image from the Americas is from Quito in Ecuador, presenting the national monument, expressing the subjugation of natives under the colonial rule.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

FREEDOM MONUMENTS FROM EUROPE

Different European countries were responsible for the colonialism in Asia, Africa and the Americas. However, many of them also had histories of their own struggles for freedom.

The first image in this section is from Vienna in Austria and shows the Roman general Marc Antony riding a chariot pulled by lions. A commander of Julius Caesar, Antony became the ruler of eastern provinces of Roman empire and had an affair with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Thus, this monument is not about freedom but about empire building and shows that the struggles for freedom have a very long history.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next 3 images are about the changes in Eastern Europe over the past 2 decades. The first image is of a ruined house from Rijke in Croatia, that can be considered as a symbol of the different wars that characterized the breaking up of Yugoslavia.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from Prague in Czech republic and shows the monument of the victims of the communist regime.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The third image regarding Eastern Europe has a piece of the Berlin wall displayed in Cape Town in South Africa.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The next image is from Dublin in Ireland and shows the statue of Jim Larkin, a Trade Union leader.

During the twentieth century, trade unions played an important role in promoting freedoms by improving the lives of factory workers. The recent years have seen a dismantling of trade unions in different parts of the world under the impact of globalization and corporate capitalism.

At the same time, in some countries, the trade unions are no longer representing informal or irregular workers, but are seen as safeguarding the interests of those who already have good jobs.

Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

The last image of this post is from Como in Italy and shows a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was instrumental in unification of Italy in the nineteenth century.


Freedom monuments from Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe - Images by Sunil Deepak, 2014

 CONCLUSIONS

The monuments to freedom, peace and dignity come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes the ideas they represent are more complex and can even be seen as monuments to injustices, massacres and oppression.

A key event missing from the images in this photo-essay is that of a holocaust memorial.

On the other hand, our cities can present us living monuments of how our freedoms are often under attack. For example, these monuments do not talk about women - the violence against women, their genital mutilation, the abortion of female embryos, forcing women to wear burkas and cover their bodies in the name of religion or traditions. These monuments also do not talk about indigenous people fighting for their rights, being displaced from their homes without proper compensation or rehabilitation.
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