R E G I O N A L   B R I E F S

Regional potpourri

  • Waxing eloquent
  • Jal Mahal thirsts for revival
  • Monkey business


Yoga camp held: A free yoga camp was organised under the aegis of the Patanjali Yog Peeth, Hardwar, at the Green Belt of Sector 47-C here today. According to a press note teachers taught the people various “pranayamas” and “asanas”.


Regional potpourri

Waxing eloquent

Ludhiana resident Chander Shekhar Parbhakar (inset) has made wax statues of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, among others
Ludhiana resident Chander Shekhar Parbhakar (inset) has made wax statues of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, among others. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

When he was in the chemicals business till five years ago, he had never imagined that he would start the second innings of his life as a wax sculptor.

The first innings did not end on a very pleasant note for Chander Shekhar Parbhakar, a senior citizen of Ludhiana, for he had undergone a heart bypass surgery and doctors had advised him to stop working.

It was after a visit to the Wax Museum at London that he reinvented himself and came back with a new mission. He found that sculpting wax statues rejuvenated his soul as well as helped him utilise his free time creatively.

Within a few years of starting, he has a collection of around 20 wax statues of eminent personalities to his credit. Fifteen of these sculptures, including those of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mother Teresa, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, are exhibited at a local water park. The rest are showcased at his Dugri Road residence.

“Nowadays I am making statues of Bollywood actors and many Punjabi movie stars. Mehar Mittal, the Punjabi comedian, came and met me a few days ago. He was delighted when I showed him his wax statue,” says Parbhakar.

Statues of many other personalities are in the pipeline. “It requires an effort to maintain the statues as wax melts at the temperature prevailing in Punjab. Moreover, dust is also a cause of concern for a sculptor, as even a fine layer of particles can actually ruin the creations.

It takes months for him to prepare a statue with the help of a dye that he makes himself. To make it look real, a statue is then embellished with artificial hair and clothes. “The final product looks so life-like that at times, I am also surprised, “ he adds.

Jal Mahal thirsts for revival

A view of the Jal Mahal at Batala
A view of the Jal Mahal at Batala

Batala, one of the oldest towns of the erstwhile province of Lahore, even older than Amritsar, has preserved its historicity through as many as 14 old monuments of religious and historical importance.

One of these is the jal mahal, which stands right in the middle of a big tank built by Shamsher Khan, who was an administrator (korori) of Batala during the reign of Emperor Akbar.

The Jal Mahal, also referred to in “In The bylanes of history” by J.S. Grewal, was built by Maharaja Sher Singh. The palace is presently on lease to the authorities of Baring Union Christian College, Batala, and the administrative offices of the college are housed therein. The building is being maintained by the college authorities.

The Jal Mahal is under the control of the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI). It was interconnected with the maharaja’s palace through an underground tunnel which could be seen till 1950.

It is believed that the maharaja used to hold secret meetings of his courtiers in the Jal Mahal.

It consists of 1 doors, eight on the ground floor and four on the upper storey (See photograph). Hence it is also known as Baradari. The inner walls contained beautiful glass carvings and wall paintings, but a majority of these frescoes have been erased by visitors over the years. Till the early 1980s, the tank used to be full with water drawn from a tubewell of the municipal Council. The motor and pump have been missing for a long time now.

During a recent visit by this writer, it was found that a part of the upper storey on the southern side had crumbled and wild grass was growing inside the building.

Over the years, many schemes for the beautification of this monument have been proposed but never implemented, such as converting the Jal Mahal into a restaurant connected by a bridge, changing the big tank into a multi-purpose outdoor stadium etc. For the latter scheme, some effort was made while Gopal Krishan Chatrath, former Advocate-General of Punjab, was the local MLA, but it was abandoned after his tenure.

Some citizens of the town have demanded that the ASI should restore the Barandari and convert it into a tourist site. The revenues thus generated can easily fund its upkeep.

Monkey business

A billboard on the Shimla-Sarahan road cautions tourists against feeding monkeys
A billboard on the Shimla-Sarahan road cautions tourists against feeding monkeys.
— Photo by the writer

Such is the menace posed by monkeys in the hills that the tourist spots in and around Shimla are dotted with billboards (see photograph) aimed at containing this problem.

These signboards ask tourists not to give eatables to the monkeys as it only feeds their boldness and aggressiveness. This measure has, to some extent, helped create an awareness among visitors, who are otherwise wont to indulging the simians with whatever goodies they themselves partake of.

On a recent visit to the area, tourists were seen actively abstaining from pandering to the gastronomic demands of monkeys at a resort on the Shimla-Sarahan road.

Even as a large group of revellers from Uttar Pradesh, well stocked with masala peanuts, bhujia and the works, got busy preparing some chatpati bhelpuri on the lawns of this resort, the simians were clearly not invited to join the feast. All thanks to the little warning signs mounted all over the picturesque hillside.

It’s another matter that the beasts believe in self-service and don’t really wait to be extended hospitality. The penalty mentioned on the billboards is, after all, meant for humans and not their four-legged forefathers on the prowl.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev, Balraj Mahajan and Chetna Keer Banerjee



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |