Divided India – United or Separated?
Presently 29 and going strong for
further more.
India is divided into 29 states
presently and 7 Union Territories. Going strong for further sub-division,
solely on linguistic and dialectal grounds, and sometimes even on religious
ones, but sadly constitutionally valid, it won’t be too long before we see a
dozen more dissections, if not more.
Our Constitution surely reserves the
power for the creation of new states and territories in India with the
President, who can do so by announcing new states, separating territory from an
existing state or by merging two or more states or part thereof.
However, ever since our Independence
from the British Rule when the erstwhile princely states were annexed and
merged to create the 19 states that formed the Union of India, there has not
been a single instance ever where the power of the President of India was used
to amalgamate and unify states. In fact, every single time, this authority has
only been used to segment them further to form the 29 states that exist today.
I shall try to take you through a pictorial
journey from the pre-independence era when India was divided into
British-administered provinces and nominally autonomous princely states
governed by the British administration, to the current date.
The colonial system of
administration continued even after the independence almost till 1956 though
the partition saw some of the administrative divisions becoming part of the
Dominion of Pakistan while the remaining states and provinces formed the
Dominion of India.
It was the States Reorganisation Act
passed in 1956 which abolished the provinces and princely states in favour of
new states based on language and ethnicity. We have seen the birth of several
new states and union territories since then.
The first ever major fragmentation
happened in 1960 with the Bombay Reorganisation Act excruciating the Bombay
State into the linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Nagaland came into existence in 1963
and the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966 saw the creation of a new Hindi
speaking state of Haryana carved out of Haryana from the southern districts of
the state of Punjab and a union territory of Chandigarh was created to be
designated as the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
The northern districts of Punjab
were transferred to a new state of Himachal Pradesh in 1971 and Manipur,
Meghalaya and Tripura too were accorded statehood.
It was in 1975 that the independent
kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian Union as a state, perhaps the only
territory outside the original atlas at the time of independence to join the
country.
In 1987, Mizoram and Arunachal
Pradesh were declared states first followed by Goa in the same year, while Goa’s
northern exclaves of Daman and Diu became a separate union territory.
After a lull of almost 13 years,
three new states were carved out of the existing states in 2000. 
Chhattisgarh
was created out of Madhya Pradesh, while Uttaranchal was created out of the
mountainous districts of northwest Uttar Pradesh and the state of Jharkhand
carved out of the southern districts of Bihar. 
The state of Uttaranchal was
renamed as Uttarakhand in 2007.
The last sub-division we have seen
was in 2014 when Telangana was separated from Andhra Pradesh as a new state.
There are several more proposals of
sub-dividing the existing states further on the basis of linguistic, ethnic and
religious disparities; it won’t be too surprising to find our country divided
in the same manner as it used to be once in the hands of the princely rulers.
Governed by the supreme law of the
Union of India on paper, but are we really united! Conceivably we need to contemplate
on this.

Epilogue:
I travelled across the length and
breadth of India and through my journey, I met different people. I met
Kashmiris, Punjabis, Gujaratis, Bengalis and Marathis. As I travelled south, I
met Goans, Konkanis, Telugus, Kannadigas, Koduvas, Tamilians and Malayalis. Occasionally
at the same domicile and habitation, I met Hindus, Christians and Muslims too.
I met a lot of people etymologically
and phonologically alienated from each other, but sadly I never met a single
Indian.

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Malavli Days – A Picturesque Travelogue
A call for a business
trip on a weekend was nothing which would make anyone happy and thrilled about.
So even I wasn’t quit amused for once. 
Though the client-cum-friends had mentioned that it would be at some
remote location away from the hustle and bustle of the city, I was sure that
any place a few hours’ drive would be as crowded as the city on a weekend.


Reluctantly did I
proceed, making up my mind for yet another of those wasted weekend, but little
did I realise what would be in store for me when I arrived at Malavli.


Malavli is a little
mushrooming town not too far from Lonavla but much more calmer  and serene than its more
famous cousin.



Malavli, like its
adjoining towns of Lonavla and Khandala, is also a hill station situated in Pune
district in the state of Maharashtra.


Malavli lies at a
distance of around a little less than 60 kms from the city of Pune and perhaps
a tad more than 100 kms from Mumbai.


When I landed in
Malavli, amidst heavy rains on a Saturday afternoon, I had no idea what this
burgeoning town and hill station had in store for me.


The entire area
encompassing Malavli actually comes to life during the monsoon 
season as the
countryside turns lush green with waterfalls and ponds.


The nearby locales
which make Malavli more popularly known are the historic Bhaje and Karla caves.
Both these caves, situated at close proximity to Malavli, are heritage sites,
their history dating back to at least 2500 years old and were early Buddhist
settlements.


Malavli also falls en-route
for trekkers who need to pass through this town on their way to the picturesque
Lohgad Fort, the Visapur Fort and the Bhaje Caves, for their trekking.


One would find a few
foreigners moving around in the streets but fret not; they are students of the
Vedanta Academy situated in Malavli. It is an academy which teaches ancient
Indian scriptures and their relevance to the modern world and students from
around the world may come and demand documents.


Another attraction
which brings in visitors to Malavli, as I understood, was that it houses the
quite popular two alternate healing centers, the “Atma Santulan Village” and “Kaivalyadham”
that attract many visitors throughout the year.


Everything in Malavli is
as pristine and serene as the atmosphere there. The smell of the morning rain
to the sound of the water falls, the warmth of the bhuttas to the taste of the kaanda-bhajjis, they were just mesmerising to our senses.


How to reach there:

By Road:


Malavli is situated
almost halfway on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Those travelling from Mumbai need
to take the Kusgaon exit (the exit immediately after the Lonavla exit, so as to
avoid the traffic on the always busy Lonavla market road) and drive towards
Karla caves, when you can find a right turn exit towards the town of Malavli.
Those travelling from Pune need to take the Lonavla exit and look out for the
left turn towards Malavli.

By Rail:


Those travelling from
Pune by rail can take the local shuttle which stops at Malavli. Those
travelling from Mumbai need to alight at Lonavla by any of the trains towards
Pune and then get on to the local shuttle from Lonavla towards Pune, Malavli
being the next station after Lonavla.

By Air:


For travellers coming
from other places, the nearest Air-head is Pune or Mumbai from where you need
to take either the road or the rail route as mentioned above.

Places of Interest:


Lohgad Fort: Situated at a distance of around 11 km from Malavli Railway Station,
this “Iron Fort”, was once a formidable battle abode of Chatrapati Shivaji.

Visapur Fort: It is a dual fort adjoining Lohgad, these forts demanding a robust climb
through the waterfall route, command a breath-taking view of the surrounding
hills and hamlets.

Bedse Caves: A well-known Buddhist site, with one of the most beautifully executed
Buddhist culture dating back to 2nd Century BC; these caves are
surely an amazing site for trekkers and historians alike.

Bhaje Caves: This group of 18 rock-cut caves are perhaps one of the oldest surviving
caves in the country dating back to 200 BC.

Vedanta Academy: Founded in 1988 by Swami Parthasarathy, an internally eminent
philosopher, this Academy is run by the Vedanta Cultural Foundation and has
been accorded the coveted status of a Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation (SIRO) by the Government of India.

Places to visit nearby:


Malavli is situated
close to the more popular holiday destinations of Lonavla and Khandala and
hence tourists can visit all the three hill stations together, situated in the
Sahyadri ranges, that demarcate the Deccan Plateau and the Konkan coast.

Where to stay:


Malavli unfortunately
does not have any boarding and lodging facilities for tourists and hence you
need to put up camp at the more commercial locales of Lonavla.


Lonavla has ample facilities of stay for tourists ranging from the star categories to the budget hotels and even motel and dormitory accommodation to adopt to all types of purse strings.

itravelnet.com Travel Blog

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My reason for falling in love with Melbourne, the most livable city in the world

Oh, the city of
Melbourne…
When I think of Australia…. And why shouldn’t I
be thinking of this wonderful country…. Being a cricket crazy Indian, I
make sure that I wake up early morning every single day and switch on the TV
set to watch the scintillating cricket match going on between the two great
cricketing nations.
And every break between over, as we are shown the Australia
Tourism advertisement welcoming us to this picturesque country, I can’t help
but think and dream of only Australia. With the current test match going on in
one the greatest cities of this country, which place other than Melbourne can I
dream about. The modern, cutting-edge designs of its skyscrapers and buildings added
to the fascinating mix of heritage architecture, makes us feel that that this
city is never the same every single time we visit it, with its constantly
changing skyline. But mind you, talking about skyscrapers, building height
limits and heritage controls have kept the city at a human scale while
highlighting its diversity and creativity.
There is a lot to love about Melbourne – just
ask the locals. Melbourne’s lifestyle, the climate and its future plans are all
part of what inspires so much passion in those who live here. With the city’s
vibrant energy, restaurants, fashion boutiques, café-filled laneways, cool
bars, unbeatable galleries, spacious parks and village-like inner suburbs, each
with its own special character, no wonder, it has been ranked as one of the
world’s most livable cities.
We just
need to take a walk through the streets of Melbourne to really enjoy it’s
labyrinth of connecting laneways and arcades which provides us an ‘other world’
experience of intimate spaces and mystery. And believe me, it is while you
stroll through these streets, where you get a feeling of openness and natural
light, but still you find it home to many of Melbourne’s bar, dining and
shopping ‘secrets’.
The
streets of Melbourne provide a logical canvas for artistic expression and its
laneways are home to sometimes controversial street art. And did I not mention
that the locals also love a party, with the year-round calendar of events
offering something for everyone.
And if you lose your way through this
labyrinth, there’s no need to worry at all, because the locals are known for
being friendly and inclusive, strongly advocating the city’s strong culture of
philanthropy and volunteering. Looking worried and lost, and don’t be
surprised, if you are confronted immediately by the City Ambassadors, the
dedicated team of tourism volunteers.

Being and odd man out in a foreign country is
something which you would never feel in this city. Melbourne has a
multicultural population, being home to people of 140 different cultures:
Indigenous Australians, post war European migrants, and recent arrivals from
India, Somalia, Malaysia and beyond. Yeah, you heard it right! Indians, you
find in plenty there.

And in all these absolutely stunning things
that I mentioned about Melbourne, did I forget about its geography. For those
who are keen on this, Melbourne is located in the south-eastern part of
mainland Australia, within the state of Victoria. It is the capital of the
state of Victoria and the second most populous city in Australia.

But believe me, it’s not the geography, but the
lifestyle that makes Melbourne a magnet for so many people lie in the
combination of these things. It is the sum of its parts – and more.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2r0ptqQ1wBCimcqdfsBCks1YVaFDczLh

My entry for “Fly to Melbourne” – a contest by Indiblogger.

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