What is the dance drama tradition of Andhra Pradesh?

Kuchipudi, the classical dance style of Andhra Pradesh, is accepted as a solo dance but evolved from the dance-drama tradition of Bhagaveta Mela Natakam. Stories from Hindu mythology, particularly Vaishnava Sampradaya (cult of Lord Vishnu), are interpreted through the medium of stylized and rhythmic movements, typical hasta mudras (hand gestures) and expressional dancing. Kuchipudi lays equal emphasis to elegance and vibrant movements and is performed by both men and women.

Evolution and history

The word Kuchipudi comes from the village Kuchelapuram in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. The Sanskrit word Kusilava-puram refers to the village of actors, travelling bards or dancers. The authoritative text of dance and dramaturgy, written by Bharata Muni, known as Natya Sastra with 6,000 verses in 36 chapters, studied version, evolved during 500 BCE to 500 CE, that mentions the graceful movements known as Kaishiki Vritti. Pre-2nd century text calls one raga (musical melody) as Andhri (Andhra), related to Gandhari Arsabhi. The 1st milllenium Sanskrit text by Bruna Nettle credits its origin to 3rd century.

The copper inscriptions, from 10th to 15th century of Machupalli kaifat refers to Kuchipudi dance. According to Manohar Varadpande, Kuchipudi emerged in the late 13th century during the reign of the Ganga rulers of Kalinga; however, the dancers enjoyed royal patronage during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya in the Vijayanagara empire.

In 1678, the last Shia Muslim Sultan of Golkonda, Abul Hasan Qutub Shah, gifted the Kuchipudi village to the dancers, as he was impressed with their brilliant performance; however, during the reign of Aurangzeb, he was completely against arts and artistes and destroyed the musical instruments, too. The British, too, did not approve of classical dancers and performing art forms suffered a setback.

Pioneer mentors and technique

The foremost pioneers were Vedantam Lakshminarayana Sastri (1886-1956), Vempatti Venkataramaya Sastri and Chinta Ventaramayya Sastri. Prior to the Bhagavata nataka tradition, dancers interpreted stories related to Shaivism and were known as Brahmana Melas. According to the tradition, Natttuva Melas pertained to the invocatory Puja dance and the Kalika dance in the Kalyana mandapa, the Natya Mela pertained to ritual dances, Kalika dance for intellectuals and Bhagavatam for commoners.

Teertha Narayana Yati, who wrote the Krishna Leela Tarangani, was a sanyasin (sage) of the Advaita Vedanta and his disciple Siddhendra Yogi founded the systematised version in the 17th century. He also induced young Brahmin boys to take up Kuchipudi dance as he felt that if females danced, the purity of the dance will be affected.

Vempatti Chinna Satyam further refurbished the Kuchipudi dance and placed it on the international map. The technique is similar to Bharata Natyam but unlike Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi dancers are quite light footed with spring-like and bouncing movements that differs in the style of presentation.

Performance and music

Bhama Kalapam, an extract from Krishna Leela Tarangani, forms the mainstay of the Kuchipudi repertoire, besides Golla Kalapam of Ramiah Sastri which is an ethical satire between the Gopis and the Brahmins. Kritis of Tyagaraja and Padams of Kshtreyya, etc., are also part of the performance.

American Esther Sharman, renamed as Ragini Devi, whose daughter Indrani Bajpai or Indrani Rehman, and Yamini Krishnamurti, are among the foremost exponents. Leading exponents, Raja Radha and Kausalya Reddy, Swapna Sundari, Sobha Naidu, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Jayarama and Vanashree Rao, Narasimha Chari, Anuradha J., and young brilliant dancers including Yamini and Bhavana Reddy, Prateeksha Kashi, Avijit Das, Alekhya Punjala, etc.

Traditionally a Kuchipudi performance commences with invocations to Lord Ganesha, Lord Nataraja and Goddess Parvati, while paying salutations; the dancer also receives blessings for the successful performance without any hindrance whatsoever. After the Jatiswaram is performed which is a fine combination of music, melody and rhythm, interwoven with jatis, the display of rhythmic complex patterns of varied movements, followed with the Sabdam, Padam, Varnam, another Padam or Bhajan and finally the Thillana or the Tarangam which is the dance on the rim of the brass plate.

Performances are solo and dance dramas like Rukmini Kalyanam or Sreenivasa Kalyanam and other dramas pertaining to Lord Shiva, Rama, Kartikeya and Ganapati are also enacted and presented.

It was believed that if you have to please Lord Krishna, you have to don female attire at least once. During the 19th century, females were barred from performing Kuchipudi. Hence the tradition developed wherein male dancers attired like females, interpreting both masculine and feminine characters.

One of the mainstays of the Kuchipudi repertoire is the interpretation of Bhama Kalapam or the story of Satyabhama. Satyabhama, like other women, was in love with Krishna; she was a royal and beautiful lady but arrogant. Krishna wanted to teach her a lesson, hence asked her as to who was more beautiful, Satyabhama or Krishna. As expected, Satyabhama claimed that she was the most beautiful woman. Krishna argued with her and angrily drifted away. Satyabhama realised her mistake and asked for forgiveness. Bhama Kalapam is an extract from Krishna Leela Tarangani written by saint composer Narayana Teertha.

It is interesting to narrate here one of the Kuchipudi performances rendered by the renowned and dynamic Yamini Krishnamurti. She was interpreting the number Swami Ra Ra (Please come, My Lord) wherein the dancer as the heroine requests the Lord to come as soon as possible as she is unable to bear the pangs of separation. While interpreting this number with large expressive eyes, a Sardarji went up to the stage. The dancer responded, saying: "I am calling my Swami, My Lord, you are not He!"

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Which is largest private residence in Jodhpur?

Umaid Bhawan Palace, located in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, is one of the world's largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owner Gaj Singh. The palace has 347 rooms and is the principal residence of the former Jodhpur royal family. A part of the palace is a museum.

Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owners of the palace, this monument has 347 rooms and once served as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family. Also called Chittar Palace due to its location atop a hill and use of stones commonly known as Chittar in the building.

It has a total of 347 rooms with a beautifully ornamented 110 feet high central dome.

The architect of the palace was H. V. Lanchester. An astonishing feature of the palace is that no mortar or cement was used in its construction. Rather, carved stones were used and joined together by a system of interlocking positive and negative pieces - something like dove-tailing. It is said that about 5000 men were employed by the ruler in the construction of the Umaid  Bhawan Palace during the time of famine. The Maharaja was humane and kind and helped his subjects who had faced  starvation. He kept them alive in return for work when building the palace. 

Work began on the 18th November of 1929 and completed in 1943, four years before India's independence. At that time the cost of construction came to somewhere around whooping one crore (ten million) rupees.

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By law, what material should be used to make the flag?

Khadi or hand-spun cloth is the only material allowed to be used for the flag, and flying a flag made of any other material is punishable by law with imprisonment up to three years, besides a fine. Raw materials for khadi are restricted to cotton, silk and wool. There are two kinds of khadi used: The first is the khadi-bunting which makes up the body of the flag, and the second is the khadi-duck, which is a beige-coloured cloth that holds the flag to the pole. The khadi-duck is an unconventional type of weave that meshes three threads into a weave, compared to the two weaves used in conventional weaving. This type of weaving is extremely rare, and there are fewer than twenty weavers in India professing this skill. The guidelines also state that there should be exactly 150 threads per square centimetre, four threads per stitch, and one square foot should weigh exactly 205 grams.

The Flag made of paper may be waved by public on occasions of important national, cultural and sports events. However, such paper Flags should not be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event. As far as possible, it should be disposed of in private consistent with the dignity of the Flag.

The MHA has advised avoiding the use of plastic flags since plastic flags are not biodegradable like paper flags and do not get decomposed for a long time. Moreover, ensuring appropriate disposal of National Flags made of plastic commensurate with dignity of the flag, is a practical problem.  Flags made of paper can be used by public and such paper flags should not be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event. Such Flags are to be disposed of, in private, consistent with the dignity of the Flag.

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When was the tricolour adopted as the official flag of India?

On July 22, 1947, the Indian national flag was officially hoisted. Its stripes remained the same saffron-white-green, but the spinning wheel was replaced by a blue chakra—the Dharma Chakra (“Wheel of the Law”). The Dharma Chakra, which was associated with the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, appeared on pillars erected throughout the Mauryan empire during the first serious attempt to unite all of India under a single government. The 1947 flag continues to be used by India, although special versions have been developed for ships registered in the country.

The National flag of India is a horizontal tricolor of deep saffron (kesari) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the centre of the white band is a navy blue wheel which represents the chakra. Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes.

On 26th January 2002, the Indian flag code was modified and after several years of independence, the citizens of India were finally allowed to hoist the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day and not just National days as was the case earlier. Now Indians can proudly display the national flag anywhere and anytime, as long as the provisions of the Flag Code are strictly followed to avoid any disrespect to the tricolour. For the sake of convenience, Flag Code of India, 2002, has been divided into three parts. Part I of the Code contains general description of the National Flag. Part II of the Code is devoted to the display of the National Flag by members of public, private organizations, educational institutions, etc. Part III of the Code relates to display of the National Flag by Central and State governments and their organisations and agencies.

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Who built Qutub Minar iconic structure?

Around 1192, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak envisioned Qutub Minar, but he only got to complete the basement. The construction was later taken over by his successor Iltutmish who constructed three more stories of the tower.

The magnificent Qutub Minar has a height of 73 meters. It has a base diameter of 14.3 meters which narrows down to 2.7 meters at the top. The structure also includes a spiral staircase of 379 steps. There are many other historical edifices around the minaret which, together with the main tower, form the Qutub Minar Complex.

It is widely believed that the tower, which displays early Afghan architectural style, was built taking inspiration from the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan. Each of the five distinct stories of the minaret is adorned with a projecting balcony supported by intricately designed brackets. While the first three stories are built in pale red sandstone, the fourth one is purely made of marble, and the fifth one is a mix of marble and sandstone. The architectural styles from the base to the top also differ, thanks to the many rulers who constructed it part by part.

There are bands of inscriptions on different sections of Qutub Minar that narrate its history. Carved verses adorn the inside of the tower.

Qutub Festival, an annual cultural event, is held at this complex every year during the month of November-December. This three-day long festival witnesses a lively gathering and various mind-blowing performances by musicians, dancers, and artists.

The Qutub Minar complex is under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India under its Delhi circle of monuments.

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