PALACE ON WHEELS HISTORY - WHEELS HISTORY
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Palace On Wheels History
- The past considered as a whole
The whole series of past events connected with someone or something
the aggregate of past events; "a critical time in the school's history"
The study of past events, particularly in human affairs
a record or narrative description of past events; "a history of France"; "he gave an inaccurate account of the plot to kill the president"; "the story of exposure to lead"
the discipline that records and interprets past events involving human beings; "he teaches Medieval history"; "history takes the long view"
- The official residence of a sovereign, archbishop, bishop, or other exalted person
- the governing group of a kingdom; "the palace issued an order binding on all subjects"
- A large, splendid house
- a large and stately mansion
- a large ornate exhibition hall
- A circular object that revolves on an axle and is fixed below a vehicle or other object to enable it to move easily over the ground
- A circular object that revolves on an axle and forms part of a machine
- (wheel) change directions as if revolving on a pivot; "They wheeled their horses around and left"
- (wheel) a simple machine consisting of a circular frame with spokes (or a solid disc) that can rotate on a shaft or axle (as in vehicles or other machines)
- Used in reference to the cycle of a specified condition or set of events
- steering wheel: a handwheel that is used for steering
Commodore Matthew Perry 1794 - 1858
From a daguerreotype c. 1856 by Mathew B. Brady. Library of Congress.
On the 24th November 1852 Commodore Mathew Perry left Norfolk Virginia in the USS Mississippi, sent on a mission by President Millard Fillmore to establish trade with Japan. For two centuries, Japanese ports were closed to all but a few Dutch and Chinese traders and the United States hoped Japan would agree to open certain ports so American vessels could begin to trade with the mysterious island kingdom. In addition to interest in the Japanese market, America needed Japanese ports to replenish coal and provide sanctuary and supplies for the commercial whaling fleet. In 1846, the U.S. had resolved its territorial dispute with Britain over the Oregon border and in 1848, the United States concluded the U.S.-Mexican War with the Treaty of Guadalupe which included the acquisition of California.
The United States now extended from "sea to shining sea". Gold had been discovered in California; settlers were streaming across the continent and anyone could see that trade between the west coast and Asia would be extensive and profitable. Steamships now made crossing the Pacific economically feasible, but steamships of the day needed prodigious quantities of coal. Japan not only provided a convenient stopping point on the way to China, but it had extensive coal reserves.
During the mid 19th century, warships were moving from sail to coal-fired steam propulsion which provided speed, manoeuvrability and direct routes independent of prevailing winds. Unfortunately, a steam-driven navy required a network of secure coaling stations. England with its global empire could rely on stations around the world: Gibraltar, Aden, Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, St-Helena, etc. The United States, lacking such an empire, largely stuck with sailing ships until 1890. However around 1830, steam engines appeared on ships as adjuncts to sails. At first the engines were connected to paddle wheels on the side; but the few ships with steam engines used them only as auxiliary power.
The USS Mississippi was one such vessel, a wood hull, barque-rigged, steam frigate, 229 feet long, 40 foot at the beam with a draft of 19 feet with twelve coal-burning furnaces feeding two side-lever steam engines that turned two paddle wheels, each 28 feet in diameter. It carried two 10-inch and eight 8-inch Paixhans shell guns and a crew of 257. Because of the uncertain reliability of the steam engines she also carried 19,000 square feet of canvas. She was built between 1839 and 1841 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard under the personal supervision of Commodore Perry who became known as the father of the steam Navy because of his strong commitment to introducing steam ships. The Mississippi and her sister ship, the Missouri, were the U.S. Navy's first ocean-going side-wheeled steamers and its first ocean-going steam driven capital ships.
Seventeen days after leaving Norfolk, Perry arrived in Madeira where he loaded 440 tonnes of coal, 10,000 gallons of water and 6 bullocks. In order to save on coal consumption the paddle boards were removed, water blown from the boilers and sails set to propel the ship towards St Helena where she arrived at noon on 10th January and where, “as a measure rather of prudence than necessity she took on board an additional supply of coal. Water and fresh provisions for the crew were also procured”
His brief stay on St Helena was described in six pages in Francis Hawkes’ 1856 book “Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan under the command of Commodore MC Perry”, available to download at Google books.
After a brief description of the island, its climate, history and development by The East India Company the subject of Napoleon is raised: It will thus be seen that, so far as physical comfort is involved, St. Helena is not the worst of prisons; and if it provoked indignant remonstrance from the illustrious captive who laid his bones there, his complaints were prompted not so much by the aspects of nature around, which never insulted him, as by the petty indignities offered him by little minds, and the irksomeness of restraint to a chafed spirit, which, in its isolation, felt deeply the contrast between its now enforced solitude and its former mingling and ruling in the crowd of men, wielding as if by magic the destinies of Europe. To him a hemisphere for his theatre and nations for his playthings had become in some sort a necessity. His own spirit forged his heaviest chains on St. Helena.
But it was the memory of that captive which gave to the officers of the ship the chief interest of the island, and every one accordingly made it his first object to visit Longwood and the spot where the ashes (sic) of Napoleon had once rested.
In viewing the miserable building where, for more than five years, this extraordinary man resided, and where he breathed his last, it is difficult to suppress a deep feeling
Vittala Temple Complex, Hampi, Karnataka
As the epicenter of Hampi’s attractions, Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. No amount of words can explain this spectacle. The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus.
Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu. This aspect of Vishnu was worshiped in this part of the country as their cult deity by the cattle herds.
The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Many successive kings have enhanced the temple campus during their regimes to the present form. Yon can even see the remains of a township called Vittalapura that existed around this temple complex. The highlight of Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi.
One typically accesses the campus through the eastern entrance tower, next to which the ticket counter is located. On entering through this massive tower, the first thing draws your attention would be a series of compact platforms along the central axis of the campus. At the end of these platforms stands the Stone Chariot. This is in fact a shrine built in the form of a temple chariot. An image of Garuda (the eagle god) was originally enshrined within its sanctum. Garuda, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu. Thus the Garuda shrine facing the temple’s sanctum is symbolic.
It may appear (and sometimes even referred to) as a monolithic structure. In reality this stone shrine was built with many giant granite blocks. The joints are smartly hidden in the carvings and other decorative features that adorn the Stone Chariot. The chariot is built on a rectangular platform of a feet or so high. All around this base platform is carved with mythical battle scenes. Though the chariot is not resting on it, the four giant wheels attached mimic the real life ones complete with the axis shafts & the brakes. A series of concentric floral motifs decorate the wheels. It appears from the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, the wheels were free to move around the axis.
You can still see the remains of the painting on the carvings of the chariot. Probably because it was relatively protected from the natural wearing elements, the undercarriage of the chariot spots one of the best preserved specimens of this kind of paintings. It is believed the whole of the Vittala Temple’s sculptures were once beautifully painted in similar fashion using the minerals as medium.
In front of the chariot two elephants are positioned as if they are pulling the chariot. In fact these elephants where brought from elsewhere and positioned here at a later stage. Originally two horses were carved in that position. The tails and the rear legs of the horses can be still seen just behind these elephant sculptures. A broken stone ladder once gave access to the sanctum is kept between the elephants. You can still spot the marks on the floor and the doorsill where once the ladder stood.
On leaving the Stone Chariot you reach the main hall in front of the Vittala temple. This hall though partially damaged is still awe inspiring. Facing the Stone Chariot, a series of steps flanged by elephant balustrades gives access to this elevated open hall called the Maha-Mantapa (the great hall). The balustrades on the east and west porch of this hall is more dramatic with giant lion Yalis fighting the relatively dwarf elephants. The Maha-Mantapa stands on a highly ornate platform. This fluted platform is carved with a series of floral motifs. The lowermost of it is a chain of horses, its trainers and the traders.
The Maha-Mantapa contains four open halls within. The south, north and the east ones are still intact. The central western hall is collapsed, probably due to the arson that followed the fall of the capital.
The main highlight of the Maha-Mantapa is its richly carved giant monolithic pillars. The outermost of the pillars are popularly called the musical pillars. These slender and short pilasters carved out of the giant pillars emit musical tones when tapped. Probably these do not belong to any of the standard musical notes, but the musical tone of the vibes earned it’s the name. Unmindful curiosity of the visitors has damaged many of these pilasters and tapping on it is banned for the sake of preservation.
The eastern hall which is called the musicians hall is notable for sculptures of musicians on the pillars. Each of the pillars surrounding this hall is sculptured with musicians, drummers and dancers.
The southern hall is dominated with the rampant mythical creatures called Yalis. The capitals of each of the pillars branches into heavily ornate corbels with terminating with lotus
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