Cultural Heritage Sites in India

India is a country which has a host of spectacular sites, ranging from glorious historical monuments to diverse natural heritage sites. UNESCO World Heritage Convention has recognised many sites across the world for their cultural heritage. India has the 6th largest number of world heritage sites with 38 such sites. Here are some sites among those, which one shouldn’t miss while exploring the country.

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Taj Mahal, Agra

The Taj Mahal is a funerary mosque, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Set against the Mughal Gardens, it is a pristine architectural monument made of white marble. It was built in 16 years by thousands of artisans under the Chief Architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and is considered as a masterpiece.

Khajurao, Madhya Pradesh

The Khajurao is a group of monuments located in Madhya Pradesh and is attributed to the Chandela dynasty. It is known for its unique artistic architecture which has survived since the 10th century. Out of the 85 temples built originally, only 22 temples are there at present.

The PInk City, Jaipur

Jaipur is a fort city in Rajasthan, built according to grid plans of Vedic architecture. The urban planning of the city shows influence of ancient Hindu, modern Mughal and western cultures. Originally built as a commercial capital, the city is an intersection of commercial, artisanal and traditional center.

Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra

The Elephanta Caves is a group of sculpted caves on Elephanta island, located in Mumbai harbour. It is dated to 5th century and it consists of 5 Hindu caves and 2 Buddhist caves. The architecture is characterised by rock cut stone sculptures.

Sundarbans, West Bengal

The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world and is both a national park and a tiger reserve. It is situated in the Sundarbans Ganges river delta and is formed by the deposition of sediments from 3 rivers – the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It consists of dense mangrove forests which is the home to the Bengal tiger, the salt water crocodile and various birds.

Fatehpur Sikri

Also known as the City of Victory, the Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Emperor Akbar. It includes a set of mosques, monuments and temples built in Mughal architectural style. It was built as a city which had several monuments, buildings, palaces, public spaces and courts. The site has monuments like – the Jama Masjid, the Buland Darwaza, the Panch Mahal, and the Tomb of Salim Chishti which are popular tourist attractions.

Monuments at Hampi, Karnataka

These are a group of monuments in the Hampi town in Karnataka. Located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, it consists of Dravidian temples and palaces. It has been admired by travelers of the 14th and 16th century and is still a very important cultural and religious center for Hindus and Jains.

Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha

The Konark Sun temple is a renowned temple, located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal and built in the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god. It is constructed with sandstone and decorated with beautiful stone carvings. It was constructed under the rule of King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.

Telescopes

Telescopes are to astronomers what weapons to defense personnel and the lens size are comparable to ammo size. Larger the telescope better is the capability to capture light and make images. Galileo used the telescope which was small but still was able to spot the phases of the moon, moons of Jupiter, as those were the days, without digital imaging; therefore he drew whatever he saw. But today telescopes store whatever they capture and as the sizes of lenses grow, amount of data also increases posing a threat to the storage of data as no data can be marked bogus since the universe is not known to us, thus we can’t discard or forget whatever we see cause they are pieces of a bigger puzzle. Galileo made the first telescope just 400 years earlier. Galileo’s telescope had a major drawback that it was small thus images were not clear due to low angular resolution (low clarity). Increasing the size of the lens increased the size of the telescope and thus the possibility of bending due to self-load. The greatest Galilean telescope is Palomar 200inch, in fact, it was the biggest for 6 or so decades. But with the advancement in technology and the constraint that manufacturing, transporting, installation, maintenance of too big lenses would be cumbersome or near impossible and also would be uneconomical, innovative ideas were thought about like making clusters of lenses that would act as one. It is still expensive but easy to manage. Ground-based telescopes have seen drastic advancements in the last 2-3 decades but Larger telescopes have good resolution capacity as well as range. Owing to the large lens they are able to capture more light and produce more clear images. But ground-based telescopes aren’t feasible to install due to their large size and heavy maintenance. A slight error could lead millions of taxpayer’s money to go down the drain. Space-based telescopes have seen further fewer advancements since putting a telescope in space is a too risky and expensive task, thus one needs a good reason to do so despite all these astronomers to want to put telescopes in space despite their budgets being humongous because ground-based telescopes have some major drawbacks that no amount of money or technology can overcome. One is the blurring or twinkling of starlight due to turbulent motions in the atmosphere high above. The turbulence in the atmosphere leads to a distorted view of the objects, this turbulence is the reason for the twinkling of lights. Although this twinkling can be reduced by installing a secondary mirror that can fluctuate dozens time per second but still this doesn’t lead to that much clarification that can be observed through space telescopes. The primary mirror can’t be fluctuated due to its enormous size and money invested. And another is the opaqueness of the earth’s atmosphere to many of the wavelengths. Only some wavelengths like visible spectrum and a large part of radio waves and some of the infrared radiation are able to penetrate the earth’s environment. And since the light coming from distant heavenly bodies does not necessarily fall in one of the spectrums due to doppler’s effect that can penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, therefore, it is possible that much of the data we are just losing due the opaque atmosphere present. Also installing a large telescope on the ground requires structure to contain it, and those structures also have initial cost and maintenance cost thus resulting in the cost curve. The universe at every moment leaks loads of data in the form of X-rays, Gamma rays, and Infrared rays just we have to study it that is only possible through space-based telescopes. Thus the curiosity to understand how the universe works, the curiosity to know our origin leads to astronomers putting heavy telescopes in space.  

Lockdown effect: Diesel sales in August 14% lower than in July

Consumption of diesel in the first 26 days of August was 14.2% lower than the levels recorded in the same period in July, signaling that there – imposition of lockdown curbs in many areas has slowed industrial and commercial consumption.

While rural agricultural demand is now mainly driving diesel consumption, floods in Bihar and the northeastern states has moderated the speed of demand recovery. Muted sales of commercial vehicles is also not letting diesel sales rise.

On a year-on-year basis, diesel consumption fell 22.4% to 4 million tonne (mt) in the 26 days of August. Diesel sales alone contribute to around 40% of total consumption of petroleum products in India. The sales data for August is from retail outlets of state-run oil marketing companies, which run about 90% petrol pumps in India.

According to provisional data by the government’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC), consumption of petroleum products fell 22.5% y-o-y to 56.4 mt in the April-July period. Sales of LPG was the only major product to register growth in the lockdown period, due to a government scheme of free cylinder refills for poor households. But sources said LPG sales dipped 3% y-o-y during August 1-26.