- Fëanor quotes André Wink to argue that the rise and fall of the Rashtrakuta kingdom was connected to trade with Persian Gulf
- This is a post from two years back, but it is interesting as it talks about how the postal system worked during the Mughal Period.
- The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has the illustrated edition of Baburnamah — the autobiography of the Mughal invader — from the 16th century CE. The book was originally written in Turkish and was translated and copied by various of his successors. BibliOdyssey has some of the pictures and Flickr has the complete set.
- Airavat has a post on how camels were used in Indian warfare.
- There is news that very soon a Malayalam movie, which is a historical about Tipu Sultan and Unniarcha, will start filming. Kamal Haasan has signed on. Maddy had a post on this a while back.
- Last month’s Carnival featured a post by Sriram on de Havilland and the Madras Bulwark. He has another post on the Eastern and Western Castlets of de Havilland
Towards the late 10th century, however, the great ports of Gujarat began to decline. According to Wink, the proximate cause was the steady erosion of the Persian Gulf trade as the Red Sea and Egypt became more important. These countries dealt more with Malabar and Coromandel. The resultant decline in wealth and power of the Rashtrakutas was matched by the growing clout of the Cholas in the south of India, with the predictable result.
The Dak Chawki system was initially restricted to royal and official use. For urgent letters people had to make their own arrangements at personal cost or await the arrival of the regular messengers and prevail upon them to carry the same. In fact, it was this random practice of the postal employees being subject to inducements by the common public, which compelled Babar to introduce the system of transfer. News was conveyed through an efficient channel of confidential reports, supplied daily, bi-weekly and weekly by different agencies acting independently. This system ruled out erroneous information reaching the ruler, not only because of the inbuilt cross-checks but also by giving the emperor different perspectives to a situation.
An illustrated folio of the Akbarnamah depicting the 16th century Mughal siege of Champaner in Gujarat. The two camels are probably the twin-humped Bactrian breed and are carrying naggada beaters. Such foreign breeds were less resistant to heat and Indian camel breeds from Baluchistan westwards began to be used by Mughal armies primarily for transport. Baloch camel traders are shown as forming the long tail of Aurangzeb’s army that caused so much devastation in the Deccan Wars late in the 17th Century. Jadunath Sarkar wrote in his History of Aurangzib: “The worst oppressors of the peasants, however, were the tail of the army……Particularly the Beluchi camel-owners who hired out their animals to the army, and unattached Afghans searching for employment, plundered and beat the country people most mercilessly.”
The story thus continues to remain a myth. If Unniarcha was born in 1766 and was taken away by Tipu in 1789, then it is impossible for her to have mothered Aromal, unless he were Tipu’s son. But that is also not possible for according to legends, Unniarcha was very much around Malabar and goading Aromal to take revenge on Chandu. Even then the timelines would not be right for such events would not have occurred in difficult times when the Sultans and their army were encamped in Malabar (those events would have found their way into the ballads). Then again, let us for a moment assume that Unniarcha was a favored queen in the Zenana. This is also not possible for the name was never seen in Wellesley’s or Marriott’s papers. The queens listed and the sons that come up do not indicate any person of Malabar origin
Western Castlet appears to have survived for much longer, though its exact location is even more difficult to identify. Considering that most accounts say it was off Mount Road, it is very likely that de Havilland’s property extended from east to west with Eastern Castlet being on Mount Road itself and Western Castlet in the rear. After they were divided it is probable that Western Castlet was accessed by a service lane from Mount Road.
Thanks to Fëanor and Sandeep V for sending the links. If you find interesting blog posts on Indian history, please send it to varnam.blog /gmail or as a tweet to @varnam_blog. The next carnival will be up on Oct 15th.