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World Heritage day

18th of April is the world Heritage Day. It's a day to celebrate and recognise our heritage. It's the time for us to go and see our own cities, our own culture and try to learn from them, admire them, preserve and protect them before they become extinct. I celebrate this by taking you through the memories of my old city.

Glimpses into Bikaner of 1918:

It's a city surrounded by four walls. The only mode of transport within the city is walking. People walk from one place to another. A few people use Baggi also, but very rare. Everyone is clad in whilte chola and white dhoti. There are wooden platforms (called Pata) in every mohalla, where people sit and gossip during their spare time. Bhanwar Lal Nahata is 7 years of age and his uncle and his best friend Agar Chand Nahata is also of the same age. Both are sitting on a Pata with other boys of their age. They are discussing about the Italian scholar Tessitori, who had come to Bikaner to study and understand Indology.

Bherudan Nahata (father of Bhanwar Lal Nahata), who has just completed his discussions with Tessitori comes and sits with Bhanwar Lal and other children of neighbourhood. He talks about importance of reading books, saving money and using money for a noble cause. He said that there should be books in every mohalla and every person should read books. He has been collecting Re. 1 from every home to construct and develop school so that more and more students can study. The children show their interest in joining this movement in collecting one rupee from each home to develop schools. The children plan to start libraries. Students are preparing themselves to become entrepreneurs in Pardesh (to go to distant places to start their businesses) and for that they learn mathematics, accounting, reading and writing. Agriculture is the main profession and people love this in spite of paucity of water. When there is no agriculture, they engage in construction work and the king and the rich people start construction activities, where beautiful buildings are constructed and beautiful carvings are created on stone.
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Glimpses into Bikaner of 1938:

Bhanwar Lal and Agar Chand are now 27 years of age. Both look after their traditional businesses, which are spread out in North-East - in Bengal and Assam. Both spend about 8 months in their business and remaining time in Bikaner. When they are in Bikaner, they encourage people to start libraries. They have also started a library. They spend their time with books and read and wrote. Both have contributed a number of articles and papers to different magazines published from all over the country. Although both have never been to colleges, yet, they are guiding other youngsters about how to read, write and undertake research on important issues. There are now libraries in almost every mohalla. Scholars from different parts of the country visit the library of Agar Chand and Bhanwar Lal Nahata and share insights on ancient Indian knowledge. The Pata continues to attract the youth, who sit and discuss about latest issues. The stories of Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Gandhi ji dominate the discussions. People also discuss about the administrative policies of the King of the city, who has been introducing new technologies and new centres in the city. Civic administration, law and order are still characterised by discipline.

New schools are now being set up and students are now learning English also. Their aspirations are still the same and most of the students prepare themselves for starting a business in Pardesh (some distant place). Lot of camel carts move in the city distributing water. Tanga (Horse-cart) has now become the main means of transport in the city. Every mohalla has an open place (called a Chowk), where people organise some or other events together, for example, Dhadha Chowk is famous for Gangour Festival.
Glimpses into Bikaner of today:

The city has grown beyond limits and the means of transport are now 2,3, and four wheelers. The Pata is lying deserted. The youth are busy on internet making friends through FB and Twitter. The libraries are now dilapidated, hardly a few read books are in these libraries. Students are busy in preparing themselves for government jobs. As against the past, everyone is a graduate and most of the youth are post-graduates also. They want to join the government sector as clerks. Now there are black roads and abundant water supply. As against the past, there are heaps of garbage on every corner of the city. There are some youth, who are keen to start "Heritage Walk" as the old buildings have not become heritage property. There are some youth, who are trying to revive the library movement through mobile libraries. The Gangour Festival in Dhadha Chowk is a matter of attraction from tourism perspective and Tourists throng to see these old festivals and old buildings. But the real soul behind the heritage is no more.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 26th April 2014.
Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain
Dr. Trilok Kumar Jain is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazin

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