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1. Vakataka Dynasty

  • Approximate extent of the Vakataka territories in 375 CE.

  • The Vakataka Empire originated from the Deccan in the mid-3rd century CE.

  • They were the most important successors of the Satavahanas in the Deccan and contemporaneous with the Guptas in northern India.

  • The Vakataka dynasty was a Brahmin dynasty. Little is known about Vindhyashakti, the founder of the family.

  • Territorial expansion began in the reign of his son Pravarasena I.

  • The Vakatakas are noted for having been patrons of the arts, architecture and literature.

  • The rock-cut Buddhist viharas and chaityas of Ajanta Caves (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) were built under the patronage of Vakataka emperor, Harishena.

1.2 Significance of this discovery

  • Till now, researchers have only managed to get written inscriptions and copper plates, all featuring the Vataka king Prithvisena. It is the first traces sealing the fact that the king shifted his capital from Padmapura to Nandivardhan in Vidarbha.

  • They have unearthed some vital signs and remains in the form of typical artefacts including ceramics, ear studs made of glass were excavated belonging to the period during the Vakataka rule.

  • Terracotta objects depicting images of gods, animals, humans along with amulets, scotches, wheels, skin rubbers, spindle whorls were discovered.

  • Some of the ceramics, according to the researchers, dates back to 3-4th century BCE.

  • A near-intact clay sealing of the Vakataka empress Prabhavatigupta, the chief queen of the Vakataka king Rudrasena II has also been unearthed.

2. Saint Kabir

2.1 Nirguna bhakti and Saguna bhakti

  • The nirguna bhaktas were devotees of a formless God even while calling him variously as Rama, Govinda, Hari or Raghunatha. The most conspicuous among them were Kabir and Nanak.

  • The saguna bhaktas were devotees of god with attributes or in human form. Vishnu in its incarnations as Rama, or Krishna, are most popular deities that were worshipped by Saguna Bhakti saints.

  • Thus, Saguna bhakti movement of North India was essentially vaishnavite in character as compared to Southern Bhakti movement which had both Vashnav as well as Shaiv streams.

2.2 About Saint Kabir

  • Kabir Das, a mystical poet and great Saint of India, was born in the year 1440 and died in the year 1518.

  • He is the most important Nirguna Bhakti saint.

  • Kabir’s teachings were based on a complete, indeed vehement, rejection of the major religious traditions and vouched for Nirguna form of Bhakti.

  • His teachings openly ridiculed all forms of external worship of both Brahmanical, Hinduism and Islam, the pre-eminence of the priestly classes and the caste system.

  • It is considered that he got all his spiritual training from his Guru named, Ramananda, in his early childhood.

  • Kabir Panth is the huge religious community which identifies the Kabir as the originator of the Sant Mat sects.

  • Kabir Das is the first Indian saint who has coordinated the Hinduism and Islam by giving a universal path which could be followed by both Hindus and Muslims.

  • According to him every life has relationship with two spiritual principles, Jivatma and Paramatma. His view about the moksha that, it is the process of uniting these two divine principles.

  • Some of the great writings of the Kabir Das are Bijak, Kabir Granthawali, Anurag Sagar, Sakhi Granth etc.

3. Badshahi Ashoorkhana

3.1 About Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah

  • He was the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golkonda who ascended to the throne in 1580.

  • He founded the city of Hyderabad and built its architectural centerpiece, the Charminar. He also built Charkaman archways.

  • He is a contemporary of Tulsidas, Mirabai and Surdas. His poetry is bound to earth and revels in the universality of love and mystic experiences.

  • During his reign, Jean Baptiste Tavernier visited and wrote about walking into the Qutb Shahi tombs complex where carpets were laid out and whoever walked in was served pulao.

3.2 Battle of Karbala

  • It took place in 680 A.D. Ashoora or 10th day of Muharram. brief military engagement in a place called Karbala in Iraq, in which a small party led by al-hussain , grandson of the Prophet was defeated and massacred by an army sent by the Umayyad caliph Yazid I.

  • The battle among Shiaite Muslims (followers of al-hussain) the 10th of Muharram became an annual holy day of public mourning.

  • Telangana government and Aga Khan Trust are working to restore the Badshahi Ashoorkhana monument.

3.3 About Badshahi Ashoorkhana

  • Badshahi Ashoorkhana is a Shia Muslim mourning place, near Charminar in Hyderabad, India. It was constructed in memory of martyrdom of Imam Hussain in the battle of karbala, and is used during the festival of Moharram.

  • It was built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1611, three years after building the Charminar.

  • Ashoorkhana is famous for its resplendent tile work that have retained their lustre and vibrant colours even after four centuries.

4. Seva Bhoj Scheme

  • It is a central sector scheme to reduce financial burden of Charitable Religious Institutions.

  • It envisages reimbursing the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) of such Charitable Religious Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.

  • It is applicable to all Charitable Religious Institutions such as Temples, Gurudwara, Mosque, Church, Dharmik Ashram, Dargah, Matth, Monasteries etc. which follows following norms: o which have been in existence for preceding five years before applying for financial assistance/grant.

  • which have been distributing free food, langar and prasad to public for at least past three years on the day of application.

  • which serve free food to at least 5000 people in a month.

  • which should not be blacklisted under provisions of FCRA or any other Act/Rules of the Central/State Government.

  • The ministry will register the eligible charitable religious institutions for a time period ending with finance commission period and subsequently the registration may be renewed subject to the performance evaluation of the institutions.

5. 37th Unesco World Heritage Site

  • It has been included in the list under Criteria (ii) and (iv) of the UNESCO's Operational Guidelines.

  • India accepted the renaming of the ensemble as Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai as recommended by the World Heritage Committee.

  • This is the third site from Mumbai after the Elephant Caves and Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station.

World Heritage Committee

  • It is the executive body responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

  • The Convention is an international agreement adopted in by the Member States of the UNESCO.

  • The primary mission of the Convention is to identify and protect the world's natural and cultural heritage considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value

  • Strategic Objectives Of the convention is based on the "Five Cs": Credibility, Conservation, Capacity-building, Communication, Communities

  • The Convention serves as a catalyst to raising awareness for heritage preservation.

  • The World Heritage Fund, setup under convention, provides financial assistance to States Parties in identifying, preserving and promoting World Heritage sites.

  • Across India, there are now 37 world heritage sites. With five sites, Maharashtra has the maximum number of sites in India.

  • India stands second largest in number after China in ASPAC (Asia and Pacific) region. It is overall sixth in the world.

About the sites

  • This collection of Victorian and Art Deco landmarks is the largest such conglomeration and first of the combination of these two genres of architecture in the world to be included in world heritage list.

  • The Ensemble consists of 94 buildings primarily of 19th century Victorian Gothic revival and early 20th century Art Deco style of architecture with the Oval Maidan in the centre.

  • Some characteristics of Victorian art are: Use of pointed arches, Heavy stone and brick work, Use of polychromes (contrasting colors) and Bold forms like towers, massive hip and gabled roofs.

  • Art Deco, also called style modern was movement in the decorative arts and architecture. The Art Deco edifices, with their cinemas and residential buildings, blend Indian design with Art Deco imagery, creating a unique style that has been described as Indo-Deco.

6. Ambubachi Mela

  • It is celebrated to mark the annual menstruation of Goddess at Kamakhya temple.

  • The fair takes place in June every year and this year it was held from 22 June to 26 June.\

6.1 Significance of the Fair

About Kamakhya Temple:

  • Situated on the Nilanchal Hills in Guwahati, Assam, it is one of the 52 Shakti peeths or Seat of Shakti followers

  • It is believed to be the site where Hindu deity Sati’s womb and genitals fell after she burned to death

  • Kamakhya Devi, the reigning deity, is also worshipped as the Goddess of fertility

  • It is also considered as one of the prime seats of Tantric rituals.

  • It is considered as an auspicious period when women pray for fertility and celebrate child bearing capabilities of women.

  • It also marks as an occasion to promote awareness about menstrual hygiene.

  • Tuloni Biya Ritual: meaning ‘small wedding’, it is the celebration of attainment of womanhood of Girls in Assam.

7. India-Vietnam Mou On Postal Stamp

What is the difference between a stupa and pagoda?

  • In general, however, "stupa" is the term used for a Buddhist structure in India or Southeast Asia while "pagoda" refers to temple or a sacred building in East Asia which can be entered, and which may be secular in purpose.

  • Stupa is a hemispherical dome shaped structure which contains relics of remains of Buddha or a Bodhistava, whereas Pagodas have sets of multiple discs.

  • Unlike the typical stupa, the pagoda actually has interior space, sometimes on several levels.

  • Pagodas are found in Nepal, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.


  • The Postal department of Vietnam and Indian had signed an agreement in December 2017 to issue a joint stamp on “India-Vietnam: Joint Issue on the theme ‘Ancient Architecture’”.

  • The Agreement has been approved now by the Cabinet.

  • The Joint commemorative stamp depicts Sanchi Stupa and Pho Minh Pagoda of Vietnam which was released on January 25.

Sanchi Stupa

  • It is one of the oldest structures in India and was commission by 3rd century BCE by Emperor Ashoka.

  • It is believed that during the reign of Shunga Emperor Pushyamitra Shunga it was vandalised. While under Agnimitra Shunga,son of Pushyamitra, it was refurbished.

  • During the Satavahans Period the gateways, and the balustrade were built and highly decorated. The gateways commissioned were covered with narrative structures. The figure of Lord Buddha was carved in these structures as canopy under the Bodhi Tree at the point of Enlightenment. Various events of life of Lord Buddha were carved.

  • As seen in the figure the main parts of the Stupa are – Anda, Harmika, Chatri, Pradakshinapatha, Medhi, Vedika and Torana.

  • The Sanchi Stupa has four beautifully carved Toranas or the gateways which depict various events of Buddhas’ life and Jatakas.

  • It has been enlisted as UNESCO world heritage site in 1989.

Pho Minh Pagoda of Vietnam

  • It was built originally during the Ly Dynasty and was later expanded in 1262 during Tran Dynasty.

  • It was a place for high-ranking mandarins and the aristocracy of the Tran Royal Court to worship and lead their religious life.

June Art and Culture

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