History- Important places, persons in news

George Wittet, who left beautiful fingerprints across Mumbai


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indo-Saracenic Architecture

Mains level : NA

The restored and refurbished Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) (erstwhile Prince of Wales Museum) will open this month as the building enters its centenary year.

Who was George Wittet?

  • George Wittet was born in Blair Atholl, Scotland. He studied architecture in Perth, Scotland, and worked in Edinburgh and York before arriving in India in 1904.
  • In India, he became assistant to John Begg, consulting architect to the Government of Bombay.
  • Together, they pioneered the Indo-Saracenic style, using it in many government and public buildings across Bombay.
  • About a decade later, Wittet rose to be consulting architect himself and was also elected as the first president of The Indian Institute of Architects.
  • Besides the Prince of Wales Museum, Wittet also designed the Gateway of India, a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture and among the most identifiable landmarks of Mumbai.

What is Indo-Saracenic style?

  • The Indo-Saracenic style was promoted by British architects starting from the late 19th century.
  • It is exemplified by the use of elements seen in architecture across India, from Mughal structures to Hindu temples.
  • The style was dominated by Indo-Islamic elements, but sometimes combined with Gothic and neo-classical elements popular in Britain at that time.
  • Major features of the style include domes and domelets, chhattris, minarets, and open pavilions.
  • Indo-Saracenic was seen as Raj’s efforts to promote “Indian” culture, so that their colonial subjects would view them more favorably, especially after the Revolt of 1857.

Notable monuments

Examples from other parts of India include the magnificent:

  • Victoria Memorial in Kolkata
  • Amba Vilas Palace (Mysore Palace) in Mysuru
  • Senate House (on the Madras University campus) in Chennai
  • Secretariat Building (Central Secretariat) in New Delhi

Mumbai’s notable architecture: CSMVS

  • The dome of the CSMVS is based on the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of king Mohammed Adil Shah of Bijapur.
  • Wittet had toured the historic buildings of Bijapur, which was key to his Indo-Saracenic designs.
  • CSMVS’s finial is based on that of the Taj Mahal.
  • However, even though he won the competition for the museum’s design, it wasn’t his design that was executed finally.


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History- Important places, persons in news

Places in news: Mount Manipur


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mount Manipur

Mains level : Not Much

The Union government has rechristened Mount Harriet, a historical tourist spot in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as ‘Mount Manipur’ to commemorate the1891 Anglo-Manipur war.

Manipur’s connection to Mount Harriet

  • After the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, several Manipuris who had fought the British in the war, including Maharaja Kulachandra Dhwaja Singh, were exiled to the British penal colony in the Andaman Islands.
  • Since the cellular jail (Kalapani) was yet to be built, Kulachandra and the prisoners were kept on Mount Harriet, a hillock in what is now the Ferragunj tehsil of South Andaman district.
  • 23 men, including King Kulachandra and his brothers, were “transported for life” to the Andamans.
  • While some died there, Kulachandra was released and shifted elsewhere before his death.

This is why Mount Harriet is an important symbol of the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891.

About Anglo-Manipur War of 1891

  • Considered an epoch in the history of Manipur, the Anglo-Manipur War was fought between the kingdom of Manipur and the British over a month in 1891.
  • The battle was triggered by a coup in the palace of Manipur, which had been marked by internal factionalism in the years leading up 1891.
  • The British government took advantage of the internal dissension among the princes of the royal family.

Battle for throne

  • In 1886, when Surchandra inherited the throne from his father Chandrakirti Singh, the kingdom of Manipur was not under the British rule but had links with the crown through different treaties.
  • However, Surchandra ascension to the throne was controversial and his younger brothers — Kulachadra, Tikendrajit — revolted against him.
  • The1890 coup by the rebel faction deposed Surchandra, and proclaimed Kulachandra, the next oldest brother, the king.
  • Surchandra fled to Calcutta seeking British help to reinstate him.
  • Instead, the British dispatched James Quinton, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, with an army to Manipur.
  • His mission was to recognise Kulachandra as the king under the condition that they be allowed to arrest the coup leader Crown Prince Tikendrajit and deport him from Manipur.

This aggressive imposition of British law in a sovereign state was rejected by the king, precipitating the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891.

Its aftermath

  • In the first phase of the war, the British surrendered and their officers — including Quinton — were executed in public.
  • In the second phase, the British attacked Manipur from three sides, and finally capture the Kangla Fort in Imphal.
  • Prince Tikendrajit and four others were hanged by the British, while Kulachandra, along with 22 others, were banished to the Andaman Islands.

Significance of the war

  • Many say the war was described as a blow to British prestige.
  • In India, it was viewed as being part of the general uprising against British rule in the country, soon after after the Revolt of 1857.
  • The war led to Manipur officially becoming a princely state under the indirect rule of the British crown.


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Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Places in news: Kesaria Buddhist Stupa


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kesaria Stupa

Mains level : Not Much

The world-famous Kesaria Buddha stupa in east Champaran district of Bihar is waterlogged following floods in some parts of the district after heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of river Gandak in neighbouring Nepal.

Kesaria Stupa

  • The Kesaria stupa, located about 110 km from the State capital Patna, has a circumference of almost 400 feet and stands at a height of about 104 feet.
  • The first construction of the nationally protected stupa is dated to the 3rd century BCE.
  • It is regarded as the largest Buddhist stupa in the world and has been drawing tourists from across several Buddhist countries.
  • The sputa’s exploration had started in the early 19th century after its discovery led by Colonel Mackenzie in 1814.
  • Later, it was excavated by General Cunningham in 1861-62 and in 1998 an ASI team led by archaeologist K.K. Muhammad had excavated the site properly.
  • The original Kesaria stupa is said to date back to the time of emperor Ashoka (circa 250 BCE) as the remains of an Ashokan pillar was discovered there.

In the accounts of foreign travellers

  • The stupa mound may even have been inaugurated during the Buddha’s time, as it corresponds in many respects to the description of the stupa erected by the Licchavis of Vaishali to house the alms bowl the Buddha has given them.
  • Interestingly, Chinese travellers Fa-Hien (5th century CE) and Hiuen Tsang (7th century CE), who travelled to India, also mention this stupa and the legend of Buddha and the Licchavis, in their records.
  • While Fa-Hien talks of a pillar erected at the site, Hiuen Tsang mentions the stupa itself.

Try answering this question from CS Mains 2016:

Q.Early Buddhist Stupa-art, while depicting folk motifs and narratives successfully expounds Buddhist ideals. Elucidate.

Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

[pib] Bharat Ratna Professor CNR Rao


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CNR Rao and his scientific contributions

Mains level : Not Much

Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao has received the International Eni Award 2020 for research into renewable energy sources and energy storage, also called the Energy Frontier award.

Who is CNR Rao?

  • Rao is an Indian chemist who has worked mainly in solid-state and structural chemistry.
  • Rao is one of the world’s foremost solid state and materials chemists. He has contributed to the development of the field over five decades.

His scientific contributions

His work on transition metal oxides has led to a basic understanding of novel phenomena and the relationship between materials properties and the structural chemistry of these materials.

  • Rao was one of the earliest to synthesize two-dimensional oxide materials such as La2CuO4.
  • He was one of the first to synthesize 123 cuprates, the first liquid nitrogen-temperature superconductor in 1987. He was also the first to synthesis Y junction carbon nanotubes in the mid-1990s.
  • His work has led to a systematic study of compositionally controlled metal-insulator transitions.
  • Such studies have had a profound impact in application fields such as colossal magnetoresistance and high-temperature superconductivity.
  • He has made immense contributions to nanomaterials over the last two decades, besides his work on hybrid materials.

Answer this PYQ from CSP 2020 in the comment box:

Q. With reference to carbon nanotubes, consider the following statements:

1. They can be used as carriers of drugs and antigens in the human body.
2. They can be made into artificial blood capillaries for an injured part of the human body.
3. They can be used in biochemical sensors.
4. Carbon nanotubes are biodegradable.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2, 3, and 4 only
(c) 1, 3, and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Citations for the Energy Frontiers award

  • Professor Rao has been working on hydrogen energy as the only source of energy for the benefit of all mankind.
  • Hydrogen storage, photochemical and electrochemical production of hydrogen, solar production of hydrogen, and non-metallic catalysis were the highlights of his work.
  • The EF award has been conferred for his work on metal oxides, carbon nanotubes, and other materials and two-dimensional systems, including graphene, boron-nitrogen-carbon hybrid materials, and molybdenum sulfide (Molybdenite – MoS2) for energy applications and green hydrogen production.
  • Green hydrogen production can be achieved through various processes, including the photodissociation of water, thermal dissociation, and electrolysis activated by electricity produced from solar or wind energy.

Significance of this award

  • This is considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research.

History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Architectural Heritage of Bundi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bundi architecture

Mains level : Not Much

A recent episode of the Ministry of Tourism’s Dekho Apna Desh Webinar series has focused on the architectural heritage of Bundi, Rajasthan.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to Dhrupad, one of the major traditions of India that has been kept alive for centuries, which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Dhrupad originated and developed in the Rajput kingdoms during the Mughal period.
  2. Dhrupad is primarily a piece of devotional and spiritual music.
  3. Dhrupad Alap uses Sanskrit syllables from Mantras.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None of the above

About Bundi

  • Bundi erstwhile capital of Hada Rajput province known as Hadauti located in south-eastern Rajasthan is one such place.
  • Bundi is also known as City of step walls, blue city and also as Chotti Kashi.
  • In ancient times, the area around Bundi was apparently inhabited by various local tribes, of which the Parihar Tribes, Meena was prominent.
  • Later the region was governed by Rao Deva, who took over Bundi from Jaita Meena in 1242, renaming the surrounding area as Haravati or Haroti.
  • For the next two centuries, the Hadas of Bundi were the vassals of the Sisodias of Mewar and ruled by the title of Rao until 1569, after Emperor Akbar.

Important architecture

  • The City of Bundi grew outwards Taragarh hill. A small habitat developed at the foothills of the fort itself.
  • The location of the royal palace was on a steep slope overlooking the valley below, providing a view of the vast surrounding hinterland.
  • Garh Mahal became the focus and an imposing landmark on the skyline of Bundi was visible from the valley below. In the next 200 years, the entire cluster was built.
  • The best example of medieval Indian city exhibiting water harvesting methods adopted at settlement level as well as the finest examples of water architecture.
  • Location of Baoris and Kunds outside the walled city was also influenced by social considerations as access to baoris and kunds were located within the walled city was controlled.

Architectural heritage of Bundi can be classified as:

1) Garh (Fort): Taragarh

2) Garh Mahal (Royal Palace)

  • Bhoj Mahal
  • Chattar Mahal
  • Ummed Mahal

3) Baori (Step well)

  • Khoj Darwaja ki Baori
  • Bhawaldi Baori

4) Kund (Stepped tank)

  • Dhabhai ji ka Kund
  • Nagar Kund & Sagar Kund
  • Rani Kund

5) Sagar mahal (Lake Palace)

  • Moti Mahal
  • Sukh Mahal
  • Shikar Burj

History- Important places, persons in news

Sindhu Darshan Puja


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art and culture

Mains level : Not much

During his day-long whirlwind visit, PM Narendra performed Sindhu Darshan Puja at Nimu, the forward brigade place in Ladakh.

Sindhu Darshan Puja.

⦁ Sindhu Darshan Festival is a festival of India held every year on full moon day (on Guru Purnima) in the month of June.
⦁ It is held at Leh, in Ladakh District of Ladakh. It stretches for three days.
⦁ It was first started in the October by veteran politician L.K. Advani, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign and domestic tourists.
⦁ The main reason behind the celebration of Sindhu Darshan Festival is to endorse the Indus River (Sindhu River) as an icon of the communal harmony and unity of India.


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