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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

bowled over by the belle from Kankrej !

One of the good things learnt during lockdown is patience, appreciating things around ~ the other day, on the streets of Thiruvallikkeni, on the banks of Kairavini pushkarini infront of Sri Parthasarathi Swami temple, I was bowled over by this beautiful damsel !

One may not immediately recognize the name ‘Navsari’ -  the ninth biggest municipality of Gujarat   located between Surat & Mumbai. Navsari is also the Twin City of Surat, and only 37 km south of Surat. Navsari is the  famous place of salt satyagraha.  The Salt March, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience   led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The 25-day march lasted from 12 March 1930 to 6 April 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly.   Walking ten miles a day, the march spanned over 240 miles (384 km), from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, which was called Navsari at that time.

Salt has been produced all along the Rann of Kutch on the west coast of India for the past thousands of years.  The Rann of Kutch is an extensive marshland that is cut off from the rest of the Indian subcontinent during monsoons when the seas inundate the low-lying areas. However, when the seawater evaporates during summer, it leaves behind a crust of salt which accumulates as salt pans.  Salt panning is done in the coasts of Orissa, at Marakkanam  on way to Pondy as also in Tuticorin.    When the British took over the administration of Bengal, they too felt its need and traded for salt. Gradually they monopolized Orissa salt all over Bengal. To check smuggling and illegal transportation, they sent armies into Orissa, resulting in the conquest of Orissa in 1803.

Nawanagar was an Indian princely state in the  region of Kathiawar, located on the southern shores of the Gulf of Kutch. It was ruled by the Jadeja dynasty until 1948 when it became a part of newly formed India. The district is now known as Jamnagar.  Its rulers were the mighty  Hindu Rajputs.  From here came the famous cricketer and ruler - Jam Saheb Ranjitsinhji after whom the premier Cricket tournament is named.   

The Rann of Kutch   is a large area of salt marshes that span the border between Pakistan and India. It is located mostly in Gujarat (primarily the Kutch district), India and in some parts of Sindh, Pakistan. It is divided into the Great Rann and Little Rann. The Rann of Kutch covers around 26,000 square kilometres (10,000 square miles).  Many rivers originating in Rajasthan and Gujarat flow into the Rann of Kutch, including the Luni, Bhuki, Bharud, Nara, Kharod, Banas, Saraswati, Rupen, Bambhan, and Machchhu. The surface is generally flat and very close to sea level, and most of the Rann floods annually during the monsoon season. There are areas of sandy higher ground, known as bets or medaks, which lie two to three metres above flood level. Trees and shrubs grow on the bets, and they provide refuges for wildlife during the annual floods.

Kutch literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kutch which is shallow wetland which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word is also used in Sanskrit origin for a tortoise.  The history of Kutch can be traced back to prehistoric times. There are several sites related to the Indus valley civilization in the region. In historic times, Kutch is mentioned in Greek writings during Alexander.  

For three centuries, Kutch was divided and ruled by three different branches of the Jadeja brothers. In the sixteenth century, Kutch was unified under one rule by Rao Khengarji I of these branches, and his direct descendants ruled for two centuries. The state was devastated by an earthquake in 1819. The state stabilized and flourished in business under subsequent rulers. Upon the independence of India in 1947, Kutch acceded unto the dominion of India and was constituted an independent commissionaire. It was made a state within the union of India in 1950. The state witnessed an earthquake in 1956. On 1 November 1956, Kutch State was merged with Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided into the new linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with Kutch becoming part of Gujarat as Kutch district.  

A zebu (Bos indicus or Bos taurus indicus), sometimes known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in South Asia. Zebu are characterised by a fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap, and sometimes drooping ears. They are well adapted to withstanding high temperatures, and are farmed throughout the tropical countries, both as pure zebu and as hybrids with taurine cattle, the other main type of domestic cattle.  

The Kankrej is a classic  Indian breed of zebuine cattle. It originates from the arid region of the Rann of Kutch in the state of Gujarat, and in neighbouring Rajasthan. Under the name Kankaraj, it is also present in Tharparkar District, in Sindh, Pakistan. It is also known by the names Bannai, Nagar, Talabda, Vaghiyar, Wagad, Waged, Vadhiyar, Wadhiar, Wadhir and Wadial.  It is a dual-purpose breed, used both for draught work and for milk production. From about 1870 onwards, Kankrej bulls and cows were exported to Brazil, where they were used to create the Guzerá breed, which was later among the breeds from which the American Brahman developed. The last official census data for the Kankrej population in India dates from 1977, when there were 465 000. In Pakistan, the population was recorded in 2006 at 273 000.

The horns are lyre shaped. The cows are good milkers and bullocks are used for agricultural operations and road transport. The cows yield on an average 1738 kilo grams and a maximum of 1800 Kg of milk in a lactation.  The belle mentioned in the first para is a Kankrej cow of Thiruvallikkeni – some milkman had bought it for a good price from Gujarat and was seen that morning. The photo below  is  a beau seen near Dwaraka, during our visit.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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