Saturday, May 25, 2024





By Avtar Mota 

Published in May 2024

Available …Worldwide on Amazon and Flipkart

Price Rs460/=

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Published Review ( The Daily Excelsior dated 9th June, 2024)







 Excerpt from the essay ,” KALHANA  PANDIT  AND HIS RAJATARANGINI”

 Kalhana writes that the world would be in darkness without the illumining work of the good poet (satkavikrityam andham jagattvam vina) , particularly the deeds of kings would be lost forever were it not for the poet who resurrects, vivifies and embodies their glory. Kalhana gives information about food prices, taxation and sufferings of the people because of flood and famine. He exposes the defects of Kashmir politics, sometimes dominated by greedy soldiers, intriguing priests, rapacious queens, rival ministers and so on. He shows that the petty politics of Kashmir included treachery, intrigues, murder, suicide and strife. Dr Sunil Chander Ray, author of the book “Early History And Culture Of Kashmir” believes that "in spite of historical materials in the early portions of his work, Kalhana's splendour of imagination, depth and range of thought and above all the power of centralizing many talents to a single purpose had given his Rajtarangini a literary immortality" 

Kalhana  had studied the "VikramankaDevaCaritam" of Bilhana, a fellow-poet of his period. He has not at times refrained from quoting his phraseology and style. Another earlier work which he has consulted is Bana's "Harshacharita". It is a well-known fact that this historical record of King Harsha-vardhana of Kanauj enjoyed popularity in Kashmir as Mammata in his Kavyaprakasa has quoted a passage from it.


(2)     Excerpt from the essay ,” ANCIENT MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF KASHMIR “

“Music has been a part of Kashmir’s social life since ancient times. The earliest proof of the popularity of music and dancing in Kashmir is provided by  the archaeology. One can find it in terracotta tiles recovered from Harwan. A tile from Harwan shows three musicians while another shows a dancing girl. The tile showing three musicians also shows a flute , cymbals and a pair of drums . A musician playing on flute is visible on a carved stone of Marttanda Sun Temple.  During every festivity, whether religious or semi-religious or seasonal (sowing, harvesting, spring, and new snowfall), the main item of celebration has been music; vocal and instrumental .The Nilamata Purana makes mention of professional singers and dancers active in ancient Kashmir. The Nilamata Purana also makes mention of  Vadya ,Vaditra  and Vadya Bhanda as the category of  key musical instruments . The Nilamata Purana  makes mention of Anaddha (percussion) and Tantri (string) instruments that were played on certain occasions. One can quote the relevant Slokas from the Nilamata Purana as under:-

(a)     “Singing should be carried  on  and the instruments Anaddha and Tantri  should be played upon ,”…….( Sloka 687-88a)

(b)     “The musical instrument Tantri should be played upon while he is being sent . O descendent of Kasyapa , he must be followed the next day “….( Sloka 690)

If  one reads Vishnudharmottara-Purana,a text popular in ancient Kashmir,one finds mention of Ghana ( cymbal ) ,Vitata ( percussion ) ,Tata ( stringed instruments ) and Susira ( wind instruments ) . The Natya-Shastra, classifies musical instruments into four groups: tata vadya (stringed instrument), sushira vadya (wind instrument), avanaddha vadya (percussion instrument) and  ghana vadya (solid instrument). Every myriad instrument invented since then fits into one of these four timeless categories.”



“The contribution of Kashmiris to the Sanskrit literature of India remains unparalleled .Even the Chitrasutra part of Vishnudharmotrapuran is believed to have been written by some Kashmiri Brahmin .The best commentators on Rasa and Dhvani theory of Natyashastra have been Kashmiris. Sharangadeva , a Kashmiri , left the valley  during the rule of the Lohara Kings . He wrote Sangita- Ratnakara and established himself as one of the most influential medieval-era music theorists of the Indian subcontinent. Dāmodaragupta virtually created a literary genre, by composing the erotic work called the Kuṭṭanīmata-Kavya. In this work, satirical and didactic materials have been mixed. Dāmodaragupta acquired recognition as a poet, which is evinced by the citation of his verses, in works on rhetorics and anthologies. One cannot but be overwhelmed by the fact that almost all the major schools of Indian aesthetics were founded by Kashmiri theoriticians -the Alamkara School by Bhamaha, Riti School by Vamana, Vakrokti School by Kuntaka, Dhvani School by Anandavardhana and Auchitya School by Kshemendra. Patanjali, the commentator of Panini's Astadhyayi (the first treatise on Sanskrit Grammar) was a Kashmiri, and so was Pingala, the author of Pingala Sutra (a treatise on metrics and prosody). There are many remarkable writers of Kashmir who have contributed to scientific subjects like astronomy, medicine, agriculture, architecture, and other arts. For instance, Charaka, the author of a well-known medical treatise, Charaka Samhita, belonged to Kashmir. A comprehensive Sanskrit treatise on Agricultural Science (Krisi Shastra), namely Kasapa-munikathita-Kasyapiya-Krisi-sukti is ascribed to Kashyapa, a well-known sage of Kashmir. The study of Poetics cannot be perfect and complete without a mention of the Kavyaprakasa of Rajanaka Mammata which occupies a unique position in it. That it is both popular and erudite is clear by the numerous references to it by later writers. Śivasvāmin composed the Kapphanabhyudaya, in twenty cantos, another Mahākāvya produced in the land of Kashmir.Poet Jaynayaka, the writer of another text (with a historical description) Prithvirajvijay, was also a Kashmiri Brahmin.He came to Ajmer by obtaining the asylum in the court of Prithviraj Chauhan . Jaynayaka wrote a historical poem titled Prithvirajvijay, where the victory of Prithviraj Chauhan over Muhammad Ghori in the first Battle of Tarain (1191) was celebrated. Jayanayaka portrays Prithviraj as Sri Rama and his wife as Sita.



This is what I B Zutshi writes about the book in his review...



(Published in May 2024)

Author Avtar Mota 

Distribution..Amazon / Flipkart. Worldwide

Price Rs 460/=


Researching into roots of history and civilisation is not every body's cup of tea.

Working on such topics requires hard labour , intense  research,linguistic skills ,  and historical knowledge .

Avtar Mota, a well known blogger, author,photographer and researcher possibly is most suitable person to work on such delicate subjects which deal with cultural and historical  stories  of people and their past . 

One is bound to get trapped in emotions and subjectivity while working on subjects that constitute one's own past. It  goes to the credit of Avtar Mota that he has not allowed himself to get swayed by emotions or lose objectivity . In the alternative , he  has consistently upheld the available historical and other works, that are available on the subject that have been brought into the book under review .

The book remains Authors Magnum opus in the sense that it has not only consumed his five years of  hard labour and  his research faculties but his sensitivities as an author and researcher have been utilised to the full extent.The book  has finally seen the light of the day.

The book exhaustively deals with the routes of Kashmir's civilisational march. These  routed, as per the author remain twined with indic civilisation, to which Kashmir has contributed enormously.

Kashmir has produced many poets, critics, historians, aestheticians, logicians, chemists, musicians, rhetoricians, philosophers, grammarians, translators and Shaiva Darshana scholars right up to the 16th -century. Some among them rose to eminence the world over for their original contribution. We have shining examples of men like Rishi Vasugupta, Abhinavgupta, Khemraja, Utpaldeva, Kshemendra, Bilhana, Kalhana, Somadeva, Sharangadeva, Bhatta Narayana, Jayanta Bhatta, Rajanka Bhatta, Sivaswamin, Srivara, Bhallaṭa, Vamana, Jonaraja, Anandavardhana, Udbhata, Kuntala, Mahima Bhatta, Silhana, Abhinanda Bhatta, Panini,, Charaka, Bhamaha, Rudrata, Kuntaka, Mammaṭa, Dandin, Bhatta Nayaka, Bhatta Tauta, Ruyyaka, Muktakana, Jaynayaka, Damodaragupta, Mukula-Bhatta, Ratnaka, Jayaratha, Shobhakaramitra, Ghantaka, Kirtidhara, Harsata, and many more. 

The Sanskrit poets and scholars  from Kashmir have left nothing untouched for subsequent  poets and scholars . Poetical works covering a wide diversity of themes viz; historical, religious, devotional, didactic, romantic, satirical and even erotic as well as philosophical treatises, expounding the views of a distinct school of Śhaivism that developed in Kashmir, works dealing with poetics and music, anthologies and lexicons, the works of the prolific writer Kṣhemendra, especially the Bṛhatkathāmañjarī and Somadeva’s Kathāsaritsāgara -all these and many other works on diverse topics, touching upon various aspects of human life constitute a rich legacy of which, any part of India may feel proud.

From scrutiny of some ancient texts from Kashmir, one comes to know that ancient temples in Kashmir were not only housing deities but were storehouses of paintings and manuscripts as well. They were the centres for the dissemination of religious thought, literature, music and other arts. When Temples of Avantipura, Vijyeshwara, Kali-Shri, Maha-Shri, Tarapida, Vishnu Ranaswamin, Marttanda, Parihaspura, Bhima-Keshva, Naran-nag, and many more were demolished, many precious manuscripts were also destroyed along with priceless paintings and sculptures. Unfortunately, most of the works of Sanskrit scholars from Kashmir faced neglect from every corner. Many were destroyed during the period of Sultans especially when Sikandar Butshikan put all his energy into the destruction and demolition of Temples of Kashmir.It goes to the credit of many Kashmiri Pandits who saved many manuscripts at their individual levels for many centuries. The European scholars collected them from Kashmiri Pandit households, got them translated and shifted them to museums and libraries for proper custody. 

From the book one comes to know that the Natya-Shastra guidelines have Influenced the sculpture art in ancient Kashmir. So have the Gandhra and Gupta styles influenced Kashmir’s art and sculpture. The Shilpshatra, Vastu-shastra and temple architecture of ancient India influenced the structural style of Kashmirian temples. This is starkly visible 

in the demolished temple structures or ruins or sculptures retrieved from these structures and now lying in the SPS Museum, Srinagar and many other museums within the country and the world over. The Chitrasutra guidelines were also implemented in ancient Kashmiri Paintings. The Bhumishoba ( known as Vyoog in Kashmiri ) and Grihshobha ( known as Krool in Kashmiri ) decorations and paintings of ancient India are still in vogue among the Kashmiri Pandits even in their exile. 

According to Avtar Mota, 'if the contribution of Kashmiri Pandits to the  Sanskrit Literature of the world is removed, more than fifty percent of Sanskrit Literature  of the world will be removed ' .The ancient musical instruments of Kashmir, the sacred water bodies of Kashmir, the sacred trees of Kashmir, the journey of Kashmiri shawls to Europe and Russia, the contribution of Kashmiri artists for the development of Pahari Miniature Art in India, the contribution of Punjabi Khatris towards the development of trade and commerce in Kashmir, Vanvun singing of Kashmiris right from Vedic age and some more engrossing topics constitute the core topics of the book.  The critical assessment of Kalhana's work as poet, historian and narrator is a master  essay in this book. Not only is it  eye-opener , it  also throws bright  light on hitherto unknown facets of Kalhana's creativity. 

The  topics in the book  have been dealt purely from an academician's  and  researcher's point of view.  Those interested in Kashmiri culture and its contribution to the  indic civilisational ethos may find this book Illuminating. Those peddling fake or false narratives need also to read it to know the truth. 

The book is available in india at   http:

( IB Zutshi )

This is what Prof Ratan Parimoo writes about the book

" Congratulations for your great book, "Kashmir: The Crown Jewel of Indic Civilization". It is truly a great book and deserves a larger and impressive format. Lot of wonderful information about Kashmir 's past which will make every Kashmiri feel proud about our rich heritage, establishing integrated relation with Indian culture. Explanation of Tarkhan was very revealing. You have also shown that 'oral history ' and 'racial Memory' are equally valid in academic research. It has indeed been a happy absorbing reading. " .......*Ratan Parimoo


*Prof. Ratan Parimoo is one of India’s leading art historians as well as an accomplished painter and teacher. Beyond his post at M.S. University, Baroda, as a professor of Art History and Aesthetics and the dean of the department for twenty five years, Prof. Parimoo has been shaping modern art discourse in the country since he was a young man. In 1956, he cofounded the Baroda Group of Artists with peers including G.R. Santosh, K.G. Subramanyan, Shanti Dave, N.S. Bendre, and Jyoti Bhatt, to expand on the postcolonial aesthetics piloted in Santiniketan the previous decade and evolve the meaning of contemporary art in India by integrating living traditions with modern techniques.

This is what eminent scholar ,  Dr SS Toshakhani  writes about the book :-

"Received a copy of your brilliantly written book ‘Kashmir: The Crown Jewel of Indic Civilisation’ All the essays are well researched and intellectually stimulating. Feel happy that I have a whole shelf of your books now."


Dr. S. S. Toshakhani is a noted scholar, author , poet and  critic  from Kashmir, known for his extensive contributions to Kashmiri literature and culture. His works often delve into the rich heritage of Kashmir, exploring its literary traditions, historical narratives, and cultural dynamics. Dr. Toshakhani has been influential in preserving and promoting the linguistic and cultural identity of Kashmir through his scholarly writings, research, and educational endeavours.

Saturday, May 18, 2024



Badshah Qalandhar . "Aao Bade Prem Se " 

He was a saintly person, affectionate and a Mastana . He was the trusted  disciple of Swami Hare Krishna of Benaras . Together with Swami Hare Krishna ,   Qalandhar Badshah  had undertaken many   pilgrimages within the country   . He also visited Nepal with Swami Ji.  Swami Hare Krishna  had a permanent Kutiya inside Sri Ram Chandra Ji Temple , Sathu Barbarshah. Swami Ji had many devotees in Kashmir more particularly from  Rainawari . Swami Ji attained Nirvana while performing Nav-Durga  Homa at Nagbal Anantnag in  October 1975. He was cremated in Srinagar .

Qalandhar Badshah   had built an Ashram in Paloura Jammu after 1990 where all were welcome irrespective of caste creed ,colour or religion .

" Aao bade Prem Se " 

He would welcome every person with this opening sentence that always brought a smile on his face. No Person was  allowed to  leave without food ." Khao bade Prem se " was another sentence that he would say smilingly when people sat to eat Prasada at his Ashram. My maternal uncle, Pandit Janki Nath Tikoo has taken me twice to his Paloura Ashram where I also had the Prasada and heard him say, " Koyi chinta nahin beanther( sister's son ) ,  khaao bade Prem se " . Every year in the month of May, his devotees perform a Homa and Satsang on his annual Nirvana Diwas .

Sadgati and Moksha to the pious soul...

( Avtar Mota )

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Monday, May 13, 2024



( Photos..Top... The Gangbal Lake below Harmukh.. Below ..The twin peaks of Harmukh ) 


Harmukh Peak above the Gangbal Lake has always been considered the abode of Shiva in Kashmir and a sacred mountain by Kashmiri Pandits . It is also known as 'Kailash of Kashmir'. According to the legend, the "Hurmukhuk Gosoni ", a hermit tried to reach the summit of Harmukh to see Shiva face to face. I quote from page 25 Volume I English translation of  the Nilmata Purana by erudite Sanskrit scholar Dr Ved Kumari Ghai:-

"Harmukuta or Harmunda is identified with Harmukh Peaks to the North of Kashmir . About 17000 feet in height , these peaks are surrounded by massive glaciers . The lake Uttarmanasa( Gangbal )  which is believed to be the source of Kashmiri Ganga , lies at the foot of the north- eastern glaciers of Harmukuta and the Tirthas of Nandikeshtra and Bhuteshwara are near it."

Kashmir 's tallest Sufi poet Shams Faqir says this :-

"Shams Faqir chhuya par tseun ye,
Chhuss na  dogun patah bronh kaanh,
Yee sar gom tee me vonuye ,
Harmokh su non ye draav "

( Shams Faqir is cut of from this world,
He has none as his companion.
None ahead of him and none behind ,
So whatever he feels, he conveys ,
" The lord is clearly visible at Harmukh Peak "

 It is believed that the Shiva Sutras were revealed to Rishi Vasugupta below the Mahadeva mountain  in the  Kashmir valley. Accordingly, Mahadev mountain is also considered sacred by Kashmiri Pandits . Mahadev is the highest peak of the Zabarwan range. Overlooking Srinagar city , it is  situated at an altitude of 13000 feet.

In Srinagar city, one finds two hills considered sacred to this day; the Gopadari known as Shankaracharya ( the abode of Shiva ) and the Hari Parbat ( the abode of Sharika goddess). The Bhadrakal hill in the Rajwar forest range near Handwara (Kashmir) has also been considered sacred since ancient times on account of the location of the Bhadrakali Temple. The temple finds mention in Kalhana’s  Rajatarangini and Aurel Stein visited the place and recorded the existence of a fresh water spring near the temple. Grdhrakuta and Indrakila, the two important mountain peaks of  Kashmir  that  find mentioned in the Nilamata Purana :-

“ By climbing Grdhrakuta and Indrakila, one gets the merit (the  gift ) of one thousand cows .”..( Sloka 1276-77 )

 The Nilamata Purana mentions that by a mere sight of Gauri-Shikhara (Gauri’s peak in West Kashmir  ), one obtains the calmness and serenity of the moon. It also says that going up to the source of the  Sindhu River in the Kashmir valley, one gets the merit of performing Rajasuya. The source of the Sindhu River lies in Machoi Glacier at an elevation of 4800 metres, East of Amarnath Cave to the South of Zojila Pass. The Nilamata Purana also mentions sacred Nandiparvata which can be identified with the glaciers feeding Nundkol or Kalodaka.  Bharatagiri mentioned in the Nilamata  Purana is the high ridge to the south-west of Harmukh or Harmukuta peak. The Nilamata Purana and the Rajatarangini also mention the sacred  Amreshwara  mountain  which is the snowy peaks of the Holy Amarnath cave. The sacred  Vaisravana  mountain mentioned in the Nilamata Purana and Rajatarangini is the Vastarvan mountain near Khrew in the Kashmir valley. The Nilamata Purana also mentions the sacred  Naubandhana peak below which lies the Kaundinyasara Lake ( Kounser-nag )  or the abode of Vishnu.

Tatakooti or Tatakuti Peak is another highest mountain in the Pirpanjal range located at an altitude of 15,560 feet  . During ancient periods, the mountain was associated with Lord Shiva . On account of difficult route, no regular Yatra was performed by Kashmiri Pandits . Dr Ernest Neve reached the summit of Tatakooti in 1901 .  It stands on the border of Budgam and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir.This is still a virgin peak challenging adventurers with crystal clear water, the alpine lakes viz; Sukhsar, Neelsar, Bhagsar, Nandansar and  some more . .Being the highest peak in the Pir Panjal range , many elders say that before 1947, the peak could be seen even from Lahore on a clear day. Hindus would bow to it from distance considering it to be the abode of Lord Shiva.

( Avtar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Sunday, May 5, 2024


    ( The Passing Away of Shahjahan ) 
                ( Late Night  Musicians )
                           ( Birth of Sri Krishna )
                                    (A portrait ) 
                               (A portrait )
                      ( Siva-Simantini.)
( A portrait)
                               ( Bharat Mata )


Abanindranath Tagore was an Indian artist and writer who lived from 1871 to 1951. Tagore was the first Indian artist to garner worldwide recognition and is often referred to as one of the  pioneers of modern  art in India .He founded the principles which formed the Bengal school of art.

Tagore was born in Calcutta to a wealthy and distinguished family. His uncle was the noted Indian poet, musician, artist, and Nobel Prize recipient, Rabindranath Tagore. Both his brother and grandfather were also artists. Tagore began his formal art education when he was just 11 years old at Sanskrit College. When he turned 20 in 1890, he left Sanskrit College to continue his education at the Calcutta School of Art.

In the early years of the century Abanindranath met the famous Japanese artist  Okakura. Okakura taught the Japanese style and forms to him.  In 1903 Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunso visited Calcutta where they interacted with Abanindranath.Taikan taught Abanindranath how to wield the brush with a light touch and of the evocative powers of gestures. He also learnt the Japanese ink painting.  Tagore’s signature “wash technique” is the defining characteristic of the Bengal School approach. With this training, Abanindranath, the painter was established as the creator of a new national vocabulary in art and he helped to regenerate the decadent art and aesthetic scene in India. The Indian Society of Oriental Art was established to promote the Abanindranath-style on the national plane. It was his brush, which first gave convincing proof that the Indian artist had his own contribution to make to the world of painting.His most famous paintings like, The Passing of Shah Jahan, Bharat Mata, Radha Krishna, Birth of Sri Krishna ,Shiva Simtanini  and Omar Khayyam were legendary artworks that not only attracted an international audience but also helped Indians to appreciate their cultural heritage.His close students included Nandalal Bose, Samarendranath Gupta, Kshitindranath Majumdar, AR Chugtai , Surendranath Ganguly, Asit Kumar Haldar, Sarada Ukil, Kalipada Ghoshal , Manishi Dey, Mukul Dey, K. Venkatappa and Ranada Ukil. One can clearly see  Abanindranath's influence in works of Nand Lal Bose and Chugtai.

About his captivating Siva-Simantini,Prof. Rattan Parimoo , eminent artist ,art historian and art critic  says this :- 
"The eyes are half-closed, the upper eyelid is drooping just as in the contemplative faces of the Sarnath Buddha of the Gupta period [. The eyebrows are arched, the slightly pouting lips are pink .The entire face is oval, from the right hand contour of which emanates Uma's wavy hair. She is holding the Shaivite attribute of Naga in her right hand, who has her necklace in its mouth, an activity at which her downcast eyes are glancing. As a result, what could have been just a dead pan face, has been rendered quite lively. The white form over her forehead could be the moon,another Shaivite attribute. Havell had referred to this painting as Siva-Simantini (Siva and the Lady) complimenting Abanindranath for treating Hindu mythology with the imagination and fervor of the great Chola artists. " 

Abanindranath Tagore created Bharat Mata amid the fervor of the anti-colonial Swadeshi movement in Bengal, with an awareness that the image would be used to galvanize early support for anti-colonial resistance . The painting was  originally conceived by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay as “Banga Mata”. It depicts the nationalist icon of the stature of the Goddess, yet it is distinct from any known deity of the Hindu pantheon.Tagore’s Bharat Mata is important both for giving early visual form to this salient political icon and for the ideas the work proffered, on the whole, for the direction of modern art in South Asia. Rising anti-colonial sentiments in the late 19th century had produced a series of debates around the nature and origins of Indian aesthetics.

Abanindranath was with Gurudev Tagore when he visited Kashmir in 1915. Gurudev also helped his nephew Abanindranath Tagore to paint some views in Kashmir ,  especially the paintings depicting Ashoka sitting atop Shankaracharya hill and looking at Hariparbat, Shahjajan in Shalimar garden during night, Chashm e Shahi garden, Nishat garden, Nasim Bagh and some more.  With these paintings and the Balaka series of poems of Gurudev Tagore (written in Kashmir)  ,  Kashmir in different colour was showcased to the Bengali elite for the first time. 

( Avtar Mota )

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024




I vividly remenber my sisters going to Zeethyaar  ( the ancient Zeashta Devi Temple )   in late spring  season   and bringing some  Gordouls with them . They would  pluck this stuff   from trees in the adjoining forest   .Mother would cook them with potatoes , leesa and other green vegetables . Mouthwatering   . Kashmiris used Gordoul as appetiser. 

Gordoul....Not Allu Bukhara as such but a hard and sour variety of it that was excellent for chutneys and cooked  with vegetables . Known as green sour plum, Gordoul entered  a phrase status in Kashmiri language ," Kahan painsan peyam Gordael paav" means to pay heavily for something which is otherwise free.

Packed with vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants, green plums offer multiple benefits.In the US , I was told this :-

"Since it is high in potassium, it serves as one of the prophylactic means for the heart diseases. Green sour plums positively influence our nervous system. It has calming, relaxative effect.This fruit is not only good for health, but also for the skin and hair." 

I was also told that people from  Iran and Turkey put this fruit to many uses .Green sour plums are known by various names around the world—goje sabz in Iran, janerik or jarareng in Lebanon, erik in Turkey, mei in China, and ume in Japan.

( Avtar Mota )

Creative Commons License
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.