Saturday, October 07, 2006

Speaking of cattle

[Inspired by a bullock-cart sighting at Flora Fountain - see previous post]

The long-legged white-grey bullocks you see in Mumbai are variants of the Hallikar breed. Hallikars or Amrit Mahals were originally military animals, used in Tipu Sultan's army to pull his gun carriages and other army equipage. They were popular because of their stamina, and were reputed to be able to march nearly 50 miles in a day. Hallikars are bred by families which have specialised in them over several generations.
Another long-legged bullock is the Khillar, India's "horse among cattle". Khillars are racing bullocks, and are also used in Maharashtra's sugarcane fields.
But of India's 26 indigenous breeds of cattle, the Ongole and the Kankrej seem the most interesting to me.
The Ongole, for it's roots in mythology - The Ongole has inspired several statues of Lord Shiva's bull Nandi. Here is a picture of an Ongole bull, so you can see what I mean. See the short stumpy horns, the broad face, the ears and the body shape?

And I like the Kankrej for historical reasons - because the Kankrej, a hardy breed from Gujarat, features in the Harappan seal of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

If you ever go to the Prince of Wales Museum near the Gateway of India, don't miss their Indus Valley Civilisation exhibit.

- Deepa

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