The Meluha

It was mesmerizing. The beige white ground spread in front of our eyes, small mounds rising on the horizon and millions of brick red pottery shards strewn across till horizon ! The shards were more than precious. Priceless actually because this was the earthen connection to our past, of not a few centuries but a millennia…

Kala Bhoomi – The Soul of Utkala

‘Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha Dravida, Utkala, Banga’ When Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore composed India’s national anthem he preferred the name Utkala, instead of Orissa, the anglicized name of Odisha or Kalinga, an ancient kingdom from the times of Ashoka. An art connoisseur and an artist himself, Tagore’s choice indicates his appreciation for Odisha’s unique art and…

Hire Benekal – India’s Megalithic Metropolis

1975…a small village of Lanjia Saoras in highlands of South Odisha! Ononti, a young woman Shaman starts to sing in parallel couplet in archaic Saora language, repeating each line but changing one word at a time to enrich the meaning!! Argalgalsi yuyunji                      bolongsi goden Argalgalsi yuyunji                      banardub goden…. She is calling the female shamans who…

Ekamra Walks: Unplugging History

Cities represent mini civilizations. If civilizations are part of the evolutionary chronicles of human settlements, cities in the miniature format represent a broad canvas, on which the civilization and its cultural effects are painted in the form of historical structures, monuments and the other remains of these vestiges, which, ultimately gives the prototype signature to…

Kulpak Ji – An Ancient Derasar in Telangana

The ramparts sketching a thick line in the distance told us that we were somewhere in the vicinity of Bhongir Fort on the outskirts of Hyderabad in Telangana. Sheer steps hewn out of basalt on one among the innumerable boulders scattered along the timeless landscape of Deccan Plateau seemed both difficult yet alluring. But our…

Kaman Pandigai

Lovely blossoming mango flowers are his lovely arrows,                                Kinsuka is the bow and black bees its string.                                Bright moon is his imperial canopy,                                And the spring breeze is mighty elephant.                                Cuckoos sing like minstrels,                                Behold !…

Theyyam – God’s Own Dance

2 am is not exactly a time when people are expected to stay awake let alone dance or perform a divine ritual. But then Theyyam is unlike any dance or worship ritual ever experienced. It is the dance of the Gods themselves when they come calling on the people. A disambiguation of the Sanskrit word…

Finding Shravasti (Sāvatthī)

While growing up I often heard recitations of the poem Bonolota Sen, written by Jibonananda Das in 1942. In this poem, the poet beautifully describes his muse, painting her with various attributes from ancient India. One of the most enigmatic poems that I have read, the words cut deep into the reader’s soul as he…

Karkala – On a Jaina Trail in Karnataka

On a full moon night of Kartik month, Chandragupta Maurya saw 16 dreams that left him disturbed and he sought the advice of his spiritual teacher, Acharya Bhadrabahu. The Acharya was the last Shruta Kevalin (all knowing by hearsay) of Jainism before it split into two sects. In one of the 16 dreams, Chandragupta saw…

Travel Shot – Cheriyal Art of Telangana

It was that time of the evening when all had gathered to listen to stories. The stories of ancestors beyond what granny knew or could remember, stories of heroes that made them proud, stories that they would sleep with and dream about. Today, the Kunapulis were coming to perform Markandeya Puranam for the Padmasalis and…