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…

Sri Surya Pahar: Riddles of an Unwritten Past

The very mention of Sri Surya Pahar generally evokes a sense of doubt and confusion. Most people are unaware of it and even those who know the name find it hard to locate it on a map. The fact that it is one of the oldest and largest archaeological sites providing a vital clue to…

Turtuk – Living On The Edge

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page-” thus spake the Augustine of Hippo; and since I am a voracious reader, I decided to read a few more pages this year. This reading took me up the long, winding roads of the greater Himalayas, and I found myself wandering in the ‘land…

Mandapeshwar Caves – Isolated Remains Of A Tumultuous Past

4 kms in an hour. My bike can go faster but not the rush hour traffic and crowd of Swami Vivekanand Road in Borivali. Does not matter if its a sunday today for in Mumbai every waking hour is a rush hour. Exhausted but finally in front of Mandapeshwar caves. How I wish I could go back…

Pashupata Cult and the Ancient Temples of Bhubaneshwar

During 1980s, I visited Bhubaneswar regularly and as a child one thing that always fascinated me were its numerous Shiva temples. Richly adorned with sculptures of Hindu divinities, mythical beasts, foliage and ordinary men and women, the child in me wondered why there were so many temples dedicated to a single deity? As I grew…

Ajanta – India’s First Renaissance

One of the most famous disciples of Gautama Buddha during his lifetime was King Bimbisara. He invited Gautama Buddha and his Sangha members for a meal at his royal court – the Rajagriha. While having dinner, sitting next to Gautama Buddha, the King wondered: ‘Where could I find a place for the Blessed One to…

Betwa – Flowing in the Heart of India

In the annals of Indian history, rivers occupy a special place. Revered as deities by Hindus, rivers mobilized resources, ideas and agricultural wealth. If there is something that strongly characterizes the idea of India, it is her endless river system. The very name ‘India’ or ‘Hind’ has been derived from the river Indus, first cited…

Buddhist Weavers of Maniabandha – A Confluence of Ideas

One of India’s greatest gifts to the world of ideas is Buddhism, a religion that was propounded by Gautama Buddha in the middle of 1st millennium BCE, on the principles of compassion and detachment. Odisha, lying on the east coast of India had been a major centre of Buddhism right from the time of Buddha….

Sanchi Panels – An Art Studio driven by Common People

In the middle of 3rd century BC, India had gone through a traumatic event, the Kalinga War, but its consequence had far positive reaching. The Kalinga War transformed Ashoka from being a cruel king to a man of compassion, and an ardent follower of Buddhism. Till then Buddhism had spread its wings to the whole…