Kakatiya Dynasty – An Architectural Sojourn

“Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritages are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.” ~ UNESCO As I sat down to read the books and various journals that I had bookmarked in order to write on…

Bikaner – Town Of A Thousand Splendid Mansions

 Way back in 1990s, when I first heard about the magnificence of Havelis or traditional Indian mansions of Bikaner  I  nourished a subtle desire to visit in person and appreciate the impressive architecture of the Havelis. The newspaper feature articles that used to appear in the intervening period until my first visit to Bikaner circa 2000…

Water Heritage of Jodhpur – Then and Now

Ranisar, Padamsar Ote, Vyapari Gaya Tote If Ranisar and Padamsar overflow, the market rates will fall as there will be good rainfall and bumper crop and the hoarders and money-lenders will be put to loss  An old saying in Jodhpur Jodhpur, Rajasthan’s second largest city and the cultural capital of Marwar is a jewel in…

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…

Gol Gumbaz – The Triumph of Deccani Architecture

If Taj Mahal is India’s most admired artistic tomb, then the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur that houses the grave of Muhammad Adil Shah is technologically the most advanced tomb of Medieval India. I have been to Gol Gumbaz twice before and each time there was something to be surprised about. The View of Gol Gumbaz…

Travel Shot : Dargah E Hakimi

“Bharde jholi meri Ya Mohammad, laut kar main na jaunga khaali” Who can forget the hesitant Bajrangi Bhaijaan going to a dargah as a last resort with a lament that is voiced soulfully by Adnan Sami in the form of the above qawwali. His request is heeded and things fall into place. This is the…

Himalayan Temples – A Himachali Sojourn

Growing up in Darjeeling and Kolkata, and being a regular visitor to the neighbouring state of Sikkim, as a child I invariably associated the Himalayas with gaily painted Buddhist monasteries or gompas, fluttering colourful flags that kept away evil spirits, and maroon robed monks. It was much later when I travelled to Uttarakhand and Himachal…

Dhar – History in Layers

Chandragupta Vikramaditya, the king of Ujjain, was well-known for his bravery, intelligence and his keen sense of judgement. One day, Indra, the king of Gods arranged a dance competition between two of his favourite apsaras, Urvashi and Rambha and invited Vikramaditya to judge the event. Vikramaditya gave a bunch of flowers each to both Urvashi…

Mumbai – A Short History

Is this a fantasyland, a land where money grows on trees? Or maybe it is just a throbbing vein that attracts too many blood cells from all over. Be it the fish eating Konkanis, the carol singing Goan Christians or be it the Banias from the north, there is room for everybody. This is Mumbai. To an…

Chhau: A Folk Performance of Eastern India

Indian theatrical tradition goes back to antiquity and is deeply rooted within local culture and consciousness. Therefore, it has its own uniqueness and structure that is truly eastern in its orientation.  The theatrical traditions of India are divided into  Loka dharmi (the popular), the folk, which includes Nautanki of Punjab and Swang of Himachal Pradesh…

Travel Shot : Mandu – On A Road Less Traveled

Once upon a time there was a king named Baz Bahadur. He was the last independent Sultan of Malwa.  During one of his hunting trips, Baz Bahadur chanced upon Roopmati, a divinely beautiful shepherdess, frolicking and singing with her friends. Being a great lover of music, he was bowled by Roopmati’s melodious voice. It was…