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…

Jawai – Where Leopards are Locals

‘We went to India not only to observe the changes that had occurred since my former visit, 23 years ago, at the conclusion of our Philippine war, but also to visit places of interest, see something of the military air and ground forms, visit some old friends and acquaintances and then have a good tiger…

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…

Datia Palace – Of Friendship, Mystery and Inspiration

The Delhi Durbar of 1911 was a major turning point in Indian urban history as it was during this event that the decision to shift the capital of Imperial India was taken. With Delhi now being crowned the capital, it was decided that a ‘New’ Delhi would be developed with sprawling avenues and majestic buildings….

Hill Forts of Jaipur – Jewels of Aravali

‘The duality in the Rajput character was really astonishing. On the one hand he was a grim warrior, forever ready to draw his sword taking the cruelty, horror and pain of war in his stride. On the other hand he was gentle, warm in his hospitality, a lover of music and dance, and kind 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…

Hunting and its Depiction in Indian Art – A Journey through Time

  Rama would not have had to go to the forest if King Dasharatha had not killed Shravankumar accidentally while hunting and cursed by his blind parents to die of Putrashoka. Mahabharatha probably would have been narrated differently if Pandu had not killed Rishi Kindama while hunting. He was cursed and so had to step down…

Tale of Three Baolis

Baolis, or baoris, or vavs, or step-wells, are underground water sources that have been popular in India for a long time, especially in the dry areas of this subcontinent. These step-wells generally consisted of two parts, a rectangular tank or kund, and a circular well that extended down to reach the water table. The well provided…

Splendours of Orchha – Myths and Realities

A popular story goes – In the remote history Virabhadra was the King of Kashi. One of his sons was Jagdas. After being denied a share in Kashi kingdom, Jagadas came to the shrine of Goddess Vindhyavasini and engaged in a long tapasya to seek her blessings. After failing to evoke response, he decided to…

Bhils of Aravali – A Socio-Anthropological Journey

The civilisation of India has been of complex order throughout its history. Most of its geographical regions are known to have played as corridors for exchanging ideas and adopting to new faiths. While some of these corridors changed forever for urbanisation and centres of power, the rest remained slightly aloof, mainly because of their difficult…

Bundi Paintings from an Artist’s Perspective

Between 16th and 19th centuries AD, the Rajput courts in Rajasthan and Central India had patronized miniature paintings and wall murals of mythological and court themes in an epic scale. Though many of them have faded with the ravage of time, yet whatever are left constitute an integral aspect of South Asia’s visual history and…

Bundi Fort – A Confluence of Ideas

In Southeastern Rajasthan, on the lap of Aravali lies Bundi, a picturesque Rajput fortified town. The territory was settled in the 13th and 14th centuries AD by Hada Rajputs, a sub-group of Chauhan Dynasty that migrated from Nadol in Pali District following its defeat by Qutb-ud-Din Aibak in 1197 AD. Till 16th Century, there was…