Saturday, February 28, 2015

Indian Museum, Kolkata

When I first announced my intention of going to Kolkata, Sudha said, “Whatever you do, don’t miss the Indian Museum!” I must confess that, till then, I hadn’t heard of the Indian Museum. I knew there were many museums in Kolkata, and I had every intention of seeing as many as I could, but why specifically the Indian Museum? “Because it was the first museum in India” she replied, “and this is the museum where all discoveries from various excavations were first brought, and later on, given to other museums.” That settled it. I didn’t need any more reasons to be convinced. 


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: The Guardians of the Halahala; The Vikramaditya Trilogy, Book 1

I am posting a book review on the blog after quite a long time. This book was sent to me for review by the author, whose Karachi Deception I reviewed earlier, and though I read it at once, the review took some time to write, due to various personal commitments. I am, sort-of rusty with my reviews now, so I just hope I have done justice to the book!





Monday, February 23, 2015

Kochi and Around... A Compilation of my posts

Our trip to Kochi last May was all about firsts – the first church established in India, the first European church built in India, the first European Fort built in India, the first Jewish Synagogue to be built in India, and the first mosque built in India. The place also has a lot of ancient temples, certainly older than all these monuments, but we couldn’t visit the temples on the trip due to various reasons. Those are for another trip. However, now that I have finished writing all about the places we visited, it is time to wind up the series, putting it together in one post for your easy reference, if you are planning a trip to Kochi…



Sunday, February 22, 2015

St. Thomas in Kochi

The landmark for our homestay in Fort Kochi was the Marthoma Church. In spite of multiple visits to Kerala, this was the first time I had heard the name, and on asking, was told that the word Marthoma referred to a sect of Christians, the followers of St. Thomas. Over the next few days, as we explored Kochi and its heritage, St.Thomas seemed to pop up everywhere. He had arrived in India, bringing the word of Christ, eager to spread the gospel, in Muziris, present day Kodungallur.

St. Thomas arriving in India, depicted as a mural in the St. Thomas Pontifical Shrine

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kottapuram Fort and some thoughts on Archaeology in India today

Huge plastic sheets cover everything in sight, giving us just sneak peeks into what was once a mighty fort. It isn’t a very impressive sight, and, for the first time, I question my choice to visit a site where archaeological excavations are still going on. But wait. If the excavations are still on, where are the digs? Why is everything covered? The only people in sight are laying new paving stones along the path leading from the road. Are we in the right place after all? We had found ourselves at the site of the ancient Kottapuram (Cranganore / Kodungallur) Fort after much searching and asking for directions, and the smirk on our driver’s face as we wandered around seems to say “I told you so. There isn’t anything to see here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pallipuram Fort & Church - of Legends and History

Built by the Portuguese, captured by the Dutch, sold to the Travancore Rajah, and saved by divine intervention, this Fort has scores of tales to tell, if only its stones could speak! By the way, this is also believed to be the oldest European monument in India! This is the Pallipuram fort, located on Vypin Island near Fort Kochi.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Sirpur Experience

I was in Gangtok when I received an invite to the Sirpur Music and Dance Festival from the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go, but asked for some time, so I could get back to Mumbai and check if I could manage to get away for the three days. Eventually, things worked out, and I set off, happy to be visiting a new state, wondering what the experience would be like.


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) 2015

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival is something I look forward to, year after year. In 16 years, the festival has grown, from a few art displays and events on Rampart Row to a 9 day fest, with 450 events, spread out across 11 venues. As I walk down the crowded lanes jostling with people eager to click a ‘selfie’ with every display, I can’t but help contrast the scene with the early years of the fest. Then, a few ‘arty types’ attended the event, and discussed knowledgeably about the displays, while students like me who knew little about art wandered around, trying to make sense of what the artist intended us to see. We were eager to be a part of the fest, mostly because this was the first such event in Mumbai. Though, over the years, the art and event scene in Mumbai has improved, the KGAF still holds its own, in variety, as well as accessibility; which is why massive crowds throng the venues, day after day. With my intense aversion to crowds, the only way I have managed to enjoy the fest in recent years, is by turning up on weekday mornings, before the rush sets in, which means that I miss out on many events and walks, since of course, I can’t spend the whole day there! However, since I am happiest walking around the visual art displays, I can’t really complain. Here then, is the Kala Ghoda Art Festival (KGAF) 2015, through my lens….


The Kala Ghoda!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sirpur - Heritage Unearthed

Long, long ago, there was a city on the banks of a river. The builders planned it well. They built on the right side of the river, allowing for the natural slopes, which ensured that when the river swelled during the monsoons, the extra flow would be to its left, leaving the city dry. The main walls of the town were built in a direction along the river, so that in case there ever was a flood, it would do the least damage. They built massive temples for their deities, towering over the city, so everyone could see the spires, and hear the bells from their houses.

Surang Tila

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Journey along the Cauvery

Taking a break from my regular posts, I am sharing today an article that was published in Rail Bandhu a while back, titled - A Hymn called the Cauvery



We stand atop the mountain, and peer into a tank. Around us are the lush green mountains of the Western Ghats, and, it seems apt that a river as holy as the Cauvery should originate here, in the Brahmagiri Ranges of Coorg, Karnataka. She bubbles forth as a spring, in this tank, during the monsoon months, and then flows down as a river from the foothills, giving the place its name -‘Talacauvery’. It is at these foothills, at Bhagamandala, that we first see her as a river, and this is also where she meets the first of her many sisters. Here, she merges with the mountain stream Kannike, and the invisible (and maybe mythical) Sujyothi, to form the Cauvery, as we know her. A temple at Bhagamandala enshrines both, Vishnu and Shiva, and the Cauvery, when she is in full flow, washes the steps of the temple, as if paying obeisance to them both.

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