The ‘Kazaridaru’ Of Meiji Jingu

Lining either side of the path leading to the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo, are neatly arranged stacks of wine barrels. These (empty) decorative sake containers known as Kazaridaru, commemorate the sake houses – represented by the National Sake Brewers Association – that supply the shrine (s) with Omiki or sacred ritual wine, an essential component of Shinto purification rituals. The offering […]

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The Ruins Of Mehrauli

Jamali Kamali, Mehrauli arcaeological park, Delhi

Delhi’s architectural vestiges, the remains of its seven original cities, represent its complex and convoluted history. The spectacular rise of empires and the disasters and conflicts that led to their fall, writ large on every crumbling stone.. Mehrauli is the second of the seven cities, built around 1206AD by Qutub ud din Aibak, a former slave and general of Mohammed Ghori, who […]

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The Magen David In Kolkata

With the dwindling number of Jews in Calcutta – just over 20 by last count –  unable to summon up the minyan, or the requisite ten men to hold a service, their shuttered places of worship stand mute witness to the once fabled diversity of their adopted land. They arrived in search of better prospects to a thriving metropolis. Their descendants opted out […]

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The Historical Government House Of Takayama

If you have ever been captivated by tales of fierce samurai and feudal warlords, you will love Takayama. Hida-Takayama is said to be one of few cities in Japan to retain its medieval character, particularly in the timber architecture of the old town that dates back to the Edo* era (1603 -1868). A period when the fragmented country transitioned from turbulence under warring chieftains to […]

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A Tryst With Divine Spirits!

Bhuta Kola in Mangalore

The literal meaning of Bhuta in Tulu – my mother tongue and also the predominant language of South Kanara district in coastal Karnataka – is ghost. But the Bhutas of the ritual worship called Bhuta Kola that take place annually in ancestral homes across the region are not the restless spectres the word conjures up. They are divinities…deified […]

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Sarnath – Where The Wheel Of Dharma Was Set In Motion

Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath

She sat motionless facing the stupa, dwarfed by its gigantic proportions. The scaffolding encircling the sacred structure providing a symbolic barrier against the world outside its perimeter. Her stillness and focus was fascinating. It magnified the contrast between this tranquil, spiritual retreat and the seething drama of life and death on the ghats of Varanasi, […]

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Delving Into Delirium!

Getting to Chandni Chowk, for our tour with Delhi Heritage Walks was hard work that Monday afternoon. First a purported three minute walk to the subway station ended up being ten, I am guessing, because we neglected to specify the name of the station. Once there (Janpat), we found every ticket vending machine out of order, […]

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The Temple Of Pure Water

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A grand viewing deck to commune with nature. That is the principal attraction of Kiyomizu-dera (Clear Water Temple), a Buddhist shrine near Kyoto, founded in 798 AD, whose main hall is dedicated to the eleven headed, thousand armed Bodhisattva. Highly venerated for its wish granting abilities, and brought out for public viewing only a few times a […]

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The Elitist Cemetery Of Recoleta

Francisco Gómez family vault, Recoleta

At the end of calle Junin, behind a restored neoclassical portal supported by four tall Doric columns, is the repository of the collective history, heritage and memories of the city of Buenos Aires. The last landscape of its founding fathers. A city of the dead. Built in 1822 in the garden appropriated from the monks of the Order […]

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The Incredible Destiny Of Mirza Ghiyas Beg!

R & I have had many turning points in our lives. Those serendipitous moments when things could so easily have gone the other way.  And we have often argued over whether these were mere co-incidences or karmic interventions. R believes in hard work and sagacity. I do too. I really do. But I am too much of a romantic to […]

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The Serpent Guardians Of Indo China

Angkor Naga

Veneration of animals as symbols of powerful cosmic forces, far predated the advent of organised religion. The worship of serpents seems the most prominent and widespread among these animist beliefs, with evidence to suggest its practice across ancient civilizations ranging from the Hopi Indian tribes and Mayans in the Americas, to those in Egypt, India, […]

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