Thanjavur – The Forgotten Cenotaphs

Raja Gori, also known as Kailasa Mahal, is a complex of Maratha era funerary temples in Thanjavur. Possibly the only one of its kind in Tamilandu. A place few outsiders visit and that even some local guides are unaware of.

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Thanjavur – Sublime Chola Heritage

I am not a temple goer.  I find the energy and fervour and the attendant din of a crowded temple distracting. Rare visits on special occasions are more nostalgic concessions to tradition, rather than opportunities for communion with God. But the vibe at each of the three temples that constitute the UNESCO inscribed ‘Great Living Chola Temple‘ ensemble was different. And visiting…

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An Amble Through A Storied Park – Lodhi Gardens

If there is one thing I envy Delhi-ites, it is the green oasis of Lodhi Gardens. Over ninety acres of unexpected tranquility to escape the gridlocked delirium of their capital city. The landscaping would be easy enough to replicate elsewhere in India (who am I kidding!). But it is the historic ambience, those omnipresent vestiges of Delhi’s storied past, that make…

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In Photos – The Pagoda Fields Of Bagan

Bagan has always been synonymous with Burma for me. The vivid imagery of hundreds of mystical pagodas rising out of vast misty plains or silhouetted against a gloriously golden sky has beckoned me for as long as I can remember. The reality however was unexpectedly mixed. The temples are stunning from afar. Close up, the mystique gets eroded somewhat, and you begin to understand why a…

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Myanmar – The Shared Destinies Of Two Illfated Kings

This is a riches to rags story. Of the journey of the King of Delhi from his jewel encrusted chambers in the Red Fort to a tiny tenement in the by-lanes of Rangoon. Replicated, just twenty seven years later, by the ouster of the occupant of the exquisite Glass Palace in Mandalay and his exile to modest lodgings in…

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The Clay Horses Of Ayyanar

Growing up in a small town joint-family with an incessant stream of visiting grand aunts and uncles fed my fascination for mythology, and left me with a fair knowledge of the Hindu pantheon and the stories they inhabit. But the blue skinned equestrian ‘God’ sticking out of the pile of polished antiques was unlike any I had seen before. His swarthy complexion had me mistaking…

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Chettinad – The Mansions Of Merchant Princes

Karaikudi, in the Southern Tamil hinterland, is a three hour bumpy ride from the nearest airport in Madurai*. There is no hint in the barren nondescript landscape of the immense wealth amassed by its renowned residents until we turn a sharp corner and come upon one crumbling mansion after another. Cloaked in neglect. Bereft of life. Sad sentinels to the affluence and…

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The Marvellous Mosaic Map Of Madaba

It is quite remarkable how an accidental archaeological discovery can catapult an obscure little town into the world map. The discovery in question is a map in fact, that is eponymous with the Jordanian town of Madaba: once a biblical fortress of the Moabite kingdom, about which there is limited historical mention in the Bible or elsewhere. It has been surmised from inscriptions…

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TheTwin Fishes Of Ayodhya

This story begins with a legend. From a 13th century Korean chronicle – Karak Sam Kuk Yusa – of the emergence of six princes from a clutch of golden eggs, descended from the heavens in a gilded casket wrapped in red silk. The princes miraculously attain adulthood within twelve days. Suro – the eldest – is crowned first king of the Kara dynasty and ruler of Geumgwan…

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