The Mausoleum Of Akbar The Great

It is ironic that of the millions of visitors who flock to the grave of Mumtaz Mahal in Agra, few spare time to pay respects to her grand father-in-law, the third and greatest emperor of the Mughal empire in India: Jalaludin Mohammed Akbar (The Great).  Akbar’s story is as remarkable as the man. Born in 1542 of Shia and…

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Guest Challenge Symbolism: The Venetian Gondola

This post comes to you from Paula’s lovely photo blog – Lost in Translation – where I am playing hostess for her Thursday Special Challenge. The theme is ‘Symbolism’, and I have chosen to feature the visual metaphors inherent in the design of a Venetian Gondola……. Click on the link above or the image below…

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The Venetian Lions

Status was paramount in the ancient world. For empires, as much as for ordinary citizens. The aura of power, as important as the exercise of power itself. Visual imagery and symbolism went a long way in engendering that impression. And so it was, that a maritime republic of the stature of Venice, felt the need…

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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

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!

The literal meaning of Bhuta in Tulu, the predominant language of South Kanara district in coastal Karnataka – and my mother tongue incidentally – 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 cultural heroes,…

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Sarnath – Where The Wheel Of Dharma Was Set In Motion

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

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