The Sonepur Mela: Of Elephants & Tantriks

Down to the river. It is pitch black as I stumble out of my tent and join the stream of humanity resolutely making their way towards the river in the inky darkness.  It was only 5 am, but already the streets were lined with vendors selling everything from packets of flowers to hot milky tea….

In Search of Nagaland’s Tattooed Headhunters – Part II

Read Part I here We sit sipping tea and eating surprisingly good chocolate croissants as the sun sets over the Naga hills. All around us are acres of tea estates, waves of short green shrubs punctuated by the occasional tree; the first we have seen in Nagaland. We are outside the village of Shiyong, at…

Khuldabad, Aurangzeb and the Ethiopian who tormented the Mughals

Our driving trip around Maharashtra found us exploring the UNESCO world heritage caves of Ajanta and Ellora, along with the towering Daulatabad Fort, one of the few forts in Maharashtra not attributed to the Marathas. Having climbed Daulatabad, we headed in search of Aurangzeb’s tomb, which was en route to the Ellora Caves. Tucked away…

Dhanushkodi and the Bridge of Rama

The dark grey skies and slow drizzle adds to the sense of melancholy as one reflects on the unpredictable fury of nature. What must it have been like to live here, so far from anything else, so close to the edge of land, at the mercy of the ocean. What would have possessed the inhabitants of Dhanushkodi to persist, on this thin sliver of land, surrounded by salt water, braving the elements, with what would surely have been an omnipresent threat of annihilation hanging over their heads? Could it have been the faith that they would be protected by their lord, or was it simply that they had lived there for centuries and it was home.

The Forgotten Chettiars…

But the red dust and eerie silence is quietly watched over by some of the largest, most beautiful, stately mansions one has ever seen. They fill this village, and all the others in the region, reminiscent of a bygone era, when the rich and enterprising Chettiar community, financiers of the royals, lived like kings.

From Tharangambadi to Tranquebar.

Just ahead of the market is the old Landporten, the stone gate which marks the entry into the old town. Making our way through the massive arch and onto the cobblestoned main street the scene subtly changes. As the humdrum of the market fades away and one looks around the quaint streets and the old pillared mansions, the small churches and open skied traditional tamil homes with a hint of a European touch, a certain calm descends and time slows down just a little bit.