Calcutta for the First Time

When we went to Calcutta for the first time, we were a bit fearful, reducing the West Bengali capital to a stereotype of poverty crafted by ignorance over the time. But Calcutta (or Kolkata), the city of Mother Teresa, had plenty of surprises in store for us; today we can all affirm that we have discovered a place of great refinement and mind-boggling contrasts.   Calcutta is the city of Kali, the terrifying goddess who can destroy…

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Among The People of Shiva in Aihole

  “Shivane ella!” (Shiva is everything!) Declared an old lady sitting by her door, as she concluded a conversation with her neighbor. The lady clutched on to a little silver box that hung from her neck as she said it. My friend Meghana translated it for me, as we walked along towards an ancient temple in the village of Aihole. That sparked off a conversation. I was traveling through north Karnataka for the first time and upon…

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Frolic In The Frontier State Of Nagaland

  India’s inimitable diversity in terms of ethnicity, language, culture, religion has for long sparked heart-felt appreciation, acute curiosity, deep socio-political analyses and fierce debates all at once. Sure enough, the nation deserves that attention, given what one witnesses when traveling through this magnificent land of sheer splendor. India greets me differently every time I set foot there. I have seen the India that attracts and that most seekers from outside the country are shown, but this…

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For the Preservation of Heritage in Anegudi, Near Hampi

  I was in Anegudi, a tiny village on a remote river bed in Karnataka. It was a sleepy hamlet in the shadow of the ruins of Hampi, the erstwhile glorious capital of the grand medieval empire of Vijayanagara. Before I flew down to India for my third visit, I had heard from a friend, of a local non-profit organization called the Kishkinda Trust that worked with the villagers for the preservation of heritage in the form…

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The Fortnight of the Ancestors in Allahabad, a Time of Remembrance and Solemnity

It is a common perception that Indians only need a pretext for a celebration and it is not entirely untrue. Their festivities and revelries are not just religious fervour, but a cultural phenomenon that is known the world over. The Hindu calendar is replete with auspicious days dedicated to the gods and goddesses of its large pantheon. Not surprisingly, each of these days is backed by a legend from the scriptures.   The festivals and celebrations peak…

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