Ghumakkar Insights – Maya, Chitrachor, and Plagiarism

By

Permit me to narrate an anecdote about a fictitious schoolgirl called Maya. Her class is given an assignment to write an essay titled “My most memorable trip”. She had just returned from a visit to the famous Vaishno Devi shrine and decided to write about it. However, when she started writing, she did not know what to write about other than it was an enjoyable visit and the atmosphere in the temple was very spiritual. Maya decided to use the internet to get more facts about the place. She used bits and pieces from everywhere, stitches together an essay and proudly submits her essay to her teacher.

Read More

Araku valley

By

Araku is a picturesque tribal settlement in the Eastern Ghats, about 120 km to the north of the port city of Visakhapatnam a.k.a. Vizag, which also happens to be my hometown. For me, the drive is an end in itself, a mind-blowing experience as one navigates through umpteen hair-pin bends on a steep mountain road which snakes its way up the Eastern Ghats to an altitude of some 1200 metres above sea level. This is one of those road trips on which one does not feel like driving fast but prefer to gently cruise along the serpentine path, inhaling the pristine air and feasting on the visual candy being proffered so generously by Mother Nature.

Read More
An Egyptian Diary: Post script

An Egyptian Diary: Post script

By

India and Egypt shave a lot in common. Both are ancient civilisations and have emerged from centuries of foreign rule. Though the population is only 80 million, there is a lot of ethnic diversity with some who can pass off for Europeans, some who look like Africans and the rest of them look North African or Arab. Not surprising, if one takes into account its history and its geographic location, which is at the intersection of Asia, Africa and Europe…

Read More
Alexandria, the pearl of the Mediterranean

Alexandria, the pearl of the Mediterranean

By

Alexandria was home to Egypt’s second wonder of the Ancient World: the famous Lighthouse built by the Ptolemies in the 3rd Century AD. Soaring to a height of 140 metres, its beacon was visible to seamen over 50 km away. It was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world for centuries till a powerful earthquake destroyed it in the 14th century.

Read More
Pyramids: sepulchres of the Pharaohs

Pyramids: sepulchres of the Pharaohs

By

The sides of the Pyramids were originally clad with highly polished white limestone slabs and were topped by gold-plated capstones called pyramidions which picked up the first rays of the sun and these rays reflected off the cladding to make the entire pyramid glow with solar luminescence.

Read More
Cairo, the city of a thousand minarets

Cairo, the city of a thousand minarets

By

ghumakkar loves serendipitous moments, when one comes across something remarkable but totally unexpected. I had such an experience a few minutes after landing in Cairo. The drive to the hotel from the airport was rather uninteresting as the architecture was pretty drab, just row after boring row of grey, rectangular concrete blocks . All of a sudden, I saw a building which looked like a Hindu temple…

Read More
The ghats of Benaras – a place like no other

The ghats of Benaras – a place like no other

By

Numerous invaders came, ruled and left. All of them tried, in their own way, to superimpose their own ideas, their beliefs on the land they had conquered. Yet, in the end, they had to retreat, vanquished by a spiritual force that was beyond their comprehension. The all-knowing Ganga, unperturbed by such delusions of grandeur,  gently flows along these blessed ghats as she has been doing since the beginning of time.

Read More
Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism

Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism

By

Sarnath, probably a corruption of Saranganath, is the birthplace of Buddhism. It is here, 26 centuries ago, that Gautama Buddha delivered his first ever sermon after attaining enlightenment. A massive monument, the Dhameka Stupa, was erected at this spot by the Magadhan Emperor Asoka.

Read More
Kashi – a spiritual sojourn

Kashi – a spiritual sojourn

By

Kashi has temples everywhere, a dozen of which are important; hundreds of smaller ones  crop up in unexpected places: along the river bank, in cul-de-sacs,  under trees and in various nooks and corners of its byzantine lanes. The origin of some is lost in antiquity, some of them are less than a century old but the holiest of them all, the Vishwanath Temple is the cynosure of Hindu pilgrims. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (manifestations of the Lord as Light) of Saivism.

Read More

Lammasingi, Andhra’s Kashmir

By

Lammasingi (लम्मसिंगी) or Lambasingi (लम्बसिंगी) as the tribals call it, is a tiny hamlet nestling on a ridge at an altitude of 2600 above sea level in the Eastern Ghats, a little over a 100 kilometres to the west of Vizag. It was an unknown, remote tribal settlement till a discovery was made which stripped the place of its anonymity and earned it the sobriquet of “Andhra Kashmir”. A few years ago, weathermen found that it was the coldest place in Andhra, with night temperatures occasionally dipping to sub-zero levels. This news was broadcast by TV channels and overnight, it became a popular tourist.

Read More

Sankaram and Kotturu

By

Andhra was a bastion of Buddhism for at least a thousand years. It was a centre of learning and Buddhism spread out to Sri Lanka and South East Asia through its ports. The stupas and monasteries provided the architectural models for the more famous Buddhist shrines in the rest of the world like the famous Borobodur in Indonesia. The Buddhist phase lasted for nearly a thousand years till the rise of Shaivism in the 7th century CE obliterated Buddhism from this region. It is sad that while these places attract visitors from all over the Buddhist world, Indians are not aware of the existence of these places.In this series, I am retracing the footsteps of those distant ancestors of mine.

Read More