Link | The Pillars of Ashoka

A short article describing the pillars of Ashoka

“Some pillars had edicts (proclamations) inscribed upon them.  The edicts were translated in the 1830s. Since the 17th century, 150 Ashokan edicts have been found carved into the face of rocks and cave walls as well as the pillars, all of which served to mark his kingdom, which stretched across northern India and south to below the central Deccan plateau and in areas now known as Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The rocks and pillars were placed along trade routes and in border cities where the edicts would be read by the largest number of people possible. They were also erected at pilgrimage sites such as at Bodh Gaya, the place of Buddha’s Enlightenment, and Sarnath, the site of his First Sermon and Sanchi, where the Mahastupa, the Great Stupa of Sanchi, is located (a stupa is a burial mound for an esteemed person. When the Buddha died, he was cremated and his ashes were divided and buried in several stupas. These stupas became pilgrimage sites for Buddhist practitioners).”

(Via The Pillars of Ashoka – Smarthistory)

Featured Image via Wikipedia: By Rajeev kumar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons


Link | Incredible Megaliths of India

The Ancient Origins site has a recently published a two-part article on megaliths in India.

“The relationship between the megalith builders and religious practices of south India is complex and one that is ripe for further interpretation. It is usually assumed that the megaliths are the work of India’s many tribal groups, who have left few or no literary records. What we might call India’s ‘great’ tradition in contrast has a very large body of written texts. Early Indian scriptures and mythological literature actually do occasionally refer to the megaliths. For example, there are several highly venerated epic poems of South India, products of the Tamil Sangam age, which takes its name from a gathering or assembly of three hundred Tamil poets and scholars, who were ‘taken by the sea’. The late Kamil Zvelebil, esteemed scholar of Tamil culture, thought the gathering did actually happen on a regular basis. The time frame for the Sangam age is usually set circa 350 BCE to 300 CE and would overlap with the final phase of megalithic construction.”

Read Part 1 and Part 2

Link | Dudhai: An Obscure Chandela Site

A wonderfully detailed article about the history of Dudhai, explained through its monuments.

“The definitive history of the town can be traced from the Mughal period when it attained certain importance. Abul Fazl mentions that Lalitpur and Dudhai were parganas under the Chanderi Sarkar which in turn was one of the Sarkar under the Malwa suba.

The first scholarly reference of Dudhai comes from Alexander Cunningham in his survey reports. He visited the town in 1874-75 and described its monuments in details. He tells that the village was situated on the ridge to the north of the Ram Sagar, a large artificial lake. He further tells that with construction of roads connecting with other villages, the people of Dudhai who earlier emigrated had started to return. He also touched upon the legends and traditions on the history of the place.”

(Via. Dudhai – An Obscure Chandela Site | Indian History and Architecture)

Link | Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine


Sculptures and carvings dating back more than 1,700 years have been discovered in the remains of a shrine and its courtyard in the ancient city of Bazira. The sculptures illustrate the religious life of the city, telling tales from Buddhism and other ancient religions. Also called Vajirasthana, Bazira is located the in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. It was first constructed as a small town, during the second century B.C., and eventually developed into a city located within the Kushan Empire. At its peak, this empire ruled territory extending from modern-day India to central Asia.

Source: Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine

Link | The Jagannath Temple in India

A short overview of the grand temple, covering legends, the structure, and festivals.

The Jagannath Temple was built during the 12th century AD. Its construction began during the reign of Chodaganga, a king of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, and was completed during the reign of his successor. Subsequently, the Jagannath Temple developed into an important center of pilgrimage.

Alternatively, in the legendary account of the temple’s construction, its foundation is attributed to a king of the Malava Kingdom (a kingdom mentioned in the Mahabharata) by the name of Indradyumna.

Read the full article at: The Jagannath Temple in India: Home to a Trio of Deities and Numerous Religious Festivals | Ancient Origins

Link | Hemp shielding Ellora Caves from Decay

Every once in a while, when we visit ancient or medieval monuments, we cannot help but wonder, how these structures have withstood the test of time and climate, while recent structures crumble with unfailing consistency.

Here, a discovery of the mortar mix, found in Ellora:

Cannabis sativa, popularly known as ganja or bhang, was found mixed in the clay and lime plaster at Ellora. This was confirmed by technologies such as scanning of the electron microscope, Fourier transform, infra-red spectroscopy and stereo-microscopic studies. Hemp samples were collected from areas in Jalna district near Aurangabad and also from the outskirts of Delhi. These specimens were matched with the samples found in cave number 12 of Ellora.

Source: Hemp shielding Ellora caves from decay for 1,500 years: Study – Times of India

HT: @achyutha on Twitter

Historians: Dr. RC Majumdar

Dr. RC Majumdar was the series editor of (and a contributor to) “The History and Culture of the Indian People,” a definitive collection, of history and culture, right from the Vedic Age to the Indian freedom struggle. The eleven-volume series started in 1951, which took 26 years to complete. Dr. Majumdar was 88, when the final volume was published.

Dr. Majumdar has many other books to his credit. [Wikipedia]. Dr. Majumdar was interviewed by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat (of Kamat’s Potpourri) shortly before he passed away, in 1980.

Ramesh Chandra Majumdar was born in 1888 in East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) in the village of Khandarapara of Faridapur District. His talent knew no bounds, like the Padma (Podda) river that flows there. The story of this famous historian is also interesting. In East Bengal, there are rivers, lakes, and streams everywhere, and children grow up with water. In Majumdar’s house, even to go from one room to another, he had to walk in ankleful of water! When it poured, the whole house was flooded. When he was an infant, one day he was about to be swept away in the floods in the night. “Somehow my aunt was woken up, and I am alive today to tell you my story.” — He laughed.

Read the full interview here: Kamat’s Potpourri: India’s Greatest Historian

Link | Genetic Sequencing Traces Gypsies Back to Ancient Indian Origin


Tracing the History of the Gypsies/Roma people, to India

Earlier studies of their language and cursory analysis of genetic patterns pinpointed India as the group’s place of origin and a later influence of Middle Eastern and Central Asian linguistics. But a new study uses genome-wide sequencing to point to a single group’s departure from northwestern Indian some 1,500 years ago and has also revealed various subsequent population changes as the population spread throughout Europe.

Source: Genetic Sequencing Traces Gypsies Back to Ancient Indian Origin – Scientific American Blog Network

Featured Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J0525-0500-003 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons

Link | A Dip in History | Sambar

IMG 1100 Version 2

So here’s how a simple mistake or a turn of circumstances caused a great dish to become. Of all the happy accidents in history, I think I’ll peg this one as my favourite. As much as Sambar – my favourite dish! Of course, as accidents go, this discovery happened on one of my favourite blogs, Varnam, where he wrote of The Origin of Sambar. I couldn’t find the content the post had linked to, so some fun research led me to this:

“The Marathas were ruling Tanjore. Sambhoji was a great cook (the male clan members to note) and very fond of his amti with a handful of the tart kokum thrown in. In a particular season the kokum that was imported from the Maratha homeland did not reach the bare larder of the king’s kitchen. Sambhoji was cooking and the minions were shivering in their dhothis to tell him that his favourite dish could not be made that day. A smart Vidushak, who had been elected sous chef for the day, decided to solve the problem. He whispered in the king’s ears that the locals used very little tamarind pulp to gain a better sourness to the curry and that Sambhoji should experiment with this variation. Voila, the dish with the tuvar dal, vegetables, spices and the tamarind pulp was cooked and served by the king to his coterie. The court declared the dish an outstanding preparation (they had no choice with the king as Chef) and thus was born Sambhoji’s amti that in time became sambhar.”

(Via The Story of Sambhar by Padmini Natarajan.)


The link above is not working, you can view a cached image of the article here. If for some reason, this link also disappears, here’s the PDF of the Original post: The Story of Sambhar by Padmini Natarajan, from 2002, by Dr. Padmini Natarajan. This article was also mentioned in The Hindu – A Tale of Two Sambhars.

Link | Monson’s Retreat: India,1804

An interesting account of the disastrous retreat of Lieutenant Colonel William Monson, at the The Battle of Mukandwara Pass (July 1804), often called “one of the greatest and most disgraceful setbacks to the British military reputation in India.”

“Lieutenant General Lord Gerald Lake (1744-1808; commander-in-chief in India from 1801 to 1805) and Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852; the future Duke of Wellington), in command of the British forces in the Deccan, received letters from Holkar which they found impudent with oriental braggadocio. At the same time Holkar was in communication with the vacillating British allies, Sindhia and Bhonsle, urging them to rise up against their British overlords. Lake, complaining to governor-general Richard Wellesley (1760-1842) that it would be impossible to dictate terms to Holkar without resorting to force, wrote, “I was never so plagued, as I am with this devil; he just, nay hardly, keeps within the letter of the law, by which means our army is remaining in the field at an enormous expense … ” Lord Wellesley, although already in trouble with the governors of the East India Company over the expense of his aggressive territorial ambitions, decided nonetheless that a quick victorious campaign would be cheaper than paying for an army of observation. It “…was manifestly a measure not only of just policy and necessary security, but of ultimate economy with reference to the finances of the honourable company,” he wrote to the government in an exercise of self-justification. Hostilities against Holkar commenced in April of 1804.”

(Via. The Napoleon Series; read the full article at Monson’s Retreat: India,1804)

Image from Wikipedia Commons. Arthur William Devis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons