All posts tagged: Indian Culture

A Quick Guide To Ahmedabad’s Top Travel Secrets

I headed to Ahmedabad, not because it was a logical destination for backpackers. The French haveli I was going to stay was in fact the fascination. I mean the idea of staying in a 150-year-old (though now artistically restored) tradition Gujarati haveli, would interest anyone, and I was no different.  Then later I found that French Haveli was located in a 400-year-old walled community of Dhal ni Pol, which only added to the charm of staying in the old city of Ahmedabad. It brought me back to the age when Ahmedabad was known as the Manchester of India. As I got off the auto-rikshaw at Raipur Darwaza and slowly walked inside the gated community of Dhal ni Pol, the Kites, a few dozens of them, suddenly reappeared like memories. It turned out that I happen to be in Ahmedabad a few days before the kite festival season Uttarayan, a holiday also known as Makar Sakranti. Evidently, more colourful street scene and the many lively conversations were only waiting for me in the days to come. …

Adalaj Ni Vav: A Stepwell In Gujarat Like No Other

Located about 12 kms outside the north end of Ahmedabad, Adalaj ni Vav acts as one of the prominent historic establishments and many tourists’ first choice to see a stepwell, around Ahmedabad. Other than its impressive ancient structures, what sets it apart from the other stepwells in Gujarat is its spectacular mix of Indo-Islamic architecture and design. And that’s not it. Its completion speaks of a story that goes in the usual Bollywood style of the bygone days – containing the bits of love, war and hatred! The Story Behind Its Existence The legend has it that Adalaj ni Vav was originally commissioned by King Veersinh, sometime during the early 15th century, who was ruling the town of Adalaj at that time. But before its completion, King Veersinh got into a fight with a neighbouring King Mehmud Begada, and lost his life. As a result, the construction work for Adalaj ni Vav stopped. When King Veersinh’s wife Rani Roopba got the news, she vowed to complete her husband’s work and schemed to trap King Mehmud …

Stepwells Of Ahmedabad: Taking You Back In Time

From Baroda, in South; to Patan, in North – Stepwells (or vavs, as locally known) can be found almost all across Gujarat. For hundreds of years, their efficiency in storing water, in response to the semi-acrid climate and seasonal fluctuations, helped the local population strive and survive. Today vavs represent rich history, and act as prominent historical sites for architecture students and tourists alike. It is believed that some of the vavs must have been built at Mohanjodaro during the Indus-Valley civilisation. Ahmedabad, too, has two prominent vavs, both of them an extraordinary heritage site to visit. I ended up visiting them after an undeniable request from an auto rikshaw driver in Ahmedabad, according to whom, Mata Bhavani and Dada Hari vavs are an important cultural heritage, gifted to his city. Hopelessly driven by his encouraging gamut, I decided to give them a visit. My first stop was Dada Hari ni Vav, a carefully designed 500-year-old, which was originally built under the reign of one of the most prominent sultans of Gujarat named Mahmud Begada. A …

From Street Scene To The Ghats of Varanasi: What To Expect!

If you’re travelling alone, and are unaccustomed to the frenzies of India, Varanasi might just be the craziest Indian city for you to travel through! Varanasi, also known as Benares, is considered as the holiest of all Hindu towns, bringing people from all over the world to see the religious ceremonies that take place there. As believed in Hinduism, death in Varansi brings salvation. By getting a cremation on one of its ghats, you get a direct ticket to heaven. Throughout India’s long history, it is in Varanasi, that many prominent figures – including Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi – have spent time on the Ganges River, meditating and practicing spirituality. But that doesn’t mean that you’d find people meditating or chanting god’s name here, or in any way, living their life in a subtle manner. Street Scene In Varanasi Is Wild If you think that the street scene in India is crazy, in Varanasi it is wild. Consider Varanasi as New Delhi on steroids. Nowhere have you been and nothing you’ve seen, in your entire …

Kanyakumari: A Place Constantly Inviting Us For A Secular Sabbath

When you visit a place what is that one thing that you look out for, the most? The experience that makes that particular place unique. Sure you want to have a good time and follow your own way of travel. Those, who are all into leisure, for example, are always looking for a place to relax, which makes them hungry for beaches, when traveling around places like South India. When I came to Kanyakumari, I was expecting the same. Though I am not claiming that I travel for leisure and that I was expecting fancy beaches. But the picture I had crafted in my head was of a place, much tranquil, surrounded by sea, leaving almost no trace back to India’s much confused and muddled mainland. After all, this is where India concludes and finds itself gracefully surrounded by the mighty and the endless Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal – from almost all directions. But when you’re in Kanyakumari you don’t feel that tranquillity in its air. Nor do you get to …

Theyyam: More Than A Fancy Display Of Enactments

When it comes to telling old folklores or mythological stories, people in India often do it the hard way – by enacting dance or drama on stage. There is some kind of liveliness in such performances that not only give life to the original stories, but also bring our life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. When you watch a set of people doing complicated dance moves or enacting mythical characters – you get a sense of awe and experience a whole new reality. I think that is the beauty of such mythological stage plays. And North Kerala’s Theyyam, a popular ritual for worship in the north Malabar region (North Kerala), whose origin can be traced back to over 800 years, is no exception. With a series of ritual dance performances incorporating dance, mime and music, Theyyam showcases the ancient tribal cultures, where performers represents a heroic character with divine power – by wearing heavy make-up, huge masks and flamboyant costumes to give a dramatic appearance. The headgear and other ornamental items – which are mostly prepared …