Shared Landscapes
The Reality Of Legends: The Sabarimala Pilgrimage And The Dance Of Faiths
The Reality Of Legends: The Sabarimala Pilgrimage And The Dance Of Faiths

I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears, and felt its power and passion within my own body and soul. But on a cold winter’s morning in the city of Erumeli while standing on a hill overlooking the Vavar mosque I saw it […]

Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Parables Of Bet Dwarka
Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Parables Of Bet Dwarka

On any given day hundreds of Hindu pilgrims can be seen standing in the courtyard of Bet Dwarka’s famous Krishna temple. On the day of the annual festival, tens of thousands will congregate here. And on that special day, as on any ordinary day, the pilgrims would have been helped to cross the three kilometer […]

Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Sant Devidas Temple, Parab, Gujarat
Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Sant Devidas Temple, Parab, Gujarat

We hacked, we burnt, did a lot of that. We believe in setting them [Muslims] on fire because these bastards say they don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it, they say this and that will happen to them. Babu Bajrangi, VHP and Bajrang Dal leader, speaks about events in Naroda, Gujarat in 2002, Tehelka […]

Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Shrine Of Data Pir, Junagadh, Gujarat
Gujarat’s Faded Testaments: The Shrine Of Data Pir, Junagadh, Gujarat

I don’t remember the names of those Muslims… but the ones who were there… they were handpicked and killed one by one. There was one Katki in Madhopura… whenever a riot took place, he was the first to come out… That day we targeted him and killed him. There were two advantages to that… it […]

A Dancer’s Map Of Lucknow
A Dancer's Map Of Lucknow

Jab chhorh chaley Lakhnau nagari, Kaho haal adam par kya guzeri… (When we left our beloved Lucknow, See what befell us..) Wajid Ali Shah Its [British colonial education] cumulative effect was to be described…as nothing short of a chasm that…made it impossible for the new generation of the educated and the older generation of the […]

William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough
William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough

William Dalrymple has published a piece in The Guardian newspaper on the Sabarimala pilgrimage. This was the very pilgrimage I recently traveled to witness and wrote about in a Project Update post called Where Muslims Warriors Defend & Protest Hindu Gods. His essay arrives a few days ahead of my own. I am however posting […]

On The Milky Way To A Mosque, January 22nd 2010
On The Milky Way To A Mosque, January 22nd 2010

The words are beginning to dance in my head, and I can’t stop them from doing so. I am standing at the site of what is purported to be the first mosque built on Indian soil – the Cheraman mosque in the city of Kodungallur, but all that is running through my head is this […]

Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains
Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains

When they celebrate the death anniversary of a saint, they come in crowds from far and near to his tomb; and reaching there on the day of the ‘urs’, they perform more devotions than they do for obligatory (Islamic) rituals. To solve their worldly problems, they address their supplications to the tombs…They pray to the […]

Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra
Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra

This essay is reprinted here by kind permission of Pankaj Mishra. The original piece appeared in The National newspaper and can be seen here. Pankaj Mishra is the author of four books, most recently The Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond. But it was perhaps his writings […]

Still Looking For Answers In Ayodhya / Liberhan Report Published
Still Looking For Answers In Ayodhya / Liberhan Report Published

What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening…Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history…Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India…What is happening in India is a mighty creative process…the sense of history that the Hindus are now […]

The Rose Of Ajmer by Britt Sloan
The Rose Of Ajmer by Britt Sloan

Introduction: His life has been draped with legends, many of which tell of his miracles and powers. One of the most popular legends is of the evil wizard Jaypal who, on the orders of a local raja, attempts to drive the Sufi fakir Moinuddin Chiti away from the region and attacks him with burning coals. […]

Deconstructing Kashmir-Part III: In The Silences Of A Blood Soaked Frontier, The Still Living Songs Of The Saints
Deconstructing Kashmir-Part III: In The Silences Of A Blood Soaked Frontier, The Still Living Songs Of The Saints

When the neighborhood was attacked, some members of the minority community were killed. The survivors fled. A couple however sought refuge in the cellar of their own house. For two days and nights they waited in vain for the assailants. Two more days passed. They were much less afraid of death. They longed for food […]

Deconstructing Kashmir-Part II: The Wandering Tribe: The Kashmiri Pandits In Purgatory
Deconstructing Kashmir-Part II: The Wandering Tribe: The Kashmiri Pandits In Purgatory

The alleyways are empty. The shops are closed. Wild dogs sleep in shaded corners. The temples are locked. I hear no human voice that would suggest life inside the small, gaudily painted brick shanties. I walk around in the narrow lanes expecting to run into someone, but no one walks towards me, in to me […]

The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City
The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City

The Sufi dargahs of Ayodhya are easy to miss. Not only are they rather simple structures, often no more than a few graves surrounded by a some stones to demarcate an area of worship, but are obscured by the many dominating and magnificent mandirs that define the landscape of the city itself. So it was […]

A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain
A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain

The first time I saw the image I did not realize that it would significantly change the way I looked at the world around me. It was a drawing of an 8th century shrine to a Christian saint somewhere deep in the Syrian steppe, then known by the Greek speaking world as ‘The Barbarian Plain’. […]

The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance
The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance

I was asked to remain confined to my room.  The men from Indian intelligence were polite but firm, and as they questioned me in a small tea shop in a neighborhood adjacent to where the Babri mosque once stood, I could see that they were unsure about what precisely it was that I represented. I […]