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A land of mysteries, a civilization which has endured several mutations, India is indeed a myriad of many contradictions and paradoxes. As the famous BBC correspondent Mark Tully would say, ‘there are no full stops in India’. True to this spirit, India never ceases to enthrall the countless souls who come to its shores in search of something or the other – either fortune, mysticism, or moksha.
This land is such a diverse universe of so many cultures, thoughts, and demographics, that to gauge its total extent would require several thousand light years. In short, this civilization of more than 5,000 years is a land of wonders. India has innumerable places to visit, each with its own distinctive topography, culture, and people.
In this article, we will discuss some places which even the citizens of this country haven’t heard about, let alone visited. They are unique not only in the context of this country, but also throughout the world.
The first place in this list is a village by the name of ‘Kodinhi’ which is situated in the beautiful Indian state of Kerala, also known as ‘God’s Own Country’. Kodinhi is home to around 2,000 families and has attained fame and international recognition because of a certain uniqueness in its population.
This place astonishingly has an extremely high rate of twin births, although India has one of the lowest twinning rates in the entire world. This is quite a wonder and people visiting this village have been taken aback to see so many twins together there. To this date the reason behind this phenomenon is not known.
Ancient Pilgrimage Center of India
The next unique place called ‘Hajo’ which is situated in the North Eastern Indian state of Assam, and located close to Guwahati, the state’s largest city, on the banks of the river Brahmaputra. The uniqueness of this place is that, it is an ancient pilgrimage center which is devoted to three major religions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It is probably one of the very few places in this world, which is equally devoted to three different religions.
Entrance of Hayagriva Madhab Mandir in Hajo, India. (deepgoswami / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )
The Smokeless Village in India
The second in this list is a village which has attained a unique distinction in the history of India by becoming the first village in this country to go completely smokeless. They entered the prestigious Limca Book of Records for this tremendous feat. They did it by making all the households of the village convert to LPG from their traditional ways of cooking, which were harmful to the environment.
This village is called ‘Vyachakurahalli’ and it is situated in the Chikkaballapur district of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The village is an example to others about how to protect the environment.
High Points in India
We already know that India has the gigantic Himalayas in its fold and several habitats have been established in its verdant valleys. One of the places is called ‘Hikkim’, a picturesque small village situated at high altitude in Himachal Pradesh.
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Hikkim is small village in Himalayas of India. (Saurabh Chatterjee / CC BY-NC 2.0 )
Hikkim is special because of its claim to have the world’s highest post office with a permanent structure (There is also a temporary post office at a higher altitude than Hikkim in Qomolangma, Tibet as a Mt. Everest Base Camp postal service.). Hikkim also claims one of the highest polling stations in the world. (The highest polling station in the world is in the village of Tashigang in the same state of Himachal Pradesh. Some maps project this area as disputed). Hence, Hikkim has also been featured in the famous Limca Book of Records.
India’s Guest of Honor
The uniqueness of the places in India just doesn’t seem to end. In this list, we will now talk about the village of ‘Shetpal’ in Maharashtra, and it is quite unique in a completely different way. In this village there is a strange custom that each household have a designated space for a very unique guest, who is held in very high honor – the snakes (cobras) which may come and take rest in any house.
Serpent deity reliefs in India. (Dineshkannambadi / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
The people here believe the cobra will bless the family. They roam freely in Shetpal but people have no fear of them. The residents of this village love the cobras and sometimes they even play with them.
India Goes Vegetarian
Also, to the west in India is a place called ‘Palitana’ which is a major pilgrimage site of Jainism in the state of Gujarat and visited by millions of devotees. There is a legend about this place, that Adinatha, the first of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras, is said to have meditated on Shatrunjaya Hill, where temples were constructed later in commemoration to that pious incident.
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Shatrunjaya Hill in Palitana, India. (Saurabh Chatterjee / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )
In the year 2014, after a mass furor from the religious populace of its environs, the town became one of the first completely vegetarian towns in the world, after the local government took some measures in that regard. That’s quite a wonder because it is not easy for an individual to become vegetarian, let alone a whole town!
Sacred Waters of India
The last but not the least unique place of India in this list is the holy ‘Sri Yaganti Uma Maheswara Temple’ or ‘ Yaganti Temple ’ which is situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This is one of the most intriguing places of India, in the context that, as per the devotees who dedicatedly follow this shrine, the Nandi idol which is placed there in front of this temple is growing continuously in size.
Yaganti Temple is a holy site in India. (Mranaroy / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
The experiments done regarding this issue have also suggested that the rock which has been used to make this idol exhibits a growing nature. The Archaeological Survey of India has also confirmed that the idol increases by approximately 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) every 20 years.
The Yaganti Nandi Statue is believed to be growing in size. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Not only this, another unique amazing feature of this temple is its small pond ( Pushkarini in local language) which has very pure water and is situated in the temple grounds. Strangely no one can figure out how the water here flows into the Pushkarini throughout the year.
The Pushkarini in India is suitable for holy baths. (Sumanth699 / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
Devotees consider that a bath in this holy Pushkarini, before visiting Lord Shiva , will bring luck and prosperity.
These are just a handful of the many unique and unknown places in this vast and ancient country.
Saurav Ranjan Datta has just released his first book of 12 extraordinary stories of women from India, “ Maidens of Fate ’, available now from Amazon.
A short history of India's drinking culture
Alcohol came to India way earlier than anyone would guess. It ebbed and flowed with the powers that governed, sometimes rising to popularity and at other times slinking away into the shadows.
To correct that first statement, it didn&rsquot actually "come" to India alcohol was as much a homegrown essential as any other staple. We were among the first civilisations to discover the science of distillation and put it to good use. However, some historians dispute the claim that the Easterners were among the pioneers in distillation and state that it was invented by Europeans in the twelfth century.
Although ferments don&rsquot feature as widely or popularly in our ancient past, many historians argue that the beverages mentioned in the Vedas were never stated to be distillates. There could be many reasons for this: we didn&rsquot have the right ingredients for ferments, viz grapes or barley (although, in my research, I did find a mention of masara, a pre-Aryan rice, grass and barley drink that was consumed by the hill tribes of the northern provinces of our country).
Ferments deteriorate fast whereas spirits can hold for much longer which could have served as an incentive to quickly distil and concentrate the life-giving virtues of the ingredient at hand. Another possible explanation is that since early days the obsession with alchemy attracted us more to distillation as a science which may also explain why we had so many drinks and perfumes before everyone else. Still no gold from lead though.
We can&rsquot also discount the notion that we may have lost some concoctions and recipes along the way &ndash even our knowledge of the distillates is mostly educed from our findings of containers and utensils which were possibly used in the process. As for what our ancestors drank and how it tasted, one can only hazard a guess.
So our journey begins here, pour yourself something suitably stiff and settle in.
The Aryans arrived in India circa 1600 BC and displaced the Harappans who had established one of the earliest civilisations here in 3000 BC. Excavations from both these periods have yielded clay pots. Scientists and archaeologists have been able to rearrange somewhat rudimentary but complete distillation set-ups from these findings.
Various metals too may have been used. Mankind had been busy honing its skills at extracting and forming them into useful shapes, fashioning everything from tools to weapons to receptacles. Metallurgy contributed much to man&rsquos pursuit of the process of distillation as did clay pots and utensils.
The early distillates were mostly made from Bassia latifolia aka Madhuca indica, or the mahua flower as it is popularly known today in places where it is grown, stretching from Maharashtra to Madhya Pradesh, and including Chhattisgarh. It grows wild all over the country save for the extreme north. Mahua flowers soaked in water and then left to ferment yielded a drink high on glucoside (and glycoside) which serves as a laxative. Glucosides are glucose precursors ie they yield glucose (a form of sugar) upon being broken down.
Without this conversion, they act like roughage which can cleanse out the system. Glycoside, or more precisely senna glycoside, is a laxative that can empty out the large intestines rather quickly. Both of these are often found in the same plant sources, flowers mainly.
So indeed, mahua is a very strong laxative which may have deterred our ancestors from indulging too much in it. It can hardly be a party if within twenty minutes every guest is queuing up for the bushes with an agitated bowel.
So it was the distillate that was preferred. The spirit, as it comes off the still, has a foetid (mousy) odour. Not a very pleasant flavour to hold down, really. Ageing helps alleviate this rankness so utensils must have been required to hold the beverage while it homogenised and became more palatable.
But, as mentioned above, whatever little we know of times then is purely based on smart assumptions and logical deductions from what remains and that which we have managed to collect. It&rsquos the reassembling of a puzzle with missing jigsaw pieces. Any picture we are seeing is still largely incomplete.
The first mention of alcohol appears only with the Vedas when the Rig Veda (1700 bc) talks about intoxicants like soma and prahamana. The juice of the soma plant is considered an intoxicant, delivering a euphoric high. It sounds very similar to the Incan ayahuasca, a plant-based drink which has hallucinogenic properties (thanks to dimethyltryptamine, or DMT).
DMT is a psychedelic compound which was traditionally consumed by the Ayahuasca natives for its healing properties but also for its divinatory relevance. This most powerful of hallucinogens is also the one found very commonly in nature. Not only is it found in plants but there are traces of it in the human body as well (albeit in very small doses). Dating back centuries, this ayahuasca drink has managed to survive to this day while the soma plant is not to be found any more.
Of what we can gather from textual descriptions, soma had long stalks, tawny in colour and fifteen leaves (although the Vedas record this plant as being leafless). Some point out that it was possibly a creeper (somalatha is a candidate for this, still found in the Himalayas) with a bulb but it couldn&rsquot have been the source of the juice as it is toxic to humans and, strangely enough, white ants. How one found that out will perhaps remain the bigger mystery.
The secreted juice was almost milky in nature and obtained by the pressing (and even pounding) of the stalks and stems. It was common to mix this with milk and honey. Although it grew commonly and widely in the Himalayan reaches, nobody knows where it came from or where it was native to. But it was known to be big on the trade circuit so it could have just as easily arrived in someone&rsquos backpack and then found its root here with much commercial success, which then would have further boosted its popularity as a commodity on the trade route. What does remain are entire strings of songs (well, prayers more correctly) offering apologies to the gods for the loss of this plant and its marvellous elixir. Rhubarb has been cited as a substitute, but that again, wasn&rsquot a native plant.
There are other contenders for what could have been the original soma plant: from American milkweed (some species are toxic to humans, don&rsquot know about their effect on white ants though) to ephedra which has medicinal (anti-allergy) properties and is also a cardiac stimulant (not to mention illegal sports performance enhancer). Some have even nominated Cannabis sativa (aka good ol&rsquo weed) for the position but it remains the least plausible candidate.
Sushruta recorded in his famous medical compendium, the Samhita, that he who drinks soma will not age and will be impervious to fire, poison or weapon attack. He can master all the Vedas and will find success wherever he goes. Furthermore, it could imbue the drinker with the energy of a 1000 elephants! On certain evenings I have felt exactly like that with mere alcohol but then woken up the next day to inexplicable bruises on knees and shins.
But the trouble was that one really had to prepare to drink soma &mdash not before imbibing it but for the period which followed right after. A drinker was prescribed an unusually long ritual which dictated what he was supposed to do to counter its effects as well as explained what the person would feel for each day after consuming soma.
From building a house with three chambers and living in each progressively to throwing up worms from all orifices, having fixed meals and drinks at predetermined times of the day, it was almost 120 days before the person was stable enough to be reintroduced into society again. Now I&rsquove had a few nasty hangovers in my time and I know all about that feeling of not wanting to see anybody the next day out of the sheer shame of the evening before (there&rsquos, in fact, a word for it, veisalgia).
But four months is too long a quarantine even by my decadent standards. Also, it would make it well-nigh impossible to meet up with all your friends for general weekend catch-ups over the course of a year.
The sweet juice of the soma plant was drunk as is and was said to provide a divine connection to the gods. The Brahmins, the yogic elite, believed that soma provided them with more than just a hotline to the divine it imbued them with supernatural powers. For example, they could simply look at a living being and make them fall dead.
The only reason they didn&rsquot exercise them all the time was because, thanks to soma, other yogis were equally powerful. And as for dropping the ignorant dead, the sages knew what Spiderman&rsquos Uncle Ben taught him much later, about great power involving great responsibility and as such, they kept their strength to themselves.
Alongside soma, there existed somarasa, and while few places outline a clear difference, my readings have inclined me to believe that this was perhaps fermented soma. In the process of acquiring alcohol, the juice lost some of its (hallucinogenic) properties. It also acquired a sharp acrid taste, one which needed toning down with curd, honey and grain (gruel).
But rather than its drinkability, its other usages were more sought after: in its unspiked form, somarasa was strong enough to be used for washing metals and was applied in the purification of mercury as also in the production of pure zinc. It was also used as a dye and a solvent.
So the fermented version clearly had many uses. In fact, so scientific and precise was its making and extraction that there existed a name for every stage of the product starting from day 1 to day 15, and maybe more. Hymns praising soma have been found through the ages and most importantly, they constitute the ninth mandala (book) of the (Rig) Veda which in its 114- hymn entirety is devoted to the purification of soma. That&rsquos a lot considering there were only a total of ten mandalas and most were dedicated to praising deities, cosmology, or the importance of charity.
Many other names have been found for the drink(s) of the times: madhu (mead), subhra, gorjika, vivakasa, and one of particular anecdotal interest, sukra.
Astrologically speaking, "Sukra"(meaning white) is Sanskrit for Venus. In Vedic lineage, he was a pure brahmin of the highest order and a guru of the asuras (demons), who were in constant battle with the devas (gods). Sukra knew the mantra to revive the dead. This was of much concern to the devas so their teacher Brahaspati (aka Jupiter) sends his own son, Kaça, to study under Sukra, alongside Sukra&rsquos daughter Devayani. The plan was to somehow get Sukra to teach Kaça the chant of immortality.
The asuras come to know of this infiltration and immediately kill Kaça, at which point Devayani goes and tells her father about the goings-on and he, using the chant, immediately brings Kaça back to life. Sukra&rsquos reasons for bringing the boy back to life were based on the principle of the teacher&rsquos duty to protect his disciples.
The demons kill him again, Devayani complains once more, and shortly, he is alive again. This cycle goes on for a bit, like a loop, till the demons come up with a devious plan. They kill Kaça, grind him up and mix him into Sukra&rsquos wine which the latter then drinks. This time when he tries to revive Kaça, he experiences a severe pain in his stomach.
Only when Kaça speaks up from inside him Sukra realises what has happened. Unwillingly, he teaches Kaça the mantra so that when he rips through and comes out of Sukra&rsquos tummy, he can revive Sukra. But in the process, the chant now comes to be in both camps of the battle.
Why is this story of interest to us? Because this is the birth of the reason why Brahmins don&rsquot drink wine. And yet, Sukra is a name that was used to describe one of the Vedic drinks.
Could sura as a name have been derived from Sukra? There is no evidence to suggest so. Also, if Sukra was drinking soma, then it couldn&rsquot have been sura for the latter has been recorded as a distillate. Unlike ferments which are simply a product of a natural reaction where yeast acts upon sugars present in a substance and converts them to alcohol (thereby releasing carbon dioxide), distillation is a man-made process to separate and concentrate specific components from any given liquid based on the principle that different compounds boil at different temperatures. The first mention of sura being distilled is found in the Rig Veda.
The Sukla Yajur Veda, however, records sura to be made from rice meal, wheat, grapes, sugarcane and a host of other fruits.
It could have been a brew (and not a distillate) but it was popular among the warriors and the working class. As these sections of society (the non-god types basically) were only allowed to consume distillates to unwind at the end of a stressful day, chances are that it may just have been a spirit.
But then it was also Lord Indra&rsquos favourite drink and he won many a battle after consuming it. Considering the ingredient list, I wouldn&rsquot have minded a cup or two myself. Another recipe I found mentioned germinated barley and rice which sounds more like a refreshing modern-day beer, really. But remember Lord Indra was a god so he also drank soma for its possibly hallucinogenic high while sura, now sounding more and more like a distillate, was to help with the drudgery of life in general.
Parisruta is another drink mentioned in the Vedas and was said to be made from flowers and grass. The word also means to trickle or ooze, so most likely it was a ferment made from collected sap. Unlike fruit juices, saps are natural secretions found in the trunks (and barks) of trees and plants.
Alexander the Great, Bacchus and Shiva
A very curious story, one that has not been mentioned enough, is that of Alexander and his time in India. When he barged into Asia and finally invaded India, Alexander came across the city of Nysa, which, as lore goes, had been earlier invaded and settled by Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Nobody knows when this might have happened. Or how given the terrain that had to be covered to reach India from Greece even Alexander must have doubted this as another tall tale.
As the story continues, the king of Nysa met with Alexander, requesting him not to disturb the city of Nysa. Dionysus had settled the city in the region called Nysae with people who had accompanied him in war but were too weak to return. The city was named after his nurse. And proof of all this was that Nysa was the only city in India where ivy (the vine, implying grapevine) grew.
Alexander did indeed find vines in the region and must have been convinced not to meddle with a god&rsquos dwelling for he left the city and its people alone. Historians have put its location somewhere around Punjab where this encounter must have happened. Meros is the mountain where Dionysus was supposed to have been born and in Sanskrit, Meru is the sacred mountain with five peaks and is the centre of all universes.
The city that Alexander must have come across would have been in the region where the inhabitants were probably followers of Shiva. Now, this is where the similarities between the two gods gets uncanny. Both Dionysus (or Bacchus) and Shiva are gods who are scantily draped in just a cloak. Both the gods freely administer and use intoxicants.
Their followers too celebrate their respective gods by dancing and drumming. And, here&rsquos the last one, both the gods believe in the cycle of birth and rebirth, or reincarnation by any other name. So do we possibly worship the same god in another interpretation? Not too far-fetched to imagine given the empirical data.
Many centuries later, when the English made wine in India (to coincide with the International Exhibition in Calcutta in 1883&ndash84), the regions they chose were Kashmir and modern-day Sindh which would have been part of the greater area of Punjab back then and even today they share borders. The vine would have once again returned to the region with the English settlers this time.
Alexander and the Indian Drinking Olympics
While still on Alexander, allow me to digress a bit further my research threw up this very interesting anecdote and since I have nowhere else to put it, here it is. Alexander always believed that he had earned the wrath of Bacchus by killing his best friend when drunk and also by not making the requisite sacrifices when he had razed the town of Thebes which was under the protection of the same wine god. So he always sought out ways to buy his way into the Lord's good books. This act here was one such effort.
Calanus (or Kalanos) was a native of Taxila (in Rawalpindi district of Pakistan). He had accompanied Alexander on his voyages and Alexander had a deep regard for his interpretation of Greek philosophy. It is said that this great Indian philosopher self-immolated when he felt his cycle of life was coming to a close.
As this happened in India, it prompted Alexander to organise (funeral) games in his honour, much on the lines of the Olympics back home in Greece. Except these weren&rsquot your regular sports competitions one of the games involved copious amounts of drinking. I guess Alexander saw us as being built more for comfort than for speed. Also, with these games not only was he trying to celebrate the memory of the pious Calanus but also maybe appease Bacchus.
Whoever could drink the maximum amount of unmixed wine would be declared the winner. Should have been quite the party except that thirty-five people died almost immediately after ingesting ridiculous amounts of alcohol. Shortly after, six more succumbed to this binge fest. The one who won (or rather, survived) celebrated his victory for four days before joining the others in the afterlife.
As for buying Bacchic benevolence, guess the ploy failed for the march back home was disastrous as many soldiers died or were lost in the desert, and it all ended with Alexander&rsquos own death upon reaching Babylon. Strangely enough, the last words of Calanus to Alexander, as he sat unflinchingly atop his burning pyre, had been, "We shall meet in Babylon." Some say Alexander died after drinking eight horns of unmixed wine but most likely it was poison that did him in. In other words, no matter how powerful you are, you don&rsquot mess with the god of alcohol!
While alcohol for revelry and celebration was always a moot point, alcohol being used for other purposes was never a problem. Alchemy was a growing interest and purification of metals required alcohol. It was a ready solvent and good for preservation. Alcohol also had antiseptic properties. The Charaka Samhita (Charaka&rsquos compendium), the most exhaustive tome of the day on medicinal sciences, was unbelievably detailed about alcohol and its consumption.
The book is a compilation of parts of that had been destroyed or lost under other circumstances at various points. It wasn&rsquot written by one person as such but compiled and taught by many sages over time. Çaraka or Charaka was possibly the last one to edit and revise the text and it is mostly this version that has survived (with some parts being added by another sage, Dridhbala, as they had been lost over time, and it was he who put together this final compilation).
So the Samhita as we know it today has texts from various authors from different eras on the subject and the final compilation contains almost 120 chapters discussing everything from the human body to symptoms and cures of diseases.
The chapter concerning alcohol starts with the fact that alcohol in any form is a toxin and one needs to prepare the body before consumption of the same. The sages clearly left no room for ambiguity on their feelings towards intoxicants. There was a time, place and a ritual for administering alcohol.
One had to take into account age, diet, constitution, season, time of day, state of mind, and the doshas (Vedic classification of a mix of physical, mental and emotional characteristics derived from the natural elements &mdash earth, air, water, fire &mdash that make up our conscience). Fail to follow these precisely and you risk bringing misery upon yourselves. Their words, not mine.
The use of alcohol, especially by a mind which was not in a state of balance gave the momentary illusion of happiness but in the long run was detrimental to both physical and mental health. A person who was angry, grieving, tired, starved, paranoid, or scared should refrain from having alcohol as it would only worsen their condition. How could they have known, for all those words describe precisely the last few rememberable moments of a modern-day Saturday night bender. before one wakes up past noon the next day on a strange sofa!
The Ayurveda texts don&rsquot just stop here they have detailed notes on when to drink and subsequently, how to wean someone off an addiction to substances. Ayurveda decrees, in what can only be called contorted logic, that it is okay to have alcohol with mango juice but it is best to avoid alcohol during summers or when it rains. Isn&rsquot that precisely the season when mangoes are in abundance?
That&rsquos like declaring that you can order a drink as long as there&rsquos no bar involved! As for those who were hitting the liquor-laced earthenware hard, satmikarana is the process of gradually reducing the dosage of intoxicants over time before one can be declared free from its clutches. Think of it like rehab minus the social trolling that accompanies it today.
The Charaka Samhita also lists recipes for alcohol-based tinctures which were administered in tiny amounts (48ml or one pala, generally). They were usually given after meals as curative and preventive potions. These were called arishtas (fermented decoctions) and some of them can be found even today. Almost eighty-four alcohol-based recipes can be found for arishtas and asavas (fermented infusions).
Together they were used to balance the doshas (there&rsquos that word again!) of an individual. Alcohol increases the pitta while reducing the vata and the kapha elements of our constitution. Both arishtas and asavas were prepared in hermetically sealed earthen pots using natural ingredients and a fermentation starter. They could be stored and were administered as per the advice of the physicians who usually studied the pulse of the patients to determine the dosha imbalance and then decided what mix was needed to restore total equilibrium.
This was the other compilation on the medical advancements of the day. Sushruta is the same gentleman who also delved into surgery and is considered the first Indian plastic surgeon. He performed operations from amputations to rhinoplasty and even more complicated procedures.
In his compendium, he listed over 500 drugs with curative properties. Of these almost sixty-four were mineral based and involved intricate handling and washing of various metals and their salts. All this alchemy required alcohol as a major tool to aid in the extraction, isolation and/or conversion processes.
But apart from being the father of (Indian) surgery he may just have been the first sommelier too for he left notes about where the best soma came from: his appellation of preference was the Upper Indus valley (in the reaches of Kashmir) chosen from almost twenty-four types of drinks of varying potency that he had defined and classified as part of his (tasting) notes.
Another tome of extensive knowledge of the times, covering everything from political governance to social customs, is the Arthashastra. The title roughly translates to "Science of Political Economy/Gain". It was written by Chanakya, or Kautilya, who was the teacher-cum-adviser of King Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya dynasty in India.
He wrote the entire script on palm leaves and for the most part of our history, it was lost to us till it was found again in 1904 and published. The found manuscript wasn&rsquot the real McCoy but it was largely an edited version, true to the original work. The language of the book is measured and logical without giving in to emotion or passion. Think of it as the Indian equivalent of the Machiavellian Prince. But it also talks about the alcohol of the times.
Chanakya mentioned the asavas and the arishtas but he also wrote about kapasayani, which was the name given to white wine, and, harahuraka, the red wine, from the region of Kapisi, just north of Kabul. Today the region is called Kafiristan but harahura is the term used for black raisins even today. The red wine was often used as a draksha, which were supplements to aid in digestion.
Maireya was a spiced sugar-based liquor that was drunk exclusively by royalty in those days. For the commoners there was kilaka, from cereals, and masara from a mix of rice and spices. Avadatika, jathi (from flowers), parisruta, s(h)iddhu (dhataki flowers which were also used for asavas/arishtas), varuni (strong liquor). all these may just seem like names to you and me but these were possibly the most used words when they clanged last orders in the tavern.
Oh by the way, for trivia sake, ever wonder what they ate to accompany their drinks in those pubs? Salt! That&rsquos right. Good old table salt: keeps you thirsty, keeps you going. Pretty hard-core stuff that, if you ask me.
Maurya&rsquos times were one of the first periods in India when the sale of liquor was controlled and even taxed. Designated areas for drinking were created and these were the early bars of our times. During festivals, public drinking was allowed for a period of no more than four days and anybody found flouting the rule on the fifth day would have been fined by the excise inspector.
An important thing noted in the writings of the times is that although they mention the use of soma for religious ceremonies, it was excluded from domestic rituals and substitutes were listed instead. One of the reasons for this could be a growing paucity of the hallucinogenic plant which would have made the amount of juice available limited and thus precious a clear indicator of the general decline of soma, an eventual loss for all of us.
Anno Domini: Post-Vedic virtues
By ad first century, a lot had changed. It isn&rsquot as if we suddenly went from making frugal concoctions to mixing world-class drinks but between the Vedas (which were a few hundred years old already) and the detailed recordings of the visiting travellers (from ad 5 onwards), we find little in local texts to substantiate or mark any major development or evolution in our fermenting and brewing processes or in our drinking behaviour.
So when we contrast the two it seems that by the start of the first millennium the small changes had cumulatively added up thereby leaving us to assume that over time knowledge of alcohol and the many recipes had become more concrete.
As also had the variety! Prasanna (spiced beer), medaka (spiced rice beer), mahua (flower distillate), madira (high-quality wine) were all to be found. Madya was the generic term for all high alcohol-content beverages (spirits). The recipes too became more intricate (and elaborate) using ingredients beyond the basic: from honey and treacle to all sorts of flowers, roots, barks and fresh spices for flavouring fine distillates.
Sugarcane beer was another common beverage. In fact, many of the beverages which were formalized in the scriptures of the day have continued to exist to this day and are still made and consumed in remote parts of our country.
The trouble is that these advancements weren&rsquot confined to a geographic location. It all happened simultaneously over the entire subcontinent. What we do know of them is through records of the day which were maintained by the local historians or by the travelling/visiting types. And safe to assume that, sadly, a lot has been lost in translation. So while many believe madira to be a distillate, one description labelled it as fine wine.
Asava, a medicinal fermented infusion, has been interchangeably listed as a generic name for sugarcane beer. Worst loss yet were the recipes themselves, especially the ones which detail the production of various alcohols. And lastly, the measurement units changed over time so what was one drona (10kg by my research) at one point could have meant something different a few decades earlier, or after. And we still don&rsquot know how much exactly is a
And we still don&rsquot know how much exactly is a choe of unmixed wine even if we do know that the winner of Alexander&rsquos drinking game drank four of them (which killed him, precisely four days after).
Fast-forward a century and this ambiguity was much tamed. Detailed recipes for fermentation starters have been found. One certain yeast recipe was called kinra. It wasn&rsquot just local produce that was popular and growing. Coins have been found with Roman seals (of the kings of those times) suggesting a flourishing trade. But Roman money (denarius) back then was the most stable currency and was used in trade even within India. So finding coins wouldn&rsquot be enough to suggest an ongoing trade.
But warehouses in Pouduke (Pondicherry) with amphorae (with two ears hinting at the Roman style) replete with the manufacturers&rsquo (Roman potters&rsquo) seals have been found indicating that wine was definitely a traded commodity. These facilities were built near ports and considering that they were almost 50m in length, it signifies the volume of trade that was being carried out then.
Apart from this and much, much later, Indian wine shone at the Great Calcutta Exhibition. This was made by the British in the regions of Kashmir, Golconda and Baramati. Unfortunately, these vineyards too were destroyed when an American louse called phylloxera attacked the vineyards of Europe (circa 1890). The small bug travelled to Europe and infested the vineyards, decimating them in a matter of years.
American Vitis varieties were resistant to the critter but the European Vitis vinifera genus wasn&rsquot. The entire European wine-production industry nearly shut down (as also did Cognac&rsquos). Then, this same louse managed to board a ship heading further East and came to India, where again, it demolished entire fields of vines. And with that, the local wine industry was exiled into dormancy for almost a century.
If you are in the market for a strong laxative, fermented mahua will do the trick for you only too well. Our ancestors from pre-Aryan times figured this out and hence preferred to distil the beverage to attain a stronger substance. This packed more potency minus the involuntary loosening of the bowels. It was a popular flower-based spirit and is the only one which has survived the onslaught of time.
While most others have been lost or else relegated to minuscule production in the heart of remote tribal settlements, mahua has survived and is now seeing a resurgence as the organised alcohol production sector of India is trying to approach it. Armed with all the science and technology that the times can afford us, it appears that a bright heady future awaits mahua.
The sanctity of a historic tradition, one that pre-dates our current civilisation, now stands to be protected and preserved. Just so long as some bright marketing type doesn&rsquot come along and start a "chug it with salt and lemon juice" trend.
Travellers and Indian Hospitality (5 AD&ndash1400 AD)
Another very rich account of our heritage is to be found by studying the colourful records of the many travellers who visited and documented their journey through India. Megasthenes was among the first to arrive, in circa 300 BC, sometime around the death of Chandragupta Maurya. The first king of the Mauryan dynasty ruled over a kingdom spanning the stretch of the Indian subcontinent from just beyond the Indus valley in the west to the Gangetic plains in the east.
Megasthenes was most likely an envoy of Seleucus I Nicator, a general under Alexander who had established his empire after Alexander&rsquos death in the east bordering Chandragupta&rsquos empire. The two had fought for two years before Seleucus conceded some territory to the Indian king. It was perhaps sometime then that Megasthenes arrived in India, a little before the death of the Mauryan king.
Megasthenes saw wine as a sacrificial offering rather than a commodity for quotidian consumption. Indians, he wrote, were frugal drinkers. And mostly vegetarians. They led simple lives. Except for the city of Nysa which had been conquered and established by Dionysus, the god of wine, no less. Here not only did people know how to make wine but it was also freely drunk and traded.
Looks like Megasthenes got the tourist bubble visit and wasn&rsquot really allowed to mix with the locals else he wouldn&rsquot have given so sober an account of the subcontinent. It reminds me of Douglas Adams&rsquo Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where planet Earth and the entirety of its history and civilisation were summed up in two words, "mostly harmless."
But he wasn&rsquot the only one who saw the shy side of Indian tipplers. Another visitor was Fa Xian, who walked his way to India in search of better translations of Buddhist books circa ad 400. He too spoke of India&rsquos abstinence. He also mentioned that "all through the country" Indians don&rsquot eat onions or garlic and don&rsquot harm (let alone kill) any other living organism. Sounds like a sweeping generalization but, in his defence, his entire trip lasted around fifteen years so it couldn&rsquot have been a rush job.
Xuanzang came in ad 600 and reported similarly his journey lasted over seventeen years. Yijing, who came in 671 AD, didn&rsquot speak at all about drinking but did express surprise at the fact that Indians ate only using their right hand unless ill when they could use (rudimentary) cutlery that and the realisation that only China used chopsticks!
A common strain runs through these three visitors &mdash they were seeing India through the prism of Buddhism. They had come here to take back the essence of Buddhism to China. This helped budding Chinese monks and aspiring Buddhists who didn&rsquot have the resources to undertake such a tedious travel to India.
These travellers were trying to imbue a certain sense of sanctity to the Buddhism of China. So their interactions may have somewhat constricted their exposure to the myriad melee that was the Indian diaspora even back then. That or their involuntary selective perception discounted a lot of what may have been going on around them. For all other records point at meat and alcohol being popularly present in society at all levels.
But their views are once again confirmed by Al Masudi, the Arab historian and geographer (also the unique one to apply a scientific approach to his recordings) who noted that Indians "abstain to maintain clarity". This is fairly logical and understandable. He did not deny the presence of alcohol, merely commented on the way Indians perceived it.
He arrived in 947 AD, during the reign of the Hindu rulers of the Shahi dynasty who were more occupied in protecting their territories from invasions from the north-east and devoted little time to the finer arts. They were defeated and replaced by Mahmud of Ghazni who was an extremist in every sense everything came second to his lust for gold, riches and power.
One of the most extensive accounts of the drinking culture of India was documented by Al Biruni, the famous Iranian scholar, traveller and historian who visited India in ad eleventh century. He noted that the brahmins abstained from intoxicants but they were the only ones to do so. They had fruit juice instead. The warriors drank wine as also did the businessmen. Honey- and flower-based distillates were the only types allowed among spirits. The lower castes (shudras) could drink spirits but were not allowed to trade in it.
By contrast, while the journals of Ibn Batuta, the famous Moroccan traveller who visited India in ad 1330, said nothing negative about our festive rituals, he pretty much skipped the bit about alcohol being a part of our society at any level. Being a favourite of the king, he was privy to many a lavish feast hosted for visiting dignitaries or when the king won at war or, simply because it was an otherwise dull Tuesday. And yet nowhere does he mention alcohol (the king was a follower of Islam so that could be a reason too).
Even those elaborate feasts to celebrate the return from a hunt had dancing girls on high platforms (to get up to the height of the elephants where the king and his troop were perched) serving syrup water to everyone. A special drink he talks about was called fuqqa, a mix of barley water and sugar. His travelogues make for a lovely read, save for the fact that he prefixes all non-Muslim entities with "infidel" each and every time he refers to them, like a series of irritatingly frequent jolts in an otherwise poetic passage.
But the absence of alcohol from his detailed writings (which give a first-person account of everything from tax collection to the practice of sati) seems rather conspicuous and hints at a deliberate and conscious omission rather than an innocent oversight.
The Nice Lie
Being super friendly and making you feel comfortable and then lying to you.
The problem: you don&rsquot realize it&rsquos a lie until too late.
The top two occurrences of this unfortunate situation&hellip
The Friendly Taxi
Our Indian friend got us a taxi, he called this taxi his friend. He picked us up to go grab my dress and Garrett&rsquos suit for the wedding.
He brought us to a rental shop, we got the suit, picked up my dress, went to the ATM (mistake), and then he all of a sudden needed gas (he didn&rsquot). He requested 500R ($8) stating he was our taxi for the day, the evening and probably tomorrow too (another event for the wedding).
We didn&rsquot want to be rude to our friend&rsquos friend and he had been so nice! Since he was driving us around all day and such, we handed it over thinking, why not? He&rsquos driving us, he deserved a few bucks (our friend told us we didn&rsquot owe him anything, but we figured he deserved some money). There are plenty more details that made this scam so much more apparent (afterwards) and the pieces fit perfectly, he did a very good job. Needless to say, after the initial drop off we never saw him again. He wasn&rsquot really a friend.
The kicker: As if stealing 500R wasn&rsquot enough, this dude had the gall to order a large bottled water and tea and put it on our tab at the hotel he picked us up from without asking. We didn&rsquot notice until we checked out the next day.
The Computer Dude
The second scam was in Rishikesh when my MacBook charger crapped out on me.
Not having a computer is not an option for me. I needed one and a trusted electrician I found online with three great reviews seemed to be the best and only solution.
He was so nice!! Making a long story short, I was promised a brand new original Apple charger and he gave me a bunk one. It was obvious to us it wasn&rsquot a real Apple. I was insulted he thought I was that dumb.
The problem was, I was desperate for one so I bought it, but I didn&rsquot give him the 5500R ($85) he wanted and only gave him 3000R. Still a lot of money ($46) for a non original. If he would have given me a real one-I would have given him his asking price, but he lied.
Apparently lying is a very a common thing. Even between locals. We saw the lying day in and day out with our experiences and even the locals around us. Deceiving others seems to be common practice. I wasn&rsquot down with that.
India is developing day by day and major factors for development which are education and poverty is vanishing so i hope it will get developed till 2020 till now the poverty rate has declined to 22% from 30% in 2009 and literacy rate has been raised to 74% from 64% in 2000. It should be developed by the end of this decade
India will become a developed nation by 2020 as estimated but according to me it might take a bit longer. But India has the potential to become a superpower.It has a large population and we have fast growing cities.Our Bangalore IT is second to USA . India has largest number of universities , education centres , etc . India is in the top 10 military forces of the world with top 5 air force . India also is a nuclear power .
11 Extremely Stupid Things Indians Do Without Thinking
__START__Doing engineering, following up with an MBA and then pursuing a totally random career. Like an ice-cream flavour taster.
Because, in all the years it took them to finish these degrees, they had no thinking ability to decide what they actually wanted to do in life. Those hours of practicals and assignments gave them not the tiniest hint. We're glad wisdom eventually dawned though. It's okay to have found your passion a little later in life. But if you are just following the crowd and taking up engineering, medicine or any other stream because you do not know what else to do or because your parents told you to or because your friends are doing it, it is time for you to perhaps take a career assessment test. Go visit a career counselor. Don't waste college seats and precious years of your life.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Throwing garbage on top of a large garbage pile.
It's already dirty. Adding one little plastic bag or paper scrap won't make it dirtier. In fact, your little scrap of garbage won't even be noticeable in that big pile, right? Unfortunately, it was because of people like you that a pile was formed in the first place. Liking the Swacch Bharat page on Facebook and tweeting about piles of dirt at every street corner will do nothing but create more junk, but of the virtual kind. Take a small step instead and start carrying paper bags around to dispose your trash.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Getting married at the "right" age.
Which, if you ask any Indian aunty or uncle, is around 25-26 for boys and 22-24 for girls. Because if you don't get married by then, wrinkles will form around your eyes, you'll suddenly look hideous and no one will want to marry you. Or perhaps, they're afraid that you'll just develop your own voice. We aren't advising people to get married late here. If you're ready for responsibility and marriage at a young age, go right ahead and tie the knot. All we are saying is, there's nothing like the right age. It could be 22 for you and 52 for your neighbour. There's only a right time. And that is when you're mentally prepared.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Pressing both buttons for the elevator.
We've seriously seen some ridiculous things people do while waiting for an elevator. Post smartphone etiquette awareness, there needs to be an elevator awareness drive. The most common habit is repeatedly pressing the elevator button. Pressing a button that has already been pressed will not make the lift move any faster. Many times, people are so impatient that they end up pressing both buttons! If you want to go up, press the up button. If you want to go down, press the down button. Beware! If you press both buttons together, your lift will get confused and might just stop working!
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Doing just what the neighbour does.
This is probably one of the stupidest Indian habits. The neighbour purchased a new car? I need to buy a bigger and better car. He got a new AC installed? I will get a new fridge plus AC! There's no end to the neighbourly competition. In fact, Indians do this everywhere. At work, with their children, in schools, everywhere. It was okay to demand a new pencil from your parents when your partner got one in school. But making your child join dance class, abacus class, calligraphy class, handwriting class and elocution class just because other parents are doing the same is pointless. Before following everyone, just take a breather and understand if it is really good for you or not.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Talking with a fake accent in front of foreigners.
This one's a classic. Every time an Indian wants to appear better and more sophisticated than he is, he'll simply revert to English. Doesn't matter if the English is horrendous and pathetic. Because talking in our mother-tongue just makes us so uncouth, doesn't it? And the icing on the cake? Encountering a foreigner on the streets and putting on a specially created fake English accent that sounds like a horrible cross between American English, British English and Yiddish. For all you know, the foreigner is from Germany and can get on without your English very well, thank you.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Shopping from only international brands because they're 'cool'.
Seriously, if you buy something labelled 'Imported Saree', you should ideally get your head checked. Indians have developed an affair with almost each and every foreign brand. Little do they realise that these brands (like Zara, M&S and even Walmart), which they look up to as 'high-class' and fashionable are the poor man's bread in other nations. Many times, a lot of quality goods are available from our local stores at less than half the price but we are least bothered. Just because it is imported does not mean it is better.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Following internet trends without knowing what they are for.
A lot of Indians participated in the ALS challenge. And more recently, the November 'No Shave Month' challenge. But we wonder if even half the participants had bothered researching the reasons these trends became so popular and why they were started. What is ALS? And why the ban only on shaving? Indians tend to jump on and participate in any online trend just because it is popular and will get them a few more likes on Facebook. The next time you're thinking of participating in something like that, know and understand the cause behind it.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Avoiding non-veg on particular days.
A lot of Indians who are non-vegetarians do not eat meat on particular days like Tuesdays or Saturdays as they are considered to be "holy" days. They blindly follow the trend without realising why it came into existence in the first place. Not eating meat on Tuesday to appease Lord Ganesha or Shiv or whichever God the day belongs to will not earn you brownie points. You are still happily butchering and eating his creations the rest of the time. The only reason this tradition evolved was to prevent an over-eating of non-vegetarian food and to promote a healthy diet with a mix of meat and vegetarian food. The next time, try understanding why exactly you're doing a particular thing before doing it.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Changing Facebook DPs and Whatsapp statuses.
A relatively new but extremely irritating trend Indians have adopted. They change their Facebook display pictures to support whatever cause they believe in. Like changing the Facebook display picture to 'Je Suis Charlie Hebdo' after the Paris massacre. Do people even know the meaning of the phrase? The literal translation we mean, not the symbolic. And what about the reason why the line was trending? It is not cool to change your DP to a black picture and invite your friends to do t too. If you really want to make a difference, log off Fb, get off your chair and do something.
__LISTSEPARATOR____START__Breaking the signal just because one driver/biker did it.
You will see cars waiting at a traffic signal and some extremely adventurous and impatient ones honking to glory in the hope of turning that signal green. But the one biker/driver right in front of the queue will quickly look around to see if he can spot any traffic police. If not, that's his cue to zoom past the signal. And as soon as one does it, the rest just follow. No wonder over half of Indians are always stuck in traffic jams. And just in case there is an honest soul who stops and waits for the lights to turn green, he is honked at and even abused!
Can you think of any other such stupid things we do? Let us know in comments below!
Overcrowding and scarcity of resources lead to a lot of pushing and shoving in India! If there is a line, people will certainly try and jump it. To prevent this from happening, those who are in the line will commonly stand so close to each other that they're touching. It can feel unnerving at first, but it's necessary to prevent people from cutting in.
There's a joke that it's okay to "piss in public but not kiss in public" in India. Unfortunately, there is truth to it! While you may think nothing of holding your partner's hand in public, or even hugging or kissing them, it's not appropriate in India. Indian society is conservative, particularly the older generation. Such personal acts are associated with sex and can be considered obscene in public. "Moral policing" does occur. While it's unlikely that, as a foreigner, you'll be arrested it's best to keep affectionate gestures private.
5 Reasons Why You Should Not Date Indian Girls
Matt Forney is an American author, journalist and radio host based in Europe. He blogs at MattForney.com and is also on SoundCloud, Twitch, and YouTube. He is the author of Do the Philippines and many other books, available here. Matt is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Terror House Magazine. His work has also been featured at Reaxxion, Taki's Magazine, Right On, Red Ice, Affirmative Right, and other sites.
As America becomes increasingly diverse, prospective love tourists have the ability to sample foreign dishes without having to book a flight to the country where they came from. To the uninitiated, Indian girls seem like one of the most enticing items on the menu. If you had a middle-class or wealthy upbringing, you probably grew up knowing a few Indians, and you might be fooled into thinking they make a better bet then the hordes of selfie-addicted, socially retarded white girls you’re used to.
If you live in the west, dating an Indian girl is one of the worst decisions you can make. Indians combine the worst of their native culture and the worst of American culture in one disgusting, rancid stew. Here’s why you should never date—or even pump and dump—an Indian girl.
1. They’re unattractive
Forget about Aishwaryi Rai and every other smoking hot Bollywood actress you’ve ever seen: the average Indian girl has a Coke can physique and bad genes. While not as disgustingly obese as the average American, even fit Desi girls are packing more poundage than any girl should be legally allowed to have. Even if she’s in shape, expect her to balloon up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man the minute she gets a ring on it. Have you ever seen a skinny Indian woman over the age of 35? Thought not.
Not only that, even decent-looking Indian girls have unappealing bodies. Desis may have big butts, but their asses and breasts are always squishy and soft, like a bowl of Jell-O. Additionally, every single Indian girl I’ve ever known had too much body hair. Combine that with their obesity-prone genetics and you might as well be sleeping with a fat guy.
2. They’re prudes
When I say Indian girls are prudish, I don’t mean they’re hard to get in the sack: God no. I mean they have all sorts of bizarre sexual hangups that make banging them about as fun as thrusting your dick into a vacuum cleaner. Indian girls have sexually conservative attitudes thanks to their parents, and navigating their sea of rationalizations is a prerequisite for getting your rocks off.
The first Indian girl I ever banged, in college, was an “everything-but” virgin, in that she did everything but normal, vaginal intercourse: blowjobs, anal, the whole nine yards. She actually believed that this excused all the slutting around she did. Another Desi I met not long after refused to go down on me, saying it was “gross”… even as she bragged about how much she loved it when guys went down on her. These selfish attitudes are reinforced by the spoiled, daddy’s little girl mentalities that Indian girls have.
3. They’re self-loathing
Members of the Roosh V Forum are well aware of Indian Race Trolls, self-loathing Indian men who hijack discussions by whining about how they can’t get white girls because of their brown skin. Indian girls possess the same exact inferiority complex. Every Indian girl I’ve ever known secretly loathed her ethnic heritage, wanted to be white, and fetishized white men to a degree that was downright creepy.
23 Amazing Historical Places In India You Never Heard About!
The historical places and beautiful monuments spread across India are a delight for any traveller. Taj Mahal is the most iconic historical place in India, but there are many that are still unknown and unexplored. They are as beautiful and enticing as Taj and their locations can enthral you if only you knew how to find them.
Kumbhalgarh, the jewel of Mewar, is situated in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan. History, royalty, power and culture are all packed in this place. It is a treat for the human eyes and mind. There is a magnificent array of temples built by the Mauryas of which the most picturesque place is the Badal Mahal or the palace of the clouds. The fort's massive wall stretches some 36 km with a width enough to take eight horses abreast and is fondly called the 'Great Wall of India'. The fort accommodates 360 temples, out of which, 300 are Jain temples and the remaining 60 are Hindu temples. One can enjoy an entertaining and informative sound and light show that happens every day at 6pm and costs only ₹100 per person. For those who wish to explore further, you can check out the Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Indian wolf, sloth bear, striped hyena and more.
Entry fee: ₹15 for Indians and SAARC country tourists, ₹200 for others.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
Best time to visit: October – March
Nearest railway station: Falna railway station is the nearest Railway station situated at a distance of 84km from Kumbhalgarh and is well connected to many major cities. The other railway station is Udaipur, 105km away.
Rabdentse ruins is one of those Indian historical places that even Indians don't know about. Placed towards the south east of one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim, the ruins of the Rabdentse Palace is one of the main attractions in Sikkim. Founded in 1670 by Tensung Namgya, the 2nd Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Rabdentse was the second capital of Sikkim after Yuksom and remained so till 1814 A.D. The palace cum monastery complex is almost in ruins, and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Thick forests with a pond surround the palace ruins. A 2 km trek from the monastery brings you to these ruins.
Entry fee: Free for all
Opening hours: 8am to 5pm
Best time to visit: March – May
Nearest railway station: New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railway station, around 132km from Pemayangtse Monastery. You can hire a taxi from the station itself.
The site has an uncanny resemblance to the ruins of Mohenjdaro-Harappa, but it exists in the heart of our capital, New Delhi. The height of the citadel is imposing and its fantastic emerald-green views are mesmerising. You will be astonished by the intelligence and engineering skills used to make artificial lakes and embankments around the area. The sheer size of this fortress and its earthy charm never fails to mesmerise visitors. Be wary of the monkeys, who are prone to steal belongings.
Entry fee: ₹15 for Indians and members of SAARC countries. ₹ 200 for others.
Opening hours: 7am to 5pm
Best time to visit: October – March
Nearest railway station: New Delhi railway station, from where you can take the Delhi Metro, get down at Tughlaqabad metro station and take an auto to the fort.
Not many people are aware that India had many excellent educational centres in the past including Vikramshila University, located 50 km east of Bhagalpur. It was one of the largest Buddhist learning centres, spread over hundred acres of land. As you enter the campus you cannot help but be envious of the scholars who once studied here. The centre has astonishing fifty two rooms spread on both sides of the corridor with an elaborate stupa at the centre. What is even more marvellous is the enormous library that has been excavated and testifies to the rich history of India. A visit to this glorious and historical university is highly recommended!
Entry fee: ₹15 for Indians and members of SAARC countries. ₹ 200 for others.
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm
Best time to visit: October – March
Nearest railway station: Nearest railway junction is situated in Kahalgaon, about 13km away.
Basgo monastery, based on Buddhist tradition and culture in the terrain of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, is perched on the top of a hill. The monastery was a fortress and the seat of authority of the Namgyal kingdom. It was the cultural-political centre of the kingdom. This place is rich in culture and heritage and yet one of the unexplored gems of Ladakh. It boasts of stunning sunset views as the citadel is bathed in the rusty hue of the setting sun.
Entry fee: ₹30 per person
Opening hours: Dawn to dusk
Best time to visit: March – July and October – November.
Nearest railway station: Jammu is the closest railway station to the Basgo nearly 734 km away. One would need to take a bus or a private cab, passing Shimla and Manali and reach Leh from where Basgo is only 40km away.
The Government Needs to Do Something
Now that we are in Rajasthan, we wonder why the governing body doesn&rsquot get its act together. There is no need to live in this waste.
There are a billion people in India, it should be easy to employ people to clean up the street. Why not put in some garbage cans? That would be a great start.
Why not put your criminals to work? We have punishments in Canada where people are sentenced to community service.
Dave and I walk around daily and state how there isn&rsquot a reason for all this mess.
Well, we can&rsquot talk while we are walking. I have to assume the position of walking behind him while he leads the way.
It is impossible to walk side by side. We must walk in single file.
We have to walk on the road with the cars, the rickshaws, and the cows and oh yeah, the filth.
Signs don&rsquot help at all &ndash , Nobody Listens, India is still Filthy
Walking in India is Hard Work
We commented to each other that India is very bad for the relationship. We never get to hold hands or socialize while we walk.
Nope, walking in India is work.
I have to walk with my scarf around my nose to block out the disgusting smells that linger in the air.
We have to watch where we step, we can never take our eye off the road.
One lapse in concentration and you could easily be stepping in a gooey mess of giant poop.
Maybe they should have touts sell hip waders to tourists, I&rsquom sure they would be a big hit!
All the while you have to dodge buses, cars, rickshaws, and the odd loogie of spit coming out of windows or flying through the air from somewhere.
You may trip over a homeless guy sleeping in the street&hellip or a sleeping dog. Cows don&rsquot move for anything and you have to fend off touts and beggars the entire time.
Do you want an adventure? Try going out for a leisurely stroll in India.
The stench of Urination in the Streets
The temples of India are beautiful, the forts are nice, but the waste, the feces, and garbage are such a turn-off that we are really considering leaving the country for a while.
What can I say, we&rsquove reached our limit. We just can&rsquot get past the poop and rotting food in the street.
It really makes us appreciate what we have in Canada&hellipA Garbage Union.
Those guys deserve all the money they are making and more!
Now, to the Indian government that prides itself in being the largest democracy in the world, we beg you, take care of your people and clean up your streets!
Read Next: Top Scams to Watch out for in India
Travel Planning Resources
Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.
Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner
Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor
Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO.
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- - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers. - Occasional Travelers. - Global air medical transport and travel security.
Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.
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For those who are characterising Indians as not using toilets, Here is the full historical context.
India was always one of the rarest of rare countries that always had proper sanitation coverage (among lower as well as upper classes) for thousands of years right up until the 17th century before the British colonised India.
Reasons why access to sanitation coverage in India went down drastically from the 17th century onwards :
Due to the rapacious and excessive taxation policies of the British colonial administrators, India's publicly funded revenue models broke down leading to a tight squeeze on public funds and revenues.
These funds were previously used in the renovation and maintenance of a countrywide network of waterworks such as tanks, Reservoirs, Stepwells, Irrigation dams, Canals, Sluices, Kuins (the 'kuin' was a unique, Highly sophisticated and complex waterworks feature that collected water through the principle of moisture collection/condensation, Used in particularly dry areas), Underground sewage/runoff systems (either fully underground Or open top with lid coverings), By a vast army of civil engineers, Laborers and architects.