Tag: History

The Geography of India’s History

One of the topics that’s interested me for a while is the interplay of Geography and History. So it is with great pleasure that I am presently reading Sanjeev Sanyal’s “Land of Seven Rivers“.

I am still only about 25% into the book, but it’s already been a fascinating read. The book starts with the Harappan civilisation and then moves on to explore the geography behind India’s great epics – The Ramayana and The Mahabharata.

My interest being more in the geography, I started a project to map a few of these historical places on to a map of modern India. Thanks to the features in Google Maps, I was able to place some of these locations on to my map. Here it is:

The places highlighted in blue are key locations from the Harappan civilisation. It is also called The Indus Valley Civilisation, but as places such as Rakhigarhi and Lothal indicate, the civilisation covered a vast area, extending well beyond the Indus Valley. The following image indicates the true spread of this ancient civilisation.

Harappan civilisation
By Avantiputra7Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Moving on from that civilisation, we enter the age of the great Indian Epics – The Ramayana and The Mahabharata.

Places marked in green on my first map indicate the places described in the Mahabharata while places marked in orange have been mentioned in the Ramayana.

There is some doubt on which came first. Though many feel it is the Ramayana, Sanjeev Sanyal makes some interesting points that are worth reflecting on.

If we look at the map, it is clear that most of the key places mentioned in the Mahabharata are located immediately to the east of the places we know of from the Harappan civilisation. While The Ramayana makes mention of places spread further towards the east, such as Ayodhya, and south, extending all the way to Sri Lanka via Chitrakoot, Panchavati and Kishkinda (near modern-day Hampi). If we assume that ‘civilisation’ spread outwards from the Indus (and Saraswati) valley civilisations, does that indicate that the Mahabharata possibly came before the Ramayana?

The next phase of the book talks about the birth of Buddhism, which pushes the narrative even further to the East. But that’s a topic for later!

Monday Reads – 02/03

Laptop with image of food
Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

History, Future, Food and Apple – an eclectic mix in this week’s set.

How German cruiser ‘Emden’ struck terror in the heart of the British Empire, and became a Tamil word – Starting with History, a fascinating story from the time of World War II and the birth of a new word in the Tamil and Malayalam languages.

Steve Wozniak – Continuing with History, I just came across this fascinating interview with the co-founder of Apple. It seems like everyone knows everything about Steve Jobs, but this was an eye-opening interview about the engineer who set Apple on the path to future success.

Superintelligence – Speaking about the future, this is a thought-provoking article on what might be the biological impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on humans, and what the end state might look like. It also asks us to think about ‘Why is it that we exist as humans?’

What Noma did next: how the ‘New Nordic’ is reshaping the food world – And finally, a long, but very informative article from the word of Fine Dining. It is interesting to see how a restaurant (and now, movement) has been so successful in establishing a region that was not really know for its food culture on to the World Map of Fine Dining. It will be great to see something similar evolve for Indian (or South Asian) cuisine.

Key Cultural Eras of the last 100 years


Outside of Digital Marketing, traveling and bird-watching, my interests include reading and learning more about the history (and geography) of key cultural movements. It has always fascinated me as to why the Renaissance took place in Italy, the Industrial Revolution kicked off in Britain and so on. Moving forward, the counter-culture of the 1960’s was one of the first ‘key cultural movement’ that I became aware of, largely due to my choice of music leading me to bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Yardbirds and more. So it just felt right that the first place I visited outside of India was San Francisco where I went to the famous ‘Haight-Ashbury’ district.

However, as I write the above, I realise that it’s strictly not true. The first international cultural movement I was aware of was the hippie movement. This was because I had close family living in Goa in the 1990s. We used to visit them regularly and could still come across stragglers of the movement on the beaches of North Goa.

I recently read a book about Ernest Hemmingway’s time in Paris, and that piqued my curiosity about that era. It was while reading more about this era that I learned more about the Roaring 20’s. It was the age of significant and unprecedented change in culture, music, fashion and more. Paris seemed to have been the place where all the action took place.

Other movements of the past century include the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 60s. Interestingly, one of the places where key figures of this movement lived in was Tangier in Morocco.

It will be fascinating to read more about these movements, understand why, where and how they evolved and why did they peter out. That’s my reading list for the next few weeks and months!

Photo Credit:Vasilios Muselimis

Discovering Bengaluru

Discovering Bengaluru

It’s not often that I write about a book before I have completed it and absorbed it. But in the case of ‘Discovering Bengalure‘ by Meera Iyer, I am making an exception.

The book, as it’s sub-title point out is about Bengaluru’s History. However, forget any preconceived notions of what a history book might read like. This is a history book with a difference. By focusing on specific neighbourhoods of Bengaluru, the book immediately makes history accessible and personal. No longer is it an abstract concept of people and events long gone by, but it makes us aware of and appreciate the history all around the city. This is done primarily by grounding the narrative around important heritage structures around Bengaluru.

The book also describes interesting walks in each of these neighbourhoods by which anyone can get out, explore and become more familiar with the history of that area. This technique immediately gets the book out of a library or home and into the streets, in the hands of ‘explorers’. Indeed, a logical extension of the book could be a mobile site or app that can serve as a reliable and handy guide for people interested in the history and heritage of a place.

Meera Iyer is Convenor of the Bengaluru chapter of INTACH and her familiarity and passion for the heritage of the city comes through in this book. Do get your hand on a copy and go out and explore Bengaluru!

The Geography of History

Historical Map

As a school student, Geography was my favourite subject. I used to (and still like to) spend time poring over a map, locating geographical features, studying the various places, etc. More recently, I have started developing a greater interest in History. And one of the topics that fascinates me is trying to understand the geographical features of places that feature prominently in History.

Is there anything in the geography of Italy that inspired the Renaissance? Or the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe? Going further back, what about all the great historical kingdoms of Southern India that spread their influence right across South East Asia? These are some of the questions that fascinate me.

So it was interesting to come across this interview with William Dalrymple, the historian who has written a series of books about the recent history of India. In this interview, he speaks about why it is important for him to visit the places that are to feature in the books he is working on.

I believe it will be an interesting topic to explore further and intend to dedicate some time on this. Let’s see how far I get!