Magen David Synagogue, Byculla, Mumbai

May 27, 2020 2 comments

Magen David Synagogue

Byculla, Mumbai

Also see: Synagogues of downtown Mumbai

The history of the Jews in India dates back to the ancient times. Judaism was the probably the first foreign religion to reach India. Jews always have been a extreme minority and they have lived in peace with the local population for centuries.

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Magen David Synagogue, Byculla, Mumbai

The first group of Jews arrived in the Cochin region of Kerala long before the birth of Christ and came to be known as the Cochin Jews.

Next came the Bene Israel (literally meaning the Children of Israel) Jews, who were considered as descended of the lost tribes of Israel. They arrived  more than three centuries ago and settled along the west cost of India.

At the end of the 19th century came the Baghdadi Jews, as the name suggests, are of Iraqi origin. They were a flourishing business community and settled in business centres like Calcutta (Also see: Kolkata Jews) and Bombay.

In Bombay they flourished under the leadership of David Sassoon, a prominent Baghdadi Jew, who settled in Bomaby in 1832.

The Baghdadi Jews, while retaining their Iraqi Jewish culture, also went on to establish themselves as wealthy businessmen and philanthropists in Mumbai.

Soon their business flourished and the Bagdadi Jews of Mumbai started settling in the posh Byculla area of south Mumbai.

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Kurumbera, A fortified Temple Complex

May 20, 2020 5 comments

Kurumbera

A fortified Temple Complex

See also: Kurumbera, Moghalmari, Gangani and Pathra, Weekend Family Tour

The  fortified temple complex of Kurumbera lies in the village of Gaganeshwar, which is 4 km from Keshiari and 30 km from Kharagpur. The structure resembles the medieval architecture of Odisha, while also incorporating elements of later Mughal architecture.

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Fortified complex of Kurumbera, West Midnapore

Kurumbera means stone wall (kurum = stone, bera = fence) and refers to the 12 feet high wall enclosing the complex. The wall complex measured 253 feet by 173 feet and has a gateway on the northern side.

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Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture & Heritage by Anita Bose

Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture & Heritage

Anita Bose

Book Review

During her stay in Thailand Anita Bose was surprised to see that the Indian epic of Ramayana was an integral part of the Thai culture. A country with 95% Buddhist population studying of Ramayana is a compulsory part of school education in Thailand. The Buddhist King of Thailand still takes the title of Rama.

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Book Cover (Source: Bee Books)

During her five years stay in Bangkok, Thailand Anita volunteered as a guide at the National Museum of Bangkok, which housed a Ramayana gallery.

During her stint as a volunteer guide in the museum a month long Ramayana Festival in Bangkok changed Anita’s concept of Ramayana. The international festival had participants from eight countries, including India.

This was an eye opener for Anita and motivated her to travel to several other south Asian countries to retrace the Ramayana legacy.

Her travels and research resulted in the book titled Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture and Heritage. The book covers extensive info on Ramayana practice in south east Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Loas, Cambodia and Myanmar.

In Thailand Ramayana is known as Ramakein and is performed in the form of Khon Dance (Also see: Khon Dance Mask) or shadow puppetry. The inner walls of the Grand Palace in Bangkok depicts the entire Ramayana in 178 panels stretching over a mile. In Indonesia Ramayana is known as Kakawin and is performed by Muslim dancers, on full-moon nights, with the backdrop of the massive Prambanan Temple.

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Gateway of India, Icon of Mumbai

May 6, 2020 2 comments

Gateway of India

Icon of Mumbai

Gateway of India is Mumbai‘s most iconic landmark. It is located at the tip of the Apollo Bunder, the gateway overlooks the Mumbai harbour, bordered by the Arabian Sea in the Colaba district.

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Gateway of India, Icon of Mumbai

The arched gateway was erected to commemorate the landing of King – Emperor George V and Queen – Empress Mary in December 1911. This was the first ever India visit by the British Monarch.

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Gangani, a scaled down version of the Grand Canyon

April 29, 2020 2 comments

Gangani

A scaled down version of the Grand Canyon

See also: Kurumbera, Moghalmari, Gangani and Pathra, Weekend Family Tour

The wind and water have carved and chiselled the landscape for millions of years creating a unique landscape. The layers of colourful mud and rocks exposes a records of millions of years.

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Gangani Canyon

It is not the Grand Canyon but a scale down version of it is located just four hours drive from Kolkata. Gangani or Gongoni, located in the outskirts of the Garhbeta town in West Medinipur district of West Bengal, houses a canyon loving known as the Grand Canyon of West Bengal.

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A morning in Gorai Beach, north western Mumbai

April 22, 2020 1 comment

A morning in Gorai Beach

North western Mumbai

It was early morning and Adithya and I were at the Gorai Beach waiting for the sun to rise. Gorai Beach located in the north western suburbs of Mumbai is favourite weekend destination for Mumbaikars.

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Horse Chariots on Gorai Beach, Mumbai

Adithya and I were not Mumbaikars and we were not on a holiday either. Both of us were in Mumbai as part of a Wikipedia workshop known as Train The Trainer (TTT). TTT is a three day residential training workshop to groom leadership skills among the experienced wikipedians.

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Red Fort by Debasish Das

April 15, 2020 2 comments

Red Fort, remembering the magnificent Mughals

Debasish Das

Book Review

A fort is all about massive bastions and giant gateways coupled with massive military edifice and strategic defensive mechanism. But apart from being a defensive structure, forts have always served as independent cities complete with bazars, gardens crisscrossed with walkways and water channels.

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Book Cover (including back cover). Photo source: Debasish Das’ personal blog

Forts complete with royal courts have always been centre of royal decision making. Behind the court, but within the walls of the fort, royal family politics had a significant role. This internal politics not only shaped the history of the empire but also had a significant role in the history of the entire mankind.

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