A European Duel in South India

In 1740, war broke out in Europe. The reason? The king of the Austrian Empire died that year. And in an unprecedented move, he left it so that his daughter, Princess Maria Theresa, would inherit the crown. Unfortunately, not everyone agreed with the former king. Other kingdoms and nations in Europe said that Maria could not rule the empire because she was a woman. While … Continue reading A European Duel in South India

The Satavahanas and India’s Ancient Tollgates

Some of the oldest art in India dating back to the 1st century BC, can be found in the Ajantha caves of Maharashtra. Magnificent murals found here depict Buddhist and Hindu deities and figures. These caves and their paintings were created not long after the death of Buddha under the patronage of a dynasty called the Satavahanas. Who were they? Above: Mural from the Cave … Continue reading The Satavahanas and India’s Ancient Tollgates

Plague in Bombay

Hong Kong in May 1894 was rife with bubonic plague. Within a short time, this extremely deadly and virulent epidemic had claimed a few hundred lives. Hong Kong was a busy port city with ships travelling out carrying valuable cargo and many people every day. Seaborne, the plague soon arrived in Bombay (Mumbai), a city which even in those days housed over 820,000 people. How … Continue reading Plague in Bombay

Subterranean Mumbai

Big cities are full of secrets, and Mumbai is no exception. Tucked-away in the city’s myriad neighbourhoods there are moss-covered graveyards, abandoned railway stations, paved-over rivers and secret underground bunkers and tunnels. Just in the last ten years, four different underground spaces have been discovered in South Mumbai. And they’re all right under where the old British fort once stood. Why are they there? Continue reading Subterranean Mumbai

The Missing Pagodas of Mamallapuram

For centuries, European sailors who travelled through the Bay of Bengal talked about a mysterious city that they called the Seven Pagodas. Marco Polo mentioned the city in his accounts of Asia, saying that the pagodas were so large he could see them from a great distance away. He even put the city down on his world map. Above: Eight pages of the original 1375 … Continue reading The Missing Pagodas of Mamallapuram

The Ashokan Edicts: Trying to make things right

The year was 261 BCE, and in India the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka the Great was planning to go to war with the neighbouring state of Kalinga. By this point Ashoka had been king for 8 years and was known for his ruthless efficiency. He had killed his brothers to secure his throne, crushed rebellions and imprisoned and tortured his enemies. Once certain of his power, … Continue reading The Ashokan Edicts: Trying to make things right