The Marriage of Princess Catherine

Nobody asked for Catherine’s consent to marry Charles. Yes! When Catherine de Braganza, Princess of Portugal, came of age, they simply sent her portraits to Royalty in France, Austria and other Catholic European countries. But,  no wedding proposals materialised. One reason was that Portugal’s arch-rivals — the Spanish — were spreading rumours that the real Catherine was ugly and unfit to bear children. Why? If … Continue reading The Marriage of Princess Catherine

The Dutch Defector & The Kerala King

By the late 17th century, Holland was a naval and economic superpower. The Dutch East India Company was the largest multinational ever, and it dominated the world spice trade. Much of these spices came from the Indian state of Kerala where the Dutch had a stranglehold on purchases. This monopoly was not because of superior business strategy; it simply came from military power. They arm-twisted … Continue reading The Dutch Defector & The Kerala King

The Legend of the Chola King Karikalan

The beautiful Ekambareswara temple is in the heart of Kanchipuram. At its entrance, the statue of King Karikalan welcomes you. Why is it here? Because, according to one legend, Karikalan built this temple! We do not know if the legend is true, but we do know that he was a swashbuckling hero and a master-builder. Above: Karikala statue at Ekambareswara Temple. Image Credit: S V Kaushik … Continue reading The Legend of the Chola King Karikalan

The astonishing story of India’s first Railroad

Most Indians believe that the first train in India ran in 1853 between Bori Bunder in present day Mumbai and Thane, but that was the first passenger train. The very first train in Indian history arrived almost two decades before that. Here’s the astonishing story about The Red Hills Railway. Steam engines were definitely involved, but so were cattle and even wind! How was that … Continue reading The astonishing story of India’s first Railroad

Mark Twain in Mumbai

This picture shows you, what used to be the grand Watson’s Hotel in Bombay. This ghost of a building known today as Esplanade Mansion, quietly awaits its fate in the Fort area of Mumbai. But before its sad demise, the hotel saw many glittering days and equally glittering people. In 1896, an American author and satirist came to India. He had made much money in … Continue reading Mark Twain in Mumbai

Mackenzie: The man who found Amarāvatī

A very long time ago, in the 3rd Century BCE, Buddhism in India was in its Golden Age. Asoka the great, a powerful Indian Emperor had converted to Buddhism after a life changing event and sent missionaries to spread the religion far and wide. But something strange happened to Buddhism in India while it thrived in its neighbouring countries. By the 13th century AD, the … Continue reading Mackenzie: The man who found Amarāvatī

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