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

Jataka Tales: The Buddha’s many lives

Once upon a time, an acorn fell on top of a little bird named Chicken Little and he thought the skies were coming down. He made a huge commotion and set the other animals running as well. This story is a part of Aesop’s Fables. But even before Aesop and Chicken Little, there was a hare in an Indian Jungle who feared that doomsday was … Continue reading Jataka Tales: The Buddha’s many lives

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

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

Chennai Genesis

Before Madras became Chennai in 1996, Madrasapattinam had to become Madras. How did this historic city begin? The story of Madras began in 1644 with Fort St. George. The British East India Company had been around since the 1600s and was aggressively expanding its business in the East Indies which included present day Eastern India and South East Asia. Securing land for ports at strategic … Continue reading Chennai Genesis

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 Story of Polo: To the world via India

The modern game of Polo is played in at least 77 countries including India, Argentina, the USA and the UK. It was even part of the Olympics between 1900 and 1936. But where did it all start? The very first Polo tournaments were played in Persia or modern-day Iran by tribal nomads. The warlike tribesmen played the game with as many as 100 players to … Continue reading The Story of Polo: To the world via India

Hallagulla about Rossogulla

Bengal is perhaps the sweetest Indian State. Who but the Bengalis, could have invented that divine sweet called Rossogulla? The Bengalis said exactly that, when they applied for the GI* Tag for Rossogulla in 2015. That’s when the gentle people of the neighbouring state of Odisha, exploded! “What nonsense,” they said, “we invented and you copied!”. And thus, began a bitter battle (or should we say sweet battle?). Continue reading Hallagulla about Rossogulla