The South Indian Coffee Story

Growing up in a South Indian family, I took to coffee like a fish takes to water. I never realized back then that India is perceived as a chai country. It still is. From the purest aroma of Assamese tea to the roadside stall that serves a sweet milky chai, India is essentially known globally for its tea. And yet, three states in South India stand out for coffee production and consumption – Karnataka, followed by Kerala & Tamil Nadu.

India produces around 5% of the world’s coffee. It’s unique too as it’s the largest production of coffee under shade. Much of this coffee is the ‘Arabica’ variety which is known for its high quality. 

Karnataka(the hill tracts of Coorg & Chikmagalur) alone produces nearly 70% of Indian coffee and most of these are by individual growers. The beans are sold to bigger corporations and wholesalers who blend the different varieties and sell it as a brand. 80% of the coffee produced is exported to various parts of the world.

A huge commercial enterprise today, one could say. But where did it all start? Let’s rewind a few centuries.

In the 16th or 17th century, an Indian sufi saint Baba Budan had been on a pilgrimage to Mecca. While returning from Yemen, he smuggled seven beans of coffee(hiding them in his beard), to grow them back home in India. In those days, coffee beans were strictly regulated and weren’t allowed to be exported as Yemen had total monopoly over its coffee.

However, thanks to Baba Budan, the seven coffee beans successfully grew in the hilly tracts near Coorg. The coffee story was however small, grown near Baba Budan giri (hill) until the 19th century when the English, who settled in the hills & made a big business out of it. 

Stories of the hill being denuded of its trees & wildlife for coffee plantations makes an interesting narration in colonial books. However the plants couldn’t survive pests such as borer beetles & hence the hills were replanted with trees to make the Indian coffee the largest kind grown in shade. 

“The quality of Indian coffee is good – so good that it is appreciated by the Arabs & Turks” states the Sanitarian, a 1900s NY Publication “devoted to the Preservation of Health, Mental and Physical Culture”. It further explains that the English & French are its biggest consumers.

History aside, a drive through the hills often has a picturesque scene on either side with acres of coffee plants (actually, they are trees that have been stunted for easy pickings) interspersed with silver oak and other straight trees which pepper climbers entwine. The scene is especially pretty in summer when the coffee flowers are in bloom. The coffee flower is white in color and quite fragrant and doesn’t smell anything like the coffee aroma that one is used to!

Coffee flowers in full bloom.
PC: Poornima

But it is during the harvest season, that the charm of the coffee processing sets in.

Coffee Beans laid for drying
PC: Rakesh

There’s a huge processing equipment in Balur plantation in Chikmagalur which we were fortunate to visit. The friendly manager, Rakesh, takes us through the plantation field. I have been here during both the flowering season and the picking season.

Unlike the coffee bean, the fruit is actually sweet. The ripe coffee beans are picked by workers between November to March. Arabica & Robusta are the two kinds of coffee plants, Arabica being of superior quality & also higher maintenance, says Rakesh.

The processing machinery is immense. The picked berries are brought in and poured into a shaft which then sends it for washing & depulping. The cherry-like fruit is sorted while in water with bad or unripe fruits being removed. The ripe ones are sent further for depulping i.e. the fruit & skin is removed for the coffee bean inside. The final bean is dried in the sun. 

A quick online search shows this process as the ‘wet process’. Balur also has dry processing i.e. the coffee fruit dried in the sun – an older labor intensive method.

Coffee Depulping & Processing
VC: Rakesh

The size of plantations vary from very small to very big growers in the Coorg – Chikmagalur area. However they all face similar challenges – labor shortage, unseasonal rains, coffee diseases etc. Coffee cultivation can be lucrative if all things go right or can be a huge loss if the right stages of coffee production does not happen. An unseasonal rain or coffee disease can run up huge losses.

The coffee produced in such plantations are bought by corporate brands who then mix & match to create their brand’s flavor & acidity. Chicory that is added to our South Indian coffee comes all the way from Uttar Pradesh & Gujarat. The production of Chicory is now an altogether another story!

For now, smell the aroma & savor your South Indian Coffee.

The Story of Hampi

Much has been written about, Hampi – a UNESCO World Heritage City in South India. Parallels are drawn to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or to Rome, by visitors and historians alike, while describing its temples or the historical ruins.

What is perhaps not clear is the context to the area and its unique place whether in terms of geography, history , architecture & culture. So I’ll try to attempt it in a small blog if possible. 

The Hampi monuments that we see today are spread across an area of 16 sq mi (41 sq km). Of course the older 16th century city was much bigger; much of it is now gone save for a few temples nestled among smaller towns between Hosapete (Hospet) and Hampi. 

When you visit the heritage area, the first thing that strikes you are the small hills that are spread across the ruins. These are not plain hills but look like huge boulders gathered up as a pile. The areas of Hampi are planned between such boulder like hills. These boulders of Hampi are dated to about 2.5 to 3 billion years which takes one back to a pre Cambrian age (i.e. before the making of the continents). The unusual boulder shapes are not due to volcanic eruption but due to slow weathering of the hills over a huge period of time. Hampi boulders are one of the oldest formations of the world and are a part of the Dharwar Craton, a continental crust that is the oldest part of India. Much of the rocks of Hampi are granite hills. Not just Hampi, but the nearby towns of Anegondi, Gangavati are also home to such unusual huge boulders.

Hampi or Hampe is a derived word of Pampa who is Goddess Parvati, the wife of Shiva, who is known as Virupaksha here. The city was a holy place and referred as Pampapura during the Chalukyan era (6th -8th centuries) & as Virupaksha pattana during Hoysalan era, i.e. until 1300s.

The fact that this place was also a part of the Kingdom of Kishkindha (from Ramayana), the home of the Ape like brothers, Vali & Sugriva & the strong Hanuman gives this place an additional aura of holiness. Even today, thousands of pilgrims visit the Virupaksha temple, by the river, Tungabhadra, on the holy days, inspite of the scorching heat of April (goes above 40 deg C).

But what attract most tourists are the 14th – 16th century monuments – temples, market streets, royal forts and ruins. Walking through these areas gives a feel of Roman ruins. Hampi with the river on one side and the strong hills surrounding it was an ideal place for a city in the medieval times when South India had lost all its major Hindu Kingdoms, Kakatiyas, Hoysalas & Pandyas, its political stability & its wealth to two invasions from the North. It was a rude shock not just politically but also culturally. The cruelty of the wars, especially on civilians shook the society and the last major ruler, Ballalla III of Hoysalas dying to save Madurai was a terrible tragedy. Safety from the new conquerors was a main issue. So when a small kingdom of Anegondi declared itself independent, its ruler Bukka shifted across the river and built a new city, Vijayanagara, that was fortified by many rings of fort (the European travellers describe it a 7 ringed fortress though we can only spot 3 today).

This city was named Vidyanagara & later Vijayanagara (City of Victory), under which umbrella, much of South India was included .

Vijayanagara is today used as the name of the dynasties who ruled from here, the capital & the empire too.

With its beautiful planned royal areas, the suburbs with magnificent temples, planned streets abuzz with trade from across the world, it was known across the world from Europe to Arabia and the Eastern countries. 

Remember, the 1400s, was the time when Portugal had found a sea route to India. European spice trade rose, Arabian spice trade fell but its horses were in great demand for South India which still had to contend its Deccan neighbours and keep them at bay. These were the times when horse power (pun intended!) changed the fates of battles.

The rule that lasted for a over two centuries (200 years is a huge time!) gave the much needed stability to much of South India, even though the capital waged wars with its northern neighbours constantly. It is one such war after nearly two centuries that it lost and the city was vandalized. The fall is not just sudden but gradual as it gave rise to smaller kingdoms that fought not only their immediate neighbours but the rising rulers called the Mughals from Delhi, to keep their rule autonomous.

But back to Hampi. This beautiful city and its society & culture would have gone unnoticed if not for the writers – merchants, court scribes, poets, royals – who have written about different aspects of the society. The stories constantly tell us about the wealth of the market, the vastness of the city, the beautiful mansions of the rich, the blend of Hindu  & Persian architecture (Prof Settar calles this Vijayanagara Bahamani fusion), the many gods and their temples, the festivals, the political angle and of course the food. Some statements from the diaries of the travellers across the centuries.

“Oh! Soumitri, see the forest of Pampa, the auspicious one in its appearance… where the mountains or trees shine with their mountainous peaks” – Rama describing (to Lakshmana) the mountains & trees of Pampa, Valmiki Ramayana

“..Traveling about three hundred miles inland(from Goa), we arrived at the great city of Biznegalia(Vijayanagara) situated near very steep mountains. The circumference of the city is sixty miles, its walls are carried up to the mountains and enclose the valley at their foot, so that its extent is thereby increased.” – Nicolo Conti, Italian (1420, during the reign of Devaraya I)

“..It is built in such a manner that seven citadels and the same number of walls enclose each other. Around first citadel are stones of the height of a man, one half of which is sunk in the ground and the other rises above it.”

“From the third to the seventh fortress, shops & bazaars are closely crowded together. By the palace of the King there are four bazaars situated opposite to one another.”

“In this charming area, in which the palace is contained, there are many rivulets and streams flowing through channels of cut stone, polished and even” – Abdul Razzaq, Persian, (1442-44, during the reign of Devaraya II)

“The houses are thatched but nonetheless are very well built and arranged according to their occupations, in long streets with many open places.. there is great traffic and endless number of merchants and wealthy men, as well among the natives of the city, who abide therein as among those who come thither from outside, to whom the King allows such freedom that every man may come & go and love according to his own creed without suffering any annoyance” – Duarte Barbosa, Portuguese (1501, during the reign of Vira Narasimha)

“When the time of the principal festival arrives, the King comes from the new city(Hosapete) to this city of Bisnaga (Vijayanagara), since it is the capital of the Kingdom and it is custom there to make their feasts and to assemble. For these feasts are summoned all the dancing women of the kingdom in order that they should be present and also the captains and kings and great lords with all their retinues.” – Domingo Paes, Portuguese (1520-22, during the reign of Krishnadevaraya, the Augustan era of Hampi)

Today, it’s known for heritage tourism & religious festivals. It’s also a popular place for bouldering and wildlife tourism (it is a sloth bear & leopard habitat & is home to a variety of birds). So, travel, rediscover Hampi in your own way.

ByPoornima Dasharathi

Blog & Image Copyright: Unhurried


Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kanda

A Forgotten Empire – Robert Sewell

Hampi – S S Settar


Hidden Treasures of Nallur

It is easy to skip Nallur. There are no yellow tourism boards here or signages to tout its antiquity. But ancient it is, for there is an important historical source- a 14th century inscription dating back to a Tirumalanatha temple of Nallur. Don’t go looking for it though. You will not find the inscription nor recognize the temple; it is in ruins amidst Lantana bushes with its idols broken, ceiling caved in and wild, tangled creepers very much in place.

Nallur Tamarind Grove:

Nallur today is famous, as it boasts of a biodiversity heritage site -the 12th century Nallur Tamarind grove. As you zip past Devanahalli to Hoskote you will find Nallur, slow down and you will see numerous tamarind groves. This is it. Once again there are no sign boards nearby to say that you have arrived. The major landmark is the Gangamma temple of Nallur.

So, what is special about these tamarind trees? For one, they are around 400 years old-carbon dated by UAS, Bangalore. That’s not their only specialty though. They have sucker roots just like Banyan tree or the Krishna Butter cup. Most of the tree trunks are hollow, yet young roots spring up from these, giving rise to new tamarinds. So, what you see is a cluster of old and new trees surrounding a single hollowed tamarind.

There is a belief that Rajendra Chola planted these trees. This may not be a myth. A few miles away is the village Gangavara that boasts of a temple with inscription referring to Rajendra Chola who is seen giving grants to his generals.

Go around the grove. Don’t expect much. It is a 54-acre heritage site, yet not even fenced. Lantana bushes abound plenty, trash makes its signature here too. Yet, the place is silent only broken by a plane taking off, now and then.

Nallur fort and temple:

Across the grove is the temple of Gangamma. A gigantic peepal tree in front of it, a couple of Naga stones and few broken statues greet you at the entrance. The Google map says Gangamma temple at Nallur Kote. And you realize that Nallur probably had a fort.

A few searches on the net and you come across an interesting story about Nallur kote or fort. It is believed that one Chauda Raya was its chieftain. Nallur also known as Nallurpatna was ably defended by him. The fort itself was strong, so strong that it resisted a siege from its neighboring enemy for three years and only fell due to an internal betrayal. The city and the fort secrets were disclosed by none other than the chieftains’ daughter.

The story goes something like this. The chief of Hoskote and Nallur had declared war in spite of a matrimonial alliance between them. Nallur chieftain’s daughter was married to the Hoskote chief. She accompanied him on the battle field and revealed the whereabout of a subterranean passage connecting the city from outside.  When the enemy scaled the walls of Nallur fort, the chieftain of Nallur blew up his palace.

There are no traces of this fort today and also no signs of the palace treasure. Yet it holds a hidden treasure- the ruins of Channarayaswamy aka Tirumalanatha temple.

Perhaps of early Vijayanagara period it is mentioned in two inscriptions- a 1386 AD inscription that mentions the donation of a lamp pillar to the temple by Chikka Ankaiah and a 1401 record that mentions the name Marapa who was connected with the temple work.

There are no signs of the lamp pillar in front of the temple. What remains are the stone walls and their carefully crafted sculpture work. The images of infant Krishna, his antics like the dance on Kalinga are beautifully sculpted and still retain the power to enthrall visitors. The figures have a fluidity and grace that years of neglect have not been able to erase.

This hidden treasure, nearby the renovated Gangamma temple is a sad affair. There is no fencing, no plastering, no repairs; ceiling is caved in, a headless statue of a goddess still lies inside, yet in spite of the neglect, the structure screams its antiquity.

So don’t miss out on these hidden treasures of Nallur-the Nallur Tamarind grove and the Channarayaswamy temple. It is just a 30 minutes’ drive from International Airport and can be easily covered as part of a weekend tour.


My City

She may be loud and noisy

Sometimes black as soot

But she’s lovely, my city,

colorful Bengaluru

In summer, she goes red,

Gulmohar,we call her then

The birds, chirpy and well fed

Make their home in her shade

The monsoons cool her down

As the heat gets to her

The smell of petrichor on the lawn

Removes the sweat and grime off her

Oh then comes the winter

Her roads are a colorful carpet

of flowers pink and purple

A hue,no paint,can own

Yes,she’s smelly,sometimes,horrid,

Tests your patience in the traffic jam

The noise,the wait in summer torrid

Or the rainwater gushing,as if

from a dam

But she’s great in her entirety

As sweet as the akash mallige she adorns

Whenever you have the time,stop and listen

Understand her mood,don’t let her down.

–Poornima Dasharathi

A delightful food walk in Thindi Beedi

VV Puram, a locality named after Sri M Visvesvaraya turned 100 last year. Located near the Sajjan Rao circle in Basavangudi the area is famous for its food street or thindi beedi. One of the newer layouts in the city to come up after the plague, it has quite a number of heritage structures in its fold. Temples, community and charity halls dot this landscape, some of them built by the noted philanthropist Sajjan Rao. The Subramanya Swamy Temple is an ancient structure famous for its annual processions during the month of Karthika. And a stone’s throw away is the alluring thindi beedi with its plethora of tantalizing dishes- buns, bajjis and bondas, chats, holiges….

Difficult to choose when there are so many dishes to try. And that’s why with our expert food blogger Vidya, sampling just became easier and fun. Here is what we tasted at the food street when we went on a food trail in the evening. Spicy masala vadas stuffed with ginger, onion, chillies, curry leaves, sweet buns, flavoured pani puris-think ice cream flavours, coconut Holige and Gulkand ice creams to mention a few. A visit to a sweet corn stall that dishes out more than 50 varieties like grilled corn kernels is also a must-try.

If you are tempted by now, go ahead and book a walk with us, or join us on one of our food trails.

–Usha, Photo credit-Vidyalakshmi


Inspirations from Mirza Ismail

The other day I happened to search archives for a book on Mirza Ismail and I stumbled on one of his works ‘ My Public Life’. What an insightful page turner it was.


For those of you who have never heard about him he was the diwan of Mysore, Jaipur and for a short while, Hyderabad. For his astonishing work in the field of industrialization, irrigation, rural electrification, city development, the ruling Maharajas heaped praises, paid tributaries to him. The popular M.I road in Jaipur is one such road name after this diwan.

The reason why I feel this book is worth a read is this. His vision and farsightedness are astonishing. And his short book is inspiring.

Let me quote a couple of them here.

  • The State did not boast of electricity in the early 20th century. And when electricity did come in State it was provided to important places like the Kolar Gold Fields[1902], Mysore, and in Bangalore city in 1908. Mirza Ismail views were however different. He believed that electricity was not the purview of few. And he came up with rural electrification thereby 500 plus villages in Karnataka or rather Mysore State back then were electrified. Mysore was the first State in the country to do this.
  • To quote another instance Micro irrigation was given due importance during his tenure. The production of Ganjam figs had gone down due to lack of water. Though the village was near Kaveri, it was not getting sufficient water to irrigate the figs. These figs were delicious and were often sent to Palace and served to foreign dignitaries and officers. And they were being grown from Tipu Sultan’s era. Realizing this, the Maharaja of Mysore, Mirza Ismail was the diwan then, supplied pumps and gave lands to fig farmers. Thus the figs production revived. It is a different story however that it has a similar fate today.

His faith was broad enough to encompass all religions. He fervently believed that he would be nearer to God by serving people of all faiths.
He says,’ I felt that one please the almighty even more by serving other faiths than one’s own’

Sanskrit was given due recognition during his times, religious intuitions like temples and churches flourished.

Lastly, in his tenure as Diwan, he introduced the weekly sessions with common people. The common man could come and meet the diwan and tell him his troubles.

In the book he says

‘ It is a taxing duty as can easily be imagined-seeing dozens of people each with his request or grievance. But it was worthwhile’
Such was the level of his commitment that in-spite of having a tight schedule, he took time out to hear people out just to satisfy them.

Not satisfied with this he also used to conduct weekly inspections of the city. All this in the mid 20th century. Today’s leaders can take a leaf out of him.

There is more. His belief in a federation of India, his talks with Jinnah to dissuade him for campaigning for a separate Muslim nation, talks with  Nizam of Hyderabad showcases his love for the country.

The book is worth reading. It is freely available online in public archives. Along with his powerful ideas, you will also get a glimpse of the South Indian History especially life and times of Mysore then.

A whiff of History-M.G Road

M.G.Road is one of the busiest roads in the city of Bengaluru and is one of the most happening places too. Shopping malls, pubs,restaurants,art galleries, showrooms, banks dot this lively stretch. It is hard to believe that it was once a general parade ground with its barracks and regiments and from where the military and civil station burgeoned.

But look closely. And you will still see remainders of the by-gone era in the hidden houses tucked behind buildings,in the plaques of churches,in the signboards and statues….. Here are few fleeting glimpses of the station it once was.

At the east end of M.G.Road stands the Holy Trinity Church. It was one of the second churches in the area-the first was St Mark’s Cathedral. This century old church built in 1852 for the British Regiment has a number of tablets dedicated to officers who died in various battles of South East Asia.

There are tablets mentioning about officers of Mysore Revenue survey-there is one that talks about a officer who died from tiger wounds at shimoga; the 4th Hussars[Queen’s Own], King’s Dragoon Guards, Royal Artillery etc. Men who died at sea on their way to England,or of cholera on their march towards Bangalore finds mention here. Most of these are dated before 1880’s and gives a glimpse of society back then. During the summer of 1914, the Station had several troops-the 7th Hussars,the 26th Light Cavalry, the 13th Brigade R.F.A, 2nd and 44th Batteries,R.F.A,the 108th infantry etc.

As you make your way out of the Church you catch sight of  Mayo Hall- another colonial building dedicated to Lord Mayo,Viceroy of India. It was used as municipal offices,the upper floor was meant for public meetings.

Before this stately building is the statue of Rev Ferdinand Kittel, a priest from Germany who had joined the Basel Mission and had come to Karnataka to spread Christianity. However he is remembered for his first Kannada to English dictionary compiled in 1894. He mingled with the locals, understanding their culture,language and his dictionary reflects this trait. The 1758 paged book covered more than 70000 words and often included commonplace or local words apart from the usual meanings and synonyms of words. He is seen here holding a kannada flag.

As you wind your way up and come towards MG Road-St Mark’s Road you hit the 1912 stone building of Bible Society and the Tract and Book Society . The Bible Society is responsible for printing and distributing Bible in different languages. Today it also prints literature books.

Another section of the building facing the St Mark’s Road has the Hard Rock Cafe, that was a Tea room during the cantonment days, then went over to Tract and Book Society section and then to a music store, a pub and finally the Hard Rock Cafe.

As you trudge ahead you sight the St Mark’s Cathedral and then the Queen Victoria Statue at Cubbon Park. The park served as the buffer zone for the old city and the cantonment. After nearly an hour’s walk you realize that there are a lot of hidden jewels in the city that the unplanned urban development has not been able to erase. And you wish to learn more. That’s when you must book a heritage walk with Unhurried and tag along for a slow heritage walk with us.



Lepakshi Attractions

Lepakshi is a wonderful weekend destination from Bangalore. Located in Anantapura district it is around 120 km from the city. There are plenty of intriguing things to see here.The hanging pillar, the red blotches on walls said to be bleeding eyes,the unfinished wedding hall, Lepakshi paintings with their colors still intact,the footsteps of Sita … Here is a quick summary of the attractions present at Lepakshi temple built during Vijayanagara times.

Watch out for Monoliths:

The temple Lepakshi is on a plateau surrounded by granite rocks and boulders. The Lepakshi sculptors have thus used the abundant rocks to carve out huge monolithic sculptures that are one of the highlights of Lepakshi. For instance the Nandi at the entrance of the temple is six feet high and eight meter long. Inside the temple complex is another sculpture- a seven meter high Naga statue carved out from a boulder-the Linga however is a polished black stone. Behind the Linga you see carvings of spider,hunter and elephant worshiping the Linga- perhaps the legend  of Srikalahasti itched here.

Check the inscriptions out:

On the walls of Virabhadra temple are some old Kannada inscriptions. One of them is dated to the period 1531 and talk about the Vijayanagara king Achyutaraya giving grant of village to Virapanna, a governor of Penukonda for services of gods Virabhadra, Raghunatha and Papavinasa of LepakshiVirapanna’s reliefs and paintings inside the temple vouch to the fact that he played an an all important role in construction activities of the temple. How did Virapanna get the king to donate? George Michell in his lecture on Lepakshi mentions that Virapanna was from Veerashaiva community. During the Vijayanagara times they were involved in long distance trading and that perhaps explains their influence. Virabhadra was their patron deity.

Lepakshi sculpturing on walls:

On the mandapa there are beautiful dancing figures-male and female both, exquisite yalis. The walls of Virabhadra shrine have two sets of carvings each going in the opposite direction. One tells the tale of Siriyala-one of the greatest devotees of Shiva who offered the cooked flesh of his only son to Shiva who had come disguised as a mendicant. In the opposite direction is the tale of Kirātārjunīya-the story of Arjun and Shiva disguised as Kirata. They  both simultaneously strike a boar and end up fighting.  Finally Arjun gets defeated and realizes whom he is fighting with and surrenders to Shiva.

Lepakshi paintings:

The paintings are a revelation. The ceilings of mantapas have paintings of Virapanna and his wife worshiping Virabhadra, story of Markandeya, Shiva as a wandering ascetic etc. The colors brown,black,deep red are still surviving and that’s what makes these masterpieces exciting. The Natya Mantapa or the dancing hall too has figurines of five headed Shiva,musicians,Bhringi -a sage with three legs etc. The ceilings too depict paintings like the story of Manu Needhi Chola- a king who killed his own son for the sake of justice to a mother cow whose calf was accidentally killed by Manu Needhi Chola’s son. Then there is the painting of Shiva as Bhairava with skull bowl and dancing deer. What makes this painting interesting is that in-spite of the frightful nature of Bhairava, the face of Shiva is calm. George Michell mentions that the fluidity found in these paintings is amazing. The later paintings after Lepakshi lack this aspect.  The paintings also give a fair idea of the textiles and costumes present then. There are cotton prints with Kalamkari work on them, conical hats,dhoti, tops,sarees etc. giving a glimpse of society prevailing then.

Apart from these attractions there is an unfinished mantapa known as the wedding hall with divine figures and sages sculpted on the columns; a hanging pillar that does not rest on the ground, the blotched red marks on the walls- said to be the plucked eyes of Virapanna who was  charged with embezzling funds from the king’s treasury. Anger at being accused he blinded himself.

The stories,the depth and details of paintings and relief figures will transport you to a different world. Lepakshi is a place worth visiting and makes for a good one day destination from the city.




Lalbagh walk -Republic Day Pictures

Don’t miss the republic day flower show at Lalbagh happening till the 26th  of this month. With clear skies and warm sun it is a great time of the year to explore this 240 acre park. With colorful marigold,roses, chrysanthemums,lilies,hibiscus greeting you everywhere it is sheer joy to be present in this green space.

The theme of the 209th flower show this year is a tribute to Gandhi- in remembrance of his 150 birth anniversary. There is a 12 foot statue of meditating Gandhi, combined with his ashram, his glasses made of millet, Dandi March etc. The Sabarmati ashram at the center has been decorated with 2.4 lakh roses,3.2 lakh chrysanthemums and 80000 orange roses. There are also organic stalls,gardening section, stalls selling seeds and nurseries. Miniature garden models,composting and vertical gardens are certain highlights of the gardening section.
Here are a couple of snapshots from our Lalbagh Unhurried Walk that took place on the 20th of this month.


If you are interested in joining our walks take a look at the walks and tours we provide.


Entrenched exhibition at National Military Memorial

A quote from a fifth grade social book says, ‘ World War I broke out in 1914. Lakhs of Indians fought with British Army. Thousands were killed’ This seems to summarize India’s contribution to the war.

However a visit to the ‘Entrenched’ exhibition by Rereeti – an NGO that revitalizes museums gave a different perspective to the war situation of 1914. There were some interesting insights.

At Memorial

India’s contribution to WWI:

A report on BBC mentioned that there were 1.3 million soldiers fighting in the war. Indian fought alongside the British in countries such as Germany, Africa,Egypt.. More than 70000 Indian soldiers were killed, nearly 65000 were wounded. Not just soldiers, India also loaned two million cash to Britain, ammunition,food, cloth etc. The soldiers bore the cold, fought in the trenches of Europe, suffered the poisonous gas and were killed in thousands. At Ypres they were the first to stop Germans from advancing further. Letters retrieved then showcase the hardships faced by these unknown Indian soldiers in foreign soil. While some letters written by soldiers to their relatives describe the horrors of war and discourage their friends and family from enlisting in the army, some  are painful -reminiscing of open skies and wind swept fields back home.

details of regiments fought in different wars at Memorial

The exhibition portrays this information sensitively via maps/charts and in the form of insightful dialogues between a grandson and his grandfather. The Indian troops won  around 13000 medals and 12 of the soldiers also won the Victoria cross. All these details are depicted here.

Mysore’s contribution to war:

The Mysore State too contributed its share. It loaned nearly one crore, contributed more than 90 lakhs and supplied materials,ammunition and transport. The Mysore Corps sent mules, ponies. The Mysore lancers fought the battle of Haifa at Israel and also at other places like Egypt,Gaza, Suez canal etc. Along with Jodhpur regiment they overthrew the long lasting Ottoman rule in Israel. The exhibition not only sheds light on some of these contributions but also throws light on war memorials in the city – Sapper Memorial, cenotaph, Tipperary at St John’s etc.

Apart from photos and boards there are also tunnels simulating a trench like experience of the battle field. The NGO has partnered with three schools across the city  to make the event interactive.

On the whole the event at National Military memorial at Raj Bhavan is a very enriching experience and a must do  this weekend.