Non-Fiction Book Review: Ancient Cities of India by Sayan Bhattacharya
Ancient Cities of India by Sayan Bhattacharya is an absorbing read. A map would be helpful, to keep the cities straight, specially for geographically challenged people like me. There are many interesting nuggets of information , about the cities in our rich past. Read on for the complete non-fiction book review.
I didn’t know about Anga-Banga-Kalinga (Eastern Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. It’s interesting to read about places like Ajmer, which I have visited but didn’t know how it got its name. We all know someone from these places- I have an aunt from Bhagalpur and it was fascinating to read about its history. If like me, your notions of mythology are a little foggy, this book will set you to rights.
Myth and history meet seamlessly, where Sayan tells us of archaeologists finding proof of a submerged city where Dwarka was thought to exist. What a beautiful line about Dwarka- “The sea which had been beating against the shores, suddenly broke the boundary imposed on it by nature.”
Sayan seems a sleuth, as he talks about sifting through different versions of history, to determine which one seems most accurate. Want to know why Hastinapur is called that? If your Hindi is none too strong, like mine, you’ll appreciate this detailed narrative.
The mythological tales around Indraprastha are also engaging. I didn’t know Karna had a son! Kannauj is the short form of Kanyakubja- girl hunchbacks. Read the book for the story behind the name. Did you know Lavpur, founded by Ram’s son Lav, became Lahore? Or that Lucknow was Lakshmanavatia, founded by Lakshman? The chapter on Multan is also interesting- about the lost Sun temple. And how priests carried idols to Haridwar after the Partition.
The adventure of the Kohinoor diamond is riveting. The tales around Sravasti too. “Buddha is said to have performed miracles in Sravasti, including the very famous ‘twin miracle’ where simultaneously he had fire coming out of his shoulders and streams of water from his feet, thus representing the control of opposite elements of nature within his own self.”
It’s great to learn about the history of India- time traveled back to ancient times. Keen to visit them all now! Truth is stranger than fiction, and this book is more interesting than many novels. Download it here for free. Here’s another non-fiction book review.