Hortus Malabaricus.

7561711638_9ba0b61be9_oSelected illustrations from the stunning Hortus Malabaricus (Garden of Malabar), an epic treatise dealing with the medicinal properties of the flora in the Indian state of Kerala.
Originally written in Latin, it was compiled over a period of nearly 30 years and published in Amsterdam between 1678 and 1693 in 12 volumes of about 500 pages each, with a total of 794 copper plate engravings.
The book was conceived by Hendrik van Rheede, who was the Governor of Dutch Malabar at the time, and he is said to have taken a keen personal interest in the compilation.
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The work was edited by a team of nearly a hundred including physicians (such as Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit, Appu Bhat and Itti Achuden) professors of medicine and botany, amateur botanists (such as Arnold Seyn, Theodore Jansson of Almeloveen, Paul Hermann, Johannes Munnicks, Joannes Commelinus, Abraham a Poot), and technicians, illustrators and engravers, together with the collaboration of company officials, clergymen (D. John Caesarius and the Discalced Carmelite Mathaeus of St. Joseph’s Monastery at Varapuzha).
7561714328_67b7db25d8_oVan Rheede was also assisted by the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut.
Prominent among the Indian contributors were three Gouda Saraswat Brahmins named Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit,Appu Bhat and Malayali physician, Itti Achuden, who was an Ezhava doctor of the Mouton Coast of Malabar.
The book has been translated into English and Malayalam by Dr. K. S. Manilal. (Wikipedia).
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Click for more Images via Hortus Malabaricus (1678-1693) | The Public Domain Review.

Sunset in Kashmir.

7244990-3x2-940x627Sunset in Kashmir
Labourers ride their bikes across a bridge in Indian-controlled Kashmir while returning from a day’s work.
Audience submitted: Mubashir Hassan

Source: Sunset in Kashmir – ABC News

The Indian farm where George Orwell was born.

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George Orwell is one of the United Kingdom’s best-known 20th Century authors but he’s also claimed by a town in north-eastern India.
Orwell was born here – and his home is being turned into a museum.
There are farmyard animals everywhere. An iron door lies wide open, as if the rebellious animals have forgotten to bolt it after chasing their human masters away.
Pigs have the run of the place. Two horses, their frames withered with age, stand in one corner, swishing their tails to drive the flies away, and there are many more animals – cows, goats, sheep, hens.
Only the buffaloes would have looked out of place in Animal Farm.
This is where Orwell spent the first year of his life, before he and his mother moved to Henley on Thames.
Close to the bungalow where they lived are the remains of a warehouse which was used to store opium.
via BBC News – The Indian Animal Farm where Orwell was born.

‘The Birth of Indian Art’.

detail-from-one-of-the-mu-012Detail from one of the murals in cave 10 of the Ajanta caves. Photograph: Prasad Pawar

by William Dalrymple

In the early summer of 1819, a British hunting party was heading through thick jungle near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, western India, when the tiger they were tracking disappeared into a deep ravine. Leading the hunters was Captain John Smith, a young cavalry officer from Madras. Beckoning his friends to follow, he tracked the animal down a semi-circular scarp of steep basalt, and hopped across the rocky bed of the Wagora river, then made his way up through the bushes at the far side of the amphitheatre of cliffs. Halfway up, Smith stopped in his tracks. The footprints led straight past an opening in the rock face. But the cavity was clearly not a natural cave or a river-cut grotto. Instead, despite the long grass, the all-encroaching creepers and thorny undergrowth, Smith was looking at a manmade facade cut straight into the rockface. The jagged slope had been painstakingly carved away into a perfect portico. It was clearly a work of great sophistication. Equally clearly, it had been abandoned for centuries.

A few minutes later, the party made their way gingerly inside, as Smith held aloft a torch of burning dried grass and his companions clutched their muskets. A long hall led straight into the rock, flanked on either side by 39 octagonal pillars. At the end rose the circular dome of a perfect Buddhist stupa carved, like everything else, out of the slope of the mountain.

All over the walls, the officers could see through the gloom the shadowy outlines of ancient murals. On the pillars were figures of orange- and yellow-robed monks with green haloes standing on blue lotuses, while on the rock walls facing on to the side aisles were long panels of painting filled with elaborate crowd scenes, rather as if a painted scroll had been rolled out along the wall of the apse. In the light of the flickering flame the officers crunched over a human skeleton and other debris dragged into the cave by generations of predators and scavengers. The party advanced until they reached a pillar at the far end of the hall, next to the stupa. There Smith got out his hunting knife and inscribed over the body of a Bodhisattva (a previous incarnation of the Buddha) the words: “John Smith, 28th cavalry, 28 April 1819.”

via The Ajanta cave murals: ‘nothing less than the birth of Indian art’ | Artanddesign | The Guardian.

Prabalgad Fort.

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According to legend the fort was built for a queen named Kalavantin but that really seems to be all that anybody knows.
Around 1458 Malik Ahmad, the prime minister of the kingdom of Ahmednagar, took over the fort during his conquest of Konkan.
The Mughals took control of Prabalgad along with Kalyan, Mahuli, Karnala and a number of other forts after Sambhaji’s death.
The fort was conquered by Shivaji from the Mughals in 1657, after he established himself in the Kalyan-Bhivandi area.
At the time of the attack the fort was governed by Kesar Singh, a Mughal sardar, and was the only fort to put up a strong resistance.
On seeing the signs of defeat the women in the fort performed Jauhar, a tradition of self immolation to ensure an honorable and respectful death.
Singh died during the battle in October 1657, Shivaji in an act of kindness allowed Singh’s mother and her grandchild a safe passage out.
via Prabalgad Fort, India | Amusing Planet.

“Elephant Festival”.

The Elephant Festival takes over the city of Jaipur every year. The animals are draped with jewellery and given majestic multicolour makeovers (complete with pedicures), before doing a procession through the streets.
Later they race, play elephant polo and take part in a human v animal tug-of-war. Charles Freger travelled to Rajasthan to get a sneak peek.
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See more Images via The extraordinary painted elephants of India – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian.