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Discovery


Exploring the unexplored

THE DIWAN AND THE DANCER

  In Queen Ahilya’s inner circle there was a diwan, a minister of whom she was particularly fond. His name was Boliya Sarkar Chatri. She found him so remarkable that she offered him one of her relatives, a princess from Indore, in matrimony: but the diwan was smitten with a beautiful and loving dancer. He…

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AKBAR’S ELEFANT

In the 16th century, a tribe chief from Central Asia, Babur, invaded India and founded a vast empire over the ruins of a Muslim Sultanate. A descendant of Genghis Khan, he took the name Great Mughol. His grandson Akbar, after a difficult start and cruel wars, became the greatest sovereign of the dynasty, and one…

A GREEK FOR THE CONQUEST PERU

His name was Pedro de Candia and I discovered his existence in a fascinating book “The Royal Commentaries of Peru” written by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, which my friend Samantha introduced to me. The author is the son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca Princess. He therefore knows both the Spanish and Inca…

Taos Indian spirit

THE INDIAN SPIRITS OF TAOS

Behind the hotel, which had once been the villa of Mabel Dodge in Taos, lay a vast prairie, which stretched out to the horizon where it met a range of lofty mountains. I asked the headmistress, the sharp-witted lady with the shaven head, how we could get onto the prairie to take a walk. “You…

LE MENTOR

Today a sleepy, coastal village, at the beginning of the 19th century Avlemonas was the scene of dramatic events. The Russians landed there to kick the French off the island. On September 15th 1802, the few inhabitants witnessed a fateful shipwreck. A small sailing ship by the name of “Mentor” arrived from the East and…

THE MAHARAJAHS OF INDORE

Prince Richard Holkar is the only male heir to Indore’s powerful dynasty of maharajahs. It is by no means an ancient dynasty, but revealed itself to be particularly remarkable and marked by rather original figures. Richard’s great-great-grandfather, the Maharajah of the time, was a local boxing champion.                …

THE EMPEROR AKBAR’S WIVES

  Like all great sovereigns, the Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great, had an immense harem, but only a limited number of wives. Naturally, one of them was a Muslim. And his favourite was the Princess of Jaipur. She was a Hindu, and her marriage with the Emperor was a symbol of his tolerance and above…

Alwar

In the early 19th century, the Maharaja of Alwar, a princely state south of Delhi, was a tall and remarkably handsome man. He was also a rather scandalous character surrounded by a number of strange rumours. The British had little to do with him until he committed what they saw as an unforgivable crime. The…

Inca Secrets

During the 1970s, Marina and I took a three-month voyage to Latin America. Our travels brought us to Peru, and in particular to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Upon arriving, we started our journey by resting in the airport for a few hours to acclimate to the altitude. We then made our…

Maheshwar

Maheshwar is one of the most enchanting places in India, not far from the city of Indore and others built not by a king but by a queen. At the end of the 18th century, the Maharani of Indore, Ahilya, was a widow and the regent of her young son. Over the years, she exercised…