Temple of the Sun

About this massive monument, the great poet Rabindranath Tagore said –  “here the language of stone surpasses the language of man”. Situated at the eastern coast of India, the Konark Sun Temple was built by King Narsimhadeva I of Ganga dynasty in the 13th century. It was designed in the form of a gorgeously decorated chariot of Sun god mounted on 24 wheels , each about 10 feet in diameter, and drawn by 7 mighty horses. Sun temple of Konark is a masterpiece of Orissa’s medieval architecture. It is a UNESCO world hertiage monument.


  • The Konark temple is also known for its erotic sculptures of maithunas.
  • In one of the panels at the temple, there is a depiction of giraffe being gifted by West Asian traders to the king of Odisha. It shows Odisha’s long history of trade with Africa and Arabia. Some other experts believe that this animal is Okapi or Dromedary (Arabian camel). 
  • In another panel, there is lady wearing Japanese style sandals (Geta Sandals), proving the maritime relation of Odisha with east & south-east Asia.
  • At present it is located two kilometers from the sea, but originally the ocean came almost up to its base. Until fairly recent times, the temple was close enough to the shore to be used as a navigational point by European sailors, who referred to it as the ‘Black Pagoda’.


Temple is open for public from sunrise to sunset

Entrance Fees are as follows:

Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) – INR. 30 per head.

Citizen of other countries: US $ 5 or INR. 500/- per head

(children up to 15 years enter free)

How to reach?

Konark is connected by good all weather motorable roads. Regular Bus services are operating from Puri and Bhubaneswar. Besides Public transport Private tourist bus services and taxis are also available from Puri and Bhubaneswar.






भारत और पाकिस्तान के बहुत सारे लोगों के दिलों में अगर कोई क़व्वाली बहुत ख़ास जगह रखती है, तो वह ताजदार-ए-हरम  है। ताज़दार-ए-हरम को लिखने वाले थे जनाब ‘पुरनम इलाहाबादी’ (उर्फ़ ‘मुहम्मद मूसा’) और इसे पहली बार पाकिस्तान के मशहूर कव्वाली गायक ‘साबरी भाइयों‘ ने 1990 में गाया था।  काफ़ी अरसे पहले मैंने इस क़व्वाली को पहली बार हमारे पारिवारिक दर्ज़ी अब्दुल चाचा की दुकान पर सुना था। 2015 में कोक स्टूडियो के सीज़न 8 में इसे बड़ी शिद्दत से  आतिफ़ असलम ने फिर से गाया है। ताजदार-ए-हरम  एक नातिया कलाम है जिसमें भरपूर आस्था और मुहब्बत के साथ परमेश्वर को याद किया गया है। एक बेहतरीन इस्लामी भक्ति गीत। लेखक बार-बार यही कह रहा है कि हे परमेश्वर अपनी दया दृष्टि मुझ पर डालिए, आपके दरवाज़े से कोई ख़ाली नहीं जाता।

पवित्र शहर मदीना (सऊदी अरब) के लिए लेखक की भक्ति आत्मसात कर देने वाली है (क्या कहेगा जहाँ, आपके दर से अगर ख़ाली जाएँगे?) 

यह कहना लाज़िमी होगा कि यह कलाम भारत-पाकिस्तान की साझी संस्कृति की एक अमूल्य विरासत है।

इस नातिया कलाम के शुरूवाती बोल हैं – 


क़िस्मत में मेरी चैन से जीना लिख दे 
डूबे ना कभी मेरा सफ़ीना लिख दे 
जन्नत भी गवारा है मगर मेरे लिए

ए क़ातिब-ए-तक़दीर मदीना लिख दे 
ताजदार-ए-हरम हो निगाह-ए-करम 
हम ग़रीबों के दिन भी सँवर जायेंगे 
हामीं-ए बेकसाँ क्या कहेगा जहाँ
आपके दर से ख़ाली अगर जायेंगे

ताजदार-ए-हरम, ताजदार-ए-हरम

कोई अपना नहीं ग़म के मारे हैं हम

आपके दर पर फ़रयाद लाये हैं
हो निगाहे-ए-करम, वरना चौखट पे

हम आपका नाम ले-ले मर जाएँगे।

ताजदार-ए-हरम, ताजदार-ए-हरम


Romanized with English translation

Kismat me meri chain se jeena likhde
Let a life of peace and contentment be my fate

Doobe nah kabhi mera safeenah likh de
May my ship never sink even in troubled waters – let this be my fate

Jannat bhi gawarah hai magar mere liye
It’s not that heaven would not be acceptable to me, but

Ae kaatib-e taqdeer madina likh de
O write of destiny, let Madina (City to which Prophet Mohammad came from Mecca, PBUH) be my fate

Tajdar-e-haram, ho nigaah-e-karam
O king of the holy sanctuary, bless us with your merciful gaze

Hum ghareebon ke din bhi sanwarjayenge
So that our days of woe may turn for the better

Haami-e-be-kasaan kya kahega jahan
O patron of the poor, what would the world say

Aapke darr se khaali agar jayenge
If we return empty-handed from your door?

Tajdar-e-haram Tajdar-e-haram
O king of the holy sanctuary

Koi apna nahi gham ke maaray hain hum
We have no one to call our own, we are stricken with greif

Aapke darr pe faryaad laaye hain hum
We come and cry for justice at your door

Ho Nigah-e-karam, warna chokhat pe hum
Please spare us a merciful glance, or we will

Aapka naam le le ke marjayenge
Die at your threshold, crying your name

Tajdar-e-haram Tajdar-e-haram
O king of the holy sanctuary

आतिफ़ असलम की आवाज़ में


साबरी भाईयों की आवाज़ में

In the Music Dreamland of South Asia – Part 1

After living quite sometime away from my homeland (India), I have lately come to realize how much we Indians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, and Nepalese share in our way of life, music, history, food and love. And one of the most amazing gift which we all share is the south Asian music.

South Asian music ?

Music connects south Asia in a magical way. Have you tried drinking a cold glass of water after a long walk in a hot summer afternoon? That is the kind of sweetness which south Asian music gives to your ear. With the diverse heritage we share in south Asia, it is not surprising that south Asian music is so refreshing.

Despite all the bad press about the country, the kind of music Pakistani musicians make is amazingly fresh as well as fully grounded in our rich south Asian heritage.

Sample this spiritual song (dama dam mast kalander) in Punjabi which was originally composed by Sufi saint Bulle Shah. This version is from the Hindi-Urdu film David (2013)


Contrast this with ‘Sahanaa Vavatu’ a classic Sanskrit chant of India composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar. Used as an audio in this documentary on Khadi (traditional Indian cloth)


Another good sample is Chal Diye by Zeb & Haniya with Javed Bashir. The raga of this song is called Yaman Kalyan. Javed Bashir is a well-known Hindustani classical vocalist.

Listen to the sweetness of Sajjad Ali’s voice in Tum Naraz ho. This song is reproduced by Coke Studio (Pakistan) in their seventh season. Sajjad Ali has a kind of innocence in his voice which is seldom found in singers of all generations.

 Danah pe Danah is a Balochi folk song in which a shepherd introduces his beloved to the wonders of his land, invoking famous rivers and mountains of Balochistan. Here in this rendition, Akhtar Chanal and Komal Rizvi lend their powerful voice to this folk song.

Another notable music is coming not from Bollywood films but a widely viewed and Amir Khan hosted TV talk show ‘Satyameva Jayate’. Ram Sampath is the composer for ‘Satyameva Jayate, who has sung and composed for this TV show. One of my favorite is Dheere Dheere Haule Halue (slowly slowly, quietly quietly) which was composed for the TV episode on Child sexual abuse.

And here is Mahesh Vinaykam singing all famous Sanskrit shloka ‘Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurudevo Maheshwara’

Another gem by Shruti box of Shankar Tucker ‘O re piya’ sung by Rohan Kaimal ft Shankar Tucker

And some Bollywood gems in semi-classical genre – 
Ye tune kya kiya (what have you done?) sung by Javed Bashir

Maula Mere Maula by Roop Kumar Rathod

Point of View












I was told this story by an American traveller named Mark. Mark was a 68 years old software engineer/consultant by profession and he denounced all his worldly possessions to wander around the world. After visiting Latin America including Argentina and Guatemala, Thailand, Vietnam etc, he reached India. He stayed in India for almost 6 months. Most of this period was spent in southern part of India. I asked Mark about his Indian experiences. What did he like in India? or What attracted him the most?

In reply he told me this story.

Mark was living in a seedy little town near Chennai in Tamilnadu (he did not remeber the name). It was an autumn morning. He thought of taking a stroll on the beach and came out of his accommodation. When he reached the beach, all he could see was the piles of garbage scattered all over. That part of beach was used as a dumping ground by the townsfolk. As a result the scene was quite filthy. Mark was appalled by this sight.  He was treading his way around the garbage strewn shore, then he saw one teenaged boy approaching him. He came closer and said the usual things Indians ask when they see a foreigner in their land. As if they will then point out the country in the world map and say Eureka ! I did it ! 

Hello, how are you? Where are you from?

Mark : Hello. I am from USA. Nice to meet you.

Then the boy and Mark started walking together. They talked over many things from India to America.  The teen wanted to become a software engineer.

Then out of nowhere, the boy pointed out towards the seafront and said:

Look at this. Isn’t it beautiful?

He was admiring the rising sun and the sea waves touching the shore. Mark was amazed at this sudden declaration. All he could see was piles and piles of garbage, and this boy was able to see something beautiful at the same place. He was touched by boy’s point of view.

Then he told me. What amazed him the most in India, is people’s point of view or how they look at things. Indians can see beauty within the so-called ugliness. They can see light in darkness. They are able to find their way in the oddest of situations.  And that makes Indians interesting for him.

One Night in Bhambhore

Bhambhore is the same city which is mentioned by Sir V S Naipaul in his ‘Among the Believers : An Islamic Journey’ (1981). Naipaul writes:

“Chach rules for forty years. It is Chach who repulses the first Arab attack, a sea attack on the port of  Bhambhore (Debal). On Chach’s death, the kingdom passes to Chach’s brother and then to his son, Dahar… Dahar consults an astrologer who predicts good fortune but this clouded by what the astrologer says about Dahar’s sister. The man Dahar’s sister marries, the astrologer says, will rule the kingdom…So Dahar goes through a marriage ceremony with his sister. Much is made of this incident, though it has no important sequel. It serves only -in this Persian Arab narrative-to stress that the kingdom of Sind is morally blighted, and the cause of the dynasty of Chach cannot prosper. Attention shifts now to the Arabs…After the failure of the first two expeditions against Sind, the third Caliph, Osman or Uthman (644-56) orders a detailed report on the affairs of “Hind or Sindh”-its rules of war, its strategy, the nature of its government, the structure of its society… “O Hakim,” the caliph says, “have you seen Hindustan and learnt all about it?”

“Yes, O commander of the faithful”

“Give us a description of it.”

Its water is dark and dirty. Its fruit is bitter and poisonous. Its land is stony and its earth is salt. A small army will soon be annihilated there, and a large one will soon die of hunger… Towards the end of the seventh century Hajjaj becomes governor of “Iraq, Sind and Hind…Hajjaj’s army is defeated by King Dahar’s son… Hajjaj selects 6000 experienced soldiers from Syria, appoints as general his 17 year old son-in-law, Mohammed Bin Qasim…”

Bhambore was an ancient port city of Debal from the 7th century, located near modern Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, at the base of the Indus River. The city was long known for acting as the trading links between Arab and South Asian nations of its times. It was the gateway of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. In fact the first mosque in the subcontinent ‘ The Grand Mosque’ was built there. Before the invasion by Mohammad Bin Kasim, the city was mostly populated by Hindus and a minority of Buddhists.  The city was ruled by a Hindu King.

On the other hand Bhambhore is immortalized in the famous love story of Sassui-Punnhun of Sindh. The city is famously mentioned in the old Sindhi language folk song ‘Pere Pavandi Saan’ which narrates the folktale of Sassui-Punnhun. The story is about a faithful wife ‘Sassui’ (from Bhambhore, Sindh) who is ready to undergo all kinds of troubles that would come her way while seeking her beloved husband ‘Punnhun’ (from Makran, Balochistan) who was separated from her by the rivals. This folktale has been used as parable by one the greatest Sindhi Sufi Poet Shah Abdul Latif (1689-1752) for seeker on mystical path who undergoes all kinds of tribulations in the quest of God whom he will find, at the end of the road, in his own heart like  Sassui, roaming in the wilderness and talking to the beasts, becomes something like feminine counter part Majnun (the persian symbol of true love).  Shah Abdul Latif sings this historic tale in his anthology of sufi poetry (Shah Jo Risalo) as an example of eternal love and union with Divine.

Composed in Sindhi language, this song ‘Pere Pavandi Saan’ has long been sung during weddings by women in Sindh Region.
Sindhi language is a direct descendant of  VrachaD Aprabhamsa and is  spoken by a large number of people  in India and Pakistan. It is spoken in Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan where it is taught as a first language in the government schools. Sindhi is also widely spoken in India by a huge population.It is one of the major literary languages of India recognized in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. In India it is usually spoken by people who, after migration from Sindhi due to partition of the country in 1947 have settled mainly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. Significant number of Sindhi speaking people reside in South India and in some other regions of the country. Among the modern Indian language, Sindhi is the only language which is not an official language of any particular state. It is also widely spoken in Ulhasnagar near Mumbai which is the largest Sindhi enclave in India.

It is impossible not to enjoy and cherish the melodies that come right from our own soil and roots; every harmony is a reservoir of history, every chorus is unique and every stanza becomes a holy verse. Kudos to ‘Coke Studio – Pakistan’ for bringing this uniquely multilingual heritage of South Asia in the limelight. Sindhi folk songs are cultural treasures for the world. Long live this pluralistic tradition of South Asia. Here is the Devanagari rendering of this amazing Sindhi song sung by Tahir Mithu :

पेरि पवंडी साँ, चवनडी साँ
रहि वन रात भंभोर में अल्लाह
पेरि पवंडी साँ, चवनडी साँ
रहि वन रात भंभोर में अल्लाह
सिंदड़ी में, भंभोर में
उठ तै आरिए जाम, मा जा मियाँ हो अल्लाह
हो उठ तै आरिए जाम, मा जा मियाँ हो
आरिए जाम जा, पुन्हल जाम जा
आरिए जाम जा, पुन्हल जाम जा
वागाँ वठन डी साँ, चवनडी साँ
रहि वन रात भंभोर में अल्लाह
पेरि पवंडी साँ
सिंदड़ी में, भंभोर में
रोज़ो पाक रसूल जो मियाँ हो अल्लाह
हो रोज़ो पाक रसूल जो मियाँ, मिठ्ठे रसूल जो, सोहणे रसूल जो, प्यारे रसूल जो, सोहणे रसूल जो
चौठ चूम्मनेडी साँ, चवणडी साँ
रहि वन रात भंभोर में अल्लाह
पेरि पवंडी साँ
सिंदड़ी में, भंभोर में
अद्नूँ, शाह लतीफ चै मियाँ हो अल्लाह
भिट जो गोह्ट लतीफ चै मियाँ, अद्नूँ लतीफ चै, लायक लतीफ चै, ललौं लतीफ चै, भिट जो लतीफ चै
लोहे लहन डी साँ, चवनडी साँ
पेरि पवंडी साँ, चवनडी साँ
रहि वन रात भंभोर में अल्लाह
सिंदड़ी में, भंभोर में…..

Listen to the song here :