The Deccan Plateau is generally believed to have been “conquered” by the Mauryan empire of the Gangetic Plains – but the reality of its early history is far more complex and thought-provoking. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to Prof. Namita Sugandhi about her excavations at the site of Tekkalakota, Karnataka, to learn about how archaeology challenges not only our understanding of the Deccan in the Iron Age but our ideas about urbanisation and civilisation itself.
How did a bean from West Asia become one of India’s most popular morning drinks? It’s a story of innovation, trade, capitalism, and media. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to food blogger Sujata Shukla about how coffee took root in South India.
Theyyam rituals in Kerala, performed annually by communities across the state, contain fascinating subaltern mythologies and musical practices passed down through centuries. Archaeologist and musician Aditya Mohanan joins Anirudh Kanisetti to discuss his latest research, an ethnomusicological study of Theyyam and its practitioners.
Read Aditya’s paper, “Sounds from a Silenced Divinity”, here.
Listen to Midhaven’s album, “Of the Lotus and the Thunderbolt”, here.
The 16th century saw the emergence of famous Rajput aristocratic households such as the Sisodias of Mewar – but it also saw the career of remarkable military entrepreneurs from relatively humble backgrounds, such as Silhadi of Raisen. Anirudh Kanisetti and Aditya Ramanathan explore his career and that of his descendants, and what it tells us about the military labour market and state formation in early modern India.
Every year, hundreds of clay sculptures of horses, cows, and bulls are dedicated across Tamil Nadu to the god Ayyanar. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to photographer and filmmaker Julie Wayne about the worship of this deity and what it tells us about local religions and transforming economies in rural Tamil Nadu.
Contact Julie for access to the documentary From Earth to Earth, about the potters involved in the celebrations of Ayyanar: http://juliewayne.net/contact/
From 160 years, the often forgotten medieval Kakatiya kingdom sprawled across modern Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Odisha and Karnataka. In its brief life, this extraordinary kingdom experimented with new forms of political organisation and warfighting, while commissioning architectural marvels.
Anirudh Kanisetti takes us through the birth of the Kakatiya dynasty, its extraordinary rise, and its violent fall.
Links mentioned in the episode:
The arrival of the Portuguese and other European powers on India’s shores profoundly impacted the subcontinent’s militaries, polities, and societies – but also its food. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to food blogger Sujata Shukla about how the arrival of new crops from the Americas, often brought by Europeans, transformed Indian eating habits.
Remains dating back to nearly 4000 years ago, at the site of Sinauli in Uttar Pradesh, have revealed that the history of the Indian subcontinent in the Bronze Age is far more complex than imagined. From chariots to swords to coffins, these remains tell us that the people of Sinauli were a warlike, sophisticated culture – but who really were they, and how did they relate to the far better-known Harappans? Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to archaeologist and history communicator Disha Ahluwalia, who worked on excavations in the region, to find out.
What if the South Indian empire of Vijayanagara had won the fateful Battle of Talikota in 1565? The answer is more complex than we might think. Anirudh Kanisetti and Aditya Ramanathan explore the culture, society, and geopolitics of the Vijayanagara empire and its nayaka successors in search of answers.
Links mentioned in the episode:
At its peak, the Harappan culture was the powerhouse of the Bronze Age world. It stretched from the lush meadows of Punjab to the salt flats of Kutch and the deserts of Sindh, its sway extending over nearly 40% of the human population of the time. What do excavations really tell us about the nature of this unique culture? And what does it have to do with the so-called Sarasvati River, known today as the Ghaggar-Hakra? Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to archaeologist and history communicator Disha Ahluwalia, who is conducting a study of the region, to find out.
Historical fiction can be a powerful tool to explore the individual people who have shaped our pasts. But why has it not caught on in India? What comprises good historical fiction, and what does it teach us about history and how we see it? Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to journalist and author Rajat Ubhaykar, author of Truck De India!: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hindustan, about some of the most exciting and thought-provoking historical fiction they’ve read and the difficult themes that these books explore.
You can buy Truck De India here:
It’s rare to find a narration of earthshaking political events by a commoner of those times. That’s precisely why Vishnu Bhat Godse Varsaikar’s Maazaa Pravaas is special. This book provides an eyewitness account of the 1857 mutiny. In this puliyabaazi, we discuss a few counter-intuitive and lesser-known facts from that era based on Varsaikar’s …
The history of humanity is more than just the history of men. Historian Ira Mukhoty joins Amit Varma in episode 144 of The Seen and the Unseen to talk about going beyond the male gaze to write history. She also discusses Daughters of the Sun, her account of the rich and complex world of Mughal women.