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Hampi – History, Mythology, You

Hampi is the modern town that sits by the ruins of the City of Victory, Vijayanagara, capital of the once mighty Vijayanagar Empire. Local tradition also says that it is the site of the Kingdom of Monkeys, Kishkinda, and birthplace of Hanuman, the monkey god. In fact, every guide will tell you that the landscape of broken rocks is nothing but what is left after the terrible battle between brothers Vali and Sugreeva over the kinship of Kishkinda.

This is also typical of the Indian habit of conflating history and mythology, making Hampi the perfect Indian destination where the past lives on. read more

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Florence – The Renaissance and Dante

Dan Brown can hardly be called the most inspired or the most inspiring of authors. However, his books are my guilty pleasure (Angels and Demons are in my top ten list. Yes. I am not ashamed to admit it.), and Inferno’s Florence parts were so well written, Vidya and I knew we had to go and see it for ourselves. Our time in Florence, therefore, was for all intents and purposes, in the amazing Dante Alighieri’s footsteps, inspired by Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

We stayed in the historic town centre of Florence in a b&b that was within shouting distance of the Florence Cathedral, ordinarily called Il Duomo, the sprawling medieval building that dominates the town. The historic centre of Florence itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and represents the best of Renaissance architecture. The Duomo sits, huge and sprawling and beautiful and majestic and dominating, in the centre of Florence. There is no escaping it – wherever you go, there is some part of the Duomo you see. Even when you are facing completely away from it, the reflections of the Duomo look back at you mockingly. So you don’t try to escape it, Instead you learn, very quickly, to accept it and revel in its massive benign presence. You make a game of it – trying to spot it from wherever you are. read more

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