June 21 2018

Ancient Cities of India by Sayan Bhattacharya

Born in 1974 and a Post-graduate in English Literature, Sayan has two published novels based on life stories, alongside regular blogging. Having a keen interest in Indian history and mythology, this eBook is Sayan’s first attempt at writing based on history. This eBook presents an easy re-telling of the history of select ancient cities of India. Packed with mythological tales and historical anecdotes the stories bring alive the imperial kingdoms of the past, for you to re-discover India’s heritage in a new light.

Review: Ancient cities represent the historical past of the country. Wars were fought on their lands, majestic temples symbolize their deep rooted history. They are a beautiful sight to explore the rich culture and traditions. The present book ‘ Ancient Cities’ penned by Sayan Bhattacharya covers cities of India and world. Author Sayan here comprehensively, yet incisively, studies the rise, growth and fall of republics of ancient cities. He has also dwelt upon the rise and expansion of kingdoms and growth and decline of towns, cities and various urban centres in different parts of the Indian subcontinent at length. It delves deep into modes of expansion of territories, factors leading to urbanisation and urbanisation patterns, and town planning. It presents a picturesque description of the urban centres of North India and more and pays special attention to dates related to founding of republics and cities, their extent, their functioning as administrative and religious centres, the problem of their identification and references to them in works, and their place in the wider framework of ancient Indian polity. The book will be useful to scholars and students interested in the study of ancient cities and urban history. Of all the 26 cities mentioned in this book some of my personal favorite chapters are – Bairat, Hastinapur, Lahore, Multan and Varanasi.

Situated 90 km from Jaipur, in the picturesque Aravallis, Bairath was once the capital of the Matasya king Virat, dating back to the time of the Mahabharata. The Pandavas spent a year of their exile here, and Bhim killed Keechak in Virat. The Chinese traveler Fa-Hieun Tsang mentioned Bairat as a great seat of Buddhist pilgrimage. The fact is corroborated by two rock edicts found at Bhimsen Doongari and Bairath(commonly known as the Bhabra inscription and kept in custody at the Kolkata museum). These edicts are from the 84,000 rock edicts and pillar inscription said to have been engraved during the period of Emperor Ashoka to propagate the teachings of the Buddha.

Hastinapuram (Sanskrit) Hastin (elephant) + puram (city) is a city named after the elephants. History of this place begins from the period of Mahabharata. It is also said that this place is named after the King Hastin. A center place for political, cultural, and spiritual events some 86500 years back. There is enough documented support, besides excavation, to prove the historic importance of this place. The Archaeologist believed that there must be a correlation between Mahabharata, the text, and the material remains that was excavated at Hastinapur.

Lahore, originally the capital and largest city of the Punjab region, it has since its creation changed hands from Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Muslim, Sikh, British and back to Muslim rule, thereby becoming the cultural capital and the heart of modern-day Pakistan. A mythological legend, based on oral traditions, states that Lahore was named after Lava, son of the Hindu god Rama, who supposedly founded the city. Lahore Fort has a vacant temple dedicated in honour of Lava. Likewise, the Ravi River that flows through northern Lahore was said to be named in honour of the Hindu goddess Durga.

Multan is one of the oldest cities in South Asia, though the exact age has yet to be determined. Its modern name comes from its old Sanskrit name Mūlasthān. It has seen a lot of warfare because of its location on a major invasion route between South Asia and Central Asia. It is famous for its Sufi shrines.

I strongly believe Varanasi (Benaras) is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, which have been constantly inhabited. If we look at the archaeological evidences, remains from the year 1200 BC have been found here. While there are also indications that this city could be living since 3000 BC, or even older. This ancient city has seen many-many generations of human life. Varanasi has seen the progress of human civilization since very ancient time. This fact helps this city to obtain the status of being the cultural capital of India.

There is lot more in the book apart from these 5 ancient cities I have mentioned. This is one of the best books you can read and re-read on Ancient cities. A lot of research has been done by the author, but still lot more can be done. This book is the first step in acknowledging the true antiquity of the our rich cultural history. This was an excellent, informative and well-written book about civilizations which had some points largely unknown. I highly recommend it to anyone interested history. This is an erudite and impressive work. There is a lot of dense information packed into this small volume. I was exposed to a tremendous amount of information about which I had no idea. Sayan Congratulations for bringing out such an interesting book and I am glad that I have read it.


  1. Content – 5/5
  2. Cover Page – 5/5


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Posted June 21, 2018 by Novemberschild in category "Book Reviews

About the Author

I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.

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