Thursday, April 11, 2013

India's Dan Brown and Mysteries of Vijayanagara Empire

Are you curious about the mysteries of wealthy and prosperous Vijayanagara Empire? Well, then you ought to read this novel. Karisiriyana is a work of fiction in Kannada. But not all the details in this book are fictitious. Vijayanagara Empire is regarded as one of the most powerful and wealthy kingdoms in Indian history. But then it is not clear where all the wealth in the form of precious stones, jewels which were said to be sold on the streets of Hampi, the illustrious capital city of Vijayanagara kingdom disappeared after the fall of the mighty empire. This book makes an effort to unravel the mystery.

How did Tirupati temple became the richest temple in the world? (Though this have to be corrected now as Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram set to overtake after it's riches were discovered in 2011. But the novel was written in 2009). Author K N Ganeshaiah crafts the story around various hidden clues to find out the lost treasure of forgotten empire.
Karisiriyana Kannada novel cover page
Karisiriyana Cover Page
One exciting aspect of Ganeshaiah's novel is that he gives you references from historical texts as footnotes. Also, included are the relevant photographs from historical places. So, the reader is kept guessing as he fails to make distinction between fact and fiction, and that is what gives the reader a wonderful reading experience. In the process, one learns easy way to learn about Indian history rather than getting bogged down by boring historical text books.

The novel begins with references to two historical letters. Folklorist Nanjamma is found dead in her home at Nangli, which is on the way to Chittoor from Mulabagilu in National Highway number 4. ASI(Archaeological Survey of India) plans to build a garden in Hampi comprising of flora from Vijayanagara era. When they are digging the area for the soil testing, botanist Dr.Vasudev discovers diamonds there. Pooja is researching on secret financial tie-up between Vijayanagara kings and Tirupati temple. When she is in Tirumala hills as part of her research, CBI arrests her. In remote corner of Kashmir, Indian army takes Bhavana into custody who was studying life and ways of an exotic community. NRI Lakshmikanth Patel gets elected to the committee which monitors the preservation of World Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO after fierce lobbying. Though you may think the above details are not related to each other, you eventually find how all these get interlinked in the novel. You will be amazed to find answers to the following questions too from Indian history - Where all the treasure disappeared after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire? Is there any cosmic geometric connection in planning the city of Hampi? How did Vijayanagar Kingdom become so prosperous? Why were silver/gold coins were called as varahas in Kannada/Telugu during that time? If Telugu is not the mother tongue of Sri Krishnadevaraya then what is it?

It would not be a surprise in the coming days, if K N Ganeshaiah earns the title - India's Dan Brown because of his research oriented historical novels. I am already reading his another historical novel - Chitadanta which has references from the times of Alexander, Emperor Ashoka and Theravada Buddhism.

10 comments:

  1. K N Ganeshaiah is Kannada's Steven Speilberg.Love this book very much.. Does anyone know any website where I can buy it online? I jus want to have a copy of my own....

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  2. Truly a great writer... More n more people should read his books.

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  3. You can buy his books on sapna online or flipkart.com

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  4. I hv seen hampi nd penakonda nd tirupati..i s havng realistic pics of activities tat r explained in tis novel. Hats off..

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    1. Thanks for the information Sheshadri Prathap. I have not visited Hampi and Penukonda. Would love to go there especially after reading Karisiriyana.

      K N Ganeshaiah is a great writer of historical fiction novels.

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  5. Thanks Reevesh for suggesting this Book to me.

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