Book Review : ‘Gods, Giants and the Geography of India’, author Nalini Ramachandran
Book Review ‘Gods, Giants and the Geography of India’ author Nalini Ramachandran
About the Book
In the east, a pirate king finds his plans foiled by a formidable force of nature. In the north, a majestic mountain range emerges from a demon’s tantrum. In the west, a sea keeps a city safely hidden in its deep waters. In the south, the avatar of a god gives a forest its name. Long ago, before science came up with explanations for the events that occurred in nature, people turned to stories to make sense of the wondrous workings of the natural world. And so, a life-giving stream became the gift of a goddess, a hot spring arose from the breath of a celestial snake and a heap of broken boulders served as a testament to a divine battle. Zigzagging through myths, folklore, local history and geological theories, this extraordinary book draws fascinating connections between ancient tales and the science behind the spectacular geography of India.
Join Nalini Ramachandran on a most unusual, adventure-filled expedition up, down and across the country’s varied terrain!
About the Author
This book is an informative entertainer. It is a well-conceived and researched book. This book has a very interesting structure. A fable, a belief, a local deity, and a bit of Geology are combined to tell about the landmark places of India. The places and locations selected are prominent tourist places in India.
The places and stories, she chose, are– Mathura, a city under the ocean, rivers like Narmada, the Karewa Lake and Himalayan ranges, Rama-Sethu and Dhanushkoti as a Bridge city, Hampi as an Architectural wonder etc.
The titles for places are very interesting with comic overtones. Though the writing looks very peripheral in general, in many places the author’s narration is philosophical and intellectual. I found a few interesting statements from the author, and I am including samples, here.
A statement of Myth:
“Humans have not always been the best protectors of the natural world. So, that responsibility has largely fallen on the shoulders of the divine beings. In Hindu mythology, it rests with Vishnu and various Avatars. The preserver, as he is called, shares a strange equation with geographical elements, some of which are curiously endowed with the ability to think and act like the divine protector himself….”
A statement as a thinker:
“Being powerful royals, who possibly believed that could control everything and everyone, how did they react to the surprises that nature threw at them?”
A statement as a Geologist:
“Not all caves and Rocky formations are brown. The colour of the speleothems depends on the mineral content in the water. The presence of the mineral calcite can cause white formations, while that of iron can lead to red, orange, brown and black formations. So the white, brown, orange and black objects covering a large part of a wall in the Patal Bhuvashwar Cave looked like Shiva’s tresses to Sheshnag and Raja Rituparna. But to Geologists, it is primarily a multicoloured speleothem formed by a combination of minerals in the water.”
“The epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, which narrate the stories of two complex royal families, set the journeys undertaken by their lead characters in real locations. Thus geographical features such as the Panchchuli Peaks, Satopanth Lake, and the Swargarohini Glacier, situated in the Himalayas, actually got their names from specific episodes in Mahabharata”.
Nalini Ramachandran, the author, is a well-known writer and her other titles as well are as queer as this title. I certainly recommend this book for all book-loving children. A tourist will enjoy this commentary from the book while visiting the place.
- Publisher : Hachette India Children’s Books (31 August 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 280 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9391028225
- ISBN-13 : 978-9391028220
- Country of Origin : India