KIMMERIDGE is a small village and civil parish on the Island of PURBECK, a peninsula on the English Channel Coast in Dorset, England.  It is situated about 7.2km south of WAREHAM and 11km west of SWANAGE, in the Purbeck administrative District.

It is a coastal parish and its coastline forms part of Site of Special Interest and the whole parish is part of the Dorset area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  KIMMERIDGE Village is sited beside a small  stream on a roughly southwest-facing  slope between the English Channel Coast less than 1.6km to the southwest and a curving line of hills immediately to the north and east.  KIMMERIDGE civil parish has several protected landscape designations covering it in whole or part.  Its coastline forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, that was designated in 2001 due to global significance of its geological features and earth science interest.


The geology of KIMMERIDGE comprises bedrock formed in the Late Jurassic Epoch, overlain in many places by superficial QUATEMARY head deposits.  The bedrock is mainly KIMMERIDGE clay, except for the top of SMEDMORE HILL and along to SWYRE HEAD, which is formed from Portland Stone.  Between this and the KIMMERIDGE clay and outcropping just beneath the top of the hill, is a thin band of Portland Sand.  Within the KIMMERIDGE clay are bands of bituminous shale and DOLOSTONE, which form flat ledges within KIMMERIDGE BAY, that are exposed at low tide.

KIMMERIDGE gives its name to the KIMMERIDGIAN, the division of the Jurassic Period in which the beds were laid down, because of the quality of the cliffs and the fossils they yield.  
Within KIMMERIDGE parish, there are 25 structures that have been listed by Historic England for their historic or architectural interest.  None has been listed as Grade — 1, but SMEDMORE HOUSE is Grade —2.  Along the shore, immediately eastwards of KIMMERIDGE BAY (above HEN CLIFF) is CLAVELL TOWER.  It had been in danger of falling down the eroding cliff, so recently the tower was dismantled and then re-assembled 115ft further back from the cliff edge.  The Tower is available as a holiday let.

kimmeridge bay

The PARISH CHURCH was mostly rebuilt in 1872, though it has 12th century origins —- the south door and parts of the west wall are still original.  The south porch is early 13th century and the ‘bell-cote’ is 15th century.

The MUSEUM of JURASSIC MARINE LIFE :  In 2014, 2.7million pounds was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for the purpose of creating a new museum in KIMMERIDGE, on the site of the old village hall.  The project, costing a total of 5million pounds, will also house conservation workshops and a new village hall and community space.  The museum, to be called the MUSEUM of JURASSIC MARINE LIFE, will display the ETCHES Collection of over 2,000 fossils, collected over 30years by village resident Steve Etches.  The Museum is scheduled to open in 2016.

Kimmeridge museum

KIMMERIDGE BAY is a surfing area which breaks infrequently due to its exposure to Atlantic swells, but can produce walls of water when it is ‘on’.  Below the cliffs to the east is THE LEDGES, with slow left-and-right-hand breaking waves.  The right-handers can spiral for 64metres or more into the Bay.  To the west is BROAD BENCH, within the Ministry of Defence Firing Range and only accessible when the ranges are open to the public.

Of ghats, gangajal and invocations


Durga puja

Kolkata. The name evokes memories of history, heritage, art, food…and Durga Puja. As the flight descends on this city, a breathtaking view emerges. Kolkata, dressed in all its finery, all set to welcome Maa Durga. The festive atmosphere is unparalleled, the enthusiasm undiminished. The taxi meanders through tight lanes, with people spilling over each other, yet walking on, witnessing the spectacle that is Durga Puja. For Durga is in every corner, every lane, every rajbari…

Durga puja

One often wonders when this festival actually started. Was it this way even a hundred years back? Origins differ, but consensus is that the age old zamindars of Bengal started this public celebration, and it grew over the years to become what is now called the largest outdoor art festival on earth. Every years, pandals compete with each other in coming up with innovative, or creative pujos as they are known locally, and well…

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The festival of VIJAYADASHAMI or DUSSEHRA celebrates the victor of good over evil, symbolised in Indian Mythology by the slaying of the demon king RAVANA by LORD RAMA,, and by the killing of the monster MAHISHASURA by GODDESS DURGA.

Every year effigies of Ravana are burnt  on VIJAYADASHAMI which falls on the 10th day of the month of Ashwin in the Hindu Lunar calendar.  Ravana is the personification of evil —– a learned scholar who gave in to lust, anger, greed and ego.  Rama is the personification of virtue, the MARAYADA PURUSH.

Durga puja dashami

We celebrate VIJAYADASHAMI every year, but are we really becoming free of vices ?  Instead we are becoming slaves to our vices.  Increasing corruption, immorality and materialism indicate a growing void that is being sought to be filled with possessions and physical pleasures.  The increasing influence of vice in our lives is unwittingly reflected in the size of the Ravana effigies built for VIJAYADASHAMI, which grow taller each year.

Just burning wood and straw effigies is not going to bring us victory over evil.  That can be achieved only by “spiritual effort”.  The story of the Ramayana is a parable of how God, personified by Rama, and humans represented by monkeys, together can rid the world of negative tendencies.
The battle described in the Ramayana is an allegory for the struggle that goes on in the mind between our higher Self and our weaknesses.  God helps us in this struggle by giving us the strength to resist evil and the wisdom to avoid deceptions created by ignorance of our true identity.
When we forget that we are spiritual beings, or souls, we begin to define ourselves in terms of our body and the labels that come with it —– race, religion, nationality and gender.  We also measure our worth, and that of others, in terms of personal and professional roles, responsibilities, possessions, appearance and social and financial status.  Such identifications with the physical not only begets attachment but also brings sorrow when our gross identity suffers due to ageing, declining social, financial or professional positions.  It makes us vulnerable to vice, the cause of suffering.


We need to remove the veils of ignorance from the intellect, by becoming aware of our true identity as souls innately possessing divine qualities of peace, love and co-operation.  With the practice of spiritual knowledge and meditation, we can purify our negative proclivities.

To make our celebration of VIJAYADASHAMI meaningful, we must resolve to take at least one step towards conquering our weaknesses, so that each year we move closer to attaining victory over them..  Thus, we can sublimate the negative propensities of Ravana living in our minds.
——- B K Brijmohan.  

Bouldnor Cliff

bouldnor cliff_geology

BOULDNOR CLIFF is a submerged, prehistoric settlement site in the SOLENT.  The site dates from the Mesolithic Era and is in 11 metres of water, just offshore of the village of BOULDNOR on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom.

The preservation of organic materials from this era, that do not normally survive on dry land, has made BOULDNOR important to the understanding of Mesolithic Britain, and the BBC Radio 4’s Making History programme describe it “probably Europe’s most important Mesolithic site” albeit concealed under water.
The site was first discovered by dives from the Maritime Archaeology Trust in 1999, when a lobster was observed discarding worked flint tools from his burrow on the seabed.  Since then, several years of fieldwork have revealed that BOULDNOR was a settlement site about 8000 years ago, at a time when lower sea levels meant that the Solent was just a river valley.  The work done so far has already revealed that the technology of the Mesolithic settlers was probably 2000 years ahead of what had previously been believed.
Bouldnor Cliff toolsInvestigations suggest that during the Mesolithic Era, between 8000 and 4000 BC, the western Solent was a sheltered river basin rich in woodland and fed by a river at LYMINGTON and drained by the Western YAR at Freshwater.  As sea levels rose, the Solent eventually flooded and the settlement area was swamped.  The rising waters deposited silt and mud onto the original land surface, covering and preserving it.
Fishermen had reported recovering stone tools from the seabed of the Solent since the 1960s, but it was not until 1987 that the submerged remains of an ancient forest were discovered at BOULDNOR.  Later, radiocarbon-dating of pollen revealed this to be approximately 8000 years old.  Subsequently, regular dives revealed a “submerged cliff” east of Yarmouth, with large quantities of peat that dated to a similar period.
Bouldnor Cliff
The Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology began mapping this “submerged cliff” and selected four main sites of interest (named BC 1-4).  It was while diving in 11 metres of water on BC 2 in 1999, that divers noticed a burrowing lobster discarding “worked flints” from its burrow.  The lobster had burrowed through thick mud deposits that had formed since the Solent flooded and into the original surface of the “submerged cliff” when the Solent was dry.
Since 1999, divers have excavated at BOULDNOR every year.  Further discoveries were made at BC 2 and BC 4, and late a new site was discovered nearby (BC 5).  The dangerous discovering conditions in the fast-flowing waters of the Solent make archaeological investigation particularly difficult, and archaeologists have used several new techniques to make analysis of the seabed easier.  This has included “box sampling”  ——— collecting large areas of seabed in metal tins to raise them to the surface and more thoroughly excavate their contents on dry land.
Archaeologists have discovered large quantities of burnt flints, mounds of timbers and pits dug into the ground.  Wood, from this era, does not normally preserve well in land environments, so the quantity of wood, found at BOULDNOR, make the site of international importance.
Under a large mound of “worked timbers” at BC 5, they discovered large areas of burnt clay, burnt flint and charcoal which ahs been interpreted as the “floor of a living space”.  Other timbers show signs of having been extensively worked on.  Some timbers show signs of having been fashioned as a type of “conduit”, which is not something that has ever been seen in Mesolithic Archaeology before.  Some of the “worked timbers” indicate technological skills that had previously only been associated with the Neolithic Era, 2000 years later than BOULDNOR.
Burnt hazelnuts and oak charcoal have also been found at BC 5.  Like the wood, these types of organic material do not normally survive well on dry land-based environments.  A pit dug into the clay at BC 5 had been filled with burnt clay nodules, charcoal and burnt stones, which had been covered with a large piece of wood.  Examining the pit walls revealed that the pit had probably been filled with hot stones on several occasions.  Other pits have revealed chipped wood flakes, flint knapping flakes and even wound fibres that appear to have been used as string.  Many of the finds suggest evidence of small scale industry as well as settlement.
The work done at BOULDNOR is exhibited in the Maritime Archaeology Trust’s SUNKEN SECRETS exhibition at Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight.  Research, published in 2015, has identified “wheat DNA’ at the site.  As this wheat is of a type, not native to Britain, it suggests that the possibility of trade with Europe much earlier than had previously been supposed by archaeologists.

The nine shaktis

Shiva Shakti

Before the manifestation of the world, there was only SHIVA (the BRAHMAN), which existed in its formless state.  SHIVA — the formless, omnipotent and omnipresent — existed all alone in its static consciousness state.  When the intention to create arose in Shiva, first His creative power emanated from Him.

This creative power of Shiva, in its formless state, is called SHAKTI and the same in its form is called DURGA.  Creative powers are thus feminine in nature.  When the feminine power of creation separated from Shiva, it first enveloped Shiva Himself, as otherwise delusion (MAYA) couldn’t have got created which is the basic principle to sustain the creation.  Thus, DURGA is also referred to as MAYAVI SHAKTI.

nine forms of shakti

Shiva being inert, static and inactive cannot itself create anything.  Hence, the active energies are required to create the universe and thus the Dynamic Consciousness (SHAKTI / DURGA) from the static consciousness became necessary.  Creating the universe itself has no meaning unless it is supported with sustaining powers.

In order to sustain the universe and the living beings therein, nine types of SHAKTIS were required.  These 9 SHAKTIS became active to sustain the universe.  They are referred to as NINE DEVIS.
The names of these 9 DEVIS are JAGADAMBA, BHADRAKALI, ANNAPURNA, SARVAMANGALA, BHAIRAVI, CHANDI, LALITA, BHAVANI & MUKAMBIKA.  Each of these DEVIS are bestowed with distinct powers : JAGADAMBA is bestowed with the power to create and procreate; BHADRAKALI is the giver of fortune; ANNAPURNA is the giver of food to all living and non-living beings; LALITA is the love aspect in male and female beings; BHAVANI is the giver of life force, etc.
When we are not in the same frequency as these SHAKTIS, we suffer in the world and create impediments in our road to peace and harmony.  During NAVRATRI, these 9 DEVIS are worshipped with the BHAVA of surrendering at their feet and seeking mercy, protection and peace.


MA DURGA, the dynamic consciousness of Shiva and the main cause of creation of the universe, is also bestowed with the knowledge of salvation (MOKSHA).  Salvation takes place when Shiva is projected out from the shadow of MAYA.  MA DURGA is thus worshipped for the knowledge of enlightenment as well.

The first three days of NAVRATRI worship are to seek the DURGA aspect so as to cleanse our impurities and destroy the inner demons such as lust, anger, jealousy, hatred, enmity, etc.  The next three days dedicated to the LAKSHMI aspect, which is the provider of wealth, peace, health and over all prosperity.  And the last three days are dedicated to the SARASWATI aspect, the Goddess of wisdom, for knowledge and enlightenment.
NAVRATRI is the occasion to celebrate and recognise the advent of creative powers SHAKTIS from Shiva and an opportunity to surrender at their feet seeking all-round peace, prosperity, harmony and eventual salvation from the ego of our individual being.
—————– Sadhguru Rameshji.



ISFAHAN historically also rendered in English as ISPAHAN, SEPAHAN, ESFAHAN or HISPAHAN, is the capital of ISFAHAN Province in Iran, located about 340km south of Tehran.


The city is located in the lush plain of the  ZAYANDERUD River, at the foothills of the ZAGROS mountain range.  The nearest mountain is Mount SOFFEH (KUH-e SOFFEH).  No geological obstacles exist within 90km north if Isfahan, allowing cool northern winds to blow from this direction.  Situated at 5,217ft above sea level, Isfahan has an arid climate.  Despite its altitude, Isfahan remains hot during the summer.  However, with low humidity and moderate temperatures at night, the climate can be very pleasant.  During the winter, days are mild while nights can be very cold.  Snow has occurred at least once every winter except 1986 / 1987 and 1989 / 1990.

Isfahan architecture

Isfahan is Iran’s 3rd largest city after Tehran and Mashhad.  It was once the one of the largest cities in the world.  It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th century under the SATAVID DYNASTY, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history.  Even today, the city retains much of its past glory.  It is famous for its Persian – Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques and minarets.  This led to the Persian Proverb : ESFAHAN NESF-E JAHAN AST (Esfahan is half of the world).


The NAQSH-e JAHAN SQUARE in Isfahan, is also known as IMAM SQUARE (1602) is an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture.  The Square contains 2 mosques, a palace and a bazaar.  The square is the largest historical public square in the world after Tiananmen Square in Beijing and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Square is surrounded by buildings from the SAFAVID ERA.


The history of Isfahan can be traced back to the Palaeolithic Period.  In recent discoveries, archaeologists have found artefacts dating back to the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.  Today, Isfahan produces fine carpets, textiles, steel and handicrafts.  Isfahan also has nuclear experimental reactors as well as facilities for producing nuclear fuel (UCF).  Isfahan has one of the largest steel-producing facilities in the entire region, as well as facilities for producing special alloys.

Isfahan mosque

Over 2,00 companies work in the area using Isfahan’s economic, cultural and social potentials.  Isfahan contains a major oil refinery and a large air force  base.  Isfahan is also becoming an attraction for international investments, like investment in Isfahan City Centre, which is the largest shopping mall in Iran with a museum and has the largest indoor amusement park in the Middle East.

There are many places of interest in  Isfahan.
(1) CHEHEL SOTOUN ( The Palace of 40 columns) —- It was built in 1647.  It is called The Palace of 40 columns, as there are many columns, and in Iranian, 40 means “many”.  There are 20 columns and these are reflected in the pool in front, which might also account for its name.  The function of this Palace was for holding religious-national ceremonies and royal festivals and for receiving royal ambassadors and guests.  Its PERSIAN GARDENS is one of the 9 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  It contains some spectacular battle murals.


(2) SI-O-SEH POL (The Bridge of 33 Arches):  Built in 1602, it is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of SAFAVID Bridge Design.  It is beautiful whether there is water underneath it or not, and there is a basic eatery at the northern end.

(3) POL-e KHAJU (KHAJU BRIDGE) : It was built in 1650, and is the finest bridge in the Province of Isfahan.  This structure originally was ornamented with artistic tile works and paintings and served as a teahouse.
(4) VANK ARMENIAN CATHEDRAL : (Holy Saviour Cathedral) : The interior of this 7th century Armenian Cathedral is covered with fine paintings and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work.  The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Bible Story of the Creation of the world and man’s expulsion from Eden.


(5) HASHT BEHESHT (The Palace of 8 Paradises) : Built in 1669, reportedly for residence purposes of the king’s Harem, it is set with lush gardens, and if you do not want to go inside, you are free to roam in the gardens.


(6) ATASHGAH : A Zoroastrian Fire temple, dramatically set atop a rock on the outskirts of Isfahan and it provides a commanding view of the city (although much of it is covered in smog).

History’s mysteries

Here are listed some of the interesting ones :
Tutankhamun tomb(1) Archaeologist Nicholas Reeves of the University of Arizona said this week that the Egyptian PHAROAH TUTANKHAMUN’S  tomb in the Valley of the Kings may be part of a larger complex that also houses a secret tomb containing the remains of his mother, QUEEN NAFERTITI, and her riches.  He made this announcement after studying high-resolution scans of the walls of the burial chamber, which revealed cracks suggesting the presence of two passages that were blocked and plastered to conceal their existence.
(2) SECRET CITY OF PATITI :  The story of EL DORADO, a city full of gold hidden in the South American rainforests, is one of the world’s most enduring legends.  It refers to the lost Incan city of PATITI, which emerged after a 40-year-war between the Spanish and the Incas of Peru.  The war ended in the 1570s.  The Spanish won, but when they entered the city, the Incans had disappeared with their vast reserves of gold.  The hunt for the treasure is still on.


(3) TREASURE TROVE OF KING JOHN “The Bad” :  A treasure trove of King John “The Bad” ———– who is said to have amassed a fortune in jewellery and gold through theft —– is rumoured to have been mislaid in 1216.  While travelling to Norfolk in UK, his soldiers got trapped in marshes and mud flats and died.  The King’s riches also disappeared.

(4) DECIPHERING COPPER SCROLL :  The Copper Scroll is a first century AD treasure inventory found in the caves of Qumran, Israel, in 1952.  Among 64 stashes are 65 bars of gold on the 3rd terrace in the cave of the old Washers House…… 70 talents of silver in wooden vessels in the cistern of a burial chamber in Matia’s courtyard.  The search continues.

oak island money pit(5) THE TOMB OF EMPEROR QIN SHI HUANG :  Emperor Huang (260-210 BC) was entombed in a vast underground city in China, surrounded by thousands of life-sized terracotta warriors that were discovered in 1974.  But, more than 40 years later, only a fraction of the site has been excavated.  Local legends say the tomb is surrounded by poisonous rivers of mercury.  Huge quantities of treasure —– and the Emperor’s body —– may be waiting to be discovered.

(6) OAK ISLAND MONEY PIT :  This 140-acre island in Nova Scotia, Canada, is among the most excavated sites in the world.  The legend dates back to 1795 when 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis noticed a circular mark on the island, as if a pit had been dug and filled in again.  Excited, he got digging, going down to 9.1metre.  But, he didn’t unearth any treasure.  Since than, excavations have reached 72metres ——- with US President Franklin D Roosevelt among many to dig there.



Despite being one of Europe’s smallest capital cities, REYKJAVIK, the lively Icelandic hotspot offers all the cultural perks of a much larger place.

With just 200,000 residents, REYKJAVIK seems a small place.  But,  when Iceland’s total population only hovers around 300,000, it makes sense that the capital is known as the “big city”.

Reykjavik houses

“From live music almost every night to cosy cafes, colourful houses and friendly cats roaming the streets, REYKJAVIK has all the charms of a small town in a fun capital city,” says Kaelene Spence, who moved from Oregon, US, in 2014 and writes about the expat experience on her blog UNLOCKING KIKI.

The city has a surprisingly lively nightlife for its size ———- it is always buzzing during weekday happy hour and can go on until the early morning on weekends.  According to Spencer, the city has a “laid-back hipster vibe”, thanks to its independent, hard-working, friendly residents.
The spectacular scenery surrounding the city bewitches locals as much as visitors.  “In REYKJAVIK, by the oceans, you can see distant landscapes easily from the downtown centre and there are very few skyscrapers [to block the views]”, says RAGNA ROK JONS, who moved to the city from Los Angeles six years ago.

Reykjavik lights

According to the locals, you need to live downtown to really appreciate and enjoy the city.  The populated downtown areas —— 101, 105 and 107 postcodes —— are becoming increasingly expensive.  For less pricy options, Spense recommends SELTJARNARNES, a peninsula, 5km to the west, with plenty of walking trails along the coast or LAUGARDALUR, the hot spring valley, 5km to the east, known for having the city’s largest outdoor geo-thermal pool.

Reykjavik nothern lights

VESTURBAER(West Side) is home to the University of Iceland and is another affordable location that is close to downtown.  For expats looking for distance [and peace and quiet].  GAROABAER & KOPAVOGUR are good places, with each suburb about 10km and 4km south of the city centre respectively.

Reykjavik blue lagoon

Almost everyone in the city lives in apartments, even houses within the city are usually broken up into individual flats by floor.  While the buildings may look traditional on the outside, modern, stylish furnishings are DE RIGEUR within. Icelanders love to stay up with all the latest trends.

Reykjavik winter

Would-be renters should be prepared to move quickly if they see a potential place.  Apartments tend to rent within a few days of being listed.  The 2008 financial collapse only tightened the market further as loan approvals became harder to come by and new construction projects stalled.

Reykjavik downtown

While travellers flock to Iceland for its scenery and geo-thermal wonders, residents also appreciate the country’s beauty and love how easy it is to get out of the city.  In the geo-thermal area around the GEYSIR Hot Springs, you can see the STROKKUR hot spring spout every 6-8 minutes.

Reykjavik night

REYKJAVIK has been ranked as the 35th most expensive city in the world by cost-of-living site

———– Lindsey Galloway

The Mardani martial art

Mardani khel_

Featured in British rapper M.I.A.’s recent hit music video, MARDANI KHEL is drawing more young women to self-defence classes.

Sarla Gaikwad, 21, is  a mild-mannered college student in Kolhapur.  But, when she picks up a sword, she transforms into a powerhouse of speed and agility.  The steel blade in her hands becomes a blur as she whirls it swiftly.  Gaikward is an expert in MARDANI KHEL, a martial art indigenous to Kolhapur region of Maharashtra.  “I can wield swords, DAND PATTA (long swords) and KATHI (bamboo stick) with ease.  I don’t remember if I was ever scared of venturing out in the dark or walking alone on the streets at night as I have grown up learning MARDANI KHEL,” she says.
MARDANI KHEL(manly sport) which traces its history to Maratha warriors, includes 14 ways to wield a sword, sticks and other weapons.  Like all martial arts, it also teaches you the weaknesses of the human anatomy in attack mode.
MARDANI KHEL has found itself a global audience after a British rapper released a video.  The video shot in Maharashtra an Cote d’Ivoire, opens with a clash of swords that blends into a musical arrangement.  There are girls in black displaying their skills in MARDANI KHEL on the ghats of Panchganga river in Kolhapur.  There’s even a shot of the signature move of a master slicing a vegetable placed on a student’s neck with a sword.

Mardani khel

“Three years ago, I got a call from a person who was familiar with my work.  They wanted to shoot a group of us performing at Panchganga.  We played for an hour and a half without a break,” says khel expert Snehal Murkute, 27, who appears in the video.  The former Kolhapur resident is now a school teacher and teaches MARDANI KHEL to youngsters.  Senior trainers, known as VASTADS, in older parts of Kolhapur are equally generous about teaching enthusiastic youngsters.  Babasaheb Tibile, Anandrao Thombare and Pandit PPowar are all MARDANI KHEL Masters, but do other jobs to earn a livelihood.

Thombare, 71, who worked as a security guard at Shivaji University for 33 years, says he has practised MARDANI KHEL every day since he was a child.  “I learnt it from my grandfather,” says Thombare who has travelled across the country to demonstrate his art.  A YouTube video of his performance has brought him many disciples in the last couple of years.

Mardani khel statue

The Kolhapur civic body started a programme to train girls and women in this art for self-defence in the aftermath of the Nitbhaya incident.  Kolhapur used to be the centre of the Maratha Kingdom which spread over southern and western pockets of Maharashtra.  The city and the villages around it had TALIMS (training centres) where skilled elders prepared youngsters for war.  After the revolt of 1857, the British banned the use of weapons and the TALIMS were forced to turn MARDANI KHEL into a folk game to ensure its survival.  The use of weapons such as swords, KATYAR (dagger), VEETA (darts), BHALA (javelin) and PATTA (long-bladed swords) continued, but the moves were much more stylish and less lethal.

Mardani khel practice

Today, there are more than 12 organizations and TALIMS where VASTADS and new-age physical trainers teach MARDANI KHEL.  At least 1,500 youngsters train at these centres every year.


Rub’ al Khali

Rub' al Khali

RUB’ al KHALI (Arabic : EMPTY QUARTER) is the largest continuous sand desert in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.  The desert covers some 650,, including parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and Yemen.  It is part of the larger Arabian Desert.

rub_al-khali top view

The Desert is 1,000km long and 500km wide.  Its surface elevation varies from 2,600ft in the southwest to around sea-level in the northeast.  The terrain is covered with sand dunes with heights of up to 820ft, interspersed with gravel and gypsum plains.  The sand is a reddish-orange colour due to the presence of FELDSPAR.  There are also brackish salt flats in some areas, such as the UMM al SAMIM area on the desert’s eastern edge.

Sand dunes empty quarter

Along the middle length of the desert, there are a number of raised, hardened areas of calcium carbonate, gypsum, clay that were once the site of shallow lakes.  These lakes existed during periods from 6,000 to 5,000 years ago and 3,000 to 2,000 years ago.  The lakes are thought to have formed as a result of “cataclysmic rainfall” to present-day monsoon rainfall and most probably lasted for only a few years.  However, lakes I the MUNDAFEN area in the southwest of the RUB’ al KHALI show evidence of lasting longer, up to 800 years, due to increased runoff from the TUWAIQ ESCARPMENT.

The empty quarter

Evidence suggests that the lakes were home to a variety of flora and fauna.  Fossil remains indicate the presence of hippos, water buffalo and long-horned cattle.  The lakes also contained small snails, OSTRACODS, and when conditions were suitable, freshwater clams.  Deposits of calcium carbonates and opal PHYTOLITHS- indicate the presence of plants and algae.  There is also evidence of human activity dating from 3,000 to 2,000 years ago, but no actual human remains have been found.

Fauna includes arachnids (e.g. scorpion) and rodents, while plants thrive throughout RUB’ al KHALI.  As an eco-region, it falls within the Arabian Desert and East Sahara-Arabian xeric shrub lands.

Rub Al Khalai sand dunes

Geologically, RUB’ al KHALI is the most oil-rich site in the world.  Vast oil reserves have been discovered underneath the sand dunes.  SHEYBA, at the north-eastern edge of RUB’ al KHALI, is a  major light crude oil-producing site in Saudi Arabia.  GHAWAR, the largest oil field in the world, extends southwards into the northernmost parts of RUB’ al KHALI.

Camels Rub Al Khali

Desertification has increased through the millennia.  Before desertification made the caravan trails leading across the RUB’ al KHALI so difficult, the caravans of the frankincense trade crossed the now virtually impassable stretches of wasteland until about AD300.  It has been suggested that UBAR or IRAM, a lost city, depended on such trade.  The traces of camel tracks, unidentifiable on the ground, appear in satellite images..  More recently, tribal populations were also present in certain parts of RUB’ al KHALI.  A few road links were connected with these tribal settlements to the water resource and oil-production centres.