Travel anywhere in the subcontinent hints at the possibility of finding treasure underfoot. To dig the middle ground where Afyan tongues yield to Dravidian with the implement of English however is to acknowledge at the outset only a scratching of the surface. When the spade does strike gold, the theologically inclined, who celebrate at taverns overnight, have to admit to the occasional stagger next morning. I would like to thank Ivan Hutnik for finding the time to read the manuscript and apply a steadying hand. I also wish to thank Rukun Advani for his inspiration and Anuradha Roy for her editorial aplomb.
In this fascinating account of his travels through the Deccan, Aitken describes the Lure of the awesome plateau country to which he returned every year for twelve years, mescerized by a rocky landscape in which theology and topography are hard to disentangle. He tells us the story of the region, its many religions, warring sects, kings and queens. On his motorbike he goes deep into the numinous bouldered terrain of the Deccan, visiting the birthplaces of Shivaji and Tipu Sultan, the ashrams of Shirdi and Puttaparthi, the monumental sites of Badami and Pattadakal, Bijapur and Gulbarga, Hampi and Lepakshi. Aitken investigates gods, godmen and cults in search of the truly spiritual, finding it in Sai Baba of
Wry, profound, vivid, passionate and informative by turn, this is an unusual guide to the Deccan, indeed to India, in a far deeper
Bill Aitken is a well-known and versatile writer, and the author of
'Unfailingly interesting and readable it makes the heart glow.'
'Unusually perceptive and observant.' - Indian Review of books' [a book] done with a dispassionate searching eye that only erudition and knowledge can bring about.'
' Aitken clearly relishes studying not only the history and geography of a place, which he does brilliantly, but also its human foibles and dramas.'
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