Religions Archives - Storytrails
Every sight has a story to tell

Religions

Diwali, or the ‘festival of lights’ is one of the most popular festivals in India. There are many myths and legends associated with it, and different regions in India celebrate it in different ways and for different reasons. But did you know that there are certain Hindu communities that don’t celebrate it?
The Varaha Mandapa, a 7th century rock-cut cave temple in Mamallapuram, is home to many fascinating tales set in stone. One of the most spectacular panels in the cave features the Trivikrama or Vamana avatar of Vishnu, in which he defeats the demon king Mahabali. This epic tale also happens to be the origin story of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala.
Buddhism, during its golden age, inspired several unique contributions to art and architecture in India. But by the 13th century, there was almost no trace of the religion left in the country, and many of the creations inspired by Buddhism too had vanished, buried deep under layers of earth, where they lay forgotten for centuries…. Until one man named Colin Mackenzie made a spectacular discovery - the relics of Amaravati.
The Ajanta Cave paintings in Maharashtra date back to the 1st century BCE. These caves and their paintings were created not long after Buddha’s death under the patronage of a dynasty called the Satavahanas, a dynasty that ruled for over three centuries and greatly influenced Indian art. Who were they and what made them so successful? Historians are still figuring out the answer to that question. But a 2200-year-old pot that can be seen in Naneghat pass in Maharashtra’s Western Ghats holds a clue.
You are probably familiar with the story of Ashoka, the Mauryan emperor, who laid down his weapons and took to Buddhism after a gruesome battle at Kalinga. The real story is far more complex than this simple chain of events. Did you know that he executed all his stepbrothers to seize the throne, and that his early reign was marked by high-handed cruelty? What kind of a man was Ashoka? And why did he commission edicts across India?
The 2000 year old Amaravati marbles at the Egmore Museum in Chennai are the remnants of a Buddhist stupa built by the mighty Satavahana kings. Who were these Hindu kings that created such beautiful Buddhist art? What does a small statue of Hercules sitting amidst Buddhist relics at the Museum tell us about the evolution of Buddhism? Watch this video to know all this and more!