SECRETS OF SIRPUR
Outlook Traveller|June - July 2024
STEPPING OFF THE PLANE in Raipur, the sweltering sun greeted me with a stifling embrace.
ANAND NEELAKANTAN
SECRETS OF SIRPUR

Beads of sweat formed on my brow but I couldn't help but smile. Smaller Indian cities hold secrets and untapped treasures for those willing to explore beyond the bustling metropolises.

My visit was to speak on my latest book, "The Asura Way," at the Young Chamber of Commerce's book club. But I knew this trip promised more than just another engagement. Raipur once used to be the gateway to an enigmatic world-the ancient realm of Sripura (or Sirpur), roughly 70 km away in distance and 5,000 years in time.

The taxi grumbled as it slowly departed from Raipur, leaving behind the bustling city life. We drove past endless fields with rolling hills. Swirls of rusty dust followed our path along the road.

As we neared Sirpur the terrain changed dramatically. The land became verdant with tall trees blocking sunlight. Except for a lone goatherd with his countless goats who briefly held up my journey, I couldn't see a human being for many kilometres.

Before I could completely succumb to sleep, we arrived at Sirpur without any indication. This Indian town was unlike any other I had seen, void of the usual sights of tyre repair shops, small eateries, and roadside shrines.

Sirpur, once the magnificent capital of the Panduvanshi dynasty in the 5th century, is now a forgotten hamlet. Its extravagant monuments still stand as mute witnesses to its faded glory days. Despite being an unpopular tourist spot, it holds an irresistible allure for history buffs like me, especially as it was once home to the famed Chinese Buddhist traveller Hiuen Tsang.

This story is from the June - July 2024 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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This story is from the June - July 2024 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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