Silk Route Market Cities Today

The ancient silk route has been one of the greatest trade routes connecting east and west Eurasia. The ancient cities in the ancient world have still retained their prominence in defining world trade across the land. The surrounding desert and large swathes of inhospitable lands make the Silk Road and its cities an ideal location for resting and trade with locals. Also, most of these cities are crossroads and junctions to travel to various locations. From the strategic and commercial point of view, we have listed here some cities that ruled the trade for thousands of years since the advent of civilization.

Now let us travel from east to west along the silk route and visit the important towns along the Silk Route, which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

1)Xi’an, China

Xi’an, at the far eastern end of the Silk Route, is one of the four ancient capitals of China. Xi’an is located strategically right at the centre of China and forms a junction of different religious and ethnic cultures of ancient China. Not to forget, Xi’an is still a major Chinese tourist hotspot and serves as a stop for tourists visiting anywhere in central and west China.

2)Delhi, India

Delhi, the capital of India is right at the junction of crossroads in India. Delhi is also the crossroads of cultures in India where Mughal influence mixes beautifully with Rajput, Punjabi, Marwari, UP as well as pahari influence. It is also a major hub of tourism and is the administrative centre of India. Delhi is also one of the oldest cities of India, and the seat for various major kingdoms and empires in India. The nearby city of Mathura is also an important Silk Route city.

3)Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, is also a major trading hub connecting the Silk route between China and the Arabian Sea. The ancient university of Takshashila lies near the city and was an important stop for pilgrims from Central Asia. Today, Lahore is an important market city and a tourist destination visited by almost every tourist coming to Pakistan.

4)Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Osh is another city in the fertile Fergana Valley which served as a centre of trade since ancient times. Proximity to the border with Uzbekistan makes it a major centre of trade even today. Osh market is still one of the biggest in Central Asia, where a mixed population of Central Asians live.

5)Khujand, Tajikistan

Fertile lands of the Fergana Valley served as a major stop for Silk Route traders, and Khujand is one of the best-preserved sites among them. Khujand is not only a centre of travel but also is a centre of trade between Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries owing to proximity.

6)Turkistan, Kazakhstan

Turkistan lies in south Kazakhstan and was once an important trade outpost on the Silk Route. It still is a major tourist hub of tourists visiting Kazakhstan due to its historic monuments, including Khoja Ahmed Yassavi Mausoleum. Turkestan has grown as an important trading hub and a crossroad marketplace in the modern world.

7)Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The city of Samarkand, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest continuously lived cities in Central Asia. It gained importance for its strategic location and served as a crossroads of various cultures and ethnic groups for centuries.
The Registan, the squares, the markets, the mosques, the gardens, and most importantly, its hospitality and friendly people make it one of the most significant tourist destinations in the world.

8)Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic city centre of Bukhara served as the resting station along the silk route. Bukhara is known for its carpet industry as well as the spice trade. The great minaret, the ark, the pond, and the main bazaar, all served as a centre of tourist attraction along the silk route.

9)Khiva, Uzbekistan

The border town of Khiva is also the hotspot of tourist activity owing to its inner town or Itchan Kala, a World Heritage Site. Khiva is also an important stop along the silk route near the border with Turkmenistan which handles a significant land trade along the ancient Silk Route. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva form the trio of jewels of Central Asia.

10)Merv, Turkmenistan

The ruins of Merv, one of the ancient capital cities and a major hub of trade, are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the city has been abandoned and currently lies in ruins, it is still one of the best-preserved in the Silk Route. The nearby city of Mary serves as the main marketplace and commercial hub of trade in modern-day Turkmenistan today.

11)Tehran, Iran

The capital of Iran, Tehran also lies along the ancient Silk Route. Ray, a suburb of Tehran has been found to contain ruins of an ancient city flourishing as a stopover of tourists. Tehran largely grew around the old city and is now the seat of the throne of the Iran kingdom. Tehran lies at crossroads to various historic and cultural places of Iran. It also acts as a bridge between the maritime routes in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

12)Erbil, Iraq

Erbil is inhabited since antiquity, since ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. The modern city of Erbil lies in the north-east part of Iraq, and is the main city of Kurdish people. Erbil continues to prosper owing to its importance in trade and tourism and its strategic location as a crossroad city. With time, Erbil has matched up with the modern society and is today on of the most modern towns of Iraq.

13)Damascus, Syria

Damascus is possibly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, inhabited at least 9000 BC. From ancient civilizations to the modern era, Damascus has never lost its importance as the cultural capital of the world. The large markets of Damascus, ancient architecture and its religious importance attracts millions of tourists each year. Being the capital of Syria, it is the seat of administration of modern-day Syria, though to many people Damascus is still the capital of the world.

14)Istanbul, Turkey

Founded by Roman Emperor Constantine, Istanbul is strategically the most important city in the world. It lies on the Bosphorus Strait, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. The city lies in both Europe and Asia continents and serves as a bridge of trade activities. The Hagia Sophia and other mosques, the central market, and the historic city centre all are major tourist attractions in the world. Istanbul is still the biggest centre of cultural and trade activities not only for Turkey but also for major parts of the world.

15)Rome, Italy

Usually considered at the western end of the Silk Road, Rome was the capital of the ancient Roman Empire, and has seen growth during the medieval and modern era as an important centre of civilization. Even today, its importance as sharing cultural, economic and religious aspects has continued to grow, and is still one of the most popular tourist destination around the world. Rome and Italy are still an icon to the rest of the world in terms of cultural activities, architecture and paintings, and most importantly cuisine.

Which of these have you visited or you want to visit? Let us know in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Review on Proposed Changes in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is the smallest union territory of India, which comprises many tiny coral islands on the country’s south-west coast. Lakshadweep is one of the most peaceful areas of India, with untouched beauty, and unique local culture. The sandy coral islands, that form like a necklace of the Arabian Sea, are rich in corals and biodiversity. For centuries and even for 74 years after independence, Lakshadweep coexisted peacefully as a Union Territory of India, where the locals happily earned their livelihood doing their own business. For the past 3 months, we are seeing an increased agitation in Lakshadweep against some newly introduced policies of the Indian Government.

Some point out the communalism played by the Indian Government against a minority religion. Over 97% of Lakshadweep people are Muslims. Their economic livelihood was supported by agriculture, deep-sea fishing, small home industries and of course tourism. The governance of all these was left with the local panchayats and the locals themselves had got benefited from them. However, Lakshadweep Administrator, who is a representative of the Union Territory and appointed by the Union Government, has now taken full control over all of them. The reason given was unsatisfactory to the locals as well as many Indian political thinkers. The Lakshadweep Administrator introduced a debatable Anti-Goonda Act, that allows anyone to be arrested for 1 year without trial. On an island, where the crime rate is almost zero and the lowest in India, the introduction of such an Act is viewed with suspicion by local leaders, who perceive it as a method of suppressing the rebellion. A new rule on panchayat elections has been imposed, where any local leader having more than 2 children were barred from participating in elections or other Government schemes.

Beef, which forms a very important part of Lakshadweep cuisine, was banned. Schools were forbidden to include any non-vegetarian items in mid-day meals, where fish and meat were the predominant food items of the locals. Alcohol was banned in Lakshadweep since antiquity. The ban is now being lifted mostly to help tourists get access to alcohol. Even the lands of the locals, who belong to the Scheduled Tribes category, are in jeopardy. Lakshadweep Development Authority (LDA) was established for developing the islands of Lakshadweep in the pattern of Maldives. According to the Government, LDA is supposed to boost tourism in the region with world-class resorts, urban facilities and employment of the locals. However, the locals fear that they will be forced to give up their land, will be evicted and sent to mainland India, and will provide land for business to non-natives.

Not only the Lakshadweep people but also many mainlanders oppose such kind of development in the eco-sensitive region. Environmentalists are concerned that large scale construction will destroy the corals. The politicians accused of snatching away the rights of the Lakshadweep people. Many religious groups see it as a disturbance between the peaceful coexistence of Hindu and Muslim culture that prevailed for centuries in the region. Left and Congress are banned from entering Lakshadweep, while tourists with a negative RT-PCR test, can enter Lakshadweep without any quarantine. This mandatory quarantine rule for all tourists was lifted in May 2021 following which Lakshadweep recorded its first-ever Covid-19 case. Now the situation has worsened among the small population as Covid cases increase, reaching 100 a day by June 2021. Though many of the changes were not implemented yet, the Administrator is thinking about withdrawing some of the proposed changes that have drawn the people to protest. While making changes are good for a society to develop, it is equally important to preserve the rights of the locals, their customs and traditions, and also protect the environment at the same time for sustainable development.

Written by – Himadri Paul

What is Real Feminism?

Feminism is the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, also known as ~gender equality~. It is a simple notion that women are people, and they are equal. It isn’t asking for anything but equal rights and opportunities. However, more often than not, its meaning gets manipulated by male chauvinists to indicate that it’s a moment meant to demean men, which is so not the case.

In no way does it mean that we hate our men. Men of quality support equality. Both conscious and unconscious gender bias is rampant within us, and to get rid of it, we need to come to terms with the fact that we are the problem, but we are the solution.

Thousands believe in equal rights but find “feminism” a word and a movement that doesn’t align with their personal believes or values. May I ask them why is that? Don’t we have a word for everything in this world? In what way could a word that is just conveying its meaning be offending to someone? You believe in equality but not in feminism is a catastrophe because they aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s common sense. It just asks women to be placed on the same level as men, neither higher nor lower, and get the same treatment in both positive and negative situations.

It strives to shine a light on the deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny embedded in our society and provides ways to fix it. It is essential that your feminism is intersectional and doesn’t exclude people based on their religion, race, and socio-economic status. It needs to be for everyone and not categorically for the people you like or dislike. A big part of feminism is letting women do whatever the hell they want to. This includes supporting them when they want to become the president and supporting them when they don’t want to work and stay home. Personally, it means not giving the reigns of my life to a male simply because I’m a woman and he’s a man; To get disrespected and not have my opinion heard because of my gender; to not have a seat at the table because of my gender. All of this doesn’t make any sense, especially in the 21st century, because any given woman possesses as much power and potential as any man does. And to that section of people at the back who couldn’t care any less about this because they simply don’t see the discrimination and injustice going around, you must either have buttons for eyes or are simply blinded by the amazing combination of your extreme faux notion and idea of equality on the outside and your inner male superiority complex. Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.

As the glorious Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s rightly said, “When men are oppressed, it’s a tragedy, but when women are oppressed, its tradition”. And in my humble opinion dumping that tradition out of the park is exactly what feminism is about.

Written by – Radhika Ahuja

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Selfie culture – an obsession

Selfie Culture:

Selfie is a self captured photograph with a smartphone or a camera. It is a picture of independence. People, especially teens and young adults are more obsessed with the selfie culture. Taking selfies and posting them in social media has become a trend over the past few years.

Selfie trend

With the advancement of technology and introduction of more modern devices, nothing is impossible. Earlier days, people depended on someone to take pictures of them. With the progression of new technology and more new features, people are obsessed with trying them.

With the existence of social media, people are focusing on others’ opinions. It is the symbol of the modern era. Children are getting easily influenced by it. It causes mental depression. It causes various psychological effects.

Addiction:

It is all good and fun unless you take it too seriously. People are so careless that they attempt to take selfies at dangerous places. Several accidents occur due to this and they ruin their life illogically.

People go selfie-maniac. Psychiatrists report that they meet so many affected teens due to the selfie addiction. Selfie culture has lowered the originality of the individuals. People tend to feel insecure of their appearances.

Those days there were no devices to capture the moments. There were no such means to restore as a memory. But people enjoyed and lived in the present. Though they never had all these advancements, they never missed any moment. Today, with the modern devices people forget themselves and the world. Teens are so concerned about their looks and physical appearances. They wanted a perfect picture of themselves. They never compromise which leads to a lot of takes.

Pictures are taken to relish the memory. They are something that is to be cherished in the future. To cherish it, we must live in the present.

Written by R. Varsha

Warli – The voice of local

We see that now-a-days “local” has been getting a lot of importance. Support local, go local, local for vocal and so many other sayings is what we are hearing frequently. Ever heard about local form of art?

Warli painting is one such art form. Warli painting is a tribal art form of the people residing in the Northern region of Maharashtra. To be more specific in location, its in the northern Sahyadri range. This range encompasses cities such as Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgad of Palghar district. The tribal art was originated in Maharashtra, where it is still practiced today. This is the specialty of the tribal and local people, they never leave their art nor do they forget their culture.

They greatly respect nature and wildlife for the resources that they provide for life. Warli artists use their clay huts as the backdrop for their paintings. These are similar to how ancient people used cave walls as their canvases. The material used is quite simple to make this warli art. The Warli only paint with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush. Thus giving a perfect blend onto the base prepared using the red bricks.

Warli Art, Warli Paintings, History of Warli Art, Origin of Warli Art

Interesting, right? Keep reading to know more about this amazing art form.

  1. Coca-Cola India launched a campaign featuring Warli painting in order to highlight the ancient culture and represent a sense of togetherness. The campaign called “Come Home on Deepawali” and specifically targeted the modern youth.
  2. On the occasions like wedding or festivals the walls are painting and decorated by warli pattern.
  3. Warli painting stands amongst the preserved art form among intellectual property rights.
  4. The artistic activity gives warli painting a look of tribal heritage ritual.
  5. Warli paintings covered day-to-day activities of the village people.

This is the power possessed by a local art form. Thus warli painting being an old local tradition is so unique and authentic. This art form is getting extinct. As a citizen it is important for us to understand how important our culture is. The folk culture adds up to the specialty of the place. Let us take a small step ahead and spread a word for the local art form.

Written by Sonali Sharma.