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Tunnel of Varanavat: Mahabharat Reimagined Paperback – Import, 19 Feb 2016

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product description

About the Author

Gautam Chikermane is a writer tracking the worlds of money and power, faith and mythology. He is currently the new media director at Reliance Industries Ltd and a director on the board of CARE India. Earlier, he has worked in leadership positions for some of India’s top newspapers and magazines like the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Financial Express and the Outlook group. He has served three terms as director on the board of Financial Planning Standards Board India and one as its vice chairman. He is also the author of The Disrupter: Arvind Kejriwal and the Rise of the Aam Aadmi. His body lives in Mumbai and New Delhi, his soul in Pondicherry.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India (19 February 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129137275
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129137272
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,33,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Every time a book is written about an unsung hero from an epic, it grabs my attention. We have all read that the Kauravas gifted the Pandavas a Lakshagriha or Purochan’s Palace made of Lac (laquer), a highly combustible substance and set the palace on fire, but the Pandavas escaped through a tunnel under the palace. Now who helped them, never came to my mind. Why? Because, we were taught that, God always takes care of the righteous people.

The book has been written in first person from the point of view of the main chatacter, Badri. The author has described Badri’s feelings and his past in detail. The story has been written in a way that I could actually picturise many scenes. It was like a movie playing, many a times.

The language is simple and the pace is well maintained, though there were a few places where I felt that the pace had slackened a bit, but the story covered up for it.

Overall, a very well written book

Recommended for lovers of mythology.
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It is not very often that we come across a story about our epics, that does not revolve completely around the main protaganists. Derived from the Mahabharatha, Tunnel of Varanavat is one such story of Badri - a one time warrior turned miner who likes to dig. As the person who is in charge of maintaining the tunnels of Hastinapur, fate ends up placing the lives of Pandavas literally in his tunnel digging hands. He is appointed by Vidur to help the Pandavas escape from the Palace of Lak by finding & improvising on the already existing network of tunnels in Varanavat.

What challenges does Badri face in helping the Pandavas escape? Can he deal with his past as a kshatriya? Who are his friends? Who are his enemies? What is Dharma? Is he taking the side of dharma by helping the Pandavas escape or is there more to it than what meets the eye?

You will come to know all of it and much more in 290 pages of racy action written in simple & lucid language. However, I found the mention of Yama as Yam & Vedas as Ved, a bit strange. All-in-all an excellent read for people who enjoy reading & understanding our great ancient civilization.
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By Abhinav Agarwal TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 January 2017
Format: Paperback
The Varanavat conspiracy has to be counted among the most pivotal episodes in the epic along with Droupadi’s humiliation by the Kauravas in the gambling hall, or the killing of Shishupala at Yudhishthira’s Rajsuya yagya. The sense of fatality and inevitability it conveyed is undeniable.

Who was Purochana, the evil executioner of the evil plot? What were his motivations beyond the orders of his king and the lure of immense riches? How did Purochana manage to get so much of inflammable material without arousing the suspicions of the people of Varanavat? Who was the skilled digger – the tunnel digger that Vidura sent? Did he work alone? How did he manage to stay hidden even as he dug a tunnel from under the palace to a place far away that would ferret the Pandavas to safety?

All these are tantalisingly unanswered questions that Gautam Chickermane seeks to answer in his taut thriller, Tunnel of Varanavat. If it makes you want to read the full epic, in its unabridged glory, it would have served its purpose even more completely.

Secret passageways and tunnels – “surang” as they are also often called – used to be the favored means of escape for kings. These allowed kings to exit the palace undetected during times of peace, and to escape quickly in times of war. Thus, when Badri, expert miner, civil engineer, and architect of tunnels, is approached by Vidur, the prime minister of Hastinapur, with a mission to save the future of the Kuru dynasty, he cannot refuse. Surangraj – the honorific by which Badri goes – sets out to Varanavat, accompanied by his dog, Veer, and horse, Kadak. The forests are not safe any longer – by design, for a reason. Once at Varanavat, he meets Purochana, the formidable giant of a man who stands between him and the lives of the Pandavas.
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Format: Paperback
The Tunnel of Varnavat is a poem written in prose. From the very first passage you are overwhelmed completely by the imagery inherent in each single sentence. The story weaves around the life of the tunnel maker who does end up performing an important role in the epic of Mahabharat but thankfully the story doesn’t delve into the epic any more than is necessary. The language gets a little repetitive at few places but more than anything, to me it shows how engrossed the author was in the story. The book not only takes you into the tunnels of the Hastinapur kingdom, but also the tunnels of human psyche and make you realize that often things are not as simple as they appear, and there are many a shade of grey in between the good and the bad. The book is a valuable addition for those who seek to understand the characters of the past in a more holistic way and is a refreshing break from the glut of redone Mahabharat/Ramayan versions available in the mythology genre today.
Wishing for more such interesting books by the author.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fantastic read.
It's easy to think about the Mahabharat in terms of Good vs evil.
The Tunnel... gives you a lot more to think about. It's a common man's story and he owns the narrative.
Badri is not exactly the underdog, he's not a downtrodden, he's not a subaltern. He's associated with the upper echelons of power in the kingdom of Hastinapur. He's the chief miner of the kingdom and has the ear of one of the most powerful of men in it. He's refreshingly honest, extremely principled, and wonderfully sensitive. In Badri's story is the story of the difference a 'common man', whose job it is usually to carry out orders, can make to the destiny of those he is ruled by. It is a story of how one man's decision and determination can change the course of history.
What I found remarkable about The Tunnel... is its intensely feministic leanings. It's a great retelling of the social angles as can be imagined having prevailed in those times.
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