By the Tungabhadra , originally published as Tungabhdrar Teere (Bengali) in 1965, is one of Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s five critically acclaimed historical novels. The book is superbly translated by Arunava Sinha. Saradindu Bandopadhyay is best known for his exquisitely crafted historical fiction and as the creator of the immortal detective Byomkesh Bakshi.
What is heartening to note is that publishing houses are coming forward to translate books written in regional languages. Thanks to this the readers get a chance to read some excellent literature written by lesser known regional writers.
The book is based in the historical city of Vijayanagar in 15th century South India. Vijayanagar was one of the last Hindu kingdoms in India and was a bulwark against the expansion of Bahamini Kingdom into the southern peninsula of India.
The story is about two step sisters Bidyunmala and Manikanakana both princesses of the kingdom of Kalinga, modern day Orissa. Princess Bidyunmala has been promised as a bride to Devaraya, the king of Vijayanagar, their marriage is that of political conevenience. The wedding party undertakes a journey from Kalinga to Vijayanagar on three barges which sails down the Bay of Bengal and up the river Krishna to Tungabhadra on their way to Vijayanagar. En route they rescue a drowning man, Arjunvarma, who ends up joining the wedding party. Princess Bidyunmala who is not happy about the fact that she is going to be be Devaraya’s fourth wife finds herself getting attracted to Arjunvarma.
The book also takes the reader through the political intrigues of the Vijayanagar kingdom. Devaraya who is busy preparing for his marriage, is threatened by his own brother within and enemies preparing for a war without.
A very interesting and gripping narrative that manages to effortlessly blend romance, politics and palace intrigues. Interesting read though at times not as engrossing.
About the Author:
A writer of novels, short stories, plays and screenplays, Saradindu Bandopadhyay (1899-1970) is a best known as the creator of the immortal detective Byomkesh Bakshi. His work is widely acclaimed for its originality, lucidity, humour and some of the most brilliant insights into human nature. By the Tungabhadra, originally published as Tungabhdrar Teere in 1965, is one of his five critically acclaimed historical novels.
Arunava Sinha is an Internet professional by day a translator of classic and contemporary fiction by late night. His translations include Sankar’s Chowringhee and The Middleman, Buddhadeva Bose’s My Kind of Girl, Moti Nandy’s Striker Stopper and Banaphool’s What Really Happened and Other Stories. Born and educated in Kolkata, he now lives in Delhi.