Prawash Gautam

Prawash Gautam is an independent researcher with an interest in social history.

Latest from Prawash Gautam

Forgotten in Kathmandu

Indian freedom fighter Begum Hazrat Mahal and her son Birjis Qadr were exiled in Kathmandu for decades. But there's no recorded history and no one really knows about their lives in Nepal.

A celebration called Hare Rama Hare Krishna

A psychedelic drone pierces through ancient Kasthamandap and out into Basantapur Durbar Square. From amidst long-haired, droopy-eyed hippies swaying wildly in the haze of hashish smoke, teenaged Zeenat Aman twirls her body to the hypnotic ‘Dum Maro Dum’—an image and tune etched in the memories of generations to come.

The Garden of Eden

Devi Dutta Sharma knew his customers inside out. Seated at his desk in Jhochhen, he’d spend a large part of his day peering out the window, observing the steady stream of customers arriving at his shop. They came from all corners of the world but were looking for the same thing: an exotic, mystical Kathmandu, preferably with a side of cheap, quality hashish. And Sharma knew how to sell both and how to sell them well.

Achyutananda: Meet Nepal’s forgotten aviator

When playwright Balkrishna Sama first met Achyutananda in 1919, he was still an impressionable teenager. Yet the interaction with Achyutananda in his one-room workshop in Teku was so arresting that Sama would go on to dedicate a section of an autobiography penned in the twilight of his life to the chance meeting.

Kathmandu’s love affair with Kauli

Kartik. With Dashain and Tihar behind them, Kathmandu’s residents are bidding adieu to the festive season. Colourful kites have disappeared from the autumn sky; and the large linge pings are being taken down. But as one thing departs, another promise arrives. The sky is clearer and has taken on a deeper shade of blue and the air is cooler, indicating that Minpachas, the coldest fifty days of the year, is right around the corner.

Birjis Qadr’s Kathmandu Mehfil

Kathmandu. Circa 1870 CE. Surrounded by shoras of his mehfil—a small, intimate gathering of poets—as the Nawab begins to recite his gazal—Khawaja Naeemuddin Badakhshi, a shayar—quickly jots it down on a sheet of paper. Later, in his home, Badakhshi sits down to copy the gazal in beautiful calligraphy in his diary, which he has kept in order to record Urdu and Persian poetry that he finds particularly compelling.

Toilers by day, students by night

By seven in the evening, a crisp, winter dusk is settling upon the vast expanse of Nandikeshwor Bagaincha in Naxal. The schools have been out for hours now and the children are home turning over the last pages of their assignments or finishing their dinners before bed. But at the south eastern tip of the ground, at Nandikeshwor Bahal, a group of students are only halfway through their classes—their heads bent over the books before them or affixed on a blackboard dimly lit by paraffin lamps. Their classes end only at 9:30 pm.

Khokana’s Kols

He is walking along a trail cutting through vast farmlands, his mind set on the long journey ahead. He is focused. It has already been an arduous morning and the kharpan balanced precariously on his shoulder is getting heavier by the hour.

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