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Grant Winner - Krithika Varagur

If These Walls Could Talk: Documenting the Chola Dynasty’s Inscriptional Past

Krithika is an award-winning American journalist, author, essayist, and humorist.

She has sailed to the Indonesian spice island, gone on pilgrimage with Albanian Sufis, dog-sledded above the Arctic Circle, and retraced the footsteps of the Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace through Southeast Asia as a National Geographic Explorer.

Her book The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project was published by Columbia Global Reports in April 2020.

Tyler is a poet, translator, and scholar of Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

He received his AB in philosophy and South Asian studies from Harvard University, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in South Asian studies. In addition to completing his doctoral work, Tyler also serves as a Lecturer in Sanskrit at Columbia University in New York City.

Through their project, If These Walls Could Talk, the pair aim to completely transcribe, translate, and publish the inscriptions at the Gangaikonda Cholapuram complex. There are more than 1000 of these incredible, UNESCO-recognized feats of art, engineering, and architecture, whose stone inscriptions contain immense valuable information about the history, culture, and religious practices of ancient India.

Krithika and Tyler plan to survey the 1000+ Chola temple sites and research protocol for systematic transcription. Ultimately, creating an open-access database with photos of the temple inscriptions and translated texts in both Tamil and English, so they can share her findings and these ancient inscriptions with the world.

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Country of research: India

Fields of research: Archaeology (Epigraphy)