Baisakhi Sengupta

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Los Angeles, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10539

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Sengupta, Baisakhi (California, Los Angeles, U. of) "‘Ghora Galis' and Place-Making in the Indian Himalayas"

Permeable regions in high altitude gradients such as the Himalayas have witnessed extended contacts between cultures. For my doctoral project, I document archaeological material in the under-studied Pir Panjal Valley of the Jammu Region in North India. This is a mountain range with a locality replete with sites locally known as ‘ghora galis’ or horse passes on Medieval trade routes. My research identifies three archaeological sites in the region (Gool, Mahore, and Kutas). Each of which have evidence of hundreds stylized and richly adorned stone horse and warrior sculptures along with deities, mythical beings and related finds like water fountains, reservoirs and pillar fragments clustered on mountain slopes. As artistic expressions of complex thoughts and practices – the erection of these monumental sculptures may have been intended to create a cultural landscape with multitudes of meaning. Through this project, I explore the concept of ‘ghora-galis’ as sacred spaces that commemorate warrior narratives of collective journeying – often after-death ritual passages suggesting an anchorage to ancestral homelands. The geographies of such journeys provide rich material to reflect on perceptions of movement and allow for a multiplicity of angles of analysis from the local to trans-local, across uneven temporalities in the Himalayas.