Tunnel of Varanavat: Mahabharata Reimagined by Gautam Chikermane – Book Review

I was surprised to see a book titled Tunnel of Varanavat : Mahabharata Reimagined. The part of the title “Mahabharata Reimagined” really caught my eyes and made my minds intriguing to read it. My mind was in a dilemma whether it will be in the lines of many new age books in which mythological tales are being retold or re-imagined according to the tastes of modern literati’s. But I am sure the initial chapters of the book will prove the readers wrong of this particular thought.


The cover design was well thoughtfully crafted keeping in mind the story line. This is one particular cover which stands as an example to many books through its cover design where the cover design doesn’t deviate from the plot where many other books which although have a nice plot but fail to grab the eyes. ( Don’t think I am type of reader who judges book by it’s cover ). When you choose this book the readers will be in for an awe. The book cover felt like an sand paper rather giving a waxy feeling with the flames engulfed all over the sides, a scroll in the centre with name of the title and the author, blood scattered and the scroll burning in the edges. The cover is sure to grab eyes and the feel it gives on holding with the hidden message of the plot in the cover is a brilliant idea. Kudos to the designer and the publishing team for choosing such a cover.


The plot revolves around Badri, the protagonist and the narrator, who is an ex-soldier turned miner of the Kuru empire. I have read Mahabharata recently and have wondered who built the tunnel through which the Pandavas escaped and here comes Gautam Chikermane with an excellent fictitious protagonist and builds the story around him. I think this is something unusual where a single setback in the plot woven around a imaginary character would become a disaster if not handled well, but Gautam has handled it with much efficiency making the readers linger with thirst to know more about Badri. The miner who helped built the tunnel was always insignificant and the author’s thought to focus on such a character and give him a life without tampering the greatness of the story is something to be applauded.


Although the readers know what happened to the Pandavas at the end, the author has took a great work in making the readers to be engaged building this particular part of the epic around an insignificant unknown character who happens to be our protagonist. The characters are also well etched giving prompt importance and are sure to stay with us even after the read. After reading this book every reader will think of the hardships of the miners who dwell in the darkness seeing many different colours of black but built the most unique structure to lead us out guiding towards the light.


This book is poetic crusade of an insignificant and lesser known miner who toil in the darkness for saving the lives of Pandavas without even thinking of his life. The lines of the book are perfectly synced in to bring out the reader’s curiosity. The language is poetic and the verses aren’t too complicated to understand giving us a light read. I would surely keep this book ready for a re-read whenever possible.



Book Details : 

Author: Gautam Chikermane

Paperback: 306 pages

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Language: English

Genre:  Fiction

ISBN-13: 978-8129137272

Copy: Review Copy

Rating: 4.5/5

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