Saturday, 7 April 2012

Towers of Silence

I have always been intrigued by towers of silence or dakhmas.

A dakhma is a funerary tower where Parsees leave their dead, exposed to sun, weather and vultures.

I never miss reading anything about dakhmas.

Mark Twain in his book Along the Equator briefly mentions the dakhma at Malabar Hill in what was then Bombay. Twain had visited Bombay towards the end of the nineteenth century and writes about a person being caught while trying the sneak into the dakhma. The trespasser escaped a ‘severe punishment’ because he was a white and hence a man of influence, Twain writes in the book.

Nobody has left any account – either in print or in photographs about the inside of a dakhma. Except pallbearers, nobody, not even a Parsee can enter a dakhma.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I am no more curious about dakhmas. Now I know what I will see if ever enter a dakhma. I hope that the photograph is of a dakhma and nobody contradicts me.

I am neither white nor influential but too adventurous.


  1. Dear Idler,

    Yes, it's a grisly picture in Mumbai, but I wonder: in hot, dry Iran, I wonder if it wasn't an entirely different matter. A person would be desiccated in a desert climate and with hungry vultures around, they may not last as long as here, in a tropical damp climate.

    I understand the vultures, too, are not as numerous, and are discouraged from doing their "job" because of the medical drugs in modern bodies that weren't there before.

    But I too have always been curious. Thank you for posting this. How on earth did you get it?

  2. Hello,

    the problem about the towers in india is the mass daying of vultures some 20? years ago because of some medication given to cows. Numbers dropped dramatically, so no more vultures to eat the dead bodies.

    Greeting from austria

  3. This sort of funerals should end, I feel. Cremation is the best for the people and the environment.