El-Dorado was born out of a coronation ritual that the Muisca undertook so that the gods would bless their new king’s reign. It makes for quite the image: a to-be king, adorned from head to toe in gold dust, travelling in a raft laden with innumerable treasures on Lake Guatavita, his attendants ceremoniously throwing treasures into the depths – and so, the story goes, narrated over 400 years ago.
This story would send many conquistadors and explorers to their death, searching for a city laden with gold – after all, how else could the Muisca have all that gold to throw away? Forever chasing an illusion too good to be true, the consequences of their quest were almost karmic.
Vesavar Art Gallery, MG Pune Central 2422, General Thimayya Road, East Street, Pune 411001, Maharashtra, India.