Swati Varma is one of modern Delhi's more bleesed inhabitants. Then on brilliant morning when the world seemed cleansed by the coming of the rains, the unthinkable happens: his pregnant wife is killed in a road accident. Devastated, Swati makes a pilgrimage back to the land of his forebears, Panayur, in the state of Kerala, to scatter his beloved's ashes in the sacred waters of the Papanasini river.
Returning to this long-forgotten world, he is reunited with a childhood companion who now cares for the crumbling, ghost-filled palace that was his home. For Panayur - seemingly still free from the religious turmoil that threatens so much of the country - was once a kingdom, and Swati is the direct descendant of the its last king. As two friends talk, share memories and exchagne secrets, thousands of miles away, Vel - a cousin Swati never kew he had - sets out on a quest for the truth about his family that will take him from America, to Berlin and, ultimately, to Panayur.
And so begins an extraordinary and healing journey. One that will lead both Swati and Vel back through the cruel, vibrant, myth-filled history of the kings of Panayur to the legend that lies at its heart - the legend of the tiger by the river...