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Archive for May 18th, 2012

Asia’s beautiful heritage temples

Posted by Admin on May 18, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/fascinating-temples-around-the-world-slideshow/sun-temple-photo-1333961810.html

Asia’s beautiful heritage temples

Are you an architecture and culture enthusiast? Then you probably know that India is not the only place in the world that boasts beautiful temples. Enjoy this fascinating photo feature on temples around the world. Click on the links in each slide to enjoy more slideshows. You can also submit your heritage temple photos to our Flickr group (http://www.flickr.com/groups/yourpics/)

A view of the impressive Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. The eight Dikpalas are the Guardians of Direction, guarding specific directions of space. They are traditionally represented on the walls and ceilings of Hindu temples.  View more photos in a slideshow of the Modhera Sun Temple

A view of the impressive Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. The eight Dikpalas are the Guardians of Direction, guarding specific directions of space. They are traditionally represented on the walls and ceilings of Hindu temples.
View more photos in a slideshow of the Modhera Sun Temple

Built of soft bluish-grey soapstone, the Chennakeshava temple at Belur, Karnataka is a jewel of Hoysala architecture.  View slideshow: Magnificent Belur - Poetry in Soapstone

Built of soft bluish-grey soapstone, the Chennakeshava temple at Belur, Karnataka is a jewel of Hoysala architecture.
View slideshow: Magnificent Belur – Poetry in Soapstone

    The Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebeedu in Hassan district, Karnataka, is a survivor of centuries. It has two shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hoysaleshwara and Shanthaleshwara are the two deities.      View slideshow: Halebeedu - the crown jewel of Hoysala temples

The Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebeedu in Hassan district, Karnataka, is a survivor of centuries. It has two shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Hoysaleshwara and Shanthaleshwara are the two deities.
View slideshow: Halebeedu – the crown jewel of Hoysala temples

The cave temple at Seeyamangalam, 80 km from Chennai, was constructed by the Pallava king Mahendravarman I in the 7th century. The temple is dedicated to Stambeshwara, a form of Shiva.  Photo by Venkatasubramanian Vanchinathan  Are you a heritage enthusiast? Visit our special feature - My World, My Heritage

The cave temple at Seeyamangalam, 80 km from Chennai, was constructed by the Pallava king Mahendravarman I in the 7th century. The temple is dedicated to Stambeshwara, a form of Shiva.
Photo by Venkatasubramanian Vanchinathan
Are you a heritage enthusiast? Visit our special feature – My World, My Heritage

Chausat Yogini Temple at Jabalpur

Chausat Yogini Temple at Jabalpur

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu Thanjavur, 342 km from Chennai is where Tamil Nadu's cultural heart beats. Its monumental shrine to Brihadishwara called a Great Living Chola Temple. Built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1011 to commemorate the victory of the Chola dynasty, this architectural gem remains brings together religious fervor and architectural grandeur as it did centuries ago.  See more photos of Thanjavur

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Thanjavur, 342 km from Chennai is where Tamil Nadu’s cultural heart beats. Its monumental shrine to Brihadishwara called a Great Living Chola Temple. Built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1011 to commemorate the victory of the Chola dynasty, this architectural gem remains brings together religious fervor and architectural grandeur as it did centuries ago.
See more photos of Thanjavur

Orchha

Orchha

Tungnath Tungnath, at 12,073 above mean sea level, is the highest Shiva temple in the world, discounting perhaps the Amarnath Cave shrine near Srinagar, Kashmir, which is situated at an altitude of 12,756 feet. Tungnath is second in importance among the five mountain shrines collectively known as the Panch Kedar and is situated in Uttarakhand's Garhwal Himalaya. See more photos of Tungnath>>

Tungnath
Tungnath, at 12,073 above mean sea level, is the highest Shiva temple in the world, discounting perhaps the Amarnath Cave shrine near Srinagar, Kashmir, which is situated at an altitude of 12,756 feet. Tungnath is second in importance among the five mountain shrines collectively known as the Panch Kedar and is situated in Uttarakhand’s Garhwal Himalaya.
See more photos of Tungnath>>

Hampi, Karnataka  Hampi, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, was the ancient capital of the glorious Vijayanagar Empire. The ruins of the Achyuta Raya temple here look so serene and beautiful that one can only wonder how grand the temple must have looked 500 years ago. View more photos of Hampi >

Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, was the ancient capital of the glorious Vijayanagar Empire. The ruins of the Achyuta Raya temple here look so serene and beautiful that one can only wonder how grand the temple must have looked 500 years ago. View more photos of Hampi >

Hoysala temples, Karnataka, India

Hoysala temples, Karnataka, India

Siem Reap, Cambodia Thought Angkor Wat was synonymous with Siem Reap? Think again. Once you are done with the sunrise and sunset and the tour of Angkor Wat, do not head back to the next destination in Cambodia. Buy yourself a three-day Angkor pass and visit other marvelous temples and you will find a slice of ancient civilization waiting for you. Explore the less-known temples of Cambodia

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Thought Angkor Wat was synonymous with Siem Reap? Think again. Once you are done with the sunrise and sunset and the tour of Angkor Wat, do not head back to the next destination in Cambodia. Buy yourself a three-day Angkor pass and visit other marvelous temples and you will find a slice of ancient civilization waiting for you.
Explore the less-known temples of Cambodia

Bali, Indonesia  The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales.   More photos of Bali temples

Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales.
More photos of Bali temples

Bishnupur, West Bengal, India

Bishnupur, West Bengal, India

The rock-cut cave temples of Badami in northern Karnataka date back to the days of the Chalukya dynasty, which ruled the region from the 6th to 8th centuries. The architecture is a blend of the north Indian Nagara style and the south Indian Dravidian style.  Photo by Sivaraj Mathi  Have you shot photos of temples that are not in this slideshow? Add your photos to this slideshow!

The rock-cut cave temples of Badami in northern Karnataka date back to the days of the Chalukya dynasty, which ruled the region from the 6th to 8th centuries. The architecture is a blend of the north Indian Nagara style and the south Indian Dravidian style. Photo by Sivaraj Mathi Have you shot photos of temples that are not in this slideshow? Add your photos to this slideshow!

Note from the Admin : – To all teh beings out there, I hereby proclaim that I belong to a Great Race of People. Wow there I said it, I truly do belong to a Great Race of People and I am so proud of it.

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Shed a tear for Mysore’s disappearing scrublands

Posted by Admin on May 18, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/blogs/traveler/shed-tear-mysore-disappearing-scrublands-034344420.html;_ylt=AjXYtrlOTszuc8w2.zwSdpNgmeh_;_ylu=X3oDMTRlZWRvb2w3BG1pdANIZXJpdGFnZSBNaW51cyBTdG9yeSBMaXN0BHBrZwMzYTU4NDM0OS04ZDkxLTM5ODQtYTU4NS05ZTE3N2ViMzI2OTMEcG9zAzQEc2VjA01lZGlhU3RvcnlMaXN0TFBUZW1wBHZlcgM1YTIzOTJmYS04NzgwLTExZTEtYjZjNy04MWU5MDZkNDBiMmE-;_ylg=X3oDMTI2MDBoMXA1BGludGwDaW4EbGFuZwNlbi1pbgRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAN0cmF2ZWx8c2F5c29tZXRoaW5nZnVubnkEcHQDc2VjdGlvbnM-;_ylv=3

Shed a tear for Mysore’s disappearing scrublands

By Yahoo! India Travel | Traveler – Mon 16 Apr, 2012 9:13 AM IST

By Sandeep Somasekharan

Sprawled around Mysore are hectares of land known to naturalists as scrublands. To real estate developers, however, they are ‘wastelands’, fit for nothing but ‘development’. These important natural ecosystems, which support rich biodiversity and maintain the health of the water table, are being turned into residential layouts, industrial estates and software parks. Before long, they will be wiped out without a trace, and without measure of what has been lost.

A lark in Mysore’s disappearing scrublandsTo a layperson, scrublands connote territory that is laid to waste. Dead, deserted places to stay away from. But that impression deserves to be tested. Scrublands, in fact, are dry, open spaces with a thin layer of surface grass, occasional shrubs and small, hardy trees such as acacias. Visit one such landscape after a shower, and the green grass has a carpeted appearance. A few months later, everything turns golden-yellow and then brown. But the terrain still looks deserted and inhospitable, until you stop for a while and look keenly around you. Prepare to be surprised by the abundance of life.

Larks rise up with a series of whistles and float down on outspread wings. Flocks of pipits erupt like clouds of undulating dust. Mornings and evenings, grey francolins rend the air with crescendos of “katri chor …katri chor”. And if you make yourself invisible, you can see them emerge and dawdle about. Your slightest movement is enough to make them scamper away, shaking their heavy posteriors, and take cover.

Calotes lizards soak up the sun, sitting on rocks with their heads raised. Spotting them, Black-shouldered Kites, Shikras and Short-toed Snake Eagles swoop down for the kill. A few steps on the grass disturb tiny blue butterflies, which take off and settle a few paces away.

A female Kestrel looks out for prey in Mysore’s disappearing scrublandsBlack ibises dig their curved bills deep into the earth, looking for grubs, worms and insects. Quails wait until you almost step on them before whirring up in a startling escape flight. Winter beckons harriers, kestrels and Booted Eagles to take refuge in these habitats, as they take flight from the cold of the northern territories. Jackals, foxes and hares can be spotted, often with stray dogs in hot pursuit.

A Grey Francolin calls in Mysore’s disappearing scrublandsOutside Mysore’s Ring Road, there used to be a continuous, uninterrupted belt of scrublands. These have slowly started getting converted to residential layouts. Earthmovers scour the soil and roads are laid. Electric poles are erected. Drains are dug. And it’s not long before the buildings come up.

An earthmover excavates in Mysore’s disappearing scrublandsStill, some life persists amidst this chaos, only to be driven further away. At times they are cornered from all directions with no place to go. Each year, the number of birds seen in these scrublands has declined. So have the scrublands themselves.

A section of Mysore scrublands after excavationNext year, maybe the birds coming this side from the north might be in for a rude surprise… It really seems to be sunset for Mysore’s scrublands.

Sandeep Somasekharan is a software professional and photographer based in Thiruvananthapuram. He spent the better part of the last decade in Mysore, Karnataka, where he used his spare time to document the city’s nature, birds, trees and urban wildlife in photographs. He writes at The Green Ogre.

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Warangal – where history lies forgotten

Posted by Admin on May 18, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/warangal-%E2%80%93-where-history-lies-forgotten.html

Warangal – where history lies forgotten

About 140 km from Hyderabad is Warangal, the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty that flourished in the 12th century.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 8 May, 2012 5:09 PM IST

The road curved and arched into a fortified stone wall embellished with sculptures and yalis – mythical creatures believed to be more powerful than lions and elephants – carved in stone. An entire settlement lay behind those walls. We were in the old Warangal Fort, capital of the Kakatiya dynasty. Sculptures were strewn all around us, and enclosing them were four massive stone pillars 30 feet tall, each facing a cardinal direction.

The scattered sculptures lay open to the skies. A Shiva temple was surrounded by ornate pillars, shorter than the four main massive pillars. These tall gateways symbolized “gateways of glory” called Kirti Thoranas and were the seat of the Kakatiyas in Warangal.

A couple of elephants, a nandi, more yalis, a few pillars, broken sculptures, a gajakesari and even an old throne, lay enclosed by the kirti toranas, open to the sky. Shiva, called “Swayambhu”, was worshipped here by the famous Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra. We sat near the throne and looked around. Two dogs chased each other.

Sculptures in Warangal Fort. Photo: Lakshmi Sharath

Sculptures in Warangal Fort. Photo: Lakshmi Sharath

 

I walked over to the map, which gave me the history of Warangal. Earlier known as Orugallu or Orukal, referring to the single boulder or hillock where the fort was located, it was also called Ekasilanagaram. The map told me that the fort, built in the 12th century by the Kakatiya king Prola Raja and his son Rudra Deva, was ruled by Ganapathideva. The most important ruler of the Kakatiyas was not a king, but a queen – Rudramma Devi, who held fort here in the following century.

The fort had three concentric fortifications, two walls, and there seemed to be a trace of the third. Of the four gates, facing the cardinal directions, the east and west gates were still in use. Besides 45 towers and pillars spread over a radius of 19 km, there was also a moat surrounding the fort. The fort was today completely in ruins and was largely destroyed by Malik Kafur as the dynasty fell to the Delhi Sultanate.

The Kakatiyas were the ancient rulers of today’s Andhra Pradesh and it was probable that their early reign was fused with the advent of Buddhism in the region. Some historians infer the period to be dated somewhere in the middle of the 7th century when Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, had referred to the kingdom as Danakaktiya. Even Marco Polo mentioned Warangal much later in his travels. The dynasty’s name came either from its association with a town known as Kakatipura or from their worship of a goddess called Kakati. It was assumed that Kakatipura is present day’s Warangal.

The silence in the fort was soothing as we gazed at the sculptures. As we walked inside the old settlement, life seemed to be the same. Posters of local heroes and politicians jostled for space as young couples, probably students, sought privacy in the temples atop a small hillock overlooking a lake. Nobody was in a mood to entertain tourists as they shly evaded our questions, embarrassed at being spotted.

Yonder, the Kush Mahal built much later by a local ruler, Shitab Khan, possibly a subordinate of the Bahmani kingdom in the 15th century, was a sharp contrast to the architecture of the fort. We walked up to the rooftop and took in the sights of the old village. Vehicles plied on the road as schoolchildren walked past us. The fields were lush, swaying in the breeze. This was once one of the richest dynasties. As Marco Polo said, they had a “great abundance of all necessaries of life.”

We continued, driving towards Hanamkonda, Warangal’s twin town located barely 10 km away. ”It is like Hyderabad and Secunderabad,” said my driver, interrupting my reverie as we entered Hanamkonda.

My guide book said that Hanamkonda was the former capital of the Kakatiyas and it was later shifted to Warangal. The seamless road took us past the busy market with retail brands jostling for space. Hoardings screamed for attention, but I hardly saw any monument of heritage relevance. Huge sacks of onions and potatoes were piled in the local grocery shops. It was nowhere close to the idyllic historic town I had painted in my mind.

We stopped before a narrow congested lane and walked through it. It led us to the thousand-pillar temple built in the 12th century. We spoke to a local man who said that the temple has been under renovation for a while and that a well was discovered here earlier and it was believed that the temple may have been built on water and it took more than 70 years to build.

The ASI signboard gave us more information. The temple, built by Rudra Deva I in the 12th century, was dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya. The pilllars graced the mandapa and between the main shrine and the mandapa was a pavilion for a massive Nandi. Records showed that the Kakatiyas were feudal lords of the Western Chalukyas  around the 10th century. The reign probably started with Betaraja I, followed by his descendant, Prola Raja I. Hanumakonda, which was secured as a grant by Prola Raja I from the Western Chalukyas, was the capital of a dynasty that had just started establishing itself.

We then stopped at the Bhadra Kali temple on a small hillock, believed to have been the patron goddess of the dynasty, and then proceeded to Palampet where the beautiful Ramappa Lake adjoining the 13th-century temple awaited us. Watching the sun going down on the lake, which was believed to be as ancient as the temple, I wondered how a rich capital, a seat of power where battles were fought and won, was today a town forgotten, alive only in textbooks.

My trail ended here but the Kirti Toranas remained in our minds – pillars of yesteryear’s glory lost to modern civilisation.

Getting there
Warangal is 140 km from Hyderabad and can be reached by road or rail. Trains and buses ply regularly from Hyderabad, which is about three hours (or longer, depending on the number of stops en route) by road. Accomodation is simple and there are a couple of three-star properties. Do not miss the local dish, the Pesarattu Dosa made of moong dal (green gram).

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