Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Archive for the ‘Hindu Empire’ Category

1000-year old inscription stone bears earliest reference to Bengaluru

Posted by Admin on December 4, 2012

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/1000-year-old-inscription-stone-bears-earliest-reference-to-Bengaluru/articleshow/17446311.cms?

By , TNN | Dec 2, 2012, 02.11 AM IST

BANGALORE: Begur, a village off the Bangalore-Hosur highway, has seen rapid growth in the past few years thanks to its proximity to IT companies in Electronics City. Property values have multiplied, with residential layouts, high-rise apartments and malls coming up near the once-sparsely populated village. The proposed Metro connectivity heralds further prospects for the region.

Amid all this development lies neglected in theheart of the village a precious inscription stone, said to over 1,000 years old. It bears the earliest reference to the name ‘Bengaluru’.

The stone, dating back to around 890 AD, was found at the Parvathi Nageshwara temple. Written in Halegannada (ancient Kannada), it mentions ‘Bengaluru Kadana’ (battle of Bengaluru) that took place between the Gangas (Jains) and the Nolambas (Shaivites).

When the Nolamba army attacked Begur, the Ganga administrator Nagattara was killed in the battle. It was a significant turning point in the history of Bangalore, as it led to the eventual decline of Jain kings and the rise of the Shaivites. Thereafter, Shaiva settlements and temples came up in Bangalore, including the famous Someshawara temple in Ulsoor, according to SK Aruni, deputy director, Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Bangalore Regional Centre.

The inscription seems to refute the popular ‘Benda Kalooru’ theory behind the origin of the name ‘Bengaluru.’ While the boiled beans anecdote relates to Hoysala king Veera Ballala’s regime in 1120 AD, and modern Bangalore was built by Kempegowda I in the 1530s. But the Begur inscription indicates that a settlement called ‘Bengaluru’ existed much before that, as early as 890 AD.

This has been recorded in the ‘Epigraphia of Carnatica,’ compiled by the Mysore archaeological department. Even though the Begur stone was identified and recorded in 1915 itself, no efforts have been made to preserve it. It lies against a compound wall in the Parvathi Nageshwara temple. Several other stones (veeragallus) are lying along beside, cracked in two pieces, echoing the tales of battles bygone.

“Some pillars inside the ancient temple are gradually sliding and caving in. The government should take immediate steps to preserve the temple and the monuments,” said Venkatesh, a villager who is also a member of the Rajagopura Construction Committee. The committee, formed by locals, raises funds from devotees and is building four Rajagopuras (high towers) around the temple. The construction in the premises poses further threat to the inscription. There should be care taken that the new concrete cement towers don’t ruin the beauty of the temple.

Advertisements

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Bengaluru, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Rated R, Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 1000-year old inscription stone bears earliest reference to Bengaluru

Sringeri – the confluence of religion and beauty

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/sringeri-the-confluence-of-religion-and-beauty.html

Sringeri is a temple town nestled in Chickmagalur district of Karnataka.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – 17 hours ago

My earliest memory of Sringeri goes back to my childhood, when I was probably five years old. It starts with an old black-and-white photograph, with me in ponytails standing next to my grandparents, against the backdrop of the temples at Sringeri Mutt. It was probably around the same time, I had heard about the story of Sringeri, narrated by my mother and she never tires of telling me the story again and again even today.

More than twelve centuries ago, Hindu seer and exponent of Advaita philosophy, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya had come to Sringeri. He saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga that made him realize that this place was sacred. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a pregnant frog protecting it from the scorching sun. He was struck by the sanctity of the area which could bring two enemies together and infuse love between them. The acharya went on to establish his very first Mutt here and dedicated it to Goddess Saraswati. He had invoked the deity and had consecrated an idol of her, which was initially made of sandalwood. He later established the guru-shishya tradition that follows till date, as pilgrims visit the town to seek the blessings of the current Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Bharati Tirtha Swamigal.

Sringeri

As a child, I had made several trips to Sringeri and slowly the word ‘spiritual’ seemed to become synonymous with the place. The journey was long and arduous then. We used to drive down to Bangalore from Chennai and then take the long route via Tumkur and Arsikere to reach Hassan and then Chikmagalur. The winding roads of Malenadu painted a carpet of green coffee estates as we continued our journey to Sringeri from the hills. Sometimes, we used to take the picturesque Agumbe route, just to take in the views of the forests and sunsets. And every time, I used to lose myself in the journey.

Even today, I am lost as I drive through Malenadu, drenched in monsoons. Sringeri brings to the mind images of the long roads snaking across the green mountains, the heavy rains and squalls, the richly carved temples, the fish swimming in the serene Tunga, the rhythmic chanting from the various rituals and the bisi bisi saaru (rasam) on a rainy day.

My first stop in Sringeri is always at the banks of the River Tunga. Sitting on the steps and watching the fish nibble at the feet of people who are performing their evening rituals, I take in the scene. The sun lights the scales as they whisk their fins in and out of water. The forests border the banks of the river, while two temple elephants cross over to the other bank on the bridge.

The temples are not crowded. I stop by at the Sharadamba temple adorned with massive sculptures. It was reconstructed in the South Indian Dravidian style, after the earlier wooden temple had given way. After visiting several smaller temple complexes dedicated to various deities like Malayala Brahma,Torana Ganapathi, Kodandarama, Janardhana, Subramanya and other guardian gods and goddesses,  I enter my favourite shrine – the Vidyashankara Temple, standing tall at the entrance to the river, Tunga.

Standing in awe and gazing at every sculpture on the outer walls, I watch the sun shine on them. The twelve zodiac signs are carved on the pillars and it is indeed an architectural marvel in stone, a fusion between Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Chalukya styles in the 14th century. Dedicated to deities, Vidya Ganapati, Vidyashankara, Durga and the Trimurtis , it was built by pontiff Bharati Krishna Tirtha Acharya, as a tribute to his Guru, the 10th Acharya, Vidyatirtha. Another temple is said to be buried beneath this temple and there is a story around it.

Vidyatirtha was the reigning acharya in the 13th century when two brothers from Ekasilanagaram or today’s Warangal came to meet him. Vidyatirtha wanted to meditate and he explained to one of the brothers Bharati Krishna Tirtha not to disturb him for twelve years.

An underground chamber was excavated near the bank of the river  where the seer meditated and instructed that the door remained closed  for twelve years .After three years, when the pontiff  was away, the attendants out of curiosity opened the chamber only to see that the body was replaced by a linga.

Bharati Krishna Tirtha then received a divine message from his Guru to build the Vidyashankara Temple near the river. He later became the next Jagadguru and was followed by his brother, Vidyaranya, the founder of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Guru to the brothers, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka.

The connection between Hampi and Sringeri is something I learnt afresh here. It is believed that the seer Sri Vidyaranya was meditating on Matanga Hill in modern day Hampi, when he met two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. Under his guidance, the brothers built a new capital, Vidyanagara and designed it in the form of a chakra with the Virupaksha Temple in the centre and nine gates surrounding it. The town soon became known as Vijaynagara or victory as the brothers established a new dynasty by defeating Delhi Sultans and the various rebelling feudatories.

It was already night fall as the stars came out and the moonlight drenched the waters of the Tunga. Hordes of devotees were crossing the bridge to reach the other side of the bank in time for the night puja of the Chandramouleshwara Temple, performed by the Shankaracharya. It is a surreal like experience as one crosses the Tunga on a star lit night and walks across rich vegetation in silence , listening to the crickets ,enters the portals of the shrine as the invigorating chants fill the air and vibrates across the river. It is at the moment, I truly grasp the meaning of spiritual.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sringeri – the confluence of religion and beauty

Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/shravanabelagola-where-faith-and-art-converge-slideshow/;_ylt=Ai4khjKo5ZvA_H7mBC4JjnMY9Ol_;_ylu=X3oDMTM3ZzI2ZWhhBG1pdAMEcGtnAzZiYmNmZDA2LWVjYWItMzVjNS1hZWE1LWI3OGFkNDcyYmQxMwRwb3MDNARzZWMDZW5kX3NzBHZlcgM0YzY5NTY2Mi1hYjBhLTExZTEtYmEzNi0yZDA4MjY2OTIzNGI-;_ylv=3

Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge

Nestled amidst two hills, Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri, is the picturesque town of Shravanabelagola. It has been one of the prime pilgrimage destinations in Jainism for more than 2,000 years. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali is the main attraction. Carved elegantly, it is one of the architectural marvels of the world and happens to be the world’s largest monolithic sculpture. Shravanabelagola also enshrines a number of Jain temples (called Bastis or Basadis). This destination is situated about 50 km south-east of Channarayapatna in Hassan district of Karnataka State. Text and photos by ANANTH V RAO

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
ANANTH V RAO is an engineer by profession and a hobbyist photographer with a passion for picturing architectural grandeur as well as nature and wildlife. He was born and brought up in Hassan, Karnataka, a place known for its culture and heritage. He lives in Bangalore.

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola got its name from the pond in the image. This pond is located between the hills Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri. Belagola translates to a white pond in Kannada and Shravana translates to Jain monk or ascetic.

Shravanabelagola

A view of Vindhyagiri, the larger of the two hills.

Shravanabelagola

The statue of Lord Bahubali on Vindhyagiri hill overlooks Vadegal Basadi in the foreground.

Shravanabelagola

The shrine of Vadegal Basadi got its name from the stone props placed against the basement. This is the only ‘Trikoota’ (triple-shrine) temple at Shravanabelagola. The three sanctums house the idols of Thirthankaras (Jain renunciates) carved in schist. This temple dates back to the 14th century and is known as Trikoota Basadi in literary works.

Shravanabelagola

Tyagada Kamba. ‘Tyaga’ in Kannada translates to sacrifice and ‘kamba” translates to pillar. This pillar was erected probably in the tenth century by the then minister Chavundaraya. He distributed gifts to the poor and needy near this pillar and hence the pillar got the name ‘Tyagada Kamba’. It is also said that Chavundaraya renounced his worldly possessions and his life near this pillar. The floral scrolls in bold lines on the pillar bring out the best of the Ganga dynasty’s workmanship.

Shravanabelagola

Gullakayajji or ‘the granny holding the eggplant’ is a five-feet-tall statue that stands opposite to the statue of Gomateshwara. The story goes that when Chavundaraya arranged for the Mahamastakabhisheka – a festival held every 12 years when, among other rituals, the gigantic idol is consecrated with milk — the milk did not descend lower than the thighs of the statue. Upon the order of his guru, Chavundaraya used the milk brought by Gullakayajji in the eggplant and performed the abhisheka.

Shravanabelagola

Entrance to the Gomateshwara statue enclosure.

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola

The index finger of the statue’s left hand is slightly shorter in length. Some say it was deliberately done to show that the statue was actually man-made, and not a divine creation. Another speculation is that the sculptor might have done it to show that nobody is perfect.

Shravanabelagola

A Jain sadhvi meditates at the lotus feet of Gomateshwara.

Shravanabelagola

A scenic view of Chandragiri Hill, which got its name from the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who stayed here, served and followed the path of his spiritual guru, Acharya Bhadrabahu, the eighth in the lineage of the 24 Thirthankaras.

Shravanabelagola

Entrance to the temple complex at Chandragiri.

Shravanabelagola

View of the temple complex at Chandragiri. There are a total of 14 Basadis on Chandragiri and a cave where Bhadrabahu stayed and meditated.

Shravanabelagola

The over 800 inscriptions on Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri hills are carefully protected. The first inscriptions on Chandragiri are the signatures of Chavundaraya and of the Kannada poet Ranna.

Shravanabelagola

Regular worship services are held at the Gomateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge

The beautiful temples of Bali

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos–the-beautiful-temples-of-bali.html?page=all

The beautiful temples of Bali

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. LAKSHMI SHARATH traipses through Bali and returns with these breathtaking picture postcards.

Note from the Admin : – Please include Bali and Thailand as well to the glorious era of the Hindu Empire with strikingly similar architecture across the landmass as well as extremely similar mythological stories and lore of the same group of Gods who were worshiped and revered across the region as well, during the yesteryears of old.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 24 Jan, 2012 2:16 PM IST

A roadside temple in Bali

Roadside Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

If you think India has many shrines, think again. In Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu island, there are temples everywhere – in streets, atop mountains, clinging to cliffs, on the seashore, and in the courtyard of every home.

Devotees at the Mother Besakih temple

Balinese Hindus at the Mother Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The Mother Besakih temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. It is located atop Mount Agung. It is not just one shrine but a cluster of 20 temples overlooking the villages and the green slopes of the mountain. Balinese believe that the good spirits along with their deities reside here and the shrines resemble houses built for them.

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Goa, I learned, is pronounced “Guha” as in many Indian languages. It refers to a 1,000-year-old cave excavated here that houses the Hindu trinity of gods and Ganesha, whom the Balinese know as “Gajah” (as in elephant). The 11th century site, called Lwa Gajah, was not discovered until the 1950s and was believed to be a sanctuary of a Buddhist monk. Carved images of the Buddha and smaller shrines and a step-well dot the green landscape here.

Uluwatu

Pura Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most spectacular temples © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Bali’s shrines are often located in the most exotic landscapes. This is Pura Uluwatu right atop the cliff. The scenery is breathtaking as you climb uphill through a small forested area patrolled by boisterous monkeys.

Bali’s royal shrine

Royal shrine in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Pura Taman Ayun, literally “beautiful garden”, is the shrine of the royalty in Bali. Built in the 17th century, this temple in Mengwi, south Bali, is believed to house the ancestors of the royal dynasty and their family deities.

Puppets galore

Puppets in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The sounds of performances fill the air as you walk into any of these temples. Wayang or shadow puppetry, the Kecak or fire-dance, and various other local dances like Barong, Legong and Pendet are some of the art forms to experience while you visit these shrines.

Sunset at Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

No trip is complete without a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in Tanah Lot temple, a tourist magnet located on a rocky oceanic island. The 15th century shrine, dedicated to the sea spirits, was built under the direction of a priest and is believed to be guarded by snakes.

Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, traveler, travel-writer, photographer and blogger.

Are you a passionate traveler? Yahoo! India Travel offers you the perfect soapbox to tell your travel tales. Submit your travelogues with photos to travelindiasubmissions@yahoo.in

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The beautiful temples of Bali

Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/temple-spotting-in-cambodia-1331894564-slideshow/

Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Wait, don’t go back after visiting Angkor Wat. LAKSHMI SHARATH recommends five other breathtaking temples to see in Siem Reap

Note from the Admin : – Remember Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar(Burma), Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, Papau New Guinea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and the entire archipelago of the Philipines, all belonged to one large landmass of Oceania and Austra-lasia formerly known as Lemuria and where along with the main region of the Indian Sub-Continent of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka along with southern regions of Afghanistan or the North Western Frontier Provinces such as Sindh and Baluchistan were all part of a flourishing and glorious Hindu Empire. Their remnants today have been weathered away by winds, floods and erosions leaving only glimpses of what one could term as the closest of the Pre Antediluvian civilizations of our forgotten past to a state of supreme Utopia.

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.

Cambodia

The gates of the fortified town Angkor Thom opens into a different world and Bayon would probably be your first stop. Like the faces that greet you at the gate, Bayon is carved with them as the towers give the impression of a mountain with small peaks. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this was the state temple of the ancient rulers. You will need at least a couple of hours to see this enormous temple complex. Spare some time to wander around the town of Angkor Thom. This is my favorite temple in Siem Reap.

Cambodia

You would probably remember this temple for the Angelina Jolie film Tomb Raider. As I walked around Ta Prohm, it was amidst a restoration process assisted by the Indian government. The trees, their long serpentine roots and sturdy trunks, beckon you here. The eyes follow them as they mysteriously curl around a boulder and add an element of wildness to a sculpture. It was believed to have been a temple monastery. Ta Prohm leaves you breathless as you watch the elements of nature and art create wild magic in front of you.

Cambodia

Preah Khan is another masterpiece that literally opens into a different world as you enter the portals of the temple. It was believed to have been a Buddhist university as well. The trees add a different dimension to the sculptures as you see them growing on the walls of the temple, almost holding onto them.

Cambodia

Banteay Srei is probably the smallest of the temples here and it is also one of the furthest from the Angkor complex. Carved in sandstone, this temple’s name I am told literally means Citadel of Women in reference to its beauty. The journey will take you about an hour, but it is worth spending every minute here.

Cambodia

The guides and the tuk tuk guys will highly recommend Pre Rup for the sunset and I found it rather quiet compared to the other sunset points This state temple is built a few kilometers away from Angkor town and stands on the way to Banteay Srei. The towers, built in laterite, sandstone and brick, glow in the evening sun as we spend a few quiet moments before returning to Siem Reap.

Cambodia

Five is a rather small number when it comes to the temples of Angkor and the monuments around Siem Reap. If you have more time, do check out the Roluos Group of temples – Bakong is beautiful ; or visit Kbal Spein or Kulen Mountains to see the River of thousand Shiva lingas – small stone carvings on the bed of the Siem Reap river.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/magical-hampi-blissfully-lost-in-a-time-warp-1331140839-slideshow/

Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Hampi, the medieval capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (14th to 16th century AD), is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its boulder-strewn hills, stunning jewel-box temples and the Tungabhadra River that runs among them make Hampi spectacular. Stories abound in every nook and corner, making this land of ancient legends a photographer’s playbook. The little town attracts tourists in droves, and the fact that almost everything is in ruins doesn’t seem to matter at all; in fact, it only adds to Hampi’s charisma. Strolling through the ancient markets and temples can throw you in a time-warp, says photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN as she shares these telling images that tempt you to clamber onto the roof of a bus and head to Hampi.

Photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN loves to wander, camera in tow. An aesthete, her forte is creative and offbeat compositions. Radha has presented her images in many forums and publications. Faces intrigue her and she loves to tell stories through her photographs. Birds, butterflies, leaves and shafts of light fuel her imagination. Besides nature and wildlife photography, she enjoys traveling and making images of people and places. Enjoy more of her work at her blog.

Hampi

The Virupaksha temple is one of the most recognized structures in Hampi. Located at the Hampi Bazaar, it has an iconic 160-foot tall ‘gopuram’ or tower at its entrance. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Though the city was destroyed in 1565, worship in the temple has persisted over the centuries.

Hampi

Hampi attracts a wide variety of people – backpackers, pilgrims, tourists, history enthusiasts, photographers… The locals add to this wonderful mix and what you get is a very intriguing array of faces. Sit on a step by the Hampi Bazaar or walk around the temples for some absorbing people-watching.

Hampi

An Indian Nightjar sits pretty by the side of the road. Hampi’s birdlife is very rich. Hoopoes, Sirkeer Malkohas, Indian Eagle Owls, Yellow Wattled Lapwings and Painted Spurfowls are some of the species one can sight in and around the town.

Hampi

A threatened species like the Yellow Throated Bulbul or our friendly neighborhood Green Bee Eater, they are all around. Matanga Hill is probably the best place to sight the very shy Yellow Throated Bulbuls. Watch out for groups of them flying from tree to tree, twittering all along.

Hampi

On an evening at Hampi, turn left into the narrow lane at the entrance of the Virupaksha temple. A short walk up Hemakuta hill sets you up to witness a memorable sunset.

Hampi

One of the best sunset spots in Hampi, Hemakuta Hill attracts a lot of people in the evening. Get there early, choose a good vantage point and settle down for an evening you won’t forget for a long time.

Hampi

The early bird gets the best sunrise! A steep climb up the Matanga Hill before the break of dawn can give you one of the best sunrise experiences of your life. With a rocky landscape on one side with a view of the Achyuta Raya temple and the river on the other side, the rising sun has a beautiful canvas to paint. It is advisable to take an experienced guide along if you want to walk up the hill before dawn.

Hampi

While the sun rises, the early morning mist fights a losing battle and eases away, revealing a breathtaking view of the hills on the far right of the Matanga hill. Green fields at the banks of the Tungabhadra River and a lone ‘mantapa’ on a rock complete this view.

Hampi

The ruins of the Achyuta Raya temple look so serene and beautiful that one can only wonder how grand the temple must have looked 500 years ago. It rests at the foot of the Matanga hill. This is the pillared ‘Mahamantapa’ and two of the three ‘Mahadwaras’ in the temple complex.

Hampi

A ‘Kalyana Mantapa’ – a marriage hall for the annual wedding ceremony of God and Goddess – is at the northwest corner of the Achyuta Raya temple. Beautiful stone carvings adorn stunning, tall pillars in the Mantapa. When light seeps through the hall, it is a sight to behold.

Hampi

Hampi

A market street, or what is also known as the courtesan’s street, leads to the Achyuta Raya temple. The ruins add to the serenity of the place. Also, the street and the temple are hidden snug behind Matanga hill and attract fewer tourists than the rest of the temples.

Hampi

Intricate stone carvings of mythical wars, pillars that create music when tapped, massive monolithic pillars and a huge temple yard – the Vijaya Vittala temple is an architectural extravaganza.

Hampi

Need souvenirs and gifts to remember Hampi? Wander around Hampi Bazaar and you are sure to find trinkets like these, mostly made by local artisans.

Hampi

Thanks to the iconic stone chariot the Vijaya Vittala temple is the most popular spot in Hampi. This chariot is the emblem of Karnataka Tourism. From the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, it appears that the wheels were once free to move around the axis. It has and probably will always be the flag-bearer of Hampi’s relics.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/chandrashila-in-the-arms-of-shiva-1329741657-slideshow/

Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

From Tunganath, the highest Shiva temple in India, a trail leads up the hill towards the peak of Chandrashila. On a clear day, this unique vantage point offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. This, truly, is Lord Shiva‘s kingdom. This is the second part of the slideshow about Tunganath by Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL

Chandrashila

The peak of Chandrashila, cloaked in fog on this autumn morning, looks out at a panorama of mountains. Chandrashila is 13,000 feet above sea level.

Tungnath temple

The Tungnath temple has withstood the continuous assault of the elements.

Bell at Tungnath temple

A bell rests against the stone wall of the temple.

Ganesha, Tungnath temple

A relief of Ganesha carved on the temple wall.

Weathered exterior of the …

Continuous exposure to wind, rain and snow has left scars.

Lodgers chat over tea

Shopkeepers and mule drivers make conversation outside the small snack shops, which double as lodges. Most have one or two tiny spare rooms, rented out for the night. Common toilets are available but they are terrifying.

Devloke Hotel

Our room at Devloke Hotel, with a view of the mighty mountains, was not uncomfortable. For safety and warmth, we tucked into our sleeping bags. At night, we heard rats on the roof. Our host Naveen assured us that they were harmless.

Sadhus at Tungnath

Two sadhus joined us at breakfast and began to smoke a chillum, after which the younger of them began to stare at the mist in silence. The elder sadhu proceeded to sew a tunic from a length of sack. They told us that they were on their way to Badrinath, 140 km away by road, on foot. When we expressed our surprise they told us about an old path through the forest that a few sadhus still frequent. We saw them seven days later on the road to Badrinath.

Akashkund at Tungnath

Inspired by the story, we decided to go looking for the trail. From Akashkund, believed to be a source of rivers, a stream meanders downhill towards Chopta.

A farmer's hut in Dug …

Along the trail we came across a simple farmer’s hut set in a forest glade beside a brook and with a cucumber vine bursting with bright yellow blossoms.

Curious Onlookers

There were no dangers along the way. We were told to watch out for Himalayan Black Bears but none came to meet us. However, a herd of grazing cows and buffaloes showed interest and we had to hurry on quickly.

The old pilgrim trail

We scouted the foothills of Chopta for the ancient pilgrim route. It was a footpath, and most of it was overgrown with vegetation. Yet, remnants of it were still to be seen at this meadow in Dugalbitta.

Cowdust hour

The pilgrim trail intersects the road at various points and through a lot of hard climbing we were able to return to Chopta to spend the night. From the trail we saw these cattle return home for night.

Sunset at Tungnath

We made haste and arrived at Tungnath to watch the sunset. The next day, we planned to explore the peak of Chandrashila.

Towards Chandrashila

Above Tungnath is a small rocky path leading to a peak called Chandrashila, about 13,000 feet above mean sea level. There are no trees here, only rocks and grassy meadows called bugyals.

View from the path to Cha …

The trail offered us fleeting glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Kedarnath and Chaukhamba but the mist quickly veiled them.

Himalayan Monal pheasant

We saw a shape move in the dim light of early dawn. It’s a Monal pheasant, the state bird of Uttarakhand. When it steps into the sun we see its colors — dazzling violet-blue, green and orange. It surely stole the peacock’s thunder.

View of mountains from the …

Chandrashila

We climbed for nearly 40 minutes, catching our breath every now and then. Finally, a rusted, wind-battered signboard announced our destination.

Chaukhamba from Chandrash …

For an instant, the mist cleared and we were offered the breathtaking view of Chaukhamba, its four snow-capped crowns gleaming in the morning sun.

Cairns and prayer stones

Exploring the peak, we came upon stacks of stones arranged in cairns. Someone was already here, and praying hard.

Meditating for mind contr …

Ahead of us, on the edge of a cliff, a South Korean gentleman aged about 50 meditated on the morning sun. He was shirtless in temperatures that hovered around zero degrees Celsius. Small huddles of chrysanthemum flowers adorned the cairns.

Cleaning up the mountain

Nearby, his companion collected plastic bags and trash left behind by other tourists. The men said they were here to practice mind control. Every morning, they would climb up to Chandrashila before dawn and wait for sunrise. We were moved beyond words. As we watched, more tourists came by, chatting loudly. One of them was eating a bar of chocolate. He suddenly discovered that his cell phone had received a signal and jubilantly announced it to his two friends. They shouted and laughed for a few moments and then the first chap crushed his chocolate wrapper and dropped it on the ground. As we watched them with embarrassment, the Koreans smiled at us and continued cleaning up the peak.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

Tungnath – The Kingdom of Lord Shiva

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/tungnath-the-kingdom-of-lord-shiva-1329732700-slideshow/

Tungnath – The Kingdom of Lord Shiva

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. The temple opens for worship after winter snows melt in June and remains open until late October when snowfall cuts off access to the temple. At this time the deity is moved ceremoniously to the Ukhimath, thousands of feet below. Besides its majestic location against a backdrop of cliffs, peaks and snow-clad mountains, Tungnath is also popular with trekkers, who make it a point to witness the sunrise from Chandrashila, a nearby peak at 13,123 feet. To reach Tungnath from Delhi, drive or take an overnight train/ bus to Rishikesh (236 km) and drive/ take a bus to Ukhimath (170 km/ 6 hours). Halt overnight and catch the morning bus for Chopta (17 km/ 1 hour), a roadhead at 9,500 feet. Tungnath is a 4-km trek from here. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (258 km). This is the first of a two-part series on Tungnath by Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL

Note from the Admin : – To The Great Lord of all The Lords.

Tungnath Temple Uttarakha …

Tungnath, a stately and serene temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the second of the five Kedars, the others being Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath. The legend behind the temples is rooted in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandavas, after the Great War at Kurukshetra, wished to atone for the sins of fratricide and the killing of Brahmins. They were directed to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The Lord, however, was in no mood to pardon them as he was angry at the magnitude of their sins. Taking the form of a bull, the Lord hid from the Pandavas at Guptkashi in the Garhwal Himalaya.

Steeped in mythology

The Pandavas caught up with Shiva. Bhima, the second of the brothers, spied a large bull grazing and recognized it as Shiva. He grabbed the bull by its tail and hind legs, but it disappeared into the ground. Later, various parts of the bull reappeared at different locations in the Himalaya.

In the "arms" of …

The sacred bull’s hump appeared in Kedarnath, the arms at Tungnath, the navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar, the face at Rudranath and the hair and head at Kalpeshwar. In gratitude, the Pandavas, who were then in the Himalayas en route to their passage to heaven, built temples at each of these locations. It is also believed that some of the bull’s fore portions materialized at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The velley of Ukhimath

Terraced fields overlook the valley at Ukhimath. The seat of the Omkareshwara Temple, this town is where the idol of Tungnath is worshipped after winter snowfall renders the mountains inaccessible. On clear days the town offers a breathtaking view of the snowcapped Kedarnath peak. The Mandakini River, a tributary of the Ganga, roars in the valley below. Eventually, it joins the Alakananda at Rudraprayag.

Chaukhamba from Ukhimath

A short drive from Ukhimath is Deoriya Tal, a picturesque mountain lake surrounded by forests of oak and chir pine. A heart-stopping view of the four-pronged peak, Chaukhamba, is reflected in the placid waters of the lake. To get to the lake, which occupies a small plateau at about 8,000 feet, trekkers must walk a 2-km uphill trail from Sari.

Waterfall near Ukhimath

A picturesque waterfall by the roadside near Ukhimath. Some parts of the road to Sari, a village from where the trek to Deoriya Tal begins, have been taken over by streams and waterfalls. In the monsoon, parts of the road may be washed off completely. Landslides and mudslides also block traffic.

The road to Gopeshwar

Before motorable roads made these hill shrines accessible within a day from Haridwar, pilgrims traveled on foot from the roadhead at Rudraprayag. Tired of many years of the government turning a deaf ear to their demands for a motorable road, the people of the region went on a hunger strike. The move paid off. Buses were introduced to connect Rudraprayag with the district headquarters at Gopeshwar through Chopta, a picturesque route that skirts the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary where the five temples are located. As a reminder of the protest, these buses are inscribed with the legend “Bhookh Hartal”, Hindi for Hunger Strike.

Shack in Chopta

After visiting Deoriya Tal the previous day, we reached Chopta by the “Bhook Hartal” bus from Ukhimath. The tiny hillside village was cloaked in mist and we were hungry. Unable to see much further we followed our noses to a shack where parathas and instant noodles were cooking. The sign on the modest little eatery promised lots more, but we made do with warmth and passable food.

Bhotia dog in Chopta

It looks quiet and peaceful in Chopta but one look at this sleeping Bhotia dog told us another story. Notice the spiked metal collar around its neck – this is intended to prevent leopards from killing it. Leopards are opportunistic hunters and frequently prey on dogs with a bite to the throat. The tough metal collars may be uncomfortable for the dogs but its spiky edges have protected them from many a marauding leopard.

The trail to Tungnath

Misty mountains tower over Chopta. After breakfast, we begin the 4 km-climb to Tungnath. The paved trail winds through a tract of dense forest interspersed with alpine meadows, known as bugyals in the Garhwali dialect. Ahead of us, walking in leather slippers and a thin saffron robe was a sadhu. How he defended himself against the punishing elements we do not know. But then again, centuries ago a young saint from Kerala, Adi Sankara, walked these very paths.

Pathway on the mountain

Through veils of mist we looked back at the road we had travelled. The oak trees wore shaggy coats of moss and fern. In the peak of winter, the trees will be bare.

Deodar trees

Only the hardy, fragrant deodar trees will resist the snow. Their leaves are modified into hard, tough needles and their barks secrete resin that prevents the snow from freezing the sap.

Tea shop on the trail

It is the end of the season and most of the shops are deserted, but one teashop offers piping hot ginger chai. It is still early in the morning. As we stood there catching our breath and sipping tea, a red fox appeared out of the hillside and slunk away into the forest before we could bring out our cameras.

Never run out of gas

Most tourists choose to ride mules to the top but a few nature buffs, like us, prefer to walk the entire distance. However, people like this porter transporting a gas cylinder on his back have no choice.

Temple bells, Tungnath

Finally, we hear bells peal in the distance. And we see the spire of the temple poke out over a sea of mist.

Milestone, Tungnath

A milestone informs us that we have reached our destination.

Main street, Tungnath

Here in the main street leading up to the temple, time takes a backseat. It’s like being back in the Stone Age. The huts have roofs of solid slate, weighed down with rocks. Only the waterproof plastic sheets are a reminder of modern times.

Ruined huts, Tungnath

The ruins of shepherds’ huts and old lodges line the main street. Most are uninhabited.

Shops near Tungnath

Shops selling materials for puja do brisk business. The flowers, coconuts and incense are brought on muleback from Chopta, where they have arrived after a long journey from the plains.

Tungnath - Priest's c …

The priest’s chair is placed invitingly outside the temple but we choose to sit on the cool stones in the small courtyard. The priests of the Tungnath temple are local Brahmins from the village of Maku, a few thousand feet below. In all the other Kedar temples, including Kedarnath, the priests are from Udupi or Kerala, a tradition dating back to Adi Sankara’s reforms.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tungnath – The Kingdom of Lord Shiva

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.

Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Asia’s beautiful heritage temples