Archive for the ‘Picturesque’ Category
Posted by Admin on June 4, 2012
Nature till I die
My art and the environment, Yahoo’s original series tracks what loving the environment means for an ordinary person with extraordinary commitment. These are people who love an art form and from that vantage have explored the environment. In mainstream media, we hear too many ideological voices of activists, partisan NGOs and biased industry players, but sometimes it starts with what piques an individual’s curiosity. Today meet 18 year old Archith Sridhar. When he was 10, his mother caught him lovingly caressing a centipede on his palm, examining its glossy colors and its numerous legs. For him, this beautiful creature was fascinating – as was the injured migratory stork that he helped rescue and leave at the Blue Cross, an animal rescue centre. Leisure reading for him as a twelve-year-old was ‘Microcellular organisms’, a biggie with glossy illustrations. He’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Veterinary Sciences in Pondicherry. The camera has been his favorite gadget – from a trip with family(much to his chagrin) to Bandhavgarh’s tigers to flying solo to Gir and Agumbe or enrolling as a docent at the Madras Crocodile Bank. Ask him what he wants to become – he is not sure. Ask him what he wants to do now – and he would probably pick up his Canon 7D and his backpack. Hear him tell you about his photos and experiences with passion, enthusiasm and humor.
Tigress, Bandhavgarh: MP
This striped and endangered majesty of an animal is forever in conflict with human habitation. This picture to me perfectly captures that conflict. The tigress is stepping onto a dirt road criss-crossed with jeep tyre marks.
Walking through Pit viper terrain, wading through a pond in shorts and floaters without a torch (I didn’t want to scare the tarantulas away), my group and I came here specifically to see these tarantulas creeping out of their nests burrowed into mud embankments.
Spectacled cobra, Chennai
Snake hunting with the Irulas was an unforgettable experience and spotting this Spectacled Cobra made my day. My usual camera was at service and I had to make do with a point and shoot, and thus had to get really close to this guy for such a shot. The thrill of looking at a cobra in the wild was like a dream come true.
Jaws III, Croc Bank: Chennai
Meet Jaws III, the largest captive saltwater croc at in India at over 18 feet. He is a massive and fierce dominant male who keeps complete control over his territory, even refusing to allow mating females into his murky waters. You wouldn’t want to meet him on a Sunday swim, snout to snout.
Golden frog, Agumbe :Karnataka
The toughest customer – He kept jumping away, out of the line of my lens. Believe me, he almost missed his chance to be covered here, at Yahoo! He was the typical celeb guy being chased by this lens man. Had to crouch very low, get my camera a foot away from his eye level and click, using the flash.
A Pair of Jungle babblers, Gir : Gujarat
What makes this photograph special for me is that one bird was grooming another. They looked like they were in love with each other, totally immersed in the mood of the moment. You take the pick on who the male is, and who the female is.
Shield bug, Chennai
On a snake walk with Irulas, this flashy bug distracted me from my main quarry. Instead of looking for snakes, I began looking for more of these bugs. Little did I know then that they were capable of releasing pungent chemicals in self-defense. I am happy I did not have to find out the hard way.
Indian scops owl, Gir, Gujarat
Perfectly blending with the bark, he was patiently posing for a long while. Unusually, instead of the animal tiring of me, it was my turn to walk away. I loved his expression and his patience.
Moth in my backyard
I have been unable to identify this patterned moth, which I one day clicked in the backyard of my house. Note that it appears to have eyes, an open mouth and a flowing moustache – giving the appearance of a face looking at you. Imagine further, and you can see arms and a body to this creature.
Beautifully created, carefully designed and perfectly executed, this spider web is doomed to be destroyed for it fell right in the middle of a road entering the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station. The effort and toil of one whole night would be gone with the next motor vehicle.
My camera got wet in a sudden shower and began to malfunction. I missed most of the beginning of his spectacular dance, but luckily, was able to manage a few shots towards the end.
Dew on Branches
What better time than dawn to capture beads of dew? Indeed my first time and to me it seemed that the dewdrops formed in a second, showcased their beauty for another second, then fell to their death. Poetic.
Jungle babbler, Gir : Gujarat
I was roundly cursed by this feathery friend for disturbing his peace.
Calotes versicolor, Chennai
This male of the species(identified from its elongated dorsal spine above its head) is common lizard that you spot in your garden. Often mistaken for the chameleon, this lizard possesses the ability to change colour as well. In the breeding season, the male acquires a bright red coloured throat(like in this picture where it is faintly seen in between the black) and thus, is often referred to as a ‘blood sucker’.
Black faced Langur, Bandipur, Karnataka
Black faced Langur, Gir, Gujarat
Calotes rouxii, Agumbe, Karnataka
Chital, Gir, Gujarat
Gharial, Crocodile Bank, Chennai
Signature spider, Bandipur, Karnataka.
Photo credit : Archith K.Sridhar
Contact him at: email@example.com
Posted in India Forgotten, Nature, Picturesque | Tagged: Agumbe, Bandhavgarh National Park, Chennai, India, Indian Cobra, Irula, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Tarantula, Yahoo | Comments Off on Nature till I die
Posted by Admin on June 2, 2012
Barely 20 km from the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, Dhanushkodi gets its name from Dhanush (bow) and Kodi (end). The name alludes to an anecdote in the Ramayana, where Lord Rama broke the bridge constructed by his army of monkeys between the mainland and the island of Lanka with a stroke of his bow. Barely 50 yards long, Dhanushkodi is the sole terrestrial border between India and Sri Lanka. It was inhabited until 1964, when a terrible cyclone wrecked the village and swept a passenger train into the sea. Though Dhanushkodi today is a ghost town, it is still visited by pilgrims. Yahoo! reader J MADHU RANTHAKAN presents a photographic travelogue of a journey to land’s end.
A distant view of Dhanushkodi town from a vehicle. Pilgrims from all over India visit Rameswaram Temple to bathe in the holy wells and in the sea. It is a well-known pilgrimage site. Only a few, though, know the mythological and historical importance of nearby Dhanushkodi.
A view from Kothandaramaswamy Temple, located 12 km from Rameswaram. Popular belief goes that Vibishana, brother of the demon king Ravana of Lanka, surrendered before Lord Rama here. The mythological importance assigned to this town is that when Lord Rama returned to India after vanquishing Ravana, Vibhishana pleaded with him to break the setu (bridge) so that no other armies would use it. Rama acquiesced to his request and broke the Indian side of the bridge with the end of his bow. This place came to be known as Dhanushkodi (Dhanush is ‘bow’ and kodi is ‘end’ in Tamil) and remains to this day a holy place for Hindus.
Road leading to Dhanushkodi from Rameswaram. It was on this island in January 1897 that Swami Vivekananda, after his triumphant visit to Chicago to attend the Parliament of Religions in September 1893, set foot on Indian soil from Colombo.
Dhanushkodi is today a ghost town and human habitation is almost non-existent as only a few fishermen with their families now live here.
On the fateful night of December 22, 1964, Indian Railways train number 653, the Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger, left Pamban with 110 passengers and five railway staff. It was only a few yards before Dhanushkodi railway station when it was hit by a massive tidal wave. The train was washed away, killing all 115 on board. In all, over 1,800 people perished in the cyclonic storm. Following this disaster, the town was declared unfit for living.
All forms of transport to Dhanushkodi stop at Moonram Chathiram. From here, we hire a vehicle – a smelly van that carries fish – more suited to the sandy terrain, to traverse the mud tracks leading up to the ruins. A 7-km bumpy ride along the shore and sometimes into the sea water takes us to the actual ruins.
Dhanushkodi used to have a railway station, a small railway hospital, a higher secondary school, a post office, customs and port offices, temples and a church. Ferries between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka transported travelers and goods across the sea. There were hotels, textile shops and inns (dharmashalas) for pilgrims and travelers.
Remains of the ruined town. Groceries and vegetables were brought by the railways through the Indo-Ceylon Express also called Boat Mail), which connected Madras (now Chennai) to Colombo. Ferries from Talaimannar brought textiles and luxury goods. Before 1964, a train connected Sri Lanka to Madras. It stopped at a pier in Dhanushkodi. From there, passengers used a ferry to cross the 18-km Rama Setu.
Brick walls etched by time and tide tell tearful stories. The structures that withstood the tidal wave exist, buried under the sand and some partly weathered by the sea, adding a mysterious beauty to the place.
The remains of the church and railway station buildings. A few fishermen have settled here in thatched huts.
The walls of the church still stand.
A survivor of the 1964 cyclone who now lives in Dhanushkodi supplies drinking water to tourists from a well on Dhanushkodi beach.
It is amazing that the well, which is just a few yards from the sea, supplies sweet drinking water.
An array of fishing boats seen from the bridge.
A view from the centre of Pamban bridge. I was fortunate to get this shot without any vehicular traffic.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
J MADHU RANTHAKAN is a software professional and a hobbyist photographer interested in sculptures and heritage temple architecture. He also loves photographing nature and children. He is a native of Pollachi in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu.
Posted in India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: Chennai, Colombo, Dhanushkodi, hidden wonders of india, India, Indian Railway, Rama, Rameswaram, Ravana, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu | Comments Off on Dhanushkodi – at land’s end
Posted by Admin on June 2, 2012
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 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.
A view of Vindhyagiri, the larger of the two hills.
The statue of Lord Bahubali on Vindhyagiri hill overlooks Vadegal Basadi in the foreground.
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.
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.
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.
Entrance to the Gomateshwara statue enclosure.
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.
A Jain sadhvi meditates at the lotus feet of Gomateshwara.
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.
Entrance to the temple complex at Chandragiri.
View of the temple complex at Chandragiri. There are a total of 14 Basadis on Chandragiri and a cave where Bhadrabahu stayed and meditated.
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.
Regular worship services are held at the Gomateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola.
Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: Bahubali, Basadi, Chandragiri, Channarayapatna, Chavundaraya, Hassan, Jain, Jainism, Karnataka, Mahamastakabhisheka, Shravanabelagola | Comments Off on Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge
Posted by Admin on June 1, 2012
Apaulogy: Where art meets cartoon
Take a walk by Richards Park in Bangalore, and you’ll stumble upon a most curious gallery that will lure you inside with its funny sketches of a man on a wobbly bicycle and a policeman with ballooning shorts. I followed my feet to find inside a treasure-trove of the city’s collective memories. Apaulogy, the gallery, is a showcase of artist Paul Fernandes’ work as he recaptures the Bangalore of ‘60s and ‘70s – when it was still a sleepy little town. What makes it absolutely delightful is that Paul’s illustrations of the city’s history are in the form of cartoons.
Artist Paul Fernandes with a cut-out of a policeman from the 1960’s. The official police uniform included shorts starched so stiff they were nicknamed parachutes, and a well-oiled moustache on a Rs. 5 maintenance-allowance.
Paul Fernandes with Jatin Prabhu and Mona Weber, the gallery’s charming curators who will take you through the time-machine of Paul’s sketches, back to a more comic and peaceful Bangalore.
Walk through the warm spaces of Apaulogy, step into a picture and travel back in time. If you’re lucky you’ll even bump into the artist on many of his (mis)adventures!
A music series.
The hilarious Shine Boards – a collection of misspelt sign-boards across the country that will leave you in splits.
Praise for Paul’s work.
Paul’s gallery Apaulogy is located near Richards Park, in Bangalore.
India Coffee House, MG Road, where the coffee cups were always full and the conversation never ran out.
Pedestrians at the risk of early learners at the Bangalore Driving School.
Koshy’s, an old favourite, hasn’t changed much. Unfazed by posh neighbours like the Hard Rock café, it is abuzz with endless energy fuelled cups of tea and homemade sandwiches.
A boisterous Mangalorean wedding: food, high spirits, and a veritable jewel-box of characters that belong to every Indian family.
Plaza theatre that once screened the latest films in Bangalore is now the entrance to Namma Metro.
In simpler times, when crimes were more innocent.
In Pub City, Bangalore, Dewars Bar was the most popular watering hole. The name of the bar is apparently a play on Devarajan, the owner of the bar and Dewar’s whiskey.
The BRV went from British armoury to premier movie hall that screened all the James Bond films. However, when they began to lose their audience to competition from other theatres, they began to screen racier films, with women doing cabarets. In ’77 a 20 ft. cut-out of a Japanese woman in a bikini took the city by surprise. But despite the collective shock at such a brazen image, Bangaloreans of the time were too laid-back to organize a hartal or protest.
Posted in Bengaluru, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: Animation, Art, asia, B.R. Ambedkar, Bangalore, bengalurur, Cartoon, culture, flashbacks, heritage, history, history of bangalore, Illustration, India, Karnataka, Koshy, London, reminiscent memories, tradition | Comments Off on Apaulogy: Where art meets cartoon
Posted by Admin on June 1, 2012
A Day Out in Munnar
Munnar, which means confluence of three rivers, was the summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. In the late 19th century, A.H. Sharp planted the first tea bush and since then tea has been the main agricultural crop in the region. Today, the hills around Munnar are blanketed with best-in-class green tea bushes. With its sprawling tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains and cool air, it’s no surprise that Munnar was rated the second-best Asian travel destination, only second to Tokyo.Our editor CLINT THOMAS had a day out in Munnar and captured its poetic beauty. Enjoy this virtual tour.
Munnar, which means confluence of three rivers, was the summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. In the late 19th century, A.H. Sharp planted the first tea bush and since then tea has been the main agricultural crop in the region. Today, the hills around Munnar are blanketed with best-in-class green tea bushes. With its sprawling tea plantations, pristine valleys and mountains and cool air, it’s no surprise that Munnar was rated the second-best Asian travel destination, only second to Tokyo.
If you are a true admirer of nature, Munnar is your dream destination and cruising along winding smooth roads across mist-sheeted lush green tea gardens is the finest experience you can ever have.
Around every corner is another stunning view. You do not need a map or a guide; all you need is a good pair of shoes and the curiosity to see what is around the next curve. You need not necessarily be a shutterbug; random clicks can get you incredible photographs.
On the way to Munnar, some 22 kms before reaching there, I stopped by Anayirankal dam, a vast expanse of water surrounded by green carpeted hills covered with tea gardens. The distant view of the reservoir follows you for another 15 kms and it’s an excellent location for photography.
Does this picture suggest land’s end? It virtually is. This is Top Station, which is 41 kms uphill from Munnar. Located at the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu, this spot offers an ‘awebreathtakingsome’ panoramic view. Strolling down this pathway with steep abyss on both sides is adventurous, rather risky, but the view you get there is one of a kind.
The dude who poses here is Varayadu or Nilgiri Tahr, stocky goats with short, coarse fur and a bristly mane. Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered mountain ungulate listed in schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Eravikulam National Park which has the highest density and largest surviving population of this species is situated hardly 14 kms from Munnar town. Know more about this endangered species.
At every other corner you will find women with baskets full of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to bargain and buy tender carrots, passion fruits and wild tomatoes, all farm fresh and delicious.
Anamudi is the highest peak in the Western Ghats situated at a height of 2,695 metres (8,842 feet) above mean sea level. It is located in the southern part of Eravikulam National Park, fifty kilometers from Munnar. It is also the ideal place for wildlife travelers and nature lovers. It literally means “Elephant forehead”.
13 kms away from Munnar, Mattupetty is famous for its highly specialised dairy farm, the Indo-Swiss project. More than 100 varieties of high yielding cattle are reared here. The Mattupetty Lake and Dam, just a short distance from the farm, is a gorgeous picnic spot. The sprawling Kundala tea plantations, Kundala Lake and the echo point are other attractions in the vicinity. A boat cruise on the lake is the best way to enjoy the leisure.
Bristling with wildlife and crystal clear streams, the enticing charm of Munnar is simply irresistible. The area has many attractions within a short distance of the town of Munnar, including the Sandalwood Forest of Marayoor and the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Posted in India Forgotten, Nature, Picturesque | Tagged: Anamudi, environment, Eravikulam National Park, Hill station, hill stations, India, Kerala, Munnar, natural beauty, nature, Nilgiri Tahr, picturesque india, scenery, scenic beauty, Tea, Tokyo, Top Station, Western Ghats | Comments Off on A Day Out in Munnar
Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012
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 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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in Ancient Architecture, Hindu Empire, India Forgotten, Picturesque | Tagged: Acintya, Bali, culture, folklore, Goa Gajah, gods, Hindu, hindu empire, indonesia, lemuria, lore, Mother Besakih Temple, Mount Agung, mythology, Pura Luhur, Pura Uluwatu, traditions | Comments Off on The beautiful temples of Bali
Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: ancient civilizations, Angelina Jolie, Angkor, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, antedeluvial, Banteay Srei, Bayon, Burma, Cambodia, forgotten lands, hindu empire, India, indian subcontinent, lemuria, Siem Reap, Sri Lanka, Ta Prohm, utopia | Comments Off on Temple-spotting in Cambodia
Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: deccan plateau, Green Bee Eater, Hampi, Hampi Bazaar, India, Karnataka, Shiva, south india, Tungabhadra River, Vijayanagara Empire, Virupaksha Temple, World Heritage Site | Comments Off on Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp
Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012
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
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.
The Tungnath temple has withstood the continuous assault of the elements.
A bell rests against the stone wall of the temple.
A relief of Ganesha carved on the temple wall.
Continuous exposure to wind, rain and snow has left scars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We made haste and arrived at Tungnath to watch the sunset. The next day, we planned to explore the peak of 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.
The trail offered us fleeting glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Kedarnath and Chaukhamba but the mist quickly veiled them.
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.
We climbed for nearly 40 minutes, catching our breath every now and then. Finally, a rusted, wind-battered signboard announced our destination.
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.
Exploring the peak, we came upon stacks of stones arranged in cairns. Someone was already here, and praying hard.
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.
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: Badrinath, Chandrashila, Chopta, Ganesha, hinduism, India, Lord Shiva, Religion and Spirituality, Shiva, Tungnath | Comments Off on Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva
Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, we hear bells peal in the distance. And we see the spire of the temple poke out over a sea of mist.
A milestone informs us that we have reached our destination.
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.
The ruins of shepherds’ huts and old lodges line the main street. Most are uninhabited.
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.
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: ancient temples, Himalaya, Kalpeshwar, Kedarnath, Lord Shiva, Mandakini River, Panch Kedar, Pandava, Pashupatinath Temple, Shiva, Tungnath, Ukhimath | Comments Off on Tungnath – The Kingdom of Lord Shiva
Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012
The Timeless Temples of Thanjavur
Thanjavur, 342 km from Chennai and 56 km from Tiruchirapalli, is very much where Tamil Nadu‘s cultural heart beats. And not for nothing is 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 magnificent architectural gem has not fallen into ruins like other temples but remains a centre of worship where religious fervor and architectural grandeur coexist as they did centuries ago. Photo-editor AZHAR MOHAMED ALI returns enchanted from Thanjavur to share these captivating images.
Note from the Admin : – You will not find architectural marvels like these in any other part of this world’s surface. These buildings are extremely complicated in conception, architecture and construction. The beings who helped and inspired the great builders of these timeless monuments were higher dimensional beings from far off other worldly civilizations composing of core central worlds of our Galaxy, always bathed in the Rays of the Great Central Sun of the Milky Way Galaxy and therefore not prone to lower dimensional worlds’ entropic energies of degeneration, devastation and decadence in terms of spiritual and genetic substance.
The blueprints were literally inserted as downloads during dream-state and deep sleep in the architect’s head and the construction personnel would also see vast improvements and fluidity in their skill sets as synchronicity during the building phase of such projects and endeavours thereby making the construction perfect and swift.
At an even earlier and more primal period of the Great Civilizations that dawned and flourished on this world’s surface, the projects would be supervised by beings of pure consciousness manifest in material matter substance bodies manifest temporarily and even by ETs from origins mentioned previously, from their spacecraft in the lower atmosphere at the location of these testaments to Our Divine Origins.
Each of these physical buildings are far from just buildings since they are conceived first at the Astral Level and then drawn down to their physical copies by slowing down matter and changing the type of energy inherent in them. Each has multidimensional and multifaceted purposes, connected not only in exact and unnerving accuracy with constellations and the trajectories from which the Divine Rays of the Great Central Sun coincide with the planet’s surface as per the Grand Cycles of Planetary bodies but also match geographically and energetically key energetic nodals and ley line conjunctions of this Planet’s Grid Framework pattern of Sacred Geometry. They were also used to stabilise the rotation of the planet on its axis and its revolution around the Sun itself.
Holographically since Sacred Geometry is constant and recurring in all beings and bodies the Temples were not just places of worship of Higher Celestial beings but helped draw, funnel, refine and stabilize the Cosmic energies bombarding our world constantly and thereby alleviating the Consciousness quotient of the beings who partook in ceremonial, cultural, traditional, spiritual and at a later era of our evolution on this world, religious activities in such places at auspicious times as per planetary alignments and even altered their genetic makeup to hold and sustain more Light itself from our Sun within their bodies and suit the elevation of the Awareness of their Consciousness itself.
Each monument is unique in all factors of location, dimension, purpose and structural integrity and are vastly superior to pyramids and other plane, drab, ugly ziggurats built by more primitive, warlike and technologically oriented civilizations prompted by similar off world beings at later times of our history. These were used more to channel energies for power consumption through crystals and genetically modify a physical body in an inorganic and utmost artificial process gimmicking and mocking an organic Ascension process.
The Brihadishwara Temple, the cynosure of Thanjavur, celebrated a millennium in 2010.
Thanjavur, among India’s most ancient living cities, dates back to the Sangam period. Of the great dynasties that ruled it, the Cholas who built it outshine the rest. The Great Living Chola Temples, which include the Brihadishwara Temple, are located in the region of Thanjavur. The temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I in the first decade of the 11th century.
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Brihadishwara Temple at Thanjavur is the largest temple in India and is constructed entirely out of granite. The temple’s tower or vimana is 216 feet high. In 2010, Tamil Nadu Tourism marked the millennial celebrations of the Big Temple.
Temple priests at the Big Temple in Thanjavur. The massive Nandi bull made of smoothened granite stone is sanctified daily.
A view of the temple precincts.
Detail of stone reliefs in the temple precincts.
Sivalingams and idols of secondary deities.
The pillared hall is richly decorated with frescoes.
The Brihadishwara Temple, having stood the test of time for a thousand years, is a model for the enduring grandeur of Chola architecture.
The Tanjore Doll (left), a traditional bobblehead toy that wobbles when moved, is made of baked clay and painted in bright colors.
Handloom silks are one of the chief economic products of the district of Thanjavur. The town also lends its name to the Tanjore Painting, an artistic style unique to this region. The town is also known as the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu for its significant contribution to foodgrain production.
The Big Temple by night.
Posted in Ancient Architecture, India Forgotten, Picturesque, The Esoteric Agenda of Humanity | Tagged: ancient architecture, Brihadeeswarar Temple, Chennai, Chola dynasty, designs, Great Living Chola Temple, India, intricacy, milky way, Nandi, Planet, Raja Raja Chola I, Tamil Nadu, Tanjore Doll, Thanjavur | Comments Off on The Timeless Temples of Thanjavur