Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunset at Juhu Beach, Mumbai

Juhu Beach is the sprawling beach in Mumbai city. It is situated on the shores of Arabian Sea.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ganesh Shrines, Hampi

Hemakuta Hill is one of the tallest hills in Hampi. There are large number of temples, archways and pavilions on this hill. The climb to this hill is not as steep as the nearby Matunga Hill. The Hemakuta Hill top is almost a flat expanse of rocky sheet with occasional ups and downs. From the top it offers splendid view of ruins all around the Hampi. The most of the temples in this area are dedicated to Lord Siva, the major one being the Virupaksha temple at the north of this hill. All the images can be clicked for bigger view.
The two most important shrines on this hills are dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
Sasivekalu Ganesha

Located on the Southern foothill of the Hemakuta Hill, the giant monolithic Ganesha statue is locally called Sasivekalu Ganesha. The name is due to its resemblance to the sasivekalu (mustard seed). 

The monolithic statue is carved out of a huge boulder measuring about 2.4 meters (8 feet). On the statue around the tummy the snake is carved. The three hands hold the goad, pasha (noose), and his broken tusk. The fourth hand which holds modak (sweet ball) is broken and not reconstructed.

An open pavilion is build around the statue. According to inscriptions found nearby this pavilion was built by a trader from Chandragiri in 1506 AD, in memory of one of the Vijayanagara king – Narasimha II (1491-1505 AD).

Kadalekalu Ganesha

On the northeastern slope of the Hemakuta Hill is another giant statue of Ganesha, called The Kadalekalu Ganesha. The name is due to its resemblance to the kadalekalu (Bengal gram).
This also happens to be north of Sasivekalu Ganesha. 

Even this giant statue of Ganesha was carved out of a huge boulder. This statue measures 4.5 meters (15 feet) tall. A sanctum is built around the statue. The pillared hall in front of this sanctum is as charming as this giant statue itself. The open hall constructed by unusually slender and tall pillars. Each of them is highly ornate with mythical themes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vidhana Soudha Central Dome, Bangalore

Vidhana Soudha houses the State Legislature for Karnataka in Bangalore, and is the largest Secretariat in India. Below is the picture of the huge central dome of the building.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Hampi has several architecturally beautiful temples. Virupaksha temple is the oldest among them and is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra. It is principal temple of Hampi as it is believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. The temple can be accessed through the chariot street popularly known as the Hampi Bazaar.

The main entrance tower of Virupaksha Temple is east facing and is a huge 9 storied tower. The lower two tiers of the tower is made of decorated stone work. The tower progressively diminishes as it moves upward and the structure is made with brick and mortar. From the tower one will enter into two large courtyards, which are linked to each other. The first courtyard has a pillared hall called 100-column hall at the far left corner, Kalyanamantapa at the far right corner. As soon as one enters this place one can to see on the left side Triple headed Nandi (bull statue).

In the open area in the center there is a pillared cloisters leaving gaps at the north, south and east edges for a series of sub shrines. The front portion has a row of decorated pillars. It looks like the lion figure carved at the base of each of these pillars supporting the slender upper portions. The most striking feature of this court is the central pillared hall known as the Ranga Mandapa added to the temple complex in 1510 AD by Krishadeva Raya. Two mythical lion like creatures forms the balustrade for the entrance to this elevated open pavilion. This hall with 5 aisles and 38 pillars is used for temple rituals including the marriage ceremonies. The highlights include rows of pillars shaped with rampant lion like mythical creatures (Yalis) standing on aquatic creatures (Crocodiles).

pillared cloisters 

At the sanctum of Lord Virupaksha there are two 4 armed guardian deities, about 8 feet tall, stand on either side of the entrance to the inner hall. The sanctum contains the idol of lord Virupaksha in the form of a Linga .

The must see part of the temple is at the rare of temple complex. Behind the main sanctum a flight of steps leads to the rear exit of the temple complex. Just before the exit on the right side there is a dark chamber with a slit on the wall. The sun ray pass through this slit forms an inverted shadow of the main tower on the wall. This was designed in those early days and a masterpiece.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hampi, Forgotten Empire

Hampi has a history from the epical age of Ramayana, ages before the Vijayanagara Empire was born. This history begins and ends with the Ramayana. To prove this there are plenty of materialistic proofs in Hampi which indicate that it might have been the capital of the mighty kingdom - Kishkindha. We shall not delve much into epical history for now.

Later in the 14th century it has been the capital of Vijayanagar Empire from 1336 to 1565. Art and architecture found its special place in Hampi. The rulers were great patrons of art and religion. The city has tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides. The demography is abundant with large stones and these stones have been utilized beautifully to make larger than life statues of Hindu deities. In its hay days the place was known for its splendor and fabulous wealth. For the same reason it was destroyed by Muslim Sultans.

The splendid ruins of palaces, temples and gateways of the broken city silently narrate the story of once glorious past and the final senseless destruction. Today the ruins of Hampi lie scattered in about 26 sq. km areas, amidst giant boulders. One can see a structure of historic importance every quarter of a mile. 

On 5th December 1986, Hampi was inscribed on the World Heritage List for it represents a unique artistic creation. Currently Hampi's monuments - hundreds of them - are popular among tourists, pilgrims and the area is one of the exotic locations. Some of them which we will cover in subsequent posts are:
How to Reach There

From Bangalore it is at a distance of 353 kms. One can travel to this place either by train or road. By road from Bangalore to Chitradurga drive on NH 4. From Chitradurga to Hospet take the NH 13. From Hospet it is at a distance of 12kms. By road it takes 6 to 7 hrs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Suvarna Karnataka

Karnataka with history of more than 1500 years is a land of wonders. One can cherish the experience of centuries old architectural marvels, famed monuments. Some of these are recognized as world heritage structures. One can explore the ancient rock-cut caves, experience breathtaking natural beauty.

Karnataka has been known as "Cradle of Stone Architecture" for the immense variety of heritage architecture it exhibits. It is a land where one can experience the world heritage sites at Hampi and Pattadakkal, exquisite temples Belur, HalebiduNajangud and Somnathpur, the cave temples of Badami and Aihole, magnificent fort of Chitradurga and Bidar, domes and minarets of Bijapur, the magnificent palaces of Mysore and Bangalore.

One can be among the nature in Western Ghats. It is a home for various wild life sanctuaries such as Bandipur, Nagarhole and Dandeli to name a few, bird sanctuaries such as Ranganathittu, Mandagadde and Gudavi to name a few. The tallest water fall of India, Jog Falls is located here. One can stroll on the beaches of Gokarn, Karwar, Marvante etc.,

In short one can enjoy the diversity and rich heritage throughout the state.

We will explore most of these in the days to come among others.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jantar Mantar, Jaipur

So far in Jaipur we have covered palaces, and other attractions. We also explored three different forts - Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Amber Fort. Apart from these another important place in Jaipur is Jantar Mantar. Thia when translated into English stands for Calculation Instruments.

It is a observatory with collection of architectural astronomical instruments. In 1728 then Maharaja of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh-II had got this place constructed in 7 years. Himself being a keen follower of astronomy, not only did the masonry instruments suit his purposes, they also satisfied his architectural instincts.

It severed the dual purpose of verifying astronomical observations as well as to stimulate interest in astronomy. It was built keeping in mind the rules of astronomy, the position of the equator, latitudes and longitudes.

The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars in their orbits, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides.

The Giant Sundial (Samrat Yantra) is the world's largest sundial, standing 27 meters tall. The shadow of the instrument moves visibly at 1 mm per second, which for most people is a visibly profound experience.

This observatory is one of the 5 he had created in his time across the nation. Other popular observeatory is in Delhi. But one here in Jaipur is largest.
P.S: December is the month when lot of tourists land in Rajasthan. So if you really want all the arrangements to be done properly this has to be done before October end.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Village Life

This is one of the numerous paintings one can shop in the markets Rajasthan.

The painting here depicts how a normal day in a village may look like.