Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Music to the Soul

Traveling has been and still continues to be an integral part of my life and the urge to visit new places keeps me moving. My family is always a part in all my quests and ever supportive of it. We have traveled the length and breadth of India by air, road and rail.

What makes a trip memorable is not only the moments we cherish along but also the people we meet at various stops of our journey. These people are strangers to start with, but some of them etches an everlasting impression in your memory for the rest of your life.Of the many such trips that I undertook, one which is always dear to me is the 10 days journey thorough the Royal Land of Rajasthan. We camped in Jaisalmer for nearly two days and our guide took us to cenotaphs just on the out-skirts of Jaisalmer. That was the last destination of the day after covering the Golden Fort earlier in the day. Our body and soul were already tired and ready to retire for the day.

At this point an old man from nowhere appeared and sat just in front of us with his musical instrument. We did not give much attention to him as we were in a hurry to reach the hotel. He began to sing folklore to the accompaniment of his instrument. His music was so soothing to the ears and we had no option other than staying back listening to him. We were rooted to the spot. He played the music so beautifully that we cannot forget this moment forever. In no time all the tiredness vanished and we were revitalized. He really showed light to us for rest of the trip.

All things said and done, this fragile old man with his age old instrument has stood with me in all my wanderings. He has re freshened me whenever I felt tired, he has cheered me to continue my journey and he has boosted my morale endlessly. His music lingers in my ears throughout my travelings.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gangaikonda Cholapuram

After the tour of Thanjavur city, we drove to the ancient city of Gangaikonda Cholapuram which is at a distance of 61 kms. The Chola Dynasty ruler Rajendra Chola-I founded this city sometime between 1012-1044 A.D to commemorate his victory over the Pala Dynasty.

Today it is a small village, and the glorious past of the city is remembered by the existence of the great Shiva Temple. This city was constructed for the administrative and strategic purposes. In those days, it was an extensive city, carefully planned and laid to suit the needs of a capital.

In the early 11th century, they built the huge Brihadeswara Temple which is architecture marvel.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lalbagh Flower Show - Dahlia

At flower show in Lalbagh Gardens at Bangalore on August 2011 there were exclusive collection of Dahlias on display. The colors were amazing. One of the colorful Dahlia is below.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tower of Brahadeeswarar Temple, Tanjavur

The 1000 year old Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur has a magnificent tower that has been carved beautifully. On a square base stands the tall pyramidal structure of 66 meters in height, above which an enormous dome-like crown is placed.

The complete tower is built using granite rocks and the sculptures on them are held by a thin layer of mortar.
There are 13 stages in the tower and the the first three stages of the tower houses the various forms of Lord Shiva and Parvathi including the Bichadanar, Lingothbavar, Durga, Shiva & Parvathi in natural standing pose.

Not only the outer view and the sculptures housed on the tower is amazing, the construction style of it is an architectural wonder. The tower is carved in such a way that at no time the shadow of huge tower does not fall on the ground.

On the front side of the tower in the east direction there is a sculptures that represent the abode of Lord Shiva called as Mahameru.
One can see on this other Gods like Ganapathy, Subramania. This prominent masterpiece spans 3 stage of the tower from the 3rd to 5th stage.

At the top the tower is a monolithic huge octagonal crown of 7.8 meters height and weighing approximately 81 tones. Above this is the shining Kalasam of 12 feet height made up of gold. Also at the top of the tower are 8 nandhi's one in each corner. These Nandhi's are huge and each of them are carved from single stone.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fathepur Sikri, the Ghost Town

We visited the historic city of Fathepur Sikri on our way from Jaipur to Agra. The city is at a distance of 40 kms from Agra. Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1570 started the construction of this glorious fort city. He shifted his capital to here from Agra and ruled from here till 1585. He had to move out of this place due to severe water scarcity in the region.

This ancient city showcases the fine blend of Indian, Persian and Mughal architectural influences. The fort complex was constructed using sandstone. The complex has several pavilions which were arranged geometrically. Each of the monuments here have distinct styles and architectural designs. There are many interesting monuments and gates in the complex.

Some of them are:

As this well persevered royal city of 16th century was abandoned within 14 years of its existence, it is known as Ghost Town.

This place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mysore Zoo - Monkey

Mysore Zoo is the most popular zoo at Mysore in India. There are various animals and birds at the zoo. One among them is Monkey. They are popular with kids.

This is a nice place for the kids to get know about the various animals in the wild.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

The Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur is the world's first complete granite temple. Built in 1010 A.D under the patronage of King Raja Raja Chola I of Chola Dynasty it is a Dravidian architectural masterpiece. This temple is also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple'.

The entire temple area is constructed using hard granite stones.
The temple complex is surrounded by fortified walls. The complex is made up of many structures that are aligned axially. Inside the complex there is main temple, a Nandi, a pillared hall and an assembly hall and many sub-shrines.

The main temple tower is 216 ft in height and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. There is a big 13 ft statue of Nandi carved out of a single rock, at the entrance in front of the main shrine. The garbhagriha is square and sits on a plinth. In the center is placed the image of the Lord Shiva.

The external surface of the temple has been richly carved and is a treat to the eyes. The entire surface is treated with high quality sculpture of myriad manifestations of Shiva.

The temple is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next we will see more details of the temple tower.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Poetry in Stone - 9

This is ninth in the series on the rich cultural heritage of ancient temples in India. Today we will see how the elephants have been carved from stone in various temples through the centuries.

At the 12th century Chennakesava Temple of Belur there are intricate sculptures and friezes. They include elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics. What interested me is the chain of elephants at the base of the temple.

Watch them carefully and you can see two elephants as if they are interacting with each other. The elephant in the front is turning back and questioning "Why are you pushing me so hard?" See it for yourself below.

In contrast to the red color of 16th century Aghoreshwara Temple of Ikkeri there are two small black stone elephant sculptures at the entrance. Around its neck is a there is intricately carved chain of stone bells.

There are two beautifully carved stone elephants on either side of the entrance of the 9th century Ranganathswamy Temple at Srirangapatana. The carvings on the body of elephant are awesome. 

At the ancient white marble Jain Temple, Ranakpur one can see huge elephant carved in white marble.

In Mahablaipuram at the site of Panch Rathas one can see life-size rock cut elephant. There are many more such beautiful carvings in each of the ancient heritage sites which always mesmerize us.

Prev 8 Next 10

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lalbagh Flower Show - Orchids - 10

At flower show in Lalbagh Gardens at Bangalore on January 2011 there were exclusive collection of Orchids on display. The colors were amazing. Below are some of the orchids on display:

There were stalls selling the Orchids plants outside the flower show. The price ranged from Rupees 600 to 1200 depending on the variety.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunset at Kapu Beach

I had been to Kapu beach few months back when I was in Udupi. It is a small village on the Arabian sea shore.

I had taken few snaps of sunset there. Here is one of them.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Agra which is at a distance of 210 kms is situated on the banks of river Yamuna. There are many historical monument every where in the city and Taj Mahal is most prominent among them. No tourist trip to India can be considered as complete without visit to this city.

Agra city known to exist from 11th century, and since then the city changed hands between various kings, both Hindu and Muslim. It has been the capital of the Mughal empire between 1526 and 1658. There are many monumnets here which belong to Mughal period. The city has many attractions:
  • Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort
  • Balkeshwar Temple
  • Kailash Temple
  • Mankameshwar Temple
  • Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb
  • Jama Masjid
  • Chini ka Rauza
  • Ram Bagh
I had been to this city twice for a day. Unfortunately I have seen only Taj Mahal here. But I have been to other nearby prominent attractions. They are:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mysore Zoo - Sauras Crane

Mysore Zoo is the most popular zoo at Mysore in India. There are various animals and birds at the zoo. One among them is Sauras Crane.

This is a nice place for the kids to get know about the various animals in the wild.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sinhagad, the Lion Fort

Sinhagad is an important fortress located at a distance of 30 kms from Pune. The fort is perched on an isolated cliff of the Bhuleswar range of the Sahyadri Mountains. It is on a steep hill that rises to a height of 1312 meters above sea level. This fort was earlier known by the name Kondana Fort.

Because of the natural protection provided by the steep hill, the walls and bastions were constructed at only key places. It was known to be one of the toughest fort that could be captured by anybody in a battle.

One of the most famous battle associated with this fort is the one fought by Tanaji, a general of Shivaji in 1670. Tanaji and his men scaled a steep cliff leading to the fort with the help of a monitor lizard. At the top, a fierce battle took place and Tanaji lost his life, but won the fort.
After hearing about his death, Shivaji said "Won the Fort, lost the Lion". In honor of Tanaji the fort was renamed as "Sinhagad" meaning "The Lion Fort".

In the above image one can not see the height at which fort is located as the view is obstructed by other hills. The steps to the fort seen in the second are the new additions.