Monday, July 30, 2012

Cave No. 1, Ajanta

This is the first cave that we come across in Ajanta on the Eastern side of horse shoe shaped structure. This cave was built sometime in the 6th -7th centuries. This is one of the finest monastery of its kind and no other monastery here has so handsomely ornamented. It comprises of a open verandah, a hypostylar hall, a sanctum with an antechamber and group of cells.

This cave has very decorative facade and in the front portico the richly carved six pillars. These six columns have square bases and at the top there are 4 dwarfs at each corner with elaborately decorated bracket-capitals. At the top on the pillars, the central compartment is adorned with Buddha with monks and the projecting ends have figures of flying couples with garlands and flowers in their hands.

Besides the pillars, the verandah has two ornate carved friezes above them. The lower frieze is decorated with a variety of carvings like of which elephants and buffalo-fights are interesting. There are also horses on this panel. There are cells on either end of the varanandh. Outside the verandah on either side are raised pillared porch. Access to the hall is provided by three doors, the central one is richly carved with bands floral motifs.

Inside the cave the ceiling of the hall is supported by exquisitely decorated more than 10 pillars that are arranged in a arranged in a square. The central panels of the bracket-capitals on each of these pillars contain various carvings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, worship of the stupa, figures including animals.One of the panels has four deers that has only one head. All the four deer seem distinct, even though they share one head in common. The craftsmanship is so efficient that it looks consistent and realistic.

Right opposite to entrance door of the hall on the other end is a small pillared antechamber leading to the sanctum. In the sanctum is a colossal image of Buddha seated in the vajra-paryankasana posture in preaching attitude. On his either side are standing attendants with chamara (fan). The Naga guardians at the base are stylistically related to the larger guardians in cave 20.
Each wall of the hall inside is nearly 40 feet long and 20 feet high. Every inch of this walls were originally painted, the pillars and the sculptures being no exception. Unfortunately, much of the paintings have peeled off, but from those surviving patches one can easily imagine its pristine grandeur. The cave contains some of the rare masterpieces of paintings such as Padmapani and Vajrapani. (we will see them soon other posts).

They have been painted in such a way that it is visible even though light inside is very poor. The painting is done using vegetable color.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mysore Zoo - Great Indian Hornbill

Mysore Zoo is the most popular zoo at Mysore in India. There are various wild animals and birds at the zoo. One among them is Great Indian Hornbill.

It is the heaviest, but not the longest, Asian hornbill. The most prominent feature of the hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Akbar's Tomb, Sikandra

Sikandra is a small town 8 kms away from Agra in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The main attraction here is the Tomb of Akbar, the Great who is considered as one of the greatest Mughul Emperor.

Akbar started construction of his Tomb during his lifetime around 1600. After his death in 1605, his son Jahangir completed the construction work between 1605-1613.

The tomb complex is entered through very grand gateway built in red sandstone. It is decorated with floral, geometric and calligraphic designs. At the top of the gateway on the four corners, there are four white marble minarets. Once inside one can see huge Charbagh style garden with tomb in center.

The tomb is also built using red sandstone. The facade has a beautiful arch and there are floral, geometric and calligraphic designs in white, red and golden colors. It is a five-tiered pyramid, surmounted by a marble pavilion containing the false tomb in the central chamber on the ground floor. The actual tomb is in the basement. The top most storey is entirely made up of white marble.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Belur, the Dakshina Varanasi

Historic place Belur is a small village 222 kms from Bangalore. Nearest town to this place is at at distance of 40 kms is Hassan. This village on the on banks of Yagachi river was known by name Velapuri in the olden days. During 11th and 13th century it was the capital of Hoysala Kingdom.

The rulers of Hoysala were patrons or art and architecture and they built numerous temples and monuments. Belur is known as "Dakshina Varanasi" for its temples. Chennakesava Temple Complex at containing the Chennakesava Temple is the masterpiece of the Hoysala creation. The main entrance to the Chennakesava Temple Complex is crowned by an ornate Vijayanagara style tower.

Within the complex, the main temple of Chennakesava lies in the centre, facing east. On its right is the Kappe Chennigaraya shrine, and a small Saummyanayaki (Lakshmi) shrine. On its left is an Andal shrine and Veer Narayana shrine. Apart from these shrines, there are two graceful Garuda sthambhas, or pillars, in the main courtyard. There is also what is known as "Gravity Pillar" here.

There is also a big tank known as Vishnu Samudra in the temple complex. Each and every corner of the temple is magnificently carved. Each of the carvings big or small is master pieces here. The intricate carvings and sculpture show how much Hoysalas rulers loved music and dance.

We shall explore this place more soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Photos of ISKCON Temple, Bangalore

We have already read about ISKCON Temple (here) in Bangalore. This modern temple in the night looks very grand. Here are some more photos that I had taken recently.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ajanta Caves

On our tour of Maharashtra, we stayed in Aurangabad for two days to see the local sites as well as Devgiri, Ajanta, Grihaneshwar and Ellora. Our next destination is Ajanta which is 107 kms away from the city. This is a World Heritage site famous for ancient rock-cut caves which are in the form of a gigantic horseshoe-shaped cliff, overlooking a bend of the Waghora river. 

These caves about 30 in total showcase earliest Buddhist architecture and sculptures. They are known more for finest cave paintings (Ajanta Masterpieces) of exceptional quality depicting several moral stories, and stories illustrating diverse stories relating to the previous incarnations of the Buddha as Bodhisattava.

These Caves comprise Chaitya Halls, or shrines, dedicated to Lord Buddha and monasteries, used by Buddhist monks for meditation and the study of Buddhist teachings. The Caves of Ajanta can be classified into two distinct phases.

Phase I, the earlier Hinayana phase, in which the Buddha was worshipped only in the form of certain symbols during the period 2nd century BC to 1st century BC.

Caves 9 & 10: Chaitya Halls or shrines

Caves 12 & 13: Viharas or monasteries

Phase II, the later Mahayana phase, in which the Buddha was worshiped in his physical form. Here shrines and monasteries are of the period 5th century AD to 6th century AD

Caves 19, 26 & 29: Chaitya Halls or shrines

Caves 1, 2, 3, 4 - 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27 & 28: Viharas or monasteries

Unfinished Caves: 2, 3, 5, 8, 23-25.

These caves are in the forest area and were hidden and covered by the monks when they left this place. They were discovered early in the 19th century quite by chance by a party of British Officers on man oeuvres.

The entry to the place is closed on Monday and on other days it is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. We shall explore some of these cave sin more details in the subsequent posts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

View from Sinhagad

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.

The view of the surrounding mountain range and lake from top of the hill fort is beautiful. The landscape is worth of all the effort going the distance.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bannerghatta Zoo

Bannerghatta Zoo is part of Bannerghatta National Park that at a distance of 22 kms from Bangalore. The zoo, which is a major attraction in this area, also has a reptile park, butterfly park. There are various animals and colorful birds in the zoo.

Other attractions include a museum with zoological exhibits and a theater.

On Tuesdays, the Park remains closed.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lalbagh Flower Show - Orchids - 15

At flower show in Lalbagh Gardens at Bangalore on January 2011 there were exclusive collection of Orchids on display. The colors were amazing. Below is one 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, July 5, 2012

Sharavu Sharabeshwara Mahaganapathy Temple, Mangalore

The Sharavu Sharabeshwara Mahaganapathy Temple in Mangalore is one of the most famous tourist attraction. When in the city a visit to this ancient temple is a must.

This temple was constructed around 800 years ago by brave King Veerabahu, of Sun dynasty. In those days this region was an forest area, which later developed into today's city.

As one enters the temple, we will see the main sanctum of Lord Shiva i.e, Sharabeshwara. When one goes around this sanctum we can see the sanctum of Lord Mahaganapathy.

This temple attracts thousands of devotees everyday and has been center of a variety of cultural activities like Yakshagana, Dance Drama etc. and also of humanitarian as well as social service activities.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum, Bangalore

The Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore, is located on Airport Road, 8 km. from M. G .Road towards Marathalli. The museum has a wonderful collection of air-crafts that were previously used by the nation in defense.

The front of the museum has beautiful colorful designs painted with various colors red, green, blue and yellow etc.,

There are several rooms in the museum which show the growth of technological growth of our nation in the field of Aerospace. Apart from real air-crafts there are also several miniature models of air-crafts. They are beautifully arranged in the museum.

One of the several fighter air-crafts on display. Tour of the city is not complete without a visit to this museum.