Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We visited several temples in 2008 and I have posted most of them. Some like Shibi, Madurai Meenakshi temple are yet to be posted. However coming back to the trails - the last legs of my 2008 heritage trails were in Andhra Pradesh..Two different dynasties this time and neither of them complete though - the Vijaynagar in Lepakshi and Kakatiya in Warangal and around.Im leaving you with two collages, one of Lepakshi and the other of the old Warangal Fort..Lepakshi was a day trip from Bangalore while Warangal was an overnight trip from Hyderabad. We covered a lot of places enroute to Warangal and then travelled onwards to Palampet. I missed Bhongir as it had become dark, but I hope to get there again sometime..Some of my stories on these destinations have been published recently.
I hope you liked the collages from all three posts from all three states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Let me know which one you liked the best ( you could even choose any one collage ) and I would be glad to help if you plan to follow any of these trails in 2009.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The Chola trail gave me something more than just an dose of history. A sense of identity as well. It is very difficult to be objective and write about the trail , so I am not even trying as of now. I am just putting down some raw information to help you understand the might and the glory of this dynasty, which was one of the most powerful in South India and they established its supremacy in South Asia as well.
This ancient Tamil dynasty held sway for more than 1500 years and its origins are mired in myths and poetry as the chronology matches the reign of Emperor Ashoka (273 BC-232 BC). Literature heralds the rulers to be descendants of the Sun God.Historically though the reign is divided into three distinct eras –the early Cholas (2nd century BC-9th century AD), the medieval Cholas (9th -11th century AD) and the later Cholas (11th -13th century AD).Our story starts somewhere in the middle of 10th century and moves on to the 12th during the reign of Raja Raja Chola 1 and his son Rajendra Chola 1 and later on to Raja Raja Chola II
All that remains today as a witness to their might are The Great Living Chola temples . The Brihadeshwar temples in Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airaveteshwar temple at Darasuram built by these kings are part of UNESCO World heritage Site and this is where the trail actually begins .
The Big Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur
We start with Thanjavur, the original BIG Brihadeshwara temple , or the Periya Koil built by Raja Raja Chola 1 in the 11th century in Thanjavur.This was the moment I was waiting for, a moment that defined this trail for me.My eyes follow the Vimana of the temple as my neck crane to capture its height. It is an understatement to call it big. It is larger than life .Consider this . At a height of 216 feet the towering Vimana is the tallest of its kind in the world dwarfing the Gopura, or the outer tower. The shikara or the golden dome replete with numerous stucco figures weighs 80 tonnes . Elephants were apparently used to draw this single granite block on a 6 km ramp to place it on top. The Nandi weighs 27 tonnes and is the second largest in the country while the main deity, the Shivalinga is at a height of 8.7 metres, the largest in the world. Life size representations of Gods and Goddesses fill the sculptured panels and the temple is a repository of records for posterity . 108 Bharatnatyam dance postures are depicted here and the corridors and ceilings are a colourful blend of fresco and mural paintings –unique to this dynasty.Architecturally the temple is the most ambitious structural granite temple to be ever built in the world and hence it is the first to become a Great Living Chola temple and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site .There is so much to say, but I will end here for now about this temple.
I went to the 11th century when Rajendra Chola 1 , the next ruler had moved beyond South India and invaded East upto the Gangetic Plain and created ripples overseas in Asia and overpowered all of today’s Srilanka, Maldives, Malaysia and Indonesia. Yet, his capital ,Gangaikondacholapuram that controlled this mighty empire for over 250 years has simply vanished from the face of this earth. When Rajendra Chola 1 conquered the Gangetic plain, he wanted to celebrate . He also wanted to portray to posterity that he was probably greater than his father Raja Raja Chola 1 who had immortalised himself with the Big Brihadeshwara temple in Thanjavur. So Rajendra took a step further. After all, he was the commander in chief in his father’s army as well. He moved away from Thanjavur , his father’s capital and built another Brihadeshwara temple in a new found capital called Gangaikondacholapuram which literally means the town of the Chola who captured even the Ganges. However he did not complete the temple. And he finally ensured that his father’s temple was bigger than his . Its tempting to delve deeper and share stories and information about the temple, but I wouldnt know where to end ...
The third destination was Darasuram at the Airavateshwar temple built by Raja Raja Chola II in the 12th century . Called Rajarajapuram , this is indeed a sculpture’s dream in stone. A temple shaped like a chariot drawn by horses and supported by 100 monolith pillars carved exquisitely greet us. And finally ,a Chola trail is incomplete if one does not refer to the golden Chidambaram temple .
Do enjoy the pictures for now..I may at a later stage write in detail about these temples. However if you are eager to read more, my friend's Vijay's site , Poetry in stone will give you information on the temples. Vijay himself is a treasure house of knowledge when it comes to the sculptures and he along with Siva helped me a lot during this trail. My uncle and my mother who accompanied me shared a lot of their knowledge with me as well.
Friday, December 26, 2008
A collage of all the Hoysala temples visited in 2008
The Hoysala trail was one of my best trips this year and it was done in two parts besides several other independent jaunts. My earliest tryst with the Hoysalas was probably as a kid when my parents and I had visited Belur and Halebeedu. A couple of years ago, I went to Belur again with my cousins and then Sharath and I took a day trip to Talakadu and Somnathpur, near Mysore.
At Mosale, another twin temples awaited us.
However the trip that got me interested was in January this year when I went with my uncle's family to the coffee estate at Bikodu near Belur.We covered just about three places - Belur, Belavadi and Nuggehalli which blogged about extensively. What I saw and read excited me to probe more that led to the trail a couple of months later. As the series has hardly been blogged, Ive decided to post some pictures at least to give you an indication of the trail .
At Marle , where the twin temples of Keshava and Siddeshwara stand built during the time of Vishnuvardhan
My cousin, Lalitha and I embarked on this trail with just 3 full days in hand and an agenda to see at least 20 villages. We made Bikodu, near Belur our base and drove all around the belt, looking at maps, losing our way sometimes .We were indeed the objects of curiosity in most of these villages, especially among kids .Some of the temples were maintained so well by the ASI, some were in complete ruins, some were opened by the villagers, some we opened ourselves. We heard stories at some temples, but at most temples, no one had any information to share.
At Hullekere near Gandasi, where we opened the doors to this beautiful Keshava temple.
The villages that we visited included Anekere, Shantigram, Marle, Javagal, Chatachatahalli, Halebeedu, Basadihalli, Hulekere,Pushpagiri, Adagur, Kondajji, Dodagaddavalli,Mudugere, Hullekere, Arsikere ,Haranahalli, Koravangala ,Mosale and Angadi where it all began. Later on Sharath and I went to Arekere and Kaidala besides Somanathpur.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Walk into any Indian temple and you will see a plethora of sculptures dedicated to elephants, tigers , horses and even the mythological yali .The picture above is one that I shot at Darasuram in Tamil Nadu, a 12th century temple built by the Cholas.
The second is a picture of young Sala who is shown killing a tiger on the " gopura" of the temple at Doddagaddavalli, a Hoysala temple. There is a story behind this sculpture which led to the dynasty being found in the 11th century. The story takes one to Angadi, the birthplace of the Hoysala Dynasty , a small village tucked away inside a coffee estate .Click here to read my story of Angadi in CLAY.
For more critters around the world, click here
Monday, December 15, 2008
I thought it was first a giant palette used by the royal artists to paint the walls of the temple..maybe I imagined that the colours for the exotic murals came from here. The Vijaynagar kings had indeed patronised the artists to paint some wonderful murals that still stand the test of time in Lepakshi..However I was told by the guide that this was probably where the locals used to be served food and hence the "thali" like shape of this sculpture. I wouldnt know which is right though..
December has seen very little travel from my end except for my trips to Chennai which has become quite regular. I was there last week and got back yesterday and I am off again tomorrow. I havent been extremely busy , but just been a bit tied down with little things.I will be slowly catching up on all your blogs and here is the regular reading list from me.My Inside Story in Today's Metro Plus is about Lepakshi as well, meanwhile CLAY has an interesting story by Celine on the Datia Palace
And its celebration time as Ive got this award from Hitchwriter, whose posts and photographs are always a pleasure to visit. Thank you so much. I really cannot choose 8 bloggers and as usual, I pass it on to all those who visit my blog.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Do visit this exhibition if you have the time .It is at Chitrakala Parishad.Gowreesh is a friend of mine and he is also a graphic designer and blogger . He blog, Bimba is in Kannada and even if you dont understand the language, his photographs are wonderful. He is also a writer at CLAY
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I had visitors today at home...unwelcome though. A couple of monkeys entered my 3rd floor apartment through the balcony while I was seated in the living room, watching a film and trying to work on a story . They sneaked in post lunch. We have an open kitchen and the house is kind of seamless, so an entry inside the kitchen virtually meant they are in my drawing room. It was a rather cloudy day, so I threw the balcony doors open .I saw a movement through my bamboo curtains and I thought maybe it is the wind or probably a bird in my little garden, when I suddenly spotted one monkey stealthily sitting next to the sink in my kitchen balcony..I rushed to close my balcony doors when I was stopped by one sitting happily inside my kitchen munching a carrot that it has probably snatched from somebody else's house..Today I had skipped preparing lunch and there was nothing in the house to munch..not even a stray biscuit ..so the monkeys probably had knocked at the wrong number. They didnt give up though..when I finally with the help of people chased them away, I saw one desperately opening a dustbin and gnawing at some pieces of apple and orange peels. They had plucked some flower buds in desperation and tugged at the clothes and left some paw marks in my kitchen ..but fortunately disappeared..Some monkey business this.Incidentally this is the second time I am seeing monkeys in this area in these few years Ive lived here .(By the way, the monkey in the picture is not the one that visited me today..this was taken at the Shibi temple at Tumkur..I had no intention of photographing my visitors.more keen on chasing them away :))
Monday, December 08, 2008
Some trips are planned, some are spontaneous, some bring in me the traveller, some a backpacker and some , a tourist. Some are laid back, some are very hectic, some are assignments, some are luxury, some are to chill out, some are to bond with friends, some are wild and adventurous, some are to relax in a hammock ,some are to learn, some are to unlearn, some are to slog and some are just to soak in all the fun..this trip was one of those..:)
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The ASI board says that it was built in the 13th century (1243 AD) by a General, Recherla Rudra serving in the army of the Kakatiya king, Ganapatideva. Located in Palampet, a small village , this is the famous Ramappa temple .We travelled around 70 kms from Warangal and we did not even find a single signboard.Even though it seems out of bound to most tourists, its quite a favourite among locals. The picture however is taken against the background of one of the smaller shrines in the temple complex. More on Ramappa Lake here.
Some weekend reading if you have the time. Medhini's beautiful story on Sanchi Stupa in CLAY,Jungle Lodges's blog has some great wild life stories in Tales of the Wild and my story on the journey of a coffee bean in Bangalore Mirror today. The last one especially is not your regular travel story, so let me know what you think.I have a lot of writing to do this week and I go to Chennai after that.Have a good week
Friday, December 05, 2008
This is not the night sky, but an early morning sky at about 5.45 am in Bandipur Wildlife Santuary in Karnataka, India .Our morning safari in the jungles had just begun.
If you want to do sky gazing, do visit Skywatch