The Living Stone

By

It is a very small temple which has sixty four Yogini figures placed inside the circular wall. Each Yogini has a name and special characteristic such as one with lion face, one with a monkey face, one standing on a human head or one standing in fire and so on. There are a few Yogini temples all over India and all are circular in shape depicting the ‘Yoni’.

Read More

A Triad in Time – Gharapuri, Ambarnath and Pataleshwar

By

The most important sculpture here is the Trimutri, 3 faces of Mahadev which have found its space on Maharashtra tourism logo as well. Nearly full length of wall, the faces are very skilfully carved. Point to note that this is not a sculpture of Trimurti – Brahma , Vishnu and Mahesh but these are faces of Shiva only. There has been tradition to carve faces on Shivling as well. And based on number of faces, the shivling gets the name from Ekmukhi to Panchmukhi.
Although the common man thinks these are 3 faces, the experts have always more to add. Stella Kramrisch is one such expert in Indian iconography. She has proven that these are not 3 but 5 faces. There are distinct names to each of the face and it really represents the attribute of colorful character of Shiva. Five faces of Shiva represent five elements, Ishana (sky), Tatpurusha (wind), Aghora (fire), Vamadeva (water) and Sadjoyata (earth) and together this depiction is called as Sadashiv as per iconography. We see three faces and there is one assumed to be behind and one on top.

Read More

Land of Temples

By

This was like a long long line of adjacent temples connected with each other, flanked by enormous ruins of even bigger structures now collapsed with a deserted, lonely and forested look. Each doorframe complete with a chandrashila ( decorative step before and after the stepping stone), leading into quadrangular enclosure with side wings opening into corridors leading to outside structures, the closed sanctums sometimes blessed with a Shiv ling, or an idol or just a block carved to hold an idol.

Read More

Kerala – A Tourist State

By

The emphasis is on the ‘paying’ tourist and not on the spot. Well some of us definitely enjoy this ‘tourism’ but some of us want to run away from it. Having access to mineral water on a hill top is good, but more important is access to written material about the place, the history, the geography.

Read More

The Lost Valley

By

Now why were we in Haryana of all the places? We need to get some background on Indus Valley culture over here to appreciate our destination. We all know about Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro as principle sites of Indus culture. Now Indus or Harappan culture refers to archeological finds pertaining to time period of 2500-1900 BC having specific similarities. The distinguishing characteristic of this culture is presence of town planning evident in spacious perpendicular roads, sewerage system, fortified townships and large houses with courtyard and brick walls. Findings of seals, weights, beads, gold ornaments indicate flourished trade.

Read More

The Water Symphony

By

Omkareshwar , one the 12 revered Shiv temples ( Jyoteerling) is actually on an island called Mandhata in Narmada. On the south bank you will find the Mamaleshwar also among the 12. The town is similar to all temple towns all over India, full of small lanes packed with Pooja shops and hotels, a free passage to all living animals including humans, devotees and pestering priests and in addition there were flocks of flies as the monsoon special. Omkareshwar is a modern looking temple from the outside however we know the place is ancient and there are ornate pillars inside the temples which give a glimpse of the old temple. Everything inside the temple is to ensure that you should not feel peaceful. The ceramic tiles, the water abhishek mechanism where water goes in a tube and then gets poured on the shivlinga, the overbearing crowd of priests offering a menu card of abhishek in various types and costs. The only time you find solace is when you come out and look at the serene Narmada. That is the real ‘Darshan’ for me.

Mamaleshwar on the other bank is visible from this side with its ornate high shikhar and a red flag fluttering to show the location amongst the crowd of several other small temples and houses. All built in red sandstone, Mamaleshwar has that special quality of providing a devotional experience to the visitor. The temple is typical Nagar style with up-swinging Shikhar. There are many small and medium temple structures in the clean premise. The elaborate door frames and beautiful sculptures on the outer walls of temples are worth a watch. In the premise, we also find several pieces of temple structure strewn away. A lone ‘amalak’ the round top of the shikhar, some carvings and ‘chandrasheela’ – an ornate step to get into the Garbhagriha are all there stashed away, silently suffering the passage of time.

Read More

The Devdar Prayers

By

Down to earth from heaven, our vehicle proceeded through roads making inroads into sea of deodars. Crossing the valleys and forests our next stop was the famous Khajjiar. This is a relatively small Himalyan meadow and a shallow lake surrounded by mighty pines and devdars all around. One of the most favoured tourist stop was but a bit of disappointment. The meadow was dull and lake looked like a pit of stagnated water with lot of rubbish thrown around. And to add to it, there were stalls selling anything from popcorn to buddhee ke baal on the meadow itself. May be it would be more enchanting when it is monsoon green or winter white. Here again a temple awaited us namely KhajjiNag. A typical Himachali temple in wood and sloping roof has a black stone idol of the Nag devta. Nag worship is quite common in this part of Himalaya with Khajji nag, BhagsuNag and many more.
Again travelling down in setting sun and through darkening valleys we finally reached Chamba, located on the banks of river Ravi. Chamba is a part of settlement between 2 mighty Himalayan ranges Dhauladhar in the south and Pir Panjal in the North. Chamba got its name from Champavati, daughter of Shailavarma. The town was founded in 10’Th or 11’Th century. The name of the king is written differently in many places, Sahilvarma, Shalivahan and Shailverma. Chamba looked like a cheerful town with packed shops of fabric, chappals, mithais and chaat. Not to forget the roadside sellers with radishes and oranges and berries. This temple town is home to some of the exquisite stone architecture blended with intricate wood carvings.

Read More

Rays of Light

By

We started our walk and soon saw the first of the Sarnath monument, the Chaukhandi Stupa. A beautiful, well kept garden surrounding the Stupa welcomes you with dancing butterflies and chirping birds. Chaukhandi Stupa has a square base. This stupa was built during Gupta times. And later during Islamic rule, it got the peculiar head with edges. Built in red bricks, it was an impressive site, standing tall under a blue sky, silently remembering the era by gone.
This main road of Sarnath is lined with some beautiful Buddhist temples donated and built by several east Asian Buddhist nations. It really shows their affection and devotion towards Gautam Buddha and it’s land.

Read More