The Temple Bay

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One of the most photographed temple because of it’s location is actually a set of two temples set next to each other with a slight angle. The temple premise is walled with carvings of bulls(‘nandi’) sitting atop. The two temples are medium sized with typical Dravid architecture.

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Poetry in Stone

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With late entry in Khajuraho, though groggy eyed by early rising, we all walked with swift steps through the dusty, shrubby surroundings of the temple town of Khajuraho.

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Gwalior – Gopachal- The Glorious

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Unfortunately ‘Teli ka Mandir’ and ‘Saas-Bahu’ temple, both these majestic temples are ‘monuments’ !
How tranquil it would be to hear the entrance bell ringing melodically, to breath in the combined fragrance of flowers and oil lamps and incense sticks, to see the hustle bustle of devoted feet and folded hands, and to submit to the rhythm of ancient chants echoing from the corridors!

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River Saraswati (Ghaggar, Haryana) – The Lost Valley of time, culture and civilization

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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.

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The Living Stone

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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’.

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A Triad in Time – Gharapuri, Ambarnath and Pataleshwar

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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.

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Land of Temples

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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.

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Kerala – A Tourist State

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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.

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