Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cave temples of Badami

Continuing my journey on the cultural triangle; my next stop after Bijapur, Aihole and Pattadakkal was Badami. Badami was the earliest capital of the Chalukyas; it was also known as the Vatapi.

It is famous for rock cut shrines and cave temples carved out of red sandstone outcrop surrounded by Lake Agastya. The rocks out of which 4 caves are carved out are huge and has rich deep hue of red. The giant rocks are good 100 meters tall. The rich red hue of the sandstone looks more stunning and charming in the evening light.

Facing the rock cut shrines is the Agastyamuni lake which is serene and enhances the beauty of the place. The first cave temple is dedicated to Shiva and is probably the oldest. The next 2 cave temples are Vishnu temples while the forth one is the Jain temple.

Cave temple planning :It is pretty simple. The entrance is a hall/verendah called as mukha mantapa, with numerous pillars with exquisite carvings on the walls and on the ceilings. It leads to main hall - maha mandapa and then to the shrine; the sanctum sanctorum which is the garbagruha

The atmosphere was awesome, perfect place for the sages t meditate; seems that was why these temples are located high above the cliffs. But it was crowded that day and I could not appreciate the architecture and beauty as much as I would have loved to. People were jostling and pushing and were very keen to pose standing near to the carvings. No one bothered to notice the details; no one wanted to know the story behind those carvings; neither did they realize the treasure their ancestors left them.

Only thing that went in their mind was to have their faces captured in all the photos and taunt the monkeys. I could not experience the richness; I did not get a chance to stand there still and appreciate the art. :-(

Let me get straight to few pictures.

Path leading to the temples. The sandstone cliff is huge and massive. The atmosphere is cool and breezy.

First cave temple dedicated to Shiva. This one is the Nataraja with 18 arms which can yield 81 mudras in combination.

Sandstone cliff overlooking the cave temples.

 One distinctive style is the two in one figurines. An elephant as seen from left and an ox as seen from right. The two heads have been carved in such way.

The second cave temple.

The second and third temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu's various avatars are sculpted on the walls. 

An intricate carvings on the ceiling.

One wheel. 

Vishnu with a serpent.

Vishnu as Trivikrama

Vishnu as Varaha

These temples were inhabited by munis and sadhus. They had lot of time for prayer and play.

The lower walls of the temple

The third Vishnu temple 

Trivikrama again. 

The forth temple - Jain temple. Sculptures of Tirthankaras can be found here

Lord Mahavira.

Tirthankara Parshavnatha with a serpent at his feet.

The evening was perfect. It was a surreal but true- red sandstone cliffs with a lake. 

Lake Agastya. The lake gets its name from Vatapi legend of Ramayan and takes its name after Sage Agastya. Also seen on the banks of the lake is the Bhootnath group of temples.

The moon was early that day. The twilight was beautiful and beyond words.

One more....

Friday, February 18, 2011

A perspective

Gautam's comments on my latest post - Growing Old? I thought I should share it with you all. So here it is.

When we were young and when our life was revolving around parents and school, books and media were our only gateway to the endless possibilities that existed in this world, na? I am sure each one of us would have constantly yearned, in our own cozy dreams, to try out so many things in this world. Things which were based on our imagination. Things based on what we were exposed to till that point of time. Some dreams are intimidating but doable, some which remain to be dreams. My case, I would imagine, applies to most people. When I did not have an opportunity to do things that really captivated my imagination, I would be extremely enthusiastic. Some kind of ardent fervor I should say. I think it is perfectly normal to get bored out of your tree while you do something that you really enjoyed a while back.

Sitting at my office cube, I look around me and think, "How did I end up here?" I refresh my memory saying that I put myself in my current situation, so that I could establish a platform which enables me to pursue my interests. Of course priorities change. That does not mean that life is gettin boring nor should I think that I am getting old. Come on Gautam be positive. I have "already" enjoyed something that I wanted to enjoy. I wanted to see how it feels when I did what I liked. I saw it for myself. I mean, how many get a chance to do what they want all the time? Always remembering how lucky I am to get an opportunity to try something that I liked, I think, "Ah! Now is the time to enjoy something else." Soon, I realise how much I yearn to do that something again. This time, there are lot less variables (a little boring), but still I enjoy. I convince myself that it's perfectly alright to be bored to do something that I have already done.

Chalo! Let the cycle begin, dream - yearn - rack your brains for not having the opportunity to do something you want. Very soon you will get an opportunity to do it, and when you do, you might get bored doing it all the time and yearn to do something else. :-p I feel this applies to both work and play. Some people yearn to do certain things pertaining to their career more than things that are considered "time-pass". Some are the other way around. :-p But, hey! We all, with varying degrees of seriousness, understand the importance of having a strong foundation, which is why, I am where I am.

I think that as long as we constantly have that enthusiasm to do something new, the child in us will always be alive. I would say to myself that instead of feeling bad that I am growing old, I should look out for different things I want to do and do them. Maintaing the spark is the main key, na? Hmmm... easier said than done? Darn it! Billions of blue blistering barnacles!

By the way, it was Gautam's birthday on Feb 11th. I totally forgot about it until today morning. A sign of growing old? :-) Each year I dedicate a post to him on his birthday. I so was busy with numerous stuffs personally and at work that I never even realized.

Check this post for sure. A visual treat :) A birthday wish, few pictures with stories

Gautam, Belated birthday wishes. I am so sorry; I kept reminding myself about your birthday but forgot on that very day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Growing old?

I am sure going to get some smirks and scorns by few readers ;-)

First it was those 2 silver streaks of hair that made me wonder if I was growing old. My intuition told me those were just signs of pollution and stress. But the other day we were just having some casual conversation at work and one of my team mate explained his user name on gtalk. It was a combination of his name and DOB. Well, this chap is a freshmen and was born in late 80s.

I then counted on my fingers his and my age difference. I am an early 80s born and thus well into my late 20s. Yeah! see did I not say I might get a few scorns and smirks!!

I know! but it just struck me how OLD I was. That was not the only time. Few months ago I was wondering who this Justin Bieber is - so many teens are crazy about him. When you are surrounded with folks who have considerable age gap you feel the pinch. Be it the conversation or their attitude.

Am I old? Does growing old physically matter? Or as a cliche its all in the mind stuff? I have been fortunate enough to be deemed much younger than my age. Not once but many times. I was once denied wine by a waiter in The Venetian in Las Vegas as he thought I was underage. He did not budge unless I showed him my DOB on my passport. One other time a physician; without even asking my age just assumed I was in early 20s until I corrected him and he was surprised.

Its certainly a feel good factor; yet why do I have that lump in my throat? No! I dont forget things; yet I do not remember them too well either. I am more interested in stocks and equity than my favorite Tom & Jerry on Cartoon Network. Polka dots and satin ribbons dont fascinate me as they did few years ago. I am conscious about licking my "gola" in a posh restaurant; all I am worried is my table etiquette.

And obviously the attitude shifts and the feeling of being left out when these freshmen call me 'senior' and talk about my career experience. I get a sting when I count my working years; when I remember how many years it has been since I quit college. Or the days of Maruti 800 and Ambassador and Doordarshan. When I could count the vehicles on the road and when I savored Nancy Drews, Secret Sevens and Famous Five. So its PSP and Dora and Jetix and what not!

But that has not changed me from trying to feel young and look good. I see people of my age have outdated views and knowledge. They rather prefer to be with their own outdated views than update themselves. They grow old but do not grow up. Rather when do we grow old? We grow old as our mind ages. Why let it age?

So I thought let me just shake off the age factor and gel with the young and old. Growing old cannot be changed; everyone has to. Growing up is what matters; let me not stop playing. You grow old when you stop playing and not the other way. Let me grow up; learn new things, explore new avenues, dream and laugh my way!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Temples of Pattadakkal

It was difficult for me to take pictures during this trip. It was Pongal and thus holiday. People thronged all over and it was chaotic. One thing I am very particular while taking photos is the presence of any foreign object in my frame apart from my subject. It was very difficult to capture those monuments without having people around it or walking towards it.

Many a time, I would wait for minutes before I got a clearance and when I got the perfect frame; it didnt remain for more than few seconds. Standing under the scorching sun and at some places bare-footed to take a perfect picture was tough; but it was worth in the end.

PATTADAKKAL:  This town has group of temples which is declared as World Heritage style by UNESCO. Pattadakkal was the capital of Chalukyas and these temples were built in the 7th and 8th centuries. The style is unique - the Vesara which displays both Dravidian(Southern) and Negara(Northern). There are Jain temples as well. This is what Wiki has to say - "Aihole is considered a School of Architecture, Badami a Degree college and The University of Architecture is Pattadakkal"

The temples here are much evolved and had served as template for considerable temples in Southern India. One can find lot of tiny temples which seems like a 'model' temple before building the bigger ones. The temples are built with sandstone which further explains the waning of the sculptures. The ASI has been restoring them and also trying to claim lands so that encroaching is prevented. Yet one can see temples behind every house as if a out-house.

I do not remember names of these temples. Each one looked unique and at the same time similar that one needs an 'architectural' eye to differentiate.

Here is a temple of rekhanagari style of architecture. The walls of the temple are plain and simple unlike the delicate and intricate details as you would find on the walls of a Southern Indian architectural style of temple. This one below is the Jambulingeshwara temple.

A combo. We can easily make out the rekhanagari and the dravidian style in these 2 temples. 

The sikhar is a fantastic example of Negara style.

One of the 'model' temple.

The Galaganatha temple built in the architecture style of Rekha Negara. This temple contains a sculpture of Lord Shiva killing the demon Andhakasura.

Kashivishwanatha temple built in the 8th century in early Chalukya style by the Rashtrakutas.

A Drividian style temple complex. The Virupaksha temple built by the Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband's victory(Vikramaditya II) over the Pallavas of Kanchi. This temple is rich in sculptures and detailed carvings on ceilings and pillars as any other Dravidian style temple.

Carvings on a pillar.

A sculpture with old Kannada inscription

The ceilings of the Virupaksha temple.

Typical Dravidian style. The Virupaksha temple closely resembles the Kailasanathar temple in Kanchi built by Pallavas. The Kailasanathar temple of Kanchi also served as a model for the Kailash temple in Ellora built by the Rashtrakutas because of the marital relations between the Pallavas and the Rashtrakutas. 

I do not remember the name.

The Sangameshwara temple built in Dravidian style. It is similar to Virupaksha temple in being square on plan from the base to sikhara. the main vimana is 3 storeys.

A passage.

One of the facade of the Sangameshwara temple.

And another....

One of the sculpture on a wall.

Virupaksha temple

Another view

A dancing figure? I found it interesting.

A section of a temple complex.

A Negara and a Dravidian side by side.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Day in Aihole

After Bijapur, our next destination was the historical heritage triangle of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakkal.
These 3 towns are not very far from each other and these three cities were the capital of the Chalukya dynasty at some point. These three towns house temple complexes and has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

AIHOLE: Its the cradle of ancient Hindu temple architecture. It was the first capital of the early Chalukyas. There are around 125 temples. These temples date back to as early as 5th Century. The Chalukya style of architecture is unique and cannot be found anywhere else. One can find usage of curved towers and blind towers and plain walls that is northern Indian style of architecture. Use of southern Indian Deccan style could be found in sloping roofs, elaborate carvings in columns and ceilings. The Chalukyan emperors were followers of Jainism; we can also find Jain temples and the Jain style of architecture as well.

Each temple is different from the other. Craftsmen used this location to experiment different styles with rock cut architecture. Few temples have the Negara style gopuram, few are flat while few of them have slopes. Few of them have elaborate and intricate carvings on pillars and ceilings while few are devoid of any carvings. Each one seems to be out of place and leaves you confused as you cannot define the style of architecture. The temples do not have any specific God as such. The temples are named ad-hoc. The ASI is also confused in identifying these temples.

Durgi temple: This temple seems to have inspired our Parliament building. This temple does not house Goddess Durga but named so because it is close to a compound wall or fort or 'durga'. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu and is a take off on Buddhist chaitya (hall). It stands on a high platform with REKHANAGARA type of shikara (Negara or North Indian style) . It appears to have been built during 7th or 8th century.

The left facade of the temple.

A close up of a carving.

Gowda temple: Dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. This temple stands on a high base and has about 16 plain pillars. 

 A complex with an entrance/exit.

Few youngsters capturing the reality on paper

Lad Khan temple : Named because few centuries later a official by name Lad Khan made this temple his home. Its the oldest temple which dates back to 5th century. It was a royal assembly hall and a marriage hall. It has a shrine on its roof. The roof is unlike any other temple; slant and plain.

Meguti Jain temple : Only dated temple - built in 634 AD. Its built atop a small hill and is accessible by steps. This temple gives an evidence of early development of Dravidian style of architecture.

Ravanaphadi cave: Its an oldest rock cut temple; dating back to 6th century. It houses a Shivalinga; its sanctum is larger than the cave temples of Badami. The walls and sides are carved with large figures including a dancing Shiva.

A carving on the ceiling inside the temple.

On one of the walls showing massive carvings. Zoom on it and you can appreciate the rib cage of the Muni.

Huchimalli temple: built in 7th century shows evolution in temple plan. Its built in Negara or North-Indian style.

Next post is on Pattadakkal