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Thursday 11 April 2024

Brahma Jinalaya - A compilation

Let me take you on  quick tour of one of the most fascinating structures in Lakkhundi in Karnataka.

The Brahma Jinalaya. This early 11th century temple was one of the many fine structures that were built by Attimabbe, a devout noble woman. 

Sunday 31 March 2024

Amrutheswara Temple - Annegiri

Twin Rocks of Morrice Dera Beach, Rangat, Middle Andaman islands

Limestone Caves of Baratang, Andaman islands - Nature's Hidden Wonders


Sunday 24 December 2023

Andaman Islands - Nature At Its Best

As our flight gracefully circled the Andaman Islands for approximately 15 minutes, the breathtaking sight of the lush, azure landmass invoked a sense of tranquility and serenity within me. Isolated patches of vibrant green islands stood silent, as if harboring untold stories.

Nestled in the cerulean waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman archipelago attracts a multitude of visitors from the Indian mainland between November and April each year. Following a 2 1/2-hour journey from Bengaluru, the undulating capital city of Port Blair (located in the southern Andaman Islands) serves as the embarkation point for any planned exploration.

Port Blair
In Port Blair, the offerings for exploration are relatively limited. Spending two days here allows for a somber visit to the Cellular Jail, where the dark tales of our freedom fighters unfold. Subsequently, a ferry ride from the capital grants access to Ross Island, which served as a Prisoner of War site for the Japanese during World War II.

View of Andaman sea from the cruise steamer

Monday 30 October 2023

Annigere – The Marvel of Western Chalukyan Carvings

A visit to the charming town of Annigeri in Karnataka's Dharwad district is nothing short of essential. Here, one can behold temples that effortlessly blend the intricate styles of both northern and southern temple architecture.

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Annigeri – A Unique Gem of Western Chalukyan Heritage

View of Amriteshwara temple

While Tharangini and I were exploring the rich heritage of Lakkundi, our guide recommended a visit to Annigeri, which lies approximately 25 kilometers from Gadag city. Annigeri holds a special place in history as the final capital of the formidable Western Chalukyas, also known as the Kalyani Chalukyas. Their relocation to Annigeri came about due to their displacement from their former capital, Kalyani (now known as Basavakalyan in the Bidar district), following a conflict with the Kalachuris under King Bijalla-II.

Thursday 29 June 2023

The Narasimha Cult: The Rannebennur Naiks

A view of the temple on Oakli day

Lord Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Vishnu, has been worshipped in various forms for centuries now. Some families in Karnataka, Telangana, Tami Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have retained the Narasimha cult even today. 

Tuesday 27 June 2023

The Narasimha Cult: Oakali Festival

View of temple

In a unique cult-festival celebrated across India, Lord Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Vishnu, is worshipped in quaint forms and ways. The Oakali tradition (sprinkling of holy waters on devotees) is a part of Narasimha Jayanti. It falls in the month of May and is celebrated in many places of the south.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Udayagiri Caves – The Prakrit Inscriptions

A side view of the Udayagiri Caves

There is more to Udayagiri Caves at Bhubaneshwar in Odisha as in the last 2200 years, many auxiliary structures have been added. A few caves show these additions (albeit highly damaged) from century to century.

As we climbed the hill that is strewn with rock-cut caves from one end to the other, our guide elaborated on the significance of some caves like the Hathi Gumpha with its famous inscriptions.

Saturday 29 April 2023

Udayagiri Caves - The Rani Gumpha Heritage

Long shot of pilasters and friezes in Rani Gumpha 

In the first part – I just touched upon a few details about the ancient rock-cut caves of Udayagiri in Odisha. Unlike Ellora, Ajanta, Karla caves in Maharashtra or Badami caves in Karnataka, the Udayagiri caves are unique as the art of carvings started some 2200 years ago and has stood the test of time amidst a vast spread of dense jungle.

Monday 24 April 2023

Udayagiri Caves – Odisha’s Hidden Past

This is in continuation of my visit to Odisha, the erstwhile Kalinga kingdom with its varied past and wonderful natural and historical heritage. No visit to Odisha is complete without a visit to the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves.

Thursday 6 April 2023

Brahma Jinalaya - The Sanctum And The Outer Area

Hope you enjoyed the tour of the inner mantapa. Thank you for joining me here.

The inner mantapa has the 22nd Tirthankara as the main deity. He is flanked on either side by attendants fanning him with a chowrie (a traditional fan made of animal hair attached to a handle). According to our guide the entire backdrop of the chowrie holding attendants was carved out of a single stone. 

Friday 3 March 2023

Brahma Jinalaya - The Inner Closed Mantapa

Hope you enjoyed the tour of the outer mantapa. Thank you for joining me here.

So why dedicate an entire section to just the inner closed mantapa?  Though the only two prime figurines in the inner closed mantapa are of Padmavati and Chaturmukha Brahma, there are so many smaller aspects hidden everywhere, that it is impossible to ignore.

To talk about this mantapa in brief, it is ventilated by a single small window. Padmavati is on the right while Chaturmukha Brahma is on the left. The lathe turned pillars in the center of this mantapa still manage to glisten in the light. If  they look so good now, then it is impossible to even imagine how amazing they would have been a 1000 years ago. 

Standing the test of  time, the base of these pillars are adorned with various 'sundaris' or beautiful women. But rather than talk about it, I'll allow these images to speak for themselves. 

A view of the deity from the Inner Mantapa

The five framed doorway to the inner sanctum from the mantapa.
Notice the animals and the dancers in the frames.

A figurine of a Thirthankara above the lintel indicating it is a jain temple.
The topmost layer has elephants while just below that is a row of what
looks like a dodo bird.

The Chatumukha Brahma
stands tall
The south side face is of a 
young boy

The front/east side face is of a
young man
The north side face is of a middle
aged man.

The west side face was one from the older years. That face had a full beard and a mustache and looked more rugged. But it was too close to the wall for us to get a decent image.

Padmavati, the epitome of beauty
smiles demurely.
The perfectly proportioned face
also has nose ring holes

The base of all the columns had 'sundaris' or beautiful women engraved in them. While we were visiting another temple and were kneeling and crouching to try and get the best angles for these intriguing beauties, an elderly gentleman who was walking out of the temple kindly informed us that people used to hold babies with breathing problems against these figurines with the babies' back towards the figurines.

The various groves and ridges of the carvings acted as acupressure massaging points, opening up the pathways for breathing better.

I wondered if the same was applicable for adults too, if they sat on the floor with their back resting on these carvings.

Darpana Sundari or a beautiful
woman with mirror
Woman playing a sting instrument
in one of the panels

All the women were however
similarly framed
With kirthimukhas and Yalis on
two columns on either side

There was a kirthimukha on top of the pillar as well 
framing a man playing a drum

Visit the inner sanctum and let's take a walk around the temple in the next section.

Location map:

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Brahma Jinalaya - The Outer Mantapa

In our efforts to bring more stories to spottedowlets, Meera and I decided to visit Gadag, with the intention of exploring both nature and the extravaganza of ancient architecture in and around that place.
We will be attempting to bring in as much information as possible from all the temples we visited, hoping to do at least some justice to magnificent structures we visited. 

Meera has already given a brief history of Lakkundi, so let’s dive in. Starting the journey from the Jain temple or ‘Brahma Jinalaya’ at Lakkundi,  we visited this fascinating structure at midday during midweek. Needless to say, we had exclusive time there. 

A view of the temple

Sunday 26 February 2023

Lakkundi – A Medieval Wonder

Lakkundi, the village and streets

There are still some hidden, ancient heritage spots in Karnataka that do not see much interest or tourist footfall, and reasons are many for that. Lakkundi is one such place in Gadag district which is neither part of the Hampi tourism circuit nor part of any other circuit. Just about 11 kilometers from the town of Gadag, Lakkundi, once a powerful Kingdom is today a veritable treasure trove of temples and stepwells.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Chitrakarini Temple: Creative Heights

Thank you for joining me from part I

Have you ever heard of a temple that is dedicated to a woman painter? Well, Chitrakarini temple must be the only temple in the world acknowledging the skills and creative expressions of an artist.
Chitrakarini Temple

Chitrakarini Temple - The Paintress

If you are visiting Bhubaneswar on a leisurely holiday, try to explore temples that do not see crowds nor much interest. Apart from Lingaraj, Rajarani, Ananta Vasudeva and other such famous temples in this city, there are other architectural monuments that are ancient and highly impressive for their carvings.
View of main temple. The four outer towers are not seen here.

Thursday 26 January 2023

Odisha’s Rajarani Temple: Symbol Of Love

The Raja Rani temple

Odisha’s Rajarani Temple: Symbol Of Love - Part II

Continuing from Part I

Temple wall having columns with floral, ornamental carvings