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Showing posts with label Arts & Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arts & Culture. Show all posts

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

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 21 April 2022

Kalluru - Weaving Stories In Silk - II

Thank you for joining me from part 1.

The Narrow entrance

The Power looms in 
the room.

Kalluru - Weaving Stories In Silk - I

It was by chance that Meera and I got to visit Kalluru in Gubbi taluk (Karnataka). Meera had to buy some sarees for an event in the family. Her friend, Dev, recommended a visit to Kalluru, a small town that is also an age-old weavers settlement.  This place is known for its incredible silk weaves. It was only when we got there that we realized what an incredible place we were in.

The summer had been at its peak, so we were a bit worried about how the heat of the day was going to treat us, but we were lucky to have a moderately cloudy day saving us from the unforgiving heat. After exiting Bengaluru via Nelamangala, we took the NH75 through Kunnigal and Yadiyur before taking a right towards Kalluru. The roads throughout were excellent and dotted with multiple highway eateries. That Sunday morning, all of them were having a very good business.
We stopped at Food Culture for both our breakfast and lunch on our way back. A little pricey, but the food and ambience were decent. 

Dev met us a few kilometers before Kalluru and we followed him to the saree showroom owned by his uncle. The showroom was already filled with multiple wedding shoppers even as early as half past 10 that morning. For the hardcore saree shoppers, this was heaven. 

The bustling outlet

Thursday 30 December 2021

Bhutan - The Spiritual Land

Our journey to Thimphu, the quaint capital city of Bhutan was quite interesting but tiring. We zipped through the sub-tropical and alpine zones of this amazing country in a winding and twisted manner. It is a long journey as one has to cross three beautiful dzongkhags (districts) while the scenery changes from stark to ornate to verdant.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

The Soligas - Lifestyle, Worship and Rituals

Thanks for joining me from the previous part. Let's continue with Mahadevagowda's narration of the Soligas' lifestyle..


Life in the forest
Life inside the forest needed a lot of skills, to survive and stay alive. The staple diet consisted of various tubers and the leafy greens that grew there. Despite living amongst so many animals, the Soligas never hunted and they knew how to keep themselves from being hunted too. Apart from this, they knew how to identify the various forest fruits that were safe for consumption. The Soligas are also experts in collecting forest honey, which was also a part of their diet.  

BR Hills - The Land Of The Soligas

The trip to BR Hills was delayed by almost five years. For some or rather multiple reasons, the place I used to visit with enviable frequency seemed to stay so close yet so far all this while. So this year when the plan finally formed to visit my favorite haunt, I was cautiously optimistic. I am glad that despite a few hurdles during the planning, the minute I was in the embrace of the beautiful hills, I felt I was never away. 

This was the first time I was traveling with Meera to BR Hills and staying in Giridarshini Homestay. After having hyped up so much about the homestay over the last year, I kept my fingers and toes crossed that she would equally feel at home here as much as I had felt during all my previous visits. 

Gold and green mix
Gold and green mix in the hills

Friday 23 October 2020

The Talented Gollas

- Wandering Bards On The Streets Of Bangalore

The Tuesday morning was dull and cloudy, like most mornings in the recent months in Bangalore. The sun was sufficiently obscured and the sense of time was lost as the whole day looked uniformly grey.  With great difficulty, I was trying to motivate myself to begin the day's chores. It has not been an easy task these days with both the weather and the covid scenario keeping most people closeted indoors.

Friday 3 January 2020

Kinnal Crafts - Generations Of Incredible Creations

For two days we had averaged 10 - 11 hours on the road. We had already been on road since early in the morning for the day and it was 5pm now. Information overload was almost short circuiting our brains when Meera and myself reached the Kinnal village along with Pompayya Sir for some insight about the beautiful Kinnal art.  But all we could think about was another 5 hours of journey ahead of us and a bus journey home. We reached the workshop of Dharmanna Chitragar, who was busy working on his temple model. It was a modest workshop with older models of his art, covered in cloth, occupying considerable space. Some more pieces that were returned in exchange for newer pieces sat on the loft observing us intently.

Friday 27 December 2019

Ilkal Saris - Beautiful Threads And Hand Woven Efforts

- Beautiful Threads And Hand Woven Efforts

My familiarity with Ilkal saris was limited to the rare visits to sari shops with my mother. A chance visit to Ilkal however gave me an opportunity to see the making of these beautiful threads in person and from a very different perspective. The dusty streets of Ilkal reverberated with  the rhythmic clanking of the power looms. But the primary interest was to find those few who were still married to traditional hand loom weaving. A few streets later an extremely modest and old house, that could easily be dated back to about 60 years or more, came into view.

Monday 9 December 2019

Magic Of The Evening Puja At Virupaksha Temple

It had been a long day of travel and birding for a couple of friends and me in Hampi. Though it was still early in the year, the afternoon heat had drained our energy and we were at a point of just dragging our feet around. But there was something more in store for us. An experience so different and so profound that even to this day when I close my eyes, the scene remains fresh in my memory.

Evening Puja at Virupaksha temple
The start of the rituals