RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Glimpses of Erotic Sculptures at Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Khajuraho Group of Monuments is located in Madhya Pradesh, India. These groups of monuments are the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples which are basically famous all around the world for their erotic sculptures. The temples were built during the Chandella Dynasty that reached its peak point between 950 and 1050 AD.

Khajuraho Temple

Kandariya Mahadev Temple in Khajuraho Group of Monuments
Image by John Ubinger on flickr.com

Total area of the complex is enclosed by a wall with eight originates and each of them bordered by two golden palm trees. Originally, there were 85 temples but now only 25 temples remain that falls into three distinct groups namely eastern, western & southern and follows Hinduism and Jainism styles. They scattered in an area of over 20 square kms. A perfect balance displays between the architecture and sculpture of the temples.

Sculptures at Khajuraho Temple

One of the many erotic sculptures at Khajuraho Temple
Image by GrandecapoEstiCazzi on flickr.com

The whole complex of Khajuraho illustrates a unique artistic creation, surprising quality, variety of scenes of amusements, sculpted decor of mythological repertory or amusements. All the temples are elegantly decorated on the outside. These temples are world famous for their exceptional art due to which they have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Devi_Jagadambi_Temple-Khajuraho

Devi Jagadambi Temple

Some of the temples like Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and Vaidyanatha belong to the period of King Dhanga, who was the successor of Yasovarman. The Jagadambi, Chitragupta, are the most remarkable among the western group of temples of Khajuraho. Other temples are Vamana, Adinatha, Javari, Chaturbhuj and Duladeo, are the smaller temples but designed elegantly.

Lakshmana_temple-Khajuraho

Lakshmana Temple

The Khajuraho group of monuments and temples are esteemed for soaring terraces and functionally effective plans. The sculptural adornments include besides the clan images of parivara, avarana devatas, dikpalas, apsaras and sura-sundaris and all win universal applause for their exquisite, adolescent female forms of enchanting beauty. The apparel and embellishments embrace the winsome elegance and charisma.

Ercotic Sculptures at Khajuraho Temple

Ercotic sculptures of women
Image by east med wanderer on flickr.com

These temples serve as finest example of Indian architecture that have gained popularity mainly due to their precise depiction of sexual life during medieval time period. These erotic sculptures can be easily locate by anyone on Kandariya Mahadev Temple. The sexual art is located outside the temple or even near the deities. It has been said by many people that the erotic art suggests Tantric practices. Many sculptures, i.e. around 10% display the sexual activities between people rather than among deities. The rest of the sculptures depict the everyday life of the people including women putting on makeup, potters, musicians, farmers, etc.

Wall_outside_temple-Khajuraho

Sculptures on outside walls of one of the temples

The temple complex also offers an evening light and sound show. The show covers the history, philosophy and the art of sculpting of these temples and so enjoyed by most of the people. Two languages are preferred in the show, i.e. English and Hindi. One can choose according to their comfort and understanding of the language. Thus, nobody forgets any moment spent in Khajuraho temples for their whole life.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Outlandish Grace of the Brihadeeswarar Temple

Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in the Thanjavur of Tamil Nadu state, India. It is a Hindu temple which is a part of Great Living Chola Temples that are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It was built during the 9th century and completely dedicated to the Shiva. The linga of the temple was brought from the river Narmada and said by many that when it was brought, the water of the river kept increasing day by day and so the name Brihadeeswarar was given to this temple. It is one of the largest temple in India and also most prized one only due to its architectural designs.

Brihadeeswara_temple_Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar Temple in Tamil Nadu

The temple majestically stands amidst the fortified walls that were added in the 16th century. It has the tower or Vimana of the gopuram which is 216 ft high. This Vimana is among the tallest of its kind in the entire world. The Kalasha of the temple is intricately carved out of a single stone and weighs around 80 tons. A big statue of Nandi is amazingly carved out of a single rock and measures about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. This shows that it is a distinctive example of architecture inside the temple.

Nandi-Brihadeeswarar_Temple

Nandi(Bull)
Image by ashok_sridhar on flickr.com

This glamorous temple is the world’s first fully granite temple. Most of the inscriptions on the walls depict the Bharatanatyam which is a popular classical dance of southern India. One of the interesting parts of this temple is the shadow of the gopuram (pyramidal tower which usually stands over the gateway of the temple) never falls on the ground at noon. This served as a great example of the South Asian style of architecture.

Inscriptions-Brihadeeswarar_Temple

Inscriptions on the wall
Image by ashok_sridhar on flickr.com

The square sanctuary of the temple is surrounded by a narrow passageway and adjoins an antechamber. The double storey plastered walls of the sanctuary are located on a raised basement. Projections of the wall have niches that occupied by fully model images of Shiva. Some finest figures that intricately carved on the walls of the temple include Bikshatanamurti, dancing Shiva, Harihara and Ardhanarishvara.

Architecture-Brihadeeswarar_Temple

Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance

Another interesting thing to see is an Archaeological Museum which showcases the ancient ruins. It surely gives you the chance to look back into the history of the Chola Empire. 107 paragraphs long inscription can also found on the walls of the Vimana which reads the contribution of the Chola King Rajaraja and his sister Kundavai.

Rajarajesvaram_Temple

Murals and Shiva Lingams in the temple

This popular temple turned 1000 years old on September 2010 and the day was celebrated with great pomp and show. State government celebrated this birthday of the temple with great excitement. Many cultural events were held there during this wonderful occasion. People travel to this place in a large number only to glare or participate in the cultural activities.

On 26th September 2010, which was the fifth day of the millennium celebrations, Indian post released 5 special postage stamps featuring the 216-ft tall giant Raja Gopuram. Also, the Reserve Bank of India commemorated this special event by releasing the 5 coins embossed with the model of the big temple. A 1000 rupee coin was also released to commemorate the same picture as on the Rs. 5 coins. The temple is visited by a large number of pilgrims and tourists from across the globe. It is one of the important heritage sites in Tamil Nadu.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Soul of Himachal – Kalka Shimla Railway

Kalka Shimla Toy Train is a part of the mountain railway project located in Himachal Pradesh, India. It was built by the British in 1903 to provide access to their summer capital of Shimla. Being a 2 ft 5 inch narrow gauge railway, it covers the entire mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. It is popular all around for the picturesque views of hills and the surrounding villages. Spectacular scenery during the whole journey keeps the traveler to spell bound on this line. It rejuvenates passengers when the cozy air touches their cheeks and then further makes its way upwards along the narrow track through majestic mountains and pine forests. Due to its glory and charm, it is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kalka Shimla Railway

Image by Shubh M Singh on flickr.com

The route of this train offers panoramic views of all the hill stations. It stops at several points namely Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghatm Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Totu, Summerhill and Shimla. Originally, there were 107 tunnels that built on this track. In 1930, four of them were discarded, so, remained 103. In 2006, again tunnel no. 46 were dismantled and the number became 102. So, presently there are 102 tunnels but the last tunnel no. 103 at Shimla is still famous as tunnel no. 103. This tunnel is a famous landmark of the town. The longest tunnel is located at Barog. This tunnel is associated with a number of tales and legends.

Himalayan_Queen

Himalayan Queen going through a tunnel on the Kalka–Shimla Railway route

Total 864 bridges are located on this line. One of the bridge is 18.29 meter plate girder span. Other bridges have multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts. Bridge No. 493 is known as the “Arch Gallery” and is situated between Kandaghat and Kanoh stations. It is an arch bridge that made in three stages. Another one is bridge no. 226, located between Sonwara and Dharampur. It is an arch gallery bridge and have tier galleries of multiple spans.

Train passing Arch Gallery Bridge

Train passing over the Arch Gallery Bridge
Image by Jarkko Viikki on flickr.com

Many sharpest curves are there. The most sharpest one is 48 degrees. Two class “B”0-4-OST locomotives were the first locomotives that arrived there from the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Diesel locomotives are currently used on this railway.

Main tourist train services that available on this route are the Shivalik Deluxe Express, Himalayan Queen and Rail Motor Car. Each train has its own quality. A number of extra train services are available during the holiday season in India. It is usually from May to July, September, October, December and January. Rail Motor Car is also a temporary service that operates during the rush time of the year, only to manage the crowd.

Toy Train Kalka Shimla

Image by edge_one on flickr.com

This train is also used for making documentaries and shooting the songs of Indian Bollywood movies. In the UK, the BBC has made a series of documentaries on the Indian Hill Railways. First documentary deals with the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway while the third one deals with Kalka-Shimla Railway. It’s shown on BBC FOUR TV on February 2010, on BBC TWO on April 2010 and again on BBC FOUR in January 2012 & September 2012. Songs related to the movie “Tridevi” also shot in this train and many others are in the list.

Thus, the route is the soul and the heart of the Himachal Pradesh, India. A large number of visitors go there throughout the year to enjoy their vacation and surprised by the beauty of the place. They keep the memories of the journey by taking the photographs of this breathtaking destination.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Mausoleum Dedicated to Love – Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is such a popular monument that almost everyone in the world knows about it. It is located in the Agra city of Uttar Pradesh, India and is a major tourist destination. It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and an iconic structure of India. Due to its beautiful architecture, it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its beauty is unmatched and has never been surpassed by any other building. This timeless monument was built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved life Mumtaz Mahal. It is made-up entirely of white marble. Its dazzling architectural beauty is beyond adequate description, particularly at dawn and dusk. It glows more in the light of the full moon and in the foggy morning, it looks pure white structure, which is placed among the clouds.

Taj_Mahal_Agra_Uttar_Pradesh-India

The timeless beauty – Taj Mahal

This monument is referred as “elegy in marble”. It is a mausoleum that houses the grave of his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal. Later, the grave of Shah Jahan was added up to it. This marvel of India took twenty-two years to complete its construction with the help of twenty thousand workers. More than 1,000 elephants were employed in transportation of the construction material. In 1648 C.E. the whole structure completed perfectly. Total cost of 32 Million rupees was used for the construction purpose. The master architect of the mausoleum was Ustad Isa. He was the renowned architect of his time. Expert craftsmen from several places of India like Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore and Multan were employed. Also, renowned Muslim craftsmen from Baghdad, Shiraz and Bukhara worked on specialized tasks to build it perfectly.

Graves_inside_Taj_Mahal

Graves inside Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

Interior of Taj Mahal

The monument stands on a raised and a square platform with its four corners truncated that forms an unequal octagon. The architectural design uses the interlocking arabesque concept in which the each element erects on its own and integrates perfectly with the main structure. Its central dome is 58 feet in diameter and 213 feet in height. It is encompassed by four subsidiary domed chambers. The four graceful, slender minarets outside the main chamber are about 162.5 feet high. The entire mausoleum is decorated with veneer design of flowers and calligraphy using precious gems namely agate and jasper. Main archways are chiseled with passages from the holy Quran and the engrossing work of flowery pattern that captivate charm to its beauty.

taj_mahal_india

Reflection of Taj Mahal in Yamuna River

The Taj Mahal complex is vast and full of several other palatial buildings like mosques, garden, gateway, reflecting pool, etc. Behind the complex, there is the Yamuna River that reflects the beauty of this marvelous wonder throughout the day. Many replicas are modeled on the Taj Mahal like the Taj Mahal of Bangladesh, Bibi Ka Maqbara in Maharashtra, Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the Tripoli Shrine Temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But, none of them were able to get even close to the beauty of Taj Mahal.

Bibi-ka-Maqbara

Bibi ka Maqbara in Maharashtra
It was created by Azam Shah, son of Aurangzeb and grandson of Shah Jahan, to rival the beauty of Taj Mahal

Thus, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of mixed Indian and Muslim art and architecture as it combines the elements of both Persian and Indian architectural elements. A large number of visitors choose the Taj Mahal tour only to see this white marvel. Some tourists across the globe come to India only to visit this elegy in marble. So, a curiosity to visit this marvel of India only makes the Golden Triangle tour popular in India.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Observe the beauty through Darjeeling Himalayan Railways

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) or popularly known as Toy Train is a 2 ft, narrow gauge railway runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal, India. It is the first and the most outstanding example of a hill railway. It opens in 1881 and displays the engineering skills. Due to this, residents of hill terrain can travel from one place to another through the steep hills. It is about 86 kms long and the elevation varies from about 100 meters at Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 meters at Darjeeling. The headquarters of the railway is located in the town of Kurseong.

Darjeeling-Himalayan-Railway

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Locomotive
Image by Mark Herriott on flickr.com

DHR was listed in the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is only the second railway that gets this honor after the Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. The main problem that faced by DHR was the steep slopes of the mountain. Those loops and Z-Reverses were designed as an integral part of the system at different points along the route to achieve a comfortable gradient for the stretches in between them. While climbing a slope, the train moves forwards, reverses and then moves forward again, by doing so, it gains height along the side of the hill.

Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway

Image source – wikipedia.org

The railway line that crisscross the mountain peaks stops at several locations to deliver the passengers. The climb is through reverse and loops, so, 5 reverses and 3 loops are there. The most popular among the loops is the Batasia Loop located between Ghum and Darjeeling. Besides this, it has 5 major, 498 minor bridges and 177 unmanned level crossings. Total 14 stations are there including New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.

DHR

Locomotive going through a curve
Image by bhaswaran on flickr.com

Stations on which the DHR stops are New Jalpaiguri Junction, Siliguri Town Station, Siliguri Junction, Sukna Station, Rangtong Station, Tindharia station, Mahanadi Station, Kurseong Station, Tung Station, Sonada Station, Ghum Station, Batasia Loop, etc. Main locomotives that used currently are the steam ones and designed by Sharp Stewart company and later by the North British Locomotive Company. Four diesel locomotives are also in use.

DHR_on_Batasia_Loop

DHR Locomotive on Batasia Loop
Image source – wikipedia.org

A number of films have illustrated this railway like the film Aradhana, Barfi, Parineeta, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Darjeeling Limited, etc. BBC news made a series of three documentaries which deals with Indian Hill Railways. The first film covers the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, the second is the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the third one is the Kalka-Shimla Railway. So, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a wondrous thing and the visitors of West Bengal & Darjeeling must enjoy this journey to make the trip unforgettable.

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Churches and Convents of Goa

Goa, famous for its golden beaches, is also known for its catholic religious buildings all over India. Despite being the smallest state of India, it has lots of things to offer to its visitors. One of the main glories of Goa is its Churches and Convents. They are spread all around in Old Goa. Like Maharashtra’s Vasai Fort that showcases the Portuguese heritage, the Portuguese style of art and architecture commemorate the past of the Goa. The Old Goa was the capital of the Portuguese Indies from 1565 and abandoned in 1760 because of malaria outbreak.

Se’ Cathedral-Goa

Se Cathedral – The largest church in India

Old Goa is now an archaeological site and its churches and convents come under the UNESCO World Heritage List. In this place, only few people live now, but it is hard to imagine that once there were two lakh inhabitants. Their religious buildings have survived in the form of Churches and Convents.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

Church of St. Francis of Assisi

There are many churches and convents are there, some of them are St. Catherine’s Chapel, Church and Convent of Francis of Assisi, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of Saint Cajetan, Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Augustine Tower. Most of these Churches are plain, especially the interiors. Some of the above said Churches have faded wall paintings and wooden carvings. All of them are of naïve style. Not only the architecture, the Portuguese influence can also be found in the delicious cuisines in Goa.

Basilica of Bom Jesus-Old Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Only one or two cathedrals seem to be used for religious services while the others are just like a historical monument. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the famous one. It holds the mortals remains of St. Francis Xavier, a missionary across Asia who died in 1552. He was noted as the patron saint of Goa.

St Cajetan Goa

Church of Saint Cajetan

Besides the Churches, there is a Viceroy’s Arch near the coast. This arch is a collapsing gate that was erected to commemorate the capture of the city by the Portuguese. Statue of Vasco DA Gama is located on the top of the gate. Many people visit the Old Goa only to see the remains of Portuguese art and architecture.

St. Augustine Tower Ruins

St. Augustine Tower Ruins – Image by lobodrl on flickr.com

Viceroy’s Arch

Viceroy’s Arch – Image by simonk on flickr.com

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Intricate Inscriptions on Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

Sanchi is a village in Madhya Pradesh, India. Basically, it is known in India for its popular Buddhist Stupa and its monuments. It is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Many monasteries, temples and pillars are located around the famous Sanchi stupa. The intricate carvings on the stupa illustrate the events from the life of Buddha. It is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site in India.

Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa 1 or the Great Stupa
Image source: wikipedia.org

The great stupa is the oldest stone structure in India and was commissioned by the emperor Ashoka. There are a number of monuments at this place namely Stupa 1, Stupa 3, Pillar 10, Temple 18, Temple 17, Eastern Area Temple, Southern Area Temple, Western Area Monastery, Chetiyagiri Vihara and Archaeological Museum. They are the unrivaled masterpiece of early Buddhist Art. Also, there are ruins of about 50 monuments. Among the ruined monuments, 3 are large stupas, temples, a monastery and monolithic pillars.

Sanchi Pillar

Pillar at the northern gate of Stupa 1
Image source: wikipedia.org

Stupa no. 1 is the Great or Principal monument of the place. It has many porticos with stone railings. Decorative work or Torana on the four gateways give it a stunning look. The illustrations located in the decorative work depict the former lives of Buddha. Numerous themes are illustrated there that taken from legends and history. The wonderfully carved inscriptions of plants, animals and humans show the unrivaled skills and art of the earlier times of Buddha.

Buddhist Monastery-Sanchi

Buddhist Monastery in Sanchi
Image source: wikipedia.org

All the stupas are crowned with a chhatra. Chhatra is a parasol type structure that symbolizing high rank, peace and honour to the relics of Buddha. Also, temple 17 & 45 and monastery 51 are among the most sojourning structures.

Temple_17-Sanchi

Temple 17 (front) and Temple 18 (behind)
Image source: wikipedia.org

So, the monuments of Sanchi are the worth visiting site and have great historical importance. Emperor Ashoka built many Buddhist monasteries and stupas all over India to spread Buddhism. Many pilgrimage sites are there that correlates with Buddhism and a large number of pilgrims visit them throughout the year.

Shalabhanjika

Shalabhanjika – The most well-known sculpture of Sanchi Complex
Image by jamyang190 on flickr.com

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,