Thursday, August 27, 2009

Queen's Bath, Hampi

In Hampi, the Queen's Bath is part of the Royal Enclosure. This was constructed during the Vijaynagar Empire any time from 1336 to 1565. This is a enclosed space, consisting of a complex of changing rooms and a bath. At present only the bath is extant.

Queen's Bath interior 
A strikingly, simple facade structure, in the Indo-Islamic style of Vijaynagar architecture, the interior of the bath is total contrast, with its ornate stucco and plaster work.

View of Queen's Bath balcony
The structure is 30 sq. mts., with a 15 sq. mts, bath inside, which is 1.8 mts, deep. Pillared and vaulted corridors run all around, with ornate balconies projecting into the bath. There is a water channel inlet to the East, and a moat that runs all around the structure that ensured a constant supply of fresh water. There are steps leading down to the floor of the bath to the North, and the remnants of four pillars in the center, which probably supported a pavilion. But there exists no evidence to justify the name. The wall on either sides 1.e., inner and an outer face of smoothed and fitted stone blocks with an earth and rubble fill between them.

Another view of Queen's Bath balcony

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ganesh Chaturti

In India this is the season (August - November) of festivals. It starts with Krishna Ashtami followed by Gouri Pooja, Ganesh Chaturti, Dasahara and Deepavali (festival of lights). If one wants to be part of fun and frolic this is the best time to be in India. One can enjoy the celebrations in each of the festival which last for 1 to 12 days.

Lord Ganesh decorated on the first day at the temple

Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi for the first time was started by the great Maratha ruler, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, to promote culture and nationalism. Later the festival was revived by Lokmanya Tilak (a great freedom fighter) to spread the message of freedom struggle and to defy the British who had banned public assemblies. The festival provided the Indians a feeling of unity and revived their patriotic spirit and faith.

Lord Ganesh being worshiped at the temple

It is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. He is worshiped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and auspiciousness in Hinduism. He is one of the most popular deities in Hindu religion. It is observed on the fourth day after no moon in the month of August - September as per traditional Hindu calendar. This is celebrated in temples, street corners and in individual homes. The elaborate arrangements are made for lighting, decoration. On these days, special prayers are performed in all Hindu homes and hymns and songs are sung in praise of Lord Ganesha. The festival is so popular that the preparations begin months in advance. The artists who make the idols of Ganesh compete with each other to make bigger and more magnificent and elegant idols. The bigger idols are 10 to 50 meters in height. The 12-day Ganesh Chaturthi ends with the immersion (Visarjan) of the idol on Ananta Chaturdasi day.

Design of Lord Ganesh done using half cut coconuts at the temple

In our family we celebrate it in the native place for one day. It is this time of the year all the family members gather for the celebration. All the members of family reach here on the previous day itself. The preparation start with the previous night, by cutting of vegetables for the next day. On the day of Chaturti the idol is placed in its rightful place and decorated with flowers of various types. All offer their prayers to him and take his blessings.

Lord Ganesh decoration at home over the past few years

These statues are then carried on decorated floats to be immersed in the sea after one, three, five, seven and ten days. In some places where there is no sea nearby it is immersed in the lake or well. Thousands of processions converge on the beaches to immerse the holy idols in the sea. This procession and immersion is accompanied by drum- beats, devotional songs and dancing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Zenana Enclosure, Hampi

In Hampi, the rectangular fortified enclosure surrounding several monuments is popularly known as the Zenana (harem) Enclosure. But there exists no evidence to justify the name. The wall on either sides 1.e., inner and an outer face of smoothed and fitted stone blocks with an earth and rubble fill between them.

watch tower

The four corners of the fortifications have watch towers. Three of these two storied towers can be still seen in close to the southeast, northeast and northwest corners. Like Lotus Mahal these are built in unison of Indo-Islamic architecture style.

A number of unnamed structures are present inside this enclosure. The major attraction inside the enclosure, the Lotus Mahal located at the southeast corner. Apart from this, as soon as one enters the enclosure, there are remains of water pavilion with a decorated platform in the center of it. Another major attraction is Elephant Stables. As the name suggests this place was used to ‘park’ the royal elephants.

Elephant stables

Elephant Stables is one of the least destroyed structures. This is a long building with a row of 11 domed tall chambers. Some of them are inter-connected. The center one is specially decorated and big when compared to adjacent domes. The entire building is symmetrical with respect to this central hall. The tower of the central hall resembles more like that of temples, where as the five pairs of domes on either side are of Islamic in style. The central dome is slightly destroyed, but others are better preserved and of alternating patterns. There are metal hooks on the inside of the roof. This could have been used for tying the elephants. At the rear of each hall are small manhole type openings for the mahouts to enter the elephant compartments.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lotus Mahal, Hampi

In Hampi Lotus Mahal is one of the most famous site. Even though the name suggests it is a pleasure pavilion, it is not so. The pavilion probably served as a meeting place of the emperor and his closest advisers. 

It is built in Indo-islamic style. Architecture of Lotus Mahal is a successful fusion of temple-like elements of Vijayanagara styles and sultanate elements. If the curved eaves, pyramidal towers depict temple-like elements then the lobed arches, plaster designs depict sultanate elements. The base of the structure depicts a Hindu foundation of stone just like in the temples.

Lotus Mahal arches
It is symmetrically laid out, with equal projections on four sides. It is a two storied structure. It has lobed arched openings in multiple planes surrounded by elaborate plaster designs. The upper floors have balconies with arched windows. There are hook like structures on the wall close to the upper windows may be for hanging curtains. The arches of the ground floor are recessed and ornate.The walls are protected from Sun and rain by the curved eaves that run continuously around the building. There are 8 pyramidal towers rise over the central and corner bays of the building. The ninth tower is above the central bay similar to the other eight but higher.

Carvings on the arches
The exquisite carvings of flowers and delicate art work on the pillar arches is mesmerizing, especially with the Makara Torana on top of these arches that can still be seen on some of them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

India Map

In a few days from today India will be celebrating the Independence day on 15th of August. This is one of the image of Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore taken long back. In front of the Vidhana Soudha across the road we have High Court. This map of India was drawn on the lawn with small plants in the High Court campus.

Vidhana Soudha & India Map

(Click on the image for bigger view) I had taken this snap from the High Co
urt side by taking both the India map and Vidhana Soudha in the same frame.

In 1957 the Indian Government released stamps on map of India in 11 different color shades.

The above are the few stamps from my collection.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bala Krishna Temple, Hampi

In Hampi this is one of the must see sites. Balakrishna Temple was built by Maharaja Krishnadevaraya in 1515 A.D. He had defeated Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of Orissa in the battle and had seized an image of child Krishna and brought this back to Vijaynagar. To celebrate the victory he initiated the construction of new temple. Then the beautiful idol of Lord Krishna was consecrated in this temple. This is evident from the inscriptions on the slab. They describe the conquest and the consecration of this temple on 16 February 1515 by Maharaja Krishnadevaraya.

Tower at the entrance

The main tower at the east is an impressive sight with numerous carvings on it. The epic stories carved on the walls of the tower.

Central courtyard

Built in the center of a courtyard, the temple has various s
ections. They are: a sanctum, an antechamber, an ardha mantapa, a circumlocutory passage, a pillared hall with three entrances and an open pillared mantapa. These all together form the main temple. Apart from the above there are also a number of other shrines for the attendant deities. The sanctum is at present empty. The image of Balakrishna showing him as a child holding butter in the right hand is now relocated to the Government Museum at Madras.

Pillared Mantapa

The carvings in the pillared hall are especially spectacular with the Yalis (the mythical lion) on the pillars. The inner sides of the entrance exhibit beautifully sculptured Apsaras. The entrances to the temple hall flanked with impressive carvings of elephant balustrades. The carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu can also be seen in this temple.

Tower of one of the sub shrines

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Laksmi Narasimha Temple, Hampi

If the monolithic Ganesha Statues of Hampi are around 2.3 meters, the statue of Lord Narsimha is much larger than them. This is the biggest statue in Hampi and is of 6.7 meters in height. This statue has been constructed out of a single boulder. As per the inscriptions found it was carved in 1528 A.D. during the rule of Krishnadevaraya.

This idol of the Narasimha was well designed and has large bulging eyes and broad chest, and it is a architectural beauty. Here the Lord is in cross-legged yoga position with the belt supporting the knees. Originally, during the glory days of Hampi, the Goddess Laksmi was seated on his lap. This is confirmed by the presence of one of her hands on the back of the statue. The carving of hand of the Goddess has the finger nails and rings still intact. But due to the destruction in 1565 A.D the
Goddess Laksmi statue was badly damaged and today we can only see the Lord Narsimha alone without the Goddess. The Lord is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called AdiSesha. The heads of the snake forms a hood above his head. The entire image is set within the beautiful Makar Torana an arch, with a lion-mask above the hoods of Adisesha. On the either side of the statue there are lions as guard.

This is also popularly known as Ugra Narasimha which means terrifying form. This is attributed to the protruding eyes and the facial expression. Narsimha means half-man and half-lion.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Royal Land, what next

The journey of 10 days across the Royal Land that started from Mandwa ended in Jaipur. The exiting moments we had in the different cities of Rajasthan that we passed through was never ending. Each of the cities had their own uniqueness. I have already written about these places in my prvious postings. Just to summerise what we had covered in these places:

Mandwa known for beautiful fresco paintings through out the place. Bikaner, the camel country known beautiful fort - palace and the marble cenotaphs. Kumbalgarh known for biggest fort in India. Jodhpur, the blue city known for hilltop fort and palaces. Jaisalmer known for Golden fort, Jain temples and huge number of palaces. Ranakpur famous for the carvings of Jain temple. Mount Abu the only hill station of Rajasthan and home for famous Jain temple with exquisite carvings. Udaipur known for the fort, temple and the lake palace. Jaipur known for numerous forts and palaces.

After covering more than 80% of Rajasthan there is still more to cover. The next trip to this Royal state would explore some parts of Udaipur and Jaipur that could not be done due to lack of time. Other exiting places in the state to travel would be Kota, Bundi, Ajmer, Pushkar, Chittorgarh, Osian, Alwar, Ranthambore etc.,

But for now I have set my eyes on another beautiful state of India - Madhya Pradesh. Since, I have already done it, I will share with you all my friend very soon.