Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Shiva temple of red sandstone in Mukteswar

The 10th-century Mukteswar temple in Bhubaneswar is said to be a jewel in Odisha's cultural landscape, the culmination of an era, a precursor to other famous landmarks of the city including the Lingaraja temple.

The torana or arch in front of the temple is unique 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Woodpeckers to elephants, squirrels to tigers, this is Kabini

The river Kabini flows down from the wild of Wayanad in Kerala meandering its way east, through Karnataka, generously hosting the wildlife that come to its banks in the Kabini Forest Reserve. The wildlife reserve, a part of Nagarhole national park, is one of India's few remaining spots where the tiger runs wild. There is a catch in spotting the animal, though. The reserve is big (around 55 acres) and dense with multiple valleys and watering holes which make it easy for shy tigers to stay hidden when noisy safari jeeps laden with visitors come trawling.

A tigress stares down her visitors in Kabini

Monday, February 15, 2016

The language of stone in Konark

It's a glorious 13th-century temple of stone, now largely in ruins. Said to have been built by a 1200 artisans in 12 years, the Sun Temple in Konark is a world heritage monument built to 'shock and awe'; the temple is a chariot for the sun god, whom its patron, a Ganga king, worshipped. Rabindranath Tagore, no doubt impressed like the rest of us visitors, said of this place: 'Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.' Rather than trying to present this monument with some woefully inadequate words, here's the temple in pictures only...

Sun Temple, Konark

Sunday, February 07, 2016

In Raghurajpur, the home of colour

Raghurajpur. It's the home of Pattachitra -- colourful scroll painting on cloth. When the artists sit you down in their studio-cum-shop-cum-art gallery, the world of Hindu mythology opens up. A dancing Ganesha, a Krishna on his flute, Jagannath with his siblings, the story of Ramayana; all meticulously painted on cloth, or even paper, in  colours so vibrant that you cannot but help want to stay and stare.

Paintings from Raghurajpur

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sprinting to catch a glimpse of the lord in Puri

His believers call him the "Lord of the Universe"; his temple is one of the world's most famous religious shrines for Hindus; his annual holiday attracts a crowd of millions, he and his siblings go out in personal chariots, pulled by the countless of devotees, during this break; the celebration is called the Ratha Yatra, and every once in a while a few get crushed to death or severely hurt in the process; he and his siblings are -- unlike other temple gods of stone or metal -- made of neem wood, carved from trees that a search team is sent to exclusively pick, the idols are exchanged every 10-19 years in an event called the Nabakalebara; his priests take no prisoners and are known to intimidate visitors with demands for donations; his temple -- except at the Ratha Yatra -- is fiercely resistant to foreign-looking and non-Hindu visitors (even Hindus of non-Indian origin are not allowed to get close); his origins are a mix of theories -- part tribal, part Hindu -- and stories of a king's cunning emissary with pockets full of mustard seeds; he is much loved, he is Jagannath.

Jagannath Temple in Puri