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Showing posts from November, 2016

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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

From Memorial Stones to Guardian-Deities. A tale of many goddesses

Rows of cenotaphs filled the walled enclosure at the Devi Kund Sagar, Bikaner. Built of brown stone, and marble, these were the cenotaphs of the royal family. It was interesting to see that the memorials were different for men and women. The cenotaphs of the men had a standing stone with an image of Lakshmi Narayana carved on them, with detailed inscriptions giving their names, as well as family details, birth and death dates. In sharp contrast, those of women simply had footprints inscribed on stone. Memorial stone in the cenotaph of a man, Devikund Sagar, Bikaner

On a visit to the Border at Jaisalmer

Miles and miles of scrub land loomed ahead, interspersed with glimpses of sand dunes. A narrow path led us deeper into this expanse, and not a soul was to be seen anywhere. We had been driving for what seemed like hours, and I began to wonder just how much farther we were, from our destination. Soon, a tower made its appearance on the horizon, and we were able to see the barbed wire fences, which we had expected to see. It fitted perfectly with our idea of what a border should be like. What we hadn’t expected, was the young woman who waited for us at the fence.

Re-discovering the Thar at Jaisalmer

The first time I visited Jaisalmer , the sand dunes stretched before me, fascinating me with their contours, making me fall in love with the desert and its myriad patterns. The second time, it showed me a different side. It told me of the many stories that lay hidden beneath the sands, of times long gone, and the people who lived here. Earlier this year, as I set out for Jaisalmer once again, I wondered what the desert would show me this time.

Khajuraho Trip Planner

Whenever I think of Khajuraho, it is Dr. Devangana Desai that I first remember. I am transported back to the end of October 2015, when I listened, spellbound, to Dr. Desai, as she spoke about the Religious Imagery of Khajuraho, as part of the Indian Aesthetics course I was pursuing, at Jnanapravaha Mumbai . By the end of the lecture, I was so fascinated by the temples and their iconography, that the first thing I did when I got back home, was to check trains to Khajuraho! When I finally stood at the Kandariya Mahadev Temple two months later, craning my neck up to see as much as I could of the 84 mini- Shikaras, seeing the resemblance to the cave at Kailasa, the sense of awe was  only heightened. Yet, there was an odd sense of fulfillment, seeing the same sense of awe in the eyes of my 12 year old son who accompanied me.

Khajuraho - The Other Heritage

The temples of Khajuraho are so magnificent, that all other monuments in the area pale in comparison. Thus, relatively newer monuments, as well as other forms of heritage, which too deserve recognition, repair and maintenance, tend to get ignored. 

Khajuraho - A Break from Temples, and a Tryst with Nature

When I set out for Khajuraho with my son, I made a deal with him. He would come with me to temples, and I would take him somewhere where there were no temples around.

Khajuraho - More Sculptures, and some thoughts as well!

Writing about Khajuraho was not easy, with so much already written on the temples, by those who have studied them in far more detail than I have. The form my posts eventually took was because of my attempt to classify the sculptures I had seen, to understand them in the wider context of the temples themselves. Now that I have shown you the Forms of Vishnu , Shiva , the Devi , the Ashta Dikpalas and the Ashta Vasus , let me show you a few sculptures which fit into none of these categories, but fascinated me all the same, for many reasons, and brought up a lot more thoughts as well, starting with this image of Kartikeya. Kartikeya, Lakshmana Temple

The Power of 8 - The Ashta Dikpalas and Ashta Vasus at Khajuraho

The four cardinal directions form the axis on which a temple is built, and are thus the basis of temple architecture. Leading from them are the eight directions, which are believed to be guarded by the eight guardians, or Ashta Dikpalas . In the temples of Khajuraho, great care has been taken by the sculptors to carve the Ashta Dikpalas on the walls, both inside and outside. They not only guard the temple, but also look over us as we circumambulate the shrine, protecting us by their presence. They are augmented by the Ashta Vasus , celestial beings which represent natural phenomena. Together, they enhance the idea of the temple as cosmos, enfolding within it, all the aspects of nature, both, on earth, as well in space.

Khajuraho - Forms of Devi

One of the most impressive forms of the Devi at Khajuraho is on the outer wall of the Lakshmana Temple. Yogeshwari, Or Ambika... or Durga.