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Showing posts from March, 2017

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Temples of Bikaner - Part 4: The Laleshwar Mahadev Temple (Shivbari)

The massive walls completely shield the temple from view, and it first appears to be a fort or a citadel. Even when we enter the gate, the central structure doesn’t conform to our ideas of what a temple should look like. Built on a high platform, with an open pillared hall, topped by domed chhatris, the temple of Laleshwar Mahadev, locally called Shivbari, seems to be a blend of architectural styles. The Laleshwar Mahadev Temple

Temples of Bikaner - Part 3: Laxmi Nath Temple

The temple resounds with bhajans, sung of Meera and Krishna. Devotees enter, and settle down in any available space, and join in the singing, enthusiastically. It’s evident that everyone knows the words. There are no queues, but there is a sense of order. No one is in a hurry. They wait patiently for others to have darshan before getting up for a closer look at the Lord. The temple is small, but beautiful, with intricate paintings on the ceiling. There is no space to stand and admire, so I sit down, along with everyone else, and allow my eyes to wander over the ceiling, rather than the image in the sanctum.

Temples of Bikaner – Part 2: Bhanda Shaha (or Bhandasar) Jain Temple

At first glance , it appears to be just another Jain temple - Which goes to show how deceptive first appearances can be! Because the Bhandasar Jain temple is one of the most stunning temples I have ever seen!

Temples of Bikaner - Part 1 : The Karni Mata Temple

Temples are more than just places of worship . They are monuments which speak of the people who built them, and those who came to worship in them, their beliefs, and their faith.  Like any other city in India, Bikaner too has its share of temples, each of which has its own story, its own importance, and its own place, in the social structure of the city. During my recent visit to Bikaner with Narendra Bhawan, I visited four temples, which are inextricably linked to Bikaner, and its growth. I am starting the series today, with what is probably the most famous temple in Bikaner – the Karni Mata Temple . Main entrance of the Karni Mata Temple

Kanheri - Stories in Stone

The caves at Kanheri are awe-inspiring . To begin with, there are over a hundred, spread over three hills! Then, there is the fact that they were in use for over a millennium! Add to this the wonderful art in the caves which still remains, after centuries of neglect. Taken together, Kanheri is a fascinating place, one that makes us want to delve further into its history and its stories. An inscription from Cave 3, Kanheri

The Art of Kanheri

The stories of Kanheri are spread over time and space. They begin somewhere in the 1 st century B.C.E., when the first monks passed by, and stayed in caverns hidden in these hills. Then came others, who excavated these caves, to live in, to study, and to promote their religion, to discuss their beliefs. Time passed, and as the social and political scene changed, Kanheri changed too. The caves spread over three hills, then satellite settlements began, and patrons came from far and wide. Inscriptions talk of donors who came all the way from Central Asia, the North East Frontier region and Eastern India. Along them came their influences, which are seen in the art of Kanheri. A Stupa in Cave 36, with remnants of paintings on the ceiling

Kanheri - First Impressions

I stood at the foot of the steps , looking up at the mountain. The caves carved into it centuries ago were just visible, and, for the umpteenth time that morning, I reflected on the irony, that I had grown up almost right under the shadow of these mountains, yet it had taken me so many years to actually come here. My mother’s refrain “There’s a time for everything” constantly echoed in my head, as I followed the others up the flight of steps which would lead us to the Kanheri Caves. I was glad, at least, that though delayed, I was visiting the caves to attend a three day site seminar by Dr. Suraj Pandit, one of the foremost experts on Kanheri.