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Showing posts from June, 2017

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The Elephanta Caves

The Elephanta Caves , located on Elephanta Island, or Gharapuri, about 11 Km off the coast of the Gateway of India, Mumbai, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to these caves, excavated probably in the 6 th century CE, is awe-inspiring, and also thought-provoking. Over the years, I have visited the caves a number of times, and also attended a number of talks by experts in the fields of art, history and archaeology on the caves. Together, they help me understand these caves, their art, and the people they were created for, just a little bit better. Every new visit, every new talk, every new article I read about the caves, fleshes out the image of what the island and the caves would have been like, at their peak. I last wrote about the caves on this blog, in 2011, almost exactly 11 years ago. Since then, my understanding of the caves has, I would like to think, marginally improved. Hence this attempt to write a new and updated post, trying to bring to life, the caves of Elephan

Paintings at the Pundrikji-ki-Haveli, Jaipur

I first read about Pundrikji-ki-Haveli on the ASI Jaipur circle website. It is said to be the home of Pandit Ratnakar Bhatt, the royal purohit (priest and advisor) at the court of Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh II, the founder of Jaipur. As the story goes, the pandit, originally from Maharashtra, was studying Astrology and Tantra Vidya at Kashi, where he met the King of Jaipur. Impressed with his knowledge, the king brought him back to Jaipur, making him the royal purohit . He was also given the title of “Pundrik”, probably an association with the town of Pandharpur (where he might have hailed from). The king, it is said, built him a Haveli, which came to be known as Pundrikji-ki-Haveli. The Haveli has some excellent examples of paintings, of the Jaipur style, prevalent during the 18 th century. Our visit to the Haveli is a long story.

The Temple of Neelkanth at Alwar, Rajasthan

Deep inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve , a narrow road led us to the foothills of a mountain. There, it abruptly stopped, and we wondered how we were expected to go on. Our driver looked at me accusingly, surely blaming me for getting us all lost, in search of a temple he hadn’t heard of. Just then, a local on a bike appeared, hurtling out of nowhere. Seeing us, apparently lost, he stopped, and we asked for directions. He simply pointed to the mountain, and said the temple was up there. I was aghast, at the thought of climbing the mountain, in the heat. But then he pointed to a rough path ahead, and told us to follow it. We stared at the path, if we could call it that, in dismay. But having come this far, we didn’t want to return without trying our best. And by now, our driver had discovered his adventurous side. Metaphorically gearing up his loins, he got in, and assured us he could get us up the mountain. The next hour was a trial for our nerves, as the rocky path took us higher, an