Monday, May 18, 2015

SunTemple at Modhera (Gujarat)

The Sun Temple of Modhera is located at Modhera in Gujarat. Modhera Sun Temple is famous for its architecture. It Temple was built by King Bhimdev of Solanki Dynasty in 1026. Solankis were known as suryavanshi. This temple is known as 11th century sun temple. 
 
This temple is designed as first ray of the sun fell on the image of sun. Modhera's sun Temple's architecture is similar to the Konark Sun Temple.The Sun temple is a unique architecture and has three separate, axially aligned and integrated elements: Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap.
 
The structure comprises of intricate carvings and designs that brighten up the temple at dawn when the first rays of the sun hits the area. The intricate designs of the Solanki architecture are perfect to every minute detail and reflect rare craftsmanship. The exclusively carved temple complex and the magnificently sculpted kund are jewels in the art of masonry of the Solanki period apparently which was also known as the Golden Age of Gujarat.
 
The Surya Kund is the first of three distinct components of the temple complex. To the west lies the Sabha Mandap or primary hall and beyond is the main temple — all laid out as on an east-west grid. The temple complex, which is built on the Tropic of Cancer, is designed such that the first rays of the sun fall on the main idol at the time of the equinoxes. The entire temple is based on a lotus-base plinth, lotus being the Sun God's favourite flower. It is designed in such a manner that the rays of the rising and setting sun on the days of equinox directly falls on to the pure gold idol of Sun riding on his chariot driven by Saarthi (chariot driver) Arun. The Sun God's chariot has seven horses and his saarathy sits on the fourth.
 
 The northern side of the tank and make our way to the centre of the western edge. Steps lead up to the Sabha Mandap, an octagonal hall between the water tank and the main temple. At the top of the steps are the remnants of a huge arch or Toran that lead to the main hall, the Sabha Mandap. There are 52 pillars in the hall, denoting the 52 weeks in a year.
 
Every pillar, including the Toran, is intricately carved. Starting with a simple octagonal base that showcases a small deity set in an arch on each face, the pillars are formed of geometrical patterns surmounted by exquisitely carved dancing nymphs, above which octagonal panels display scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
 
 At the centre of the hall is an arched ceiling carved like an inverted lotus flower. The detailing is marvellous. Beyond the Sabha Mandap is the main temple or the Guda Mandap, which is no longer used. The absence of the main idol —believed to be a golden Surya on his chariot, in no way detracts from its beauty. 
 
The exterior walls of the temple are replete with carvings — including twelve postures of Aditya or the Sun god. Like many other temples in India, the walls depict divine as well as the daily lives of people, including a good deal of beautiful sculptures.


 

 The temple complex is being well maintained by the ASI, with some renovations done in recent times. For the historically inclined, the onsite museum has numerous sculptures and other stone work on display.
 
The 52 pillars adding grace and poise to the temple section. each panel in turn and witness the intricate details encompassing thepanels speaking and sharing about their costumes, jewelry, performing arts, erotica and the intensely enigmatic art of making love, medicinal plants, and the pharmacopoeia etched in stone.
 
Suryakunda, also known as Ramakunda, is a rectangular stepped tank that is used to store pure water. Devotees use the tank to perform Surya namaskar and other ceremonial ablution before worshipping the sun god. It is one of the best visible examples of the designers' sense of geometry. 
 
Besides comprising a series of stone steps that culminate into the fresh water, the structure also embodies 108 miniature shrines carved in between these steps. The 108 shrines are synonymous to the 108 beads of the Hindu rosary. 
 
This is called the main temple or the sanctum sanctorum. The entry to the temple is decorated by two huge ornamental arches. Another notable work of marvel is the sculpted exteriors. 
 
The exteriors are decked with 12 different postures of Adityas - Sun God along with eight Dikpals, Lord Vishwakarma - who constructed Golden Dwarka city for Shri Krishna, Varundev - God of Water, Agnidev - God of Fire, Ganesh - God for starting, Mata Saraswati - Goddess of Education & Wisdom. The sculptures also depict erotic art that was typical of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist architectures.
 
Overall it was an eye opener on many things about our culture, scientific knowledge etc. It actually mesmerises you by the tech know that our ancestors had, precise calculations,impossible viewing angles defying the line of light. Its techno historic marvel. 
 

The place is neat and quite well maintained. Some of the carvings are amazing. The historical stories about the temple are very interesting. There is a lake in pond in front and a lovely garden all around and also a museum if one has the time. Definitely worth visiting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rani-ki-Vav-Stepwell,Patan-Gujarat

Rani-ki-Vav, a magnificent step well, at Patan is said to been constructed by Queen Udayamati wife of King Bhimadeva I (A.D. 1022-1063).This is the highest watermark of Solanki architecture. According to history, one Vanraj Chavda founded the city of Patan in 746AD. The city enjoyed the status of capital of Gujarat for about 600 years till 1411AD. Patan reached the heights of glory under the rule of Solankis till Mahmud Ghazni in 1024AD invaded the city and ransacked it. Patan of present times is just a reminiscent of the past glory and is popular for its beautiful Patola saris.














Citied as a spectacular piece of architecture reflects the superb sculpting skills of the artisans of the Solanki era. The step well, which was constructed by Queen Udayamati (AD 1022-63) in the loving memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty, is one of the finest step wells in India and a popular legacies of Patan. 
 
 It is 64 m long and 20 m wide .She completed the construction of Rani Ki Vav in 1063. 'Vav' is apparently the Gujarati word for 'baoli' (stepwell in Hindi). And definitely the 'Queen's Stepwell' of Patan, of the Gujarat area, must be the most beautiful stepwell of all. After construction of Rani Ki Vav it was flooded by Saraswati River. Later on in 1980 Archeological Survey of India found the Rani Ki Vav with awesome carving.
 

A brilliant Archological Monument of this Stepwell  was originally constructed of seven stories of which only five are now preserved. The shaft of this step well is 27 m deep. The step is oriented in east-west directions. The step well has long stepped corridor descending down to the underground tank, it is having four compartmental multi-storeyed pillared pavilions with circular draw well at rear end.
 
 The corridor walls, pillared pavilions and inner side of well are embellished with fine sculptures. Nearly 400 sculptures have survived out of the original estimated 800 sculptures, which comprise of Hindu gods and goddesses, apsaras and miscellaneous themes. 
 

The sculptures are ornate; each one has a story to tell. The worksmanship is exquisite. But what I liked best was that the steps gave me a choice...many choices to choose the path I wanted to take as I descended...and I could sit down just about anywhere I wanted to. 
 
There are so many idols Idols in each flour but of main idol is of Lord Vishnu, Sleeping on Sheshnag at basement of Stepwell. The monument is atleast 1,000 years old. it was not decorated with just a few geometric designs but extensively with sculptures of Mahishasuramardini, Parvati, Bhairava, Ganesha, Surya, Kubera, and the several avataras of Vishnu. Interspersed are the ashtadikpalas, yoginis, nagakanyas, and apsaras. 

 

The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. 
 
At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages. The steps begin at ground level, leading down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below.
 
The wall projects the large vertical brackets in pairs, which supported the different galleries of the well. The brackets are arranged in tiers. It has a stepped corridor compartmented at regular intervals with pillared multi-storeyed pavilions.
 
 The four pavilions which demarcate the stages along the descent have multiple storeys, two, four, six and seven respectively.  The full size sculptures of the stepwell are taken from the entire Hindu pantheon, for example, Vishnu, Shiva and their various aspects appear with or without their consorts.
 
Carving on a pillar of the Vav is very beautiful and reminds that how beautiful India was in the past. The rani Ki valve is very huge. There are beautiful gardens around the Rani Ki Vav. They have a beautiful lawn where once can relax. . Beautiful place, amazing sculptures, well maintained. Truly a world heritage site.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Desert Delight-Little Rann of Kutch



Moonwashed in Little Rann of Kutch
Some of my favourite  hobby from childhood are lie on the roof to behold the sky above gazing stars. I am so passionate to exploit the Sky Watch from balcony in my home from where I can see the morning &evening sky. The balcony is my favourite place to stand and watch the world go by in between my chores . , I spend a few minutes watching the night sky lie on the couch to behold the sky above gazing stars & point out specific stars and marvel. I love spotting craters on the moon and I just get astonished at the night sky. Watch the stars and galaxies and understand the mysteries of the universe!


While planning a road trip to Little Rann of Kutch; I was quite influenced by the advertisement on television by matinee idol Amitabh Bachchan describing the beauty of the moon against the pristine pure white salt desert.
 
 Covering an area of 4954 Km. Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat State, India.It is one of the most remarkable and unique landscapes of its kind in the entire world. 
 

Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in this Rann which harbors the last population of Wild Ass Which is the only Sanctuary in India. It is a vast desiccated, unbroken bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rain.

Our jeep moved through the desert area, negotiating through thorny shrubs, patches of desert vegetation and a group of white animals appeared in a far corner. The desert can be a lonely yet tranquil place.. 
 
we reached  before the sunset and were mesmerized by the view. It was a beautiful experience to walk in the desert. That place is endless. Heat mirages disturb the vast horizon – bushes and trees seem to hover above the surface. 
 



 Sunset.... It's a great place to enjoy sun set against mirage. As we went 1km far we could see no one nearby except the sunset. The good part was seeing the sun set and the full moon rise at the same time. it is a day before full moon, so it wasn’t the brightest but it was still magical in its own ways This phenomenal experience can't be explained in words, one has to go there to see its uniqueness. 
It’s also similar to purity spread across,as there is no construction,no obstruction,no nothing is this vast white piece of land. You can choose to walk as much as you can,you would still after a while see some more white salt. That I reminded myself that even if I walked till my eyes could see “The horizon would continue”.
 
we walk up into the desert sometimes seeking inspiration in the stillness. I rediscovered the light show in the blanket of the Milky Way - shooting stars and countless satellites accenting all the familiar constellations. I stand in the middle of snowy milky white expanse of salt with fading red reflections of a beautiful sunset on one side and coming up moon rise on another;both simultaneously crisp,clear and round as if they had exchanged roles just now! 
 
I was excited. The moon rays and the whiteness of the Rann merged into each other creating an ethereal environment. I sat there, staring into the moon and enjoying the infinite beauty of the White Rann. As I was getting moon washed with the pure moon light permeating through every cell of my body, I felt a sense of peace and calm that urged me to continue sitting there and reflect on life. As my sole light source, the moon trekked across the vastness of the night sky. I'd pause under the stars, listen to the wind, slow my breath, calm my nerves.

 I am very much attracted to the beauty of the moon. completely in awe of the beauty in the sky., it was a journey of taking in the moonlight bit by bit Amazing Whiteness, Vastness, Peace. Natural patterns witnessing nature in all her glory was me falling in love with that land. The true joy of a moonlight night is something we all love to experience.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Songs of My Soul



Somewhere deep within you is a song that plays softly, always… Music has always been  constant in my life. I’m not sure since when I’m listening to Music and became an addict. 

Music is the most powerful element that can drive you from moods and situations. But with Music, older I grew and feel younger. Music heals my soul and has all my life. It encourages me, motivates me and it pours energy in me.  I listen to music all the time, especially when I can't sleep. I just upload songs on my mobile and turn on my mobile player  and lay on my bed and let the music lure me to sleep. When I get very angry, sad or anxious....I find that the music can manage to calm me down and bring me back to core. . I am often surprised at how a simple tune or a few lines of words have the amazing ability to reach me emotionally, Music is my stress killer, heals my pain, takes away my boredom and keeps me happy .

I have listened to the songs of Noted artists of Carnatic Music like Balamuralikrishna, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Bombay Sisters, Priya Sisters, Unnikrishnan, TN Seshagopalan, KJ Yesudas, N Ramani, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Balaji Shankar, TM Krishna, Bombay Jayashri, Aruna Sairam. The nectar of carnatic lies in melting the hearts with beautifully composed lyrics blended with emotions, due to the raga and the feel donated by the singer. It concentrates on the meaning and thus the created emotion.

I love music of any kind of songs. Vocal /Instrumental/Bhajans absolutely anything classical (both western and Indian ) ,film songs and Ghazals. I Dont know much about Hindustani but I would love to hear them all..It’s great to hear a nice melody and harmony blend that soothes the soul and warms the heart.!!

Over the years, influences from around the world have traversed through the musical routes and developed something called the light classical music. Light classical or semi-classical music. Fusion music has a charm and beauty all its own.. Nowadays I started liking Fusion-songs.Experimenting with classical art forms is not wrong as the long as its sanctity and dignity is not violated

When I like a song, I try and listen to  many different people singing it as possible. Every singer has their own style, and I thoroughly enjoy individual interpretations of the same song. In carnatic music, it is more common for different singers to sing the same song, than in film music.

Some songs are in my heart and the melody within my soul, the song that holds me in the dark, It warms me when am cold, really touches my soul every time I listen to it. I am carnatic music illiterate; I don't know telugu too..! But  that "bhaavam"  overflowing throughout the entire song,  dilute the hard souls. Among so many krithi's, one song is My favourite carnatic krithi, that is "Nagumomu Ganaleni" (Ragam: Abheri) composed by Saint Thyagaraja. I was literally stuck to this song. I am listening (enjoying) this song almost daily

The fusion style composition of"Nagumomu is amazing.Athirai Dhanabalan;She sang brilliantly, did not contaminate the original style and Love the way mridangam and the drums don't interfere with eachother.  Taaye yeshoda from the movie ‘Morning Raaga’ is one of the best A spectacular classical fusion song that I have heard till now. The first fusion song I heard was ‘Krishna Nee Begane’ by Colonial Cousins. That was a brilliant fusion of western and classical. I seem to love music with a classical touch in them

My favorite Famous bands such as Agam is a Bangalore-based contemporary Carnatic progressive rock band who recently fused Tyagaraja’s Bantureethi Kolu in Hamsanadam with Rock music form.But I likeSinger Karthiks version.

Avial interestingly the band is named after the popular South Indian dish Avial. that reflects the one of a kind heritage of Kerala life. Folk song with alternative rock flavour . I Came to know through my son. we both enjoyed this band. Another favorite band ShrutiBox by Shankar Tucker , an American clarinetist and music composer. The ShrutiBox are a fusion of Indian classical music and jazz. Maatibaani is a World Music band combining elements of Hindustani Classical with various styles of Folk music. Bawariya  They simply create the sound that we love to hear with our different styles of music. . Chandrachooda song incredible composition.I absolutely loved this fusion, wished I could hear this more in completion.

So, if more fusion songs like the above are made, probably a lot of people could enjoy and carry forward the versatile musical tradition that we have developed and nurtured over centuries. But of late, I seem to love music with a classical touch in them – which makes me wonder if age/circumstances influence our musical tastes.
Apart from fusion I would like to explore Abaang, Ashtapathi, bhajan& composition of Thyagaraja, Purandaradasa, Annamachariya, Muthuswamy Deekshathar..,..endless list..
As Sergei Rachmaninov said “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music”.