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Showing posts with label Stonecraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stonecraft. Show all posts

Trimbakeshwar Temple, Nasik

Western Ghats, the mountain ranges which is older than Himalayas stretches along the Western coast of India for approx. 1600 km. The mountain ranges are endowed with diverse ecosystems ranging from tropical wet evergreen forests to montane grasslands containing variety of flora, fauna and numerous medicinal plants.


However, in ancient times these lush green Western Ghats once had witnessed a severe and long spell of drought for more than 100 years. Then, Maharishi Gautam did a long meditation to please Lord Shiva and requested Lord Shiva to allow Goddess Ganga to appear at this place. Pleased by Maharishi Gautam, Lord Shiva happily agreed to the request and so did Goddess Ganga. But Goddess Ganga put a condition that she will appear here only if Lord Shiva also stays here in this region.


Lord Shiva agreed to this condition as well and released Goddess Ganga from his locks, “Jatas” at Brahmagiri mountains, which is adjacent to Trimbakeshwar temple. Ganga river which appeared here was initially known by the name Gautami River (after Maharishi Gautam) and is now called as “River Godavari”. And since then, Lord Shiva has been residing in the form of” Lord Trimbakeshwar”, meaning God with 3 eyes in this region, in fact Brahmagiri mountain is considered as a form of Lord Shiva. Subsequently a temple was built to worship Lord Shiva at the place. Trimbakeshwar Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva and is one of the holiest places for Hindu pilgrims and devotees.

Once you are in the temple premises after praying to the Lord Shiva, clicking the beautiful architecture will keep you occupied for reasonable time.

Since ancient times, the temple has been renovated and upgraded by various rulers of the region. The present Trimbakeshwar temple was constructed by 3rd Peshwa Balaji Bajirao during 1740-1761, at the site of old existing temple and subsequently renovated by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1789. The Jyotirlinga here in the temple is in the form of 3 faced Linga, symbolizing trinity of Gods - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. 

From entry to the temple –

Till the exit from the sacred sanctum, exquisite carvings adorn the temple walls.


Architecture of temple is a lesson in symmetric geometry, you may spend a whole day to locate any flaw in the design:

Nasik is well connected by roads, trains and airways. Mumbai to Nasik takes around 5 hours by road and the road takes you on a refreshing journey from the valleys to the origin of river Godavari in Nasik. Since pilgrims and devotees from all over India come to this temple, be prepared to witness long ques for entry to the temple, irrespective of time of the day. Enjoy the experience of standing in the que, along with other devotees.

This is the skyline of Trimbakeshwar with Brahmagiri mountain sitting majestic atop-

# - Godavari river is the 2nd longest river in India, which flows for around 1450 km. and finally meets with Bay of Bengal.

# - Trimbakeshwar is located at the foot of Brahamagiri hill, about 3000 feet above sea level.


Trimbakeshwar town is an ancient Hindu Pilgrim centre located at the source of the Godavari River, the longest river in peninsular India. 

Keep exploring Folks…

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Sahastrabahu Temple/ Saas bahu Temple

Temple which was originally called as Sahastrabahu Temple, is now popularly known as Saas bahu temple. How come?

In the ancient times, there was a king, King Mahipala whose wife was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. So, this temple was built by King Mahipala in the year 1092 depicting Lord Vishnu with thousand arms, Sahastrabahu. Hence the temple, an architectural marvel was originally called as Sahastrabahu temple. Located at eastern part of Gwalior Fort, the first look appearance of the temple is simply mind blowing. 

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Teli ka Mandir, Gwalior

When was the last time you drove for 6-7 hours since early morning, just to visit that splendid spot? 

When you are in the country known India, there are many such spots which are destinations in themselves. Even a whole day travel is worth to just spend 30-40 minutes at the spot. Ancient Teli-Ka Mandir in Gwalior is one such spot. Colossal size, splendid architecture, intricate carvings of Gods and Goddesses and image of Garuda, vehicle of Lord Vishnu make this temple a complete destination.

More than 100 ft. in height, the temple is a unique blend of different Indian architectural styles. It is the tallest structure in the Gwalior Fort. Check out the different styles of lower half and the upper dome.
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Mandore Gardens, Jodhpur

- Time has stood still since 1459 CE in Mandore -
A suburb of Jodhpur, 5 km. from Jodhpur is the small town of Mandore which was once a seat of power of prominent Rathore clan Rajputs. Not only Rathore Rajputs, Mandore had been the capital city of many Rajput kings and has played a major role in safeguarding Northern India from the attacks of western invaders and Muslim kings from Gujarat. During 6th century, a princess of Pratiharas dynasty was married into Rathore dynasty and Mandore was the Wedding Gift to the Rathore prince.

Around 1450, the capital seat was shifted to Mehrangarh Fort in order to protect the city and the residents from further attacks and invasions. However Mandore Gardens still stand high in pride to tell the glorious tales of the bygone eras seen by the Mandore. Though Mandore lost the prominence in 1459 CE as the capital seat shifted to Mehrangarh, but word abandoned cannot be used with the town. Mandore gardens have been well preserved to let visitors visualize/ imagine the glorious past of this ancient town.

Ancient temples, Cenotaphs of erstwhile Jodhpur rulers and an ancient tunnel makes an enriching trip to Mandore Gardens. Brilliant temples carved out of Sandstone are the first to get attention. 

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Krishnapura Chhatris, Indore

Rise of Marathas during 17th century lead to emergence of one of the most significant power in India which is mostly credited with ending misrule which was prevailing in those times. Brilliant commander like Tanhaji, supported by courageous chiefs like Holkars, Bhonsale, Scindia, Gorkwads, established a kingdom based on Indian traditions and culture.

Brilliance of Indian soul is that gallantry comes along with patronage of arts and culture. Be it Rajputs or Marathas, their swords crushed invaders time and again and their chisels crafted architectural wonders.

The way Rajasthan is full of exquisite masterpieces, a testimony to the artistic flavors of the Rajputs; similarly the Maratha Rulers also had exquisite taste for architecture which is immortalized in the form of the Krishnapura Chhatris, a spectacular combination of visually appealing stones, visible at the first glance.

Heart of Indore is the address and I was fortunate to be at Krishnapura Chhatris, the resting place of the Holkars. Development of Indore and nearby areas like Maheshwar is solely credited to the Holkar kings, who kept the soul intact till 1948. 

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The Lepakshi Temple - Poetry on Stones

At times when airlines inform you well in advance about your flight getting late, but you might have already started moving towards airport, what will you do in such a situation?
You have 2 options; interesting one is to continue to airport, enjoy food and drinks at airport lounges, have a jolly good time and relax. And boring option will be to start searching for any on the way attraction and wear out yourself. It happened to me when, I was already on way to Bangalore from Vijaynagar. To decide, I opted for the boring option to explore Lepakshi, a small village in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh which was 15 km from the highway.

After accounting remaining travel time, I had precisely 2.5 hours to spend at Lepakshi. Lepakshi as pronounced locally is the place where king of bird “Jatayu (जटायु)” left this mortal world, in arms of lord Ram. There after Lord Ram requested heaven to accept Jatayu by saying "Le-Pakshi" (take the bird) and that is how, we now know the place as Lepakshi.
This small village is house to one of the most amazing architectural wonder in India, perhaps in the world, the Veerbhadra Temple with hanging pillar. I knew that I was about to step into a wonderland, the moment I took the first step inside the sacred premises. 

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Mohan Shakti Heritage Park, Solan

If you think that mountains are all about valleys, flowing water streams and precisely located temples, well your thoughts may be going for some serious reconsideration. 

Coming from Jatoli Shiv Temple in Solan and after travelling 8 kms towards Shimla, turn right on a narrow downhill road. You have to be a very confident driver for this 7 km. of road, if driving yourself, in order to find this Khul Ja Sim Sim like Treasure of our Heritage.

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Shri Krauncha Giri, Kumar Swamy Temple - Chalukya Legacy

Whether you are travelling on the road or off the road, you are never far off from a wonderful Offbeat Spot. Such is the beauty of Land called India. 


The era of Vijayanagara empire has been often called as the most prosperous region ever to have happened, on this earth. Other than the majestic Hampi Kingdom, this region also has some impressive monuments which are yet to be explored. While meandering in this region came to know about a panoramic temple on Krauncha Giri (Giri means Hill in hindi language), somewhere nearby.

Search for that exclusive temple took me to the Swamimalai Forest Range, wherein lies the legendary Krauncha Giri mountain. I had no idea that I was going to walk into a legendary chapter of our Mythology. Legendary…?


Located 10 km away from Sandur in Bellary district, this mountain is the site of the famous Kumar Swamy temple (also spelled as Kumaraswamy/ Kumarswami). The Kumar
Swamy Temple complex consists of 2 temples dedicated to Lord Karthikeya and Goddess Parvati (Mother of Lord Karthikeya). Lush green mountains in the backdrop make a perfect canvas for this temple.

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Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Alwar

1.      One Man who brought the Rolls Royce company to its knees and
2.      One of most haunted place in the world.
What is the relation?

The man was King Jai Singh, who bought entire available fleet of Rolls Royce (6 cars) on one day in year 1920 and ordered the municipality to use the Rolls Royce cars for garbage collection at his kingdom. Those were the times when Rolls Royce were used to sweep the streets in India.

The haunted place is “Bhangarh Fort” where entry before sunrise and after sunset is prohibited by law. Still not making sense. Let’s add one more point in the list.

3.      A temple dating back to the time of Mahabharata, that is approx. 5000 years back.
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Hampi...Land of Grand Temples

Continued from where we left at Hampi, Hemkuta Hill:


As further described by Abdur Razzek: Vijaynagar is built in such a manner that seven citadels and the same number of walls enclose each other. Around the first citadel are stones of the height of a man, one half of which is sunk in the ground while the other half rises above it. These are fixed one beside the other in such a manner that no horse or foot soldier could boldly or with ease approach the citadel." 


Razzaq describes the outer citadel as a "fortress of round shape, built on the summit of a mountain, and constructed of stones and lime. It has very solid gates, the guards of which are constantly at their post, and examine everything with severe inspection." Seventh fortress is the innermost of all and most protected as it used to serve as King’s residence."


"The space which separates the first fortress from the second, and up to the third fortress, is filled with cultivated fields and with houses and gardens. In the space from the third to the seventh one meets a numberless crowd of people, many shops, and a bazaar. By the king's palace are four bazaars, placed opposite each other. Above each bazaar is a lofty arcade with a magnificent gallery, but the audience-hall of the king's palace is elevated above all the rest. The bazaars are extremely long and broad." 

Thinking and deliberating on the magnificence of this place, we were now on the legendary Hemkuta Hill, it was the time to see and experience the large number of temples, archways and pavilions. The whole hill was fortified with tall wide stonewalls, the ruined remains of which can be seen till today. Hemkuta hill with reasonably flat expanse is one of the ideal places in Hampi to cherish the sunrise and sunset. 


According to the prevailing myth, once Lord Shiva was so impressed by the dedication of a local girl "Pampa" for him that he agreed to marry her. The occasion was celebrated by the Gods and it rained gold on this hill, which gave the present name to this hill (Hema in Sanskrit language means Gold). Hence majority of temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva, the major one being the "Virupaksha temple", located at north of this hill. This hilltop and its slopes offer a splendid view of the sprawling ruins site.

Virupaksha temple surrounded by small temples.

Virupaksha temple is the principal temple in Hampi and an important pilgrimage centre for the worshipers of lord Shiva. The annual festivals attract huge crowds, Virupaksha temple is equally sought after by the tourists and pilgrims. It believed that this is the oldest functioning temple in India, as this temple has been functioning continuously ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. Virupaksha temple has been beautifully carved with numerous images of Gods and Goddesses.


One can reach the main entrance of temple through the chariot street in front of the Hampi Bazaar, just next to where the local bus stand. From the ticket counter close to the main entrance buy the entry ticket (Rs. 5), camera ticket (Rs. 50) and video camera fee (Rs 500). What an amazing piece of architecture? 

Virupaksha temple from inside: 

From the inner sanctum:
There is a long market outside Virupaksha temple and a number of bouldered structures, all in stones. Looks like once it has been a double story market.

This huge structure of monuments is located opposite to Virupaksha temple. I do not know what it was, but the sheer colossal size is amazing:

Next destination is the temple which even Lord Vishnu found too grand to his use and returned to live in his own home. yes we are talking of the most grand monument in Hampi, Vittala temple. the present look of the temple is attributed of Krishna Devaraya, the most acclaimed ruler of Vijayanagara dynasty. Temple complex is so big that it has shrines, pavilions and many halls located inside it. The famous "Stone Chariot", face of Karnataka tourism belongs to this temple.
Intricately carved Pillars                                                                                        Musical Pillars

The major attraction of this temple are the 56 musical pillars of Ranga Mantapa, one main pillar surrounded by a set of minor pillars. Pillars are called as "SAREGAMA" pillars courtesy to the musical notes emitted by them. Every main pillar is surrounded by 7 minor pillars. These 7 pillars emit 7 different musical notes of representative musical instruments. Sound quality depends on the type of instrument, whether wind, string or percussion type of musical instrument. These musical notes coming from the pillars has been a mystery to the people around the world. Even the 2 pillars were cut by then british rulers of India to solve this musical mystery. However, nothing was found inside the pillars and the secret is still unknown. The 2 cut pillars can still be seen in the temple. These pillars are a true testimony to the technological acumen of those times.

 

Rightly said the brilliance of this era will never be seen again ever. The aura of this place cannot be described in words, let’s hear the story from the stunning structures: 






Not only the huge structures, even the roofs are also delicately carved. Now the floodlights illuminate the Vittala temple complex and offers a majestic view of the complex. Purandaradasa Festival held annually in the month of February Attracts visitors from far off places. Hampi is a place where you can wander tirelessly for days, you will surely fall in love with the rocks. I was left spell bound.

Though in ruins now, but the aura is still intact for these monuments.

The Lotus Palace:

All of these were gradually reduced to ruins as the Empire fell to the foreign invaders in 1565 after the Battle of Talikota and this beautiful region was mercilessly plundered. Indeed one of the biggest losses to the civilizations, “Lost was a city, a region the brilliance of which will never be seen again in future”. Hampi has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Ruins still held their esteem and provide glimpses into the prosperity this place has seen.


57 Km. from Hampi is an another architectural marvel, Kumar Swamy Temple dedicated to Lord Karthikeya. This temple was built by Chalukya dynasty and later rebuilt by Rashtrakutas. 

To reach Hampi:
Nearest railhead is Hospet, 13 km away and Toranagallu station, 25 Kms. There are about 10 daily trains and about 5 special trains to the station, which ply once or twice a week. From Bangalore, Hampi Express is the best option.
Nearest Airport is Bangalore, around 350 Km. from Hampi
Hampi is well connected by roads to almost every nearby city.

Keep travelling Guys...
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Hampi - Majestic ruins of the lost era...

The city is such that the pupil of eye has never seen a place like it and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world

- wondered by a traveller, Abdur Razzak from Persia who visited the Vijayanagara  in 1443 AD.


"Roses are sold everywhere and are an intricate part of life of people here, as necessary as food. Each strata of society/ class has shops adjacent to one another; the jewellers sell pearls, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. In this agreeable locality, as well as in the king's palace, one sees numerous running streams and canals formed of chiseled stone, polished and smooth." This show cases the heights of equality the society has achieved where each profession was duly respected without any discrimination.


With awesome landscape along the banks of Tungabhadra River, Hampi was the capital of mighty Vijayanagara kingdom. The era of Vijayanagara empire has been often called as the most prosperous region ever to have happened on this earth. The Vijayanagara kings were great patrons of art and made Hampi flourishing centre of Indian culture.


There were opulent palaces, marvelous temples, massive fortifications, baths, markets, aqua ducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants and elegant pillars. The word "Grand" seems too small in this region. To begin with, check out one of the important ceremonial structures of royal use: 


Above structure, Mahanavami Dibba or Dasara Dibba was constructed by Krishnadevaraya after his victory on Udaigiri. This platform was used by royals to watch "Mahanavami Festival", "Dussehra Festival", army march past and any procession. This GRAND, three tiered 8-metre-high stone platform is located to the northeast of the royal enclosure. Built in granite in 16th century AD, the platform is nearly 35 sq mts and has steps on the East, West, and South. Platform has sculptures depicting the socio-cultural activities of the time in the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture. Get ready to explore Hampi.


45 minutes’ drive from Toranagallu (35 Km.) took us to Queen’s Palace, a palace where royal ladies used to take bath. This is the first spot in line to Hampi exploration...


From outside it looked like a palace, where once water filled trenches all around the structure with fiery crocodiles used to ward off any unwanted invaders.
Few yards ahead is the Prasanna Virupaksha or Underground Shiva Temple: As the name suggests, this temple was constructed below the ground level.

The roof top of the temple is almost matching the ground level (check the ground level on the other side of this temple), due to which the sanctum and the inner side of the temple is always flooded with water. Reasons for such a construction are still unknown. Prevailing legends say that there is a hidden water source beneath the temple. During monsoon season water level rises in the temple. When the water level recedes below a certain level, a further down cellar room becomes visible, however whom so ever has tried to go inside that room has never been seen again. As per the myth there resides a big snake which is protecting the temple. Guys, enter at your own risk.


The temple was buried for over 400 years before it was discovered in the 1980’s. Looks like this the private temple of the Royal family members for their private ceremonies, as it is very near to noblemen’s quarters.


Few steps ahead ahead Hazara Rama Temple:

The Hazara Rama Temple is a significant spot in Hampi. It was once the private temple of the kings and the royal family of the Vijayanagara Empire. The reigning deity of the temple is Lord Rama. The temple is known for its relics and panels that depict the story of Ramayana.  

Only a few steps and few minutes in Hampi and I have been completely floored by the unique charm of this place. Next spot in line is Henkuta Hill and the amazing world of temples here. Just below the Hemkuta hill is the Laxmi-Narsimha temple. Carved out of granite stone in 1528 AD during the reign of Krishna Deva Raya, this 6.7 metre statue still retains its original charm. Lord Narsimha is seated on divine snake "Adishesh" which is also forming the hood over the head of Lord Narsimha. Observe this statue, one can see a feminine hand on the left part of the torse. As told by localites it is the hand of Goddess Laxmi.


This beautiful statue was vandalized and broken by the invaders in 1565 AD, broken portions are still visible. But the glow in the eyes of Lord Narsimha is still intact.

Adjacent to Laxmi Narsimha temple is Badavilinga-temple: Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue). Base of this Shivlinga is always under water.


Walking a few steps on Hemkuta Hill, it was the time to pray at Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple.
Bouldered temple                                                                                         Lord Ganesha Statue with snake tied around Belly

Lord Ganesha'a love for food is widely admired. As per the legends one fine day, Lord Ganesa ate so much that his tummy was about to explode. To save his tummy, he just caught a snake from the ground and tied it around his stomach to prevent his tummy from bursting. Snake tied around his tummy is visible in the statue.


Just in front of Sasivekalu Ganesha shrine you can see a huge site map of Hampi installed by the archaeology department.  


Moving ahead we are on Hemkuta hill, the best place in the region to watch Sunset and the amazing world of temples. Hemkuta hill is a paradise for art lovers, numerous structures are carved out of beautiful images of Gods and Goddesses.

No doubt the times of Vijaynagar empire was the golden times for art and culture which flourished in every part of this place.
Temples to be continued...

To reach Hampi:
  • Nearest railhead is Hospet, 13 km away and Toranagallu station, 25 Kms. There are about 10 daily trains and about 5 special trains to the station, which run once or twice a week. From Bangalore, Hampi Express is the best option.
  • Nearest Airport is Bangalore, around 350 Km. from Hampi
  • Hampi is well connected by roads to almost every nearby city. Staying options are available at Toranagallu or Hampi.
If you decide to reach Hampi by road, you can witness some beautiful Emu rearing farms in the way, check out:
Keep travelling Guys...
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