Monday, April 14, 2014

Hyderabad Hues XXXV: Creative patterns at Paigah Tomb, Hyderabad

There are many intricately designed geometric patterns all over the place. These are not just unique, but also a demonstration of excellence in craftsmanship of the artists.

Each one of decorative Jaalis, if seen intensely can be visualized into multiple designs & patterns. They are spell binding to watch and imagine the possible patterns.

Sixteen of them have been presented here as photo collages, but there are many more to spend enough time admiring the artisanship, patronaged by the Paigah’s over late 18th century. And more details of the tombs on my earlier blog here

If you like art, this place deserves to be on your itinerary during Hyderabad visit. One can easily spend couple of hours admiring several such wonderful works, in this era of declining interest, patronage for arts and crafts. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Video of the month: Shigmotsav Ghodi Dance

Shigmotsav 2014 at Panjim, the Ghodi Dance performance in colorful attire with high decibel Har Har Mahadev in the air.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Go Goa IX: Shri Mangeshi Temple, Ponda

It is not very well known that Goa is home to many prominent and ancient temples. Before the Portuguese came, Goa was home to Saraswat Brahmins and the temples of their deities. As Portuguese took over and started pushing religious conversions, some percentage of population converted while the others moved to areas that were yet to come under Portuguese and when the moved they took their deities along with them. This is how most temples today are found in the Ponda district of Goa – that came under Portuguese much later and by then they had become more accepting of the other religions.

I visited Mangeshi temple for the first time last year when I was the Deccan Odyssey trip. I found the architecture of the temple intriguing. First of all I had never seen a blue temple, a color that we do not associate with Hindu temples but then it is the color of presiding deity – Shiva. Second there was a huge pillar like structure in front of temple that was too huge for a Dhwajastambh or flagstaff. I wondered what it was and was informed it is the deep stambh or a pillar to light lamps in the evening. Now I am not sure if it is still used for that purpose and I could see no signs of oil lamps like soot or oil stains, but if it was used, I am sure it would look beautiful. Since the temple stands on a hill, this can be seen from quite some distance. Temple structure itself seems to have ample influence from the churches of Goa, though most elements of Hindu temple can be seen – like a Garbhgriha or the sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa or the hall and the pillars. Peshwas donated the current day village of Mangeshi to the temple and the present structure is not too old, though a smaller temple existed on the same place.

Non-saraswats are not allowed inside the temple. You can look at the deity from the distance that is all in silver and beautifully carved and maintained absolutely neatly and cleanly. On my second visit last month though I was lucky to see the actual Linga below the silver top as they were cleaning it. The real linga is a huge black stone that as per the legend came from the base of Bhagirathi River in Himalayas via Bihar, and was in Corlatim area of Goa on the banks of river Zuari before it reached this place. On top of that stone they place the anthromorphic figure of Shiva of Shiva before they deck it up with flowers and silk. It is a typical Shiva temple that is Kuldevta to a section of Saraswat Brahmins. In February / March the Jatra or the fair takes place in the temple premises and it is a typical village fair. At this time you can also see the tall temple chariot in wood.

Behind the main temple is a small shrine dedicated to Sh Mulkeshwar, and if you like me you are wondering ‘Who is he?’, hear this contradicting story. Mulki was a villager, a cowherd who used to live in this area. One of his cows suddenly stopped giving milk and it also used to disappear every evening. He followed the cow one day and found that the cow was giving milk on top of a stone which when dug was nothing but the Shivalinga that is in the temple today. A temple was built and Mulki recognized as its founder. His statue with his cow rests right behind the main shrine. He was a smoker so tobacco rolled in leaves is offered to him even today. It could be something other than tobacco, I am not too sure.

Temple tank lies in front of the temple as it should but is cut off from the temple and both the times I did not see anyone using the tank.  Looks like the modern pipelines made it redundant.

Temples can be a documentation of cultural and anthropological history of the region if we can study them.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Jhabua's Micro Bead Jewelry

I traveled to Jhabua last year for Bhagoria festival and on an evening stroll we went to an artist shop who makes these micro bead jewelry in vibrant colors. Now I have seen this in many modern jewelry shops across India and was surprised to know that it is made in remote villages in tribal belts of India.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hidden inside Dandeli - Syntheri Rock

In the middle of Dandeli forests, stands a lone giant rock like an old saint who has chosen to live in the jungle and has grown sitting or meditating here. River Kaneri, a tributary of Kali River, flows at its base, as if touching the feet of this giant old saint. The size of the rock makes you feel small – somewhere telling you that you are a very small part of the big universe and the way it hides itself in the folds of the forest is bound to make you feel curious.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Go Goa VIII: Shigmo – a little known cultural extravaganza

Shigmo is the Goan version of Holi, a springtime festival that is a farewell to winters that in Goa’s case is also the tourist’s time and get indoors for upcoming summers and monsoons.  Now what makes it special is that it is celebrated on the streets of various villages for good 14 days. Each day a few villages celebrate and the villagers dressed in all their finery come out, play loud music and dance. This year I got to see Shigmo up, close and personal as it happened two streets away from my home in Goa.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dandeli: By the river Kali

Kali is a common name for many rivers that flow across Indian subcontinent right from Nepal to Uttarakhand to MP and Karnataka. Last week I got to spend some time by the Kali River that flows through Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka – not too far from my current home in Goa. First thing that we encountered as we drove towards Dandeli is the tall dam called Supa Dam on the river and the back water that it creates. Towards the end of the day, we saw the sun setting on the backwaters from the ramparts of a wall bridging the area for dam. There were lots of tourists swimming and playing at the edges.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Wish List in Travel Secrets

My travel wish list appeared in Travel Secrets Magazine couple of months ago. Hope the higher forces are listening and re-aligning themselves to make this happen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Discover Delhi XXXV: TJs - The brand from Tihar Jail

I was in Delhi for some work and for the first time I crossed Tihar Jail.But for the boards announcing its presence, I would have never figured out that this is country's most famous jail. I was still sorting out the dichotomy between reality & perception, Tihar Haat - a swanky looking shop saw me in my face. I passed by it on first day but made a mental note to stop over the next day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Win an All expenses Paid Trip to Malaysia

Is visiting the beautiful country of Malaysia in your to-do list? We give you multiple chances to strike it off and win an all expense paid trip to Malaysia!  

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