INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#22]

VEERA NARAYANA TEMPLE

The Veera Narayana temple, also referred to as the Viranarayana temple of Belavadi, is a triple Hindu temple with a complex Hoysala architecture completed around 1200 CE. Close to Halebidu, this is a better preserved large Hoysala monument found in the small village of Belavadi, Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka, India.

The temple has three separate square sanctums connected through an unusually large square ranga-mandapa (103 feet). The main shrine faces east and is dedicated to Viranarayana (Vishnu). The north facing shrine is dedicated to Gopala, while the south facing shrine is for Yoga-Narasimha. The temple was likely expanded in stages before it was damaged in the 14th-century, and some features were added to protect it from further destruction. The notable features of this stellate-style temple include its exquisitely ornamented Vesara superstructures (shikara) with jewelry-like details. Inside are the finely polished galaxy of pillars, some banded as if they are wearing jewels. The ceilings too are unusual panels of figural tableaux depicting Hindu legends about Krishna. The Veeranarayana temple is a nationally protected monument of India that is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India Bengaluru Circle.

Belavadi is 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Halebidu, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Hassan city, and about 29 kilometres (18 mi) southeast of Chikmagalur town on the Chikmagalur-Javagal highway. It is connected to India’s national highway network via NH 73. The local legends state that the village has roots in the Mahabharata era when it was called Ekachakranagar. Then, Belavadi was where Pandava prince Bheema killed the demon Bakasura and protected the village and its people.

The shrines of Veeranarayana were likely built and expanded over many years, because the slightly newer sections has somewhat lesser height, the way the halls connect, and because the cross section plane of the additions is visible. The oldest section is the shrine for Veeranarayana, likely complete about 1200 CE. Thereafter, the temple was expanded where the supersized ranga-mandapa was added along with the shrines for Gopala and Yoga-Narasimha. These were complete by about 1206 CE or few years thereafter.This ornate trikuta (three shrined) temple was built in 1200 C.E. by Hoysala Empire King Veera Ballala II. The material used is Soapstone. Each of the three shrines has a complete superstructure (tower on top of shrine) and is one of the largest temples built by the Hoysala kings. While the famous temples at Belur and Halebidu are known for their intricate sculptures, this temple is known for its architecture.

The plan of the temple is unique in that two of the shrines face each other and are located on either side of a wide and spacious open mantapa (hall) containing thirty seven bays. The temple complex has two closed mantapas, one with thirteen bays and another with nine bays, at the end of which is a central shrine. This third shrine is an older construction and exhibits a standard architectural idiom containing all the basic elements of a Hoysala temple. The inner walls of the older shrine are plain, but its roof is well decorated. In all, the temple complex has fifty nine bays (hence it has many pillars), most of which are lathe-turned and bell shaped, while a few have decorative carvings on them. According to Foekema, the outer wall of the temple is of the “old style”, with one eaves running around the temple where the superstructure meets the wall of the shrine. Below this are miniature decorative towers on pilasters (aedicule). This is followed by a second eves. A panel of Hindu deities and their attendants (frieze) are below this eves followed by a set of five moldings that form the base of the wall.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#21]

RAM TEMPLE

The Ram Mandir (lit. ’Rama Temple’) is a partially constructed Hindu temple complex in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India. Many Hindus believe that it is located at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi, the mythical birthplace of Rama, a principal deity of Hinduism. The temple was inaugurated on 22 January 2024 after a prana pratishtha (consecration) ceremony. The site is the former location of the Babri Masjid mosque, which was built between 1528 and 1529. The idols of Rama and Sita were placed in the mosque in 1949, before it was attacked and demolished in 1992. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered the verdict to give the disputed land to Hindus for construction of a temple, while Muslims were given land nearby in Dhannipur to construct a mosque. The court referenced a report from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as evidence suggesting the presence of a structure beneath the demolished Babri Masjid, that was found to be non-Islamic.

On 5 August 2020, the bhumi pujan (transl. ground breaking ceremony) for the commencement of the construction of Ram Mandir was performed by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. The temple complex, currently under construction, is being supervised by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. On 22 January 2024, Modi served as the Mukhya Yajman (transl. chief patron) of rituals for the event and performed the prana pratishtha (transl. consecration) of the temple. The prana pratishtha ceremony was organised by the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. The temple has attracted a number of controversies due to alleged misuse of donation, sidelining of its major activists, and politicisation of the temple by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Ram Mandir is being built to commemorate the birth of Rama at his Janmasthan. Therefore, the presiding deity of the temple is supposed to be the infant form of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. Rama in that infant form was referred as Ram Lalla (lit. ’Child Rama’) by Tulsidas. However, the idol of Rama that was placed in 1949 referred to as Ram Lalla Virajman (lit. ’Installed Child Rama’) by local Hindus. Ram Lalla was a litigant in the court case over the disputed site in 1989, being considered a “juristic person” by the law. He was represented by Triloki Nath Pandey, a senior VHP leader who was considered Ram Lalla’s closest ‘human’ friend.  As a new idol of the deity got installed in the sanctum sanctorum as the Mūlavirāt mūrti (lit. The main presiding deity), the Mandir Trust has informed that the Ram Lalla Virajman idol of 1949 shall henceforth be used as Utsava mūrti (lit. idol for festivals). The site is the former location of the Babri Masjid, which was built in the 16th century. The idols of Rama and Sita were placed in the mosque in 1949, before the mosque was attacked and demolished in 1992. In 2019, the Supreme Court of India delivered the verdict to give the disputed land to Hindus for the construction of a temple, while Muslims would be given land elsewhere to construct a mosque. The court referenced a report from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as evidence suggesting the presence of a structure beneath the demolished Babri Masjid, that was found to be non-Islamic. The ASI claims were heavily disputed by critics as contradictory and unreliable, but after detailed proceedings, the Supreme Court accepted the ASI report as valid. The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgement concluded that the underlying structure beneath the mosque was not an Islamic structure. However, the court concluded that no evidence was found that a non-Islamic structure was specifically demolished for the construction of the Babri Masjid. Another salient aspect in the apex court’s judgement is on the question on the claim of Hindus that disputed structure as the birthplace of Rama. The court observed that the Hindu claim is ‘undisputed’ and opined that there is clear evidence that Hindus believed that site to be Rama’s birthplace.

In 1528, the commander of the Mughal Empire, Mir Baqi, constructed the Babri Masjid mosque, under the order of Babur, on the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi, the mythical birthplace of Rama. The earliest record of the mosque may be traced back to 1767, in the Latin book Descriptio Indiae, authored by the Jesuit missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler. According to him, the mosque was constructed by destroying the Ramkot temple, believed to be the fortress of Rama in Ayodhya, and the Bedi, where the birthplace of Rama is situated. The first instance of religious violence was documented in 1853. In December 1858, the British administration prohibited Hindus from conducting puja (rituals) at the contested site. A platform was created for conducting rituals outside the mosque. The original design for Ram Mandir was devised in 1988 by the Sompura family of Ahmedabad. The Sompuras have contributed to the design of over 100 temples worldwide for at least 15 generations, including the Somnath temple. The chief architect of the temple was Chandrakant Sompura, assisted by his two sons, Nikhil Sompura and Ashish Sompura, who are also architects. A new design, with some changes from the original, was prepared by the Sompuras in 2020, per the Hindu texts, the Vastu shastra and the Shilpa shastras. The temple will be 250 feet (76 m) wide, 380 feet (120 m) long and 161 feet (49 m) high. Upon completion, the temple complex became the world’s third largest Hindu temple. It is designed in the Māru-Gurjara architecture of Nagara style, a type of Hindu temple architecture found primarily in northern India. A model of the proposed temple was showcased during the Prayag Kumbh Mela in 2019.

The temple’s main structure has been built on a raised platform with three storeys. It has five mandapas in the middle of the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and on the entrance passage. The Shri Ram Darbar, located on the first floor, comprises five halls – Nritya Mandap, Rang Mandap, Sabha Mandap, Prarthana Mandap, and Kirtan Mandap. In Nagara style, the mandapas are decorated with shikharas. Adorned with deity statues, the temple includes dedicated mandirs for Surya, Bhagwati, Ganesh, and Shiv at the corners. Annapurna and Hanuman temples are on the northern and southern arms. The foundation features a 14-metre (46 ft)-thick roller-compacted concrete layer resembling artificial rock, with a 21-foot (6.4 m) granite plinth for moisture protection, avoiding iron use. Accessibility is ensured with ramps, lifts, and facilities for the elderly and differently-abled. A pilgrims facility center for 25,000 people offers medical and locker services. Environmental focus preserves 70% of the 70-acre (28 ha) area as green space, emphasizing water conservation. The temple has a total of 366 columns. The columns have 16 idols each to include the incarnations of Shiva, the 10 Dashavataras, the Chausath Yoginis, and the 12 incarnations of the goddess Saraswati. The width of the stairs are 16 feet (4.9 m). Per scriptures dedicated to the design of temples dedicated to Vishnu, the sanctum sanctorum is octagonal in shape. The temple covers an area of 4.0 hectares (10 acres), while the remaining 23 hectares (57 acres) of land has been developed into a complex with a prayer hall, a lecture hall, an educational facility and other facilities including a museum and a cafeteria.  According to the temple committee, the site has a capability to handle 70,000 visitors. Larsen & Toubro offered to oversee the design and construction of the temple free of cost, and became the contractor of the project. The Central Building Research Institute, National Geophysical Research Institute and the Bombay, Guwahati and Madras IITs have assisted in areas such as soil testing, concrete supply and design.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#20]

MAHADEVA TEMPLE

Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla is a 13th-century Shaivite temple in the Kadamba style dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the main deities in Hinduism, and is an active place of Hindu worship. It is an ASI protected Monument of National Importance in Goa.

The temple was built in the Kadamba style from basalt, carried across the mountains from the Deccan plateau and carved by craftsmen. It is considered to be the only specimen of Kadamba architecture in basalt stone preserved and available in Goa. The temple survived the Islamic invasions and the Goa Inquisition,due to its remote location in a clearing deep in the forest at the foot of the Western Ghats which surround the site.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is reminiscent of the temples at Aihole in neighbouring Karnataka. There is a linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) mounted on a pedestal inside the inner sanctum, and local legend has it that a huge king cobra is in permanent residence in the dimly lit interior.

The temple consists of garbhagriha, antarala and a pillared Nandimandapa built of basalt. The four pillars, embellished with intricate carvings of elephants and chains support a stone ceiling decorated with finely carved Ashtoken lotus flowers. The intricate carvings created by skilled craftsmen adorn the interior and the sides of the building. Bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, with their respective consorts appear on panels at the sides of the temple. Unusually, the mandap (pillared hall) is covered with a roof of plain grey sloping slabs. The temple faces east so that the first rays of the rising sun shine on the deity. There is a small mandap and the inner sanctum is surmounted by a three-tired tower whose top is incomplete or has been dismantled sometime in the distant past.

The temple is at 15°26′20″N 74°15′8″E near a small village called Tambdi Surla located 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) east of Bolcornem village, in the north east region of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. Nearby village is Molem. Mahadev Temple is approximately 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the capital city of Panaji. It is accessible from the north via minor roads 22 kilometres (14 mi) south from the main town of Valpoi in Sattari Taluka. The temple is at the foot of the Anmod Ghat, which connects Goa to the state of Karnataka.

There is a headless Nandi (bull, Shiva’s vehicle) in the centre of the mandap, surrounded by four matching columns. The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse is carved on the base of one of the columns. The river Ragado, (via village Keri, Sattari) flows nearby and is reachable for ritual bathing by a flight of stone steps. The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety at the temple by local people residing in surrounding villages. The temple is built in a place which is quite inaccessible and away from the main settlements of the time. The temple is small compared to the average Goan temple.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#19]

BADARINATH TEMPLE

Badarinath or Badarinarayana Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. It is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand, India. The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu—holy shrines for Vaishnavas—who is worshipped as Badrinath. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India, having recorded 2.8 million (28 lakh) visits in just 2 months in 2022. It is one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites.

The image of the presiding deity worshipped in the temple is a 1 ft (0.30 m), the black granite deity of Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. The deity is considered by many Hindus to be one of eight svayam vyakta kshetras, or self-manifested deities of Vishnu. Mata Murti Ka Mela, which commemorates the descent of river Ganges on mother earth, is the most prominent festival celebrated in the Badrinath Temple. Although Badrinath is located in North India, the head priest, or Rawal, is traditionally a Nambudiri chosen from the South Indian state of Kerala. The temple was included in the Uttar Pradesh state government Act No. 30/1948 as Act no. 16,1939, which later came to be known as “Shri Badarinath and Shri Kedarnath Mandir Act”. The committee nominated by the state government administers both the temples and has seventeen members on its board.The temple is mentioned in ancient religious texts like Vishnu Purana and Skanda Purana. It is glorified in the Naalayira Divya Prabandham, an early medieval Tamil canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries CE.

The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracts along the banks of the Alaknanda River in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. The hill tracts are located 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level. The Nar Parbat mountain is located opposite to the temple, while the Narayana Parbat is located behind the Neelkanth peak. Adi Shankara established Badrinath as a pilgrimage site in the ninth century. The temple has three structures: the Garbhagriha (sanctum), the Darshan Mandapa (worship hall), and Sabha Mandapa (convention hall). The conical-shaped roof of the sanctum, the garbhagriha, is approximately 15 m (49 ft) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone and has arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to the main entrance, a tall, arched gateway. Just inside is a mandap, a large, pillared hall that leads to the sanctum, or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the hall are covered with intricate carvings.

There is no historical record about the temple, but there is a mention of the presiding deity Badrinath in Vedic scriptures (c. 1750–500 BCE). According to some accounts, the shrine was worshipped in some form in the Vedic period. Later, during Ashoka’s reign, because of the spread of Buddhism, this shrine might have been converted into a Buddhist shrine. The temple was a Buddhist shrine till the 8th century and Adi Shankara revived the shrine and converted it to a Hindu temple. The architecture of the temple resembling that of a Buddhistvihara (temple) and the brightly painted facade which is atypical of Buddhist temples leads to the argument. Other accounts relate that it was originally established as a pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. It is believed that Shankara resided in the place for six years from 814 to 820 CE. He resided six months in Badrinath and the rest of the year in Kedarnath. Hindu followers assert that he discovered the deity of Badrinath in the Alaknanda River and enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs.  A traditional story asserts that Shankara expelled all the Buddhists in the region with the help of the Parmar ruler king Kanak Pal. The hereditary successors of the king governed the temple and endowed villages to meet its expenses. The income from a set of villages on the route to the temple was used to feed and accommodate pilgrims. The Parmar rulers held the title “Bolanda Badrinath”, meaning speaking Badrinath. They had other titles, including Shri 108 Basdrishcharyaparayan Garharaj Mahimahendra, Dharmabibhab, and Dharamarakshak Sigamani.

The throne of Badrinath was named after the presiding deity; the king enjoyed ritual obeisance by the devotees before proceeding to the shrine. The practice was continued until the late 19th century. During the 16th century, the King of Garhwal moved the murti to the present temple. When the state of Garhwal was divided, the Badrinath temple came under British rule but the king of Garhwal continued as the chairman of the management committee. The selection of priest is done after consultation between Garhwal and Travancore royal families. The temple has undergone several major renovations due to its age and damage by an avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the Kings of Garhwal. After significant damage during the great 1803 Garhwal earthquake, it was largely rebuilt by the King of Jaipur. It was still under renovation as late as the 1870s  but these were completed by the time of the First World War. At that time, the town was still small, consisting of only the 20-odd huts housing the temple’s staff, but the number of pilgrims was usually between seven and ten thousand. The Kumbh Mela festival held every twelve years raised the number of visitors to 50,000. The temple also enjoyed revenue from the rents owed to it by various villages bequeathed by various rajas.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#18]

KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE

The Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram, also referred to as the Kailasanatha temple, is a Pallava-era historic Hindu temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Dedicated to Shiva, it is one of the oldest surviving monuments in Kanchipuram. It reflects a Dravidian architecture and was built about 700 CE by Narasimhavarman II with additions by Mahendravarman III. A square-plan temple, it has a mukha-mandapa (entrance hall), a maha-mandapa (gathering hall) and a primary garbha-griya (sanctum) topped with a four-storey vimana. The main sanctum is surrounded by nine shrines, seven outside and two inside flanking the entrance of the sanctum, all with forms of Shiva. The outer walls of the temple’s prakara (courtyard) is also surrounded by cells.

The Kailasanathar temple is notable for its intricately carved galaxy of Hindu art in the late 7th- and early 8th-century Tamil tradition. These largely relate to Shaivism, yet also include significant number of themes from Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Vedic deities. The temple is also notable for one of the early and best specimens of Hindu mural art in Tamil Nadu. This is found in the inner walls of the courtyard cells. The murals are in a style that is also found in the Ajanta Caves, as well as in the historic paintings in the 8th-century Vaikunthaperumal temple, also in Kanchipuram.  The temple walls have many inscriptions in early scripts, important to the epigraphical study of regional history and Tamil temple traditions. The structure contains 58 small shrines which are dedicated to various forms of Shiva. These are built into niches on the inner face of the high compound wall of the circumambulatory passage. The temple is one of the most prominent tourist attractions of the city.

The Kailasanathar Temple (meaning: “Lord of Kailasa”), is built in the tradition of Smartha worship of Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya (Sun), Ganesha and Kartikeya, in Hinduism. Temple construction is credited to the Pallava dynasty, who had established their kingdom with Kanchipuram (also known as “Kanchi” or “Shiva Vishnu Kanchi”) as the capital city, considered one of the seven sacred cities under Hinduism. In Kanchi, after the Pallavas expanded their territories to the north, west and south both within Tamil, Andhra and Kannada territories under Emperor Narasimhavarman I, they started expanding their capital city of Kanchipuram and built many temples of great magnificence. Among the two unique specimens of temple architecture of the period 640–730 CE are the Tiru Parameswara Vinnagaram, which is also known as the Vaikunta Perumal temple and the Kailasanathar Temple.

The temple was built around 700 CE with additions in the 8th century and restorations in later centuries. It is the first structural temple built in South India by Narasimhavarman II (Rajasimha), also known as Rajasimha Pallaveswaram. His son, Mahendravarman III, completed the front façade and the gopuram (tower). Prior temples were either built of wood or hewn into rock faces in caves or on boulders, as seen in Mahabalipuram. The Kailasanathar temple became the trend setter for other similar temples in South India. According to local belief, the temple was a safe sanctuary for the rulers of the kingdom during wars. A secret tunnel, built by the kings, was used as an escape route and is still visible. It is believed that Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014 CE) visited the temple and drew inspiration from this temple to build the Brihadeeswara Temple.Currently, Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple is maintained by Archaeological Survey of India.
The temple has retained the Pallava architecture in its original stylized form with influence of the later styles developed by the Chola Dynasty and Vijayanagara Emperors. It is of stone built architecture unlike the rock cut architecture built into hallowed caves or carved into rock outcrops as in Mahabalipuram. The tall gopuram (tower) is to the left and the temple complex is to the right. The temple’s foundations are made of granite, which could withstand the weight of the temple, while the superstructure, including the carvings, are all made of sandstone. Initially, only the main sanctuary existed with pyramidal vimana and a detached Mandapa (main hall).

The temple complex is complete in all respects as it has garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum), antarala (inner enclosure), mandapa, a high compound wall, and an entrance gate, the gopuram. The mandapa, which was initially detached, was made part of the main shrine by interposing an ardhamantapa (smaller hall). The pillars of the mandapa have the repetitive features of mythical lion mounts.The structure has a simple layout with a tower or vimana at the center of the complex. The vimana of the temple, above the main shrine (sanctum sanctorum), is square in plan and rises up in a pyramidal shape. The tower has many levels rising proportionately. At the top of this tower, there is a small roof in the shape of a dome. The pillar elements with mythical animal shapes (lions on the base) are extra features in Pallava style. At the entrance, the gopuram walls are plastered. Its entrance wall has eight small shrines and a gopura, precursor to the main gopura. At some later stage, the mandapa and the sanctuary were joined by an intermediate hall called the ardhamantapa, which is reported to have marred the beauty of the temple to some extent. The temple is enclosed within walls in a rectangular layout.
The main shrine has a 16 sided Shivalinga in black granite stone deified in the sanctum sanctorum. Within the walls of the main shrine there is padabhanda adhisthana (main pedestal) with very elegantly carved images of gods with a sculpted Nandi, a little distance away giving guard to the deity. On each face of the outer walls of the main shrine there are many carvings of deities.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#17]

BRAHMESWARA TEMPLE

Brahmeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, erected at the end of the 9th century CE, is richly carved inside and out. This Hindu temple can be dated with fair accuracy by the use of inscriptions that were originally on the temple. They are now lost, but records of them preserve the information of around 1058 CE. The temple is built in the 18th regnal year of the Somavamsi king Udyotakesari by his mother Kolavati Devi, which corresponds to 1058 CE.

Historians place the temple to belong to the late 11th century as ascertained from an inscription carried to Calcutta from Bhubaneswar. The inscription indicates that the temple was built by Kolavatidevi, the mother of Somavamsi king Udyota Kesari. It was built with four Natyasalas at a place known as Siddhatirtha in Ekamra (modern-day Bhubaneswar). The inscription was recorded during the 18th renal year of Udyotha Kesari, corresponding to 1060 CE. Since the inscription is not in its original place, historians indicate the possibility of the reference to another temple, but based on the location and other features specified, it is ascertained that the inscription belongs to the temple. Also, another issue raised by Panigrahi is that the four cardinal temples are Angasalas (associate temples) and not Natyasalas (dance halls) as indicated in the inscription.

The temple is classified as a panchatanaya temple where apart from the main shrine, there are four subsidiary shrines in the four corners around the temple. The temple on account of its later origin has a perfectly developed structure compared to its predecessors. The vimana of the temple is 18.96 m (62.2 ft) tall. The temple is built with traditional architectural methods of wood carving, but applied on stone building. The buildings were built in a shape of full volume pyramid, and then they would be carved inside and outside. The total area of the land is 208.84 sq. m. and the temple is built on an area of 181.16 sq. m. The basic structure of the Orissan temple has two connecting buildings. The smaller is the Jagmohana, or assembly hall. Behind it is the Shikhara, the towering sanctuary. Later temples have two additional halls in front—one for dancing, and the other for banquets.

The Brahmeswara shows quite a bit of affinity with the much earlier Mukteswar Temple, including the carved interior of the Jagmohana, and in the sculptural iconography such as the lion head motif, which appeared for the first time in the Mukteswara, and is here evident in profusion. There are quite a number of innovations, however, including the introduction of a great number of musicians and dancers, some holding lutes, on the exterior walls. For the first time in temple architectural history, iron beams find their first use.

On sandstone walls, there are symbolic decorations and the notion of godlike figures that help the believer in his meditation. The carvings over the door frame contain beautiful flower designs as well as flying figures. Like the Rajarani, there are images of the eight directional Guardian Deities. There are also quite a number of tantric-related images, and even Chamunda appears on the western facade, holding a trident and a human head, standing on a corpse. Shiva and other deities are also depicted in their horrific aspects.One of the lost inscriptions stated that a Queen Kolavati presented ‘many beautiful women’ to the temple, and it has been suggested that this is evidence of the ‘Devadasi’ tradition, which assumed such importance in later Orissan temple architecture and temple life.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#16]

MARTAND SUN TEMPLE

The Martand Sun Temple is a Hindu temple located near the city of Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), India. It dates back to the eighth century CE and was dedicated to Surya, the chief solar deity in Hinduism; Surya is also known by the Sanskrit-language synonym Martand (मार्तण्ड, Mārtaṇḍa). The temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri.


According to Kalhana, the Martand Sun Temple was commissioned by Lalitaditya Muktapida in the eighth century CE.According to Jonaraja (fl. 1430) as well as Hasan Ali, the temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri (1389-1413) in a zeal to Islamise the society under the advice of Sufi preacher Mir Muhammad Hamadani; Jonaraja pinned the blame on his chief-counsel Suhabhatta, a Brahman neo-convert who was held to have manifested a reign of intense persecution for the local Hindus whereas Ali particularly affirmed Sikandar’s own convictions in these aspects.


Scholars caution against accepting these sources at face value — Jonaraja was appointed by Sikandar’s son, who sought to bring back the Brahminical elite into the royal fold while later Muslim chroniclers had their motives to fit the past into an idealist tale of orthodox Islamic morality. According to Chitralekha Zutshi and Richard G. Salomon, Sikandar’s policies were guided by realpolitik and, like with the previous Hindu rulers, an attempt to secure political legitimacy by asserting state power over Brahmans and gaining access to wealth controlled by Brahminical institutions. J. L. Bhan notes a stone sculpture—a four-armed Brahma, sculpted by son of a Buddhist Sanghapati and dedicated to Sikandar—to challenge simplistic notions of religious persecution. Slaje disagrees about an absence of religious motivations but notes the aversion of Brahmin chroniclers to be, largely, the result of resistance to the gradual disintegration of caste-hierarchy under Muslim influence.

The Martand temple was built on top of a plateau from where one can view whole of the Kashmir Valley. From the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.
The Archaeological Survey of India has declared the Martand Sun Temple as a site of national importance in Jammu and Kashmir. The temple appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda (Sun Temple).

The temple has a colonnaded courtyard, with its primary shrine in its center and surrounded by 84 smaller shrines, stretching to be 220 feet long and 142 feet broad total and incorporating a smaller temple that was previously built. The temple turns out to be the largest example of a peristyle in Kashmir, and is complex due to its various chambers that are proportional in size and aligned with the overall perimeter of the temple. In accordance with Hindu temple architecture, the primary entrance to the temple is situated in the western side of the quadrangle and is the same width as the temple itself, creating grandeur. The entrance is highly reflective of the temple as a whole due to its elaborate decoration and allusion to the deities worshiped inside. The primary shrine is located in a centralised structure (the temple proper) that is thought to have had a pyramidal top – a common feature of the temples in Kashmir. Various wall carvings in the antechamber of the temple proper depict other gods, such as Vishnu, and river goddesses, such as Ganga and Yamuna, in addition to the sun-god Surya.

Thanks for reading.

INSPIRING QUOTES! [BLOG #15]

INSPIRING QUOTES

  1. “I’m not here to be perfect, I’m here to be real.” – Lady Gaga
  2. “I’m not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.” – Marilyn Monroe
  3. “The only thing that feels better than winning is winning when nobody thought you could.” – Hank Aaron
  4. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
  5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney


  1. “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
  3. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
  4. “The only Limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  5. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou
  1. “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Steve Jobs
  2. “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “The best way to find out what you want in life is to try a lot of things.” – Oprah Winfrey
  1. “In order to be truly happy, you must pursue your dreams and goals.” – Oprah Winfrey
  2. “You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up everything you have.” – Oprah Winfrey
  3. “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Follow your dreams and persist.” – Barack Obama
  1. “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” – Unknown
  2. “Everything happens for a reason.” – Unknown
  3. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
  4. “Life is what we make it and how we make it – whether we realize it or not.” – Napoleon Hill
  1. “The road to success is always under construction.” – Lily Tomlin
  2. “I’m not a self-made man. I’ve had a lot of help.” – Stan Lee
  3. “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.” -Tony Gaskins
  1. “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” -Tony Robbins
  2. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill
  3. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar
  4. “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” -J.M. Power


  1. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
  2. “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” -Maya Angelou
  3. “Be persistent and never give up hope.” -George Lucas


  1. “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
  2. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” – Albert Einstein
  4. “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe


  1. “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
  2. “The only Limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  3. “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” – Will Rogers


  1. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
  2. “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Walk beside me; just be my friend.” – Albert Camus
  3. “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan


  1. “I have a dream.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  2. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela
  3. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
  4. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu


  1. “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
  2. “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” – J.M. Power
  3. “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
  4. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  5. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller


  1. “If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.“— Charles Swindoll
  3. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln
  4. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


“1. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

2. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” -Mother Teresa

3. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

4. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.”


“6. “Well done is better than well said.” -Benjamin Franklin

7. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” -Helen Keller

8. “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” -Aristotle

9. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson”


“11. “If life were predictable it would cease to be life and be without flavor.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

12. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” -Abraham Lincoln

13. “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

14. “You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” -Maya Angelou”


“15. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” -Babe Ruth

16. “Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” -Oscar Wilde

17. “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” -Tony Robbins

18. “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

19. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” -Albert Einstein

20. “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” -Dalai Lama”


“21. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” -John Lennon

22. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” -Mae West

23. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

24. “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” -Abraham Lincoln

25. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” -Nelson Mandela”


“26. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” -Confucius

27. “May you live all the days of your life.” -Jonathan Swift

28. “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” -Hans Christian Andersen

29. “Do not let making a living prevent you from making a life.” -John Wooden

30. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau”

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#14]

KANDARIYA MAHADEVA TEMPLE

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (Devanagari: कंदारिया महादेव मंदिर, Kandāriyā Mahādeva Mandir), meaning “the Great God of the Cave”, is the largest and most ornate Hindu temple in the medieval temple group found at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is considered one of the best examples of temples preserved from the medieval period in India. Because of its outstanding preservation and testimony to the Chandela culture, the temple was inscribed on the UNESCOWorld Heritage List in 1986.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is located in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh in Central India. It is in the Khajuraho village, and the temple complex is spread over an area of 6 square kilometres (2.3 sq mi). It is in the western part of the village to the west of the Vishnu temple. The temple complex, in the Khajuraho village at an elevation of 282 metres (925 ft), is well connected by road, rail and air services. Khajuraho is 55 kilometres (34 mi) to the south of Mahoba, 47 kilometres (29 mi) away from the Chhatarpur city to its east, 43 kilometres (27 mi) away from Panna, 175 kilometres (109 mi) by road away from Jhansi on the north, and 600 kilometres (370 mi) to the south – east of Delhi. It is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) from the railway station. Khajuraho is served by Khajuraho Airport (IATA Code: HJR), with services to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the temple.

Khajuraho was once the capital of the Chandela dynasty. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, one of the best examples of temples preserved from the medieval period in India, is the largest of the western group of temples in the Khajuraho complex which was built by the Chandela rulers. Shiva is the chief deity in the temple deified in the sanctum sanctorum.
The Kandariya Mahadeva temple was built during the reign of Vidyadhara (r. c. 1003-1035 CE). At various periods of the reign of this dynasty many famous temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, Shakti of the Hindu religion and also for the Thirthankaras of Jain religion were built. Vidhyadhara, also known as Bida in the recordings of the Muslim historian Ibn-al-Athir was a powerful ruler who fought Mahmud of Ghazni in the first offensive launched by the latter in 1019. This battle was not conclusive and Mahmud had to return to Ghazni. Mahmud again waged war against Vidhyadhara in 1022. He attacked the fort of Kalinjar. The siege of the fort was unsuccessful. It was lifted and Mahmud and Vidhyadhara called a truce and parted by exchanging gifts. Vidhyadhara celebrated his success over Mahmud and other rulers by building the Kaṇḍāriyā Mahādeva Temple, dedicated to his family deity Shiva. Epigraphic inscriptions on a pilaster of the mandapa in the temple mentions the name of the builder of the temple as Virimda, which is interpreted as the pseudonym of Vidhyadhara. Its construction is dated to the period from 1025 and 1050 AD.

All the extant temples in Khajuraho including the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple were inscribed in 1986 under the UNESCOList of World Heritage Sites under Criterion III for its artistic creation and under Criterion V for the culture of the Chandelas that was dominant until the country was invaded by Muslims in 1202. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, 31 metres (102 ft) in height, is in the western complex, which is the largest among the three groups of the Khajuraho complex of temples. This western group of temples, consisting of the Kandariya, Matangeshwara and Vishvanatha temples, is compared to a “cosmic design of a hexagon (a yantra or Cosmo gram)” representing the three forms of Shiva. The temple architecture is an assemblage of porches and towers which terminates in a shikhara or spire, a feature which was common from the 10th century onwards in the temples of Central India.

The temple is founded on a massive plinth of 4 metres (13 ft) height. The temple structure above the plinth is dexterously planned and pleasingly detailed. The superstructure is built in a steep mountain shape or form, symbolic of Mount Meru which is said to be the mythical source of creation of the world. The superstructure has richly decorated roofs which rise in a grand form terminating in the shikara, which has 84 miniature spires. The temple is in layout of 6 square kilometres (2.3 sq mi), of which 22 are extant including the Kaṇḍāriyā Mahādeva Temple. This temple is characteristically built over a plan of 31 metres (102 ft) in length and 20 metres (66 ft) in width with the main tower soaring to a height of 31 metres (102 ft), and is called the “largest and grandest temple of Khajuraho”. A series of steep steps with high rise lead from the ground level to the entrance to the temple. The layout of the temple is a five-part design, a commonality with the Lakshmana and Vishvanatha temples in the Khajuraho complex. Right at the entrance there is torana, a very intricately carved garland which is sculpted from a single stone; such entrances are part of a Hindu wedding procession. The carvings on the entrance gate shows the “tactile quality of the stone and also the character of the symmetrical design” that is on view in the entire temple which has high relief carvings of the figurines. Finely chiseled, the decorative quality of the ornamentation with the sharp inscribed lines has “strong angular forms and brilliant dark-light patterns”. The carvings are of circles, undulations giving off spirals or sprays, geometric patterns, masks of lions and other uniform designs which has created a pleasant picture that is unique to this temple, among all others in the complex.

Thanks for reading.

INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#13]

MUKTESHWAR TEMPLE

Mukteshwara Temple (IAST: Mukteśwara; also spelt Mukteswara) is a 10th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. The temple dates back to 950–975 CE and is a monument of importance in the study of the development of Hindu temples in Odisha. The stylistic development the Mukteswara marks the culmination of all earlier developments, and initiates a period of experiment which continues for an entire century, as seen in such temples as the Rajarani Temple and Lingaraj temple, both located in Bhubaneswar. It is one of the prominent tourist attractions of the city.

The Mukteshvara Temple is found to be the earliest work from the Somavamshi period. Most scholars believe the temple is the successor to Parashurameshvara Temple and built earlier to the Brahmeswara Temple (1060 CE). Percy Brown puts the date of construction of the temple to 950 CE. The presence of a torana, which is not part of any other temple in the region, makes this temple unique and some of the representations indicate the builders were starters of a new culture. K.C. Panigrahi places the temple to be built during 966 CE and postulates that the Somavamshi king Yayati I built the temple. He also associates the legend of Kirtivassa to this temple, but the postulation is not accepted as Kirtivasa is associated with Lingaraja, though both were built at the same time for the same deity, Shiva. There is no historic evidence to conclude that Yayati had built the temple.

This architecture is one of the basic reasons why Mukteshvara Temple is also known as the “Gem of Odisha architecture” or “Kalinga Architecture” . The temple faces west and is constructed in a lower basement amidst a group of temples. The pyramidal roof to the jagamohana present in the temple was the first of its kind over the conventional two tier structure. The temple is a small one compared to other larger temples in Bhubaneswar. The temples is enclosed within an octagonal compound wall with elaborate carvings on it. It is believed that the experiment of newer pattern in the temple showed a mature phase compared to its predecessors and culminated the beginning of replication of similar pattern in the later temples in the city. The temple has a porch, called torana, which acts as the gateway to the octagonal compound. The temple has two structures namely, the vimana (structure above the sanctum) and a mukhasala, the leading hall, both of which are built on a raised platform. The temple is the earlies to be built in pithadeula type.

The most important feature of the Mukteshvara Temple is the torana, or the arched gateway, dating back to about 900 CE and showing the influence of Buddhist architecture. The arched gateway has thick pillars that have strings of beads and other ornaments carved on statues of smiling women in languorous repose. The porch is a walled chamber with a low, massive roof and internal pillars. The combination of vertical and horizontal lines is skilfully arranged so as to give dignity of buildings of moderate height. This early astylar form of the temple is best illustrated in this temple. The gateway has sculptures that range from elaborate scrolls to pleasant female forms and figures of monkeys and peacocks. The front and back of the arch are similar in design.

Mukteshvara means “Lord of Freedom” (from the cycle of births and deaths). The temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. There are a number of sculptures of skeletal ascetics in teaching or meditation poses. Some scholars correlate the role of the temple as a centre for Tantric initiation with the name Mukteshvara as a possible thesis. The outer face of the compound wall has niches of Hindu deities like Saraswathi, Ganesha and Lakulisha (the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Shaivism). The numerous images of Lakulisha are found in miniature forms within Chaitya arches, showing various mudras like yoga, Bhumispara and vyakyana with yogapatta tied to their knees. They are accompanied by the images of the disciples. According to tradition, barren women give birth to sons if they take a dip in the Marichi Kunda tank in the premises of the temple on the night before Ashokashtami car festival. On the evening, the water in the tank is sold to the public.

Thanks for reading.

RSS
Follow by Email
YouTube