Monday, November 24, 2014



 This map shows the path we covered.

 The traditional way of capturing Qutb Minar's photograph.

For a fortnight since 6/11/14, Ruby and I traveled from New Delhi to various places in Rajasthan , driving partly in cars , partly in buses through   cities, villages, desert  and valleys  to visit Mandawa and Nawalgarh in Shekhawati region, Ajmer, Udaipur, Srinathjiu's temple @  Nathdwara, Ranakpur, Osian and  .Jodhpur.

 View of Fateh sagar from top of Maharana Pratap Memorial , Udaipur.

Full view of the fountain , Fateh sagar, Udaipur.

 We visited Qutb Complex and Humayun's Tomb to after decades to savour Muslim architecture, excellent sculptures' Galleries at Ajmer  and New Delhi ( National Museum), scores of temples and best of the examples of Shekhawati paintings. And... the architecture of Yashawant Thada, Jodhpur.

Pillars of  Hindu temples used widely in Quawaat-ul-Islam Mosque, Qutb Complex, New Delhi.

Varaha Incarnation of Vishnu. 10 -11th Century. DUngarpur,Rajasthan.
Akbari Fort Museum, Ajmer.

There were glitches, time over-run, misses - specially @ Ranakpur , opportunities not utilised as time slipped through a couple of lazy mornings.Worst was the ban on photography in the most important zone of the main temple.  There were unexpected rewards too - e.g. Sound&Light show @ Akabari Fort, Ajmer and the three nearly deserted temples @ entrance of Osian village with astounding iconography !

 Exterior Wall of Hotel Shekhawati, Mandwa.

View from the entrance of one of the many Havelis we covered 
@ Mandawa and near-by areas.

We came across helpful people in buses, trains - the hotel owner @ Mandawa, the guide and some of the Haveli owners @ both Mandawa and Nawalgarh, Shekhawati artist Devnarayanji, Gulabjisa - the young security guard , fashionably dressed in dhoti-kurta - shop-keepers at Udaipur and Ajmer....... Remarkable were the S- and U-curves in the bus-route between Sikar and Ajmer and the reticent car-driver who tool us from Udaipur to Jodhpur via Ranakpur !

View from interior of  Jasawant Thada, Jodhpur.

Ruby poses with 'Gulabjisa' , Security Guard-cum-guide of Jaswanat Thada, Jodhpur.

 Why people visit monuments - a sizable section visits to absorb details with aid of guides as well as  to worship if the monument is a live temple. A miniscule section  take photographs for reference and later viewing. Yet, a large section walk in for a stroll and taking their own photographs.  With   camera-equipped mobile phone in almost every palm, 'phataphat' photo sessions on the court-yards of historical monuments has become very common -- a trend very common in Durga Puja pandals or Millennium Park at the shore of the Ganges !

 It will be my endevour to share a section of the photos and notes with my friends in this page as well as facebook page.  I end this blog thanking my friends and relatives whose hospitality enlivened this trip and Ruby who has taken gigabytes of photos to enrich my collection.

A matter of choice - Photographers engaged 
in capturing the monument as well as the moment !
( at Qutb Complex)

Silence !
Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi.

Monday, October 6, 2014



 Deities with 'different' look  @ Behala Club @ Banamali Naskar Road.
(Acknowledgement  - Website of Behala Club  * )

Both these Puja organisers have used human figures - plenty of them - to adorn their Puja pandals.  The similarity ends here. BC  has   brought in two 'Saura' artists from Odisha   and  Installation art - an ambiance which looked magnificent when lighted up in the night. The installation looked good even during daylight. Very colourful , very arty.  Tribals' life - hunting ,cultivation, domestic scenes and festivity - with abstract designs -  enliven the ambiance. The deities have been given very distinctive look. Almost human faces, little or no ornaments. A remarkable effort by BC and Rupak Bose.

The entrance of Behala Club.
 The central piece is placed in such a way 
that neither its details nor the 'Garbhagriha' is not visible.

Huge display of 'Saura' Art.
(Acknowledgement  - Website of Behala Club )

View of the same, under soft light of the rising sun.

For a few minutes,the morning sun allows the Dancers  an opportunity 
to dance  with their shadows !

Scenes  of Hunting

(*) I would like to mention to  Behala Club's Puja Committee that they could have kept the 'Garbhagriha' better illuminated during daytime as well - few details could be viewed during daytime.

The 'Torana' @ the entrance of Abasar Sarbajanin. 
It has guards with spears on the top rung, musicians on the  lower rung.
The competitors , with their instruments, line up the side walls.

Musicians traveling on carts pulled by strange-looking animals.
 The whole of right-wall has musicians - mostly drummers & flutists -
lined up to entertain and/or compete.

While Behala Club used mostly paintings  of figures to  decorate the 'Installation', Abasar Sarbajanin deployed human figures created from junk to decorate theirs. It is an arena where people were sitting on top of a huge mound to enjoy competition between two groups of musicians, standing and siting along the left and right walls. The 'torana' had musicians too along with armed guards, with their spears high up.  People were coming in strange carts, pulled by stranger animals. The cacophony  disrupted peace and birds were flying away. The cart pullers were also made of junk while birds are were made of ceiling fans and hoses.

Viewers' Gallery atop the 'Garbhagriha'.
Birds irritated by cacophony fly away !

Well, to other viewers, the interpretation of the 'Installation' may be another  'story' , but, it was  not  a  3-minutes enter-click-with-mobile-depart 'Installation'

 Duga by Gouranga Kuila - awarded 'Sharad Samman'

The deity, made with jute, was a piece of art. The 'Garbha-griha' is decorated with hanging red threads, small artifacts connected with  Hindu rituals. Very simple, very tasteful.

 Decoration of interior of  'Garbhagriha'.

Very special faces. Very special background,
made of weaving red & yellow threads.

Not much well-publicised, these two pandals stole my heart.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

DURGA PUJA 2014 (Part II)

Reporting my experience of mornings of Panchami & Shashthi

Ballygunge Cultural Club

This year, Ruby and I have decided to  target pandals/pavilions which we would surely enjoy - not go by popularity. From TV reports of last three evenings, I felt if some organisers and Installation artists have overdone decoration and paid less attention on  the imagery of Durga. Revelers continue to crowd the famous Puja pandals and very little is written criticising work  of indifferent merit. I shall not go into the details of some well-known, yet  not-good-enough work at this point of time - rather share some of the photos we have shot.
 'Samajsebi' Pandal - shaped like a piano.

 'Samajsebi' has done a great thing by dedicating their show to RD Burman. Huge replicas of musical instruments RD loved to use in his music. The main pavilion is a piano-like structure. The deities' eyes are very special . The specialty will stay with you. My pleasant experience was marred by rude behaviour of one volunteer. In the past also, I have seen young men behave extremely badly with viewers, showing off the 5-days power they acquire !

Adornement  outside.

   The imagery is great, the pillars are two irritants for photographers.

 Adjacent Puja pandal od Ballygunge Cultural Club has been a great crowd puller through decades.  Traditional deities BCC display, with thoughtful decorations. This year, they have used colourful lamps and fabricated   steel structure of abstract design for adornment.of their pandal. Different from whatever we are seeing in TV.

 Lovely lighting  @ BCC !

Traditional imagery - framed within fabricated steel structure.

 Purbapally - the club in our earlier residence @ Jamir Lane - used to offer good work within shoe-string budget. This year, we found their work mediocre.  Nevertheless , the decoration

 Excellent 'shola' work @ Purbapally !

Monday, September 29, 2014

DURGA PUJA 2014 (Part I)

 The work of an unknown artist - Sharatda Mandir,Parnasree

Sharada Mandir is a small temple of Parnasree with a wide open space in its front and right by the side of a water-body. This area is in centre of activities during  Durga Puja - Kali Puja phase.

During the Pujas, hordes of revelers crowd pandals erected here. During Durga Puja, 'bhog' is served against a modest charge - very popular with the residents. In 2013, I heard grumblings about over-booking. The evenings see  'arati' as well as interesting musical programs, quite popular with residents of Parnasree who do not venture much in the crowded streets of Calcutta.

This year Indra Pal and his small team is working here , shaping up three sets of Devi and her family. Famous he is not, but, has a very good temperament. I went to his work area during the last phase of preparation and brought a good nos of photographs. A few  are posted here .

Deity getting dressed up.

Mahisasura subjugated !

Young boy has a tummy ready to compete with that of Ganesha !

Indra Pal attends to Ganesha as Lakshmi Devi stands nearly ready !

Here is another photo of the deity of Sharada Mandir getting ready - she was surely way ahead of others. Had to be - this Puja Committee has provided space to Indra Pal for others' work. Hence, he presumably keeps his present bosses happy.

On the  morning of 'triteeya'.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Archaeology News Network: 72,300 ancient manuscripts to be digitized in India

A great effort - thanks to TN Govt & IGNCA.

For details :  Search  :-   Archaeology News Network: 72,300 ancient manuscripts to be digitized in India

Hope & trust people from other states will ve given e-access.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Three tales from Hindu Mythology

' Anantashayane Vishnu - Lord Vishnu resting on Ananta the Snake'  :

Painting exhibited in a Calcutta Gallery during February,2008 . 
Apologies to the painter from Andhra whose name I forgot to record.

From North to South , East to West ,  Lord Vishnu sleeping  - Yogonidra - on turbulent sea - pralaya jaladhi - on coiled snake Ananta , his hood providing shade to His head ,Devi Lakshmi  at His feet and Lord Brahma rising from his navel : this imagery has been the inspiration of sculptors and painters through centuries.

Above , we find a 21st century interpretation where white lotus blooms in the ocean ! And, Lord Brahma is not offering His obeisance to Lord Vishnu !! Colourful and decorative the imagery is - quite a traditional interpretation.

 Lord Vishnu rests with His head on His left hand,
holds none of His usual  attributes. 
Lord Brahma does not rise from His navel either.
Acknowledgement - Sourced from  Internet.

 The most famous  of the reliefs of this imagery is  the one from  Vishnu temple of Deogarh , UP.  According to Wikipedia, this temple is the 1st one built in India with a 'shikhar' . It was built between 4th and 7th centuries........ I have seen this imagery in many other  temples too - both on wall-reliefs as well as wall-paintings. A beautiful example is from   Radheshyam temple of Bishnupur , 1000 years younger than the Vishnu temple of Deogarh.

Stucco-on-stone work - among the few @ Bishnupur.

'Samudra Manthan - Churning of the Ocean of Milk'

 A collaboration  between gods and (so-called) demons ...... brought out from ocean's depth treasures  most which was usurped by the gods.  The world got Lakshmi - goddess of wealth , powerful horse and elephant , Parijaat - the beautiful flowering tree among others .... and elixir of immortality ! Lord Vishnu - incognito -  fooled the demons and let gods have the elixir .

Snake Vasuki , which was used as the chord for churning , spewed out poison when exhausted . Lord Siva saved the world by drinking this poison which turned His throat blue.Siva was subsequently revered as Neel-kantha - the god with blue throat.

This mythological tale has been cited in our great epics and Puranas. Also, featured in Temple art and Patas .  I have come across  wall-reliefs of Samudra Manthan in temples  built during both Badami Chalukya as well as Hoysala regimes.

Wall relief in a temple of Pattadakal complex.

 A lot of details has been squeezed into this small-sized wall-relief  found in a temple of Pattadakal complex. The gods and demons  - four in each of the groups -  engaged in churning, Vasuki and mountain Mandar as well as the finds. The painting of Wikipedia is the best to view the details of the finds which is being copied here : 

Painting in Wikipedia page - Lots of details regarding  what emerged !

Wall-relief  , Kedareshwar temple, Halebid. 
Here also we find four representatives from ods and demons.

'Setu-bandhan from Ramayana - bridge across to Lanka'

Rama and Lakshana got a bridge constructed by banara-sena  - army of monkeys - to cross over to  Lanka with this army . The effort was not easy. God of ocean did not co-operate with banara-sena in the beginning. The bulk of stones deposited on the bed of the ocean was washed away.Then, Lord Rama picked up his bow and arrows and threatened the god of ocean with dire consequences.God of ocean then wilted and allowed construction work go uninterrupted.

 Wall-relief from Kedareshwar temple, Halebid.

In this context, I shall mention that in depictions of 'Ananata-sayana Vishnu', the ocean has  often not been given enough importance ! A notable exception is this one wall-relief of the Somnathpura temple :

Monday, March 17, 2014


Elephant in Dhauli Hills,Orissa.

I am returning to this page after 5+ months - rather unusual as evident from my 'history' of  writing blogs. The concept of being frozen in the flowing stream of time - interpreted visually and in words - was haunting me for  last few days. Here is the 'collection' of what  I have gathered.

The  advantage of philosophy over other expressed mediums is that it can be expansive , others can argue and project their view point  and the 'concept' grows on the initial platform. A visual has no such possibility - once sculpted and painted, the subject belongs to the viewer.  Before I go the visuals, I shall quote  two paragraphs from Alan Lightman's ' Einstein's Dreams' :  a book best described by Los Angeles Times' --- 'Lightman is an artist who paints with the notion of Time'.In one of the chapters he has written :

' There is a place where time stands still.Raindrops hang motionless in air.Pendulums of clocks float mid-swing Dogs raise their muzzles in silent howls....As a traveler approaches this place from any direction, he moves more and more slowly. His heartbeats grow slower further apart, his breathing slackens, his temperature drops, his thoughts diminish, untill he reaches dead center and stops.For this is the center  and stops.For this is the center of time.From this place , time travels outward in concentric circles...' 

 Written in 1992.
 In this 'story', he has used  a dozen imageries . The concept of  slowing down to stillness at the centre of this world makes deep impact on the Reader's mind, somewhat like what we find in 'Time Transfixed' painting by the surrealist painter Rene Magritte. It is said about him that his paintings challenge viewer's 'preconditioned perceptions of reality'.

'Time Transfixed'

  This painting (1938) was initially purchased by Edward James  - a patron of surrealist art. Rene wanted this painting to be hanged  at the starting point of the staircase so that visitors climb up to the ballroom upstairs with  'stab' from the locomotive.The title of the painting , translated in English would have been 'Ongoing Time Stabbed by a Dagger'. Reane was unhappy with the commonly accepted title       'Time Transfixed ' as well as the fact that the painting was hung above James' fireplace. 

 I find an irony here :  the painter wanted viewers to be 'stabbed' by the emerging locomotive while  the viewers  took  the theme as transfixed time !

 In this context, the emerging elephant  at Dhauli Hills, Orissa ( photo at the top of this blog) - a very famous piece of Buddhist art - came to my mind. This elephant symbolises Buddha .  The sculptor never completed  his work. It was  done during  regime of emperor Ashoka ( 271 - 232 BC) .  This was a scene where the 'elephant' was NOT frozen in time - he was emerging. But, the visual effect can be just the opposite , specially when viewed in context with our current experience. I could not find any reference  explaining why the sculpture was left incomplete  - but, tourists to nearby Udaygiri(Bhubaneshwar) will notice two more elephants, sculpted out of movable rocks, are placed adjacent to each other in front of Ganeshagumpha, one of the caves - very much 'finished' in shape. We need not compare the religious  contexts - Udaygiri  did have large occupation of Jain monks.

Pair of elephants
Udaygiri (Bhubaneshwar)