Saturday, April 25, 2015

'OUTDOOR GALLERY' OF PAINTINGS OF SHEKHAWATI REGION OF RAJASTHAN

FROM MY RAJASTHAN VISIT DIARY - NOVEMBER,2014.


       Ladla Street , Manadwa

For a year or so, we were planning a trip to the Shekhawati region - to savour the display of paintings on buildings of this region - under current Jhunjhunu district. Mandawa and Nawalgarh were our choice for visit and photography. In the internet, what I found about Dr Ramnath Poddar Haveli Museum of Nawalgarh  impressed me a lot ! It was, however, built in 1920s, therefore, not old enough from my point of view. Later, during the visit,   we  found Goenka Haveli of Dundlod contain excellent examples of Shekhawati paintings .



 Adorned corridor, 
Dr Ramnath Poddar Haveli Museum of Nawalgarh  

Stylised painting of Krsna, Goenka Haveli, Dundlod.

Owners of the painted buildings  were mostly rich traders. 19th  and early-20th centuries saw proliferation of this practice numerous examples of which stand out to-day. As the owners have shifted out of Jhunjhunu district, building maintenance has become costlier by-the-day, many of the buildings lost the charming paintings on the external walls. I noticed that some owners raise  a portion of the expenditure for maintenance by selling tickets for viewing the courtyards and occasionally,  a specially painted room . Example - a room which has paintings done with gold. Owner of one building ( presently called 'Khemani House' - earlier owned by Laxmi Narayan Ladia)  at Mandawa allowed us to enter the inner courtyard and photograph the well-maintained paintings - but such welcomes are rare and not expected either ,specially if the 'haveli' is inhabited.

 Khemka's Haveli, Mandawa

Initially, I wanted to capture as many scenes from Ramayana , Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana as possible. When in the location itself, I found many interesting subjects beyond traditional mythological scenes .

 Krsna & Radha in kite flying contest !
Dr Ramnath Poddar Haveli Museum of Nawalgarh  


 The Raghunatha temple in middle of Mandawa town has fine examples of paintings in Shekhawati style. This temple may not be very old  , but, a must-visit for those love paintings. Here. I shall add that quite a few hotels here - transformed from old havelis - have decorated both  the exterior and the interior  with paintings in Shekhawati style , thus adding colour to this town's ambiance.

 Vishnu & His Avataras. 
Raghunatha temple, Mandawa.

War scene from Ramayana .
Raghunatha temple, Mandawa.


Painting from Hotel Shekhawati , Mandawa.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

STUMBLES @ FAMOUS TEMPLE SITES, INDIA.

AS MURPHY'S LAW CATCHES UP WITH ME .....


Ranganayaki temple @ Belur. 
100th photo at this temple complex when 
battery of 1000D  rang the 1st alarm-bell !

Photography in India's temple sites has so many problems -  I recount here some of the problems I have come across personally . Trustees do not allow photography at several temples . Example - Jagganatha temple ,Puri, Lingaraj temple complex,Bhubaneshwar . The idols @ Srinathji temple , Nathadwara and Jagdish temple ,Udaipur  are so exquisite ! But, photography is strictly prohibited at Nathdwara . Deity's photograph at Jagdish temple also cannot be clicked. I visited Ranakpur 2nd time after 2009. The core area of Chaturmukha/Adinath temple is out-of-bounds for photographers, thus robbing the photographers from clicking  best of the wall-reliefs! in November,2014. Well - the Trustees here has not yet been as restrictive as those of Jain temple of Mount Abu. Such restrictions take away the joy of being among architectural wonder like Chaturmukha/Adinath temple or Lingaraj temple complex,Bhubaneshwar

  Rich engraving   on pillars - total 1444 nos* -
of Chaturmukha/Adinath temple, Ranakpur.
The double-line chord is there to restrict photographers ! 

@ Belur, Halebid and  Ranakpur , I have faced major glitches  To-day, I can look back with  some amusement  and a lot of regrets. I might have avoided these problems with better planning which have left big gaps in my collection of photographs. It may be interesting to write a few lines on each of the incidents  as a part of my travel diary .

Panel of Kedareshwar temple Halebid.
Last shot before battery of 1000D went  to sleep !

 Batteries of  my Canon 1000 D and Ruby's s3is almost simultaneously reached 'zero' level within 10 minutes   of  our reaching the temple site.Both the cameras faced 'Low Battery' situation with freshly charged ones - indicating  drained out batteries  s3is needed 4 pencil batteries which could be easily obtained  from a local shop just across the temple. But, Canon's LP-E5, that started malfunctioning after only 5000+ shots, continued to trouble me till I  could purchase a new battery at Mysore day after next , i.e, after we covered both Belur and Halebid.While at Belur, I managed  370 shots with 3/4 intermediate charging @ slightly far away Hotel room and from the temple-adjacent shop from where I purchased pencil batteries in the morning.

My sincere thanks to this shop-keeper 
( Opp. to Belur temple)

@ Halebid, I could manage 150 shots through 3 re-charges. Thank goodness - Canon s3is continued to function smoothly. So, we could leave with photos of all that caught our eyes.

But, at Ranakpur, both in 2009 and 2014, we were not so lucky. We reached Ranakpur after 4pm in 2009. By the time we booked our accommodation , bought tickets and entered the  Chaturmukha/ Adinath temple, it was 4.25 pm. We found out, after 5 pm, the authorities do not allow photography inside this temple ! Bad 'cops' were after my camera from 5.05pm - but a good 'cop' allowed me to click a few more photos till it was 5.15pm . Outside , in three other temples, we could continue till sunset, but, I still have regret for not having reached the location by 3 pm ! That was when I thought I should return here to click without tension.

From  Chaturmukha/Adinath temple 
- image-size only 1.03 MB !

This year in November,2014, we were @ Ranakpur again. Reaching there by  11 am to find we cannot take photographs inside the temple till 12 noon. So, we had an early lunch and covered the smaller temples After completing photography @  Suryanarayan temple, I realised  I had an incorrect camera setting.I corrected the same, shot some more  photos  ,but,  during the re-setting, mixed up the sizing. After reaching Jodhpur in the evening, I realised that the photo size selected was  'SMALL' !!

 This Bhairava-like deity'photo was taken 1n 2009. 
Would have loved to visit him in 2914 too !

My regret compounded when I realised  I completely missed one of the smaller temples - Parsvanath temple - which has exquisite examples of Hindu/Jain Iconography. This was covered no doubt  by Ruby, but not 100% .Some of the wall-reliefs I wanted to click were not there !

  Ravana emerging from Lanka  - 
painting @ Raghunatha temple, Mandawa. 
Needed heavy dose of PS to bring out clarity.

The last of the glitch was at Mandawa when , for no apparent reason,  stitch on left side shoulder  of my relatively new shirt, tailored by Raymond's gave away. The  stitch was repaired by a tailor opposite to Raghunatha temple.I stayed put in the car as I felt shy about walking around with a camera in a vest. Therefore, Ruby went ahead with her canon s3is  - but, later I found , the temple was adorned  with excellent paintings of stories from Ramayana & KrsnaLeela, but, lighting was poor. Canon 1000D was indeed needed.



* Note - Reference taken from : https://thatandthisinmumbai.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/the-jain-temples-of-rajasthan/.


Monday, December 1, 2014

WONDERFUL OSIAN - A MEMORABLE VISIT TO THIS TEMPLE VILLAGE

  AESTHETICS OF  OSIAN TEMPLES' ART !


View of cluster of temples  around SachchyiaMata temple.
History of these temples date back to 8th century AD.


 This cluster of temples welcomes visitors to Osian at its entrance.

 Idol of Sri Sri SachchiyaMata.
This temple was reconstructed during 12th century AD.

 I have read about  Osian temples being compared those of Khajuraho.  Did not find much details on similarity  though.  Our November,14 visit to Osian was indeed an eye-opener about the rich temple art here !  Structurally, Khajuraho and Bhubaneswar temples are much bigger - often  materials of study for students of  Hindu temple architecture. But, wall-reliefs and ornamentation of both Sachchiyamata complex and Jain temples' complexes  are aesthetically a class in themselves .The deities and the human figures are built delicately. Faces and physique, postures and expressions, ornaments and clothing, composites and symbols - everything measure upto a very high standard og artistry.

  In the three temples @ SachchiyaMata's temple's level, we have three manifestations 
of 'Varah Avatar' of Vishnu.  Here is one where Vishnu has four hands , 
Bhudevi resting on his left upper arm.

...... and here, subjugation of  the 'Nagas'.

Salutation of the 'Nagas' - 
inner roof of temple adjacent to that of SachchiyaMata.

The Sachchiyamata complex is built atop a small mound, with stairs running from the street level, with a break in between , where a few other small temples are located. At the top, idol of Sachchiyamata has been placed at the centre of a cluster of temples, with one temple attached with the central one having significant relief work on its roof. Two modest-sized temples are on Sachchiyamata's right and one more on the left . Photographers' delight - somewhat obstructed by deep blue-coloured fabricated barriers .

 Art of juxtaposition - 
Gods, beauties, sages and composite animals  placed  side-by-side.

 Siva-Shakti Iconography, the traditional rows of animals  and  imageries of flow of life
 have lost sharpness, thus a part of their appeal.

Closer observation will charm the visitors. We find Vishnu, his Avataras, Surya, Indra, beautiful women, sages with strange expressions and mythical animals in combat placed in deep-set alcoves. Each relief has mark of very matured and superior artistry. Faces, hair-style, dresses and poses speak high about the art of  Pratihara dynasty. Dr Asha Kalia , more than 30 years ago, wrote a book on Osian art - wish I had access to this book before my visit.

 Combat between composites & human beings adorn  the east-side wall of 
Lakshmi-Narayan temple, on LH of SachchiyaMata temple.

 Close-up of 'Slaying of  Hiranyakashipu' on the east-side wall of 
Lakshmi-Narayan temple, on LH of SachchiyaMata temple.

Two  temples @ lower level of SachchiyaMata complex. 
Well-known desert  beyond  green boundary of Osian village in far horizon.

My wife and I have captured in our camera  whatever appealed to our eyes aesthetically. For extensive details, please refer to Dr Asha Kalia's pages in the Internet, in case her book is not available in your neighbouring Library.

Monday, November 24, 2014

TRAVEL THROUGH RAJASTHAN - NOVEMBER,2014


 FROM MY TRAVEL DIARY - 1



 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 !


Ranakpur is proud of this Jain temple,with so well crafted interior & exterior.

One of the four small temples at the entrance of Osian.


 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

DURGA PUJA ( PART III )

HUMAN FIGURES  - IN  LINES & VOLUMES - ADORN  PUJA PANDALS OF BEHALA CLUB & ABASAR SARBAJANIN DURGOTSAB COMMITTEE





 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.