Sunday, March 5, 2017

TERRA COTTA OF 'RARH' BENGAL - FROM MY TRAVEL DIARY - IX

GAUR- PANDUA-BARONAGAR -SRIBATI

When I re-visited my Blog written after a trip to the above places in 2012, I noticed several photos are just not opening.I worked for an hour trying to  re-insert the photos which were part of the blog. Yet , it was found corrupted. Hence, I have re-produced that blog under a fresh title.

A friend of mine  requested me to post 15 best photographs from the ones we have taken during our trip to 'Rarh' Bengal in flickr/kodak/picassa. It is a difficult choice to make.Besides, I am slow about editing and often I work with writing blogs as a target.

Anyway, as I was progressing with listing and PSing the photos, I  picked up a few from our albums for sharing the same with my friends and relatives.I started with  a mosque , which I thought is the best among the Muslim terra cotta architecture we saw.

Among the  work in  Muslim terra cotta architecture of medieval Bengal at Gaur , I have selected two as the most representative ones :



Lottan Masjid. 1475 AD ( 500+ years old !) 
Built @ the behest of a courtesan.
Attributed to Sultan Yusuf Shah.
Slope of the roof domes,extension on the far end and terra cotta motifs very impressive.
( Photo by RC )



Pillars & Arch in a monument under restoration @ Gaur.
( In absence of notice from ASI , no details were available.)
Grand view of such displays, when all the coloured tiles were intact 
can be imagined by the viewers.



Terra cotta decoration on Western wall @ Adina Masjid built by 
Sultan Sikandar Shah between 1364-74 AD,
supposedly the largest in Asia.
Simply majestic !

The history of construction of this huge Masjid stares at your eyes as you come across scores of Hindu deities abounding the structure ! But, this subject can be basis of another blog. Here we  celebrate the great work of the artisans of the medieval Bengal who contributed to aesthetics of our architecture.

No caption needed . 
From one of the pillars of the gate to the Nave.



Terra cotta and other temples of Baronagar were overwhelming .'Char Bangla' - the complex with four temples - demonstrate the height of aesthetics this region reached during tenure of Rani Bhavani.These temples are maintained by ASI. Gangeswar temple, a little away from the Ganges is a small 'JorBangla' temple with intricate details. This one is maintained by CAST. Besides these five, which are well-known , there are a few dilapidated temples which have  remarkable stucco work.

  
LH - Krsna kills Kansaraj as Balaram looks on & cheers. RH - Krsna kills the 'mahut' of Kubalayapeerh while Balaram tackes the elephant. Later, Krsna would kill the elephant.
Baronagar. 1755 AD . ( Photo by RC)

Ravan had a special place in the heart of the person/s who decided on depiction of Ramayana scenes in Charbangla and Gangeswar temples. Those who are interested in more on this aspect may pl open : http://www.flickr.com/photos/maulindu/4054539545/in/set-72157622562648829/. View this Ravan, placed separately, armed and dressed regally.



Those at Sribati can be called cute. I must add that villagers of Sribati were very bitter about indifference of Govt regd. support to the maintenance efforts . They do not get even 1 rupee for removal of growth after every monsoon. These temples have panels with lots of stories to tell . Let us try to contribute to the preservation of these temples .


This panel, placed centrally above one of the arches of octagonal panel, has no figure of mythology !



The eternal battle between Shakti & Asura.















Saturday, March 4, 2017

TERRA COTTA TEMPLES OF BENGAL - VIII

RECALLING OUR VISIT TO SRIBATI



 The ' Three Temples' - Trimandir - of Shiva.

 Among all the terra cotta temples we have visited , the three Shiva temples  of Sribati hold a special place in my heart. When we visited  Sribati in February of 2010, these three temples were managed without Government aid. The villagers  we talked to did regret this indifference , yet were proud that they kept the site clean, arranged for a floodlight - view it atop the Panchratna temple @ the centre - to protect the cluster against vandalism. 



The Octagonal Temple  on our right.
Inset - Insignia of Lion ( ?) - reminded me of Yali of South India !


'MrityuLata', 'Triumvirate' and other gods , KrsnaLeela, a study of  head-gears and dresses. Wonderful vegetal art too.

The site has been maintained carefully for years. I have seen in a photograph taken by Amitabha Gupta during his September,2014 visit , the site was clean as ever. The stack of hay on the left side of the photo taken by me was no longer there.



মানভঞ্জন -  Husband coaxing wife . A bedroom scene.
                        ( Drama -1)


    Drama between an European woman and 
a reluctant Indian male while his wife dozes off.
                                (Drama -2)


                                                   Beauties and the Saint
                                  (Drama -3)

These temples were built by Chandras , a family of traders, during  nineteenth century. Tucked away from  a main road by at least 15/20 minutes drive , a slightly arduous journey to Sribati - these temples would reward travelers handsomely who visit temples for aesthetics and photography.


Kartikeya in battlefield with Asura-s.

The artists and artisans who worked over here have packed the walls with scenes from Epic and Purana, social scenes full of drama , 'MrityuLata', art of grotesque, armed men, figures with different types of head gears and superior vegetal and ornamental  motifs . A visit here is a photographer's delight . Unfortunately, we had less than two hours of afternoon sun. Several portions of the octagonal 'Deul' on our right-hand was somewhat dark . During 2010, we did not possess a DSLR either. Serious photographers should have at least three hours  for photography & noting.

           'Mrityulata' and vegetal/ornamental art.

Chains of human faces, figures and art of Grotesque.

Special mention need be mentioned of social scenes and art of grotesque. These are what elevate this cluster from many 'Me-Too' wall-reliefs of terra cotta temples.

I share here a few samples of the wide variety of  art displayed on the wall-reliefs.  Surely, visitors to my page will enjoy the same. For those who want to visit Sribati, a few note on logistics :
  • By train, reach Katwa. Stay in a hotel, if traveling in the evening. Next morning,  travel to Kurchi More by bus & change to reach Sribati Singhi More.
  • By car from Kolkata,  follow the route to Katwa till Kurchi More. Take a turn towards Sribati. Stay watchful about bumps.

   
                                             

As she peeps out of the window !






Thursday, November 3, 2016

USING REFLECTION IN PUJA PANDAL (2016) DECORATION


33 Pally Sarbajanin - 
Inverted umbrella made out of rear-view mirrors.


This year ( 2016 ) , I have come across two Puja pandals with remarkable and very aesthetic  use of mirrors to decorate the interior of the pandals.

The first one I would mention is a very well-known Durga Puja of this year - ' 33 Pally Sarbajanin '. Over-all planning here is by Shibshankar Das . He has used Ambassador cars and its parts to decorate the pandal - demonstrating  the height Kolkata's installation art reaches during Durga Puja.At the entrance , he has installed an 'inverted umbrella'-shaped  canopy decorated with 500+  rear view mirrors  on the pathway that leads to the pandal.

33 Pally Sarbajanin - 
A closer view of the above.

Inside the pandal, he created two  giant  'haat-paakhaa' ( hand held fan)  on each side of the podium the idols are placed. The surfaces of the 'fans' have quadrants of .mirror, reflecting the idols . Here is one comment  - I could not  find out the position from where I could see reflection of  Devi's face .




33 Pally Sarbajanin - 
Reflection of the idols on quadrants of mirrors.

Kali Puja at Parnasree is a big event. Surya Sangha started very early with their pandal construction and decoration. Huge chandelier was installed inside with  lots and lots of mirrors on the inside walls. Very impressive decoration as the mirrors framing added to the  effect created.


'Surya Sangha , Parnasree  -
The Dark Goddess and Illumination around Her .



Monday, October 31, 2016

DURGA PUJA ,2016 : PART 1


'Tridhara' - 
Huge heads of  buffaloes , scores of plaques with African motifs decorate the huge pandal.

After spending a quiet Durga Puja in Helsinki during 2015 , I was looking forward to the  grand show of Durga Puja in Kolkata in 2016. Puja pandal decoration was completed by Triteeya/Chaturthi and pandal-hopping started with big enthusiasm. We went out before sun-rise on the mornings of Panchami and Shashthi too. On mid-day of  Saptami, we covered the local pandals of Parnasree. That was the time when Anjali was being offered to Devi almost in all the pandals we covered.On the mornings of Nabami and Ekadashi, we went out again with our cameras. Very rewarding experience indeed.



'66 Pally' -
Devi's idol,the pandal and the decoration around remind the viewer 
to the charm of old Kolkata !


TV shows, however, were mostly disappointing. These shows covered mostly the crowd thronging the pandals and boasting members of the organisers' committees. But, the cameras hardly covered the decoration, the lighting or the idols . Probably, the organisers do not want the TV viewers see the many details on TV screen. They are happy only when more and more people queue up  through       l-o-n-g corridors shaped by  thousands of bamboo poles leading the 'Entry' gates.If  viewers  get satisfying details in TV , why will they come to the pandals in hordes ?



Deshapriya Park  - 
Much-hyped ' Durga with Thousand hands'  &
a glimpse of the idol that was 'worshiped' according to rituals through an opening on the high pedestal of the former.

We went pandal-hopping either early morning or mid-morning,  time slots not-so-popular . Yet, peaceful viewing and photography were quite difficult . Besides the crowd, we faced problem of lighting too. For example at Tridhara, lighting of the alcove housing Devi's idol   was switched off in the early morning. As a result, hardly any details were visible. It necessitated a lot of efforts  to extract presentable photographs from the raw shots.



 'Badamtala Ashadh Sangh' -
Excellent decoration with broken bricks and terra cotta images . Disappointing layout since the Devi's idol is placed at a distance , chairs etc were scattered in front of Her pedestal , creating an unkempt look .  


 'Badamtala Ashadh Sangh' -
Impact/appeal of the huge inverted lotus marred  by 
the thick cable running across.

In fact, some of the  pandals we visited were not designed to cater to serious viewers. It seems to thrive on ' More are the nos of viewers, happier are the  sponsors' principle. I found  excellent 'art'work marred by bad lighting , un-organised  placement of furniture , large distance between viewer's space and where the idols are positioned. In several cases, tip of Devi's crowns  were not visible, the sides of 'Ganesha' and 'Kartick' poorly illuminated.

'Ballygunge Cultural' -
The 'Asura'  here looks strong -  most of Kolkata's idol-makers seems to  have no idea  what the appearance of 'Mahishasura' should be. 
He threw the gods out of heaven & 
it took the  power and weapons of ten of them to defeat him.

But, these aberrations are 0.1% of the whole show. The artistic value  of  the installations and  efforts were simply astounding.

'Parnasree Club' -
After 'Astami' Puja.



Thursday, May 26, 2016

'TENTACLES OF VEGETATION'





Till the other day, I used to walk in quite fast pace. Then,  my left leg decided not to co-operate with me. I was compelled to stay  put in Kolkata during 2013 . My visit to  Rajasthan/Delhi in November, 2014 was two years after my  Bangalore/Mysore visit in 2012.It was only the 2nd half of my 2015 visit to NJ/Helsinki when I started regaining my confidence. that too quite slowly.

Puistola, Helsinki is a typical Finnish suburb - a lot of greenery , undulated  topography surrounding the houses, schools and other urban amenities. I have taken lots of photographs of nature , colourful during the Fall and then bare & dry as the winter approached. A few berries,  both black and red took on the weather with all the resilience they had. Otherwise, bare branches, dull- yellow dying leaves littered on the forest ground was a common scene.

 I took photos to familiarise myself with my new Nikon camera and explore the surroundings as I have never seen anything like this earlier, not even at Banbury. And .... to insert a few pauses during the walk to catch my breath.

While editing the photos after six months or more during this hot summer night in May'20 Kolkata, this photo of dead branches ( tree trunk on viewer's right not in the photo ) attracted my notice. Just like tentacles. I photoshopped  and arrived at the B&W version which is at the top of the post. No one 'liked' the photo which I posted  in my flickr.com page.  Nor in FB, anyone noticed it but for my wife and a friend/poet. But, I believe this is a strong composition - not by me, just another 'one' of nature.


the original photo, before photoshop is here. Just count the numbers of branches creeping inside this photo's 'frame' !! They almost seem to be of an animal, not of vegetation.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

PORTRAYALS ON NATURE'S CANVAS

SCRAPBOOK of HELSINKI VISIT_2015

Colour of sunset against a deep blue sky 

Scandinavia's nature is a photographer's delight.  During my short visit in June,15, I found Helsinki green. Lingering day - light seeping through curtains even @ 2 am. The second round - September to  November - was more interesting as I witnessed the change of season. Bright blue sky, orange sunset, colours of autumn and then ground frost on brown trees......

Colour of 'Autumn'.

 Trees which have shed all the leaves have another kind of appeal. In a photo, it looks like a painting with Chinese ink. My bro-in-law suggested  - if I would lie down on the ground and take photos of a cluster of trees , the puddle-like sky seen through the cluster. Well, I did not go that 'far' , but, clicked several photos with camera-lens pointing up , while I stood at the bottom of the bare branches. On the flip-side, when I returned home, I found my hair and jacket have collected good nos of insects.


And... this one is almost monochrome. 
As if painted by Chinese ink !

 
 
I took scores of photos of berries - both black and red -  on near-barren branches . And... of white and yellow mushrooms which grew on a stack of cut-off trunks of birch trees.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

REFLECTIONS & SHADOWS - SOME MORE PHOTOS FROM SCANDINAVIA



Thin crowd in Helsinki streets is one reason that makes outdoor photography in Helsinki simple. On a bright day , while strolling along Mannerheimintie and around Kanavakatu , I captured several interesting shots on glass facades  of  imposing buildings. Sunlight made taking photos of North-South roads difficult as shadow of one row of buildings dictated the quality of the capture.

Reflection of steeple of National Museum of Finland 
on the glass exterior of 'Music Center ', Helsinki.

Sun-light & shadow spoilsport  !
Tram-route 4, as it turns off Kanavakatu.

Shadows bring another kind of rewarding photo opportunity too. I found two interesting shadows  of  Uspenski Cathedral's Cupola on a neighbouring building. And......several shapes of shadows on other buildings.

 

 The prized photo-capture  of reflection among the ones I have collected is that of the tower of  National Museum of Helsinki upon the black glass panes of a mini-van parked in Lippuautomatti parking lot, just off the  Mannerheimintie . Reflection of a tree and its branches makes the image more captivating !