Ram Navami – battle against terror continues

Frieze of Shri Ram killing Ravana at the Khetapai Narayana Temple in Bhatkal by Arun Shanbhag

Wishing All
A Wonderful Rām Navamī
Bliss in Śri Rām’s Grace

M&m and A


The frieze above is from the outer wall of Khetapai Narayan Temple in Bhatkal, which I recently visited. This tiny stone temple was built ca 1546 when Konkani traders escaped Portuguese persecution in Goa and settled in Bhatkal. The Bhatkal port had become the primary port for trade by the Vijayanagar empire with its capital in Hampi. Continue reading “Ram Navami – battle against terror continues”

Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum, Mumbai

pics of Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum, old Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag
During travels to Mumbai, I often bring Meera to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum), a few minutes walk from our house. Meera enjoys chasing butterflies in the gardens and running around the spacious interiors. (See also Mumbai’s new Terminal T2 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.)

She is invariably awed by the stone sculptures of cows, horses or lions, and loves the Natural History wing. She gets to see animals (stuffed) she only has seen in pictures. She loves the ducks (badak), parrots (popat), turtles (her favorite) and the huge whale hanging from the ceiling. Wild animals scare her. Safely tucked between my legs, she points and whispers, bhalu ( bears), rhinoson (rhinoceros), tigherrr, lion and cheetah. Love taking her there. Continue reading “Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum, Mumbai”

Varaha Mandap at Mamallāpuram

Mandapas or Cave shrines of Mamallapuram.

Pallava art Varaha Mandap at Mamallapuram by Arun Shanbhag

The Pallavas (4th – 9th century ce) were the first dynasty to rule over large tracts of present day Tamil Nadu. Their capital at Kanchipuram was at the cross-roads of the North-South trade in spices, gems and silks. Their thriving port at Mamallapuram was the export nexus for trade with the distant lands of Java, Sumatra and Cambodia. The prosperity of the Pallavas, permitted their artistically minded King, Mahendra Varman (571-630 ce) to be a patron of the arts, focusing on sculpture and replicating in stone, temples which were previously built in wood, brick and mortar. Their dynastic reign thus oversaw the initiation and development of temple architecture in South India. Their work influenced temples as far away as Ellora and across the bay in Cambodia.
Continue reading “Varaha Mandap at Mamallāpuram”

Varadaraja Vaikuntha Perumal, Kanchipuram

pavilion at the Varadaraja (Vaikuntha) Perumal Kanchipuram by Arun Shanbhag
(click image for larger version)

After immersing ourselves in Shaiva philosophy at the Kapaleeshwara Temple in Chennai, we journeyed for darshan to the Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram. This temple was commissioned by the Pallava King Nandivarman II and built circa 770 ce. Then Kanchipuram was the capital city of the Pallava dynasty and at the cross-roads of the North – South trade within India. Through their port city at Mammalapuram, trade and Indian civilization were spread across the bay into Thailand, Cambuja (Cambodia), Shrivijaya (Malaysia, Sumatra and Java) and present day Vietnam. The thriving Kanchipuram was also a seat of Sanskrit literature and Buddhist, Jaina, Vaishnava and Shaiva philosophies.
Continue reading “Varadaraja Vaikuntha Perumal, Kanchipuram”

Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 3

I previously shared pictures of two cave temples of Badami. These represented the zenith of the Chalukyan cave temple architecture from the 6th century. Cave one was dedicated to Shiva as the impressive Nataraja; and Devi as Mahisasuramardini. Cave two honors Vishnu and his avataars Varaha and Trivikrama (Vamana).

Cave Three is also dedicated to Vishnu and his avataars, and holds some of the most impressive works of art.

As we approach the caves, they appear as narrow slits in the sandstone mountain side. As you walk up and step onto the verandah that the true beauty of the sculptures becomes evident. Note that these caves are ‘open’ and have no doors or other forms of protection from the weather. Yet their grandeur has survived nearly 1,500 years.

Cave 3 of the Cave Temples of Badami

As you walk up the stairs, you step in between a row of beautifully carved pillars and on the right is the larger than life-size carving of Vishnu, as avataar Narasimha (man-lion). And what a majestic Narasimha it is. On the lower left is Prahalad, whose entreaties caused Vishnu to take this form to alleviate suffering of his devotee; and on the right is the cruel king Hiranyakashipu, who Narasimha disembowels on the threshold.
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – Cave 3”

Cave Temples of Badami – 2

Badami in Northern Karnataka, was the capital of the Chalukyan empire. During the 5th to the 8th century, skilled artisans cut caves in the mountainside and decorated the insides with stunning craftsmanship.

The four caves are dated to 578 CE. The first cave is dedicated to Shiva and you saw some impressive high relief figures of Nataraja and Ardhanareshwara in my earlier post. I hope you did not miss the cute Ganapati providing mridangam support for Shiva’s dance! In a prominent niche in this cave, is also housed a beautiful sculpture of Durga Devi in the form of Mahisasuramardini, which I previously used in a Dussehra greeting.

Cave two is dedicated to Vishnu. Near the entrance is an impressive carving of Varaha Murthy representing the avataar of Vishnu. He is accompanied by the king Naga (lower right). He is holding goddess Prithvi, representing the earth, which he rescued from the deluge.
Vishnu as Varaha Murthy, Cave Temples of Badami
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – 2”

Tirupati: A Walk Enlightens

Walking up the stairs to the Tirupati Devasthan pics by Arun Shanbhag
It was a dream of mine to walk up the mountains to the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthan. When I shared this with M, the 14 km hike up more than 4000 steps did not dissuade her. My dream became her’s too! Continue reading “Tirupati: A Walk Enlightens”

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