This is Garuda. The king of the Bird community according to Hindu Mythology. We found this remarkable sculpture in the 11th C AD ruins of Vichundrem in Goa. He is the mount of Lord Vishnu and seems to be paying obeisance to him after being granted immortality. The Vishnu statue as Shri Narayandev is at the other end of the ruins.
Here are some of the motifs of the temple of Masrur. while some motifs seem to be of Hindu significance, others are appearing to be Buddhist in terms of their geometric arrangement. How old would this structure have been?
It is a monolithic temple complex, situated in the Kangra District of Himachal, India. Our timing to visit it was perfect, just as the sun’s first rays kissed the top of the structure. While the exact origin of the structure is not definite, it has depictions of gods and goddesses and symbolic engravings as diverse as Hindu to the Buddhist. Just like the other fort at Nurpur, this structure too houses a school near its compound, but is very well maintained, maybe because of its height and location.
Last week, we looked at the ruins of the fort at Nurpur, this week, the culture of Co-existence in Dharamshala.
Dharamshala, is a town adopted as a capital by the Tibetian Government in exile . The Dalai Lama’s Palace is situated on top of a hill here, in a place called McLeodGanj. Although I have visited the monastery before, this time a chance visit to nearby Kangra, made it possible, but only for a short while in the evening. By then the monastery seemed closed and only a few Lama’s were around in the tourist marketplace, which was shutting down as well. A cold wave had enveloped Himachal last few days and it was evident with the thin tourist count here. A different culture seemed to have evolved on the periphery of this famed institution. It was colourful, well lit and lively. Almost reminiscent of the Beach culture of Goa, strangely coexisting with the serene calmness of the monastery.
This Lama was all smiles for my camera and the environment was friendly and warm.
This Lama was walking opposite to the direction of a rooftop cafe on the chowk.
McLo’s fame as a cafe was a visit of Pierce Brosnan (remember James Bond?), and it boasted of the visit through its wall photographs. But yes, the food was excellent.
I am not overly fond of visiting temples. This particular temple was in the ruins of an old fort, some 20 kms away from my home. A chance drive today till the Fort Area revealed to me more than I was prepared to take in. An unmarked road led us up the hill to the ruins of the fort.
A board outside the fort by the Archeological Survey of India, announced that there was a fine & imprisonment for any defacing or causing harm to the monument, but nothing about its historical relevance.
Monkeys greeted me at the entrance of the fort area. Further inside a secondary school was housed in the structure. Barren land and a couple of tourists were walking around, probablly finding something worthwhile to do with their evening, just like we were as well.
An old man was folding his rug after a seista in a nearby temple. He seemed to live there, but could again not give me much about the history of the monument. Some kind of faint artwork covered all the four walls around me.
It was then that I saw. Beautiful intricate paintings covered the walls of the temple from top to bottom.It was like a story, but which I could not decipher.Centuries had chipped the paint off the walls. Some of which had been left there had been repainted over by coats of distemper, proudly by a local painter. Some of which was left on those walls is documented below.
In my belief, it could have been some of the finest work that I have seen so far. (My benchmark being the Miniature gallery of the National Museum in Delhi). But sadly now, what remains is a faint picture of the glory of the Art form.
Some people collect music, I like to collect pretty stones.
We often associate green with Emeralds, but there are a surprising number of natural stones which are green in colour. Chrysolite(top four pictures) is one such gemstone from the “Olivine” family, from which we also get Peridot (as in the beads above). While Peridot is smaller and greener, Chrysolite is more vivid and yellower. Fashions have relegated the Olivine family to “semi precious” stones, but they are one of my favorites. Tsavorites, the drops, are also green in colour. Only an experienced gemologist can distinguish and rate gemstones based on their many colors and characteristics. The piece of Jewellery displayed above is a double loop pendant with a modern interpretation of Gold foil setting (Kundan) and Green Enamel (Minakari), both which are traditional Indian jewellery techniques, popular in the 13th-15th C AD (Mughal period). Finally At the end, is a motif from the Mehendi (temporary tattoo) art which is basically a henna made by crushing green Mehendi leaves and is used to dye the hands for festive occasions.
(All pictures and stones from my private collection)