Saturday, June 29, 2013

Karla caves, ancient Buddhist rock-cut caves, India

Prayer hall 
Tucked away a midst the beautiful sylvan hills near Lonavla, Maharashtra, are the Karla caves dating back to the 2nd century BC to the 6th-7th century AD. This cave overlooks the Indrayani valley.
There used to be a monastery in the Karla cave complex dating back to the 2nd century BC. In the complex there are viharas or places where monks lived. The artistic decoration of the caves is of the Hinayana and Mahayana sect of Buddhism.

It is a modest climb to the cave and well worth it. On the way to the cave, you will come across waterfalls, and the view from the top is absolutely amazing. The cave has a huge prayer hall where the Stupa is situated and there is a veranda in the front. There are beautiful sculptures of men, women, and animals in the cave.

The most interesting part of the caves is that the roof of the hall is fitted with actual wooded ribs. And the wood is absolutely intact!

Donations and support from many individuals, a prince of a Marathi family, merchants, monks, nuns, and other lay people, helped in setting up this complex.

View from the caves
Entrance to the Karla

To the prayer hall
Prayer hall with
the Stupa

Sculptures on the
Pillars inside the prayer hall

Inscription on the wall
Sculptures on the walls
of the veranda

Living quarters
of the monks
Sculptures in the
living quarters

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Uttarakhand tragedy

It is difficult to come to terms with the terrible tragedy of the Uttarakhand floods.  This is so very difficult to accept.

My heart goes out to people who lost their loved ones, mother, father, wife, daughter, is unacceptable that so many people have lost their lives. Some of the scenes from Kedarnath looked almost as if the world was ending! Scary for onlookers who are watching it on the television, what about the people who actually lived through this and lost their loved ones? What about people who lived and made a living in Kedarnath? What will they do now, they are homeless, jobless, and many of them have lost their near and dear ones.

It is in moments such as this that I am reminded about how lucky I am to be alive, healthy, and comfortable. Life is so uncertain.

While I am writing this, there are still so many people who are perhaps stuck somewhere near Kedarnath, without food, water, or any hope for help, and watching others die. I feel so helpless just thinking about their plight. Thank God for the rescue operations that has helped save the life of so many people.

What is even more tragic is the fact that it was a man made disaster. This is unforgivable. The unending construction of houses and hotels is one of the chief causes of this disaster.
So who decides when to stop these constructions? Who is accountable? I am sure there are correct procedures and policies written down somewhere for safety norms, but who ensures that they are being followed?

Greed has overtaken our value systems; we put innocent lives at risk because some people stand to make immense profits from these constructions!

Bob Dylan's song..."Blowin in the wind", has a line where he says
"How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?"

This line says it all.

I hope we as a nation wake up now, instead of just debating about it, and then eventually forgetting about this tragedy till another incident strikes us!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Common Birds & Butterflies in China

Tawny Rajah-fem butterfly
I am sharing some pictures of Birds and butterflies that my cousin chanced upon during her visit to China. These were easy to sight and I guess they might be quite commonly sighted there.

Nevertheless, I find all of them quite fascinating!

Azure winged magpie

Eurasian magpie
Eurasian tree sparrow

light vented Bulbul
Mugimaki flycatcher

Sooty Bulbul
Small cabbage white butterfly

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Long Gallery, Summer Palace, Beijing, China

The long corridor
My cousin's recent visit to China, made me a little more knowledgeable about China. One of the places she visited was the Summer palace in Beijing. I am sharing some pictures from the "Long Gallery" in the Summer palace.

The Long Gallery is also known as the "coloured paintings museum" because of the beautiful colour paintings, over 14,000 Su style colored paintings on every beam of the Gallery. I believe it is called Su style because this form of painting was first started in Suzhou, Hangzhou, China.

The Long Gallery is 728 meters long; no surprise why it should be called the Long Gallery! It is perhaps the longest corridor in Chinese classical gardens. The history behind it is very interesting. It was built in 1749-50. Emperor Qianlong built it for his mother so that she could enjoy the outdoors no matter what weather it would be outside. I believe the view from the Long gallery is beautiful. It provides a wonderful view of the hill and the lake.

This Gallery was is in the Guinness book of world records because of the sheer number of beautiful coloured paintings.The paints were made out of natural raw colours. The scientific reason behind it would be because paints would protect the wooden structures from insects and other natural forces and as such increase their longevity. These paintings are amazingly beautiful. The Long Gallery has many hundreds of stories painted on it; there are landscapes, flowers, birds, and historical figures as well. If you take a closer look at the paintings, you will find them quite interesting.

Paintings on the beams
Amazing colours

Colour Painting - Long Gallery
Each painting has a story   

Painting, Long Gallery,
Summer Palace
Interesting- Each painting is unique

Beautiful painting of birds
Another beautiful
colour painting

Sunday, June 2, 2013

12th century Mahadeva temple, Itagi, South India

Mahadeva temple Itagi,
South India
Sharing another temple from the Gadag, Lakkundi series. The Mahadeva temple  is equally spectacular. Located in Itagi around 35kms from Gadag, this temple is devoted to Lord Shiva.

Built in the early 12th century by Mahadeva, who was a commander in the army of Chalukya King Vikramaditya, this temple has some beautiful carvings. I wonder how the engineers and artisans in the ancient times managed to carve out such beauties, especially when there was no electricity or sophisticated instruments. It is amazing!

Mahadeva temple
Spectacular pillars

Around the temple