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Monday, April 14, 2014

Modhera Sun Temple - Part 4 (Vadodara - Gujarat)

Finally here's the last part of the Modhera Sun temple series. I was there for just a couple of hours. In that time, I hardly saw anything. There were tons of sculptures I did not see properly. And with that, I came up with this 4 part series about it. The temple needs atleast a day or two dedicated to it totally, to see all the sculptures properly.
Anyways, in the exteriors of the sanctum sanctorum, where those sculptures of Aditya, Lokpala and Gauri are seen, just below them are those several panels. One of them has little humans in them. Here's some close-ups of that panel.
Beginning with the elephant panel. 
Notice the little humans doing acrobatics holding the trumpet of the elephants?!!

A war scene! Soldiers with spears and shields.

A musical procession! Women playing musical instruments!!

A prayer scene! Performing abhisheka of Siva Lingam!

More processions!

Not very unusual, but the erotic sculptures here are pretty many!!!

Life's a circle, right? Along with the erotic expressions, here a very detailed, Child Birth scene!!!

That wraps up Modhera, but more of Gujarat is yet to come. Stay tuned!!!

Refer to my prev. post

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Modhera Sun Temple - Part 3 (Vadodara - Gujarat)

After the Suraj Kund, and Nrutya Mandap, over to Guda Mandap or the Sanctum Sanctorum now. Very similar to the Nrutya Mandapa, every pillar of the sanctum sanctorum was an intricate piece of art by itself as well. 

The outer structure is basically a rectangle, but actually a multi faceted star shaped structure.

Each facet has a major sculpture. Either an Ashta dik Balaka or Aditya or Devi. An Aditya is identified as the straight standing sculpture. There are 12 of those.

An Ashta dik Balaka aka Lokpalaka is identified as a tribanga (tri-fold) posture. Technically there should be only 8 of those. But here quite unusally there are 10!

Then there are the female figures called Gauri-s or Devi-s. 
These are just the major sculptures, in the facets. Then there are several panels above and below them - one dedicated to other gods & scenes from epics, one dedicated to humans, one for elephants, one for lion face etc.... 
There was this one sculpture of a woman, turned around, and twisting to show her face in the front. She has also folded a leg to her back and holding it with her hand. I loved that sculpture and tried to pose just like that in front of that. Spot that sculpture atop me???
They are so astonishing that they too require a separate post. Coming back soon.

Refer to my prev. post.

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Modhera Sun Temple - Part 2 (Vadodara - Gujarat)

Continuing from the last post on Modhera Sun Temple. As I said already, right at the front is the extremely beautiful stepped well pond. Just behind it is the Nrutya Mandapa. 
In simple words, I was flabbergasted with the beauty of the mandapa. Its believed that earlier only the Pond and the temple existed and Nritya Mandapa was built a bit later in the same century. 
As I already said in the last post, the Hutheesingh Jain temple was severely influence by the architecture of this. 
Its just a hall with several pillars and entrance on all 4 sides. The entrances has some exquisite toran designs. 

Each and every pillar has several layers of panels of various genre. A layer of geometric designs, a layer of florals, a layer of humans, a layer of bigger humans, a layer of elephants etc etc etc!!!
Here are some pics of the Nrutya Mandapa or the dancing hall. I was there for about an hour and I got lost!!!

You know what, its the awesomeness of the sculptural marvel here that extends this post to several sections. 

The ceiling design was also another piece of art. Each and every section was unique!! Some section even had panels of scenes!!!

Here are some closeups of the pillar designs! One more part , dedicated to the sanctum sanctorum section, coming up...

Refer to my prev. post.

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Modhera Sun Temple - Part 1 (Vadodara - Gujarat)

After seeing the step wells at Adalaj, Dada Harir and ofcourse Rani Ki vav, which had long, corridor like steps, finally I got to see Modhera that had alternated horizontal and vertical steps! 

First thing that it reminded me of - the movie Paheli!!! Some shots of the movie had the heroine Rani Mukherjee walking down those steps...
Well, it was built by the Solanki King Bhimdev in 1026 CE. They were called Suryavashies or the descendants of Sun God! here are 3 major sections here - The pond at the front called Suraj Kund or Ram Kund, the dancing area in the centre called Nrutya Mandap and the sanctum sanctorum called the Guda Mandap. 
The sculptural detail in this temple was beyond my comprehension, beyond words. But I did observed one things - remember my post on Hutheesingh Jain Temple? That was totally totally inspired by this...

Beside the pond were these 2 pillars. The original location of these pillars is not this though. It was kept here by the ASI. The best part in the on site museum as well, by ASI.
I was there in the afternoon and the sun is shining hot, and the stepped well / pond was spectacular. It was a visual treat. The way the shadows fell  was mind blowing. I could sit there and see on seeing them. Walking down the zig zag step feels so special.
Along those steps, at certain places are some small mandapas and some of them even have a diety inside.... That's water conservation at its best! 

When God is placed along with water, out of respect to God, water is not made dirty!!! That's something!!!! 
I really can't talk about Modhera in just one post. Coming back with part 2.


Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dholavira (Kutch- Gujarat)

So I was telling you about Indus Valley Civilization, in the last post (when we were calling it the Harappan Civilization, as every other text book says, expert Michel Danino, vehemently opposed it, as the area is so so so much more than Harappa!). And I ended the post with a note on a huuuuge site and here's the post on it. The site is called Dholavira and its in the Rann of Kutch.

The site was discovered in 1967-68. This is one of the 5 biggest site covering 100 hectares. The site is spectacular. The boundary is in the shape of parellelogram and has fortified wall on all sides! Unlike Lothal which was more of an industrial town, this was more of a residential town. Here are some important things - Citadel, Middle town, lower town, reservoirs, and fort walls.
First things first. Reaching here is an awesome experience by itself. The previous day I was at Ahmedabad and from there via Modhera (travelogue on the sun temple there, coming up soon), the trip was to Dholavira. The long lonely road with very few villages that occur occasionally!!! At the last relatively bigger village with some shops, I made sure to call my mom & hubby to inform that I'll be soon entering a no-cellphone-signal zone! But guess what, not just BSNL, Vodafone also picks up signal even till the deepest part of Dholavira!!!
Dholavira has just 2 options to stay - the guest houses of the state tourism dept. and the state forest dept. In any case pre booking in necessary, coz even they are very less in numbers. I stayed at the tourism dept guest house and the night spent there was fabulous. The houses were typical Gujarati pol houses - circular houses with conical thatched roof. However the facilities were pretty good with air conditioner, geyser, etc. 
The best part of the night was star gazing. The last time I saw a sky filled with so many stars was in the highway while returning from Panamalai! The unpolluted environment here made the sky so clear and millions of stars visible!
Well, early next day we started off the the actual Indus valley civilization site. Here, unlike Lothal where mostly bricks were used, here stones of various sizes were used with mud as mortar. The 3 major sections in here were the citadel, middle town and lower town. The citadel has the castle in the east and bailey in the west. 
At certain places their incredible skill in stone work was evident. One such example was this cylinder. This is actually a base of a pillar. The level of polishing was incredible. In the sultry, hot sun, this stone was so so chill!
Another example are these poles. Where they the first ever form of Sivalingam??? May be!
Another example is the very polished step!
Very similar to Lothal, here too drainage and sanitation were given a very high importance.

Also similar to Lothal, wells were built very neatly here too. One of the wells also had a side plank where the pulley marks are still visible! 

But its not these that caught my attention, it was the reservoirs. Huge reservoirs. There are 16 of them around the area. At a particular point there were 5 of them next to each other. They not just hold water but also filter it to a certain extent. The largest of them all, measures approx, 73m x 29m. There are steps to reach the depth of the reservoir when water level is low. 
Though I couldn't see with my own eyes, the thing that amazed me the most was the sign board. Perhaps, the world's first sign board. Its 10 characters. Huge in size. A character per plaque of size 37cm high. The entire 10 letters, is 10m long. What does it say? May be 'Namaste', may be 'welcome', may be the town's name, may be the king's name, may be some divine chant like 'Om'.... May be.... No one knows, coz Indus valley script is not deciphered yet. Presently public viewing is not possible, as ASI has safeguarded this. 
There are 2 open spaces also which might have been used for various purposes like entertainment, bazaar, meetings, gatherings, ceremonies, sports etc. 
The view from one point in Dholavira was spectacular, from where the horizon meets the white sands of the Rann of Kutch!

Also I spotted a couple of interesting rocks! A rock with several sea shells fossilized and embedded onto it! Another rock with multi color stripes naturally occurring on it!!!
A few km from here was the Pakistan border! See that watch house there? That's the BSF post. Just beyond it was the Indo Pak border. Went so close to the border and still waiting for my Pakistan trip dream to come true...
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