Monday, June 29, 2015

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan architecture is a typical representation of the South Indian Pallava-Chola architecture - It is typical of the architecture to have very tall Vimanas and Kopurams(towers), large courtyards and aesthetically carved bas reliefs.Also the Prambanan temples follow the Mandala concept of the Vastu Sastra, an ancient Indian science of architecture and construction.
The 240 temples were organized as follows -
1. The 3 main temples for the 3 Murthys of the Hindu religion - Siva,Vishnu and Brahma with the Siva temple in the center.
2. Vahana or vehicle temples of the respective murthys are opposite to each one of the murthys for a total of 3 temples. The 3 vahana temples are Garuda,Nandi and Angsa(or swan).
3. There are two Apit temples or flank temples on either side of the 6 temples in the center row between the rows of Vahana and Murthy temples.
4. There are 4 Kelir temples on four cardinal directions outside the inner courtyard
5. Then there are 4 Pathok temples on 4 corners of the inner courtyard
6. Then outside all these temples are the Pervara temples organized in 4 concentric squares with different no. of temples from inner square to outer square as follows - 44,52,60,68
Today only the Murthy,Vahana,Apit and Kelir temples has been restored while the Pathok and Pervara are not restored yet though work is in progress.
The temples of Prambanan itself are organized as per the Logam concept. The foot of each temple represents the Boologam or the realm of the mortals. The middle realm or the body of the temple represent Bhuvarlogam or realm for the holy people. The upper realm or the holiest part of the temple or the topmost layer is the realm of gods called Swarkalogam. The upper realm is completed by a Vajra(it can mean both thunderbolt or diamond) on the roof.
The Bas reliefs of Prambanan is very extensive and narrative. The narrative part is about Ramayan epic and Bhagavata puranam - stories about Vishnu and his avatars. The reliefs also have depictions about Kalpataru, Apsaras, Devadas - all part of the Hindu/Buddhist mythology.
The temple is believed to have been built by Rakai Pikatan of Sanjaya dynasty around 850 AD and expanded by subsequent kings building the Pervara temples surrounding the centerpiece in concentric squares. At its peak, hundreds of Brahmins lived in the temple complex while the royal court with the urban center was located nearby. The royal court was shifted either due to Mount Merapi volcano eruption or due to power struggle throwing Prambanan into disuse. The locals knew about the existence of the temple but did not know the background and so the folklore of Loro Jonggrang was attached to the temple. It was rediscovered in the early 19th century by archaeologists from Britain during its short occupation.
Folklore of Roro Jonggrang
Candi Prambanan is also called as Candi Roro Jonggrang based on the folklore in these parts of the island. Roro Jonggrang is story of a princess by the same name and her love and betrayal. The other architectural sites existing today, Rotu Boko, Candi Sewu templex complex and the statue of Durga Mahishasuramardini within Prambanan templex complex all have their mythical connections to this story. Father of Roro Jonggrang, Prabu Boko is killed in a battle by neighboring kingdom's prince, Bandung Bondowoso. Prince Bondowoso along with his army captures the Rotu Boko palace. On seeing Princess Roro Jonggrang, falls in love with her and wishes to marry her. Roro Jonggrang, not wishing to marry him for he being her father's killer but at the sametime does not want to reject him for him being the victor, places an impossible condition to be fulfilled by the prince - build a 1000 temples in a night. But the Prince Bondowoso, having the magical powers to invoke demon spirits(kind of like Genies) to build the 1000 temples. But the demon spirits can only work in the night as the sunlight can burn these spirits during daytime. They proceed to build the temples and had completed 999 temples when the princess hears this news. She tricks the rooster in the Palace by having the maids light candles on the eastern side. The rooster, thinking that the sun is rising, starts to crow and the spirits rush back to below the earth. Prince Bondowoso tries to build the 1000th temple but fails. In his anger at being tricked, he curses the Princess Roro Jonggrang, who becomes a statue in the Prambanan temple complex, thus becoming the statue of Durga.

Mystic Mountain Mt. Kailash

Mystic Mountain Mt. Kailash is a mysterious mountain. A great mass of rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash is one of the world’s most sacred places and yet it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of Hindus and 3 other religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. The reason for this is the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel.The weather is always cold and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey.The landscape around the mountain is rugged and dry but crossed by crystalline blue streams and other bodies of water.
Near the sacred mountain is the source of the Indus, Sutlej and Bramaputra rivers and on its south side are two freshwater lakes,the easternmost of which is the highly sacred Lake Manasarovar. With an altitude of 14,950 feet, Mansarovar is the highest body of fresh water in the world. The other lake, Rakshastal, also has legendary significance. According to Vedic Hindu texts, Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailasa. Mount Kailas is regarded in many sects of Hinduism as Paradise, the ultimate destination of souls and the spiritual center of the world. According to a description in the Puranas, Mount Kailash’s four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli; it is the pillar of the world; rises 84,000 leagues high; is the center of the world mandala; and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. From it flow four rivers, which stretch to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions. Kailash is sacred to other religions which emerged from Vedic dharma, Hinduism. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation. Followers of Bon, Tibet’s pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen.
Additionally, Bon myths regard Tise as the sight of a legendary 12th century battle of sorcery between the Buddhist sage Milarepa and the Bon shaman Naro Bon-chung. Milarepa’s defeat of the shaman displaced Bon as the primary religion of Tibet, firmly establishing Buddhism in its place. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar.
The word ‘manas’ means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet. No pilgrims climb Mt. Kailash; all four religions believe it would be a serious act of sacrilege to set foot on its slopes.
Legend has it that the only person to have reached the summit is the Buddhist champion Milarepa (who flew to the top in the 12th century) and that all others who have ventured to defy the warning have died in the process.The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. Only those in the best health are able to undertake the journey even to the starting point of the circumambulation, let alone walk 52 km in a single day. A few modern amenities, such as benches,restingplaces and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions.
Mount Kailash is a tremendous spiritual energy. For thousands of years, realized beings always traveled to Mount Kailash and deposited their knowledge in a certain energy form. They used this mountain as a basis and created this. It is because of this that Hindus say Shiva lives there. When we say it, is the Abode of Shiva, it doesn't mean that he is sitting there or something, but his unmanifested energy lies there. It is a long cherished dream of mine to visit the mystical place..

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jain Temple of Lakkundi in Karnatka

Karnataka Historical Places's photo.Lakkundi in Gadag District of Karnataka is a tiny village on the way to Hampi from Hubli. Lakkundi is a place of antiquarian interest with as many as 50 temples..., 101 stepped wells and 29 inscriptions, spread over the period of the later Chalukyas, Kalachuris, Seuna and the Hoysalas. A great center of Kalyani Chalukyas art, there are several temples of note here.
Brahmajinalaya stands as the testimony of the high rank in the Karnataka temple Archietecture.Brahma Jainalaya was built by queen Danachintamani Attimabbe is the largest of many Jain temples in Lakkundi. This Basadi is dedicated to Adinatha, the most revered saint of Jainism.
Karnataka Historical Places's photo.
This Basadi is perhaps one of the earliest examples of temples in this area built of a kind of fine textured chloritic schist as distinct from the hitherto used sandstone of this region. The new material, because of its less thick quarry sizes and tractability, reacted on the workmanship, with the result that the masonry courses became reduced in size and the carvings more delicate and highly finished. The temple, perhaps built in the latter half of the 11th century, has a five-storeyed vimana, square on plan from the base to the sikhara, and had originally a closed square navaranga in front, though an open mandapawas added in front later on.
Karnataka Historical Places's photo.
Basadi has a well fastened Mukha mantapa. and Open hall proped by central pillars decorated with beautiful carving. The Garbagudi holds the idol of Neminatha Tirthankara. The central bay of the navaranga is a larger square than the peripheral eight around it. The second storey, as in the Jaina temple at Pattadakal, is functional and has an antarala-mantapa in front over the vestibule of the lower storey. This raises the total height of the vimana considerably