Sunday, February 28, 2016

History beneath Jaipur

History beneath Jaipur

When surveys showed two ancient water tanks buried under a planned section of Metro rail in Jaipur, the government worked quickly to preserve and incorporate them into the overall design

For a hundred years, the people of Jaipur had no clue about what lay right beneath their homes. Until last year the Rajasthan government launched its Rs. 3,149 crore Phase I of the Jaipur Metro. As the government made preparations to dismantle two roundabouts in the heart of the city, Choti and Badi Chaupar on the Chandpole-Surajpole stretch, ground surveys indicated that underneath lay buried two nearly 250-year-old bavdis or kunds (tanks) that once brought water to the city centre from the surrounding Aravalli Hills.

The kunds were right in the path of the 12.06 km Mansarovar to Badi Chaupar metro line. The rail portion between Chandpole and Badi Chaupar had been planned as an underground section to protect several heritage monuments in the area. As debates raged about how to proceed after the discovery of the kunds, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia asked the Jaipur Metro Rail and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials to alter the design, if required, but to protect the heritage structures at any cost.

The Rajasthan government engaged the services of leading Mumbai-based conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah to map the heritage structures and old buildings. “We convinced people that proven technology, which has been used in fragile areas the world over, would be used and no harm would come to any of the monuments,” says Nihal Chand Goel, CMD, Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation.

“Mr. Goel has a strong connection with Jaipur, and he said there are old photographs of Jaipur taken around this area. We began researching, and found pictures shot by Lala Deen Dayal in the 1890s, which showed the two chaupars,” says Lambah.

Two retired Archaeological Survey of India officials joined Lambah’s team of conservation architects and excavations began in August 2014. “Nobody living knew about these kunds. Around the 1870s, when piped water supply arrived, people were apprehensive and the then ruler of Jaipur had to convince his people that piped water was not bad. The water tanks then slowly became redundant; they were filled with earth and converted into places of beauty and recreation,” says Goel. Later, when Prince Albert painted the city pink, gardens were built around the tanks, which gradually transformed into one of the most congested traffic circles in the old city.

The square kunds had eleven steps and tunnels entering them from four sides, with water bubbling out of beautifully carved marble gaumukhs. “It was a total surprise for us to find the kunds, made of stone masonry, completely intact. We have now mapped and numbered each stone and gaumukh. Everything has been preserved at the government-run Albert Hall until the metro project is complete. We will then restore it all as it was originally,” says Lambah.

According to her team’s research, the tanks brought water from the Aravalli Hills through tunnels into the city centre. The tunnels run along long lengths of Jaipur city and probably connected to the Jal Mahal or Talkatora reservoirs. The teams found them to be well-preserved with arched masonry and lime plaster-lined walls of 500 mm thickness, and large enough for a man to pass through.

Says Lambah, “There is an ancient Persian system of Qanats, an elaborate tunnel network, used for irrigation where there was no surface water. The archaeologists also found material from Bikaner archives that showed that even pitrupaksha rituals were performed in these kunds; like the Banganga tank in Mumbai. Where else will the poor go for water?”

To preserve the tanks, the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation has altered its design. “We lowered the railway tracks by about one metre and make incidental design changes to accommodate the tanks above the metro stations at Choti and Badi Chaupar,” says Goel. He talks of how people often see development and heritage as two opposing things. “There is no dichotomy; both can co-exist and work with each other. The metro rail rejuvenates the city, and we can also restore a lost chapter of history which becomes a tourist attraction.”

Lambah visited several metro stations, including at Athens and Lisbon, where the developers have used heritage buildings discovered during excavations as part of the railway system. “Lisbon metro station is located in an old heritage building. You come out of the station and you are in a heritage building, with a Starbucks coffee shop, escalators and ticketing,” she says.

The Athens model was chosen for Jaipur. “In Athens, it is open to the sky. It doesn’t rain too much in Jaipur. So we decided to have a sandstone railing as enclosure and keep the station open-air. In Athens, they found 2,000-year-old ruins and they put a glass wall to protect it and made a museum out of it,” she says.

The Rajasthan government plans to set up a museum in the underground station area and use the tunnel heads to let people walk into the tanks. It is also thinking of converting the surface into a pedestrian urban plaza in the evenings, where arts and crafts can be displayed. When completed, this could become a model project for other parts of India on heritage preservation during development.

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple Gollala Mamidada

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple Gollala Mamidada

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple that is found at Gollala Mamidada village in East Godavari district. Sri Rama Navami festival. The Gollala Mamidada Temple homes the deities of Lord Rama, Mother Sita and Lakshmana. The Gollala Mamidada Temple has a powerful Gopuram that is at a height of over 170 feet.

Gollala Mamidada may be a well-known place within the district wherever Srirama Navami is celebrated in a very grand manner. The temple was built in 1889 by Dwarampudi Subbi Reddy and Rama Reddy.Celestial wedding of Lord Rama and Sita are performed at the temple on April a grand scale. The Kalyanam attracts thousands of devotees as Gollala Mamidada is additionally called Chinna Bhadradi.

The nine-day celebrations can begin on Apr 19, in keeping with temple authorities. Elaborate arrangements are created for the devotees to safeguard them from hot summer heat. Notably, Ms Dwarampudi Mahalakshmi is that the acting hereditary trustee of temple.

The marriage of Sita and Rama will begin at twelve hour followed by chariot procession and different ceremonies.

The Kalyanam here is fashionable once Bhadrachalam Kalyanam. Hence, various devotees throng the temple to witness the celestial wedding.

The speciality of the competition is that the celebration of ‘Ooyala Seva’ and ‘Sri Pushpa Yagam,’ which is able to be conducted on a grand note.

The Kalyanam are performed under the management of temple main clergymen Rejeti Venkat Kurma Ranganathacharyulu, Rejeti Narsimhacharyulu and Ponduru Satyanaranacharyulu of Kakinada Notably, the devotees believe that their needs would be consummated if they witness the Kalyanam and childless couples would sire children. Similarly, the devotees assume that it’s an honest omen to consume the sweet delicacy (Paayasam) created with talambralu used for Lord’s Kalyanam

New Vrindaban, West Virginia, USA.

New Vrindaban, West Virginia, USA.

New Vrindaban is an unincorporated area and ISKCON (Hare Krishna) intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. The town consists of 1,204 acres (4.87 km2) (of which 0.1 km2 is of water),[3] and several building complexes, homes, apartment buildings, and businesses including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple (RVC Temple) and Prabhupada's Palace of Gold. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 under the direct guidance of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and named for the Indian city of Vrindavan.

The community was founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami, two early disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. New Vrindaban developed under the guidance of Kirtanananda Swami (honored as "Srila Bhaktipada" after March 1979), and by the mid-1970s the live-in population had grown to over 100.

ISKCON New Vrindaban is strictly vegetarian and believes that meat consumption creates negative karma. Alcoholic beverages and illegal substances (such as drugs) are prohibited in the main Holy sites around the Temple of Understanding Circle Drive.

According to ISKCON News, on 4 July 1983 Vedavyasa Priya Swami installed the statue of Sri Nathji at the RVC Temple. Conversely, according to Gargarishi Das, the deity was not installed by Vedavyasa Priya, but was installed instead by Kirtanananda Swami.

In October, 1986, a census report showed 377 adults living at the community.

On March 16, 1987, during their annual meeting at Mayapur, India, the ISKCON Governing Body Commission expelled Kirtanananda from the society for "moral and theological deviations." The community of New Vrindaban was expelled from ISKCON a year later.

After Kirtanananda Swami left New Vrindaban, and new leadership stabilized, the community was readmitted to ISKCON. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported in 2006 the population stood at about 100. However, this number only indicated how many people were members listed in the community directory rather than official census numbers.

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple (also spelt "Bhoga Nandishwara" or "Bhoga Nandishvara") is a Vedic temple located in Nandi village, at the base of Nandi Hills (or Nandidurga) in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The original temple in the complex, identified as one of the oldest temples of Karnataka, dates back to the early 9th century. The earliest inscriptions referring to the construction of the temple for Shiva, according to the Archaeological Survey of India, are from Nolamba dynasty ruler Nolambadiraja and the Rashtrakuta emperor Govinda III dated c.806, and copper plates of the Bana rulers Jayateja and Dattiya of about c.810. The temple was later under the patronage of successive notable South Indian dynasties: the Ganga Dynasty, the Chola dynasty, the Hoysala Empire and the Vijayanagara Empire. In the post medieval era, the local chiefs of Chikaballapura and the rulers of the Mysore Kingdom (Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan) controlled the region before it eventually came under British rule after the death of Tipu Sultan in c.1799. The architectural style is Dravidian. The temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Bangalore. The temple is protected as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The temple complex has two large shrines: the "Arunachaleswara" shrine to the south built by the Gangas of Talakad, and the "Bhoga Nandeeshwara" shrine to the north built by the Cholas. It has the sculpture of a king considered to be that of Rajendra Chola. In between there is a small intervening shrine called with "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine with a kalyana mantapa ("marriage alter") supported by ornate pillars in black stone with reliefs depicting of the Hindu gods Shiva and his consort Parvati, Brahma (the creator) and Saraswathi, Vishnu (the preserver) and his consort Lakshmi, the god of fire Agni and his consort Swaha Devi, and decorative creepers and birds in bas-relief. This is typical to Hoysala architecture.

According to the art historian George Michell, the temple is a typical 9th-10th century Nolamba construction with pilasters on the outer walls of the shrines, perforated decorative stone windows which contain figures, of a dancing Shiva (south wall of the Arunachaleshwara shrine) and Durga standing on a buffalo head (north wall of Bhoga Nandeshwara shrine). Pyramidal and tiered towers (shikhara) rise from the two major shrines. Each major shrine has a large linga in the sanctum (the universal symbol of the god Shiva) with a sculpture of Nandi (the bull) in a pavilion facing the shrine. According to Michell, during the 16th century Vijayanagara period, a pavilion with elegant pillars was added in between the two major shrines. The pillars crafted out of grey-green granite have relief sculptures of attendant maidens. Michell feels the minor "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine was added in between the two major shrines (behind the pavilion) during the post Vijayanagara rule of the Gowdas of the Yelahanka dynasty. The minor shrine has a procession of deities and sages in wall relief. The wall that links the two major shrines was cleverly constructed so as to be in-distinguishable from the two original shrines. A spacious pillared hall was also added in front of the two major shrines.

The "Arunachaleswara" and the "Bhoga Nandeeshwara" forms of Shiva represent, according to Hindu legend, two stages in the life of the god Shiva: childhood and youth. The "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine has relief depicting the third stage, Shiva's marriage to the goddess Parvati. Hence this shrine is popular with newly weds who come to seek blessing. The Yoga Nandeeshwara temple on top of Nandi hills represents the final "renunciation" stage in the life of Shiva and hence this temple is devoid of any festivities.The large shrines each have a sanctum (garbhagriha), a vestibule (sukanasi) and a closed hall (navaranga or mantapa). The vestibule and hall are provided with perforated stone screens called Jali. Each shrine has a nandi mantapa in front (hall with the sculptured image of Nandi the bull) facing the sanctum. The outer bounding wall (prakara) of the complex has two minor shrines for Devi, the female form of divinity ("divine core of all Hindu goddesses"). To the north of the shrines is a second compound with a navaranga mantapa (pavilion) with Yali pillars. Beyond this compound is a large stepped temple tank (kalyani or pushkarni), locally called "Sringeri Teertha" (the mythical source of the Pinakini river) where lamps are lit on certain festive days.

Source: Wikipedia

Maangaadu Sri Kamakshi Amman

Maangaadu Sri Kamakshi Amman

Maangaadu is a small beautiful village located at the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu near Poonamallee.

As per the legend, one day in Kailash, Parvathi Devi playfully closed the eyes of Lord Shiva from behind, with her palms. As a result of this, the whole universe was surrounded with darkness and all the living beings suffered. Lord Shiva became angry and the Goddess craved for his pardon.

Lord Shiva guided her to the earth and asked her to perform a severe penance to join him again. As per the God’s instructions she came down to earth and reached this place of dense Mango grove called Maangaadu. (means ‘Mango forest’ in Thamizh)

She started her rigorous penance here in the standing posture on the Panchagni (Fire). She stood one legged on Panchagni with right leg folded. She was holding her right hand raised above her head holding the Japamala (Rudraksha). Even today we can see this Moorthi of Sri Tapas Kamakshi at Maangaadu.

Even today, no abhishekams are performed to the Sri Chakra as it contains rare herbs. Only Kumkuma Archana is performed that too only to the Sri Chakra and not the idol, as the powers of Sri Kamakshi Amman has been instilled in the Chakra by Sri Aadhi Sankaracharya.

The idol Sri Aadhi Kamakshiamman made of Panchaloha (5 metals) was installed by Sri Kanchi Paramacharya Swami in the later years.

Six weeks worships are very popular here. The devotee who has some prarthana or wish can choose any one day of the week and to visit the temple along with 2 lemons, of which one will be retained at the temple and the other one has to be taken back home.

Again the following week, on the same day, he or she has to carry the old lemon from home along with 2 other fresh lemons. Like wise, if one visits on the same day for six weeks continuously, the Ambaal grants the wishes of the devotee.

Golden Chariot is very popular here which is pulled everyday between 6.30 and 7.30 pm.

Maangaadu is just 24 kms from Chennai city and is located off the Chennai Bangalore highway on the way from Poonamallee to Kunrathur.

Amrutesvara Temple, Amruthapura

Amrutesvara Temple, Amruthapura

The temple is a built according to Hoysala architecture with a wide open mantapa (hall). The temple has a original outer wall with enique equally spaced circular carvings. The temple has one vimana (shrine and tower) and therefore is a ekakuta design, and has a closed mantapa (hall) that connects the sanctum to the large open mantapa.

It is medium-sized Hoysala temple with certain vastu features similar to the Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi in mandapa structure and size. The open mandapa has twenty nine bays, and the closed mantapa has nine bays with a side porch that leads to a separate shrine on the south side. The shrine is square in shape has the original superstructure (shikhara) which is adorned with sculptures of Kirtimukhas (demon faces), miniature decorative towers (aedicule). Below the superstructure, the usually seen panel of Hindu deities is absent. The base of the wall has five mouldings which according to art critic Foekema is an "older Hoysala style". The Sukanasi, the tower on top of the vestibule that connects the sanctum to the closed mantapa (the Sukanasi appears like the nose of the superstructure), has the original Hoysala emblem of "Sala" fighting the lion.

The rows of shining lathe turned pillars that support the ceiling of the mantapa is a Hoysala-Chalukya decorative idiom. The mantapa has many deeply domed inner ceiling structures adorned with floral designs. The outer parapet wall of the open mantapa has a total of hundred and forty panel sculptures with depictions from the Hindu epics. Unlike many Hoysala temples where the panels are small and carvings in miniature, these panels are comparatively larger. The Ramayana is sculpted on the south side wall on seventy panels, with the story proceeding quite unusually, in anti-clockwise direction. On the north side wall, all depictions are clockwise, a norm in Hoysala architectural articulation. Twenty five panels depict the life of the Hindu god Krishna and the remaining forty five panels depict scenes from the epic Mahabharata.

Ruvari Mallitamma, the well known sculptor and architect is known to have started his career here working on the domed ceilings in the main mantapa.[9] The large stone inscription near the porch contains poems composed by medieval Kannada poet Janna who had the hororific Kavichakravarti (lit, "emperor amobg poets")

Uthiramerur Sri Sundara Varadhar

Uthiramerur Sri Sundara Varadhar

Uthiramerur village is located about 85 kms from Chennai off the GST Road. This is an ancient village well known for its temples, architecture, sculptures and stone inscriptions.

The main temple here is for Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal which is said to be built in 750 AD during Pallava rule. A king called Nandivarma Pallavan has donated this whole town to 1200 vedic scholars who settled down here. Those days this place was called as Uthiramerur Chaturvedhimangalam.

Later it has been renovated by Rajendra Chola in 1013 AD and again renovated by Krishnadevaraya in 1520 AD.

Lord Vishnu is generally seen in either of the 3 forms, Ninraan (நின்றான் - Perumal in standing posture), Irundhaan (இருந்தான் - Perumal in sitting posture) or Kidandhaan (கிடந்தான் - Perumal in reclining posture like Ranganathar)

This is one of the few temples where you can have dharshan of Perumal in all his 3 forms.

The sanctum is built in such a way that all 3 forms of Lord Vishnu are set one above the other as 3 levels or floors.

The presiding deity is Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal here in standing posture along with Sri Devi and Bhoodevi in the first level.

There is a staircase on which one can climb with much ease to go to the next floor, just above the main sanctum. In this next level Sri Vaikunda Varadhar is seen in the sitting posture.

While climbing up to the next level there is Sri Parthasarathy preaching Gita to Arjuna on the outer wall facing south. Lord Narasimha is present on the outer wall facing west and Sri Varaha Perumal with Lakshmi facing North. Here Varahar is in sitting posture with Sri Lakshmi sitting on his lap looking at Varahar's face in a praying gesture.

There is also Sri Dhakshinamurthy on the tomb facing south which is unusual in Vaishnavite temples.

In the third (upper most) level the Lord is in reclining posture on Aadhiseshan as Sri Ranganathar. Lord Brahma is seen on a Lotus emerging from Ranganathar’s navel. Lord Shiva is seen near the feet of the deity with the Deer and Mazhu (a weapon) on his hands.

Lord Ranganatha is seen blessing Markandeya Rishi with his right hand. Bhoodevi is in a praying gesture standing opposite Markandeya.

Other than these three, there are other deities called Achudha Varadhar, Aniruddha Varadhar and Kalyana Varadhar in the 3 sides of the prakaaram.

It is said that Pandavas during their Agnanavaasam where they hid themselves and roamed around in forests have visited here and worshipped Lord here. It is said that Sundara Varadhar was worshipped by Yudhishtira, Vaikunda Varadhar by Bheema, Achudha Varadhar by Arjuna, Aniruddha Varadhar by Nakula and Kalyana Varadhar by Sahadeva.

All the above 5 Gods are the principal deities here, though Sundara Varadhar remain the main deity.

It is also said that Pandavas lost their power and wisdom and after worshipping here, they gained all their power back.

This is one of and most ancient and wonderful temples filled with architectural brilliance with great sculptures all around.

Uthiramerur is also known as the birth place of democracy. The stone inscriptions in this town explains how constitutions were laid for democratic administration and also about electoral systems etc., People here have followed the election system called “Kudavolai” system for electing their favorite leaders in the local elections and the rules for nominating in elections and the voting systems which is the fore runner for today’s electoral systems.

Aazhwaars like Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar, Thirumangai Aazhwaar, Poigai Aazhwaar & Peyazhwaar have composed hymns on this temple.

Uthiramerur is well connected by road with buses plying from Chennai and Kanchipuram.

A must visit place for the lovers of temples, culture and heritage.