Tuesday, 26 December 2017

SurajKund, Haryana: Remains of the 10th century reservoir

Overview: Suraj Kund, as the name suggests, is a reservoir which was dedicated to Sun God. Built in the 10th century in what is a part of the old city of Delhi and belongs to the state of Haryana. Situated on the banks of the Aravalis, the base of the reservoir measures about 130m in diameter, and it expands as we go upwards. The entire structure resembles a Roman amphitheater, and it resembles the rising Sun when viewed from the top. The Southern part resembles the temples of Mexico, which were also built for the Sun God.
The reservoir was originally built by the Tomar kings in the 10th century, who were known to worship the Sun God. Though many theories exist behind the name of the reservoir, almost all of them date this back to pre- 10th century.
The place is not very far from the Lal Kot, or Kila Rai Pithora, which was built by Prithviraj Chauhan, one of the last Hindu kings of Delhi.


Suraj Kund

Suraj Kund

Suraj Kund

Qila Rai Pithora

Suraj Kund, viewed from Google maps

How to reach: Located around 20kms south of Delhi, Suraj Kund lies at the border of Haryana and Delhi. The nearest metro station to Surajkund is Badarpur. The place is around 15 kms from Mehrauli.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Jalsangvi: When carvings spoke and wrote

Jalsangvi: When carvings spoke and wrote

Overview: Northern Karnataka offers plenty to heritage lovers. I discovered this place while I was exploring the northernmost district of Karnataka. Around 50 kms from Bidar city is the small town of Jalsangvi, a popular town during the days of Kalyani Chalukyas in the 10th century.
The main attraction of the place is the Kalmeshwara temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, right at the centre of the village.
The temple is built in Dravidian style, typical of Kalyani Chalukyas. The shikhara of the temple is missing, probably couldn't stand the test of times. But the eye catching feature of the temple is the carvings of the Shilabalikes, and the images of Vishnu and Shiva. One striking image, hard to be missed, is the carving of a lady, inscribing words in a stone tablet, in old Kannada, with praise for the Chalukya king Vikramaditya VI. This inscription dates back to 1110 AD. This kind of an image is a unique feature seen in very few monuments in the country. One more such image can be seen at a temple in Beed, Maharashtra.

Jalasangvi

Jalasangvi
Jalasangvi


Jalasangvi


Jalasangvi


How to Reach: The village lies just 2kms off Bidar-Humnabad highway, around 50kms from Bidar and around 10kms before reaching Humnabad. Frequent buses ply between Bidar and Humnabad, and the bus stop is at Jalsangvi cross. Nearest railhead is Bidar, and the nearest airport is Hyderabad.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Lakshagraha: Tales from the Mahabharata

Visit to Barnawa, the ancient Varnavat

Whoever remembers the story of Mahabharata can recollect the word 'Lakshagrah' or the Palace of Lacquer, a material which gives shine to wood and is highly inflammable.  This was the episode when Duryodhana, along with his maternal uncle Shakuni, planned a conspiracy to build a palace at Varnavat which would easily catch fire with just a spark. The Pandavas, somehow got to know of this plan and they managed to get a pit dug up which would open up somewhere outside the town of Varnavat.
This place Barnawa, in Uttar Pradesh is believed to be the ancient Varnavat.  The pit from where the Pandavas escaped can still be seen, however, the archaeologists have not yet completed the excavation, so the source is still not visible. The ruins of some old building can also be seen, which is made of a material crumbling into pieces.
The city is lined with Jain temples, which are quite ancient, and the place is also a popular pilgrimage centre for Jains. Also close to Barnawa is Alamgirpur, which is a site of Indus Saraswathi civilization.

Lakshagrah site

Lakshagrah site

Ancient Jain temple at Barnawa (Varnavat)

Mantapa near Lakshagrah

Sword impression at Lakshagrah

Ruins at Lakshagrah site


Ruins at Lakshagrah site


Ruins at Lakshagrah site

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ancient Hero Stones within Bangalore City

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Overview: Spread all across the city of Bangalore are the Memorial stones, which range from 500 years to 1500 years old. Much of these have been lost in the midst of rapid urbanisation. A few hero stones are worshipped as it is considered sacred by few people. Memorial Stones can be Veeragallus or Hero Stones, Masti Kallu where sacrifice is depicted, Keelgunte or Self Burial, Sidithale or Self Sacrifices and other religious stories. Most of the stones found in Bangalore are Hero Stones (Veeragallu) or Masti Kallu.
On roaming around Bangalore, I discovered stones in Lalbagh, Begur, Kothanur, Mahadevapura, Agara, Iblur, Belandur,Sarakki, Kengeri, Cox Town, Benson Town, Sampangiramanagar, Malleshwaram, Vasantapura, Tataguni. Different stories are etched on stones which gives the public to interpret in their own way, if not mentioned in any inscriptions.
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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Clock Towers of Bangalore

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Overview: In the middle of the 18th century, when home clocks and watches were not so common, there was the practice of having huge clocks on top of iconic buildings or religious places having visibility from all the corners. Clock towers were in fashion all across the globe in the 18th to 20th centuries, and some of them had bells as well, which used to ring at every hour. Bangalore too, has had its share of clock towers, though the city has never been known for its clock towers. The iconic Clock tower once stood at the Russell Market in Shivajinagar, which no longer stands today as it was brought down sometime during the middle of the 20th century.
A few standing clock towers can be seen at the City Market, Baldwin Boys school, Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic, Central College, Police training grounds, St John's Church, Corporation office and the newly constructed towers at South End circle and Omkar Hills. Most of these clocks have been provided by HMT.
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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Nidagal, Karnataka: Ancient playground of Nidagal Cholas

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Overview: Nidagal fort in Pavagada taluk of Tumkur district is one of the important historical places near Bangalore. The fort was held by the Hemavathi Nolamba kings in the 10th century, and was later occupied by the Nidagal Cholas who ruled from this part. Apart from the fort, there are a few important temples at the foothills in the village of Nidagal, like Ramateertha temple, Someshwara temple, Parshwanatha Jain Basadi and Veerabhadra temple, forming a circular pattern, and built at close proximity to each other. Veerabhadra and Someshwara temples have a few Hero stones and inscriptions within the premises.
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Food: Not too many options for food here. The nearest city is Sira or Tumkur.
How to reach: From Bangalore, take the Tumkur highway and after Sira, turn north east towards Amarapura. Turn right from Amarapura to reach Nidagal. Alternately, Nidagal can be reached via Madakshira and Pavagada.
Map: