Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orissa - 64 Yogini temple, Hirapur



Located outside Bhubaneshwar away from the city’s hustle bustle, 64 Yogini temple certainly makes you curious. While driving through the not so good road you wonder who has  built this temple here. But, by the time you visit and return you will have sufficient answer for the way it is located.

Paddy fields on the way
I had heard about 64 Yogini temple and it was on top of my list when I visited Orissa. After visiting Dauligiri, place where Ashoka won Kalinga battle and took a paradigm shift to renounce the violence and to thread the the path of Buddha, I headed towards 64 Yogini temple. After a severe rocking drive on a muddy road surrounded by paddy fields, car halted at a place where I didn’t find any gopura or Shrine to recognize it as temple. 
Compound seen is the temple premises. Due to its heights it is not even seen from the road
 When I entered into the temple premises, it was about 3 in the afternoon. There was no one around.My driver brought  few boys one of them was in the attire of priest. He guided me to the temple.
In the entrance of the temple premises there is a small temple. May be recently built. Couldn’t make out the deity.. The temple has an unique architecture. Unlike Hindu temples, where god or goddess is housed in the sanctum sanctorum with heavy gopuras, this temple also called as Mahamaya temple is a circular temple without any roof. It is open to sky. If we observe, we can see the temple is built in the shape of vagina(yoni). I was not surprised, as it symbolizes mother goddess. The way child comes through the yoni of the mother, the material world comes into existence through Mahamaya. Mahamaya is the Yoni.

Circular roofless temple
I had read somewhere that there are only 4 Yogini temples in India and this is one of them. Height of the temple is barely 8 ft. Inside the temple along the inner wall  are niches where each of the Yogini’s are installed. Each one of the Yogini’s are different with distinct feature and have different animals beside them or mounted on  them. Temple is built in sandstone but Yoginis are sculpted in different stone.
Yoginis on the inner wall of the temple
The presiding deity Mahamaya is in the middle of the circumference. Priest whose family is in charge of Pooja for the temple performed pooja to Mahamaya and asked me to pay some money. When I paid he demnded for more. There was no escape. They had covered Mahamaya with red clothes and lot of vermillion covering the idol. In the center of the circular temple is a small structure- Chandi mantap which has Bhairava , a form of Shiva and Yogini.
Mahamaya, the goddess

Outer side of the circular structure houses nine deities called as Katyayinis. They serve as a guarding deities. 
Katyayini on the outer wall of the temple

As soon as we enter the temple we can easily make out this temple belongs to tantric cult. There is a big platform outside the temple which I was told was once used for sacrificing animals. That explains why temple is located outside the city , outside the village almost in a place which is not easily accessible.  Priest, continued to explain that even now, they are scared to enter the temple premises after dark as they believe Yogini’s go out for round during night and villagers hear some sounds. Not sure how true it is.
Structure in the centre
Mahamaya the goddess, has 64 attendants with different animal consort with them. As per tantric scriptures 64 is a symbolic number.In India, 64 has lot of significance. Even art forms are 64 in number. Tantra explains Yogini cult which worships Mahamaya. This temple is believed to be built during 9 century. Since, Buddhism was at its peak during that time, this temple could also have been influenced by Buddhist tantric practices. As this temple is evidently Tantric temple, it was not known to public till 1953, when someone discovered it. It could have been intentional to keep it under wrap.

It was  an experience to feel surrounded by 64 Yogini’s when I was standing inside the circular temple.

Notes
-         - 64 Yogini temple is 15-20 km away from Bhuvaneshwar. It is about 8-9 kms from Dhauligiri. Morning hours are good time to visit the temple as somebody in charge of the temple will be available.
     

Friday, July 25, 2014

Buddha point, Thimpu - Skywatch Friday

When you walk along the streets of Thimpu, you just can't miss Buddha point on the mountains of Thimpu. It will play hide and seek as we move around Thimpu city.
Buddha view from Thimpu
 Located 6 km from the city, Buddha statue at Buddha point is the tallest sitting Buddha in the world. It is the latest attraction of Thimpu.
Buddha in the backdrop of blue sky

In local language it is called Buddha Dordenma. 51mt long Buddha statue will house more than 100,000 nos of small statues. When I visited,  construction of interiors of the structure  housing statues was going on. I didn't see any workers around.



Buddha's smile in the backdrop of blue sky surrounded by mountains overlooking Thimpu valley was such  a serene experience.
Third eye made of diamond

It was me , Buddha and chilling breeze. I savored the company of both.
Pls visit  Skywatch Friday for more pictures on Skywatch

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Bhutan - Food
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Cold desert in Nubra Valley

Sand waves

Sand dunes of Nubra Valley, Ladakh. It is a cold desert in the valley of  Himalayan mountain at 10,000 sft altitude
This post is part of Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

6 Public art installations from the streets of Sydney



Sydney is a lovely city. It has beautiful public art installations across the city. Taking a walk along the streets  is the best way to explore any city. I try to walk as much as possible in all the new places to feel the place. Sydney being one of the best cities to walk due its perfect footpaths, provides more reasons to take a walk and it is all worth it. I never got tired walking on the streets of Sydney.
A few  art installations which were intriguing are here for you. There is a story behind each of these pieces. These interesting installations made me to stop and take pictures.

1.  Forgotten songs

A small alley in Angel place, opens up to sky with number of cages suspended and birds chirping. It was such a fabulous sight. There was queue of couples posing for wedding photography. A great framework for a memorable picture.  

 I took some time to  realize these cages were empty. Song of birds was coming from speakers. Forgotten Songs is an audible cum visual  installation of  suspended empty cages in the air singing forgotten songs of birds. This art was developed by Michael Thomas Hill with a team of technical consultants in 2009. This art commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in Sydney which don’t exist now due to urbanization.Speakers have been set to change according to the chirping of morning and night birds.

2. Islay 

Islay, QVB Sydney

 

As we move closer to him he says, "Hello, my name is Islay. I was once the companion of the great Queen Victoria. Because of the many good deeds I have done for deaf and blind children, I have been given the power of speech!!". Apparently Queen Victoria was fond of her dog, Islay. On his memory this bronze sculpture is installed in  front of the famous QVB building  with motion sensors. He asks us to pay him money.It was so funny that when he was alive he was begging for biscuits now he begs for coin to help blind and  deaf children.

II Porcellino

Wild boar, II Porcellino

 

Staue of wild boar stands outside the  Sydney Hospital. Apparently it is the copy of one in Florence. It is believed that if we rub his snout, it brings luck. I don’t know how many were lucky after rubbing his snout, but certainly almost everyone one will try. Snout color will certainly speaks of number of rubbings.  We need to make small donation towards the hospital before we rub his snout.

4.Waiting

A business man reading newspaper is a statue by J Steward Johnson by name Waiting. It is located in front of Australia square building.
Waiting - News paper reading man, Sydney

5.Rhino Sculptures

Rhino sculpture

 

 When I was in Sydney in April, there were Rhino sculptures all over Sydney.Each one was different from the other. It was an initiative taken by Tarong Zoo to raise fund for Rhino conservation program. I was told that all these sculptures will be auctioned to raise fund. When I again visited a month later I didn’t find them.

 

 

6.Eternity

Eternity

 

Eternity is a very significant word in Sydney. Word  Eternity is  written in aluminum  on the path at Town Hall Square. It has an interesting story. As told by my guide, word Eternity handwritten was found everywhere in Sydney from 1940 to 1960 for 20 years. Only in 1956, it was revealed that an eccentric man who found peace in religion was writing the word everywhere and it seems it was found in half a million places on wall, footpaths and everywhere.Now, as Aussies say, word Eternity  has become quintessentially Sydney message. During opening of Sydney Olympic, Sydney displayed what this word Eternity means to them by writing it in fire works. 






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Friday, July 11, 2014

Skywatch Friday – Sunset at Dal Lake,Srinagar



Shikara ride on Dal lake is the most natural choice for anyone to end their day  in Srinagar. Dal lake is Srinagar’s most enchanting place surrounded by mountains. It is even more charming due to its brightly painted Shikaras and houseboats which will embellish the vast beautiful lake with bustling life. Shikaras are the wooden boats which are the means for commute in Dal lake.
Shikara ride on Dal lake
 Inside the boats they have cushions for comfort and decked with Kashmiri clothes giving us the taste of Kashmir.Dal lake is a floating township. It has everything to contain a smooth life, from  coffee shop to Apparels , from Restaurants to handicraft shops, from hotels( House boat) to vegetable market. 
Floating shops on Dal Lake
Interiors of Shikaras parked in a row
When we started our Shikara ride it was late in the evening. Temperature was dipping every minute. Sun was almost behind the mountains towards west. As we started our ride, floating trinket hawkers stopped us every 5 minutes. Finally we decided to buy something. While we were negotiating with them, couple of other Shikaras surrounded us with albums. You guessed it right. Mobile studio. They showed us  albums to get photographs in Kashmiri dress and  were ready with different colors of dresses and necessary accessories. I was sold before they finished their selling session. In next 2 minutes I was in Kashmiri dress posing !! They delivered the pics later to our house boat.Though it was funny,  it is nice to  relish those moments now
Me posing
As we make our way from these entrepreneurs, picking up tasting Kashmiri kava from the floating restaurants, western sky was in its colors. Some pics for you.
Dal lake
Dal lake at Sunset
 We stayed in one of the house boats. It was not floating as they say. It was well anchored permanent hotels in the shape of a boat in Dal lake.  Boat we stayed had luxurious interiors in its lobby. But comfort of stay was just basic. 
House boat
 If I ever visit Srinagar again, I don’t think I will stay in floating house boat.Rather I explore home-stays as suggested by   Poorna & Brinda .
Go and check out more Skywatch images at the Skywatch site.

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Sky watch - from Nishat Garden Kashmir
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