Tuesday

Faces and Expressions

'Don't talk to strangers' says mom, and when a quizzical kid asks 'why?', typical answer would be 'you dunno, they might harm you'. This is a very common dialogue between mom and a kid in any part of the world. Drilled with this concept, even in our adulthood, we dare not to take the first step to talk to a stranger. However, it is always fascinating for me to watch strangers and if possible I enjoy freezing the faces and subtle expressions in my camera! Here are some of the shots that I'd captured in rural areas during my last trip to India.

The above shot is a typical scene, where pilgrims try to get 'parrot predictions' from roadside fortune teller! The trained parrot picks up a card, based on which the fortune teller gives predictions! Contrast to this, here is an old lady making her living...

The granny in the above shot reflects old tradition, where widows don't wear blouses!

Selling baby cucumbers by the roadside...

Cobbler waiting for business - Shadow Shot Sunday 2 and SOOC

Yet another perspective that shows how people relax during a hard day...

Chit-chat

Communication revolution even in remote village!

Thursday

Greenery

Lately some of us have decided to go on photo-shooting trips in and around the town (Melaka, Malaysia) where we live! Let me show some of the greenery from our first trip to Durian Tunggal, about 20 KM from our town!

Photo Theme Thursday, Nature Notes and Weekend Reflections

SOOC

Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Sky Watch

Monday

Carnival @ A'Famosa

We friends, wanted to go on a short holiday with our families, so that our kids could have fun together and at the same time could also relax. After scouting various options, we decided to book a villa at the Afamosa Resort near Melaka, Malaysia. It had all the attractions of a typical theme park. What more could you ask for?

That was a terribly hot day, we were attracted only by the the Cowboy Town, as they had a night show.

Sky Watch

When we purchased the tickets, we were asked to hurry up as the show was about to start! With great expectations we entered the carnival grounds. However, our spirits were dampened when we realized that it was nothing more than a typical village fire-eater gimmick:p

Anyhow, here are some of the shots that I think is worth sharing...

SOOC

Well, to justify the hefty entrance fee, the show was presented with a lot of fanfare like animal march, dancing clowns etc. But, I had already lost interest in capturing those mundane activities^^

Well, no regrets as our children had fun at the carnival games like mini merry-go-round and Trampoline Bungee jumping. Overall it was a memorable holiday!

Thursday

Nayaka and Maratha Art in Thanjai Periya Koil (Brihadisvara Temple)

Though the Thanjai Priya Koil (Brihadisvara Temple) was built by the Cholas in the 10th Century CE, artistic additions were made by the Nayaka and Maratha rulers in the 16th and 17th Century CEs.

Nandhi (bull), the vahana of Brihadisvara (Lord Siva) in front of the sanctum sanctorum was built by the Nayaka rulers in the early 16th century CE.

Nandhi - the vahana (transport) of Lord Shiva - SOOC

The sheer size of the Nandhi itself is impressive. Again, the mandapam (hall) is filled with artistic sculptures, including the Nayaka king himself!

Nayaka ruler, who built the Nadhi Mandapam - Shadow Shot Sunday 2 and Sky Watch

Story telling sculptures in different colored granite stones! These sculptures either reflect day-to-day life in those days or scenes from Hindu puranaas (epic).

Here is the story of the above sculptures

1 - Hanumaan carrying Sanjeevi hills as per Hindu Epic Ramayana
2 - Siva devotee
3 - Night watchman - note the stone carved cloak covered from his head and the stick
4 - Dancing girl - holding a creeper

Maratha rulers invaded Thanjai during 17th/18th Century CE. They further adorned the temple with bright paintings, including the ceiling of Nandhi mandapam!

Maratha painting

More art work in the pragaaras (buildings/halls around sanctum sanctorum)...

Gaja Lakshmi

Goddess Gaja Lakshmi is one of the 8 forms of Lakshmi, and represents prosperity and good luck. You can see that this deity sits in Padmasana, one of the best yoga postures!

Kaali

Goddess Kaali is an incarnation of Parvathi or Sakthi, Consort of Lord Shiva. Kaali is associated with destroying evil and She is believed to be the redeemer of life.
It is amazing to see these time tested art and architecture. Every time I visit this temple, I guess I will have more pictures and stories to tell!

Friday

Thanjai Priya Koil (Brihadisvara Temple) - 10th Century Chola Living Temple

My love for Thanjai temple (Thanjavur Big Temple or Brihadisvara Temple) had flared up after reading the historical fiction 'Ponniyin Selvan', by Kalki. Well, the fiction is deeply rooted in the life and achievements of Raja Raja Cholan the great Indian ruler of the Chola dynasty.

As per the novel, Raja Rajan developed a strong desire to build a huge temple for Lord Shiva after he returned from his successful invasion of Sri Lanka. There, he had seen colossal Buddha statues  all over the country. The monks had told him that lofty Buddha statues represents endless mercy and divine nature of their God Buddha. Attracted by this concept, Raja Raja wanted to build a monumental temple that would befit Lord Siva in his kingdom as well!!!

Lets enter the temple premises...I guess you can feel my excitement.

The Maratha Fort Entrance and Keralanthakan Gopura (tower)

The gopura (tower) you see in the above picture was built in the 10th CE to commemorate the victory of Raja Raja Chola over the Kerala rulers of the Chera Dynasty! However, the Maratha rulers of the 16th/17th Century CE, added the fort that is shown in the foreground of the above shot.

Layout of the temple and the inscription briefing about the temple

This has been declared as World Heritage site by UNESCO, but locally it is yet to gain the due recognition:(

2nd entrance - Raja Rajan Gopuram

Sculptures and inscriptions in the Raja Rajan Gopuram

No words to describe the beauty, and am sure my pics do not justify the grandeur of the granite carvings!

The majestic courtyard with huge Nandhi Mandapam and renowned granite Raja Gopuram (Main Tower) in the background

Before, going into the main temple, you will be awed by the larger than life Nandhi. This will be covered in a separate post.

Side view

Lord Siva resides in this temple in the name of Brihadisvara or Peruvudayar. Like any living temple, cameras are not allowed in sanctum sanctorum.

The dome is a single granite weighing around 81 tonnes!

This tower is built in such a way that the shadow NEVER falls on the ground! Just can't guess how Raja Raja managed to design this architectural wonder, in those days!!!

Let me show you some beautiful sculptures in the external walls...

Goddess - Sakthi on the left and Vishnu Durga on your right

Gate Keeper! - SOOC

Legendary warriors!?

Even the less visible side walls are adorned with sculptures and stone inscriptions. In fact, these inscriptions are a treasure trove that details the life in Chola period.

Here is the abode of Murga, son of Lord Siva

Each step that I took in the temple was nostalgic and I was imagining the days when the temple was built. It felt so good to walk on the same path of the 10th Century CE legendary ruler!

Thursday

Sea views - Melaka, Malaysia

Listening to the sounds of the sea is one of my favorite activities. Often, I tend to drive along the beach roads in and around Klebalng and stop by, just to the watch gentle waves or go to a jetty and listen to the crashing waves. It helps me to unwind. Here are some of the shots I took recently.

Pantai Putrei

For the past few days, I was not myself, sort of restless and fidgety. To clear the cobwebs, today I drove by this stretch and stopped by this spot...sat on a small rock...after listening to the gentle rustle of the waves, I felt much better!

Near Malacca Club

Though I enjoy going to the beach alone, it becomes an exhilarating experience if I make it with a good company. The next shots were taken while playing tourist with a good friend, with whom I could relate to!

Jetty @ Portuguese Settlement

View of Pulau Besar

With little imagination, you could certainly see a sleeping pregnant lady with her head on your right! This island is legendary and has historical cemeteries which is believed to be powerful. Hoping to visit soon.

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