WRITINGS

Dharasuram- The epitome of Chola Architcture

A_different_view_of_Airavatesvara_Temple

Dharasuram, a small town near Kumbakonam (a town in South India) holds one of the treasures of the Chola Dynasty(one of the greatest ancient kingdoms of South India): Airavateshwara Temple. The temple stands high and mighty holding the stories of not just the gods and kings but also the common men in its walls, quite literally too. The temple built by Raja Raja Chola-II in 12th century, is now being maintained by Central Government as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Great Living Chola temple.
The Nandi Mandapa (the outer hall) with its iconic musical steps greets us at the entrance, showing a glimpse of the marvel that we are about to witness and experience inside those centuries old walls. The musical steps in the entrance is one of the architectural marvel of the great Cholas. The seven steps are designed in such a way that, if a stone is rolled from the top, it plays the musical notations of the saptaswaras (7 musical notations) when the stone falls in each step.

Once we enter the temple complex, we are met with massive stone structures with every inch of the structure sculpted out, telling stories from myths and legends. Most of the sculptures here are built with rocks but some of the parts on the top are built with bricks by the Nayakas on the later period. There are also some structures made of Basalt, a Volcanic rock that is believed to be imported from the Deccan Plateau region for the construction.

The entire circumference of the Vimana (the roof of the tower) holds the stories of the sixty-four nayanmars (disciples of Lord Shiva) from the Periyapurana (an ancient Tamil literary work), with intricate details.
The panels in the praharas (pathway around the temple) shows stories of the common men, their lifestyle, their theater arts and their day to day life. The one that is very interesting is a sculpture of a woman pulling her husband’s hair in a family feud. The agony is very delicately shown in this sculpture. It is very illustrative that one wonders if the sculptor was being plain funny or documenting his domestic life, for all eternity.
The Muha mandapam, which is the outer mandapa is designed to depict a Chariot pulled by horse on the east side and the elephant on the west side. The significance of this steps is that, unlike the Tanjore temple, these structures are not sculpted out of a single rock, instead, they are sculpted out of different rocks and then assembled together. They are also identical on both the sides with Chandran on one side and Suryan on the other, with only a difference of the flower they hold: Chandhran hold a flower bud, while Suryan holds a fully bloomed flower. The muha mandapa is enclosed by pillars bearing Yalis, which are a signature of the Chola architecture.
The mandapa itself houses the most ornate pillars and sculptures that fill the mandapa from ceiling to the floor, which are intricately carved into few inces long figurines and tell many stories.
There are two very significant pillars made of Basalt rock. They are significant because basalt is a hard rock and the figurines in the pillars are not more than a few inches tall but are intricately sculpted that it shows the facial expressions, accessories worn by the woman and the hairlines, even the tiny flowers in the pillars has sharp and delicate edges, making them inches long marvels.
The stories in the pillars, eventhough being random, the above mentioned pillars show some specific stories: one showing stories from kandha purana and other showing wedding story of Shiva and Parvathi after Shiva cast Parvati to earth for disobeying him.
There is also some scultures on the the entrance of the main mandapa which are significant for their uniqueness. There is a sculpture of Kannapanayanar, which is significant for the details in the baslt rock structure. The sculpture is portrayed wearing slipper of some kind which is illustrous on its own way. This also has a sculpture of Nandi in the form of Adhikara Nadhi (Nandhi as amalgamation of Shiva) which is a very rare occurrence in Shiva temples (usually Nandhi will be in the form of reclining bull).
The inner mandapa or the main mandapa towards the sanctum sanctorum which is a contrast to the muha mandapa which lacks all the architectural marvels, but gains points on its charm and the divine vibe that the main deity Airavatheswara is giving out. The linga with all its magnificance is believed to be worshipped by Indra’s elephant Airavadhan, thus giving the main deity his name.
Outside the Mandapa, the main mandapa is built in the form of Lotus and a small moat is built around it to fill it water to resemble a lotus pond. There are even small circles to light il lamps which is said to reflect in the water and make the mandapa looking glorious.
There are also signs of painting from the Nayakas that still sticks around after all the erosion from the sun exposure and rain.
There is also a life size statue of Lingothbavar, Vishnu Durga and a Buddha sculpture to subtly mention the co-existence of Buddhism during the period.
With all its overwhelming beauty and attention to details, the temple makes one forget reality and takes them centuries back with all the stories it has to tell and talents of its sculptors it has to flaunt. The temple has exceeded its role of just a place of worship to be an exceptional story teller as it tells stories from books of the ancient Tamils, one of them being the Periyapuranam. When one leaves this temple, they leave with more than the Lord’s grace, but also with stories of the once upon a time.

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WRITINGS

Rain

First rain of the year. I got a whiff of the rain that is about to pour down even before it arrived. I was on my evening walk and I smelled the familiar scent of rain wetting the sun scorched land somewhere far away.  So I hurried back home and waited for the first rain of the year with my customary cup of tea and something hot and crunchy to go with it. I sat there in my terrace listening to the rumbling of the clouds and flashes of lightning here and there. Just that little rumbling and the familiar scent of the rain faraway brought back many memories. So I watched the rain finally arrive, thinking of all those years that I have learned to love rain.

I remember those early mornings I used to wake up to the sudden drop in temperature and little water droplets running a race down my window.

I remember those early summer rains that ruined our plan for playing the whole day outside in the best way possible; now we get to make paper boats and conduct paper boat races of our own.

I remember the nights me, my sister and my parents huddled up in one blanket, jumping a foot every time a thunder clap and my dad telling us to recite the name of Arjuna (son of Indian god of thunder) so that he would protect us from the monsterous thunders and we dutifully reciting his name over and over again till his name turns into slurs and we no longer know what we are saying.

I remember school declaring holidays due to heavy rain so we rush back home with a sense of happiness that no Sundays can replace. Those only times watching news anxiously hoping that they would declare holiday the next day.

I remember running to terrace to pick up the clothes that are drying there, only to end up throwing the clothes in a filthy pile in a corner and dancing in the rain, jumping in tiny puddles on the floor. I also remember catching cold and my mom cursing that I never listen to her about anything and worrying that I might catch flu. But all that scolding and even the flu shots are worth it if we get to dance in the rain.

I remember driving up to the river after a big downpour to see if the river has filled up and the dam is full and feeling a familiar sense of happiness because a full dam means  that this years harvest will be good.

As I sit there sipping tea and listening to the steady rhythm of rain now falling, I realise with a tiny pang of jealousy and heart full of pride that the same rain is now helping another little girl create a series of memories that she will one day learn to cherish, just the way I did.

“Pluviophile – Lover of rain. Someone who finds happiness and peace in rainy days.”

WRITINGS

Finally Home

I slammed the door shut behind me. The cruel hot sun burning my skin to the roots. I have places to go, things to do. I got into my mind and started my journey to nowhere. I could feel the hot wind across my face burning my insides. The ride was doing nothing to help. I was driving over the dry vast sand lands, nothing in sight for what it seemed like a million miles. It felt forever on that bike, my mind racing over cruel nothings, not really concentrating on where i am going. There was an unnameable rage in my mind and heart, which made me rage at anything and everything. I know what I am doing, but these questions inside my head are doing nothing to help me realize what exactly is wrong with me. Suddenly I was brought back to reality when a shadow started to hover over me from behind a faraway mountain, shielding me from the cruel sun. I didn’t know how I got there, but something told me to go on and reach out to the cloud. As crazy it might seem, I actually wanted to reach out and grab that cloud, that protected me. I kept riding. the sun was slowly moving away from me and I could see the crescent moon raising in front of me. The cruel hotness is now a little warm, not a pleasant kind, but just plain warm. I finally reached the mountain. For some reason, I got curious to know what was beyond my eyes could reach. The day wearing off and night engulfing the surroundings around me, but the light of the cruel day was still lingering in the far beyond land that I just forsake. It was the last thing I saw before the last traces of the day light died out: The most beautiful sight. It left like the empty world was suddenly filled with things. there was an endless river that was flowing from the foot of the mountain. The trees on the banks of the river and continuing through out the endless range of mountains. the autumn sun has clearly dried the life out of the leaves which were clinging to their branches for their mere lives. I started declining the mountain, till i found a place where I could breathe in the whole scene. I found myself sitting on a rock under a tree, having escaped from the sun, shadowed by the tree all day, which made it cool and welcoming. The transformation the scene made within few minutes was incredible. The dried up leaves constantly rippling the moon’s reflection on the cool river, the river running hurriedly to a faraway land, the crescent moon coming down to the river to fish. Each passing minute, each element of the scene….. I forgot what I was mad about. The rage and the hotness inside me felt like a million years ways. The scene: the dried up leaves finally engulfing their end, the river embracing the leaves’s final moments, the moon shedding its shadow and getting brighter every passing minute, the cool breeze encasing me into surrounding. When I was looking at everything it wasn’t my eyes which is looking at it anymore. It was like my heart, my mind and my body is one and it understood everything going on around me and I finally realise the truth about life. In this dark night, a feeble moonlit ever flowing river, I found what I was looking for and most importantly found myself and I am finally Home.

Home is not a place, it is a feeling.

WRITINGS

The World is still a Beautiful Place

Have you ever wondered that every thing that has been taught to us as kids were nothing but lies?

Being polite will not earn you friends but only ensure that you will be used and treated like a doormat? Getting good grades alone will not guarantee a perfect life? Being kind to strangers won’t make you stronger but more vulnerable for them to cheat you? Love is not exactly something pure, forgiving and everlasting but to there is cheating and manipulation involved? And most of all, growing up doesn’t means your life gets better, but its the other way around?

Also, have any one noticed that as we become parents, we teach our kids the same thing, feed them the same lies? It’s not because we didn’t realize the lie, it’s because we still have hope. Hope that even in this chaos and calamities, there is still beauty in the world. Being polite might earn the smile that they didn’t expect? getting good grades may not give you perfect life, but it might give you opportunities to create your own perfect life? Being kind to a stranger might just make their whole day? Love is not worth it if it isn’t earned?  Life is not about “getting” better but “making” it better?

In my opinion, this is what makes humanity the most beautiful creation of God: Even if we can see only wars and deceit and dishonesty and hate all around us, we never stop having hope, hope that this world can be a beautiful place too, if you know where to look and if you know what to change.

Here is to those who who still believe the world is a beautiful place. I am right there with you.

The most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with heart – Helen Keller.

 

WRITINGS

My crazy world of words

Words always has been a form of escape to me. Those who can paint has always fascinated me. How someone could create a world and people and tell a whole story in a piece of canvas always fascinated me. But I fell head over heals in love with words. In painting one can show how beautiful rain is, but in words, the writer can drench you in rain, as they take you into their world and let you experience their world first hand.

I remember the very first book that swept my soul off its feet and took me to a magical world of owls, flying cars, trolls, dragons, sphinx and all things magical. It was the first book I ever connected with. That book is one of the reason that I started writing and writing liberated me at a very young age like no other.

Sometime, writing helped me go through some difficult times. I could always find my salvation with words: whether it be writing or reading. Words, they always seem to tell me exactly what I wanted to hear. They told me to hold my head high and not give up when I saw no hope; They told me to let go of those who are pulling me down, when I put someone’s happiness before mine; they told me I was not weak to breakdown, but strong enough to pick up the pieces and build myself all over again.

That is why I wanted to write, I want to create worlds that someone would someday find their home in like I once found. I want to create characters that people can relate with, like I connected with my favorite characters. I have been enjoying the wonderful world of words for so long now, by finding friends, exploring new worlds, laughing and crying with my favorite characters and finding a home in so many worlds. Now I have decided to contribute to the the world that has given me so much and I am starting now and starting it here. So wish me luck.

There is no friend as loyal as a book – Ernest Hemingway

WRITINGS

Book addiction 

Books take us to magical places beyond time and reality. The are the best kind of escape one can hope to get. They can take you back in time, into the future, to a neverland, to space, to castles and in the skies and give you opportunity to connect with characters that you never got the opportunity to meet in real life. Some say music is the best creation of mankind, so much as it is true, books are THE best creation of mankind and books are the closest thing humans have to magic.

Books are uniquely portable magic – Stephen King