Monday, April 2, 2018

B is for Brihadisvara Temple: A photo essay #AtoZChallenge

When I visit ancient monuments and temples, I let my heart soak it all in. Facts and figures don't interest me when I'm there. In fact, even afterwards, I recall the places I've been to by the memory of the people I've met there and by flashes of remembrances: like the way the setting sun wakes up stones after their afternoon siesta, or the heat felt by bare feet while they wait shuffling impatiently in long queues or the chirping of birds at sunset or a smile that lights up a stranger's face forever in your travel memory.

I am very fond of guides though. A good guide can disentangle centuries of history for you with such skill that it feels like you're watching it all unfold in front of your eyes. My idea of a good guide is someone who's a good story teller, I can always google facts at home.

Today, on the day of the B, we'll visit an 11th century Shiva temple called Brihadisvara. It was built by Raja Raja Chola near Thanjavore in Tamil Nadu, India. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I spent a day in August of 2017 in this beautiful example of Tamil architecture. 

Come along and soak in the sun.
But before you enter, get some flowers and fruit to offer to the deities.

 Made of granite, yet the carvings are so fine, a blade of grass goes through.



 Far Eastern architectural influences were pointed out by the guide
Temple priests --looks like a serious discussion
If there was a speech bubble here,
what would it say?
I'd LOVE to find out what you'd write in that speech bubble.




 Conversations, prayers, selfies: 11th century architecture catches up with life in modern India.
The sun sets and like the chattering birds, the tourists make their way back home.
The Big Temple bathes in crimson rays and waits for more to visit it the next day, next year, next century perhaps--who knows.

When was the last time you sat in a building (temple, church, museum, mosque, gurudwara)
 and felt one with it -- like you were always meant to be there at that moment, 
like the stones and the tiles had been waiting for you to step on them, touch them, 
be one with them and feel alive, feel the connect that transcends life and lifeless?
*****
Catch up with C here tomorrow, C U then:)

19 comments:

  1. Just loved it. Now on my bucket list.

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    1. Thank you Sonali. You'll love it. Let me know when you plan to go. I may join you:) And there's a gorgeous little place to stay (10 kms away) called Paddy home stay.

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  2. Brihadeeswara is on my agenda this May Arti- sincerely hope I make it . Temples have always fascinated me especially the ones in the South - their architecture is outstanding as are the fascinating stories surrounding them . Your observation on guides being good storytellers is spot on- we’d been to
    Hampi a couple of years ago and we had the most amazing guide take us around - he did to quote you’make the place come alive ‘ !
    Your pictures never cease amaze and aapki blog tho manmohak hai hi.
    Waiting to see the ‘C’ tomorrow!

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    1. Thank you Sharmila. And Hampi is on my list:) If I can dig out the guide's details, I will send them to you.

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  4. Guides can make a nice trip an unforgettable one. I remember much more about a place when I recall the stories told about it. Incredible pictures, Arti! Brihadeeswara was never on my radar but it looks amazing!

    Emily In Ecuador | Boats in Puerto Lopez

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    1. Cheers Emily. It's a stunning and serene temple. If you do plan to go, choose the winter months--Nov-Feb, to avoid the extremely hot afternoons.

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  5. I love the details in the photos. Beautiful work, both yours and the original builders.

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  6. I have looked at the images twice. Such fabulous architecture. Loved the detailed and intricate carvings with the blade of grass passing through! Simply wow!

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    1. It's a marvel Shilpa. And the size of it makes it seem like a world from another era.

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  7. Great place and amazing pictures.
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2018/04/02/b-is-for-birkirkara-malta/

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  8. Lovely opportunity to step into soothing places for rest, contemplation, and wonder.
    Cheers!
    xx

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  9. Stunning, as always, ma'am.
    *sigh*
    Do you happen to know... was there any particular purpose to the yellow cord around that row of statues?

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    1. The yellow chord is cotton thread dipped in turmeric and is used like a garland of flowers in Hindu rituals as an offering.There will be many other explanations available as each part of India worships, uses elements, performs rituals etc. differently. I'm from the North and this temple is in the deep South, so someone from Tamil Nadu would be able to answer your question more completely I think.

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  10. Ah, what a lovely mix of serenity and vibrancy I'm left with viewing your photographs. I always think of good guides - those storytellers and wisdom sharers - as real gifts. I like to believe that sometimes a place calls to it just the right people to talk about it, to tell its stories, to point out it beauties. A sort of mutual love affair that the rest of us can delight in.

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    1. So beautifully said Deborah: A mutual love affair... Thank you.

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