January 30, 2016

Dalmadal Canon of Bishnupur

Site Name: Dalmadal Canon
Site Type: Monument
Location:  Bishnupur, West Bengal state, India
Highlights: Interesting legend associated with the monument
Nearest Railway Station: Bishnupur
Nearest Airport: Kolkata 
How to reach: Easily reachable from Kolkata, which is around 160 kms away
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Kolkata; Bishnupur too has many decent options for stay
Restaurants: Limited mid-range options in Bishnupur

Bishnupur is a town located in Bankura district in West Bengal state of India. It is located at a distance of around 150 kms from Kolkata, the capital city of Bengal. It is famous for the 17th and 18th century Terracotta temples and balucheri sarees. Let us explore about a historically important monument in Bishnupur, which also has an interesting legend, in this article.

Dalmadal Canon is a large canon located in the central place of Bishnupur town. It is an important landmark of the town. It was manufactured by the Malla Kings.

Let us begin with a brief historical background. The areas around Bishnupur was called as Mallabhum region in the olden days. The region, which can also be called as Bishnupur Kingdom was ruled by Malla dynasty for many centuries. The Muslim or Mughal invasion did not affect this region much. Adi Malla was the founder of the dynasty.

Bir Hambir, the 49th King of Malla dynasty, was very popular. He was a contemporary of the Mughal emperor, Akbar. He converted to Vaishnavism. This canon was manufactured by him in order to protect his kingdom from the Marathas. It is said he spent huge amount of money to manufacture this. In Bengali language, the word 'Dala' means group (enemies in this context) and 'Mardan' means destroy. The canon was probably named as Dalmardan meaning the destroyer of enemies, which later became Dalmadal.

As per another theory, the Malla kings used to have a lot of hailstone. One such hailstone of their deity was called as Dalmadal. The canon was probably named after that hailstone.

Gopal Singh (1730-45 CE) was a successor of Bir Hambir. He was very religious but was not very successful in handling problems. During his reign, the Marathas invaded Bishnupur. As per the legend, Lord Madan Mohan (Krishna) fired this weapon with his own hands to protect the town from the Marathas and their leader, Bhaskara Rao.

Today, this gigantic canon stands proudly as a part of historical and cultural background of Bishnupur.

Happy travelling.




Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Site Name: Aurobindo Ashram
Site Type: Ashram
Location:  Puducherry, India
Highlights: A very popular ashram across the entire country
Nearest Railway Station: Puducherry
Nearest Airport: Chennai 
How to reach: Well connected
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts and budget hotels are available 
Restaurants: Varieties of options

Puducherry, also called as Pondicherry, is a city located in Puducherry Union Territory near Chennai city in India. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the most popular landmark of Puducherry. Let us explore about this site in this article.

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian patriot and freedom fighter from West Bengal state. He left politics and adapted spiritual life after moving to Puducherry in 1910 CE. He evolved a new method of spiritual practice called Integral Yoga. In 1926 CE, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, he found Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry. 

The Ashram's objective was to enable practice of Integral Yoga. However, today it has spread across many buildings and deals with many departments across Puducherry. 

The main building of Ashram is a calm and serne place. The samadhis of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are located in this site. Thousands of visitors and devotees visit this site everyday.

Happy travelling.


January 29, 2016

Bishnupur Chhinnamasta Temple

Site Name: Chhinnamasta Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Bishnupur, West Bengal state, India
Highlights: One of India's most renowned universities
Nearest Railway Station: Bishnupur
Nearest Airport: Kolkata 
How to reach: Easily reachable from Kolkata, which is around 160 kms away
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Kolkata; Bishnupur too has many decent options for stay
Restaurants: Limited mid-range options in Bishnupur

Bishnupur is a town located in Bankura district in West Bengal state of India. It is located at a distance of around 150 kms from Kolkata, the capital city of Bengal. It is famous for the 17th and 18th century Terracotta temples and balucheri sarees. Let us explore an important temple named Chhinnamasta temple in this article.

Chhinnamasta temple is located near Dalmadal Canon in Bishnupur. It is around one hundred years old temple, which was renovated in the recent past. The temple is small with the main shrine and another sub-shrine. 

The sanctum sanctorum enshrines Chhinnamasta along with her two Yogini attendants, Dakini and Varnini. She holds her severed head in her right arm and a sword in her left arm. She is a Tantric Goddess and depicts ferocious form. Three jets of blood spurt out of her bleeding neck, which are drunk by her severed head and her two attendants. She is found standing on a human couple who are resting on a big lotus. All the three female deities are found without wearing any dress. 

The sub-shrine of the temple is dedicated to Shiva Linga.

Happy travelling.




January 28, 2016

Shanti Niketan Visva Bharati University

Site Name: Visva Bharati University
Site Type: University
Location:  Shanti Niketan, West Bengal state, India
Highlights: One of India's most renowned universities
Nearest Railway Station: Bolpur
Nearest Airport: Kolkata 
How to reach: Easily reachable from Kolkata, which is around 160 kms away
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Kolkata; Shantiniketan too has many decent options for stay
Restaurants: Limited options in Shantiniketan

Travel to West Bengal is not complete without visiting Shanti Niketan and one of India's most renowned university called Visva Bharati University. Personally, if I get a chance to study again, I would definitely prefer no other place than this university. Anyone who visits this site would get positive energy for sure. It is not merely a place to study, but it is an institution, which would give the students a combination of pleasant and practical experience that they could cherish for their entire lifetime.


As you enter into the huge university complex, you can find students riding bi-cycles. Yes, the motor vehicles are not allowed inside the complex. Nothing is considered as scrap in this site. The art students of this university would change everything into a sculpture. You can find the statues and various art forms made of wood, glass, mud, paper, cups and the others. 

Learning music and playing musical instruments are fun, we know already. But, the music class students of this university are double the time lucky. They have their practice sessions in the open space or cave like structures where the walls of such artificial structures are full of good paintings.

The buildings of the university are all painted in vibrant colors with different themes. Most of the painting works were done by the students.

Visva Bharati University, which was started by Sri Rabindranath Tagore, is definitely a site not to be missed. Anyone who would love any form of art would have something that would interest him in this university. Even the gardens and parks in the complex are artistically maintained. Not even one foot of the site is left out. Paintings, sculptures, music, singing and all other forms of art are presented here for our delight.

Upasana Griha, the prayer hall, which is also called as glass building, is an attractive building within the complex. It was built by Rabindranath's father Debendranath Tagore in the 19th century CE. 

Kala Bhavan, the institute of Fine Arts, is one of the best place to learn fine arts in India. Most of the popular artists of Bengal had studied here.

One of the highlights of the university is its open air classrooms under the shades of huge trees. 

Each and every building or sometimes even the trees have stories or history associated with them. 

The original Shanti Niketan building is converted into a museum now. It displays a lot of artifacts and photographs of Rabindranath's father and brother. There is a museum outside the college complex which houses many artifacts of Rabindranath Tagore.

Never miss this beautiful site, if you ever get a chance to visit Bengal.

Happy travelling.








January 27, 2016

Adi Badri

Site Name: Adi Badri
Site Type: Ancient Hindu temple
Location:  Near Karnaprayag, Uttarakhand state, India
Highlights: Gupta period temples
Nearest Railway Station: Rishikesh
Nearest Airport: Dehraduns
How to reach: Reachable on road from Karnaprayag, which is at a distance of around 17 kms
Climate: Sep to Nov - winter; Dec to Mar - snow bound; the other months are pleasant
Best time to visit: May - Oct
Clothing: Light woolen in summer; heavy woolen in winter
Hotel: Mid-range to star hotels are available in the nearby hill stations; people stay right from Rudraprayag to Gaurikund 
Restaurants: In Karnaprayag - vegetarian option alone

If you live in India, it is unlikely that you would not have heard about Kedarnath or Badrinath. They are two of the most popular pilgrimages for Hindus. It is located on the Himalayas in Uttarakhand state of India. Around 17 kms from Karnaprayag, Adi Badri is situated. It has the ancient Adi Badri temple. Let us explore about this site in this article. 


Adi Badri is an architectural marvel on the Himalayas. Unlike other temples of Himalayas including the most important temples such as Badrinath and Kedarnath which have the recent structures, the structure of Adi Badri is very ancient. 

Adi Badri is not a single temple. But it is a cluster of 16 small temples. 14 out of these 16 temples still exist in the original form. 7 temples in this group were built in the late Gupta period, that is sometime between the 5th century CE to 8th century CE. 

Temple Layout:

The main temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is situated on a raised platform and is surmounted by a pyramidal roof. The other temples are dedicated to Kali, Shiva, Janaki, Hanuman, Gauri Shankar, Satya Narayan, Ganesha, Garud, Annapurna, Chakrabhan, Lakshmi Narayan, Kuber and Kali. All the temples look similar in style though vary slightly in size. Few temples have the niche images of Dwarapalas and few other niche images at the entrance. As otherwise, all the temples' exterior are plain. The deities inside the temples do not seem to be old.

Legend:

As per the legend, Lord Vishnu resided in Adi Badri in the first three Yugas and shifted to Badrinath only in Kali Yuga. It is also believed that Vyasa wrote Bhagawat Gita in Adi Badri.

Similar to the other Himalayan temples, it is believed that this temple was also originally constructed by Adi Shankaracharya. 

The Kund that is found inside the temple premises is believed to be the origin of the river Saraswati.


Sapta Badri and Pancha Badri:

The seven temples of Badri in and around Badrinath are called as Sapta Badri temples. They are Badrinath, Adi Badri, Vridha Badri, Dhyan Badri, Ardha Badri, Bhavishya Badri and Yogadhayan Badri. Hence, Asi Badri is one of the Sapta Badri sites. Some people include Narasingha Badri as one of the Sapta Badri sites.

Five Badri temples are considered as Pancha Badri sites. They are Badrinath, Adi Badri, Vridha Badri,  Bhavishya Badri and Yogadhayan Badri. Few people omit Vridha Badri and instead include Narasingha Badri.

Happy travelling.





January 25, 2016

Terracotta Temples of Supur

Site Name: Jora Mandir
Site Type: Terracotta temple
Location:  Supur village, 5 kms from Shanti Niketan, West Bengal state, India
Highlights: 300 years old Twin Terracotta temples
Nearest Railway Station: Bolpur
Nearest Airport: Kolkata 
How to reach: Easily reachable from Kolkata and Shantiniketan
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Kolkata; Shantiniketan too has many decent options for stay
Restaurants: Limited options in Shantiniketan

West Bengal tourism is not only to do with Kolkata or only with the famous Shanti Niketan. There are hundreds of beautiful and unexplored sites all over West Bengal state of India. Let us explore one such little known beautiful site in this article.

Shanti Niketan is a popular town in West Bengal related to education and academics. It is located at a distance of around 160 kms from Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal. At a distance of just 5 kms from Shanti Niketan, a small village named Supur is located. A 300 year old beautiful terracotta temple called Jora Mandir is located in this village. 

Legend:

There are two different versions of legend about this village. 


As per a legend, Suratha, the King of Kalinga was very desperate to win over the kingdom of Karnat, but he always failed in his task. As per the advice from a sage named Medhas, he prayed to Goddess Chandi and then he won his enemy. He sacrificed one hundred thousand enemies to the Goddess. It is believed that this village was named after him as Swapur and then it might have become Supur. 

As per another legend, there was zamindar named Surath. Once, he had a dream in which his enemies were chasing him for death. He prayed to Goddess Chandi to protect him and he sacrificed one hundred thousand humans to her. 


The above mentioned legends have nothing to do with the temple. They are just related to the village.


Temple Layout:

There is no record on who built Jora Mandir, the best example of Terracotta art in Supur village. The temple was built in the 18th century CE and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. 

There are two terracotta temples in the enclosure. One temple has Rekha type vimana and another one has octagonal Rekha type vimana. 


Both the temples look outstanding. The western side temple has terracotta work only on its southern side, whereas the other temple has terracotta work in all the sides. Both the temples enshrine Shiva Linga idols.

Some of the notable relief terracotta works that are found in the temples include Ram with Sita on throne along with Lakshman and Hanuman, Chaitanya dancing, infant being bathed by few women, Ram fighting with Luv and Kush, British (probably) soldiers holding guns sitting on elephants and horses, Mahisasura Mardhini, Ganesha with his two consorts, Kartikeya with his consort and his mount peacock, Krishna surrounded by Gopis, incarnations of Vishnu, Ram's coronation ceremony, two female deities seated on lion, few sages along with a five headed person and three women playing musical instruments. Some works are repeated in multiple panels.

Happy travelling.









January 23, 2016

Birla Mandir - Hyderabad

Site Name: Birla Mandir
Site Type: Hindu temple 
Location:  Naubat Pahad, Hyderabad city, Telungana state, India
Highlights: One of the important landmarks of Hyderabad city
Nearest Railway Station: Hyderabad
Nearest Airport: Hyderabad
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: All sorts of options are available in Hyderabad 
Restaurants: Hyderabad city has no shortage of restaurants of all varieties

Hyderabad is an important city in South India. It is the capital city of the newly formed Telangana state as well as Andhra Pradesh state of India. Hyderabad, which is also called as 'the city of Pearls' is a historical city. In the last two decades, the city became very popular thanks to the IT companies. There are many popular and varieties of tourist spots such as forts, palaces, lakes, masjids and temples located in this city. Let us explore one such popular site named Birla Mandir in this article.

Birla Mandir is dedicated to Lord Balaji (Tirupati Venkateswara). It is built on a small hillock called Naubath Pahad. The temple complex is huge and is spread across 13 acres. The temple was constructed in 1976 CE. The construction was taken care by Birla Foundation. All the temples built across India by this organization are called as Birla Mandirs.

Birla Mandir temple architecture is a mix of Dravidian, Rajasthani and Odisha styles. The vimana of the main shrine is built based on the Kalingan temple architectural style. The entire temple complex is built with white marbles similar to any other buildings of Rajasthan. At the entrance, there is a tower a.k.a. Raja Gopuram similar to the traditional South Indian temple.

Lord Balaji is the presiding deity of the temple. The idol is very tall is about 11 feet high. The temple also has many shrines for various deities such as Andal, Padmavati, Hanuman, Shiva, Shakti, Ganesha, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Sai Baba. Also, there is a big idol of Krishna holding discus in his right arm near the entrance.

A tall clock tower is also found inside the temple complex.

Happy travelling.