Dahi Handi Celebrations 2017

Dahi Handi is a famous sportive event organized in many places of Maharashtra on the next day of Janmashtami. Janmashtami, is an annual festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. It is observed according to Hindu calendar, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Shraavana, which corresponds to August and September months of the Gregorian calendar.

Dahi Handi celebration commemorates the way of living of Lord Krishna. Dahi translates to curd and Handi translates to earthen pot used to process and keep the milk products. In his childhood, young Krishna was very fond of curd and butter. While growing up he became notorious for stealing it. The female folks in the neighborhood became cautious and started hanging the milk products from the ceiling to keep them out of reach of Krishna and his friends. To defeat this idea Krishna devised the idea of forming human pyramids, by which they could reach the Handi.

Every year during Janmashtami this event from the life of Krishna is played by youngsters. In Mumbai and suburbs it has become a competitive sport, with participation of many teams. In the recent years, female teams have also started to participate in the event. These sporting events, often carries prize money with the support of local political parties and leaders. These team’s youth called ‘Govindas’ climb one over another and form a human pyramid and then break the Handi.

Dahi Handi hanging from the top
The team is getting ready
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
Formation of the pyramid
The breaking of the Handi
The breaking of the Handi

The winning team collects the trophy and the prize money

The drummers celebrating
The drummers celebrating
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The unfinished Bhojeshwar Temple of Bhojpur

This temple is located in the Bhojpur village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The temple construction was started in the 11th century, during the reign of Paramara king Bhoja. The construction was abandoned for unknown reasons, with the architectural plans engraved on the surrounding rocks.

It appears that the construction work stopped abruptly due to unknown reasons. Historians speculate that the abandonment may have been triggered by a sudden natural disaster, lack of resources or a war. To the north and east of the temple, there are several quarry sites, where unfinished architectural fragments in various stages of carving were discovered.

The temple lies on a platform which is 35m long, 25m wide and 4m high. A huge limestone lingam is installed on the platform. The total height of the lingam, including the platform is over 12m. The doorway to the sanctum is 10m high. The wall at the entrance features sculptures of apsaras, ganas and other goddesses. The temple walls are made of large sandstone blocks, without windows. The northern, southern and eastern walls of the temple, features three balconies, purely for ornamental purpose. They cannot be approached from either inside or outside of the temple, because they are located high up on the walls, which provided a drainage outlet for the liquid used to bathe the lingam.

In the year 1951, the site was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for conservation. Under the supervision of ASI, the restoration of the damaged temple was taken place and the temple has been designated as a Monument of National Importance.

Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple
Bhojeshwar Temple – Sculptures on the wall
Bhojeshwar Temple – Sculptures on the wall
Bhojeshwar Temple – carved drainage outlet
Around the temple
The huge linga installed on the platform
The roof of the temple
More sculptures from the walls
More sculptures from the walls
More sculptures from the walls
One of the ornamental balconies of the temple

Vidisha – One of the oldest cities of the Indian subcontinent

Vidisha is located 10km northeast of Sanchi, between Betwa and Bes Rivers. It was one of the oldest cities in the Indian subcontinent and was a major commercial centre in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Later it was known as Besnagar during the Buddhist emperor Ashoka’s reign and then passed through the hands of the Mughals and then to the Scindias. There are few important monuments located near this town.

Bijamandal
Bijamandal, which is popularly known as Vijayamandira is Temple built during the Paramara period in the eleventh century and is located at the eastern edge of the old town of Vidisha. The temple was destroyed in the year 1682. After its demolition, Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, constructed a mosque called Alamgiri Masjid, at the site. The materials of the destroyed temple, was used in the construction of this mosque.

Other materials are scattered all around the site. One of the pillars bears the inscription which suggests that the original temple was dedicated to Goddess Charchika. The same inscription also bears the name of King Naravarman and Goddess Vijaya, after whom the temple is believed to be named.

It appears that the original temple was of considerable dimension approachable by a high flight of steps on its three sides. Not far from the temple site one could see the ancient baoli (stepwell) with carved pillars belonging to the eight century.

The huge platform where the temple was once
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Sculptures which are scattered around the area
Some of the pillars
Some of the pillars
Some of the pillars
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
More sculptures which are scattered around
The ancient stepwell near the temple

Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri is about 4km from the town of Vidisha and about 13km from the Buddhist site of Sanchi. Cut into a sandstone hill, are some 20 Gupta cave shrines dating from the reign of Chandragupta II (382 – 401). Most are Hindu but two are Jain. Some of the caves are closed due to unsafe roofs. Cave no. 5 has an image of Vishnu in his boar incarnation. On the top of the hill are ruins of a 6th century Gupta temple dedicated to the sun god.

Udayagiri Caves – boar incarnation
Udayagiri Caves – boar incarnation
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves – sculptures
Udayagiri Caves – Ananthasayana
Udayagiri Caves – Inscriptions
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri Caves

Heliodorus Pillar
Not far from the Bijamandal is the Heliodorus Pillar. The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 113 BC in Vidisha by Heliodorus, from Taxila. He was the Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek King Antialcidas. The pillar was surmounted by a sculpture of Garuda and was apparently dedicated by Heliodorus to the god Vasudeva.

The pillar is worshipped by local fishermen. On full moon nights one is chained to the pillar, he becomes possessed and is able to drive evil spirits from other locals. When someone has been exorcised, they drive a nail into the tamarind tree nearby, fixing to it a lime, a piece of coconut, a red threat and supposedly the spirit. The large tree is bristling with old nails.

Heliodorus Pillar
Inscriptions on the pillar
Heliodorus Pillar – details
The tamarind tree near by
Here you can see the lime nailed to the tree

Rani Mahal of Jhansi – The erstwhile residence of Rani Laxmi Bai

The Rani Mahal or Queen’s Palace is a royal palace in the city of Jhansi in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. It was built by Raghunath II, who belonged to the Newalkar family of Peshwas, the rulers of Jhansi from 1769 to 1796. After the death of Raja Gangadhar Rao, his wife Rani Laxmi Bai resided in this palace. The palace rose to significance during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, as it was the main center of activity and was attacked by the British.

It is flat roofed, two-storeyed building having quadrangular courtyard with a small well and one fountain. The darbar hall inside the palace is beautifully decorated with paintings in bright colours exhibiting various floral and faunal motifs.

The Rani Mahal is converted to a museum and houses a vast collection of stone sculptures collected from the surrounding areas dating from the Gupta to Medieval periods.

Rani Mahal – Main Entrance
The courtyard inside the Mahal
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Exhibits from the museum
Painted ceiling of the Durbar Hall
The Durbar Hall
Arched ways inside the Mahal

Sanchi Buddhist Complex – A legacy of the Maurya era

Sanchi Buddhist complex, famous for its great stupa at Sanchi, is located in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Commissioned by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, the Great Stupa of Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India. The stupa was built over the relics of Buddha. The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her marriage with Ashoka. In the first century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas (gateways) and balustrade encircling the entire structure were added.

The stupa may have been vandalized in the 2nd century BCE during the rise of the Shunga emperor Pushyamitra Shunga, who overtook the Maurya Empire and was believed to be rebuilt by his son Agnimitra. The original brick stupa was covered with stone during the Shunga period. During the later Shunga period the stupa was expanded with stone slabs to almost twice its original size. The dome was set on a high circular drum meant for circumambulation, which could be accessed via a double staircase. A second stone pathway at ground level was enclosed by a stone balustrade with four monumental gateways facing the cardinal directions. Other structures which were commissioned during the Shunga period are the second and third stupas.

In the first century BCE, during the Satavahana period the gateways were constructed. Further Buddhist structures were added over the centuries until the 12th century AD. Temple 17 is attached to the Gupta period (5th century CE). This structure consists of a flat roofed square sanctum with a portico and four pillars.

Temple 45 was the last Buddhist temple built during the 9th century. With the decline of Buddhism in India the monuments of Sanchi went out of use and fell into a state of despair. Between 1912 and 1919 the structures were restored to their preset condition under the supervision of Sir Johns Marshall.

The stupas of Sanchi
The great stupa with the northern gateway
A closer view of the northern gateway
Details – the dvarapala from the gateway
Rear view of the northern gateway
More details from the gateway
The eastern gateway of the great Stupa
More details from the gateway
Another view of the great stupa
The balustrade of the great stupa and the eastern gateway
Another view of the balustrade
Stupa no.3
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Ruins around the area
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
More ruins around the area
Temple No.18 at sanchi
More ruins around
Temple No.17 at Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
Sculptural details from Sanchi
The Ashokan pillar, which was reduced to pieces by a local zamindar
Details from the pillar
An inscription
View of the surrounding fields from the top
View of the surrounding fields from the top
The stupa at sunset
Sun setting behind the ruins

Today around fifty monuments remain on the hill of Sanchi. These monuments have been listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1989.

Ahmedabad declared India’s first world heritage city by UNESCO – Proud moment for every Indian

Recognizing its unique heritage value, the walled city of Ahmedabad which is more than 600 years old was declared India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO. This historic declaration was issued at the 41st session the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland on Saturday July 08, 2017.

Ahmedabad’s nomination was supported by 20 countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Portugal, Peru Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Finland, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Croatia, Poland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Korea, Angola and Cuba.

The 5.5 km walled city area with an approximate population of four lakhs living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighbourhoods, is regarded as living heritage and the UNESCO had preferred Ahmedabad’s entry over Delhi and Mumbai, the two main metro cities in the country.

There are 2600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI (Archeological Survey of India) protected monuments in the walled city. In the walled city the dominant Hindu, Islamic and Jain communities peacefully coexists. Besides its architectural marvels, the city was the epic center of non-violent freedom struggle spear-headed by Mahatma Gandhi that led to the country’s independence in 1947.

Other cities from the subcontinent which hold the world heritage tag are Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.

You can read more about the city of Ahmedabad from the links below:

Ahmedabad – Part I : Bhadra Fort and Teen Darwaza

Ahmedabad – Part II : The Pols and Havelis

Ahmedabad – Part III : The Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur

Ahmedabad – Part IV: The Hutheesing Jain Temple

Ahmedabad – Part V: Jama Masjid & Mausoleums

Ahmedabad – Part VI: Sidi Saiyyed Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part VII: Rani Rupamati’s Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part VIII: Rani Sipri’s Mosque and Tomb

Ahmedabad – Part IX: The Pattharwali Masjid or Qutbuddin’s Mosque

Ahmedabad – Part X: Sidi Bashir Mosque and the Shaking Minarets

Ahmedabad – Part XI: Raj Babri Mosque and the Mausoleum of Bibiji

Ahmedabad – Part XII: Kankaria Lake and the Dutch Tombs

Ahmedabad – Part XIII: Dada Hari Vav

Ahmedabad – Part XIV: Sabarmati Ashram

Jai Vilas Palace Museum – The grandeur of the Scindias of Gwalior

Jai Vilas Palace, also known as Jai Vilas Mahal is located in the city of Gwalior in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The palace was established by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior in 1874 and is still the residence of his descendants, the former royal Maratha Scindia dynasty. A part of this palace was converted into a museum in 1964 which occupies 35 rooms of the palace.

It is a fine example of European architecture, designed and built by Sir Michael Filose. A combination of architectural styles, the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian. The area of the Jai Vilas Palace is 12,40,771 square feet and it is particularly famous for its large Durbar Hall. The interior of the Durbar Hall is decorated with gilt and gold furnishings and adorned with a huge carpet and gigantic chandeliers. It is 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 41 feet in height.

Supposedly, eight elephants were suspended from the Durbar Hall ceiling to check it could cope with two 12.5 m high 3.5 ton chandeliers with 250 light bulbs, said to be the largest pair in the world.

A visit to the palace makes you explore the royal times of the Maratha Scindia dynasty and will help you to flip back the pages of luxurious lifestyle of the kings and queens of those times. Items like cut-glass furniture, stuffed tigers etc. are exhibited in the museum.

The main entrance of the palace
One of the fountains inside the forecourt of the palace
Entrance to the museum
Some of the exhibits
Some of the exhibits
One of the exhibits from the museum
Some of the exhibits
Some of the exhibits
Various musical instruments
Some of the exhibits
Skull of a wild buffalo
One of the stuffed tigers exhibited in the museum
One of the chandeliers
Some of the exhibits
The traditional dining area
Dining area for the visiting dignitaries
Inside the palace
Beautifully adorned staircase
The durbar hall with the huge chandeliers
One of the chandeliers in the durbar hall
Durbar hall
One of the exhibits
This area is dedicated for exhibiting the life and times of Madhavrao Scindia the son of the last ruling maharaja and leading politician and congress minister who died in a plane crash on 30 Sep 2001