Big temple City

On the either side of the Highway are Lush green paddy fields far and wide, we are now entering the rice bowl of ‘Tamil Nadu’ and the roads lead to the ancient city of Tanjore. Named after an Asura who was killed at the place; this city even after a thousand years is bustling with activity and devotion. Tanjore is today identified for the Brihadeshwara Temple, a superstructure dedicated to lord Shiva.

Rice Fields of Thanjavur

 

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View of the Brihadeshwara dome as soon as one enters the city.

 

Thanjavur first came to prominence as the capital city of Rajaraja, the greatest of the Cholas. At his peak he ruled over an empire whose area spanned more than that of India, conquering many south east Asian countries. The might of conquests led to prosperity of the Chola kingdom, in turn sponsoring many a grand temples. There can be found Chola temples in places as far away as Bangalore. It was in Thanjavur that the most magnificent and spectacular of their temples Periya Kovil also known as the Brihadeshwara was erected. A high domed temple with beautiful carving on it walls. The temple today still lies at the heart of the city like it must have at its heyday. Most of the structures standing today like the surrounding walls were not built by the Chola’s. They were added much later by the likes of the Nayaks and the Marathas. They do not figure in the list of architectural marvels, instead it is pretty ordinary when compared to any other South Indian temple. What stands out is the central granite complex with its towering Gopuram(the dome). The Gopuram rises with a tapering end, with a 13 ft Vimana carved from a single stone at the top. The slant of the Gopuram is decorated with carvings of mini Vimanas(tip of the Gopuram right above the inner sanctum) on layers of platform like protrusions. It is as if these are sub structures or lego parts of the whole. The sight of the Gopura even from a distance evokes a surreal feeling. The architecture rivals the gopuram of Madurai in size and sculptures of Belur in complexity. one wonders how such a structure could have been erected at such a height at a time when technology was very primitive. The secret of Brihadeshwara’s construction is simple but definitely not easy. Gradually ascending roads from as far as 9km away were built so that artisans could work at the desired height and required building material would reach through carts and horses. Taking into account that all this feat was achieved ten centuries ago makes this architecture a wonder to ponder over. The base of the sanctum is decorated with an inscription of records, laws and tributes. Much of what we know about the Cholas come from similar writings found in the various temples.This is proof to how life during the Cholas revolved around the temple.

Raja Raja the greatest of the Cholas.

 

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Sun setting over the temple complex.

 

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An artist’s rendering, the construction of Brihadeshwara Dome.

 

Among the sculptures of the temples, an interesting one is that of the Buddha attaining Nirvana under the Bodhi tree. Something which immediately strikes as ‘out of place’. The story goes that RajaRaja built the Big temple after he had a dream when he was on a campaign in the Buddhist city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Hence the sculpture evokes the memory of the fateful dream. Dusk is the best time to visit the temple as the scorching south Indian sun would have calmed and the temple takes on a magnificent orange glow. To add to it are thousands of pilgrims who flock to the temple like their ancestors must have for a millennium. For them it is more of a holy site and less of a historical one. The center of their devotion is the 13ft Linga placed in the holy inner sanctum. The inner architecture of the temple follows a complete anti pattern of it external looks, made of plain uniform granite. As if intentionally kept blank to remind everyone that the all powerful lord would not care less for your grand structure of ego. Making way through a small crowd, one catches a glimpse of the Linga, the center of attraction in Tanjore for over a thousand years. It is at this moment one is transported back to the kingdom of the Cholas,and a city of Godliness and glory. Such is the Brihadeshwara that it is a place of spirituality interwoven with history with an almost mythical grandeur. With Vibes of Power, Ego and Tragedy, there is also peace to be found, if that is what one seeks.

 

Note:Thanks to Sharath,Ajay and Pai for the help with proof reading.

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Play Review: Alice in Wonderland

What do you do when life has hit the wall, and routine has sucked the life out of you? You Imagine a world with infinite possibilities , you dream of wonderland. This is no ordinary place, here every day objects either become your gateway for a magical trip or attain higher dimension than their mortal purpose. Tram Theatre’s  Adaptation of ‘Alice in wonderland’ is an attempt to use objects and puppets as a medium to tell stories. This is a children play, yet it has got enough substance to capture a grown person’s attention.  Chief among them, is a brilliant improvisation of ‘Object Theatre’ , adding a lot of special effects to the overall feel. The plot has a very Indianized feel and strays quite a bit from the original layout of  Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The 100 plus children in the audience were  captivated by the  absurd world created in front of them, their discipline and silence was proof for this. Overall a excellent play if you want to introduce your kids the world of theatre.

Rating: 4/5 .

One on One- Play Review

In today’s world of short attention span, entertainment is rarely expected to make you think, and rarely does it leave a thought lingering with you for the days to come. but ‘One on One’ quite comfortably has succeeded to break those shackles with its unconventional themes, style and delivery. A collection of 8 short plays, each revolving around pressing social and political issues, delivered with a hint of humor. Each play has a maximum of two characters, with the conversation mostly directed towards the audience, with the feel of talking individually rather than the audience as a whole. The “One on One” feel is what really makes this a unique play, with the script and the actors backing it up heavily. Although I wouldn’t vouch for all 8 plays(two of them bored me no end with their cliches), a couple them were so intense that I found it hard to cope up with the intensity on the stage. Summing up, the crew from Mumbai has done a good job, making it a must watch.
4.5/5

Vagrants on a highway

Vagrants on a highway

Far away from home after a three day ride, the trip meter read 1000 Kilometers. Somewhere in the middle of the vastness and chaos that is the Indian highway, a part of the trip  was digitized as a reminder to last for the years to come.

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This picture was taken during a bike trip from  Bangalore to Aurangabad. This is one of my favourites, makes me viscerally happy every time I see it. Thinking back, it sure as hell was one crazy crazy trip.  In the photo, Kulkarni, Pawan and Gaurav. Who once with me were Vagrants on a Highway.

PS: I really want to write a post about it but my lazy ass doesnt let me to.

Play review. Nobody sleeps alone

Nobody sleeps alone was like a typical bollywood movie. It had everything, the masala, the dance, the romance and even the music, which was played by a live  drummer cum percussion artist seated on the far end of the stage, which was probably the best thing about the play. The Play starts out with a very dark overtone, like some psychological thriller. But sadly the vibe ended very soon. Then came the humor, with loads of situation comedy which dominated much of the play.  As the play progresses the masala turns quite sour and the direction very sloppy. Props replace artists and the connection between the story and the play title is so vague that it keeps you wondering. All this was very easily negated by some wonderful acting by the 3 artists and amazing special effects by the musician. Apart from some low moments and a failed promise of a dark ending I did quite enjoy the play. Not a bad play to catch on a weekday evening.

Bikhre Bimb- Play Review

Bikhre Bimb is the much talked about play Written and Co-Produced By Girish Karnad, featuring Arundati Nag. This play appears quite frequently at Ranga Shankara, and I had missed every opportunity to watch this play for the past one year.  But Saturday was finally the day I got to watching the play, that after ditching a couple of other plans and a  25KM bus ride to get to Ranga Shankara.

Bikhre Bimb Starts out With Manjula, a Kannada Poet turned English Novelist who’s recent book has become a International success, addressing a press conference.  The pace and the confusion at the start of the play overwhelms and bores you a little bit.  But once thing settle and Nag’s One act play takes center stage there is no looking back. The life brought into the character of Manjula Sharma is as if it will convince the audience that Manjula Sharma is taking  stage and giving a live press conference. Then there is the twist of use of Technology and the prefect synchronization with the act.  One cannot Imagine the hours of hard work the crew  might have put to arrive at such a level of perfection.  Although the play is quite intense, there are quite a few lighter moments, concealed in it the plot slowly builds to a climax and a chaotic end.  Overall this is one of the best plays I have seen.

BCB13 follow up and slides

Firstly Thank you to the organizers of Barcamp Bangalore for such a awesome event and the participants for being such a awesome audience. Special Shout outs to @Satyabhat and a couple others whom unfortunately I could not talk to find out their names.

Here is the link to the slides for the talk

http://djds4rce.github.com/talks/internet-history/
The slides are powered by Timline JS.

References

– Most of the content was inspired from the Coursera course ‘Internt, History, Technology, and Security’

– http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/history/ivh/chap2.htm

– The User agent String story was inspired by http://webaim.org/blog/user-agent-string-history/

– The 2chan and something awful story was inspired by a reddit comment( Cant seem to find a link)

– Much of the Mosaic and JS stories where inspired from a talk by Crockford