Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal
As we are all aware, the Architectural masterpiece and symbol of eternal love, Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. Lying on the bank of river Yamuna, the Taj Mahal is located in Agra, a historical Indian city, Taj Mahal was built by famous Mughal ruler Shahjahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaj Mahal. Taking a huge 22 years to build, the wonder palace gets its appropriate description in Tagore words “a teardrop in the cheek of time”.

The joy of discovering the Taj Mahal comes to its highest point when sightseeing take place under the moonlight, especially on full-moon night. Discovering the Taj Mahal in presence of moon, one sees the whole of the immense mausoleum glowing along with the bright moon. Gardens around the palace are another delight to walk into. Square shaped, the garden has a pool in the centre having four subsidiary canals flow.
The great architectural wonder, Taj Mahal with its unique calligraphy, mosaic motifs, mausoleum and domes is undoubtedly one of the best tourist fascination in india. The world famous palace calls tourists from all over to witness the best preserved architectural heritage and an epitome of eternal love in its milky white pristine marbles. Giving tourists a rare experience, lily like gleam of Taj Mahal is a lovely exploration of Indian architectural beauty.
Things to enjoy at the Taj.
Nature walk : The nature walk in the park in its total 16 lawns and pathway lined by pines, palms and poplars make one be dazzled while gaping the monumental beauty.

Go sailing : To acquire the complete overview of the palace, the best way is to walk to the river Yamuna flowing close to the monument, and go sailing in a country boat. Especially reaching to the Poorbi Ghat before dawn makes one viewing a stunning sight of the wonderful white monument.

Enjoy Photography : Being photographed with your spouse before the marble wonder and taking photograps of the palace while enjoying boat ride in the river enable you to topple over the charm of monumental beauty of Taj.

Taj Mahotsav : Held in the month of February every year, the 10-days festival gives tourists from worldwide the best time to schedule their visit to the Taj Mahal.

As the historical monument of love suffers from “Marble Cancer” (a fungal covering on the monument due to air pollution), government has banned petrol and diesel vehicle from coming within one and a half kilometres of the monument. To take tourists to the monument, numerous of tonga (wood made vehicle pulled by horse) and rickshaw are always lined up. The small ride of tonga costing you a penny is full of opportunity to see the historical city lively.
So, don't miss the opportunity to see this wonder and enjoy.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Forts And Palaces of Rajasthan- Relics of The Past

jaigarh fort
For centuries, if not millennia, the Rajput fortresses, the defensive castles, the composite havelis - were the abode of chivalry where hospitality was a way of life. Visitors, guests, even strangers were welcomed in a tradition that was a part of the lifestyles. Even enemies, should they have come calling, were treated with utmost respect "Aao Sa". And an extensive network of matrimonial alliances amongst the warring clans ensured that all battles ended on the field. It would not be an extravagant quote to say, that if the Rajputs had not been so humble to their enemies as to let them in, the colossal forts might never had been conquered! Take a royal fort and palace tours of Rajasthan to see the historical evidences.

The Forts That Stood The Test of Time

The forts in Rajasthan are no doubt the best manuscripts that spell the saga of the audacious Rajput clans. Believe it, these colossal structures are more experienced than you and me. They have seen sandstorms lash the towns in summer, trees being bent by fierce winds while they stood with their spirits high assenting the valor and intransigency of the mighty Rajputs. They have seen a 20th-century princess who fell in love with a man candidly, without regarding that he traces his family tree all the way back to monkeys, and married him in the face of medieval defiance, portraying true love amidst the desolate deserts. Above all the forts have witnessed mass immolations by thousands of graceful Rajput women, charging to their deaths in ash and saffron, endorsing the devotion and amour that these glitterati had locked in the secret archives of their heart for long. They grabbed the horns of destiny and changed its course of journey...enough to leave a foreign tourist mesmerized.

The famous forts and palace attractions of Rajasthan in India are eloquent of the bygone era. The chivalry and gallantry of the warrior fraternity is reflected in the architecture of the feudal homes. Everytime you buzz the bell, after jaunting through the barren grasslands (because the forts were usually built atop a hill), you will be greeted with a colossal entrance; carved impeccebly enough to brake your eyeshot, if you try to peep into the voluminous courtyards disfavoring the grand architecture above you. Once inside you will be captivated to see the prodigious contours of the forts; lavishly spacious to accommodate 2-3 football grounds.

There were separate viewing galleries for women, and the ladies of the zenana regulated their own durbars and maneuvered considerable power from behind the purdah. Walk along the interspersed corridors while keeping an eye open for the beautifully embellished jaalis akin to intricate filigree, displayed on the mammoth parkotas of the coliseum on your sides. Some of the eminent forts also houses appalling chattels such as the Jaigarh Fort, which boasts of the largest cannon in the world, the Jaivan. Take a tour of the royal forts and palaces of Rajasthan to enjoy a historic holiday.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The famous camel fair in Bikaner.

Camel festival
Indian Heritage is reflected in its fairs & festivals. The camel fair of Bikaner is famous all over India. It is the most famous fair in Rajasthan. The camel is ubiquitous in Rajasthan, but nowhere is its presence more pronounced than in the city of Bikaner. These desert engines meander in the countrysides, in bazaars, on the roads; they pull heavy cart loads, transport grain and even work at the wells. They have walked into the lives of the Bikaneris so intimately, that they had now become an indispensable part of the city. Loyal, submissive and low maintenance, the camel is still the most precious element in the desert, despite its characteristic flatulence and tendency to bite during the breeding season.

Eat, drink and be merry. Lanky camels with bejeweled necks and jingling anklets will display amazing footwork on the slightest peck of their mentors. You are happy and so they are. After all, it is 'their' famous festival. January is the right month for a desert spree and Bikaner is just the right place to draft such a concert.

The Camel Festival of Rajasthan begins with a kaleidoscopic parade of decorated camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh fort, heading towards the open sand grounds. The first day offers the gorgeous presentation of the desert kings. Combating for the first place in the beauty contest, splendidly embellished camels are brought to the arena and careened to catch the critical eye of keen judges. The way the camel is embroidered, the choice of its gadgets and ornament, its capacity to interpret and carry out commands and the variety of pranks it is capable to perform are the basic criteria for selection of the "beauty pageant". A competition for best fur cutting design, camel milking and also for the best camel hair cut is organized.
To bestow a humble gratitude to the desert king, the Rajasthan Tourism Department organizes a vivacious and colorful event in Bikaner every year. Hundreds of tourists and thousands of locals rejoice in this man-and-animal episode, the famous Camel Festival, organized especially for the tourists.

On the second day, the speedy Jaisalmeri camels of the region take part in the camel sprints, which offers a healthy competition to the best camels of the region who compete for the honor. The hoopla extends to such a height that you have to cover your ears and raise your voice to shout for your favorite camel's name. Betting is greatly enjoyed in these regions and don't get awestruck while watching huge amount of money flying from one pocket to another in much less time.

As the sun dives into the horizon, the arena springs up in a different tenor and tempo altogether with the dazzling fireworks illuminating the desert city. Renowned artistes of Rajasthan and the local folk performers present a rendezvous with the traditional wing of music and dance. The rhapsodic skirt-swirling dance and the spine-chilling fire dance will really swing your emotions to the extreme, while you will comb every secret memories of yours to match the extravaganza that is happening right before your eyes.
The beauty of the fair can be enjoyed only upon being present in the fair.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

The language of India

India is a multilingual country. It has been said that India is a living Tower of Babel! There are fifteen national languages recognized by the Indian constitution and these are spoken in over 1600 dialects. Add to this a population of over 900 million today, and the remark would seem to be true.

India's official language is Hindi in the Devnagri script. However, English continues to be the official working language. For many educated Indian people, English is virtually their first language, and for a great number of Indian people who are multi-lingual, it will probably be the second.

Some Indian languages have evolved from the Indo-European group of languages. This set is known as the Indic group of languages. The other set of languages are Dravidian and are native to South India, though a distinct influence of Sanskrit and Hindi is evident in these languages. Most of the Indian languages have their own script and are spoken in the respective states along with English.

The country has a wide variety of local languages and in many cases the State boundaries have been drawn on linguistic lines. Besides Hindi and English, the other popular languages are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Telugu and Urdu.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Temples of southern India

South Temple
This is the style that developed in the Dravida Desam. The Vimana and the Gopurams are the distictive characteristics of the Southern style. The Vimana is a tall pyramidal tower consisting of several progressively smaller storeys. This stands on a square base. The Gopuram has two storeys seperated by a horizontal moulding. The Prakara or the outer wall, envelops the main shrine as well as the other smaller shrines, the tank.

The Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Vijayanagar rulers, the Nayaks all contributed to the Southern style of temples.

Pallava Temples :
The Pallava shrines normally have a Somaskanda relief panel.
Some of the Pallava temples:
Rajasimha temple
Olakkanesvara temple Mukundanayanar temple Shore temple at Mamallapuram Talagiriswara temple at Panamalai in South Arcot Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram (Rajasimha & his son Mahendravarman) Vaikuntha Perumal temple by Nandivarman

Chola Temples
The Cholas erected several temples and also renovated earlier brick structures in stone.
Early Chola temples:
Sundaresvara temple at Tirukattalai (Aditya I) Vijayalaya Choleswaram at Narthamalai Komganatha temple at Srinivasanallur (Parantaka I) Brihadiswara temple at Tanjavur (Raja Raja Chola) Brihadiswara temple at Gangaikonda cholapuram (Rajendra Chola) Airavateswara temple at Darasuram (Raja Raja II) Kamaparharesvara temple at Tirubuvanam (Kulotunga III)

The Pandyas mostly concentrated on the Gopurams, the main entrance. The basic structure and style was maintained, but the decorations on the Gopurams and the size characterises the Pandya Gopurams.
The typical Pandya style can be seen in the
Sundara Pandya Gopuram added to the Jambukesvara temple
Eastern Gopuram, Great Temple, Chidambaram

The main contributions of the Vijayanagar period were the tall massive gopurams and the multiple mandapas. Unlike the Chola style, where the entire temple structure was usually a unified whole, there were numerous mandapas, pillared halls, shrines to minor deities, tanks, etc. Another major feature is the carved pillars - with the rearing simhas (lions), yalis (lions with elephant trunks).
The important temples from the Vijayanager period:
Vitthala Swami temple, Vijayanager
The pillars and gopurams of the Ekambaranatha temple .

Nayak Temples

The Madurai and Tanjavur Nayaks made great contributions - the main characterictics of this period being the elaborate mandapas of the hundred and thousand pillared type, the high gopurams with stucco statues on the surface, the long corridors.

The main temples representing this style in various portions are
The Ranganatha temple at Srirangam - for the increase in the no. of enclosures
The temple at Rameswaram - for the long corridors
The Subramanya temple at the Brihadisvara temple court at Tanjavur - for the fine vimana with ardha and maha mandapas.

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