Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Colours of Diwali , the festival of Lights in India

The different colours of Diwali from the Terrace of my home ! Hope all of you will enjoy !!

Hope you Enjoyed :) !!!!

Few Drops from the Ocean of the Hoysala Architecture ! (Soapstone Wonders)

A Picture is worth thousand words.... Therefore Let the Pictures Speak for Itself

Ugra Narasimhar at Belur

Shoo Shoo in the most Artistic Manner, Belur

Gajasamharamurti , Belur

The Royal Emblem of Hoysala Dynasty, Belur

The Bejeweled Gatekeeper... The Dwarapalaka with innumerable Ornaments at Halebeedu

Dancing Ganesha, Halebeedu
The Dance King... Nataraja

Lord Subramanya

Govardhanadhari Krisha having whole village in it at Halebeedu

Enjoyed the Droplets , To Get an out of the world experience the Real thing... Visit Belur/Halebied/Somanathpur !!!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Madambakkam Temple Walk: When Curd Meant Fortune.

Skanda at the entrance of Madambakkam Temple

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
- Gautam Buddha

The above quote perfectly summarizes the topic on which I am going to touch upon today. A walk , an effort to reach out and conserve our heritage. A Walk which started with a single step that has now become an achievement of sorts for one person,Heritage Enthusiast Pradeep Chakravarthy.
The Date was 30th Oct 2010 and I was raring to participate in my first "Walk". But there were dark clouds looming large in the skies threatening to ruin my plan. The weather Forecast was also not any heartening. I was praying to rain gods to delay their plans if any for the evening.

The Walk was called "Temple Walk" arranged by the Pradeep. The walk mostly is mostly topical in nature. The walk I was going to attend was happening in Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple. The temple has a long history having got patronage from different dynasties starting from Cholas to Vijayanagar Empire. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is near to my place in Chennai so there was a strong reason to attend the Walk. (For More Info on the temple, please refer to Reference Section)

Beautiful Image of a Damsel at the Entrance of the temple

I reached the destination half an hour before so I don't miss on anything. There I met fellow Heritage Enthusiasts from different walks of life having a high pride and passion. Meeting fellow Enthusiasts was very pleasing experience and knowing that there are many who share you interest is a very satisfying experience. The meeting was more as ever special as that fellow enthusiasts who came were truly interested lot as they braved gloomy weather and not so heartening forecast.

Pradeep came before time and was raring to start the walk. His excitement was evident by his way of speech and expressions. His excitement rubbed off on us also in a way.

History behind the Temple

After a small introduction the Walk began with a nice recital of a verse from Arunagirinathar's Magnum opus Thiruppugazh in his Poetic voice. The Literary work has the oldest mention of the temple. This bit of information was bit surprising to me as I always thought this temple being revered as a Shiva Temple only. 

Figures which has the features of Far East 

Pradeep then dwelt upon the history of temple with specific mention of the Beautiful Pillars in the Mandapam. He informed us that temple was built by the minister  Anirudha Bramadhirajan of  Sundara Chola (10th AD) , father of Great Raja Raja Chola . The area was known as Anirudhamangalam during Chola's era.It was fascinating to know that Anirudha is the main character in Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan. . It was recommended that we read this great work of art to know more about Chola Empire .This great work of art has helped in igniting the minds of many on drawing attention to heritage.

The Madambakkam of today started as a small hamlet which prospered around this temple built during Sundara Chola's time. The interesting point to note is that in due course of time, the fortune of this temple reversed as it got the ownership of the whole province from the Vijayanagar Rulers. Thus having a meteoric rise in its stature.

An Epigraphist's Dream

Inscriptions were diligently employed by Chola rulers to record the history and what better place to store them than temples.These inscriptions acted as a sign post of King's Accomplishments and Records for the eternity to see. The story is no different in Madambakkam temple. 

The Present Sanctum Sanctorum  (Garbha Griha) enshrining the Shiva Linga , being the oldest structure in the temple  is shaped in the form of Elephant's Back commonly known as Gajaprishtam in architecture sense. The outer walls of the Sanctum Sanctorum and its adjoining walls are of great interest to the Epigraphists. 

Being as it the replete with inscriptions from different dynasties. Pradeep informed us that inscription were written from Bottom's Up i.e. Oldest inscriptions will be at the bottom.There is a also a small reference to Sundara Pandyan which is a rarity.

Vijayanagar Empire's Contribution

The Considerable built up around the Sanctum Sanctorun is supposed to have come up during the reign of Kulotunga Chola I which was enhanced by the later dynasties specifically the Vijayanagara Empire.It was pointed out to us that the construction during Chola Era seems to be have done with lot of time to spare whereas there is sense of hurried when it comes to that of Vijayanagar Empire Structures. Even then there was commendable job done by the Vijayanagar Sculptors. The Major addition being the Pillared Mandapam (Hall) and the outer Fortified Walled Perimeter.  

Vijayanagar Sculptors seemed to have had a tough time as the empire was in constant war with Muslim invaders who were bent upon destroying temples. A reminder of the hard times faced is the incomplete Gateway without a Gopuram topping it.

Even then the commitment shown by these artists even in the hard times is really commendable.One can only imagine how the temple would have looked in its complete form with enchanting Gopuram and Completed Mandapams. The explanation by Pradeep really took us back into the Chola Era.

Corporate Governance, Chola Style!

Even though Chola Empire at its zenith stretched till Vietnam, the Empire was held together in an ingenious way by the Chola rulers. It is amazing to note that in the age when there were no emails or faster transportation modes, Chola rulers kept the empire in good shape for a long period of time. We were enlightened on how the Chola rulers employed ministers purely on the basis of merit and delegated the complete authority to govern the provinces assigned to them under the governance of body called "Mahasabha".  

There is a reference of Madambakkam Mahasabha in one of the  inscriptions found in Varaha Swami Temple of Tiruvadandai, Chingleput Taluk, Chingleput District which show the coordination between various Mahasabhas. (Please refer to reference Section)

Pradeep underlined on how this implementation stands out as a Classic and Historic case of Modern Corporate Governance. A perfect example can be seen in the case of Anirudha who was Brahmin by caste. 

Flag Post at Madambakkam Temple

The highly developed Local Governance which existed at Chola times will put to shame the current setup. It was not only the set of rules but the way it was whole heartedly implemented made this setup a huge success and guiding factor behind the acclaimed rule of Chola Dynasty. The World Famous Uttaramerur inscriptions are the living example of the Legislative Assemblies that were employed in Chola times to govern the Local provinces.
One of the major duties of these provincial heads was to collect various types of  taxes and fill the treasury of the empire. In return Kings gifted these ministers with lavish titles and gifts to maintain motivation levels. It was highlighted that how these Kings employed the Modern Motivation Theories (Maslow) without going to any Business Schools in their day to day Governance. The policy of give and take was employed at the highest levels during Chola times. The Optimal implementation of Johari Window Principle had worked wonders during this era i.e. you are OK and I am OK 

The Strange case of the Curd

Inscriptions in the temple show that the donors to the temple who mainly took the responsibility of maintaining the Oil lamps were asked to help in generation of Curd and upkeep of the Cattle. The Generation of Curd was given the highest importance and given a status of a Fortune. It is amazing to note that how the importance of simple items like curd in today’s time played such a important role in ancient times.

Taxes Galore!

Inscriptions in the temple shed a good amount of light on the taxes that were existent during the times of different Dynasties. These taxes also give a fair amount of idea on the type of commerce that was prevalent.

Some of the taxes that are mentioned in the inscriptions are:
  • Fishing Tax (Erri Meen Pattam)  
  • Farming Tax
  • Market Tax (Sandhai Mudhal)
  • House Tax (Vasal Vari)
  • Weaver Tax
  • Tax collected for Village Watchman
We ended our walk with a message from Pradeep that we should be proud of our heritage and contribute in conservation of our rich heritage which is getting lost due to ignorance and unscientific restoration.

Once a highly influential province, Madambakkam of today is now a outskirt of Chennai city but in some ways it has helped the place mantain its erstwhile charm. We left the place energized and with the exciting thought of joining Pradeep in his next walk which is scheduled to take place at Velacherry's Ancient Dhandeeswarar temple.

Interested in joining us! Please Contact Pradeep (

As always your feedback is highly appreciated ! Your feedback will help me in giving you better info.


It is interesting to note the Origin of the names of the vicinity:

Madam Originated from the word for Cow in Tamil and also due to the Dhenu from Dhenupureeswarar, which means Cow in Sanskrit.

Rajakilapakkam or Rajakizhapakkam
Supposed to have come up because the Chola kings seem to have to come to village to visit the temple which he saw in his dream and met the common people. that is why Raja (King) + Kizha (Came Down to meet public).


Below is the Extract from Thiruppugazh (Courtesy:

701 Thodurung Kuzhai 

Thodu Urum Kuzhaiyale Kol Valai Cudu Sem Kaikalale: With Their Ears Wearing The Stud Called Thodu And Swinging Ear-Studs, With Their Reddish Arms Wearing Robust Bangles, 

Yazh Tharu Keetha Men Kuralale Thu Mani Nakaiyale: With Their Sweet And Soft Voice That Sounds Like The Music From Yazh (A String Instrument), With Their Pure And Sparkling Teeth, 

Thumam Men Kuzhalale Uriya Then Ilangu Ithazhale Ala Vilosanangalinale Sopitha Azhakale: With Their Silk-Soft Hair Dried In The Smoke Of Fragrant Incence, With Their Moist Lips Tasting Like Honey-Drip, With Their Eyes That Look Like Alakala Poison, With The Radiance From Those Eyes, 

Padakam Punai Thalale Mika Veesu Than Pani Neerale Valar Para Kongaikalale Koliya Vilai Mathar: With Their Feet Adorned By The Anklet, Padakam, And With Their Huge Bosom Spruced Up By Smearing It With Aromatic Rose Water, These Whores Hook And Pull (Men) Towards Them; 

Pavakangalinale Yan Mayal Muzhki Ninru Ayarathe: Lest I Am Enticed By Their Treacherous Acts And Drown In Delusive Passion, 

Nupura Patha Pangayam Meethe Alvathu Karuthayo: Will You Not Kindly Consider Taking Me On Your Lotus Feet Adorned With Anklets? 

Nada Arum Sudar Thana Othu Siva Akamangkalin Nana Petha Anatha(Ne): In The Treatises Of Siva Agamas Which Describe Lord Siva As An Effulgence Beyond Comprehension Of Any One Who Seeks To See It, You Are Praised By Several Diverse Principles As The Supreme Lord Who Does Not Have Any One Superior To Him! 

Thanthra Kala Ma Pothaka Vadivaki Nal Vitham Tharu Vetha: He Is Of The Form Of Pure Knowledge As Described In Scriptures On Meditation (Manthra) And Mysticism; He Is Lord Brahma Who Preaches The Four Vedas, Namely, Rigg, Yajur, Samam And Atharvanam; 

Vethamum Nadi Ninrathu Or Maya Atheetha Manolayam Tharu Natha Ariru Puyavele: He, Along With The Vedas, Seeks You As The Lord Who Transcends Beyond The Reach Of The Matchless Delusion And One Who Gives Tranquility! You Are The Lord With Twelve Hallowed Shoulders! 

Val Thayangiya Velale Poru Cur Thadinthu Arul Veera Ma Mayil Eru Kantha Vinotha Kuru Ena: "Oh Valorous One, You Destroyed The Battling Demon Suran With Your Bright Spear! You Mount The Great Peacock As Your Vehicle, Oh Kandha! You Are Full Of Miracles! Please Teach Me!" - 

Aranar Mun Vasakam Piravathor Njana Suka Uthayam Pukal Vasa Thesika: So Said Lord Siva To Whom You Preached The Meaning Of Pranava Manthra That Generates A Bliss Of Knowledge That Cannot Be Created Through Description By Words, Oh Great Master! 
Madaiyam Pathi Vazhve Thevarkal Perumale.: You Have An Abode In Madambakkam*, Oh Great
 Treasure; And You Are The Lord Of The Celestials, Oh Great One!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Beautiful Ganesha Pictures

Dear All,

Sharing the Pics of Beautifully done Ganesha's Decoration by the temple priest during Chathurthi Celebration at my locality VGP Srinivasa Nagar Rajakilapakkam Chennai.

The Original Idol has only one head, the decoration doesnt give the sense of that at all !!!

Hope you all will enjoy the pics

As Always your feedback is highly appreciated....

Beautiful Ganesha / Vinayaka Decoration

Sunday, 12 September 2010

MAHABALIPURAM: Unfinished Poetry in Stone: – A Layman’s Review

“A Picture is worth thousand Words”

I was always looking for a book on Mahabalipuram which is at a layman level explains the treasures of Mahabalipuram offered. Even though there are many books on Mahabalipuram but I found most of them having lot of texts or having low resolution Illustrations. I am that kind of a person who doesn’t like to read too much of text sans illustrations or few. Let us admit, learning History through Amar Chitra Katha was far more interesting and intriguing than reading our School Texts. That is Amar Chitra Katha Stories are still one of the most sought after Comics and Collector’s Item.
Even during my recent visit to Mahabalipuram, I Missed a companion and a guide as I found that even the ASI approved guides lacked basic information on the sites and in fact were concocting their own version which I found very disturbing. I believe misinformation is more dangerous than having no information at all.
When I posed the Query to my good friend and Architecture Guru VJ, he asked me wait for sometime as his Guru Mr S Swaminathan (A Heritage Expert) was in process of compiling a book on Mahabalipuram. Knowing VJ’s Taste and Knowledge, I was sure that it is going to be a masterpiece and decided to wait for the Book.
After a while, the much awaited news came in the form of a post in VJ’s Magnum Opus (, in which he informed on the Book Finally coming out of the press and finally within the reach of the patrons. Being Impatient and Eager to get my hands on the book which is still awaiting a Formal Launch, I contacted Mr Ashok Krishnaswamy through his email id ( available on VJ’s Post.
Frankly speaking, before getting my hands on the book I could gauge that the book is going to be par excellence. My self-belief was the outcome from two aspects; the person who recommended (VJ) and the author Mr S Swaminathan.
I am very delighted to say that I was right; the Book is really a masterpiece which has not been attempted till now on Mahabalipuram. I would like to thank and Wish all the people involved in making of this masterpiece.
The Fun ride starts right from the title itself; Mahabalipuram “Unfinished Poetry in Stone” which is totally apt. Association of the sculpting to the Poetry portrays the passion of the author towards the subject.

The Chapters in the book flows like a soothing stream of a river, portraying the author knowledge of the subject and most importantly its readers. Starting from the brief introduction to South Indian Temple Architecture, the author gradually takes the reader to the Pallava Temple Architecture and then finally to the “Unfinished Poetry in Stone” i.e. Mahabalipuram. I have never such a detailed and interesting explanation of Panels like Arjuna’s Penance. The level of importance given to readers is highly appreciable.

The Icing on the cake is splendid and articulate photography by Mr. Ashok Krishnaswamy. A Heritage enthusiast himself, his photographs portrays and answers many questions we as a viewer and reader have regarding various works of arts in Mahabalipuram. Once you start going through pages you will find it hard very hard it keep the book down. The glossary at the end of the book supplements the main text in very nice way.
Finally I got what I was longing for so long and I strongly believe that it will be answer to many of the heritage enthusiasts like me and you. Our Companion to Next Trip to Mahabalipuram has finally arrived.
My Sincere Request to the author is to bring out a similar work on Kailasanatha Temple of Kanchi.
Just Go For it !!!! I Say !

Now for the benefit of enthusiasts, the book is available on Flipkart !

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Beautiful India

Hi All,

I would like to share two Snaps which I could not resist taking en route to Chennai !

Missed having my camera handy so had to use my mobile.....

Hope you will like it :)

Beautiful India

As every time .... your feedback is highly appreciated !!!!

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Today I would like to share with you all, information about a Dedicated Organization formed with a dedicated goal of not only preserving our heritage but also informing us all on how to carry forward the gift of our ancestors forward.

REACH is involved in lot of great works including renovation work at Kailasanatha Temple Uttaramerur and Varadharajan Temple at Kanchipuram.Headed by Great Person like Mr Satyamurthy (Ex- ASI Chief, Southern Region), the group is proactive in its methods which enable it to find places which are remotest of remote. The like minded members of the groups are its major strength and act as a source of inspiration for many like us.

One thing I like the most about the Organization is that REACH makes learning about the past an enjoyable experience by combining the Stalwarts from the respective fields like Epigraphy using innovative means like Field Trips and Seminars. The regular course in Epigraphy is one of REACH's famous activities.

Instead me commenting more on them , I would like you all to see the work Done by the Group which shows their Dedication and Spirit.

Please find Links related to Organization below:

Happy Reading !

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Hesaraghatta Grasslands : Savannah of Bangalore

While attending a photography workshop by famous photographer Mahesh Bhat ( recently , I came across one of the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. The place is a breeding ground for some migratory birds of prey from Central Asia like Brahmani Kite. This place is also home to the endangered primate Slender Loris.

It is surprising to note that there are so many hidden gems near us waiting to be explored. So What are you waiting for , pack your backs (don't forget your camera) and get going !!!

The place needs conservation and our attention as the possibility of it becoming a victim of Blind "Development" that is plaguing the Bangalore is looming large.

Lets hope that this unique place remains the same for the times to come.

I have shared different facets of the place for you to enjoy !!!

Other Places to visit:
  • Hessarghatta Lake: is a favorite spot for Bird Watchers. It was once a major source of Water for Bangalore.
  • Nrityagram: This "Village" of Dance is worth a visit for Classical Dance Lovers.

Different Texture of Nature in Hessaraghatta

Thursday, 7 January 2010

"Pillars" of Vijayanagara Architecture - Kancheepuram

Kancheepuram, a city famed for its multitude of Temples, is a microcosm of different styles of Dravidian Art and Architecture. Every dynasty that held sway over this sacred land seem to have competed with each other in building more elaborate and exquisite structures, the highlight being that they built new without destroying the older ones. Thus each Dynasty left its indelible mark in the form of architectural Splendors.

In my Previous Post I had covered a Masterpiece of the Pallava King Rajasimha, Continuing the emphasis on Kancheepuram, I will be covering an exquisite piece of art gifted to us by the Vijayanagara Dynasty this Time.

It is said that one should not judge a book by it cover and the same holds true for this structure.Sporting a very humble appearance from outside this structure holds a Treasure Chest in terms of Art and Architecture.

A Simple Looking Rusty 100 Pillar Hall from a Distance at Varadaraja swamy temple in Kanchi

"Noor Kaal Mandapam" (Hundred Pillar Hall) in Sri Varadaraja Swami Temple is a lesson in architecture by itself. The ceiling of the hall is supported by some of the most exquisitely carved Pillars one can ever see. In Middle of the hall we have a raised Stage for the Gods to be Kept during Temple Festivals. These Pillars are the epitome of hard work and perfection. Surrounding these Huge pillars.

The love of Horses has resulted in created a unique style of Vijayanagara architecture which is visible in Srirangam also.Mainly Consisting of Different scenes of Horsemen in various Poses from war, each sporting a unique headgear; This hall stands as a testimony to Vijayanagar Empire's Flourishing Trade with Outside World and their Advancement. Many Horses from Arab were brought by Vijayanagar Emperors and also many Arabs and Portuguese were recruited in the army.

Same Diversity is reflected in these pillars also. We see in these pillars , people from different walks of life, be it a native, an Arabian or a Portuguese. Also seen in the same complex are different facets of Vishnu's Avataar and scenes from day to day life.

During my second trip to the temple, I was fortunate enough to see this work of art in detail. I would like to share some of the glimpses of the craftsmanship below for you all to enjoy.
There are many "Easter Eggs" for visitors to find here... So one should be slow and steady when observing this work of art.

I have tried to present some of the gems from this treasure of art below:

The surprises starts at the entrance itself with a life size Beautifully Carved Yaali
(Mythical Creature) on the Outer Side of the Step Support.

On the other side, a Small Beautifully Carved Krishna. Mesmerizing to see.
What a contrast Big Outside and Small inside.

Surprises Everywhere, in Nook and Corner
(A Mother Preparing to Feed her Baby)

Bow of Shiva being brought for Sita's Marriage

Rama getting ready to tie the Bow
(Note the Dance Like Posture and the Holding of Bow.. Artistic ! )

A Lady in thoughtful Mood
(Probably Sita in Ashoka vanam)

An Insider's View

The Human Wheel

The Divine Tank and the Mandapam under which the original Diety (Atti Varadar) is in a silver casket . The deity is taken out every forty years for 45 to 48 days .The last occasion was in 1979 and the next will be around 2019...

The Horse Rider (An Arab) with Coat and Trouser
(We are talking 15th Century here)

A Vijayanagar Style  Hunting Scene in Progress
(A Well Coordinated Attack)

Other Side of the Above Image

Musical Weapon - Xylophone in Stone
(Vijayanagar Sculptors had mastered the art of creating musical instruments out of Stone)

Another instance of Xylophone in Stone

A Lady getting ready for an Outing?
(So it seems.....)

Actually she is getting ready to feed her baby and is covering the Baby

A Conjoined Triplets

A Native Riding a Horse with his Support Person
(Notice the attire of the Support Staff, It is a trouser and Coat probably a Portuguese)

As in all the Pillars here , The above is also sculpted out of Single Stone !
(Simply Marvelous)

Notice the Attire Posture and Expression of the Horse !

Chain made of Single piece of Stone are at all corners of Hall
(This particular chain was broken and mended with a steel link)

At the End of the Chain there are parrots having a fest on a flower
(What a Masterstroke from the Sculptor, Just can't imagine the effort involved)

A Life Size like figure of Rathi riding on her Parrot

Monkey Business: A Sculptor's Imagination (Of the same stone as Rooftop)
(A Monkey Playing Spoilsport among Pigeons)

A Cat on the Prowl
(Carved out of Roof Top, Just Incredible)

Love is Blind, So is the Spectator !
(Two Pigeons Embracing & A Pigeon busy viewing even though there is a vicious cat on charge literally on their Back)

I Hope that I have created enough Curiosity in all of you to visit the place with Lots of Time in hand.

As you can see in many pictures, the sands of time have literally put a layer on these sculptures but when i visited the site there was a restoration process was in progress. Hope that this will bring out the original beauty of these Sculptures to the forefront.
As always, request you to give your valuable feedback !

Note Of Thanks: I would like to thank my friend Vijay and Mr. Vinayagamurthy for making my visit a grand Success.

About the Place: Being one of the Most revered Site esp. of Vaishnavite, the main shrine of temple is built on a small hillock known as Hastagiri. Adding to the sanctity of this temple is the Ancient and Original Idol of the Temple which is made up Atthi Maram (Fig Tree Wood).
There is a unique custom associated with this idol; the Idol is safely stored in a silver Casket in the Temple Tank and Taken out only once in 40 years. The place was frequented by Vedanta Vaishnavite Guru Sri Ramanujan and his search for his eternal guru got fulfilled here.