Mahendra, son of Ashoka is said to have visited his mother in Vidisa who took him up to the beautiful monastery of Vedisagiri built by herself. The above lines found in the Chronicles of Srilanka remain the only testament to the connection between the Maurya’s and Sanchi.
The foundation of the great religious establishment at Sanchi can be attributed to Ashoka (273 – 236 BC). Selection of the hill top to build the stupa might be to give a concrete shape to the newly aroused zeal for Buddhism in the emperor, who is said to have opened up seven out of eight original stupas erected over the body-relics of Buddha and to have distributed the relics among innumerable stupas built by himself all over his empire.
Preservation efforts for this World Heritage Site started in the 19th century. Most of the monuments had to rebuilt with scattered remains. I found the site to be clean and well maintained.
I decided to write this post to elaborate on cultural and philosophical aspects of erotic sculptures found at Khajuraho. Reading about the origins of artistic expressions of erotica in India, made me want to write this little post about the origin and consequences.
Sexual Scenes In Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
Khajuraho. I was there at last. As an acute sense of elation filled me, I momentarily forgot the horrendous journey that I had to take from Jabalpur to get here. The heavy rains only added to pitiful road conditions resulting in a tiresome six-hour drive. My situation worsened on deciding to stay in the first guest house I could find. The room rents were slightly on the higher side considering it’s an off season. With no energy to hunt around for accommodation, I settled on what I have. Rain continued to lash out its fury on the sacred village as I tucked myself in for a quick nap.
Khajuraho - Western Group Of Temples
That fateful day dawned at Ujjain. Ujjain was not part of my plan. So why did I go there? Did lord Shiva lure me? No! a fatso did. More on that a little later, but for now I was on my way to Gwalior. It was a hot and humid day. Driving on the worst road of the trip, my car got stuck in mud twice. Combination of German engineering and Indian driving skills saved the day. Me and my friends needed a good bath and so did my car. No sooner than we entered the city, we drove straight to a car wash. We were so exhausted, and sight seeing plans that evening was called off.
Driving 35kms from Orchha, I entered a little town called Datia. Following the direction showed by my hungry stomach led me to this little town. I had not eaten anything since morning and was looking for a good meal. Little did I know that this part of the country does not wake up for the most important meal of the day. Having repeatedly shown a sweet shop as a place for breakfast, I settled for a sweet beginning. The owner of the shop pointed me to a interesting palace tucked away inside the noisy little town. The Palace was no different from the one I saw in Orchha.
Madhya Pradesh! My eyes lit up like the young kid in that cartoon. Clouds of thoughts zoomed into my crowded brain as I kept remembering hot jelabis and world heritage sites (well, not exactly in that order). Ok, So MP! That’s where I was headed to. And ground zero was Jabalpur. It was a wet day and my car struggled to stay on the highway road to Jabalpur. With hunger pangs constantly reminding me to fill my stomach, I pulled out the day-old sandwich that my mother had packed for me. After some time of travelling, it started to rain and I stopped for lunch just a few kilometers away from Nagpur.
The man wearing a Gandhi cap peered into the small window of my car to answer a question I had asked a few seconds ago in my amateurish incoherent Kannada. “Saar, pattadakal dhaari Ghota?” (Sir, do you know the route to pattadakal?). After staring blankly for a second, he replied in Hindi “Aap raste peeche chod diya ” (You have already crossed the route). After a few moments of highly detailed route discussion with him waving his hands to aid my understanding, I bid farewell to the kind stranger. Driving through bumpy narrow roads was not the first time for me, but driving through slush on both sides of roads was. The small village of Pattadakal greeted me with an eerie silence. The first sign of life came in the form of boy who popped out of nowhere to sell photographs of the village. The person at the ticket counter demanded Rs.100 from us, which we knew was the fare for foreigners. Now, this situation leaves two conclusions: either we were badly dressed that we were assumed to be ‘phirangis’ or maybe spotting visitors on a historical site on the day of the world cup cricket finals raised eyebrows. Whatever the reason, we had the whole site for us to explore in silence.
There is always this feeling I get. When I go to an ancient place. The feeling of déjà-vu. Aihole made me ‘relive’ my king days. Yes, you heard it right. As a thick blanket of dust engulfed the road I travelled to reach this little village Aihole, I couldn’t help but get perplexed at the importance this place demands as being the prototype of ancient temple architecture in the country. Now to the ‘king’ feeling! At the sight of my car entering the village, a horde of little children came running behind the car. A brief moment of stolen smugness engulfed me as I wonder if the great Chalukyan king Pulikesi would have been greeted the same way, with small hands waving and shrill voices praising him. Then of course, reality in the form of logic shatters my delusion when I learned that the children were only following the car to return a piece of metal that fell off it. With the noise of kids fighting over a candy bar fading away, I entered the first temple Huchchimalli Gudi, as a commoner.
During my recent visit to Sonda, i visited Banavasi, known to be the capital of The Kadambas, oldest royal dynasty of Karnataka. The town of Banavasi was known by many names such as ‘Jayanthipura’ or ‘Vaijayanthipura’ during the Kadamba period and Vijaynagara inscriptions indicates that it was called ‘Kanakavathi’ during the 14th century. Whatever may be the name, the ancient town of Banavasi has its share of fascinating history. Although i did not have time to explore the whole town and its surroundings, i was able to visit the famous Madhukeshwara Temple. The temple is known to have been built by the Kadambas.
During my recent trip to Kundapura city near Udupi, Karnataka i chanced upon a strange temple called Nandikeshwara. I was told that all the idols were made of wood. This temple is considered to be atleast 1000 years old. However the temple has a modern building outlook. My guess would be that the temple was rebuilt after it was demolished. Situated in a remote place near Saibrakatte, its said to attract large crowd during Shankranthi festival.