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Review: Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand, Norway—a Grand Tradition of Hospitality

Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand

Kviknes Hotel—this tradition of hospitality at Balholm stretches back to 1752. The Kvikne family, who own the hotel, took over in 1877, marking the start of fast-paced development, which continues to this day. The hotel was built in the Swiss chalet style; the original character of the palace has been left unchanged despite several new buildings, rebuilding, and extensions.

Waterfront of Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand

Kviknes is a modern hotel with soul and atmosphere, and is one of the largest tourist hotels in Norway. The hotel has 190 rooms: 25 rooms in the historic Swiss chalet-style building and 165 in the modern building from the 1960s (in the Late Modern style). The hotel has a long list of prominent guests and has amassed a collection of works of art and treasures that adorn the hotel and contribute to its unique style.

Distinctive Furniture and Fjord Views

Historic Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand

Activities and special features: Fjaerland and Norwegian glacier museum, the Flam railway, the Naeroyfjord, magnificent walking terrain in the mountains. Beautiful biking and walking along the fjord. Free use of rowing boat and fishing gear, good bathing facilities for residents. The Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery is in Flam.

Activities around Balestrand Kviknes Hotel

Balestrand’s Kviknes Hotel: Named “Best Historic Hotel of Europe by the Water 2014”

Kviknes Hotel - The Jewel of the Sognefjord

Kviknes Hotel is the classy Grande dame of Balestrand, dominating the town and packed with tour groups. The picturesque wooden hotel—and five generations of the Kvikne family—have welcomed tourists to Balestrand since the late 19th century.

Kviknes Hotel - Picturesque Wooden Hotel

The hotel has two parts: a new wing, and the historic wooden section, with 17 older, classic rooms, and no elevator. All rooms come with balconies. The elegant Old World public spaces in the old section make you want to just sit there and sip tea all afternoon.

Kviknes Hotel Balestrand - Swiss Chalet Style

Part of the Kviknes ritual is gorging on the store Koldtbord buffet dinner—open to non-guests, and a nice way to soak in the hotel’s old-time elegance without splurging on an overnight.

Balestrand Kviknes Hotel Buffet

Kviknes Hotel offers a splendid store Koldtbord buffet dinner in a massive yet stately old dining room. For a memorable fjord-side smorgasbord experience, it does not get any better than this. Do not rush.

Koldtbord Buffet at Kviknes Hotel

Consider taking a preview tour—surveying the reindeer meat, lingonberries, and fjord-caught seafood—before you dive in, so you can budget your stomach-space. Get a new plate with each course and save room for dessert. Each dish is labeled in English.

Old-fashioned Furniture and Fjord Views at Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand

After dinner, head into the rich lounge to pick up your cup of coffee or tea (included), which you will sip sitting on classy old-fashioned furniture and basking in fjord views.

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Glimpses of History #11: Unified Egypt

History of Unified Ancient Egypt

In one of the most important occurrences in the history of Africa, the first steps toward food production were initiated in its northeast corner. The area, now occupied by Egypt and Sudan, was the ground for initial attempts to keep cattle from an African stock. It was also the area that hosted the beginnings of cultivating cereals and of herding sheep and goats introduced from Southwest Asia.

Once agriculture arrived from Mesopotamia, Egyptian civilization evolved rapidly. It centered around the predictable regular flooding of the Nile River, which provided both irrigation and fertile silt. The Pharoah, treated as a living god, was thought to ensure both sunrise and river tides through various rites, recorded in hieroglyphic (‘priest-script’) texts. Two major kingdoms established: Lower Egypt around the Nile Delta, and Upper Egypt, bordering Sudan. Traditionally, the two were unified by the Pharaoh Menes around 3000 BCE. Menes founded Egypt’s First Dynasty (of 31 in total). Shortly afterwards, a new capital, Memphis, was built. Dynasties came and went recurrently, with major regional conflicts and civil wars defining the Old, Middle and New Kingdom periods.

The first step pyramid, built by the brilliant architect Imhotep about 2630 BCE, was a natural progression of the mastaba tombs—Khufu’s Great Pyramid, built a thousand years later, is the sole survivor of Herodotus’s Seven Wonders of the World.

Rituals and Rites of Ancient Egypt

The beginning of kings and chiefs was linked to the development of a belief in cosmic forces responsible for the generation (birth) and regeneration (resurrection) of life. Cows, already sacred in the African Sahara as indicated by elaborate cow burials, became life-giving deities, and kings became identified with bulls. The iconography of deities on decorated Nagada II pottery showed the cow goddess at the top of the palette associated with Narmer (5,000 BCE), the founder of a unified Egypt. Cows ultimately came to represent many of the earliest Egyptian goddesses, who were symbols of birth, nurturing, and protection. Local political centers in the Nile Valley were, moreover, identified with local cult standards and centers. Many of these centers developed into towns with large graveyards.

Pyramid building was a prominent characteristic of the Old Kingdom. The first pyramid was the Step Pyramid at Sakkara, built by King Djoser (c. 2667-2640 BCE) in the Third Dynasty, the first example of a pyramid and also of monumental architecture in stone. The Step Pyramid Complex developed out of the earlier royal burials at Abydos, where a squared mound covered the burial and a separate, large, rectangular enclosure provided space for royal rituals. By the Fourth Dynasty, the stepped pyramid had developed into a true pyramid, as seen best in the famous pyramids at Giza.

In the Fifth Dynasty, pyramid building persisted, although on a much reduced scale. Rather than a massive pyramid protecting the king’s body for his afterlife, each Fifth Dynasty king also built a sun temple complex, connecting his afterlife with the eternal cycle of the sun. By the time of the Sixth Dynasty, pyramid texts carved in the burial chambers of the royal pyramids guaranteed that the king awakened from death and joined the gods in heaven.

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Temples on the Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

Hemakuta, literally meaning gold hillock, is one of the most charming hillocks in Hampi. It is dotted by over fifty structures of different types—including temples, mandapas, galleries, and gateways of various dimensions.

Though Hampi itself is characterized as a garden of boulders, the Hemakuta hill takes a major share in this compliment. Every boulder here tells a story of mythological and folk nature and takes the visitor to an era of religion and romance. Shiva and Parvati become closer to the visitor at this hill and it gives a rare experience of unalloyed joy.

Actually, it is a fortified area, which has three entrances in east, north, and south. Originally, some of the temples of this hill were taken to be Jain basadis but now it has been proved beyond doubt that they are Shaiva temples. In fact all the temples of this area are Shaivite ones. Another point of interest is some of these temples were built in the fourteenth century (early Vijayanagara period).

Mythological and Folk History of Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

Located to the south of the famous Virupaksha temple, which has one of the tallest gopuras (170 ft), the other temples at Hemakuta are smaller ones and one can easily see a contrast. Thus, there is might and elegance side by side on this hillock.

Another interesting feature of this area is the presence of one celled (ekakuta), double celled (dvikuta) and three celled (trikuta) temples near to each other. These temples though small in dimensions arrest our attention by the northern type (nagara) sikharas almost in a cluster.

Ekakuta, Dvikuta, Trikuta - Celled Temples in Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

  • A ekakuta temple has a garbhagriha, antarala and a navaranga. The navaranga has kakshasana (stone bench) on the three sides. It is a granite temple with Kadamba Nagara sikhara.
  • The twin temple has two garbhagrihas, two antaralas and two navarangas with two entrances. The sikharas belong to a type called Kalinga Nagara. It was built by Kampilaraya of Kummatadurga.
  • The third temple is a trikuta (three celled) and it was built by Kampilaraya, son of Mummadi Singeya Nayaka. It has three garbhagrihas in three directions, with a common navaranga and a mandapa. Nearby is another trikuta temple also built by Kampilaraya.

Shaiva Architecture of Panaromic Hemakuta Hill, Hampi

All the garbhagrihas originally had Shivalingas. Thus, the Hemakuta hill presents a panoramic view of Shaiva architecture of a unique type.

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Glimpses of History #10: Babylon

City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia

Notwithstanding its lack of native stone or wood, Mesopotamia gave rise to noteworthy empires from crowded cities such as Babylon, Ur, Jericho, Samara and later Nineveh. Many of these empires are remembered as tyrannical (though of course records such as the Bible are history written by the vanquished).

Babylon was an important city-state of ancient Mesopotamia. Its remains can be found just south of Baghdad in present-day Iraq. Founded as a relatively small town around the beginning of the third millennium BCE, Babylon has been at the center of the rise and fall of a number of important dynasties and empires, including the Amorite, Hittite, Kassite, and Assyrian.

The City of Babylon is the capital of Babylonia and one of the most famous cities of antiquity. The ruins of the ancient city lie about 60 miles south of Baghdad, near the Hilla Canal of the Euphrates.

Ishtar Gate, Eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon Founded by Sumu-abum in 1894 BCE, Babylon rose to imperial status under Hammurabi (1792–1750 BCE). Many features of later cities developed here: written law, schools, taxes, shops and traffic: wheels, initially used for pottery, were now so common on carts that roads were purpose-built. The Babylonian number system, based on divisions of 60, is still at the center of our systems of geometry and timekeeping. Babylon ruled Mesopotamia for over a century, and later (after conquest by the Hittites, and Assyrian rule) was growing under Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BCE), when it attacked Egypt and sacked Jerusalem, Tyre and Nineveh. The reassembled city and Hanging Gardens persisted for centuries.

The earliest mention of Babylon comes from the time of the Dynasty of Akkad (2360—2180 BCE). The city of Babylon was well known to Greek and Roman historians. The Greek historian Herodotus, who may have visited the city in the fifth century BCE (or based his account on the reports of observers), wrote that “it surpasses in splendor any city of the known world.” Classical authors also credited Babylon with one of the ancient wonders of the world: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Babylonian Captivity is the detention of the Israelites in Babylon, lasting from their deportation by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 bc until their release by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. It is taken as a type of grieving exile.

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Glimpses of History #9: Mesopotamia

Mesopotamian Civilization in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley

As the term is now used, Mesopotamia describes the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates spreading from the Kurdish foothills in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise in the Taurus and Zagros mountains (modern-day Turkey and Iraq’s Mosul region), flowing southeast to meet near Basra. The area between their near-parallel stretches was reliably fertile amid the surrounding desert, and gives rise to the Greek name ‘Mesopotamia’. 10,000-year-old pottery from the region traces the southward movement of settled farms as the climate altered. The Neolithic discovery of mutant grasses with distended seeds that were easier to separate from their plants soon led to deliberate cultivation. Emmer wheat, rye, barley and flax were selectively bred (though whether farmers realized this is debatable) and planted in oxen-ploughed fields. The advent of bronze made ploughing and harvesting less labor-intensive.

The need to predict and, to some extent, control water and crops tended towards priests, dynastic kings and permanent farms specializing in single crops. Similar processes occurred in the Indus valley of India and the Yellow River in China (where the staple cereal was early rice). As rice reached Mesopotamia and India, while bronze reached China, it is tempting to assume some exchanges took place, but the pattern of development may be coincidence. Mesoamerica followed a similar pattern, also apparently independently. Townships became more durable and fortified: Susa, in Iran, and Ur, near the confluence of the rivers, were cities by c.4400 BCE. Their bounty had to be recorded and protected, requiring both clerks and armies.

Mesopotamia

The most notable achievement of the Akkad Dynasty (2360—2180 B.C.) was the creation of the first world empire, and for this reason the Sargonids lived on in legend, not only in Sumerian and Akkadian, but also in Hurrian, Hittite, and Elamite.

The earliest tallies were recorded as impressions in soft clay, from which the earliest known alphabets and arithmetic developed around 3100 BCE—written ‘bustrophedon’ alternated left-to-right and right-to-left, as a plough does in a field. Pictographic notes, running top-to -bottom, predate these. The written form of the Sumerian language, transcribed as if spoken, begins c.2600 BCE; edicts and chronicles are accompanied by myths such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The script takes decades to learn, suggesting that it was limited to a specialized cadre (including women, to begin with). Many other specialists, notably architecture, carving, brewing and metallurgy, can also be identified. One tantalizing detail: a female tavern-keeper, Kug-Bau, is listed as king of Sumer after 2500 BCE, and later recognized with various mother-goddesses.

Ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq), one of the world’s longest (almost three thousand years old) and influential civilizations, remains the most concentrated archaeological site on Earth, a fact that incited outcry from researchers at the outset of the 1991 bombing of the Persian Gulf known as Operation Desert Storm. Throughout the history of Mesopotamia, its people interacted vigorously with their neighbors, warring, trading, migrating, and sharing ideas.

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History and Architecture of the Virupaksha (Pampapathi) Temple, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

History and Architecture of the Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

Sri Virupaksha or Pampapathi was the family deity of the early Vijayanagara kings and this was incorporated even in their sign manual as found in copper plate inscriptions.

Maharangamandapa of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

Situated on the southern bank of Tungabhadra river, the original temple with Virupaksha Sivalinga was perhaps first consecrated in the twelfth century A.D. With the establishment of the Vijayanagara kingdom additions were made twice. The first addition of a sabhamandapa took place during the period of King Mallikarjuna in the middle of the fifteenth century A.D. The second addition of a maharangamandapa took place during the period of Krishnadevaraya in 1510 A.D., to commemorate his coronation in 1509 A.D.

Dravidian Temple Architecture of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, sabhamandapa, and a maharangamandapa. The square garbhagriha has a Shiva Linga. It has a Dravidian type of sikhara with a kalasha on the top. The square sabhamandapa has four central pillars and sculptures of gods and goddesses of which Bedara Kannapp, Kiratarjuniya, Bhairava are important. It has two entrances at the north and south.

Balustraded Elephants of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi The maharangamandapa added by Krishnadevaraya contains 38 pillars with entrances on three sides with flights of steps decorated with balustraded elephants.

The pillars contain relief sculptures of Ramayana and Mahabharata. The ceilings have paintings of Tripurantaka, Parvati Kalyana, procession of Vidyaranya, etc. There are also stucco figures of Parvati Kalyana, Kalarimurti, Mahishamardini, etc.

Krishnadevaraya renovated the main eastern gopura, which is 170 feet in height, and it dominates the entire area. This main mahadvara or the gateway with its Dravidian gopura rises in ten diminishing tiers and is famous as ‘hiriya gopura’, meaning a huge gopura.

This gopura has many stucco figures and decorative elements. The Bhuvaneshwari shrine contains beautifully executed Chalukyan doorway and Chalukyan pillars of the twelfth century A.D.

Doorway and Chalukyan Pillars of Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

As this is a living temple, devotees throng the portals of this temple to worship at the shrine of the sacred Virupaksha linga and to see the remnants of the Vijayanagara architecture and sculpture.

Worship at the Shrine of the Sacred Virupaksha Linga in Virupaksha Pampapathi Temple, Hampi

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How England’s “Once Brewed” Hostel Near Hadrian’s Wall Got Its Name

Hadrian's Wall---Roman Fortification

Hadrian’s Wall—Roman Fortification

Hadrian’s Wall, near the Scottish border in northern England, was a continuous 20-foot-tall Roman fortification that guarded the northwestern frontier of the province of Britain from barbarian invaders.

Hadrian’s Wall extended from coast to coast across the width of northern Britain. The wall was built to control native movements across the frontier and for surveillance.

Emperor Hadrian, who ruled from 117 CE to 138 CE went to Britain in 122 CE and, in the words of his biographer, “was the first to build a wall, 80 miles long, to separate the Romans from the barbarians.” At every mile of the wall, a castle guarded a gate, and two turrets stood between each castle.

The flat-bottomed trench on the south side of the wall, called the vallum, was flanked by earthen ramparts and probably delineated a “no-man’s land” past which civilians were not allowed to pass. Between the vallum and the wall ran a service road called the Military Way. Another less-sophisticated trench ran along the north side of the wall.

Hadrian's Wall - Ruined Forts, Vallum and Noman's Land

Today, many portions of the wall, ruined forts, and museums delight history enthusiasts. Hadrian’s Wall is in vogue as a destination for multi-day hikes through the pastoral English countryside. The Hadrian’s Wall National Trail runs 84 miles, following the wall’s route from coast to coast. Through-hikers can walk the wall’s entire length in four to ten days.

In 1987 Hadrian’s Wall was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over the centuries, many sections of the wall have suffered damage caused by roads traversing it and by the plunder of its stones to build nearby houses and other structures. The best-preserved section runs along the Whin Sill towards the fort at Housesteads.

Northumberland National Park Centre

Youth Hostel Association “Once Brewed” and “Twice Brewed” at Hadrian’s Wall

YHA Once Brewed can be found on The Military Road (B6318) which runs parallel with the A69. B6318 trails Hadrian’s Wall for much of its length and the views over the rural area are dazzling. The YHA Once Brewed hostel is easily identified, the car park is just off the main road, and beside the Northumberland National Park Centre.

Folklore has it that when General Wade was building his military road to help deter anymore of the hostile Scottish Jacobite raiders, it is alleged that he got thirsty—and quite rightly so! So stopping for a swift ale at a convenient pub he was thrown in a terrible rage at the sheer lack of strength of the brew. The ale had been brewed in a typically northeastern way and he deemed it far too weak. Calling the landlord he raged: “this is extremely weak and undrinkable” whilst pointing to the offending pint he made the simple treat “I’ll be back here in a week’s time, I want the beer to be brewed again, or it’s the gallows for you!”

Twice Brewed Inn

So the landlord duly trembled, re-brewed the ale and satisfied the returning general a week later. The episode had progressed into a local (and slightly manufactured) legend, the military road is now romantically entitled the B6318, and however the pub next door is clinging onto the heritage and is named “Twice Brewed”

Youth Hostel Association “Once Brewed” Hostel at Hadrian’s Wall

In 1934 the Youth Hostels Association (the English- and Welsh-nonprofit that provides youth hostel accommodation in England and Wales) came along and converted a farmhouse into a hostel. Looking for a name they saw the pub enticingly next door, and with a gigantic leap of imagination called the new hostel “Once Brewed: opened by lady Trevelyan of Wallington Hall, a lifelong teetotaler she remarked “that shall only serve nothing but tea and that would be brewed once only.”

Youth Hostel Association 'Once Brewed' Hostel at Hadrian's Wall

That may not be anything like the real story however, (there are versions at least of the local legend, which gives the pub its name, normally involving roman wall builders pictish raiders instead of irate generals.)

“Twice Brewed” and Northumbrian Dialect

“Twice Brewed” probably derives from Northumbrian dialect, which means between two hills, or brews something, believed to be from drovers bringing the cattle down from the north looking for a gap between the two “brews” to shelter in.

Nevertheless, one fact is for definite: “Once Brewed” is only called “Once Brewed” because it’s next door to “Twice Brewed!”

Once Brewed - YHA Hostel

Before Twice Brewed was the pub, “East Twice Brewed” was the pub’s name, before that there was “West Twice Brewed,” and before that they all brewed their own (until the revenue men came along.)

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The Architectural Masterpiece of Hampi’s Vijaya Vittala Temple and its Spectacular Stone Chariot

Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

Vijaya Vittala Temple is one of the important temples in Hampi. Its construction began during the time of Krishnadevaraya in 1513 CE, and it continued even during the reign of his successor Achyutaraya (1529–42 CE) and perhaps it was not completed as per the grandiose plan of its builder Krishnadevaraya.

Facing east, this temple is in the centre of a quadrangle measuring 500 ft by 310 ft, and it has three gopura entrances in north, south, and east. This vast temple complex can be divided into three parts namely the outer mukhamandapa, the central rangamandapa and the interior sukhanasi and garbhagriha.

Pillars, pilasters, and the niches that exhibit Dravidian Temple Architecture at Hampi's Vijaya Vittala Temple

The outer mukhamandapa stands on a five feet basement and has three entrances. The entire mandapa has 56 pillars of composite nature and each one appears to be an independent monument. The ceilings have lotus designs.

Through the above mandapa one enters into rangamandapa, which is the most beautiful part of this temple. The pillars, the pilasters, and the niches exhibit Dravidian characters. The composite pillars of this mandapa are especially noteworthy for their decorative nature and delicate carvings of gods and goddesses and scroll work. In the centre is a grand enclosure of sixteen extremely beautiful tall pillars.

Kalyana Mandapa Wedding Hall at Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

At the western part of it is the doorway leading to the sukhanasi and garbhagriha. There is a pradakshinapatha, which has pierced windows (Jalandhras) to allow sufficient light and air. Inscriptions mention that Krishnadevaraya added phalapuja mandapa and kalyanamandapa to this structure. Perhaps the garbhagriha had a Vishnu image in the form of Vitthala to which deity regular worship was offered and various festivals were celebrated on a grand scale.

Harmonious blending of sculpture and architecture in Vijayanagara Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi

Spectacular Stone Chariot of Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi Another important attraction of this temple is the stone chariot in front of the rangamandapa. The ratha or the stone chariot looks like a miniature Dravidian temple, which originally perhaps had a brick tower. It has four wheels, two on either side and it is said that it could be turned on its axis. This chariot has an image of Garuda, as it is a Vishnu temple.

Quadrangle and Architectural Masterpiece of Hampi's Vijaya Vittala Temple

This temple is so characteristic of the Vijayanagara art, it is taken as a symbol of Vijayanagara architecture, and sculpture, as it is a harmonious blending of sculpture and architecture for which the Vijayanagara architects and sculptors were famous all over the country.

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The Fantastic Ornate Building of Saint Philomena’s Church, Mysore

Fantastic Ornate Building of Saint Philomena's Church, Mysore

Though Mysore has been a stronghold of traditional Hinduism from time immemorial, it has been famous for the harmonious coexistence of other religions also. This is testified to by many churches and mosques, which have been serving the cause of religion of their followers without any hindrance. Saint Philomena’s Church on the Ashoka Road (and practically at the entrance of Mysore coming from Bangalore) is a testimony for the religious tolerance of the people of Mysore.

Attractive colonnades of Saint Philomena's Church, Mysore There was a church known as Saint Joseph’s church built in 1840 and it was reconstructed and was renamed as Saint Joseph and Saint Philomena’s cathedral. It is said that Sri Thamboo Chetty, the then Dewan of Mysore in one of his visits had brought a piece of bone and drapery of the famous religious savant from Magnano in France from Peter Pisani, Apostolic Delegate of the East Indies and he wanted to consecrate them in a suitable church for this purpose.

The cathedral was designed by French architects and its foundation was laid by the then Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadeyar II in 1933. This church is modelled on Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and the Gothic Church at Cologne in Germany.

Unique Architectural Style with Some Greek Features

The most attractive part of this edifice is the two tall imposing pointed towers at the facade itself. The two towers rise to a height of 165 ft. The elegance of this structure is enhanced by miniature pointed towers at different points, adding further height to the cathedral.

The vertically fashioned tall windows at regular intervals add a great charm. The pointed triangular gothic motifs at different places is another attraction.

Crypt with statue of Saint Philomena in Mysore

The church has a crypt in which is a statue of Saint Philomena in a catacomb-like cell. A piece of her bone is preserved at the center of a beautiful shield. There is also a piece of her drapery. Hence, this is important to Roman Catholics.

The interior of the cathedral is decorated with attractive colonnades and glass paintings made in France. Particularly noteworthy are the paintings of crucification of Christ and John baptizing Christ. The annual Saint Philomena’s feast is held in this cathedral. Large numbers of Roman Catholic devotees visit this sacred cathedral.

Unique Architectural Style with Some Greek Features of Saint Philomena's Church, Mysore

Hundreds of tourists of all religions to Mysore visit this cathedral daily to see the lofty and beautiful, tall and imposing towers and the architecture of a rare type not generally seen in many areas of this country.

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Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art – the Historic Meguti Temple, Aihole

Ravikirti Inscription - Meguti Temple, Aihole

Aihole, ancient Ayyavole, now in Bijapur district was a great centre of early Chalukyan architecture. In fact this was the cradle of Chalukyan temples. Literally more than one hundred early-Chalukyan temples were built here in the sixth and seventh centuries CE.

Meguti temple is one such temple at Aihole. This temple is built on a hillock and looks prominently even from a distance.

The Meguti Temple is also famous in Indian history and literature for the inscription written by the celebrated poet Ravikirti. This inscription mentions Kalidasa and Bharavi by name and for this reason highly useful for fixing the date of both these poets as the inscription is dated 634–35 CE. From this evidence, it becomes comprehensible that this temple was built in 634–35 CE. It also gives a graphic description of the eminent conquests of Chalukya Pulakesi II.

This is a Jain temple and stands on a basement of 4 ft and faces north. The temple consists of a garbhagriha, pradakshinapatha, antarala and a mandapa. The outer wall of the temple consists of two thick decorated moldings. The mandapa portion is open with square pillars above the moldings. Below the base moldings are carved chaitya type niches, amorous couples, musicians playing on musical instruments and wrestlers.

Evolution of Early Chalukyan Art - Meguti Temple, Aihole

The square garbhagriha has a sitting tirthankara under a tree. Some scholars recognize him as Mahaveera. He is flanked by two chauri bearers on each side. Above the garbhagriha is another garbhagriha, which can be entered from the sukhanasi. In general, Jain temples (basadi) contain two garbhagrihas one over the other. On the western sidewall of this, is a very beautiful female sculpture which may be either Ambika or Siddhayika or Sujata. On her sides are chamara bearers and below are the sculptures of monkey and a swan. The upper garbhagriha has no sikhara over it. Its walls are also unadorned except niches, which are now empty.

Though this temple is not highly attractive from the point of view of the embellishments and decorations, it is notable in understanding the evolution of early Chalukyan art under the background that this is a dated temple assignable to 634–35 CE. This is the earliest dated temple of the Chalukyas of Badami.

This is one of the early temples where the Chalukyan architects were making experiments in the construction of a perfect temple. From the famous Ravikirti’s inscription this temple is better known than others.

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