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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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The Different Types and Varieties of Rice

The Different Types and Varieties of Rice

Rice is usually divided into three general categories: long, medium and short grains. All have their special bites, textures, sizes and colours.

  • Long-grain rice, as the name denotes, is long and thin. It has a fluffy texture when cooked, and its grains remain separate. Parboiled rice is similar in appearance and texture to long-grain rice, but has been steamed and cooked before being milled.
  • Medium-grain rice is slightly shorter and fatter than the other types. It absorbs more liquid and has a creamier finish when cooked.
  • Short-grain rice is very short, and absorbs an immense amount of liquid during cooking, making the end result sticky and wet.

Primary Dietary Staple

At just under 400 calories for every lOOg in its raw state, rice is the main dietary staple of half the world’s population. From standard white grains to nutty-flavoured brown, to creamy risotto rice, to the exotic wild, rice offers something to tantalise most appetites.

  • American Longgrain: you’re bound to have this as a staple in your store-cupboard. American longgrain is the most commonly available rice, and a standard in the kitchen.
  • White Basmati: from the foothills of the Himalayas, this rice, with the bran taken out, is full of flavour and aroma. Serve with curries or other dishes which have a sauce to mingle with the rice.
  • Brown Basmati: the same as white basmati but with the bran left in. Use this like the white variety.
  • Carnaroli Rice: these tubby grains release starch as they cook, which is why Italian risotto is such a great comfort food.
  • Red Camargue Rice: this is French rice with a distinctive red colour and nutty flavour. It’s good when served with fish, meat or in salads.
  • Sushi Rice: this small, chubby Japanese grain is the perfect rice for making sushi because it gets so sticky when cooked.
  • Thai Fragrant: this is grown in the paddy fields of Thailand; it becomes fluffy when cooked and has a faint jasmine fragrance. It is delicious with any Thai dish.
  • Wild Rice: this is not true rice but an aquatic American grass. It must be cooked for longer, but the texture is satisfying and the nutty flavour is delicious. It is good mixed with white rice, but you can’t cook the two together. Cook them separately, starting the wild rice ahead of time, and then mix them together.

The highest consumption of rice per capita is in Myanmar (Burma), which is perhaps not surprising when you consider that Burma is smack in the middle of territory where rice cultivation most likely originated thousands of years ago. Radiocarbon dating of strata containing grains of rice found in south China indicates rice was cultivated as far back as 7,000 years ago. Researchers say that rice may have been indigenous to India and then moved eastward to Indochina and south-east Asia.

Rice is a Primary Dietary Staple It is amylose—a linear polymer of glucose—in cooked long-grain rice that causes it to seize up or harden when refrigerated. This is called retrogradation; the starch cells collapse, squeezing the moisture out and causing the realignment of the starch molecules. Much to the chagrin of the cook, the rice turns hard. Retrogradation cannot be avoided, but it can be reversed when the rice is reheated. Don’t keep cooked rice in the fridge for long. Cooked rice is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, brought about by the bacteria Bacillus Cereus, which develops when cooked rice is left too long in the fridge. Cooked rice should be cooled rapidly and stored in a clean, sealed container within an hour of cooking. Treat it like meat: no more than four days in the fridge.

Rice is gluten-free and easily digestible, making it a good choice for infants and people with wheat allergies or digestive problems. A half-cup of cooked white rice provides 82 calories; an equal amount of brown rice provides 89 calories.

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Balestrand’s Dragon Style or Swiss Chalet Style of Architecture

Dragon Motif and the Viking Protective Function

Located on the Norway’s most spectacular Sognefjorden fjord, Balestrand is small town that was named by Henrik Wergeland (1808–45), the Norwegian a poet and playwright, in 1832. Bale was the name of a farm here; in Old Norse this meant a ‘Grass-covered Field sloping down to the Sea’ with strand meaning ‘seashore.’

The Dragon Motif in Switzerland Style of Architecture

Surrounded by fjords, mountains, waterfalls and breathtaking panoramas, Balestrand was the adopted home of numerous 19th-century national romantic painters, whose paintings and presence contributed to an explosion in tourism—a vestige that continues to this day. Balestrand is perfectly situated for rest and relaxation as well as for exploring the surrounding area on the optional excursions.

Red Villa in Balestrand with Dragon Style or Switzerland Style

Switzerland Style is the name given to a way of building with heads of dragons and hallways which we find in many villas from the 1890s along the fjord in Balestrand. The architecture has very little to do with Switzerland. The villas are a result of an effort in trying to make a national style of architecture in wooden houses.

Dragon Heads Rising from the Gables in Balestrand Architecture

This architecture was inspired by old store houses on pillars, stave churches, and so on. The architect Karl Norum has drawn several of the houses, and they are mainly precut in Trondheim. By means of a catalog, the owner could order heads of dragons and other decorative elements according to taste.

Red Dragon-head Villas in Balestrand Architecture

Any visitor to Balestrand will be charmed by its setting and its welcoming locals eager to share the artistic history of their Nordic ecstasy. The famous white gingerbread Kviknes Hotel at water’s edge, the red dragon-head villas on the lane skirting the fjord, and the yellow and brown stave-like St. Olaf’s Church not only signify the architecture of the national romantic period but lend a fairy-tale ambiance to this quietly rolling patch of landscape thrust between mountains and sea.

Heads of Dragons in in Balestrand Architecture

Kviknes Hotel has been owned by the same family since 1877. You can opt for a more modern stay in the 1960s wing, but we’d endorse a room in the original building, parts of which date from 1752. There’s an old world charm to them with spectacular views over the water.

Architecture Along Fjord in Balestrand

In 1891, Eilert Normann built a summer home on the Sognefjord. This a red villa in what is called “dragon style” or “Switzerland style” borrowing a motif from the Vikings, with dragon heads rising from the gables.

Balestrand Dragon Style or Switzerland Style of Architecture

Normann was the first artist to build a house in this particular style, which became the prototype for the ones that came later. These houses created the special atmosphere of the town and were of great importance to tourism.

Dragon-like Heads and Serpentine Bodies in Norwegian Architecture

In Switzerland Style, the dragon motif is revived in an architectural context. The dragon symbol so often employed by the Vikings “had a protective function” that made it the ideal adornment for a shelter.

Dragon Motif is Revived in an Architectural Context in Norway

Creatures with dragon-like heads and serpentine bodies can be traced in Norway as early as the Bronze Age. They were well developed by the time of the Vikings, who carved them on their long boats, wagons, sleds, tents and beds. Later the dragon appeared on drinking vessels, at the portals of churches and in other places.

Architecture in Wooden Houses in Norway

The dragon heads jutting out from the gable peaks were typical of stave churches, and were adopted as an important symbol during the national romantic period, as Norway sought to assert its cultural identity.

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The Romantic Rome at Nighttime

The Romantic Rome at Nighttime

During the day, Rome is a very busy modern city of two and a half million people and people are going about their business—they are crowding onto the buses, they are trying to hail a taxi, there speeding like heck through traffic—and it really can be very exhausting.

When the sun goes down, the entire character changes and it’s not just for tourists but for the people there and this is what they live for in Rome. To be able to come out and socialize and everything becomes more relaxed and people’s attitude changes. For them, the and evening is not “I’m going to rush here to this concert” and “I’m going to rush there to get dinner” and “I’m going to grab something to go” the way many Americans would do—instead it’s settling down into this easy rhythm of life and seeing what’s going to happen next.

Think about to the traditional Roman siesta. People will take their large meal in the afternoon and maybe even sit down and take a little nap or watch a little TV for 20 minutes or something—all in order to recharge their batteries so that they can come out at night and that’s when they really live and that’s what tourist should also do. Take a little break from your sightseeing in the heat of the mid-afternoon, take your little siesta, and gear up for the wonder of Roman nighttime.

Archaeologist Rome Romantic Rome by Night

Archaeologist’s Rome by Day and the Romantic Rome by Night

Get ready for the transformation of Roman grandiosity to Italian intimacy. What makes an intimate Rome easier is the way the city is lit at night. It was a deliberate choice on the part of the city administration not to have this neon glare that sort of flattens everything and makes everything look the same, but to have these very soft orange lights that are supposed to imitate the light of a torches in the past. So when you stroll through the city at night you can’t see everything together from afar. You have to discover it closely as you get to it. All this affords a gradual intimate look that you’ll really love and also makes you imagine the city in the evening.

There is an interesting distinction—there’s the grand Rome and then there’s the intimate Rome. By day it really is the grand Rome with icons such as the great Roman monuments, the Coliseum, and Pantheon. But really that the night-time Rome is the small, medieval lanes the people walk through. By day it’s the archaeologist’s Rome and by night is the romantic Rome.

The Aperitivo Culture - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

The Aperitivo Culture

Even if you’re not a type of person that likes a cocktail before dinner, have a drink on a piece of expensive real estate, enjoy the little munchies surrounded by local people doing exactly that. If you’re in the mood to splurge, join in a rooftop bar at a hotel downtown, or just have an aperitivo on one of the squares. Then have dinner, skip dessert, take an after-dinner stroll with gelato.

A wonderful Roman night is all about the pace of things. Romans don’t try to fit in like dinner and a show … it just kind of dinner. You linger over each course because the meal becomes the evening’s entertainment itself and the Romans love to dress up to go out to meet their friends, sit at a little cafe or restaurant with rickety tables and traffic roaring past them. It’s that little slice of intimacy where they can then get into that pace of life and that rhythm of life where each course becomes a new magical thing. Don’t be a traveler who wants to keep it moving.

Charming Medieval Roman Neighborhood Trastevere

Trastevere—a Charming Medieval Roman Neighborhood with an Intense Character

You got that that local pride; there was a time when they would never cross the river on the other side of the Tiber River. In fact, literally Trastevere means “the other side of the river”—the district’s name derives from the Latin words “Trans Tiberim” beyond the Tiber River.

This is that other side of Rome—the intimate side of Rome—the Rome of the narrow lanes of the red pastel colors, buildings with green ivy hanging down with the people’s laundry hanging overhead, lanes pop into tiny little squares that feature little cafes, restaurants, pizzerias where you can sit down and enjoy your meal. The food is great, the aperitifs are great, but it really is presenting you the theater of the people. Don’t let that pass by. Hang out in these squares and you’re paying your cover charge for a great celebration of life.

Nighttime Romantic Walks - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

Nighttime Romantic Walks in Roman

For a great walk, start from St Peter’s Square because in the evening is lit up splendidly and I would just walk towards the river where the Castel Sant’Angelo, a Fortress where the Popes used to escape to in the past. It’s also a little beautifully lit monument cross the river Tiber, where you can cross the bridge of the Angels which is decorated with his beautiful Bernini statues. Walk along the Via dei Coronari and it does give us that back street village that is very romantic and end up at the beautiful square Piazza Navona.

Castel Sant’Angelo was originally a tomb for Emperor Hadrian. That was the original structure and then it took on other uses as time went on and in the medieval times because it was so tall and so monumental, it was used as a castle and as a prison. This tomb for Emperor Hadrian is across from the river Tiber because Ancient Roman laws established that the dead had to be buried outside the city.

it’s a wonderful place to go up at sunset. A great way to kick off your evening you go up there and you look across and you have this incredible view of Michelangelo’s Dome and all of the other domes of the city. You watch the sun turn orange and you watch the pigeons as they start flying by and this is where you begin to see night descend on the Eternal City.

What’s great about Rome at night is that on the one hand you’re walking down a little alley way or a little narrow street and then torch lit or seemingly torch lit with this new lighting and on all of a sudden you pop out and there’s a floodlit monument … there’s the pantheon … and all that then surprise element and you’re getting that mix of this very romantic and dark that this then punctuated with a blaze of light and glory from ancient monument and you can have a kind of a quiet street and suddenly you step into a floodlit square with three grand fountains and artists and street musicians and outdoor cafes in the evening.

Via del Corso Spanish Steps - Romantic Rome at Nighttime

Via del Corso, the Fountains, and the Spanish Steps in Rome

The main drag, the Via del Corso is shutdown, with police on horses monitoring the activities. It says a lot about the way in which an urban setting can be experienced … the Romans hate crowds as much as anybody else but they also don’t like deserted places. The passeggiata can feel that you’re part of a community … part of something bigger than just yourself.

Go to the Spanish Steps because that’s where all of Rome will be descending for nightfall and you will see the things that are typical of Rome at night. Witness the flood lights, see Bernini’s fountain down at the base, with people sitting on the on the steps, and if you wanted to you could climb up to the top where you can get a great view out over all of Rome so you can really feel like you are in one place but you’re taking part of the entire city.

Fall in Love with Nighttime Rome

During the day it can be an overwhelming city by day where everyone’s in a hurry and traffic generally competes with some of the greatest city views anywhere, but after dark that’s when Rome becomes a true spectacle.

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Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Architectural Charm of the Chalukyan Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka

Durga temple is the biggest and arguably the most attractive temple at Aihole. Though it is called Durga Temple, it has nothing to do with goddess Durga or Durgi. The name of the temple may have derived from the word ‘durga’ meaning fort. As one enters Aihole from the north, this temple is found near the fort and people should have named it Durga (fort) temple.

Durga Fort Temple in Aihole - Chalukyan Architecture The most important charm of this temple for which it is celebrated is the apsidal character of the posterior part of this architecture. Generally apsidal or gajapristha form is found in Buddhist monuments. Nevertheless, this temple being non-Buddhist and yet having an apsidal posterior part is an mystery, which has not been explained satisfactorily by art historians. Conceivably one of the architects experimented with this type of plan in the Hindu temple and it did not become popular and for this reason given up. There is a comparable apsidal temple at Mahakuta, very close to Aihole which was also an primitive Chalukyan art center.

The temple consists of an apsidal garbhagriha, sabhamandapa, a mandapa and a mukhamandapa in east-west axis and the temple opens to the east. The temple has a base of six different moldings. The temple is entered through two flights of steps to the south and north of the mandapa. On the basement are square pillars all the way through the construction including the apsidal garbhagriha.

Hindu Temples Architecture during Chalukyas - Durga Temple, Aihole

The rows of pillars contains two pradakshinapathas, which is an exceptional architectural feature. The longish sabhamandapa has been divided into three portions by its pillars. The large number of pillars in this temple have been utilized by the artists to carve a large number puranic stories and self-supporting sculptures. These sculptures are of high order and add refinement and charisma to this temple.

Shiva Dancing Statue Durga Temple in Aihole, Karnataka On the pillars of the mukhamandapa are found passionate couples in various suggestive poses. On another pillar is found Shiva dancing on apasmara. The inner wall of the mukhamandapa has Ramayana panel, Ardhanarisvara and Ugranarasimha killing Hiranyakashipu. The front entrance of the mandapa is well carved with dvarapalas, Yamuna and Ganga, and further sculptures.

Unfortunately, there are no inscriptions to date this temple. Derived from stylistic evidence, various dates have been assigned to this temple. While many scholars consider 600 C.E. as the date of this temple, some others assign it to seventh century C.E.

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The Phenomenon That’s Guernica—Picasso’s Fabled Artwork

The Phenomenon that's Guernica---Picasso's Fabled Artwork

To tackle appreciating the art of Spain, you can certainly hit the top highlights. That would include the Prado Museum in Madrid, arguably Europe’s greatest painting museum. Also in Madrid is Picasso’s Guernica, a monster painting that not only is a testament against modern warfare but is so much part of the Spanish history with its horses and bulls and weeping women imagery and gets right to the heart of Spain’s Civil War.

I’d certainly put on the list the Alhambra in Granada. This is evocative of 700 years of Muslim settlement in Spain which we now think of this great Catholic country but for 700 years ago it was Muslim. The Alhambra is a lush Arabian-nights-wonderland is the best place to appreciate the Muslim settlement of Spain.

Finally there’s Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This gives the grandeur of Spanish dreams into this cake-melting-in-the-rain sort of architecture with the soaring towers this become very much the symbol of the city of Barcelona.

The Prado Museum’s incredible wealth of paintings is my favorite collection of paintings from all of Europe. Madrid has so many art treasures because it was the capital of the Spanish colonial empire. The Prado’s collection is illustrative of the how important Spain was in the past. There are a lot of famous Flemish paintings there because the Netherlands was actually a Spanish colony.

The Guernica, located in Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Spain’s National Museum, is incredible painting by Picasso. In a lot of ways it is the painting of Europe—when you talk about the struggles of the 20th century. The reason why Guernica is located in Madrid is that Picasso was the curator of the Prado Museum during those 12 years in the Spanish Civil War and that is always his cubist interpretation of the Spanish Civil War. The message is absolutely bleak, with direct impact. In black and white, the piece has the importance of a newspaper photo. Flailing bulls and horses illustrate that the visceral horrors of war are not just an insult to human civilization, but to human life.

Picasso Painting Guernica For many years Picasso’s Guernica was actually in exile in New York City and that’s because Picasso insisted that the painting was so much against the then dictatorial government of Spain, led by Francisco Franco. Picasso would not allow his painting to be in a Franco-ruled Spain and it wasn’t until Franco finally died and a new democratic regime came in to power that that painting could be repatriated and brought back to its homeland. Guernica is a vast canvas in solemn tones of grey and blue, it shows in scorching detail the suffering of people and animals as bombs fell on their town.

Guernica is actually a town in the Basque Province of northern Spain, to the east of Bilbao. Formerly the seat of a Basque parliament and it was bombed in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, by German planes in support of Franco. This event is depicted in the famous painting by Picasso. Picasso’s painting of the bombing of Guernica is one of the 20th century’s most famous images.

Franco died in 1975, but sadly Picasso died two years before that and he lived to see the day when his most famous painting went back to his homeland. Picasso pledged that neither he nor this painting would ever pay a visit to Spain until democracy was restored. This did not happen until 1978, five years after his death.

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