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Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy’s Visionary Book, ‘A Better India: A Better World’

A Better India- A Better World is a stimulating book by an important business leader. When an Indian assistant first lent it to me, I wasn’t excited to read it but felt necessitated. I was very much completely astounded. N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder and chairperson of Infosys organizes a rather comprehensible and positive vision to the world according to himself. If only many more business leaders thought like him, one might even feel tempted by this thing called “compassionate capitalism.” Narayana Murthy has thought much about India, his homeland, and its contradictions.

'Better India: A Better World' by N.R. Narayana Murthy (ISBN 0143068571)

If the eyes of all men were naturally jaundiced, all white objects would appear uniformly yellow. In the introduction to A Better India- A Better World, Narayana Murthy outlines,

The enigma of India is that our progress in higher education and in science and technology has not been sufficient to take 350 million Indians out of illiteracy. It is difficult to imagine that 318 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and 250 million people do not have access to basic medical care. Why should 630 million people not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities even in 2009? When you see world-class supermarkets and food chains in our towns, and when our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, why should 51 per cent of the children in the country be undernourished? When India is among the largest producers of engineers and scientists in the world, why should 52 per cent of the primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes? When our politicians and bureaucrats live in huge houses in Lutyens’ Delhi and the state capitals, our corporate leaders splurge money on mansions, yachts and planes, and our urban youth revel in their latest sport shoes, why should 300 million Indians live on hardly Rs 545 per month (US$10 at current exchange rate), barely sufficient to manage two meals a day, with little or no money left for schooling, clothes, shelter and medicine?

His starting point is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “four freedoms”—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. He later elaborates on what a “civilized society” entails: “a society where everybody has equal opportunity to better his or her life; where every child has food, shelter, healthcare, and education; a society where duties come before rights; where each generation makes sacrifices to make life better for the next generation.” Obviously, many of these tenets are increasingly not present in today’s USA and, worse; many Americans on the right would dispute these principles as smacking of socialism. In this case, an effect has been given for a cause.

Could we be certain that the admeasurements of these two different meridians were made without error, this would, undoubtedly, be a demonstrative proof of the irregularity of the earth’s figure. Narayana Murthy is a well read and well-travelled, learned man who clearly thinks a lot about societal issues. In the introduction, his acknowledged three books that have influenced him deeply: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber; My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi; and Peau Noire, Masques Blancs by Franz Fanon. This rather eclectic selection shows the breadth of his reading and attests to an open mind. He builds his own philosophy on these disparate strains of thought, emphasizing the importance of values and leadership. He sets out early in the book that, “I do not know of any community—a company, an institution or a nation—that has achieved success without a long journey of aspiration, hard work, commitment, focus, hope, confidence, humility and sacrifice”. This question cannot be resolved exactly, without the author’s help. The first time he was restored, he thought he actually touched whatever he saw; but by degrees his experience corrected his numberless mistakes.

His student years in France in the 1970s were very important in forming his thinking. In the first chapter, a lecture to students, he compares France to India for its civil-mindedness: “In France, everybody acted as if it was their job to discuss, debate and quickly act on improving public facilities. In India, we discuss debate and behave as if the improvement of any public facility is not our task, and consequently, do not act at all.” His deduction: being a developing country is a mindset. Here he breaks clear of the Left, placing the onus on the individual, as well as the society as a whole, to take responsibility for its own destiny. He tells a story of how he lost any compassion for the Left after having been imprisoned by Bulgarian authorities when traveling back from Paris to India in 1974.

The next event that left an indelible mark on me occurred in 1974. The location: Nis, a border town between former Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and Bulgaria. I was hitchhiking from Paris back to Mysore, India, my home town.

By the time a kind driver dropped me at Nis railway station at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, the restaurant was closed. So was the bank the next morning, and I could not eat because I had no local money. I slept on the railway platform until 8.30 pm in the night when the Sofia Express pulled in.

The only passengers in my compartment were a girl and a boy. I struck a conversation in French with the young girl. She talked about the travails of living in an iron curtain country, until we were roughly interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by the young man who thought we were criticising the communist government of Bulgaria.

The girl was led away; my backpack and sleeping bag were confiscated. I was dragged along the platform into a small 8×8 foot room with a cold stone floor and a hole in one corner by way of toilet facilities. I was held in that bitterly cold room without food or water for over 72 hours.

I had lost all hope of ever seeing the outside world again, when the door opened. I was again dragged out unceremoniously, locked up in the guard’s compartment on a departing freight train and told that I would be released 20 hours later upon reaching Istanbul. The guard’s final words still ring in my ears — “You are from a friendly country called India and that is why we are letting you go!”

The journey to Istanbul was lonely, and I was starving. This long, lonely, cold journey forced me to deeply rethink my convictions about Communism. Early on a dark Thursday morning, after being hungry for 108 hours, I was purged of any last vestiges of affinity for the Left.

I concluded that entrepreneurship, resulting in large-scale job creation, was the only viable mechanism for eradicating poverty in societies.

Deep in my heart, I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming me from a confused Leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist! Inevitably, this sequence of events led to the eventual founding of Infosys in 1981.

Cofounder and executive chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy came out of retirement in 2013 to help right the Infosys ship. His return resulted in improved financial performance, although it has been marked by numerous high-profile executive resignations. Murthy again stepped down and re-entered retirement to make way for CEO Vishal Sikka in August 2014. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates said, “Narayana Murthy overcame many obstacles and demonstrated that is possible to create a world-class, values-driven company in India. Through his vision and leadership Murthy sparked a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship that changed the way we view ourselves and how the world views India.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' This is a collection of 38 essays and speeches given at a variety of fora during the 2000s and selected for the book by the author himself. They are divided into sections:

  • Address to students;
  • Values;
  • Important national issues;
  • Education;
  • Leadership challenges;
  • Corporate and public governance;
  • Corporate social responsibility and philanthropy;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Globalization;
  • three short chapters on Infosys.

In such a collection, it is inevitable that there are overlaps between the chapters and many recurrent themes. I’ll pick a few themes that I found interesting here below.

He addresses students in a variety of schools, ranging from prestigious institutions like INSEAD, Indian Institute of Technology, IESE Business School in Barcelona and NYU, to various other universities in India. He exhorts his values: “You must believe in and act according to the principle that putting public interest ahead of private interest in the short term will be better for your private concerns in the long run.” … “Ego, vanity, and contempt for other people have clouded our minds for thousands of years and impeded our progress. Humility is scarce in this country.” … “No county that has shunned merit has succeeded in solving its problems.” … “The reason for the lack of progress in many developing nations is not the paucity of resources but the lack of management talent and professionalism.” The winds of the temperate zone are composed of the eddies of these two united.

Narayana Murthy is a fan of globalization and refers to the “global bazaar” and Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” in several places. In this context, he calls for “an environment of tolerance and respect for multi-culturalism.” He sees global warming and environmental degradation as major threats and sees that the answers must lie in global cooperation: “The solution is not to force developing nations to forgo what the developed world has enjoyed for over a century. It is to come together as one planet and use innovation in technology to produce alternate energy solutions and reduction of carbon emissions.” His thinking reflects the intergenerational equity perspective embedded in the original definition of sustainable development: “After all, this is the only planet we have. Conduct yourself as if you have borrowed it from the next generation. Remember that you will have to give it back to them in good shape.” The time of feeling the pulse is in a morning, some time after getting up, and before reduction of carbon emissions.

A Better India- A Better World is also very critical of laissez-faire capitalism, a theme that resonates throughout the book: “Unfortunately, the greed of several corporate leaders, the meltdown of Wall Street, the increasing differences between the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers, and the unbelievable severance compensation paid to failed CEOs have called into question whether capitalism is indeed a solution for the benefit of all, or if it is an instrument for a few cunning people to hoodwink a large mass of gullible middle-class and poor people. Never before in the history of capitalism have so few people brought so much misery to so many.” His views of how to manage a company are in line with his broader beliefs: “The only way you can save capitalism and bring it back to its shining glory is by conducting yourselves as decent, honest, fair, diligent, and socially conscious business leaders. In every action of yours, you have to ask how it will make the lowest level worker in your corporation and the poorest person in your society better. You have to learn to put the interest of the community—your corporation, your society, your nation and this planet—before your own interest.” In light of these issues, Infosys has launched a number of initiatives to improve its performance. The company has some way to go before rectifying its position, but a number of signs are promising, with revenue growth, margins, client mining, and employee attrition improving. Again emphasizing the need for sacrifice, he states that, “(T) to succeed in these days of globalization, global warming and laissez-faire capitalism, every worker in your corporation will have to accept tremendous sacrifices in the short term and hope that goodness will, indeed, succeed in the long term and make life better for every one of them.” Certainly not the thinking en vogue on this continent!

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Narayana Murthy is also rather harsh on India. In a chapter entitled “What Can We Learn from the West,” he chastises his own nation for faulty values: “Indian society has, for over a thousand years, put loyalty to family ahead of loyalty to society.” … “Unfortunately, our attitude towards family life is not reflected in our attitude towards the community. From littering the streets to corruption to violating contractual obligations, we are apathetic to the community good.” … “Apathy in addressing community matters has held us back from making progress which is otherwise within our reach. We see serious problems around us but do not try to solve them. We behave as if the problems do not exist or as if they belong to someone else.” He continues, “Our intellectual arrogance has also not helped our society. I have travelled extensively and, in my experience, have not come across another society where people are as contemptuous of better societies as we are, with as little progress as we have achieved.” He identifies things that India should learn from the West, including accountability, dignity of labor (“everybody in India wants to be a thinker and not a doer”), and professionalism (punctuality, respect for other people’s time, respecting contractual obligations), concluding that “the most important attribute of a progressive society is respect for others who have accomplished more than they themselves have, and the willingness to learn from them.” The conduct of the appetite regulates the health; and this is not enough regarded.

Elaborating on individual responsibilities, he adds one more: discipline. “There are several ingredients for national development—natural resources, human resources, leadership, and finally, discipline.” … “The utter lack of discipline exhibited by our people is rendering these other three powerful factors ineffective for fast-paced economic growth. We see umpteen examples of undisciplined behavior around us every day. What is even sadder is that this behavior has become the norm even among the powerful and the elite.” … “Discipline is about complying with the agreed protocols, norms, desirable practices, regulations and the laws of the land designed to improve the performance of individuals and societies. Discipline is the bedrock of individual development, community development, and national development.” In this category, Narayana Murthy includes aspects, such as lack of discipline in thought, or intellectual dishonesty (objectivity to focus on outcomes and results, rather than politics or focus on caste and religion; corruption). To achieve discipline, India needs role models (honest, accountable, disciplined leaders committed to change), swift and harsh punishment of offenders, transparency, political reform, and an improved bureaucracy. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India, wrote, “Narayana Murthy is a role model for millions of Indians. An iconic figure in the country, he is widely respected and looked up not only for his business leadership but also for his ethics and personal conduct. He represents the face of the new, resurgent India to the world.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' The part focusing on important national issues considers a wide range, including the role of population in economic development in India. Talking about population growth as a strain to development risks being attacked from both the Left and the Right these days, but Narayana Murthy barges right into the issues. He highlights the need for “good human capital” but also warns “a failure to stabilize India’s population will have significant implications for the future of India’s economy” and that “high population densities have also led to overloaded systems and infrastructure in urban areas.” He links the population debate to environment and resources, in particular energy demand, noting how the combined demands from India and China will put pressure on world resources: “The rapid growth in emerging economies cannot be sustained in the face of mounting environmental deterioration and resource depletion.” He sees a clear role for the government, which must “focus on conservation-friendly policies. For example, subsidies on conventional fuel make it difficult for renewable energy sources to compete and should be removed at least for rich and middle-class people.” … “The government can play a key role as a regulator in making Indian industry environmentally responsible.” Would someone please tell that to the politicians in Washington, DC?

The fourth theme is a cornerstone of the Indian spiritual tradition: self-knowledge. Indeed, the highest form of knowledge, it is said, is self-knowledge. I believe this greater awareness and knowledge of oneself is what ultimately helps develop a more grounded belief in oneself, courage, determination, and, above all, humility, all qualities which enable one to wear one’s success with dignity and grace.

So, how to deal with the issue of excessive population growth? Well, there is the need to meet unmet need of contraception and the issue of how Indian states have failed to implement family planning programs. Narayana Murthy recognizes that there’s been a significant decrease in population growth in certain southern states, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where “state governments here focused on human development, opened up local economies, and improved social services … Rising female literacy in these states contributed to the success of family planning … A focus on women’s and children’s health also contribute to population control.” He concludes, in line with what is also known from empirical literature: “human development goes hand in hand with lower population growth.” What he doesn”t mention is that states like Kerala have for decades been run by parties from the Left.

A Better India- A Better World chapter “Framework for Urban Planning in Modern India” also recognizes the importance of planning but calls for “radical, immediate reform in the planning and management of our cities” that “must adequately address the shortage of low-cost housing.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Moving to corporate governance, he extols the virtues of good corporate governance to enhance corporate performance while ensuring that corporations conform to the interests of investors and society by “creating fairness, transparency, and accountability in business activities among employees, management and the board.” Infosys has many long-standing client relationships, a well-managed global delivery model, and a comprehensive services portfolio. “The abuse of corporate power results from incentives within firms that encourage a culture of corruption. … Clearly, good governance requires a mindset within the corporation which integrates the corporate code of ethics into the day-to-day activities of its managers and workers.” “Corporate leaders have to create a climate of opinion that values respectability in addition to wealth.” To recapitulate all that has been said upon the subject of compassionate capitalism: long continued tones are nothing more than a repetition of the same stroke and tone. Like the two halves of an ellipse, with their ends turned the contrary way.

So what is the “compassionate capitalism” that Narayana Murthy longs for? As said by him, it is about “bringing the power of capitalism to the benefit of large masses. It is about combining the power of mind and heart; the good of capitalism and socialism … The benefits of growth have to be distributed widely.” While this does not exist anyplace, Narayana Murthy does pay some respect to what he calls the “Swedish model.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' N.R. Narayana Murthy returns to the leitmotif of the lack of credibility of capitalism today: “Greedy behavior from corporate leaders has strengthened public conviction that free markets are tools for the rich to get richer at the expense of the welfare of the general public.” Lest capitalism is rejected as the most accepted model for growth in developing countries and by the alienated poor, the business leaders have to regain the trust of society and abide the value system of the community where they operate. Touching on a debate that rages in both America and Europe, Narayana Murthy weighs in on executive compensation: “Business leaders should shun excessive managerial compensation. Managerial remuneration should be based on three principles—fairness with respect to the compensation of other employees; transparency with respect to shareholders and employees; and accountability with respect to linking compensation with corporate performance … We have to create a climate of opinion which says respect is more important than wealth.” Certainly. A number of high-profile client-facing executive departures could negatively affect the firm’s standing with legacy clients.

At the end of A Better India- A Better World, this rather prescient and socially aware business leader sees globalization in an virtually absolutely favorable light, concluding that “we need a flat world because is spreads the American beliefs in free trade to the rest of the world; it benefits consumers from all over the globe; it helps create a world with better opportunities for everyone; and, finally, it brings global trade into focus, shunning terrorism and creating a more peaceful world”. Let us for a moment compare this universe to a palace, erected by the divine Architect, and the unphilosophical spectator to a foreigner, who sees but the external part of the building. “Humble and self-effacing, Murthy is known to fly economy class and lives in a modest home in Bangalore—proof, say his fans, that you can combine business success with Gandhian humility.” said Time magazine of Narayana Murthy. Murthy, [says the Time magazine], has not sold his soul for money and success. One of country’s most admired men, he is vigilant about his employees’well-being, granting stock options, building exercise facilities and spreading values as much as wealth.

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Stepped Tank of the Vijayanagara Empire in Hampi, Karnataka

Stepped Tank, Hampi from the Vijayanagara Empire

Archaeological Survey of India and the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology and Museums have been conducting archaeological excavations at Hampi for the past many years and have discovered many interesting structures and antiquities of the Vijayanagara Empire, not known so far.

The Vijayanagara empire of South India extended over a massive area and assimilated diverse ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic and political groups. Beyond the majestic bounds, Vijayanagara was also part of multifaceted subcontinental political and cultural nexus, with cooperative and antagonistic relations with bordering states and empires.

During such an excavation in 1984-85, officers of the Archaeological Survey of India laid bare a beautiful tank that was completely under the surface of the soil and was not at all visible from the outer surface. This is perhaps the most beautiful stepped tank at Hampi discovered so far. Archaeologists have been dated to fifteenth century AD.

The tank built of stone is a square structure with five steps. The steps become smaller as they go down; thus the topmost step is the longest while the lower most is the smallest. From the top, the length of each side of the step is 20.7, 16.10, 12.65, 9.2 and 6.9 meters respectively. Each side has very attractive pyramidal shaped flight of steps to get into the next lower side. These steps are 9, 7, 5, 3 and 1 respectively in each side and thus the entire tank has one hundred steps. Each tier is 1.05 meters and the total depth is 6.65 meters. The base of the tank has stone slabs below that is sand to purify the water. The symmetry of the pyramidal shaped steps at each tier of the tank makes the structure unique and elegant. After the construction of this stepped tank, the engineers working at Hampi had made proper arrangements for the flow of fresh water into the tank. It is believed that this tank was used for religious purposes including the teppotsava of the deities.

That the project of reclaiming cultural legacies as part of a regional or national inheritance was informed by a series of complex considerations of both affective pleasure and identity politics, wherein the idea of a reinvented tradition assumed a certain significance, is now well known.

Another unique feature of this tank is the technique of its construction. Each stone used for the construction has numerals, symbols and Kannada letters on it. For example letters u, da, tu and pa represent north (uttara), south (dakshina), east (turpu), and west (paschima). In five stages there are 36 steps and each step has been assigned a Kannada letter beginning from tna upto jna and ti. In addition to these numerals and Kannada letters some symbols also have been used, according to the four directions. Another interesting feature is the mark of measurement through symbols. Thus the stepped tank (pushkarini) is not only beautiful and elegant but also supplies the technical methodology adopted by the architects to transplant it from the workshop to the spot of the tank.

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The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The architectural styles developed by the Sultans of the Deccan plateau that are appreciated in Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, and Hyderabad, are motivated from Persian and Turkish structures.

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ruled the kingdom of Bijapur from 1580 to 1627. He is reputed to be one of the most compassionate and multicultural rulers in history and was a generous patron of the arts.

The sultan of Bijapur was a descendant of the Ottoman dynasty of Istanbul, Turkey. The sultan of Golconda was a Turkman prince who had taken refuge in India. The sultans were adherents of the Shia sect of Islam and were close allies of the Safavid rulers of Iran. A distinctive culture thus developed in the pluralistic community of the Deccan plateau. In India, the Deccan plateau became the prominent center of Arabic literature and scholarship.

Ibrahim Rauza is another valuable and most stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architecture. Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the sultans of this dynasty, developed and organized his own final resting place.

Arched Verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber of of Ibrahim Rauza, BijapurIbrahim Rauza consists of two core constructions: a tomb and a mosque with several smaller structures. All these buildings are built within a square enclosure with an attractive garden in the front. Both the structures are built on a platform that is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide, around a walled enclosure.

At the eastern end is the tomb and at the western end is the mosque. In between is an open yard in which are found an decorative tank and a fountain. Though the size and purpose of these two structures are different, the architect has productively attempted to produce an equilibrium between them in volume and style. Nevertheless, the tomb seems to be a grander structure than the mosque. The tomb consists of a principal chamber within an arched verandah and both are scaled by a dome. Tall minar-shaped turrets are built at four corners of the building. However, the most beautiful and crowning part is the bulbous dome at the upper story.

Carved ceiling of the Mosque of Ibrahim Rauza in Bijapur

The interior has an arched verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber. They are all abundantly adorned with intricate patterns. The chamber room is a small square of 18 feet each side; but it is elegant because of the introduction of a charmingly carved ceiling at the correct height. Thus, the Ibrahim Rauza has a well-executed plan of a building in its entirety, harmonizing architecture with ornamentation.

Ibrahim Rauza of Bijapur: stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architectureThe mosque forming the other part of the Ibrahim Rauza relates harmoniously in the mass of its proportion and architectural treatment as well as width of frontage. Though it seems slightly smaller, the comparisons overlook in terms of minars at four directions and a slightly smaller elongated dome. This congruence is the real uniqueness of the Ibrahim Rauza. Between the two and in the center is a beautiful entrance with two minars at each corners. Thus, the whole composition is highly appealing.

Scholars have felt that if this were to be built of marble, the Ibrahim Rauza would have been a close challenger to the glory of the Taj Mahal.

Through architectural wonders such as the Ibrahim Rauza, the Adil Shahis immortalized themselves through this structure which is at once a combination of majesty and beauty.

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History and Architecture of the Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

Achyutaraya (1530–42 A.D.) temple complex is an imposing and magnificent cluster of temples in Hampi. However, it is called Achyutaraya Temple, an inscription of 1534 A.D. refers to this as Tiruvengalanatha or Venkatesha temple, and King Achyutaraya built it in 1539 A.D.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, pradakshinapatha, sabhamandapa, mahasabhamandapa, kalyanamandapa, Devi shrine etc. All these are enclosed in two prakaras one within the other.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The outer prakara has main gates at northern and western directions, whereas the inner prakara has the gateways at north, east, and west. All these gateways had gopuras, which are in ruined condition now.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The square garbhagriha, which originally had an image of Lord Venkatesha, is now empty. Its doorway is ornamented and has Vaishnava dvarapalas and Gajalakshmi at the lintel. Above the garbhagriha is a Dravida type sikhara. The square sabhamandapa has four pillars in the middle set on an elevated floor in the centre.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The mahasabhamandapa stands on thirty pillars set in five rows. The pillars exhibit typical Vijayanagara features. To the south-west is the Devi shrine and its garbhagriha is empty now. Its sabhamandapa has a sculpture, which has been identified as that of King Achyutaraya, the builder of this temple.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The sculptures of this temple exhibit good workmanship. The bass-reliefs of combination of bull and elephant arrest our attention. The pillars in general are neatly executed with elegantly carved sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

To the west is a large and rectangular kalyanamandapa or marriage pavilion. It has over one hundred pillars with sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, and Vishnu etc.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

In front of this complex are low-pillared mandapas, which had bazaars, or markets where merchants used to stock in heaps pearls and other precious stones and sell them. Many foreign travelers have graphically described this pearl bazaar the type of which never existed anywhere in the world except Hampi. That was the glory of Vijayanagara.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

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Luxurious Living for the Adil Shah Royal Family in Bijapur’s Sath Manzil

Sath Manzil palace built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II

Sath Manzil as the name itself signifies is a seven storied structure and in this case a palace. It was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the greatest rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty in 1583 CE. Actually, Ibrahim II is better known for his massive creation of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.

Sath Manzil stands near Gagan Mahal to the southwest of the latter, and enclosing a vast quadrangle known as granary. Though named Sath Manzil, today it is a structure of five stories only with a height of about 97 ft. There is a narrow staircase which connected the fifth story to the sixth which does not exist now. In the same manner, there should have been a still smaller connection between sixth and seventh and this justifies the name Sath Manzil. Ibrahim was not satisfied by the previously built Gagan Mahal that was both a palace and a durbar hall. Hence, Ibrahim II planned exclusively a palace in keeping with his status. Naturally seven storied building did not exist in Bijapur and hence Ibrahim thought of building a seven storied palace.

Sath Manzil Bijapur - 1860 Steel Engraving - Print

Sath Manzil for royal family of the Adil Shahi dynastySath Manzil palace was far more extensive than it is today. Therefore, what we see today is only a partial palace and the remaining parts have been destroyed. The Chini Mahal or Faroukh Mahal, which is close by, formed a part of the original palace. A passage along the terrace above the range of rooms on the west side of the quadrangle connected the Chini Mahal. The building was specially erected for pleasure and royal bath as can be understood from the frequent occurrence of ornamental baths and cisterns in various rooms. They are all connected by the water pipes laid from story to story through masonry. Thus, this lavish distribution of water pipes and bathing cisterns is a unique feature of this building.

Jal Mandir or Water pavilion in BijapurWater cisterns are found on all the stories of this building. The walls of these bathrooms were painted with human figures and others decorative motifs. The walls were also gilded beautifully and luxuriously. Another noteworthy feature of this beautiful building is the extensive use of wood as in the case of pillars, window frames, window screens, and brackets. There is another building called Jal Mandir or Water pavilion, which originally formed a part of this grand palace. It also had floorings decorated with colored tiles of different designs. Thus, Sath Manzil is famous for luxurious living of the royal family of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Such buildings are rare.

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Splendors of Sculptures and Architecture of Hazara Rama Temple, Hampi

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi

Hazara Rama temple is one of the most elegant temples in Hampi. Its construction was started in the year 1513 A.D., under the orders of Krishnadevaraya and was completed before the end of his reign.

Horizontal friezes Hampi Hazara Rama Temple.jpg From Bangalore, it was extensive journey of 353 kilometers to Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara empire, our first stop, along a uncomfortable narrow tarred road. We reached Hampi at about 6:30 p.m. and parked under a tree whose branches canopied throughout the road. Close by was the Hazara Rama (a thousand Ramas) temple which was splendid in the depending dusk. It is a quadrilateral temple complex set within well-tended lawns, destined for the secluded worship of the Vijayanagar kings. The air was cool and gleaming twilight rays moderated the sharp lines of the granite edifice. We admired the fine statuettes on the outer walls encircling the complex exulting when we recognized the figures.

Hampi's Hazara Rama Temple: Sculpture of Kalki holding in his four hands sankha, chakra, sword, and shield and riding a horse Actually, it is a royal chapel or a private temple for the use of the royalty. The temple opening to the east has a flat roofed dvaramandapa with symmetrical pillars. Passing through the doorway one enters into a square rangamandapa, which has blackstone tall pillars. These pillars are very attractive and contain sculptures of gods and goddesses, like Ganesha, Mahishamardini, Hanuman and different forms of Vishnu.

The sculpture of Kalki holding in his four hands sankha, chakra, sword, and shield and riding a horse is especially noteworthy. The rangamandapa has entrances to the south and north and the western entrance leads to the sanctum. One of these doors leads to the open enclosure from which the garbhagriha and its beautiful vimana become visible.

The outer wall of the prakara and Horizontal Friezes are great attraction at Hampi Hazara Rama Temple

The outer wall of the prakara also built of stone is a great attraction in this temple as it is divided into five horizontal friezes, each containing from the bottom upwards rows of elephants, horses, and Krishnalila stories in addition to some gods like Subramanya, Ganesha etc. Particularly interesting are the stories relating to Rishyasringa, Putrakameshti yaga, Sita svayamvara scene in which Sivardhanush is being carried.

To the north of the main garbhagriha is the shrine for the goddess. Though it is small in dimensions, it is very attractive from the point of view of ornamentation. The antarala of this shrine has on its eastern wall bas-relief of God Narasimha. On its doorway is found a Vaishnava saint giving something to a king. Some scholars have identified this as Vyasaraya and the king as Krishnadevaraya. At the northeast is the Kalyana mandapa built in 1521 A.D.

Hazara Rama Temple in Hampi This is the only temple situated in the core of the royal zone between the residential and ceremonial enclosures. Dedicated to Vishnu in his aspect as Lord Rama, this 15th century temple, is the finest example of a compact Dravida Vimana type of temple. In plan it has a sanctum, vestibule, pillared dance hall, with an entrance porch to the North and South. The Eastern porch is extended into an elegant pillared pavilion. There is a shrine for the goddess to the North which is also elegantly sculpted.

The temple is known for its sculpted friezes depicting the Ramayana, in three tiers, running all around the main shrine, and the narrative sculptures of the Lava—Kusha story on the Devi shrine. It is because of this that the temple was called the Hazara Rama. In addition, the temple is also known for the narrative sculptures of the Bhagavata, especially of Bala Krishna, and the sculpted polished pillars of the Mahamantapa (main hall). It was undoubtedly, the temple of the royal patronage.

Thus, the Hazara Rama temple at Hampi is a special temple built within the palace enclosure and on this account, it may be construed that this was built exclusively for the royalty for their personal use and contains good decorations and ornamentations done by the expert sculptors and architects of the Vijayanagara Empire.

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The Splendors of Monuments, Sites, Museums of South India

The Splendors of Monuments, Sites, Museums of South India

The southern travel market in India has fully-fledged and offers great potential for incoming, domestic and outbound business. Most of the participants in the travel trade are keen on establishing and making their presence in the southern market click. Here are some of the selections given by association presidents on the latent potential of South India as a travel destination. To list the important suggestions in a nutshell, the inbound segment at present is witnessing remarkable growth as these states compete more assertively in the highly competitive global tourism industry.

'Southern India: A Guide to Monuments Sites & Museums' by George Michell (ISBN 8174369201) George Michell provides a revolutionary and ornately illustrated introduction to the architecture, sculpture and portrait of Southern India under the South Indian Empires and the states that succeeded it. This period, encompassing some four hundred years, from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, was endowed with an abundance of religious and royal monuments which remain as testaments to the history and philosophy behind their evolution. The author evaluates the vestige of this artistic heritage, describing and illustrating buildings, sculptures and paintings that have never been published before. In a formerly neglected area of art history, the author presents an original and much needed reconsideration.

Architecture and Art of Southern India

Architecture and Art of Southern India

The overall aim of this volume is to provide an introduction to the architecture and art of Southern India under the South Indian Empires and the lesser kingdoms that succeeded it. The chronological span of the survey opens with the foundation of South Indian kingdoms in the middle of the fourteenth century and closes with the decline of the successor states in the middle of the eighteenth century. The most important of these successor states were founded by the Nayakas, originally governors under the South Indian kingdoms and emperors; but other figures also emerged as independent rulers towards the end of this era.

'Lonely Planet South India & Kerala' by Lonely Planet (ISBN 1743216777) Stretching along India’s southwestern coast, Kerala is home to beautiful seashores and backwaters, luxuriant jungles and tea-covered hills. This compact trip offers a chance to experience a part of India that’s truly off the beaten path. Paddle a canoe along lush canals, explore historic forts and palaces, sample flavorful cuisine, and more.

The general dealing of the subject reveals the author’s intimate acquaintance with different aspects of the culture of South India. The book is the outcome of long and arduous work in this field.

Later Hindu architecture, that is, after the twelfth century, has been neglected until reasonably recently, under the supposition that the finest constructions of Hindu artists were earlier and that later work was simply repetitive, debased, or degenerate. The sheer number of temples to study and the fact that they remain in use have also proved problematic. In south India the temple architecture of the South Indian Empires is now better known, but many consider the fall of the capital in 1565 to have resulted in the end of main temple construction.

City and Town Names in Southern India

City and town names in Southern India are commonly rendered in a wide range of spellings, some of which preserve nineteenth-century British usage. There is no attempt here to bring this linguistic misunderstanding into a single system; to the contrary, place names adhere to common practice, as is reflected in present-day maps and road signs. Significant variations, however, are given in the first allusion of a particular place in the text, sanctioning concordance with other works of reference.

Culinary Experiences in Southern India

Tourism industry is one of the most emergent sectors in South India. Attainment of tourism and hospitality segment depends upon the skill set of the human resources; quality training & education shall produce real professionals in this sector. Tourism education is a special branch of education in India to train and hearten individuals for providing first-class hospitality services. The main purpose of this is to focus on how education tries to fill up the necessities of tourism sector in South India. This paper tries to evaluate various scopes and challenges for the education system in tourism and hospitality. It also proposes a multi-disciplinary education design for tourism education in South India and emphasizes the changing role of tourism education in generating youth employability. On the basis of ancillary data analysis this study tries to examine the development of hospitality & tourism education in South India. Opportunities and challenges for tourism education initiatives by the government for augmenting the youth employability in the tourism sector.

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Architectural Grandeur of the Historic Varahaswamy Temple in Mysore Palace Complex

Sri Varahaswamy Temple, Mysore Palace Grounds

When sightseers visit Mysore, the capital of Wadiyar dynasty, the most-frequented places include the Chamundi Hill, Palaces, Krishna Raja Sagara, Kukkarahali Lake, Jaganmohana Art Gallery, Brindavan Gardens, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore Zoo, specially for the Dasara festival. Though the Wadiyars were well known for their religiosity, it is unfortunate that most of the temples built by them in the premises of Amba Vilas Palace are either overlooked by the natives or ignored by the tourists who get scarce knowledge about them.

The temples in and near the Mysore Palace are:

  • Shweta Varahaswamy Temple
  • Ambujavalli Mahalakshmi Temple
  • Gayatri Temple
  • Trinesvaraswamy Temple
  • Kodi Kala Bhairava Temple
  • Kodi Someswara Temple
  • Bhuvaneshwari Temple
  • Prasanna Krishnaswamy Temple
  • Khille Venkataramana Swamy Temple
  • Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple
  • Kote Anjaneyaswamy & Kote Ganapathy Temples
  • Sri Panduranga Vittala Temple
  • Vara Prasadi Ganapathy Temple
  • Kote Maramma Temple

Consecutive Mysore Maharajas built some of the temples in the Palace during the 14th and 15th centuries. The purpose of building these beautiful temples by the Maharajas was to reestablish the welfare and affluence of the royal family as well as their subjects.

If prudently scrutinized, one can find a temple at all directions. Most of the temples in the Palace are built in such a way that it presents a perfect symmetrical structure in the Palace complex. Even today, pujas in these temples are performed very faithfully. Most tourists are not aware of these temples’ presence as they are secluded and the attention is only on the Mysore Palace.

The famous Mysore Palace has a vast enclosure surrounded by a fort. Within this fort were built some temples, mostly for the personal use of the royalty. One such temple is Sri Varahaswamy temple.

Actually, the entire temple is a Hoysala structure as if built by the Hoysalas at this place. However, it is mentioned that this temple was built by Dewan Poornaiah with the architectural and sculptural slabs that were available at a Hoysala temple in Shimoga. Thus, it is a reset Hoysala temple during the period of Dewan Poornaiah when Krishnaraja Wadeyar III was the Mysore king. From this point of view, this is an excellent example of reconstructing a temple at a far off place when the technology of this type had not been developed as it is today. The temple has a mahadvara and a huge stucco gopura at the entrance.

Hoysala Architecture in Sri Varahaswamy Temple of Mysore Palace

The temple has a basement of horizontal moldings of different types. In fact this temple was built on this basement. There are three horizontal moldings at the bottom over which are found the wall with pilasters and niches. In the middle of the wall runs round the entire temple another eve-like molding over which the wall continues. At the roof level is a decorative eave and additional moldings. The sikhara is of a typical Hoysala type with various tiers.

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, navaranga and a mandapa of the later period. The garbhagriha doorway is well executed with minute decorations. The navaranga has well carved pillars also. The garbhagriha has a fine stone image of Shweta Varahaswamy. This image was originally at a place called Srimushna in South Arcot district of Tamilnadu. The Mysore king Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar (1673–1704) brought this image from Tamilnadu and consecrated it at a temple in Srirangapatna.

Garbhagriha has a fine stone image of Shweta Varahaswamy in Sri Varahaswamy Temple, Mysore When this temple was destroyed during the period of Tipu Sultan, this sculpture was shifted to Mysore and consecrated here in 1809. The utsavamurti (image meant for procession) of the temple was also a gift of king Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar. There are also images of Manvalamuni and Vedantadesika donated by Krishnaraja Wadeyar III. The inner wall of the prakara has a painting of the coronation of Sri Rama done in 1865. The navaranga also has some paintings of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Thus, the temple is one of the interesting temples within the precincts of the Mysore palace.

Every year, hundreds of devotees participate in the Bramhotsava of Lord Shwethavarahaswamy located in the Palace premises with religious fervour and gaiety. Hundreds of devotees witnessed the auspicious event as the decorated chariot of Lord Shwetha Varahaswamy, went round the Palace premises. More than 15 vedic scholars led by head priest of the temple chant slokas praising the mightiness of Lord Varahaswamy.

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Architectural Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

History of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

History of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

Oriental Research Institute is a prominent establishment having a fertile and precious compendium of Sanskrit manuscripts. It is the depository of over 50,000 manuscripts. The Institution was founded in 1891 by the then Government of the Maharaja of Mysore with the purpose of collecting, editing, printing and preserving old Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts. It was commenced in the type of a library at the Maharaja’s College, one of the respected colleges in the then Mysore State, and afterwards, when the current building was built to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, it was moved to the present-day building. The building is located behind the Maharaja’s College, near the University secretarial headquarters, the Crawford Hall.

In the start, the library was under the directorial management of the Department of Education. The Department of Archaeology was also contained in the same building. Later on, it was detached from the Department of Education and the Department of Archaeology was also transferred from there, making it an absolute depository of old manuscripts collected from different parts of India.

Due to the earnest efforts of great scholars like Mr. Kasturi Rangachar, Prof. D.L. Narasimhachar and Prof. T.N.Shrikantayya (Tee.Nam.Shri.), perpetual overseeing work was done and the edited works were published in two series – Bibliotheca Sanskrit and Bibliotheca Kannada. It accomplished worldwide fame when Prof. R.Shama Sastry, celebrated scholar, traced from among the collection the monumental work, ‘Artha Shastra’ of Kautilya and published it. Since then, the Institute has brought out the abundant material available from among its collection in a number of prestigious publications.

When the Mysore University was started in 1916, the library was placed under its management to empower research and study of the manuscripts by Sanskrit and Kannada students and scholars of the University. A supervision committee with the Vice-Chancellor as Chairman and reputed academics was constituted. By 1918, the library was well arranged with an office and four sections:

  1. manuscript collection
  2. publication
  3. printed books, and
  4. research.

In 1943, the name of the library was changed to Oriental Research Institute. In 1954, the post of the Director was created. To preserve and safeguard the palm leaf and paper manuscripts, microfilm facility was installed in 1954. When the Institute of Kannada Studies was established in the Mysore University, the collection of Kannada manuscripts was shifted from the Oriental Research Institute to the Institute, located in Manasa Gangotri campus, in 1966.

In addition to publishing the ancient manuscripts by comprehensive research and study by scholars involved for the purpose, the Institute has also brought out a descriptive directory of Sanskrit manuscripts.

The Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

The Heritage Building of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

The beautiful building housing the famous Oriental Research Institute attached to the Mysore University is located amidst heritage buildings such as Athara Kacheri (Deputy Commissioner’s Office), Crawford Hall and Maharaja’s and Yuvaraja’s Colleges in Mysore. Actually, it was built in 1891 in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and hence it was popularly known as Victoria Jubilee Institute.

The building is a rare specimen of European classical style of architecture combining Gothic, Corinthian, and Romanesque elements. The building faces north and is built on a podium, which gives the advantage of height to the structure. Flights of steps at east and west lead to the center of the structure, which is a spacious hall.

The most attractive part of this hall is the dome, which is of Mansard or curb type roof having slope on all the four sides. The topmost portion has a square flat roof. On either side are colonnades with series of double Corinthian pillars with north-south sloping roof. On either side of the colonnades are two rectangular halls with four Corinthian pillars supporting low triangular triforia. These triforia is ornamental with cut moldings.

Architecture of the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore

In keeping with the contour of the triforia, the roof of this rectangular hall is in east-west orientation. At the ground level of this hall is an arch-shaped balcony, which enhances the grace of the structure. Thus in one small building three different types of roofs are accommodated.

Another notable feature of this building is the addition of Hoysala sculptures brought here from a ruined Hoysala temple. In the same way, many stone inscriptions also have been brought and kept in the garden opposite the building along with some Hoysala sculptures.

At present, this building houses the Oriental Research Institute attached to the Mysore University. This is a vast repository of ancient palm leaf manuscripts and is a research center publishing ancient works. In fact this Institute is famous internationally because of the discovery of the manuscript of Kautilya’s Arthasastra by the great scholar R. Shamashastry. Thus, it is famous not only for its architecture but also for the palm leaf manuscripts. This institute is visited by hundreds of research scholars interested in Indology, not only from India but also from many other countries.

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Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karnataka

Brick Jaina Basadi in Talakad, Karanataka

Talakad on the banks of the river Cauvery was famous as the capital of the early Western Gangas and continued as an important cultural centre till the times of the Wadeyars. Now it is famous for its amazing sand dunes and the panchalinga darshana. Archaeological excavations were conducted here and they revealed many brick structures of antiquity and the present Jaina temple is one such structure excavated here.

The Western Gangas were great patrons of Saivism and Jainism as evidenced by many inscriptions and structures. They are known to have built a Vijaya Jinalaya at Talavanapura or Talakad itself and perhaps the excavated Jaina temple may be the same as the one referred to in the inscription. Unfortunately only the foundation of this temple could be traced but not the superstructure. The entire temple was built of well-burnt bricks.

The brick temple consisted of three garbhagrihas in a row horizontally, an antarala and a mukhamandapa with a provision for pradakshinapatha. All these structures are enclosed within a prakara wall also of bricks. The main garbhagriha is square (3.25 mts) with two rectangular sanctums on each side (3.25 x 1.80 mts). In front of these sanctums is a small oblong porch (2.8 x 11.00 mts). All the three garbhagrihas have separate doorways in the front opening to the common porch.

Tirthankara Parsvanatha with five hooded serpent and an umbrella and Padmavati Yakshi in Talakad The separate mukhamandapa in front of the sanctums is square with thick foundation walls. The entire structure was built over a basement or a plinth consisting of various types of mouldings. Perhaps some pillars were used at different points. Perhaps these and other wooden pillars supported wooden framework of the roof above. Thus the brick construction was strong as well as elegant.

Very close to the garbhagriha was found a stone image of Tirthankara Parsvanatha. It is in high relief. He is standing with a five hooded serpent and an umbrella above. There is a sculpture of Padmavati Yakshi at the left holding an umbrella over the serpent. This is a rare sculpture. This was the image which adorned the main garbhagriha of this temple. Thus this brick temple provides evidence for Ganga patronage to Jainism at Talakad itself.

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