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The Distinctive Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Ladkhan temple is a significant temple at Aihole because of the method of its construction which marks an important stage in the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.

The temple is called Ladkhan Temple because a gentleman named Ladkhan lived in the temple and consequently the local populace began to call it so. If truth be told, early India scholars like Percy Brown and others considered this temple to be the earliest in Aihole and assigned a date 450 CE. On the contrary, modern researches have revealed that it is not that early and scholars designate it to seventh century CE.

Numerous sculptures of amorous couples in Ladkhan Temple of Aihole It has a distinctive plan and does not give the mark of a temple at all in the first instance. In reality, it looks like a mandapa with rows of pillars. The temple consists of a small garbhagriha attached to the rear wall of a square sabhamandapa and a rectangular mukhamandapa/em>. Hence, there is no pradakshinapatha. The interior of the sabhamandapa is divided into two parallel enclosures with the help of a row of pillars.

The garbhagriha has a Sivalinga and therefore it might have been a Siva temple initially. The rectangular mandapa in the front is smaller in size and provides an entrance. As there is a good image of Surya, some scholars consider it as a temple devoted to Sun. The garbhagriha entryway has Garuda in human form on the doorjamb.

The temple stands on a cellar with moldings and the uppermost molding is very thick, over which rises the wall of the temple. A similar molding is found at the roof level. But what is more interesting is the roof itself. The posterior portion has a square in two tiers with a slight slope in all the four directions. On them are placed stone rafters in reproduction of wooden roof of the earlier buildings. Similar is the roof of the front mandapa, which is rectangular. On the roof of the sabhamandapa is an upper garbhagriha opening to the east with pillars and pilasters without any sikhara. These architectural features have made this temple unique.

Ladkhan Temple - Earliest Temple in Aihole

There are a large number of sculptures on the pillars and the koshthas. Numerous sculptures of amorous couples and the jalandhras are very eye-catching. The roof of the mandapa has a naga holding a lotus. The upper garbhagriha wall has niches in which are found sculptures of Vishnu, Surya, and Siva. Bearing in mind all the architectural features the Ladkhan temple is considered to represent an important stage in the development of early Chalukyan art.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Beauty and Majesty of the Adil Shahi Architecture of the Jumma Masjid in Bijapur

Jumma Masjid at Bijapur has the characteristic of expressing the early characters of the Adil Shahi architecture. In fact, some features of the earlier Bahamani style can also be seen in this monument. Thus it is a good example for the beginning of the Adil Shahi style which culminated in other monuments as it Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rauza.

The Jumma Masjid mosque was built by Ali Adil Shah I in about 1570 AD. It is the largest and most beautiful mosque in Bijapur with series of arches. In fact, the arches are the most important character of this building. It seems it was never completed because it still lacks two minars, which were intended to flank the two sides of the eastern entrance. Though unfinished in this respect, it presents an elegant look.

The mosque is a huge structure with a rectangle of 450 feet long and 225 feet wide. The walls of this building offer a vast area of simple and plain masonry. However, the monotony of the simplicity is relieved by exterior decorations.

The uniqueness of this mosque is the construction of two rows of arches one above the other. The builder has selected the lower rows for ornamentation. The mosque contains a courtyard which is a square of 155 feet each side. This has a row of seven arches on each side and over them projects a wide and deep cornice on brackets.

Two rows of arches in Jumma Masjid of Bijapur The interior of the sanctuary is equally elegant and impressive. It consists of a large quadrangle, which measures 208 feet in length and 107 feet in width. This is divided into five aisles with the help of arches.

The innermost part is a square nave, each side measuring 76 ft. It has twelve arches, three on each side. These arches intersect above and produce an octagonal cornice that supports the base of the dome. The shape of the dome is pleasing with small isles and small arches all round and a decorated parapet above. Thus, it provides a decorative base for the dome. The mihrab consists of elaborate mural design in relief with bright colors.

Ali Adil Shah I on his return from his victorious and memorable expedition against Ramaraya of Vijayanagara and his treasury overflowing with spoils of war, naturally thought of creating a place of worship (mosque).

The Sultan summoned architects and artisans from Persia and elsewhere and hence the structure has become a building of great elegance, beauty, and majesty.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Architectural Highlights of the Iconic Krishna Temple in Hampi

Krishnadevaraya, the most celebrated king of the Vijayanagar dynasty, invaded Udayagiri kingdom in modern-day Orissa in 1513 A.D., and conquered the Gajapati ruler there and brought an image of Lord Krishna as war trophy. He built a temple to house this image at Hampi and it is famous as Krishna Temple.

Krishnadevaraya even minted gold coins with a portrait of Balakrishna to celebrate this remarkable event. The entire temple is built in the centre of an enclosure, which measures 88 and 60 meters in length and breadth respectively. The entire structure is surrounded by a tall prakara wall, which opens to the east, north, and south.

Krishna Temple is built of granite and consists of a garbhagriha, an antarala, an ardhamandapa, a sabhamandapa and a mahamandapa. All these are enclosed within a high prakara wall with a mahadvara, which has a gopura built of brick and mortar. The gopura is in ruins but it contains some good stucco figures associated with Krishna.

Central pillars with relief sculptures at Krishna Temple, Hampi The square garbhagriha is bare now, as the original image of Krishna has been removed. It is made out of greenish black granite showing Krishna as a child seated on a pedestal. The front entrance is well decorated with Vaishnava dvarapalas on either side and Gajalakshmi on the lintel. The sabhamandapa has four central pillars with relief sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, Krishna as Kalingamardana, etc.

The mukhamandapa is an graceful structure with 32 pillars with entrances at north, south, and east. These tall and lean pillars have fine sculptures of Vaishnava deities. There is a garuda mandapa of Dravidian type and a dipastambha (lamp pillar) in its front. At the four corners of this temple once stood small shrines intended for subsidiary Gods. However, they are derelict now. The composite pillars and pillars with horses and yalis add exquisiteness to the temple.

Mahadvara and Huge Gateways of the Krishna Temple, Hampi This temple is famous for the huge gateways at north, south, and east. The eastern gateway or the mahadvara is enormous and graceful and perhaps one of the best specimens of that type in Hampi. Thus, Krishna temple was one of the most popular temples at Hampi built by the most famous king Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara Empire.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

The Grandeur of the Elephant Stables at Hampi, Capital of the Mighty Vijayanagara Empire

The Grandeur of the Elephant Stables at Hampi, Capital of the Mighty Vijayanagara Empire

The elephant stables are an imposing structure in an immense open space at Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. True to its identity, every single fragment of the structure is colossal, like the Jumbo elephant itself.

Like many of the buildings in Hampi, the elephant stables show evidence of Indo-Islamic motifs while cut plaster decorations and arches are in the Deccani Islamic style.

At the side of the Lotus Mahal is a row of eight high domes of the elephant stables that shows early Indo-Islamic architectural influences, and gives you an idea of the importance accorded both to ceremonial as well as battle elephants.

Impressive Domes of the Hampi Elephant Stables

Impressive Domes of the Hampi Elephant Stables

Essentially, the elephant stables structure is an oblong construction running to 85 meters from south to north and its depth is 9 meters. There are eleven compartments or rooms, five on each side with one in the center. All the cells are of identical measurement, each side measuring 6 meters. The middle cell has a stairway leading to the rooftop of the building, which has ten domes of different shapes; the middle cell has a double storied pillared pavilion, which is partially destroyed. The impressive domes display Islamic architectural types and add a distinguished and colossal look to the structure. There is a variation in these domes. Some are rounded; some have twelve angles, while yet others have sixty-two flutings.

The cells have tall arched openings to the west whereas there are small accesses at the east. Some of these cells are interconnected also. The cells have thick and strong walls. At the roof level, wood was implanted which perhaps contained iron rings or hooks so that the elephants could be shackled. The arched entrances and flat domes are of Bahamani style and it is hard to explain why the Vijayanagara kings used Islamic architectural features for this building.

Even though the native belief connects this building with elephants, some scholars question its exact suggestion. But historical contexts do not subsist in themselves; they must be defined, and in that sense constructed, by the historian afore the explanatory work of engendering explanation, and of interpreting the past. Vijayanagara army had several elephants but this building is meant to accommodate only eleven elephants. Perhaps these were imperial elephants. King Deva Raya II was a great lover of elephants. It is possible that these stables were built during his period.

Elephant Stables and Vijayanagara King Devaraya II

Elephant Stables and Vijayanagara King Deva Raya II

Vijayanagara empire’s historians have long grappled with the undertaking of construing chronicles that, even though written in the past tense, are nevertheless demanding, if not unfeasible to resolve with each other or indeed, the modern historical sense of there having been a singular past. Reigned over by four consecutive dynasties of kings, the Vijayanagara institution transformed itself from a small regional kingdom to the foremost political and military power in southern India within the period of about two hundred years. The power and grandeur of the Vijayanagara Empire reached during the sovereignty of Deva Raya II (1422–46) reached its pinnacle under the able and powerful tenure of Krishnadeva Raya (1505–29). There was a resurgence of art and architecture on an unprecedented scale during his reign. Vijayanagara was undoubtedly a name to conjure within the lands south of the mighty Tungabhadra river.

Many contemporaneous foreign essayists of the period have given eloquent testament to the elephants of the Vijayanagara period. Abdul Razzak (the prominent Persian ambassador who visited in 1443 and wrote about the extraordinary wealth of Vijayanagara) states that Deva Raya II had more than one thousand elephants grand as hills and colossal as demons. Deva Raya II took on many designations associated with elephants and even circulated gold coins with elephant on the obverse.

From all these specifics, it can be construed that elephants played a major role during the Vijayanagara period not only in military conflicts but also in festivals and religious pageants of royals in the same way as Dasara in Mysore. These stables signify the military might of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Exquisite Architectural Temples and Heritage of Pattadakal, Karnataka

Chalukyan Architects Made Experiments with Various Styles of Architecture

Types of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal Pattadakal was a city bubbling with political and artistic activities throughout the time of the Western Chalukyas of Badami more than eleven centuries ago. Situated on the left bank of the river Malaprabha and contained by hillocks of red sandstone amidst scenic splendor, this location became sacrosanct and it was the sincere choice of the kings to carry out the numerous coronation (patta) ceremonies and hence it came to be called Pattadakal. It is also called Kisuvolalu and Sanskritised as Raktapura.

Group of Dravida and Nagara Temples Pattadakal

Along with Aihole and Badami, Pattadakal became a cradle of early Chalukyan temples. It is generally believed that the Chalukyan architects made experiments with various styles of architecture even before the silpashastras standardized them. Hence, scholars are fond of calling these places as workshops of architecture.

In point of fact, Pattadakal represents the final or culminating phase of the early Chalukyan style of architecture. There are no less than twelve worthy temples of the Chalukyan period at Pattadakal.

World Heritage Site -- Group of Temples, Pattadakal

Exquisite Temples and Get a Glimpse of Our Heritage Both Dravida and Nagara type of temples were built at Pattadakal during the reign of the early Chalukyan kings. Sangamesvara, Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and Jaina temples belong to the Dravidian technique, whereas Galaganatha, Papanatha, Kasi Visvesvara, Kadasiddesvara and Jambulinga temples belong to Nagara or north Indian style.

From the sequential standpoint, the temple building- pursuit as known from the dated specimens started here from the beginning of the seventh century and sustained up until the middle of the ninth century CE.

Thus, three hundred years and more saw a splendid epoch in the evolution of temple architecture in Karnataka in general and Pattadakal in particular.

Early Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

Workshops of Temple Architecture in Pattadakal There were master architects like Revadi Ovajja, Anivarita Gunda, supported by sculptors like Changamma, Pullappan, Baladeva, et cetera. It also had the guidance of dance masters like Achalan and devadasis like Chalabbe. More than all, the early Chalukya kings, their queens like Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi and others, officials and ministers not only helped in building some of these Pattadakal temples but also gave generous grants of land and money for the fitting maintenance as well as the rituals in these temples.

It is but natural that hundreds of visitors both from India and abroad visit these exquisite temples and get a glimpse of our heritage. Hence, UNESCO has declared Pattadakal as a World Heritage site, a great honor indeed to Karnataka.

Silpashastra in Chalukyan Temples in Pattadakal

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Magnificent Architecture and Motifs of the Malegitti Shivalaya Temple, Badami, India

Malegitti Shivalaya Temple of Badami

Badami or Vatapi (in Sanskrit) was the capital of the early Chalukyas. Pulakeshi I, one of the early kings of this kingdom built a strong defense at Badami and made it his capital in the year 547 CE. From that time forwards, the later kings of this dynasty built rock-cut and structural temples here for about three hundred years and for this reason, Badami became a distinguished hub of Karnataka architecture and sculpture.

On the opposite side of the town, below and around the north fort, there are a number of structural temples. There are many temples at Badami of which Malegitti Shivalaya is remarkable from many points of view. Imaginably with the connection of a woman who was a garland-maker, this temple should have got that name.

Vishnu Relief at Malegitti Shivalaya of Badami

The very location of this temple is appealing. It is built on a ridge of the rugged hills, which have a view over the town of Badami. Malegitti Shivalaya is noteworthy from the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.

Badami’s Malegitti Shivalaya represents a phase of Chalukyan art. It is a good example where the domical finial is octagonal and is supported by a series of small shrines. It is not a large temple but is a solid enormous construction palpably to withstand the ravages of time. This may not show predominantly sophisticated parts but it has grandeur of its own.

Chalukyan Architecture in Malegitti Shivalaya of Badami

The temple consists of three parts namely garbhagriha, sabhamandapa and mukhamandapa. The basement consists of mouldings one of which is thicker and has ganas carved on it. The wall of the temple consists of pilasters at regular intervals. Nevertheless, the centre of the sabhamandapa has a koshtha which adorns an image of Vishnu and on both sides are rectangular pierced windows. Over this runs a thick eave and above it are some more moldings. The tower over the garbhagriha is a archetypal Dravidian sikhara and by its small size looks graceful. The mukhamandapa has four pillars supporting a flat roof. The two dvarapalas fully decorated are artistically superior with fine expressions and alert poses.

Chalukyan Art in Malegitti Shivalaya of Badami

The southern wall has an image of Shiva holding a trident, and a serpent. In the interior of the sabhamandapa on the ceiling is an image of Vishnu on Garuda within a lotus medallion. The garbhagriha doorway is highly ornamental with trimmings of foliage, pilaster, floral designs with nagas on either side with mithuna sculptures. The lintel has Nataraja in miniature. Inside the garbhagriha is a linga.

Shiva Relief at Malegitti Shivalaya of Badami

An architect by name Aryaminchi Upadhyaya is the designer of this Malegitti Shivalaya as stated by an inscription. On stylistic justification, this temple is dated to the seventh century CE. The dire condition most other temples around Badami contrast with the reasonably finished Malegitti Shivalaya, which crowns on as secluded boulder beneath the western flank of the North fort, this temple also be dated to the first half of the 7th century and is of historical interest for its well-preserved carvings.

Magnificent Architecture and Motifs of the Malegitti Shivalaya Temple, Badami, India

Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi, Gerusoppa in Karnataka

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

Gerusoppa, Home to Several Basadis (Jain Temples)

The municipality of Gerusoppa is located about 30 kms from the well-known Gerusoppa Falls on the banks of Sharavathi river in Honnavar taluk .

Gerusoppa is 25 km from the outlet of Jog Falls—a long time ago functioned as the capital of the Salva empire that reigned over the region between 14th and 15th centuries. Acknowledged to have trade interactions with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the empire reached its pinnacle under the supremacy of Rani Chennabhairadevi. She governed over contemporary Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Uttara Kannada for 54 years: the lengthiest reign by any Indian woman head of state.

Vijayanagara architecture in Jain basadis of Western Ghats Though it was the capital of the Saluva empire, it became famous for the duration of the rule of Queen Channabhairadevi (1548–99 A.D.) famous as the Pepper Queen. (After the fall of the Vijayanagara empire, Queen Chennabhairadevi handled the Portuguese very diplomatically, who nicknamed her ‘Raina de Pimenta’—the Pepper Queen.) Ikkeri chief Hiriya Venkatappa Nayaka defeated the queen and Gerusoppa was abandoned and came to ruins.

Frequently suggested to as the ‘Harappa of Jains’, Gerusoppa is institution to several basadis (Jain temples) with exclusive architecture, hundreds of inscriptions, groups of temples and structures that were all in the past part of an overseas trade hub. Currently, unfortunately, most of them have either been hidden under centuries of earth or endured as ruins, absorbed by the dense forests of the Western Ghats.

Queen Channabhairadevi, Queen of Black Pepper - Benefactor of Jain Temples Basadis in Gerusoppa

Queen Channabhairadevi or ‘Mahamandaleshwari’, Queen of Black Pepper

The history of Jainism in South India and its influence on the life and thought of the people is a fascinating subject. No topic of ancient South Indian history is more thought-provoking than the origin and development of the Jains who, in times past, intensely affected the political, religious and literary establishments of South India. It has occasionally been thought that an associated account of the Jains could not ever be written.

Rani Channabhairadevi Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa Situated deep inside the evergreen Sharavathi valley on the stores of the Sharavathi river, neither the sanctuaries nor the antique town can be accessed without difficulty. While Jain believers crowd the place in large numbers using private vehicles, the villages are more or less off limits to tourists due to an absence of publicity and information.

Previously known as Haive, Gerusoppa was afterwards named Nagar Bastikeri and subsequently Ngaire. Formerly a famous center of trade and commerce, Gerusoppa was ruled by the Saluva kings. While Honnavar functioned as a harbor for internal trade, nearby Bhatkal was celebrated as an intercontinental harbor.

The Saluva kingdom reached its zenith under the regime of Rani Channabhairadevi, who ruled between 1554 and 1603, and hailed as Mahamandaleshwari. Living the followers of Jainism, the queen organized the creation of the historic Chaturmukha Basadi in 1562. With several ship-loads of pepper and spices being methodically traded to the west, Gerusoppa was often the sticking point between numerous princely states. The rulers of Keladi were frequently at war with Gerusoppa for jurisdiction over the expensive province.

Moreover, Channabhairadevi had gone to war with the Portuguese, who attempted to grab the ports and take the reins of the spice trade. Two times, once in 1559 and then again in 1570, the queen efficaciously crushed the Portuguese maritime force with her military stratagem.

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Architectural Marvel of the Chaturmukha Basadi

Chaturmukha Basadi is a Jain temple unique in its plan as it is open on all four sides (chaturmukha). It is also called Sarvatobhadra in silpasatra texts. Such temples are unique.

The Chaturmukha basadi has a garbhagriha, antaralas (vestibule), navarangas and four entrances with flight of steps. The entire temple is built on a cellar which is in the shape of a star and provides open circumbulatory passage. The outer walls have ornamented niches some of which have gods and goddesses. There are some jalandhras also.

The four access doorways are alike and seated tirthankara is carved on the lintel. On either side are found the high relief sculptures of dvarapalas well bedecked and standing in dvibhanga. The devakoshthas with Dravida and Kadamba Nagara sikharas contain sculptures. Now there is no roof over the whole structure.

Chaturmukha Basadi of Gerusoppa was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi The interior of the Chaturmukha Basadi has navarangas with four prominent pillars in the centre of the enclosure. Thus the sixteen pillars of the Vijayanagara type measure about 10 ft in height. Navaranga is separated by the antarala with a very thick wall. They also have decorated niches to house gods and goddesses.

The three lintels of the doorways have seated tirthankaras although the southern doorway has Gajalakshmi on its lintel. Then there are four antaralas each of which has two decorated pillars. Thus there are eight such pillars.

The sole garbhagriha has four seated tirthankaras each facing a different direction. This gives a meaning to the structure fronting four directions. These four tirthankara sculptures are made of black stone and have high glossy polish.

There are no historical chronicles to know the patron of this exclusive Jain temple. But it is commonly judged that Queen Channabhairadevi built this temple. Even the contemporaneous explorer Pietro Della Valle is silent about it. From the stylistic substantiation this temple may be dated to sixteenth century A.D.

Acclaimed as an architectural marvel, Chaturmukha Basadi was built by Rani Chennabhairadevi back in 1562. Constructed in granite, the Basadi has remained out-of-bounds to sightseers. Constructed in the Vijayanagara style, the basadi has four entrances, one in each of the four compass points, all fronting to the sanctum sanctorum. Though no official prayer rituals are done at the Chaturmukha basadi, the Parshawanatha basadi, or the Neminatha basadi, recurrent prayers and pooja services are organized at the close by Jwalamalini temple.

Posted in Faith and Religion Travels and Journeys

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.

Posted in Management and Leadership Software and Programming

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.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

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.

Posted in Travels and Journeys