Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is a town in the state of Karnataka in India.  It has two hills.  The smaller one, called Chandragiri, has a Hindu Temple Complex on top.  The other hill, the Vindhyagiri, is more famous, and is one of the great pilgrimage sites for followers of the Jain religion. It is known for the temple on top with a giant monolithic statue of Gomateshwara, also called Bahubali, the son of the first tirtankara of the Jain religion.  There are several smaller shrines (called basadis in Karnataka) on the hill.  The climb to the top of this hill is a challenge, but it is undertaken by tourists and pilgrims of all ages and many faiths in great numbers.  Here are some pictures from our climb.

The first picture was taken near the start of the climb.  As you may notice, the steps are carved into the rock and are quite uneven.  You also have to leave your footwear at the bottom before you start up the hill.  On a hot day one might have to wear socks to be able to walk on the hot rock.  At this point in the climb you cannot see the temples at the top of the hill.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe climb is quite steep.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlong the way you get a good view of the town’s water tank, the belagola (white pond), and the smaller Chandragiri hill.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou want to keep a good hold on the railing while climbing!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is a flat area and a place for a temporary stop after the first section of the climb.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next section of the climb is shorter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There is an additional short section that needs to be climbed before reaching the main temple where the statue of Bahubali is located. They were in the process of preparing for the Mahamastakabhisheka, a Jain festival that is held once every 12 years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the logo of the 2018 festival, courtesy of Wikipedia.We found a Jain priest at the foot of the statue who was blessing the devotees of different faiths who came up to him with offerings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the view of the town from the level of the temple.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen we were on our way back down to the intermediate level.  There were some folks who insisted on sliding down the railing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA closeup of the Chandragiri temple complex across town.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the artifacts on the hill.  I am not sure what exactly it is.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn our way down to the bottom of the hill.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a unique experience and a visit recommended for anybody in decent physical shape.

A Feeling of Quiet in a Noisy Place

My parents’ home in Chennai is not a quiet place.  In fact, the noise from the traffic and the people on the street, when combined with the dust raised by the vehicles passing by the front of the home, can make it a place that one may want to escape from under other circumstances.

But that is not necessarily the way I feel when I am here.  When I sit down in the verandah beside the garden to read a book, or walk up to the terrace to putter around with my camera,  when I  hear the sounds of the street, be it the voices of the people speaking in a language that I can barely follow, or the familiar rumble of the engines of the city buses, when I watch the birds flying high overhead in the fading evening light, it is feeling of peace that one experiences.  Even if this state of mind is occasionally shattered by the loud honking of an impatient bus or a truck passing by, or by something else, the disturbance quickly fades away as the other sounds of the street once again take over the senses to soothe the soul and bring back that comforting sense of familiarity.

I have arrived at a time of year when the weather is very pleasant.  I am avoiding the heat and humidity of summer and the rains of the monsoon. The evening breeze cools the air as I relax in the open spaces of the verandah and the terrace.

I am back in a familiar place that I can call home.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More Impressions of Chennai

Including the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, where I grew up.

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Letting sleeping dogs lie
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A banyan Tree in IIT
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Chital deer in IIT
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Monkeys at the IIT stadium
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The Besant Nagar beach scene
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At a roadside shrine in the evening
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On St. Thomas Mount
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Passing Central Station
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Front of Kapaleswara Temple
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Vendor of flowers in front of the temple
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Early morning at the entrance to the Phoenix Market Center

A Chennai Landing

I departed the Washington DC area late in the evening on an Air France flight to Paris.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy seat was at the tail end of the plane. At least it was an aisle seat.  Unfortunately, the guy from West Africa in the middle seat insisted on spreading himself out.  His thick leather jacket did not help.   I kept my cool for the whole flight.  Was a little concerned about the time it would take to deplane and get to the terminal for the next flight, especially in light of the layout of Charles De Gaulle airport, but it turned out to be OK.

The only notable adventure in Paris was the insistence by the security folks that the cans of tuna I was carrying could not be taken through.  My argument that the folks at my airport of origin in the US had let me keep the food, and the fact that it was mainly solid material, did not convince the lady.

It was late in the morning in Paris when I departed town on the second leg of the trip. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI experienced the second sunset of the trip from the Jet Airways A330-300 aircraft from the window seat as we passed a mountain range and a couple of snow capped mountain peaks, most likely in Iran.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArrived in Chennai after a long flight at an ungodly hour of the morning, something that is typical for international flight flights from the west arriving at Chennai.  Trip home from the airport through the then quiet roadways in a call taxi was uneventful.  Got home and managed to get into bed without waking up the folks until a more reasonable hour of the morning.

Good to be home once again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe house looks more exposed to the elements since the cyclone last year took down a lot of the trees in the compound.  It is a pity.  But the birds still come around occasionally.  This one might have been looking to build a nest somewhere close by.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have not gotten a picture of the night heron yet although I did see it on the first day I was here.

Been taking it easy with a couple of trips into town to meet with old friends from school and college days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUber and Ola seem to be the new ways to get around in town, but I am still working on getting this new technology under control.

Chennai still seems to be a place in a perpetual state of chaos during the day and absolute quiet (except for the stray cats and dogs) during the night.  Traffic is crazy over here. You are at risk of losing life and/or limb if you try to cross a street during the busier times of the day.  There are very few crosswalks, if any.  The place where we live also experiences a dangerous and somewhat puzzling breakdown in the public infrastructure at the street level.  Sidewalks, where they exist, are quite often in shambles.  There are also the open drains that should have been covered a long time ago. Animals wander around and defecate wherever they wish. Pedestrians are forced onto the street to compete with the chaotic traffic of both four-wheelers and two-wheelers. You play chicken with the buses and other vehicles that are careening through the chaos and around the blind corners of the road.  But life for the locals goes on in spite of this and other challenges.  This is their home, and nobody can take this away from them. It does feel good to be back.

The weather is good and the mosquitoes are mostly leaving me alone, which is good.  Waiting for the rest of the family and for further adventures to continue.