Sunday, 15 April 2018

City of pilgrims

Varansi had that sense of timeless culture that allows the traveler to reflect on profound issues pertaining to being towards whatever. In this first article I explore the notion of various modes of being in time.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Travels' to the more remote regions of India





A highlight of my six month sojourn in the sub-continent was residing in a small hill station in Orisa. Koraput is the central town to many small villages that have their own distinctive cultural expressions. The article ( 18 pages) is a survey of religion, lively-hood practices, community development of the region that includes Jaypure, Jagdalpur and Koraput were I resided for most of the duration of my visit.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A contrast to the senses.

A comparative approach ( 11 page article of text and image) that contrasts the Himalayan region with that of Rajasthan as a form of travelography.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Reflections on Goa from a travelers point of view within a six month sojourn through the sub-continent.

Highlights from the Goa (article 14 pages) include world heritage listed churches, contemporary festivals, Arjuna markets, cafe/party culture, Portuguese cottages, beach life, street art, lifestyle.



Friday, 9 March 2018

Contrasting depictions of city life through a traveler’s lens.

To Travel through cities and regional centers reveals a juxtaposition of experiences which can give a unique encounter with the very big and small in terms of lived experience.


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Charminar markets, Hyderabad.

Exploring districts like Charminar (10 pages of images and text) gives a glimpse into a place steeped in its own sense of history amidst the contemporary need for gratification, and all that it entails. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A sojourn to Hyderabad

reveals a city of beauty and simplicity that sits amidst the roaring traffic and the constant hum of humanity thronging narrow byways.


Thursday, 15 February 2018

The stone garden. A sculpture community near Mamalapuram. 2018

There is a sculpture community situated amidst pastoral scenes in a small village West of Mamalapuram. The link explores my interactions with the sculptors and a selection of works I produced whist residing there for over a month.


A sense of place. Mamalapuram. 2018

Residing in the small beach side town for a couple of month. The prime occupation being sculpture, but also afforded some photography of scenes around the locale.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Sculpture community, travelography account

Being in Mammalapuram gave an opportunity for an extensive participation with a sculpture community some distance from the town. I was given a space to be creative on my own projects which gave me a unique opportunity to interact with many long time sculptors that were generous in giving their time, introducing me to many aspects of traditional temple sculpture (23 pages), or preview (5 pages). 


 

Monday, 29 January 2018

Sculptural street art

A synopsis of sculpture in Mammalapuram ranging from street artists who produce all kinds of forms for popular culture to the companies that focus on religious iconography. My first foray into the scene was with a street artist (article 10 pages).  The basics of stone sculpture is simple, however it becomes complex when  adding power tools to the process that began with a hammer and chisel. 



Monday, 22 January 2018

Sun, a little surf and the Sea shore temple.

Life on the beach (9 pages) at the historical port town of Mamallpuram that is situated in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The community of Auroville. Pondicherry, India. 2017. IZG




Pondicherry has a distinctive Indo-Franco style, and only four hours from Tiru. Upon arrival I caught a bus out of the CBD to the Auroville community.
 
Its a large area to traverse both physically and philosophically. For a complete picture there is a review of Sri Aurobindos philosophy.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Holy city of Tiruvannamalai. Tamil Nadu. India. IZG. December 2017

It was around mid morning that I arrived in Tiruvanmali after an overnight train from Hospit. The previous visit had been in 2004, and upon arrival I had to navigate through the rather large town with a busy network of streets. Vague recollections of temples and familiar cafes near the tourist precinct only hinted of the direction I should follow so it was necessary to take guidance from satellite navigation.


Tiru hosts an important south Indian temple that is one of five south Indian Shiva temples associated with classical Indian metaphysics. The Arunachaleshwar temple is dedicated to the element fire, and is situated within the city, taking up 10-hectares, which is one of the largest temples in India




After navigating a maize of streets eventually I found the foreign tourist accommodation hub. Its just one street near the Ramana ashram. I found a small room in a house that's run by a couple of retired government employees.

My first days were spent checking out the scene around the sacred mount Arunachala. There is a plethora of Sadhus (professional religious folk) that throng the area along with householder pilgrims who come to circumnavigate the mountain. 

 

Upon visiting the Ramana ashram each day I found a basic routine that involved cycling around Tiru by day and visiting the bookshop in the afternoon where there are readers of the philosophical works of Ramana Maharshi's message. By late afternoon there is the opportunity to observe priests offer food and chant in the main precinct of the ashram. 


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Tales of Hampi


Hampi is located in the state of Karnatika which is not too far from Goa. It was about late afternoon when I began to cycle for Hampi which is around 15 km from the Hospit rail junction. As I passed the last shops at the edge of town, street lights made way for an unlit road. I stopped along the road side, scrambling around, trying to find a head light in one of the bike paniers. Then after a minute or so, a group of inquisitive onlookers appeared from nowhere.

The number of people speaking all at once made the encounter a blend of nice-to-meet exclamations and nonsense questions. Closing the pannier, I headed for the a near by lit up tea stall. However even this did not deter, as they followed me and continued with a melody of interrogatives and exclamations. Eventually, they went their way, and I was left to search for the light.

It was either head for Hampi or turn back to Hospit. I decided to press on because finding hotel accommodation is a challenge at the best of times, and particularly in areas not set up for the foreign tourist phenomenon. This is due to the requirement that hotels must have a special license to host non-Indian citizen tourists. So I checked for the turn-off, and then by coincidence a passer-by confirmed the directions. Though he ended up indicated that getting to Hampi is 'no'. So on reflection with my recent encounter I decided to turn back to Hospit and brave the accommodation scene.

There was a shelter next to a temple where Indian pilgrims and the homeless had set up to take rest. In emergency situations, train stations, and even bus depots can be rough but safe enough to stay if valuables are secured and no deep sleep, so keeping a high stress level in such areas is a basic requirement. The caretaker agreed that cycling to Hampi should best be done in day light.

The next morning I set off early into fresh air and pastoral scenes of plantation cane, bananas and livestock followed by their keepers. About 4 km into the ride the scene suddenly suddenly broke into a series of large boulders strewn across the field. As I proceeded to ascend the small hill, a series of monolithic rock temples appeared, then hordes of tourists, street stalls, and upon descent a river with lots of circular paddle boats, and a couple of ferries with one packed but the other nearly empty. The oddity was that both were heading for the same side of the river, leaving lots still to catch a ride.

I was told on the Hampi world heritage side of the river that the ferry ride across the river is frequented by travelers', so I decided to take the ferry and check it out. This short boat trip turned out to be a lesson in political economy. Only two licensed boats operate (each by different company) and although at times one side of the river has a large crowd needing transport only one boat will pick-up whist the other boat will return empty and only pick up from the other side.
 

This is due to an agreement each company has struck up the other. Its based on some economic principle so to avoid the downward slide where competition would make it worse for both groups if they competed for market dominance. The duopoly is not so good for consumers because there's an extended wait for a ride, and a relatively high price for a short ride across a narrow river. 


It took a day to settle in with all the usual demands of tourist life (article with 10 pages, scroll to view all). Where to eat, what to do, how to find stuff, when to catch the ferry. This side of the river offers a host of side adventures like boulder climbing, themed cafes, musical instrument playing, therapies, street art. 
 

The first days world heritage sojourn was on foot. I roamed around aimlessly, with a vague intent of being anachronistic, in a social/cultural historical sense, but most likely was just a need to take rest in nostalgic spaces.
The next day I cycled around the vast area of restored and crumbling relics (article with 10 pages). There were electric vehicles that zoom around, though a bike gives lots more independence. Around five pm its a dash for the last ferry ride. 
 



Monday, 11 December 2017

Travelling south from Omkareshwar it was on to the caves of Ajanta, and Ellora then off to cosmopolitanism Pune, then further south to Goa.




I had a series of rough bus rides from Omkareshwar to Pune, and then a nice easy sleeper class by train to Goa.

The world heritage site of Ajunta is a testament to early Buddhist thought and devotion where celestial beings are depicted both in stone and painting. Ellora is also a world heritage site that includes Buddhist, Hindu and Jain iconography. The distinct traditions worked in close proximity to each other and shows evidence of religious tolerance of that early period. 










The city of Pune boasts rapid modernization along side classic British Raj architecture.  However its draw for many foreign tourists' are the renowned Hindu reformers' that popularized their meditation techniques on the international stage. 






There is a distinct sense of Indian Internationalism in Porchagese influenced Goa
contemporary secular festivals like India bike week and international beach culture (short film on beach party)
the general sense of place (short film) and street scenes in Goa's capital Panjim,





 The next section of the travel is a train from Goa to Hempi, then to Tiru, then Pondi, and then to Mamalapuram.

Monday, 20 November 2017

 Reference map of travel from Pushkar to Chittor, then Bundi, down to Ujjain, and off to Omkareshwar.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

  A sample of two sacred river centers in the state of MP, India. November 2017.

Ujjain and Omkareshwar have both river systems that are sacred to Hinduism. Ujjain is a major modern urban center as well as having a river that's a pilgrimage site for Hindus.

 Sacred river at Ujjain where pilgrims bath at the Ghats.

 Omkareshwar in contrast is an island village surrounded by water. A short film depicts
sacred/secular activity.


I visited many temples in Ujjain, this one has two black stone towers with dazzling lamps.

 Ujjain city

 However, in contrast, its the road side shrines that place Omkareshwar in another category, and one that demonstrates how broad Hinduism can be through modes of expressions and activity.


Impressions of two medieval fort towns set in Rajahstan. november 2017.
   View of Old Bundi from across the lake with Palace above, and fort above the Palace


Chittor and Bundi are the general hustle and bustle urban centers replete with satellite towers and ATM’s. Cittor attracts traditional pilgrims and the constant flow of Indian nationals. Bundi's appeal was more in the what's known as Old Bundi that's reminiscent of a Rajput era implied in the murals on Havelis.


Both cities are set within a nostalgic backdrop of hills with forts and palaces. Bundi's fort ( rambling tour through fort on u tube) and palacegive a sense of the workings of another society that is not so easily grasped when surveying Chittor's fort that covers a larger expanse of territory.



There's a lake on the edge of Old Bandi where locationally a long narrow boat appears from behind some cement outcrop, also there's the main temple, and busy CBD that present perspectives on lived spaces.  Bundi'sannual festival brings in an influx of people from the region and abroad that seem to be a mix of civil advocacy on issues that morphs into quirky completions, like the moustache contest. 

Pushkar and the Camel fair. October 2017.


Arrival at the Pushkar Camel festival time from an austere Himalayan tranquillity is a jolt to the senses



The population rapidly increases in this small lake side town when thronging pilgrims converge with the annual influx of camels that are bought and sold. The reasons for pilgrimage varies, though for Pushkar its the holy lake and Brahma temple.

Itinerant traders set up stalls along the urban periphery selling Camel accessories as well as other trinkets, garments.



There's devotional singing and chanting, camel fair festivities, and popular music. However its the Rajasthan desert folk and their camels' that captures the imaginary of foreign visitors'.




 The short film gives an impression of the sense of place.