Baby on board – the next level

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How to transport essential things – the eggs, milk and the child.

From Gandhi Road, Vellore.

Shot with Olympus OM D EM10 with Minolta 58 mm f 1.4.

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Reading maketh the man,

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or the woman, for that matter.. It is pretty unusual in these parts of the world to find women reading on their doorstep. Found one and caught one..

For more reading related quotes, go here and here and follow the links from those places.

From Vellore, Tamilnadu.

In search of a photograph: Tales from Tirunelveli

Sorry for the long delay in posting. Without much ado, I will jump to the next travel post, which happens to be my last leg in the 1 week trip across Tamilnadu. And yay, this is my 500th post too!

This is a post about the sleepy little city (?town) of Tirunelveli, a place as sweet as the halwa they make there, synonymous with the city. (Actually , the city is not as sleepy as I describe. It is as crowded, polluted and busy as any other small city. “Sleepy” was just a lazy first impression.)

SONY DSCHere’s my friend, whose eyes are allergic to the camera shutter unlike the phantasm in the background.

SONY DSCLater, in a bus, I found a friend with curious eyes, wondering at the little things going past.

SONY DSCThis was in the Nellaiappar temple, which charges an exorbitant hundred rupees for a camera. I was hoping I would get a few quality images from there (so as to make the most of the fees).

 

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After a few ‘meh, keepable’ images, I was a wee bit disappointed at not getting a real keeper image. I kept trudging on, hoping lady luck will smile at me in the dark corridors somewhere in the temple complex.

SONY DSCI was walking and thinking , “What do I need to get a good photo now? Ah yes, one of the many faithful visitors to the temple. Dark dress . Check. An (almost) empty pillared hall. Check. Rule of thirds. Check. OK. Maybe I’ll walk a little more to explore.”

I went around the corner, the corridors were even darker and there was hardly anything there. But again I looked around in the darkness, there was a stone doorway leading to an adjoining smaller temple. I decided to try my luck there.

 

SONY DSCIt was fiendishly dark in there and I had to use my camera flash at an arms distance from this lady in the midst of her prayers. This made me think for a moment about the audacity of us photographers, who would almost interfere in sacred moments like these.

 

SONY DSCThere was a temple tank, as is wont to all the south Indian temples, incorporating the element of water in the structure.

 

SONY DSCThe moment I saw this elderly couple, my mind was filled with joy and anticipation for this photograph above.  Fraility, fidelity and faith along with a fillip of color from the kolam (design on the ground) made this image for me. My quest for a single keeper from the temple was finished.

There is yet another tale from the Tirunelveli trip which I want to narrate to you and it involves bumpy one lane roads, flamingoes and ladies. See you later in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

Where the fish eyes are divine beauty

My next visit was to Madurai, the second larget city in Tamilnadu founded on the banks of the river Vaigai, a city that has been inhabited for more than 2 millenia.

I landed at the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, locally known as The Mahal (bungalow) which was a pleasure palace built by King Thirumalai Nayak. Once you enter through the massive doorway, you are greeted by this pavilion and well, a human being for scale.SONY DSC As usual, the critics never stop arguing about the finer aspects of the architecture.SONY DSC This was what they were arguing about, I guess.
SONY DSC There is no dearth of people who want to take companion images for posterity, each one waiting their turn to be alone with the monument/throne/sculpture, wherever they go.SONY DSC Next stop was the famous temple of the triple breasted, fish eyed Goddess of Meenakshi. For the legend behind the temple (which is quite elaborate) and touristy postcard photos, visit here and here.

Devotion is for the young and newly wed,SONY DSCand for the old and retired too. (It was dastardly dark in there and I didn’t want to disturb the man’s prayer with flash.)
SONY DSCYours truly, with classmates, in one of the many pillared hallways of the ancient temple.
SONY DSCWell. couldn’t resist missing this lady lighting her lamps (hence the flash).
SONY DSCThe famous Hall of Thousand Pillars.
SONY DSCHuman activity fades to evanescence when compared to these immortal poems in stone.
SONY DSC SONY DSCThe main deity, Lord Shiva in his dancer image and his consort, Parvati.
SONY DSCAnd as usual, the reactions to this exemplary epitome of the skill of man confronting the tenacity of stone, vary from wonder, weariness and worry.
SONY DSCPS. Kindly check out the other images of the temple in other websites, I am afraid my images are not doing justice to the architectural marvel that I witnessed.

Srirangam

On the other side of the river Kaveri in Trichy, lies the beautiful temple complex of Srirangam. Read more about the legend, history and architecture here and here.

You are welcomed by a gopuram which towers over 236 feet above the landscape and in front of which, the town buses reverentially pass with a bow. (It may not seem too towering in the image but it really is. The vertical image I took is too distorted to put in here.)

SONY DSCAs you enter the concentric walls, you are greeted by further gopurams and if you observe, you can find smooth business there.

SONY DSCThe gopurams are studded with lots of stories from the Hindu mythology.
SONY DSCYou go in awestruck of the architecture, just to find more and more of these inside. The golden gopuram is situated right over the sanctum sanctorum.

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And your prayers can be kept here under lock and key. Just like love in Paris.

SONY DSCYou leave, taking nothing but photos, leaving nothing but footprints and a flower and coconut offering, maybe.

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“A Study in Scarlet” and 437 steps.. Say what?

you might ask, whats the connection? Even I wondered on making up the title for this post to throw it for my dear fellow bloggers. Well, cheers from Trichy, short for Tiruchirapalli, the erstwhile Trichinopoly (this is the Sherlock Holmes connection , the link to the steps follow soon), a city populated by a million people and which I had the opprtunity to visit for a few hours last week.

Enough talk, first picture coming up.

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The train chugged into this modern, prim station at 5.40 am (It surprised me by its arrival 10 minutes before its scheduled time) into a glorious sunrise, in which I was so engrossed in and hence, unfortunately did not keep it for posterity.

There are many things famous in Trichy, and I was determined to make the most of them during my short stay there. So my first stop was the Rock Fort, a massive temple complex sitting atop and inside a colossal rock as old as terra firma. It must have been a witness of us Homo sapiens. It stands tall in the city skyline, silently smirking at the rat race of the million people inhabiting its neighborhood. (Yes, Trichy has a population of a million. I was surprised too!)

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The behemoth stands tall, beckoning all and sundry to come and have a go at it. Mildly intrigued and armed with my camera, I rush into the streets in search of the entrance. However, it presents a few distractions to its adversaries. Though plastic, the mannequins capture my attention for a second, but I regain my composure and moved on. Unfortunately , one lady was caught in the temptation and stood rooted to the spot while a fortunate one escaped the spell.

SONY DSCAnd I soon closed in on the entrance, revered by the faithful and guarded by gods and demons.SONY DSCI thought I had won first round but then I heard the laugh of the behemoth in the dark interior. In a gracious womanly voice, it implored me, “Sir, chappals (footwear) off and ticket for the camera, please. And no shooting at the summit Shiva temple, please” . I had to eat humble pie and pay the price. This made me all the more determined to conquer this rooted Golem. Then came the second round, 437 (or 344, in another reference) steps glistening in red and white. (There, the mystery of the title solved.)

SONY DSCI thought, “If this prim lad can make it up and back without as much as a huff, it should be a breeze for me. Golem, just you wait”. I looked around for an inspiration. It came , whispering in the darkness (it was dark even at 11 am. Light enough to see but dark to get images still and sharp at my camera’s maximum ability. F3.5 and ISO 400, for the readers with camera know-how.)

SONY DSCThe silent prayers of the devout lady helps all those like me in the quest. I go up the steps, one at a time, stopping in between (to catch my breath and) to gaze at the hidden marvels sprinkled along the way.

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SONY DSCThe legend associated with the temple is written on the panel on the right. You can find the details in a lovely post here.

About twenty minutes and a couple of hundreds of steps later, I was greeted by the challenging walls of the behemoth growing into solid rock and the vista of the city spread out beyond.

SONY DSCFeeling a little impressed by my journey so far, I smiled a smug smile to myself and climbed on. However, the satisfaction was transient, as I saw these ladies from North India, fatigued by their journey. My smugness disappeared entirely as I realized the same yet different paths that we were taking, mine of pleasure and theirs of penance.

SONY DSCTill now, the Rock temple was all dark, cavernous and mildly claustrophobic but when you reach the zenith, it goes volte-face, greeting you with a breeze , which cools your soul and body together. The idea of the behemoth disappears from my mind and is replaced by that of a plump matron. The temple summit glistens with its golden dome in the midday sun while I plop down in the shade of a banyan tree the matron and mother Nature has so kindly provided.

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I race up the final steps and look down. The pilgrims are slowly but steadily getting to their destination. (The banyan tree I mentioned can be seen too, in the backdrop of the city housing.)

SONY DSCThis lady, knees needing hand support for her arthritis, represents the faithful ,thronging daily at the deities’ doors for fulfillment of their supplications.

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Dry flowed the River Kaveri in the distance, barricaded by man in various stone structures upstream. Impressed by all the things I witnessed on the way up, my thoughts of conquering dried up and were replaced by a sense of fulfillment on setting foot on one of the oldest things on earth and a stellar example of Indian culture .

SONY DSCI visited the Shiva temple on the way down. Photography was prohibited there (as mentioned in the beginning, and it was prohibitively dark for non flash photography too) and so, dear reader, you had to be there. On my way back to the city, I found a young admirer of the yellow metal and was reminded of 0all things old. I thought, ” A perfect tribute to a rock older than the Himalayas, which man tamed and fashioned into one of the precious ornaments on Mother India.”
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PS. On my journey, I met Architecture students from Ahmedabad (,India) who had been given this assignment on their first day of college. Make a plan of the entire structure in 5 days. Remembering it took hundreds of men 11 years to carve solid rock and build this magnificent structure, I could wish them only good luck and Godspeed.

PS 2. Some images are not the best quality. Forgive my poor cameras’ dark light capabilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith

SONY DSClies at the heart of all things Indian.
From Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu.

“There are no seven wonders

 

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in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.”- Walt Streightiff

 

From Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu.

I have done a similar post sometime before. View it here.

I am back from my trip down Tamilnadu and will be posting regularly from now on.

 

I was walking down the street, part 3

“Admirers will come and go. But I told him ‘My way or no way'”

End of story.

I was walking down the street, part 2

and there was this young man,

And what happened next. See you tomorrow.