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‘Temples of India’ is a fascinating way to understand science of Geometry and Architecture

Tarun's books 'Holy Cow and the Other Indian Stories' contains small chapters that answers simple questions about India

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Representational Image. Image source: www.tierratravels.com

NEW DELHI, August 12: It’s unusual to come across a person who is indigenous to both pen and camera- more so when photography grew out of a casual remark. Tarun Chopra is one such person and what he has managed with his 12th book, “Temples of India – Abode of the Divine”, is to also trace the evolution of temple building with major architectural trendsetting examples.

To this extent, “Temples of India” (Prakash Books/pp 360/Rs 1,295), with its plethora of photographs, illustrations, ground plans as well as sections, is a valuable resource for both experts and laypersons to understand the fascinating science of geometry and architecture as temple-building evolved over some 2,000 years.

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Lingaraja Temple in Orissa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Lingaraja Temple in Orissa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ten years in the making and based on painstaking research of the ancient texts of Shilpa Shastra and Vaastu Shastra, as also interactions with temple priests, the effort is quite an eye-opener.

“I visited the temples of varied faiths. It somehow compels you to think if there is a God, He has to be one for all. He cannot be different for each religion. The realisation then dawns that there is one Supreme cosmic power which itself has no religion,” Chopra told IANS in an interview.

A 48-page introduction makes for a handy primer on subjects like the oral tradition, Vaastu Shastra, Vaastupurushamandala (the metaphysical plan of a building), the legend of Vaastupurusha, temple builders, traditional building rites and rituals, the main architectural features of a Hindu temple, iconography of the temple, proportional measurements of an image, and temples as the markers of energy zones.

This sets the tone for Tripping On the Divine: a visual documentation of the evolution of most prominent temple styles spanning more than 2,000 years.

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“Very few places in the world offer this vast a canvas of art and architecture. This book is not based on the temples of religious importance; rather the temples illustrated in it are purely on their architectural merit. Many of them have unique qualifications to be first of their kind in the Indian subcontinent and in the world. Some temples are the stepping stones of architectural styles and initiated temple styles that evolved for the next 1,000 years,” Chopra writes.

Most of the 28 temples featured are A-listers — Sanchi, Ajanta, Ellora, Elephanta, Kanchipuram, Shravanabelagola, Khajuraho, Trichy, Madurai and Hampi, to name just a few. There are also some not too well known, at least for readers in North India. Among them are Teli Ka Mandir in Gwalior Fort, Gangaikondacholapuram (a smaller replica of the Brihadeshwara Temple in Tanjore), Darasuram (Tamil Nadu) and Aihole (Karnataka).

The bulk of the temples are located in South India and Chopra explained it thus: “Due to waves and waves of invasions that North India experienced at the hands of idol breakers, the temples in this region bore most of its brunt. Since the temples down south were relatively protected due to geographical distance, there is a wide variety of architectural styles that still exists today.”

“Temples…” is a logical extension of Chopra’s 11 previous books, most of which have India as their theme.

“My bestselling book ‘Holy Cow and the Other Indian Stories’ contains small chapters answering simple questions about India, why cows are on the road, why we get stamped so many times at the airport, the chaos that exists on the roads.. ‘India Exotic Destination’ illustrates the places frequented by visitors, while ‘Soul of India’ is a photo book that illustrates the beauty of the land through portraits, landscapes, street life and the like,” Chopra said.

“I am a photographer and writer devoted to making books on India. My endeavour is to take out books that are easy to read and assimilate. As a photographer, I have been commissioned to do various projects both in India and abroad,” he added.

All this grew out of a casual remark: “Why don’t you start taking pictures since you travel so much?”

What is rather unusual about “Temples…” is its standard format rather than the large coffee-table format generally adopted for such books — and the publisher said this was with a purpose.

“We decided to go with a smaller size to make the book handy for the buyer. Typical coffee tables are larger in size, but the sales of these books are down for the last few years, mainly because of the internet. A lot of images and data is now available on the net, but also because it’s hard to carry large books because of weight limitations or the general bulkier nature of the book.

“We wanted the readers to be able to enjoy ‘Temples of India’ while they travel through India and visit these temples,” Megha Parmar of Prakash Books told IANS. (IANS)

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Seven Wonders of the World : Ancient and Modern

The Seven Wonders of the World are a set of monuments which show the artistic and architectural excellence of humanity from history to the present times. Read more to find out about the ancient and the modern seven wonders of the world

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FILE - The silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado hill stands out against the full moon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. VOA

The Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient times was a list made by the Greeks in order to honor the most magnificent piece of architecture in their known world. Sadly today other than the Pyramid of Giza, none of the other wonders have been able to survive the test of time. Since then a new list has been made in order to acknowledge the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World as per the Greeks: 

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza – The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient wonder which has survived. This pyramid erected in the year 2560 BC, is known to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest of all ancient wonders.

Pixabay
The Pyramids of Giza – Pixabay

  • The Hanging Garden of Babylon – There is not much to say about this wonder because of the fact that there is very little historical documentation about these gardens. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife in 600 BC because she was missing her hometown in the hills.

A Painting of Hanging Garden of Babylon – Wikimedia Common

  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria – The Lighthouse of Alexandria was 400ft tall in length and had kept its record for being the tallest building in the world for centuries. This was built around 280 BC. This magnificent structure was destroyed by several earthquakes. In 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, which till date stands on Pharos Island.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes – The Colossus of Rhodes is a nearly 100 feet tall statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausoleum around 350BC. The structure was demolished by a series of earthquakes which occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia – The statue was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, it represented Zeus seated on his golden throne. The statue itself is 40ft tall and is adorned with gold and ivory. The cause of the destruction of the statue is not clearly known but it was destroyed sometime in the  5th century.

A Painting of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Pixabay

  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – The temple is located in Eastern Turkey. It has been rebuilt several times following its destruction every time. One memorable incident related to the temple is the fact it once burnt down the same night when Alexander the Great was born. The third temple was acknowledged by the Greeks as a wonder. It was finally destroyed for good by the Goths in 268AD.

The Temple of Artemis Ruins – Wikimedia Commons

The List of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 1997, a new set of seven wonders was developed which was based on the online voting system from all around the world. The new Seven Wonders of the World are:-

  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – The Chichen Itza is the ruins of a complex in the form of a step pyramid from the Mayan civilization.

Chichen Itza – Pixabay

  • Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil – This is a 98 ft statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was built by French sculptor, Paul Landowski.

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil – Pixabay

  • The Great Wall of China – The Great Wall of China is a wall that was built along the northern border of China in order to protect the Chinese empire from the nomadic attacks from the Eurasian tribes.

The Great Wall of China – Wikimedia Commons

  • Machu Picchu, Peru – Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel which is located high up on the Andes Mountains. It is famous for its age-old stone block walls. The exact nature of use of this citadel is not exactly known.

Machu Picchu – Pixabay

  • Petra, Jordan – Petra was an ancient desert in Jordan which consists of numerous temples and tombs carved in pink sandstone thus earning its nickname as the “Rose City”.

Petra – Jordan, Wikimedia Commons

 

  • The Roman Colosseum, Rome – The Colosseum as it is famously known, is a huge amphitheater located in the center of the city of Rome in Italy. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was used for gladiator fights, animal matches, and re-enactment of various dramas prevalent in those times.

Colosseum in Rome – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Taj Mahal, Agra – The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum which is built in pure white marble on the orders of Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is situated on the south bank of the Yamuna River and was commissioned to be built in 1632.

The Taj Mahal, India – Wikimedia Commons

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

CNN announced a list of wonders which were not manmade but were formed naturally over a period of thousand years. This list was given in 1992.

  • Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef – Pixabay

  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt Everest

Mount Everest – Pixabay

  • Northern Lights

Northern Lights -Pixabay

  • Paricutin Volcano

    The Crater of Paricutin Volcano – Pixabay
  • Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Africa – Pixabay

No list of Seven Wonders is definite. These lists tell us how much the humanity has progressed and nature has evolved over the years.  These wonders are nothing but the remainder of the accomplishments of mankind from history to the present.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.