Saturday December 15, 2018
Home India ‘Temple...

‘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

0
//
Representational Image. Image source: www.tierratravels.com
Republish
Reprint

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.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

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.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

“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)

ALSO READ: 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Angola Fossils Bring A New But Familiar Ocean in View

These fossils are the patrimony of Angola, these are their heritage, and for us to be able to bring them to the Smithsonian and ultimately back to Angola.

0
Angola Fossils
This full-size fossil reconstruction of a sea turtle from the prehistoric South Atlantic looks very similar to the giant sea turtles which still swim in our oceans today. VOA

Some may be familiar with mythical sea monsters. For example, Scotland’s infamous Loch Ness Monster “Nessie,” and Giganto — fictional beasts of comic book fame. But millions of years ago, real-life sea monsters lived and thrived in what we now call the South Atlantic Ocean.

South Atlantic Ocean basin

As the continents of South America and Africa separated millions of years ago, scientists say a fantastic array of ferocious predators and other lifeforms colonized the newly formed body of water off the coast of Angola.

That diverse collection of marine reptiles included mosasaurs (aquatic lizards), plesiosaurs (which exhibited broad flat bodies, large paddlelike limbs, and typically a long flexible neck and small head), and the more familiar giant sea turtles.

But a catastrophic asteroid that hit earth 66 million years ago wiped most of them out, according to scientists.

Today, thanks to a project called Projecto PaleoAngola among Angolan, American, Portuguese and Dutch researchers, paleontologists have been able to visit the coastal cliffs of Angola to excavate and study what remains of these giant animals.

“We knew that there were fossils there, we just didn’t know how good they would be,” says Louis Jacobs, collaborating curator and professor emeritus of paleontology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

“Nobody had been there, so this was a vast, unknown terrain and we wanted to get there.”

A 72-million year-old ecosystem

What the team of paleontologists discovered was a treasure trove, giving them an unprecedented look into a strange yet familiar ecosystem.

In addition to mosasaurs, plesiosaurs and sea turtles, there were fossilized remains of a variety of fish and other marine life forms.

Angola, fossils
Modern cliffs of coastal Angola where Projecto PaleoAngola paleontologists excavate fossils of life that once lived in Angola’s ancient seas. VOA

While mosasaurs have been known to exist on all continents and are relatively common in certain places, this particular sample is the largest collection of southern hemisphere mosasaurs known, according to the paleontologists.

“It’s certainly the best locality for these kinds of animals in sub-Saharan Africa and it could be one of the best in the world,” Jacobs said.

Rediscovering a lost world

Eleven authentic fossils from Angola’s ancient seas, full-size reconstructions of a mosasaur and an ancient sea turtle are on display for the first time in a new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, titled “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas.”

There are also 3-D scanned replicas of mosasaur skulls, and photo-murals and video vignettes transport visitors to field sites along Angola’s modern rugged coast, where Projecto PaleoAngola scientists unearthed the fossil remains from this lost world.

 

Angola, fosiils
The seafaring lizard Prognathodon kianda was a top predator in the Cretaceous waters. Scientists named this species after Kianda, the ruler of the ocean in Angolan mythology. VOA

 

Jacobs, who was part of a team of scientists and students at SMU that helped prepare the fossils for the Smithsonian exhibit, says any visitor “can look and see and compare how the ecosystem and its animals of the cretaceous of 72 million years ago are similar to ecosystems today in the same general areas.”

“The species are different, but the ecological jobs of the species are very similar,” he added.

Giant lizards

Michael Polcyn, senior research fellow at SMU, pointed out an example in the exhibit.

Standing in front of a fossil skull and partial skeleton of a mosasaur, he described the reptile as an “optimized fish eater.”

“You see the long narrow snout, the interlocking teeth — this would be similar to what you would see in the ocean today, in a dolphin for instance,” he said.

He gestured to a graphic posted on the display case depicting a rough toothed dolphin which it described as “the analog for the animal in the modern ecosystem.”

Angola Fossils
An artist’s rendering of Angola’s Cretaceous seas 72 million years ago, dominated by many species of large, carnivorous marine reptiles. VOA

Shell-crushing mosasaur

Another great example of diversity within that ancient ecosystem is the hardshell-eating mosasaur, Polcyn said, which preyed on large oysters which were almost a meter (three feet) across.

“They were really big, so to crack an oyster three feet across you needed the dentition and the musculature to do that, and that’s what you see here in these very strange mushroom-shaped teeth that you see in this animal,” Polcyn explained.

Within the same ecosystem was another example of a top predator, the Prognathodon kianda. Its full-scale skeleton on display in the museum is almost eight meters long.

In addition to top predators like the monster-like mosasaur, the exhibit also includes fossils of gentler creatures; small fish and an ancient giant sea turtle.

“We have a snapshot of this moment in time 72 million years ago that has preserved all of these animals that were living together in one place,” Polcyn said.

Angola Fossils
This mosasaur fossil skull shows how its mushroom-shaped teeth were optimized to crack hard-shell prey like giant oysters. VOA

The big dig

Jacobs says the fossil find in Angola was a big deal for a number of reasons:

“First of all because it’s going into a country that never really had a heritage of fossils,” he said. “It basically was unknown at the level that we are opening it up.”

“Fossils,” he says, “instill a sense of pride in what’s in the country, and it provides something to use for education, and it builds science. And the way it builds science is because every country has fossils, so every country has something to offer, so every country is a piece of the puzzle and the Angola piece is now there.”

Michael Polcyn agrees that unearthing this cache of ancient fossils has been a huge breakthrough on a number of fronts.

Also Read: New Artifacts Found in Cairo, Egypt: Archaeologists

“From a purely scientific point of view it gives us an incredible window into an ecosystem 72 million years ago that is relatively complete,” he says. “From a very human point of view this really shows the people of Angola, and the people of the world, what incredible resources we have in our natural environments.”

And lastly, he says, “These fossils are the patrimony of Angola, these are their heritage, and for us to be able to bring them to the Smithsonian and ultimately back to Angola, on a very personal level, is a thrill for us.” (VOA)