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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thanjavur Temples - Thittai Gurusthalam

Vasishteswarawamy Temple at Thittai is an ancient temple near Thanjavur. This is one of the Nava Graha ( Nine Planets) Temples. The presiding deity is a Swayambu Lingam and gets his name because he was worshipped here by Saint Vashishtar.The Goddess is Ulaganayaki or Sugantha Kundalambal.
 A unique feature of this temple is a drop of water falls on the Lingam (Main Diety) exactly every twenty four minutes  from the roof of the Vimanam(tower above the sanctum). Two stones “Suryagaanthakkal”(sun stone) and “Chandragaanthakkal” ( moon stone) are placed at strategic points above the Vimana. These 2 stones absorb moisture from the atmosphere, convert into one water droplet, performing a natural Abhishegam to the diety, every 24 minutes.  Another special here is that the “Guru Bhagavan” has a separate sanctum  inside this temple itself.
I am going to be away for a fortnight on a tour of the State of Gujarat (Western India) and hence will not be posting/commenting until my return. Bye for now.
The Chettiar who contributed financially to the construction of this temple
The Chettiars wife
The four holy saints who have visited this temple between 7th-9th centuries and sung hymns in praise of the Lord
Siva and Parvati seated on the celestial bull
Lord Ganesha seated on his mushika vahana ( mouse vehicle)
The holy Teertham or water tank
The Vimanam or entrance tower
Our group posing in front of the Vimanam

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back to Stone Age

During our recent visit to Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu (South India) we bought a "Kal Chetty" or stone vessel from the local bazaar. Stone vessels were used extensively in South India for cooking till about 50 years ago but have now almost disappeared from the modern kitchens.Kal Chetty's have their own distinct advantages - cooking in them results in better heat retention as well adds to the flavor of the food item being prepared.
This is what we cooked in the Kal Chetty today :) It was indeed delicious & "chatpata" !
Vetta Kuzhambu - A South Indian spicy curry made from tamarind juice, sun dried Turkey berries (chundakkai) & other home made spices

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tanjore Paintings in Thanjavur

Tanjore painting or Thanjavur Oviyam  is a major form of classical South Indian painting from the town of Thanjavur in Tamilnadu. The art form dates back to about 1600 AD, a period when the Nayaks of Thanjavur encouraged art—chiefly, classical dance and music—as well as literature, both in Telugu and Tamil. Tanjore paintings are known for their surface richness, vivid colors, compact composition and especially the glittering gold foils used to give the paintings their rich look . Essentially serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints. Episodes from Hindu tradition are drawn upon as elaborations of the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture. Tanjore paintings are panel paintings done on solid wood planks, and hence referred to as palagai padam (palagai = "wooden plank"; padam = "picture") in local language. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs of festive occasions in South India, pieces to decorate walls, and collectors' items for art lovers.
Arumugham  - the artisan who produces these amazing Tanjore paintings at his small workshop
Goddess Lakshmi - goddess of Wealth
Lord Krishna(the baby) & his mother Yashoda
Lord Ganesha
Gaja Lakshmi - The Goddess of the lephants
Lord Siva & goddess Parvati seated in Rishabha or the celestial bull
Lord Venkatachalapati
Lord Ganesha

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thanjavur Palace Art Gallery - More Statues: 9th-12th Century AD

Shiva as Bhikshaadanar - 12th Century
Sapta Mathas
Siva Ganas- 12th Century
Gautama Buddha
Lord Muruga with his peacock vahana
Lord Maha Vishnu
Devi or Female Goddess
Somaskanda ( Siva,Parvati and little Muruga)
Agni Veerabhdrar- another form of Siva
Lord Brahma
Lady Warrior
King & Queen

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thanjavur Palace Art Gallery - 9th-12th Century Natarajas

This is a continuation of my earlier post : Thanjavur Palace Art Gallery
Here I am posting photographs of some of the brilliant dancing Nataraja bronzes on display here. Each of these Natarajas is distinct with its own unique features.(Other bronzes will follow in the next post).
Nata-raja means King of Dancers.It is a depiction of the Lord Siva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for the Lord Brahma to start the process of  new creation. If you need more information on Nataraja please see this website: Nataraja - Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thanjavur Palace Art Gallery

  The Art Gallery houses an impressive collection of bronze and stone statues mostly around 9th-12th century AD.The pictures posted here are of the entrance foyer and buildings only. Bronzes statues will be shown in the next post.The Thanjavur Maratha Palace was the official residence of the Bhosle family who ruled over the Thanjavur region from 1674 to 1855. It was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak Kingdom and after their fall, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Marathas. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed by the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. Serfoji II  (September 24, 1777 – March 7, 1832) was the last ruler of the Marathas of Thanjavur to exercise absolute sovereignty over his dominions.
Entrance Tower to The Art Gallery

Intricate paintings inside the Gallery
Serfoji II - The last of the Thanjavur Maratha Kings
Views from the inside lawns
The Maratha Bell Tower as seen from the inner lawns

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Saraswati Mahal Library - Thanjavur

The Saraswathi Mahal library started as a Royal Library for the private pleasure of the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur who ruled 1535 - 1675 AD. The Maratha rulers who captured Thanjavur in 1675 patronised local culture and further developed the Royal Palace Library until 1855. Most notable among the Maratha Kings was Serfoji II (1798–1832), who was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning and the arts. In his early age Serfoji studied under the influence of the German Reverent Schwartz, and learned many languages including English, French, Italian and Latin. He enthusiastically took special interest in the enrichment of the Library, employing many Pandits to collect, buy and copy a vast number of works from all renowned Centres of Sanskrit learning. 
The Collection:
The bulk of the manuscripts are in Sanskrit.Other than this there are manuscripts in Tamil, Marathi, Telugu,Urdu and Persian covering subjects like literature, music,medicine.The manuscripts are mostly on paper but a few were written in on palm-leaf. The library also holds medical records of Ayurveda scholars, including patient case studies and interviews in the manuscripts classified under the Dhanvantari section.
 These records also furnish information on the political, cultural and social administration of the Maratha kings of Thanjavur.
Entry into the Library - Entrance is free but no cameras allowed inside
Paintings at the entrance foyer
The Maratha Bell Tower located in the same campus
Foundation Pillars of the Maratha Bell Tower