Feb 27, 2016


Its my principle to be on time, be it meeting someone or reporting to work or completing a work on schedule. I don't say I'm always on time but I always try not to be late. I don't like to keep people waiting. I owe my 'sense of time' to Gulli ~ Gulveer, friend since my teen years. Being punctual and disciplined really makes life easy.

Here are two of my favourite quotes:

  • Lost time is never found again - Benjamin Franklin
  • Time abides long enough for those who make use of it - Leonardo da Vinci

Talking about time, lets look at the definition from Wikipedia: Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.

..so why this talk about time?

Nov 28 2015, Pushpa and I had been to Salar Jung Museum. One of the main attractions there is the musical clock manufactured by Cooke and Kelvey Co., England. A signage next to the clock reads as follows: This English Bracket Clock, which is said to have manufactured in England and assembled in Calcutta in the late 19th Century A.D. It has been acquired by the Salar Jung III, Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan (AD 1889 - 1949) from Cooke and Kelvey Co, probably in the early 20th Century A.D. it has more than 35 parts. the clock contains a mechanism by which a small toy figure of a bearded man comes out of the enclosure three minutes early to every hour and strikes the corresponding hour (s) on the gong to every 60 minute and goes back inside. Another toy man who is a blacksmith visible is seen holding a hammer and striking the seconds without any break. Enriched with nicely wrought metallic mounts, the huge mechanical clock has three dials for a day, date and month in addition to chime every 15 minutes. This musical clock is one of the most attractive objects in the museum.

The clock actually attracts crowds, people just wait patiently for the hour strike, particularly the 12 noon event. By 11-30 AM the clock gallery is packed, folks eagerly waiting for the bearded man to come out his sloped roof box and strike the gong a dozen times. Besides the musical clock, the museum has a hall dedicated to a collection of clocks.. grandfather clocks. At the hall entrance are 6 signages about time and historical clocks. Interesting they are. Here we go..

The five diagrams here are described as follows:

  • Killing Time
  • Too much Time
  • Behind Times
  • Trifling Time away
  • Idling Time away

  • Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment in London, once stood at the temple of Heliopolos a sun worshipping center in Egypt, where its shadow indicated the hour.
  • The Aztecs made complex calendar calculations. This calendar stone vividly colored, stood on a platform halfway up the pyramid of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan it is said to contain enough information to predict solar eclipses. At the center is the Sun God Tonatiuh.
  • The first known illustration of a sand glass is in the Italian Fresco of 1337 - 9 in the Palazzo publico in Siena to make a sand glass (shown at right) two bulbs were wound together at the open necks where a pierced diaphragm restricted the flow of sand.

  • A sun dial held by a twelfth-century stone angel on the porch of Chartres cathedral. The original style was horizontal and has been replaced by an angled one.
  • The hemicycle was used for accurate timekeeping in ancient Rome. That showing would have a horizontal style. It divided the period from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal temporal hours and indicated equinoxes and solstices.

  • King Akhanaton Queen Nefertiti and one of their daughters adoring the Sun, from a relief of Cairo Museum from Tell-eh-Amarna (1552 - 1306 BC). The Sun was giver of life and provider of Time.
  • The goddess Attemprance appearing from a cloud grasping a Gothic iron clock with going and striking trains: from fourteenth century French manuscript.

  • A Sun God tablet on which two lesser Gods introduce King Nabuapaliddina (885 - 852 BC) of Babilon into the presence of God Samos, sitting in his shrine. The Babilonian priests calculated a year of 360 days from the Sun and seasons, and may have introduced the hour.
  • Roman Emperors took Egyptian obelisks and set them up in Italy. According to a book of astronomy of 1911, an official was detailed to call out the hours.

  • Water clocks by Ctesilius
  • A shepherds sun dial in use on the pyrenees until recent times it is a altitude dial, giving the hour by the length of shadow. The gonomon is rotated to the scale for the month.
  • The earliest known illustration of a medical horology, in a manuscript in the Bodleian library Oxford dating from about 1285. The hydraulic clock is depicted in the top circle and a Latin text besides it describes the miracle of King Hezekiah.
  • Illustration from The Automata with some of the text. It shows the clock of doors, which has a candle at the center and 14 doors around the candle holder. When an hour passed from lighting the wick a ball fell from falcon's beak, the door opposite opened and a figure emerged. At each hour a different door opened.

A leaf from "The book of Knowledge of Ingenious mechanical devices by Badi al zaman ibn al Razzaz al fazari, showing a hydraulic automata which is an elephant clock. The manuscript known as "The Automata of al fazari", describes 50 devices under headings, the first of which is a clock.

Man's creativity is amazing. Man measured time using shadows, water, sand, fire, mechanics and finally electronics. Having seen sundials and sand clocks, there's something really ancient that I would like to mention- a prehistoric clock/calendar of Vibutihalli a village in the present day Shahpur taluq, Yadgir district of Karnataka state. This clock is a collection of boulders arranged in a huge matrix. This clock was used to predict seasons. Here's a diagrammatic representation of the original calendar. This prehistoric megalithic monument was studied by the British officer and historian Philips Meadows Taylor. To know more Prehistoric Stone Alignment of Vibhutihalli.

Jantar Mantar of Jaipur and New Delhi are two more ancient time machines known for their accuracy. Gavi Gangadhareshwara Cave Temple in Bangalore is another ancient monument known for its astronomical connection. God knows how many more such creations exist or lost to our world.

Well, its time to stop now.

Feb 20, 2016

Papanashi group of temples near Alampur

The presence of Chalukyan temples makes Alampur is akin to Pattadakal. While the latter is on river Malaprabha left bank, former is situated close to river Tungabhadra; Alampur is about 6 kms from Krishna-Tungabhadra confluence. The nine temples at Alampur are dedicated to Nava Brahmas. Besides the nine temples, there's a Jogulamba temple (one of the Adishakti seats), Sangameshwara temple.(relocated from its original location close to Krishna-Tungabhadra confluence) and the another group of smaller structures called Papanashi temples.

September 11, 2015
About 1.5 kms from Alampur amidst farm lands is this spot. It's a protected monument under the protective care of archaeological department. All the structures here are restored, seems they were in really bad shape when ASI took over. As you see, the structures are small, tightly packed, have stepped Shikhara and probably were surrounded by a wall with a gateway. Unfortunately there's not a single sign board, no information whatsoever.

Inside the gateway, is an idol of Lord Hanuman made of sandstone. Most Chalukyan monuments I've seen are made of sandstone.

These neat little structures are not entirely original.. instead of sandstone or granite these are made of Shahabad stones i.e. lime based stone. The deities inside seem to be original.. all black colored Shivalinga. Chaluyans were Shiva Bhaktas. Every temple has a unique Shikara.

This is a twin temple, both Garbhagudi facing each other with a common Mukhamantapa. Hope I'm not wrong in calling this a Dwikutachala.

This twin temple's basic reminds me of Jodu-Kalasa Gudi of Sudi and Kasivisvesvara temple of Lakkundi. If you are ever travelling near Ron in North Karanataka do stop by to check out Kashivishwanatha temple.. its amazingly beautiful.

The quadrangle formed by the four black pillars must be a Natya Mantapa ~ dance floor. These pillars are similar to pillars of Banashankari Gudi of Amargol between Dharwad and Hubli. The pillars lower portion are plain but the mid and upper portions are richly decorated. Each face of the square section has panel;s within which stories from Hindu legends are displayed. Pillar tops show lotus design with delicate curvatures and ridges.

This particular panel shows a row of people standing with tongues of flame leaping up. Notice how well the human anatomy is depicted.. particularly women's bodies.

Amrith Manthan.. the scene of Rakshasa and Devathe churning the ocean to gain Nectar. Below is a pair of Kirthimukha and some divine characters.

More legendary characters astride on their mounts.. a bull, an elephant and a ram. The middle one must be Indra astride of Airavatha.

Lot of beautiful ladies on this face. Nice to see two trees as well.

This face depicts battle scenes including archers, flying arrows, prancing horses, chariots, foot soldiers, swords and shields.

The quadrangle ceiling is a matrix of nine cells; each cell containing legendary characters; dancing Shiva in the centre.

Temples aligned are right angle to each other.

A pair of identical temples besides each other.. there's a hint of small difference in the Shikhara,
Even Hampi has these type of temples on Hemakuta hillock.

Of the dozen temples, this is the tallest.

Coming to the main temple of the group seems to be a Trikutachala. Inside are deities of Ganehsa and Mahishamardini which are still worshipped.

Ganesha is seated like a child; a shallow circular pit surrounds the lotus seat.

Here's a short video of the temple complex-

Chalukyans seem to have many such small group of temples. Two more examples I can recall are are the Ramlingeshwar group of temples at Aihole and Bhutnath temples at Torgal fort.

Just outside the protected site is a lonely temple of similar design; its slightly larger than the largest temple in the group. Though not protected, it seems to be maintained. I could see blocks numbered with yellow paint right from base to ceiling.. looks like this temple will be dismantled and moved into the complex.

On the way back towards Alampur, while driving across a stream I happened to notice the stream bed. What looks like concrete bed is actually a rock bed.. a large bed of Shahabad stone. These stones are in perfect parallel layers. Quarrying is quite easy, clear the dirt, size them and they are ready to ship.

Well, the Glory of Chaluyas.. wish I could travel back in time to see those days.

Feb 13, 2016

Gagan Mahal, Penukonda fort

Jan 3, 2015
This was the maiden visit to Penukonda fort. For some reason, all the monuments' doors remained closed, I'd to see them from outside. Gagan Mahal's gates were locked and the caretaker was not available even until 9 AM. I gave up..

Close to the gate is a board which tells about this monument-
The historical town Penukonda, the Mandal headquarters is located on the Guntakal-Bangalore section of Southern Railway and about 71 kms from Anantapur on Kurnool-Bangalore highway. It was once acted as second capital of the glorious Vijayanagara.
Number of religious in secular structures has been added at this place during the Vijayanagara period. In the residential fort area the temples dedicated to Rama, Siva, Mukteswara, Parswanatha, Narasimha, Venkateswara, Kali, mosques, Thimmarasu Jail, Mathas, watch towers, Vykuntapuram, water tanks and Gagan Mahal are important structures. Gagan Mahal is the only structure which is under the control of Department of Archaeology and Museums.
An old Hindu palace i.e. Gagan Mahal is located to the south of Ramaswamy and Eshwara temples. It was the summer palace and harem of Vijayanagara rulers. The building is facing east and composes of two stories of arcade chambers, square on plan with corner tower on the northern side. In front of the building there are steps leading into the building also staircases on either sides leads to the first floor. The ground floor consisting with recessed and forty five foliated arches in the pavilion reminiscent of the Lodi type of arches in the buildings of Delhi. The middle of the ground floor and first floor made a provision of rooms. The first floor has twelve arches and eight windows. The surface of the walls of building is coated with stucco. The pyramidal roof built-up in tiers is obviously adopted from Sikhara of the Dravidan style. The tower has six projecting windows supported by brackets.
It was built by a combination of Indo-Persian architectural style known as Indo-Sarcanic adopted by Vijayanagara kings. The palace was built without a single rafter, a unique specimen architecture.
- Archaeology and Museums Department.

Sept 11, 2015
The second visit turned out lucky, the caretaker was available. It was around 9-15 when we reached the spot. A bus full school children from Dharmavaram reached at the same moment; the group were on a historical tour for the day.

The east-facing palace is situated at the base of Penukonda hill. Steps leading to the fort atop the hill is a short walk from here. Also close by is a pond named Bhoga Samudram, probably a source of fresh water for the palace. The asymmetric design of the structure gives it a unique look. I went around the building starting from front right.

The building has two roof tops, one for the main building and the other for the tower. The roofs are capped by a pyramid-shaped Shikhara, same as the Lotus Mahal at Hampi. The palace has windows on all sides.. creates cross-ventilation through out the building. Good number of balconies for residents to relax and enjoy fresh air and beautiful sights.. surely the palace would be surrounded by well kept gardens with colorful flowers. I'm not sure if this was painted in white originally.

The rear left corner of the building has three arches.. this is to aide easy air inflow. The air stream will split and flow around the central hall and flow out from the front. So a person entering the building will receive a cool welcome.. aah! A beautiful maiden carrying a tray filled with glasses of cool drinks would be part of the welcome.

This is what you see as soon as you step into the building. The original flooring has been replaced with marble tiles.. the interior looks are screwed up.

A life-size picture of formally attired Sri Krishnadevaraya adorns the wall next to the tower entrance.

I think the original flooring would have been glossy white made of lime mixture which helps maintain the cool ambiance. You can see such flooring today at the Jumma Masjid in Gulbarga fort.

We climbed to the first floor; this is the open balcony for a view of  moonlit and starlit skies. The balcony is all around the first level.

The central dome; the high floor to ceiling gap will create a good draft to carry out warm air and bring in cooler air.

A large window serves as a seat with a view of Penukonda hill. On the hill would be guards watching the surrounding plains for signs of danger.

This video will talk you through the building starting from the tower top,.

Yogi Ramaswamy temple and Kashi Vishwanatha temples as seen from the tower.

A neglected Mantapa surrounded by houses.. who knows how much of government land has been illegally occupier.

Within the palace walls is an open air museum of ancient sculptures, mostly hero-stones. Here are three samples. Group of people worshipping Shiva Linga and Nandi. Its customary for a hero-stone to depict Sun and Moon.

The other hero-stone depicts an archer holding a strung bow, aiming to shoot..

The third sculpture is a black granite job.This male character wielding a wavy blade sword must be a warrior from a royal lineage.

Having done with the summer palace we head towards the northern gateway of Penukonda fort..

Feb 6, 2016

remains of Yamakanmardi fort

Yamakanmardi is a town situated off AH47 (formerly NH4), about 40 kms north of Belgaum. This town was on my list of places with forts.

Nov 15, 2015
While driving from Dharwad to Hukkeri, as we were passing by towards Yamakanmardi, I could see a bastion rising above the small buildings. I'd expected to see proper fort.. bastions ans rampart walls. On our return journey, we ventured into the town. Instead of going back to the highway, we took a short cut to the town from the AH47-Hukkeri road. The road passed over a lake bund on the northern part of the town. The lake was dry, a ancient looking grave stone was in view. It was of dark grey stone, well sculpted, probably of a military leader. Also on the bund was another ancient looking temple, but I wasn't sure. We found our way through the narrow streets to the bastion, its completely surrounded by recent built structures. This is all that remains of Yamakanmardi fort.. Nishan Burj ~ flag bastion. Just a tower..no rampart walls. The presence of flag at the top gave hopes for reaching the top.

The badly damaged stairway steps lead up to the narrow entrance to the bastion. The inner stairway was dark and steps were uneven, several blocks were missing, has be careful where our feet landed. We made it to the top!

Like most monuments of our state (if not country) this too is a place for society's certain elements who while away time doing nothing worthy. A gang of young boys mostly in teens or early twenties were playing cards. Our presence disturbed their privacy.. all eyes on us. I ignored their looks and looked around the structure. The circular platform is encircled by a 7' wall with peep and gun slots. The tower further rises higher at the core.. I did not bother to check if there was a way to reach trhe flag, the highest point of this tower. seems like the tower's construction is incomplete.

Kannada flag flies high above Yemkanmardi.

The structure is well built, meaning the workmanship is good. The walls are still holding good. I was in no mood to climb the wall to get a view of the town.. I was not dressed for that :(

We went around the bastion to catch another view. Seems like this workshop has encroached over town's common area.

Close to the Nishan Burj is a smaller bastion. This one seems to be part of the fort's outer ring.

Yemakanmardi has its share of Hindu temples and Mathas, the prominent ones or the noticeable ones are-

  • Shri 1008 Bhagwan Parshwanath Digambar Jain Basadi
  • Venugopal Swamy temple
  • Hunshi Kolla Math

The Jain Basadi sports a well maintained clock for public convenience. Good job on that. I'm guessing this tapering tower must be Venugopal Swamy Gudi Shikhara.

On the map I happened to notice a spot marked as 'Five god's Temple' a historic temple. Guessing this could be the temple on the town outskirts, on the lake bund.

Yamakanmardi fort Coordinates: 16°7'48"N   74°31'41"E