May 25, 2019

Payyambalam beach, Kannur

It was in 1995 or 1996 that I last visited Kerala, to attend a wedding at Kannur. It was a one day visit, Anish was our host, Gulli and I had been to St. Angelo fort. Then Anish had taken us to a temple along with the newly married couple. Later we spent the evening at his parent's house before boarding the bus to Bangalore.

Feb-1, 2019
This was my first outing for the year 2019, a business-vacation trip with friend who's an architect. We reached Kannur Feb-2 just before noon, as planned we headed straight to a well known plywood factory. We met the managing director who arranged a tour of the factory with the production manager. This factory established in 1940s is spread over 40 to 50 acres; manufactures wood based products like plywood, soft-board, electrical insulators, and furniture; has its own chemical lab and material testing lab; has its own electrical station and for backup there are 3 generators capable of supplying electricity to Kannur city!

We called it a day by 5 pm and moved into the factory's guest house with an unhindered view of the sea. We had tea watching the sun fade into the mist over the watery horizon, listening to the sounds of sea and feeling the cool sea breeze.

Following day we resumed our tour of the factory, then some technical discussions. Our business part of the trip was done. Late afternoon we headed towards Payyambalam beach which was a 15 minute walk from the guest house. However we turned back seeing the crowd.. Back at the guest house, we found a path down the cliff to the little beach. We stayed on the beach until it was almost dark.

Feb-3, 2019
I woke up early and walked down to Payyambalam beach, small groups scattered along the kilometer long stretch, it was kind of serene out there.

Looking towards north.. this beach is almost 5 kms long.. you can spend an entire morning walking up and down.

Tide was receding, occasionally I would see 6' high waves. Far into the sea, there were fishing boats closing in the net cast previous evening.

Receding water churns up patches of white foam which create an interesting pattern.

Sand is mix of gold and grey. Up north i.e. Mangalore and beyond, sand is usually golden. As we go down south, sand is usually shades of grey. For example- Covalam beach sand is quite dark. The pattern is interesting, not many sea shells here.

The beach crowd had increased with every passing minute. Football seems to be a favorite sport here. There were at least five matches in progress. This lad kicks his plastic ball flying into the sea..

The way the ball rolled on the water, it seemed like Sea was dribbling the ball :)

Young men engrossed in matches, they are quite serious with the game.

Another team had setup proper goal posts with net.. 90% chance that its a fishing net.

Family having a peaceful moment.. no work, no school in their thoughts for the time.

I'd come out while my group was still asleep at the guest house. Hoping they'd woken up, I headed back to the guest house, 15 minute walk. Just off the beach, close to the bridge across the creek are graves with Communist emblems.. guessing these are the graves of political leaders of Communist parties.

That's the bridge which connects the beach garden and the beach.

This is a garden of sculptures. This standing fish.. there's another identical one. The detailing is superb. Plenty of trees too in this small garden.

This is the largest sculpture.. no idea what it depicts.

Close to the garden's other entrance is this ruined war machine. Its a tracked self-propelled gun without the firing mechanism. Such a nice piece of antique. Sad that its turned into a trash bin.

In the garden is a huge umbrella shaped tree, branches spanning 30 feet across. A kite had perched, probably taking a break from the bright light.

My presence startled it..

..took off swiftly and out of my sight.

Back at the guest house, the trio was up, sitting under the tree watching the sea. We had tea and made way down to the private beach. Compared to previous evening, the tide was still high, the water was knee high where the rocks met sand. Karun waded inward, almost 80 feet from the ricks yet the water was chest level. Slowly Chengappa and I too went further. Dancing with the waves was fun. Occasionally waves caught us off guard taking us along. Once I felt something slither under my feet, must have stepped on a fish. We played in the sea until about nine. I was the first to come out. Had fresh water bath and packed up for the return journey..

Here are couple of shots from the previous evening.

the private beach

end of Feb-1 day

May 18, 2019

Hazara Rama Devasthana - part 2

..continued from Hazara Rama Devasthana - part 1

Hazararama Devasthana as seen from backside. The Shikhara dominates this view. Chalukyan temple Shikharas are made of stone but Vijayanagara temple designers preferred brick and mortar crowns. Probably logistics and ease of handling were the reasons. Bricks would be manufactured at construction sites itself, so lesser transportation. Bricks being smaller and lighter, the need for equipment and manpower to haul heavy material is eliminated. Builders had cut down construction costs. Technological changes and cost cutting continued to the point where stones were used only in the foundation.

In the temple backyard is a Kalyana Mantapa, a water tank and canal system. The Kalyana Mantapa is built on a platform and besides it is a long pillared hall which could be used as a lodge or dining hall. Water was supplied to the front of the temple using the canals.

Besides the Hazara Rama temple is another temple, smaller in size, dedicated to a Devi. The smaller temple's Shikhara condition is better.

A closer look at the walls.

This looks like a flower vase with some kind of flora in it. Check out the humanoid figures.. a goddess with four arms, a bearded man doing Namaskara and a man with pot belly standing on one leg. Interesting sculptures. Wish I'd paid closer attention to them around the temple.

Grandeur in Garbhagudi drain pipe. The holy mixture of water, milk, honey, etc. flowing out from the deity can't be let out in a simple manner.

Warriors engaged in a battle. Three arrows are flying out towards the warrior standing on the ground. No idea who these images depict.

Another battle scene. Two warriors are being shot at.

That's the facade of Devi temple.. simple but elegant.

Turning our attention back to Hazara Rama temple, you get to see more scenes from Ramayana such as king Dasaratha giving the divine kheer to his queens Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi; Dasartaha with his four sons; Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in exile; and other events.

This is the portico over the northern door. Notice the wood-work like canopy. Such design can be seen in Chalukyan Mahadeva Devasthana, Itagi. The pillars have sculptures of Bala Krishna i.e. Krishna as a young boy eating stolen butter and slaying the snake demon Aghasura. On the wall to the right is a scene of Lakshmana mutilating Shoorpanaki.

At the top of this wall two panels depict the Vanara army marching over the stone bridge across the sea, towards Lanka. The second layer from the top shows Shoorpanaki eyeing Rama as Lakshmana watches her. The lowest layer shows the scene of Dasaratha performing a Yagna to beget sons, receiving the divine kheer from Agni and he distributing the kheer to his three wives. Many of the stories / events have repeated. Nothing wrong with it, just an observation.

A closer look at monkey army on Rama Sethu, fishes in the sea shown so nicely. Also the scene of Shoorpanaki, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana.

A collage of a voluptuous woman, chained elephant and a sculptor's outline of a flower on a column.

Images of Krishna.. eating butter as a kid and as Muralidhara.

These are some of the sculptures that caught my eye, there could hundreds that escaped. Do see it with your own eyes, once at least.

May 11, 2019

Hazara Rama Devasthana - part 1

August 13, 2017
This was the first day of our two-day Hampi tour. We started the tour early morning from the Queen's Bath followed by the Zenana Enclosure, Elephant Stables, Guards Quarters, Pan Supari Bazar and then Hazara Rama temple. This is one of the most visited temples of Hampi. The name "Hazara Rama" roughly translates to "Thousand Rama" which signifies the dedication to Rama or stories from Ramayana. The temple was built in the XV Century CE during the rule of Devaraya. This was the ceremonial temple for Vijayanagara royal family.

A tourism board planted close to the temple entrance describes this monument as follows.
The Hazararama temple is the only temple situated in the core zone of the royal enclosure between the residential and ceremonial enclosures. Dedicated to Vishnu in his aspect as Lord Rama, the 15th Cenury temple, is the finest example of compact Dravidian Vimana type of temple, in plan it has sanctum, vestibule, pillared dance hall, with an entrance porch to the north and south. The eastern porch is extended into an elegant pillared pavilion. There is a shrine for the goddess to the north which is also elegantly sculpted.
The temple is known for its sculpted friezes depicting the Ramayana, in three tiers, running all around the main shrine and narrative sculptures of the Lava-Kusha story on the Devi shrine. It is because of this the temple was evidently called the Hazara Rama, in addition, the temple is also known for the narrative sculptures of the Bhagavata, especially of Bala Krishna and the sculpted polished pillars of the Mahamantapa (main hall). It was undoubtedly, the temple of the royal patronage.

This is the temple's outer walls which portrays Mahanavami and Holi celebrations. Dancers, musicians, general public, soldiers with military elephants and horses participating in a grand procession. This is the eastern wall..

..the wall continues, so does the procession. The wall top cylindrical blocks has special characters.. mostly musicians and dancers.

This is the corner where the eastern wall meets the northern wall.

The northern wall is much longer and has a gateway at the midpoint.
Coming back to the temple entrance.. on the right hand side is this group of images. An archer shooting a wild boar, his arrow is about to pierce the beast. I feel strange seeing this because boar is a major element in Vijayanagara emblem. Also there's a female archer in pursuing a deer. Then there's a couple, the plump one is dancing while the other one is holding a serpent. The last image is the most interesting.. two bodies and one head. You can see a bull on the left and an elephant on the right with a common head. That's an interesting imagination.

Here we have images of women engaged in various activity and Hoysala logo. The woman in the middle is holding a long serpent in her hands while a smaller one hangs around her neck. Going by her figure she must be in her youth. Her hair is tied in a bun, so it was a fashion back then. In fact the other women also have their hair tied in buns.

As we step into the temple premises, on the right hand side are these sculptures. The two images must be depicting princesses.. one seems to be testing an arrowhead and the other one is seated on a diwan communicating with a parrot.

That's the gateway opening into the temple courtyard. The sculpted piece in the courtyard seems like a Shikhara cap-stone. For some reason, the originally open gateway Mantapa has been covered with slabs.

Now the main temple itself.. the Mukhamantapa is grand and spacious. The Mantapa is crowned with stucco work depicting Vishnu, Laxmi and other legendary characters.

Like most temples, Hazararama temple also has a meter high platform which can be climbed using these steps flanked by a pair of imaginary creatures.

Scenes from Ramayana and pillars decorate the front walls flanking the main entrance. The pillar tops have lotus in full bloom.

The other side of the door has three-axle chariots. The chariots on the right seems to be King Dasaratha's, looks like he's riding the vehicle with his three queens.

This wall shows Garuda and Hanuman individually. Between the two pillars is the scene from Ravana's court where Hanuman is seated on his coiled tail. Then there's Sita pointing out to the golden deer to Rama. Indeed, this temple is designed to exude Ramayana.

For a temple this grand, the main door frame is quite simple. This is the Sabhamantapa which is connects to the Garbhagudi and has three doorways. At the center of the hall is the Nrutyamantapa which is square in plan, has four exquisitely sculpted pillars of black stone. The mantapa has a circular dance stage. The circular dance stage has remained same through the ages from Chalukya to Vijayanagara.

The pillars side by side.. similar in design but each are unique.

This is the southern entrance. The northern entrance is similar.

Some key events from Ramayana.. Rama learning archery, Rama stringing Pinaka, Ravana and Anjaneya in a conversation, and so on.

Rama shooting an arrow through seven Sala trees is one event I can identify here.

This is southern wall. The ribbed level is one of the eye-catching parts of this temple.

This is a creation of a master craftsman. Looks like a complex piece of jewelry.

So far we have covered just the entrance and main temple. Within the complex there's another temple and two more halls for conducting ceremonies. We'll see them in the following post.. Hazara Rama Devasthana - part 2.