I saw Mr. Arun Kumar Sharma for first in the conference hall of the Hiuen Tsang Resort in Sirpur. Looking at him I would have guessed that he must be in his sixties. When the MD Chhattisgarh Tourism, Mr. Santosh Misra, introduced him as the excavator of Sirpur, he added that Mr. Sharma was in his 80s.
You can see him climbing down the Suranj Tila’s crooked stairs unaided! How I admired him! He is a man with stories and there are stories about him! We were extremely lucky to be shown around Sirpur by Mr. Sharma himself.
Sirpur is said to be mentioned in the documents as old as 5th century AD. However, it is surmised that the town was buried in a powerful earthquake in 12 century AD. The town is situated on the banks of Mahanadi and the excavations reveal that it was a well planned city in the ancient times. One of the most important monument is the Lakshman Temple discovered in 1872 by Lord Cunningham.
Tantrik Mandir is a part of the Surang Tila Complex. This is considered to be the second most important place after the Lakshman Temple. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva.
Sirpur is also prominent for its discoveries of the remains the Buddha and Jain monuments. These complexes have statues of Buddha, residential complexes for monks and nuns and rich carving on the walls. I sincerely wished that the modern looking sheet was absent from this Buddha Vihar but then I also understand that protecting the heritage comes first. You can gauge the importance of the discoveries by the fact that the Dalai Lama visited Sirpur in 2014.
Close to the bank of Mahanadi are the remains of the grand market place which was probably a grain, iron and metals market. The proximity to the river hints at the existence of a port as well. While walking along the huge place I was seriously trying to imagine how the place would at the peak of its glory, what would the traders talk about, what were their preoccupations? But then my imagination hardly supplies any answers to these questions!
When I look at such ancient heritage as Sirpur it reminds me that there was life on this earth much before I was here and there would be life much after I am gone. It makes me feel quite insignificant, along all the hopes and worry that dominate my world. But it a strange way it is a comforting thought too.
Sirpur is about 80 Kilometers from Raipur the capital of Chhattisgarh. A taxi is probably the most comfortable way to travel to Sirpur. There is only one accommodation at Sirpur- the Hieun Tsang resort of Chhattisgarh Tourism.
The Grand Palace Bangkok is a prime tourist attraction. The palace was built in about 1782. However the current king does not reside here, but the palace is used for royal functions.
However, in this post I am going to give you the true insight into how I approach history and monuments! If I research the web, I can give you an educated account. But this piece is a good example of how I really write about history. Be warned!
10. Apsaras on the Ground
Our guide Joe was pointing out the similarities between Hindu mythology and the figures depicted in the Grand Palace Complex. So, this was an Apsara and we who are familiar with Hindu mythology know what it means!
I can’t exactly remember what convoluted explain was given to me about the nagas. I was told they were like dragon only they could not fly or something like that. I remarked that they look like snakes! And then my guide pointed out that they call them nagas too! of course we understand nagas but he pointed out rightly that the rest of the world didn’t!
08. Giant Yakshas
If you would ask me, the Yakshas are my favorite figures among all that I see in a Thai temples and palaces. They are the protectors of the place, standing tall right at the gates. And even though they look fierce they never really look scary, at least not to me!
07. Murals on the Walls
The walls of the Grand Palace depict grand murals both from Buddhism and Hinduism. If I remember correctly the Hindu murals are related to the Ramayana. Now I wonder why my mind develops a dense fog around historical details!
06. Golden Guards on the Walls of the Emerald Buddha
I know there has to be a mythical story behind these guards. But guess what I liked them for? They make for an excellent spot for photography, whether you want to get clicked or simply click the scene.
05. The Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha is a magnificent site. You can not do photography in the main pavilion. So I took out my zoom and clicked this picture from a distance. The Buddha is wearing his autumn attire in this picture. The clothes are changed according to the season in a royal ceremony.
04. The Shoe of the Giant Yaksha
I said before that I do not found the yakshas scary and I found there shoes positively cute. The color combination of green, blue and yellow looks so beautiful as well.
03. The Grand Structures
The Grand Palace is a collection of beautiful structures. It was quite difficult to get the scale in a single frame even after using a wide angle lens.
02. A Golden Pagoda
There are many golden pagodas within the complex. one of them is particularly huge. The smaller ones are said to contain the ashes of the royal ancestors.
01. The Grand Palace, Bangkok
This is a partial view of the Grand Palace. I think the best view of the whole building is from the Chao Phraya river as it gives a bird eye view of the entire majestic structure.
Now that you have slogged through the post, you can see why I do not readily write about monuments. I somehow gloss over all the details and remember only a small bit of everything I saw. Now give me a trek and I would remember everything! But even through my muddle account, you will have agree that it is a beautiful place!
This year starting from March till about now, I traveled a lot. When I traveled a lot I would crib because I was traveling too much, which would leave me very tired. Then for the past two weeks I have been at home. So, now I am getting nostalgic about traveling and then, you guessed it right, I crib again! So this is a nostalgic Skywatch Friday, featuring the Amman Citadel in Jordan. I visited Jordan in May 2014.
The Amman Citadel is ancient, said to be occupied since neolithic period. It is also known as Jabal al-Qal’a. One meaning of Jabal is a hill. This citadel is on one of the seven hills which constituted the original city of Amman. It is said to have passed influence of three religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is a popular tourist destination in Amman. The main ruins which you can see above is the Temple of Hercules.
The citadel is spread in a vast area and has many places of interest. Jordan Archaeological Museum is within the grounds. Umayyad palace, a huge water tank and a mosque are other points of interest. Visiting this place would require some amount of walking.
The view of the city from the Amman Citadel is quite impressive. The day we visited the place it was not too crowded. The weather was nice, we had clear blue skies and a nice breeze. The sun was happy to lord over the sky. As the place is quite huge it never felt crowded. Almost everyone climbed up the ruins to get photographed next to the pillars of the Temple of Hercules.
I had left my zoom lens in the bus itself, as I never thought I would need it at this spot. Guess what? There were birds around the place and I did kick myself for not carrying the lens around. But that is a minor regret. Overall, it was a wonderful half day that I spent at the Amman Citadel.
Shaniwar Wada, Pune is said to be the most impressive mansion ever to be built by the Peshwas in the city. The foundation for the monument was laid down in 1720 by Bajirao I. Today is completely engulfed by the city!
We tried to visit it on our first evening in Pune. I was with Dr. Supriya Himanshu of All What She Wants. We were together on the Suryagar trip as well earlier this year. It was good fun to meet her again. The first evening when we reached there, it was already closed. We visited the Lal Mahal instead which is at walking distance from Shaniwar Wada. The current Lal Mahal is not the original one, if you are pressed for time you can easily give it a miss! The entrance fee for Shaniwar Wada is Rupees 5 and for Lal Mahal Rs 2 for Indian nationals!
Large parts of the Shaniwar Wada were destroyed in an unexplained fire in 1828. So as of now only the entrance and the grounds remain. Still it is a nice place to visit, particularly if you like ruins and history. We visited it on a week day, hence it was not too crowded.
There are steps to climb to go to the top of the building at the entrance. I could see no means by which it would be accessible to a person on a wheel chair. But then I should not just single out this monument, I guess a large number of them would be inaccessible across India. The stairs are somewhat steep.
The stairs lead to a spacious courtyard. It took me some effort to take this picture when I managed to get it sans any human beings! The view to the front are nice. You can see the lawn and the fountains. I am told there is a musical fountain show on the premises but not everyday.
From the first floor one can also see towards the city. I wonder what was the amphitheater was being prepared for? The monument is clean and I could see no graffiti or litter. I had a completely relaxed morning with Supriya at Shaniwar Wada in Pune.