1000 Jain Temples. . . . .Palitana

annetbell:

This is where we will be on Sunday after Friday and Saturday in Baroda and surrounds. I will wait very patiently at the bottom, though dbell will be making the climb! Stay tuned next week!

Originally posted on TalesAlongTheWay:

Our trip began at five in the morning for a one-way five hour tour coach ride. Travelling in the country is slow going as many of the roads are only two lanes. It was quite nerve wracking as I had not learned to close my eyes, but watched as the cars, wagons, and bikes would seemingly play chicken with oncoming traffic while trying to pass. At the last minute, one or the other would return to their safe lane and an accident would be averted. I kept thinking the bus is safer and bigger, right? Image Palitana, (pronounced as in Italian) is an extraordinary cluster of sacred architecture consisting of one thousand Jain Temples. Most date to the sixteenth century, and the earlier parts of the complex were destroyed by invaders. The shrines are scattered over twin summits, and the climb is 2 ½ miles one way, accessed by 4000+ steps…

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Chitiral Festival

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I love this map that so clearly shows the intermingling of the great templewhere and the streets and lives of the people.  It is difficult to see where one begins or ends as they intertwine.

 

Namaste!

 From the first stop (Chennai)  on our south field trip, we saw preparations in progress for this longest of Hindu festivals during the whole month of April, the Chitiral Festival.  It is a joyous festival of love and marriage and the Hindus know how to throw a wedding party!

We saw huge carriages on platforms hooked to poles  and enormous ropes used by hundreds of men carrying it through the city. Flowers everywhere in women’s hair, on the idols and on the floats. People  were milling around, first waiting and then walking in the parade.

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Our wonderful guide suggested returning the next morning at 6:30 before our departure  to see some of the areas that had been closed off the day before.  Not only did we see the huge tank of water, but we walked around and saw the areas in the pale morning light.         Indians are not early risers, as a whole, and 10-11 o’clock is more their time to start the day.  The students have been great with their punctuality , early rising and appreciating each wonder of Incredible India!

This video is of the parade taken a few years ago in the smaller town.  At the beginning are the wonderful animals.  We saw two young camels, a baby elephant and mom and a huge dancing elephant met with cheers from the crowd.  Oh I  wish I had images of her swinging her  trunk and taking  small steps (as small as an elephant can ) side to side and then together. . . a sort of “pachyderm two-step!”

For me because everything is all about the animals and the children, I loved it.  The parade, the throngs of people, the laughing pushing children, staring and smiling at us, taking our pictures.  As happened over in over in India, we stand out like “sore thumbs!”  The funny thing is that we felt completely welcome  and safe in that huge crowd.  It never ceases to amaze me!

https://youtu.be/bAmHEKtSbSo

This Is Incredible India! 

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Meenaksi Temple. . . . Madurai

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gopuras of Meenaksi Temple

 This is the Meenaksi Sundareshvara Temple in Madurai which has been the heart and life of  the Tamil people for 2500 years from ancient Madurai until today.  It is hard to tell if the city or the temple have grown together as one, but it is  evident as you wander from vendors straightway into the temple courtyard where people and animals are resting or sleeping in the shade of giant columns.

Spaced around the perimeter  of the temple grounds are 12 gopuras  or pyramidal gates rising more than 164 feet that   mark  the four direction entrances to the temple complex at the  four cardinal points.

The solid granite bases are covered with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals,  and monsters .  The gopurs are all  painted in a 12 year rotation using vivid  Indian colors.

 

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Enjoy a walk through this spectacular sacred architecture!

https://youtu.be/Ohl3_NQiRjY

 

This Is Incredible India! 

Here is my post from my  last time in the south of India !

http://talesalongtheway.com/2014/07/02/temple-towns-in-the-south-of-india/

 

 

 

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Children of God

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 image from Google images, public domain

 

 Yesterday was our two hour walk through the city of “The Children of God.”  This is the name  Gandhi-ji gave the lowest caste of the pyramid in India.  They are the lowest of the low.  Today, I want to just introduce you to the city inside the city of Ahmedabad.  It is not the only one by far, but is the nearest to Gandhi Ashram. Lots of pictures were taken but not by me, as I was furiously passing out candy to the kids.  So I have to wait for some images to be posted.

In the mean time, here is some information about the Dalits and the slums in India and a national organization consisting of Dalits and published  as navsarjan.org.  

India’s caste system assigns individuals a certain hierarchical status according to Hindu beliefs. Traditionally, there are four principal castes (divided into many sub-categories) and one category of people who fall outside the caste system—the Dalits. As members of the lowest rank of Indian society, Dalits face discrimination at almost every level: from access to education and medical facilities to restrictions on where they can live and what jobs they can have. The discrimination against the Dalits is especially significant because of the number of people affected; there are approximately 167 million Dalits in India, constituting over 16 percent of the total population.

Navsarjan is a grassroots Dalit organization dedicated to ensuring human rights for all. Our mission is to eliminate discrimination based on untouchability practices; ensure equality of status and opportunities for all, regardless of caste, class or gender; and to ensure the rule of law..

Navsarjan is the largest Dalit organization in Gujarat, and one of the most effective in India.  It is active in more than 3,000 villages, as well as in the cities.  A field staff of about 80 men and women—most of whom come from the communities in which they work—keep Navsarjan in tune with the needs of people on the ground.

I was surprised that there were not more videos available for a walk through in a slum in Ahmedabad.  The absence of sound or music makes the images more stark.

https://youtu.be/HQKTzGVQNUs

This Is Incredible India! 

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Kerala.. . . The “Jungle”

1907620_10206189652558663_7182215692883838095_nWell jungle originally came from Sanskrit that was the precursor  of  many of the subcontinent Indian languages. And  look behind the boat and you will see why Kerala is jungle to me!

More about the boat ride after a few facts about Kerala.  It is a great farming area in India with rice being the primary crop.  Rice is the staple starch food to fill Indian bellies and it is good that with the rich soil, idea weather conditions, and plenty of labor there are 3-4 harvests each year.  We saw  women bending low in the water soaked fields, grape vineyards on the side of the mountains, and many other fields growing unrecognizable crops to our city eyes.

An interesting fact about Kerala is that it is the only elected Communist local government in all of India.  It was amusing to Dbell and me that the students wondered what the red flag with the sickle on it was!  There was a boat captain and crew strike for higher wages the day we were to go for this ride on the backwater canals.  Fortunately for us ,the hotel had two small boats and we didn’t miss this great adventure and because of the strike, we pretty much had the lake and canals all to our selves.  Riding along we saw Mango Trees, and  cashew trees as well as spectacular palm trees.   That was so interesting  on the cashew trees, was  the inedible fruit with the nut in a shell growing from the bottom of the fruit. We were in Aleepy and there is another city called Cochin where the airport is.  It is a small city by Indian standards of only a few million.  Dbell said that they may shoot themselves in the foot with all these taxes on the tourists. It is a lovely place but so is Goa. The three taxes on our hotel, food and everything we bought were higher than New York City tourist taxes!   Isn’t that amazing?

 One positive fact on which to end , is that the state of Kerala professes a 100% literacy rate which is astonishing, if true.

 

 

These  lovely videos gives you a real feel for the relaxing experience of a backwater tour in Kerala.

https://youtu.be/t0YxFMeFUbQ

 

https://youtu.be/fJDlIbV3zKY

This Is Incredible India!  

 

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Second Day of 111 F. (44 C) with More Days to Come !

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Nothing says India more than the continuous sunshine and camels, unless it is the relentless heat!  After my years in Arizona , we would say something is  “Hot as Arizona!”, but now it is “Hot as India!”  It is understandable  that when monsoons start in about a month, that the Indian people dance in the streets in the refreshing rain.  We had a taste of monsoons back on March  1st. I remember that morning because that was the day I was filmed in the commercial.  Rain came down in buckets full, and  it was as if there were a billion buckets full of water being poured all at once.  Afterwards water stood in the streets for days as there are no  drains in the side of the streets.

So we did our touring yesterday, and when we got back we stayed in the room with the AC cranked up not even venturing out to eat!We did go for breakfast this morning  but plan nothing much for the day.  Dbell is meeting with the students as they plan their final presentation just under two weeks from now!

Tomorrow morning early will be a special event. We are visiting a slum directly across from the Gandhi Ashram. Our guide is a young architect who has worked for and with the slum and the Assam.

Bye bye from  a cat under a hot tin roof in Amdavad, India!

 

This is Incredible India! 

image from Google public domain

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Elephant Pat . . . Shiva’s Wedding Anniversary. . Wind Flower. . . .

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In Pondicherry, a seacoast city just south of Chennai, we were treated to a tropical resort called Wind Flower.  It was located out of the city and honestly, the plantings were more beautiful in my mind, than a Hawaiian resort  where we have stayed.  The large bush is white Poinsettia  bush over 6 feet tall !  Arriving in the outskirts reminded me of visits to Agri-tourism farms in southern Italy which are a great and reasonable way to travel in Italy.

Here are some more pictures I took of the grands.  There was an older woman watering once a day in the scorching sun. I looked to see if they had the Arizona watering system on timers but they didn’t . It is amazing that in this heat plants and flowers thrive.

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I love the floral hedges. . .

The city has two distinct sections  consisting of the French Colonial Planned section with a lovely garden , grid streets,  French street names and an iron fence surrounding the Governor’s palace.  It was familiar in plan for those of us who had been to  New Orleans or cities in Canada.

All around the French Quarter the arms of the Indian Pondicheery wraps herself.   There was much excitement as this was the beginning of the 15 day celebration of Shiva’s wedding festival.   And Indians  love wedding celebrations! There was a huge parade with flowers and the elephant. She had been covered in bright Indian colors, but I was too slow to get that picture.

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She  is the elephant who lives near the Ganesha Temple.  Ganesha is a Hindu  god who has the head of an elephant.  In this country , elephants are thought to be good luck.  After you give a small donation to the elephant in her truck , she will thank you with a pat on the head!   11156322_813643048704094_8727577943952823551_n (1)

This had been on  the bucket list of the students and we have done all  four now!   Elephant pat on the head, elephant ride, and camel ride, Mindy hands  with not just one Indian wedding but two!     The trip to India is a success and  bucket lists completed with weeks to spare !

This is Incredible India !

 

Here is my post from the previous trip in 2013.

http://talesalongtheway.com/2013/06/04/pondicherry-blessing/

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