Monday, 16 April 2007

Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram

On the last day before parting with Margrethe's group we went on a one-day trip to Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram, famous for silk weaving and rock temples respectively.

Kanchipuram has long been known as the place in India to get silk garments. Many from our group - especially the women - took advantage of that. I didn't buy anything, but I did enjoy a demonstration of how silk is woven. As you might be able to tell from the picture it is an incredible complex and tedious proces with each single thread being added manually.

Another picture, this one giving a good impression of the machinery used. To my amazement they still use punch card technology to make the desired patterns in the fabric. I remember seeing punch cards in American cartoons where the dog protecting the sheep herd checks in using one. But I had never before seen one in real life.

After the visit to the weaver's workshop we went to the atmospheric Sri Ekambaranathar Temple. Above you see a wonderful pillared hallway and a woman praying to an idol.

Dousins of Shiva lingams in the gallery between the pillars and the wall.

A man and a priest performing a puja in one of the inner chambers of the temple.

The main temple Gopuram (tower) standing at more than 50 metres tall.

Next stop was Mamallapuram which I have already visited before, on my first big trip around India in the spring of 2005. Some might remember my post from that visit. This amazing green fly I spotted in a souvenir shop window just after arrival, and I thought it looked very cool sitting there on a small bronze statue.

But of course Mamallapuram is not primarily known for it's population of metallic green flies. Rather it is famous for it's amazing rock temples and rock carvings. This is one of many small temples cut entirely out of the rock. Nothing has been added to the original rock and it's all in one piece. Pretty cool stuff.

Since I knew the place in advance and we were on a tight schedule I showed around some of the group tolet them see the best spots, which they would otherwise have missed. Here we made it to a human size stone altar crowned by a lion in the end. I have no idea what it was actually for, but imagine it could be a sacrificial altar. Of course that is probably just my imagination going a little wild - I haven't heard any stories of such sacrifices being made here.

And here is one of the very most important pieces of work in Mamallapuram. An amazing stone relief called Arjuna's Penance. It is 12 metres tall and 30 metres wide although I couldn't capture the whole thing in one frame. The elephants are very close to life size! It is quite extraordinary really.

And I thought it would be interesting to contrast Arjuna's Penance with a more modern one, showing India as a developed state with satelites, oil drills and steel mills. This relief is found at the memorial for Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Prime Minister and son of legendary Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He got murdered by a Tamil suicide bomber in 1991 as revenge for India's military involvement in the Sri Lankan civil war.

The actual Memorial. The big stone tablet in the middle of the ring formed by the tall columns stands at the exact place where Rajiv Gandhi was killed. A woman from the Tamil Tigers pretended to want to touch his feet - which is a customary Indian show of respect - and then detonated an explosive belt.


Mohit Kumar said...
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indhu M said...
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