Chandra Bhaga silver moon in you is reflected

Chandra Bhaga silver moon in you is reflected
Chandravati temple sculpture

golden sun-rays kiss softly life and the Bells of Joy sing a hymn--Jhalawar-Patan

I do not know what to say now but I will come to you when the muse holds me in her inspiring arms!!

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buddha in Jhalawar--Kolvi Caves

Buddha --Meditating
Buddha Standing

The time as I said earlier is a snail in Jhalawar. You may arrive as a stranger but you will go back as family and friend is the culture and the sweetness of Jhalawaris. Kush Sherma whose great help to see the exiquisite art in Garh Palace I have already mentioned suggested to me take an early morning bus to Dag to enable me to visit Buddhist Kolvi Caves. I took a bus 6AM (Jhalawar to Banswara) from near the Rajasthan Tourism Office in Jhalawar. The bus drove through small villages, taking passengers, there were a lot of sheep on the road and colourful women shepherd in their exotic jewelery saw to it that no ewe is left behind, the sheep dog also worked hard to maintain order in flock. Some tribal women got on to the bus and their red and blue skirts and mirror work on shirts and armful of white bangles were distinct. it was about 95 kms. to Kolvi. The bus left me on the road and went on further to Dag another 10 kms from kolvi. I walked on a fine tarred road arrived in open country and small settlements. A water pond had women come down to wash clothes while the cattle cooled in the water.
Walking about 3 kms i arrived near a small hillock. I noticed ASI board about Kolvi caves. i went up the hill and there was total silence only the sound of wind. the foliage swayed in wind and I could see far the sun burnt landscape. At leisure I explored the caves 35 of which still remain out a more than 50. The weathering by elements has destroyed the sutpas and Chaityas. the caves had the stone bed for the monks to sleep on. from the doors of caves which mostly opened to the valley bellow it would have been a stupendous view of forests, and wilderness more than 1500 hundred years before. the vegetation might have been different 1500 years before. the monks must have had fruits from the trees in the forest and food brought from villages. I could feel the presence of monks their discussions on Dhamma and their simple spiritual lives.
I understand that these caves continued in use till at least 12th century which speaks for the popularity of Buddhism in the area. There was a giant sized standing Buddha sculpture and many in meditative posture. erosion has taken its toll but still the place gave me a feeling of peace and a distance from the world of humans into serene nature. in one of the caves someone has put an idol and i could feel that locals visit and worship. So in India nothing dies, faith keeps alive 1500 years after the monks prayed for Nirvana. i spent quite many hours in this little hill of peace. had a banana and few biscuits and washed them down with a couple of swigs of water from the bottle. I walked back the women and men worked their farms, tethered the oxen to the carts and children played and ran around in joy. Soon another bus appeared and I went to Dag a small dusty town. I took some mango drink and walked around. Farmers brought grains and lentils to sell in the shops. People shopped for shoes and clothes, utensils and groceries. This was my India not the CFL powered glitter of big cities but the sinewy, hardy, sturdy farmers' world of simplicity and modest desires. The honest toil visible on the faces of men with their dauntingly large mustaches and bright headgear the women elegant in their bronzed faces from honest and hard labour in fields and at home.
Note-- take water and food with you for in Kolvi there is nothing. Have a sun hat while you walk up to the caves in strong tropical sun. Travel by the local bus you will learn more about people and culture. Near Dag are more caves if you would like to visit

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Jhalrapatan--In search of Lost time

sculpture Shantinath Temple Jhalrapatan

Painted sculpture Shantinath Temple Jhalrapatan

Dipak(L) n Rajendra--ancient to contemporary

Shantinath Temple sculpture
Jhalrapatan has an ambiance that allows time to slow and the life to magnify. I walked the beautiful old streets--they are more like the old Italian cobbled streets where you feel that a Roman Legion's footfalls have died down a while ago. As I walked to arrive from Sun Temple to Shantinath Jain temple I found a neat sweet shop tucked in a corner. I walked in to a welcome from the owner. Indian sweets are delight in taste and in variety, and like a greedy child i eyed different sweets. I asked for small helping of rabadi then went on to another and yet another. With the nice taste in mouth I landed on the doors of Shantinath Temple. The doorway painted in oil paint with images and arabesque in warm pleasing welcoming colours, I entered the temple and was greeted by some temple officials who were busy writing in their laarge notebooks or bahis. the temple was constructed in 11th century by Shah Pipa. The temple is a living heritage. The sculptures on the temple are a novelty of artistic creation. I discovered that the breasts of the female figures were rendered in two types of stones--white and red. the round red coloured stone is pasted over white stone. In no other temple I have seen this kind of multicoloured stone use.
in the corridor on the outer front wall of Shantinath temple are neat, spruced small rooms for the devotees who come from long distances and must lodge overnight. The old world of hospitality continues in living temples of India. Clean whitewashed houses stand as history book of past in the streets and modern and ancient breathe together without any contradiction. A cybercafe rubs shoulder with a temple, flower seller comes with fresh flowers for offerings to gods to begin another day thanking God for the sun, moon, earth and sky and of course life.
As I walked leisurely near Shantinath temple i see this large high ceilinged books and stationery shop. I asked the young owner for a book on Jhalawar by historian Lalit Sherma. Deepak Podwal the owner tries to find the book but could not. I enter into conversation with him on the temple sculptures and architecture of 11the century Jain temple. I also meet a gentleman by name Rajendra who is student in the Engineering College in Jhalawar. Jhalawar has lately got many professional education colleges and is now a place where young men and women meet and live in the town to educate themselves to improve their and India's prospects in a modern world. Rajendra is full of bonhomie and pure white energy.
I intend to meet them as I visit the town again to further study the art and architecture of the area.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Journey back to 1000 years in time--Jhalrapatan

Jhalrapatan-shantinath mandir
Flower-seller by the Surya Mandir
Nursing past memories
The Cylindrical jharokha has emerged from a grand Palace of yore
A tiny diamond sitting over a ring of crass commercial base

When you walk in the Jhalrapatan you suddenly seem to distrust your senses. A world as in all probability as it might have existed a thousand years earlier flourishes in the thoughts, life, rituals,economic activities, social life. The streets as you walk them offer you architectural memories from several centuries gone by. A styled cylindrical latticed Jharokha in a smaller avatar seems to descend from mighty heights of a Rajput Palace. A grand pillared entrance of a majestic residence of yore is reflected in a tiny first floor apartment nudging a sturdy tree growing in the courtyard of neighbouring house. sometimes you discover a tiny but very beautiful gem fixed on an inept ring of a garishly painted shop on ground floor. As you walk where your feet take you, you may come face to face with a house going in amnesia about its glorious history.
Besides houses it is the humming life of people that will deposit you back in centuries. There are a number of jewelery shops where the gold or silversmith is working his art for the pleasure of decorating the persona of handsome women of the place. the gold/silversmith are in large numbers here for th.e women are no different from the ones you see so bejeweled on the Surya and Shantinath temples. Continued distrust of your senses makes you feel that the women you see have just come of the temple wall. these smiths still produce the designs that decorate the temple sculptures. The women selling flowers by temple steps seem to be there from time when these temples were built.
further afield you find women in rainbow colours shopping for garments. The clothiers are aplenty for their forefathers were carrying he best textiles from here to Rome in camel cart caravans. If you have not traveled here you would not understand what kind of clothes the ladies shop for. on the soft colourful blouses and skirts there is lavished as much attention as parents lavish on an only child. There is very elegant embroidery in different colour threads, millions of moon shapes shiny mirrors, sequins in all imaginable forms, and the finest and bold designs.
As I told you if you do not trust your senses you may enter this veritable castle of time past, flourishing in present.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jhalawar--the Renaissance in making

The beautiful pottery and its creator
another lovely creation of the artist--woven baskets, leaf-carpets and brooms all from Nature and totally envirionment friendly
Bhawani Natyasala--it had seen glorious days; hope they will come back

Jhalawar does not evoke much interest either in historians, social scientists, tourists or the rulers. it is a small and peripheral area and was never ruled by larger dynasties of Rajasthan. As a political unit it has a shorter history. But small can also be beautiful. If you want to explore the soul of a place and its people, Jhalawar has plenty to offer. if you do not feel comfortable among milling crowds and tourism industry products, it can be the right place for you. Like the double edged sword it had to bear along with rest of country the British oppressive rule along with the the possibility of not so benevolent local rulers. The life for ordinary peasants and the small artisans was never good. They had to work hard to pay high taxes even if their crops failed. the story of famines was accentuated throughout India by the exploitative policies and taxes Britishers imposed on the hapless peasants. All empires were run by taxing the peasant, trader and the artisans by the rulers and the Colonial blood-suckers --the British.
In this Continent of Circe came a whiz of fresh air in the form of Bhawani Singh--the erstwhile ruler of Jhalawar. He is credited with bringing a Renaissance to the laid back Jhalawar. He opened Schools, College, libraries, hospitals, girls hostel, Bhawani Natyasala --a space for theatre and the first Museum in Rajasthan in 1915. He laid a foundation for the social and cultural Renaissance of this area.
Now we are a free country and a functioning democracy with its warts and beauty spots.
The ordinary people here ask for what their brothers and sisters are asking our elected leaders---development. Irrespective of political affiliations people now have a balance sheet of what the leaders contribute in creating socially essential capital to fight deprivation, poverty and social stagnation.
Jhalawar is undergoing a revolution of developmental expectations. On the last count there is now a medical college, an engineering college, a Forestry and Horticulture College, a brand new hospital and am sure people are not going to shy away from asking a better human development index for the whole area.

The photos above of pottery and woven baskets are of arts older than the recorded history of Jhalawar. So beautiful and it is Indian--from the common man for common man.

The prehistoric and historic Rajasthan

2. Hoysaleswara Temple Halebid Karnataka (Dwarsamudra)

3. Ranakpur Adinath Temple

1. the jain Basadi Lakkundi Karnataka Western Chalukya

Mother and child Aihole Karnataka

They say India is too vast to be explored in one lifetime. I think what they mean is it is too vast and varied socio-culturally that one need to feel India and not merely see it. IN the beginning of the year I spent time exploring karanataka. Starting from Badami Chalukyas to Western or Kalayani Chalukyas to Pattadkal, Aihole, Dambol, Lakkundi, Hoysalas , Vijayanagara, Gometeswara, Mysore, Srirangpatta etc. it was there that I realised that the development from the lathe turned pillars of Kalyani Chalukays (pic 1. Lathe turned pillars) to highly ornate and decorative pillars at Dilwara and Ranakpur(pic 3) temples was evolution of an artistic thought. the Dilwara temples were built by one branch of Chalukyas. One thing leads to other, and I went around studying Gurjara Pratihara, Parmars, Chauhans and of course I confronted the 5000 year old Ahar Civilization that was a rural contemporary of Harappa and was located 2 Km. from Suraj Pol of Udaipur city. I stumbled upon interesting artefact and coincidences in cultures separated by large gap of time. All this curosity helped to educate me and to improve my understanding of Indian art and culture. Incidentally Rajasthan was a very important part of the Harappa/ Mohenjo Daro civilization Kali Bangan, Anupgarh, and many other sites have been found that were important part of the vast urban empire of Harappans. Rajasthan thus traces its civilization far back in prehistoric times and in line with the international trade conducted by Harappan it continued in Historic times to carry on with its caravans to the European lands especially the Rome.

Secular art from the temples of Rajasthan

Mother and Child from Ranakpur Jain temple
Mother and child as I travelled to Boroli temples recently

the Sun Temple Jhalrapatan--Mother child
Shantinath Jain temple--Mother Child

The artist who did the Ranakpur sculpture above has shown the child holding the necklace of the mother. While I travelled to Boroli Temples near Kota I came across the mother in photo above. Her child also holds the necklace while nestling in the comfortable lap of his mother.
When i moved like an energised horse from one area of Rajashtan to another studying temples as old as 4th 5th century or earlier, i started building up a vocabulary of social life of the time. the artists of those times worked hard to create godly art by using the obligatory books on Shilp Shastra as guide post. but they also sculpted ordinary people and also their emotions and their life.
Mother and child is a perennial subject and from the Nativity of Christ and Virgin Mary to Bal Gopal--the child Krishna have all been depicted by artists. The celebrated Thanjaur paintings studded with gold leaf and precious stones are all about the charms of child Krishna.
The love of mother for her baby is about continuity of life in all forms on this planet.the feeling of love for the child in a mother's heart is called 'Vatsallya' in Sanskrit. most of the temples that i visited had on the outer portion of the temples large sized mother sculpture cuddling her child holding her across her midriff while the child holds her mother's breast with one hand.
Life is a celebration in Hinduism and mother's love is the height of the sacred celebration of humanity. the love of a mother is no different from one time to another. the mother and her child i met on my way to Boroli temples was the one depicted in temple wall more the 1500 years before!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oldest Govt Museum in Rajasthan---Jhalawar

As i finished my long date with the Garh Palace and the savoury art therein, i arrived at the gate or pol to the Palace in main bazaar. I stood with my back to the Gate and to my left across the street i found stuck in a unobtrusive corner the Govt Museum Jhalawar. Modest and small it is the oldest in whole of Rajasthan. As I entered I was greeted by Museum Director Mr.Chandresh Kr. Choudhery and his deputy Mr.Ashok Kr. Sharma.After paying the modest sum of Rs.5 I was conducted through the museum. Sculpture from different sites from Jhalawar distt. are displayed. some of the works are exquisite in aesthetics and expression. i found interesting sculptures of Buddha, Kali and a goddess riding a horse. Thanks to the museum staff that in such a small congested space they have managed to display what they can; there are a lot of sculptures that ca'nt be displayed on account of space. but the good news is that soon the Museum will shift to a more spacious and artistic space in the precincts of Garh Palace across the road.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The land of Oranges and blooming poppy flowers--Jhalawar

Most people think and so did I that the only place that grows a lot of oranges is Nagpur in Maharashtra. the other day I was travelling to Dag from Jhalawar via Bhawani Mandi and lo and behold I was in a land full of the colour of sunshine; all along are farms full of citrus trees and the green orange of the landscape is exotic to say the least and hold your eyes to the passionate hot orange colour. In winter you get the warmth of the sun from heaven and the colour of sun from earth in the ripening citrus fruit. this is a land for the artists--the beautiful jewelery, the colourful clothes of women,affectionate shiny black-eyed children the rainbows of the headgear of men (called pagdi)the colourful landscape, water ponds, Bawdis, rivers, dams and the fresh, fragrant rejuvenating air (21% of Jhalawar is forest). Sorry I forgot I found the scintilating young yellow hues of Europe in April-May when the rap crop stands in the fields in Germany, France, Austria etc. In Jhalawar they don't grow rap but they grow a very healthy mustard crop. the sun-bright of mustard flowering in field is another sight that adds musical melody to the land. the Jhalawar landscape is so varied and is atypical of sand laden land of Rajasthan. The fields of fresh coriander leaves a culinary aroma as you walk by. Ah and my mind rumbles to the memories of European landscape yet again; the month of May i used to walk long in Slovakia in a region called Slovensky Raj (Slovak Paradise)and the whole of the pastures would be red carpeted with wild poppy flowers called Mak. in Jhalawar grow the red Poppy flowers and the land becomes a flower garden
can i foeget the thousands of sheep walking, grazing playing, fighting, loving and their coats coloured and that sturdy shepherd and the shepherdess in her beautiful ethnic clothes and exquiste ornaments. Believe me the men and women give as much colour to the land as the Nature does.

Jhalawar-the Malwa landscape

Jhalawar though politically is in Rajasthan but geographically it is part of the land of Malwa that is better served with rivers and a loamy and mineral rich soil. the language is a mix of Malwi and Khari Boli in the town and in villages are dialects. the cultural influence of the land comes from the interactions with the land Guptas had enriched this area. the art that developed carried the influence of neighbouring Udaipur. the temples of Chndrabhaga show a highly mature and expressive art.
the painting art on a modest scale reflects the life and culture of the people and the Palace.
the GARH PALACE IN Jhalawar town contains the princely art of paintings, and frescoes. Unfortunately the Palace housed Govt Offices for very long and some of the art work is destroyed because of negligence as well as ignorance. You will see some of the beautiful frescoes have been painted over or the fresco plaster is peeling off. I hope the Govt understand the value of our past and culture is an important repository of our heritage. the Govt should get some experts to clean the paint and restore the frescoes to their pristine glory so that indians and others can enjoy their culturally rich land.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little known Rajasthan Jhalra Patan

Jhalra patan is so full of artistic, architectural and cultural history. As you walk its streets every other house has something to tell, a story, a a memory etched in its fading stones. It was here the First War of Independence of India against brtish Colonial power was planned. Tantia Tope had his guns and ammunition stacked and then he marched on to fight white racialists.
there are modest houses but artistically designed and you feel a beautiful lady from time past surveying the bazaar from behind exquisite latticed jharokha. in every moment of present there is the fragrance of past in Jhalra Patan. the shop from where people are buying their necessities has a facade that comes from a couple of hundred years in time. the past always intervenes in every moment; the shop around sun temple sell material for whitewashing houses and there is a crowd of people there waiting to find work. the temple is still a centre of activity as in the past centuries. The daily labour market is located by Sun Temple.
the fine art of bangle making continues may be from many centuries i the shops near temple. Women came to worship and saw the gods and the beautiful maidens in their best jewelry carved on the temples walls and they remembered to deck their own beauty and they shopped for bangles and jewelry in nearby shops. the bangles being made 'hot' in front of you and the woman fixing the shiny stones to the lac bangles is a treat of dexteriority and artistic creation. In another shop the silver smith is working the magic of his art inherited from his forefathers. Thus continues in every corner, in evcery activity, every house and shop a sliver of time from as far back as a thousand years or more.
Jhalra Patan does not offer you a tourist tailored world; it is a world that tailors you and your thoughts by a magical past and a part of India that is perennial.

Jhalrapatan--the city of Sunshine

Living in Slovakia in Europe i found the meaning of 'Time slowing down.' I could stay in an open air bistro for hours or walk in the forests and mountains and everything would be waiting for me to see, feel explore. time is what it is but when we rush through things we hardly feel and see the world around us---it just appears and disappears like moving in a car. In Jhalrapatan the city of Sun God Temple the time is like a snail. around me were spread out great treasures! And i remembered the saying, "Far you travel more honey you gather." Slovakia is a wonderful country of open hearted simple people and fragrant countryside and yes the Tatra Mountains and Danube. Kapor is the Christmas celebration fish that flourishes in Danube from Black Forest in Germany to Black Sea. Incidentally I discovered many similarities between European languages and Sanskrit. the word for honey in Slovak and Czech is 'med'and the word in Sanskrit is 'Madhu'.
Coming back to Jhalrapatan I felt so rich for it was a city from more than a thousand years of our past. It was our forefathers who worshipped Sun God and to him they dedicated beautiful temples. Khajuraho, Modhera are the more renowned ones but the Jhalrapatan Sun Temple is beautiful in its own way. the sun temple true to the name of the beautiful town--Jhalrapatan has a lot of bells carved on its exquisite pillars.
Malwa ruled largely by Pariharas seemed to have developed the Shikhara Bhumija style. Jhalrapatan Sun Temple built in 11th century AD is a typical example of this style.

If you wish to know about the Jhalwar under Brtish occupation here is an excerpt--

"In regard to the literacy of its population, Jhalawar stands seventh
among the twenty States and chiefships of Rajputana, with 3-4 per cent,
(6-4 males and 0-2 females) able to read and write. There are now
nine schools in the State, and the daily average attendance during
1904-5 was 424. The only notable institution is the high school
(at the chhaoni), in which English, Urdu, Hindi, and Sanskrit are
taught. The other schools are all primary, and include one for girls
(attended by twelve pupils) and one specially for Sondhias. No fees
are charged anywhere, and the yearly expenditure on education is about
Rs. 6,000.
The manufactures are unimportant, and consist of rough cotton
fabrics, floorcloths, brass utensils, knives, and sword-
blades. The chief exports are opium (to Ujjain and communications.
Indore), oilseeds, and cotton ; while the chief im-
ports are food-grains (mainly from Haraoti), salt, sugar, cloth, and metals.

There is at present no railway in the State, but the Nagda-Muttra
line, now under construction, will pass through three tahslls."


Monday, November 8, 2010

Jhalra the Bells of Welcome

I went up the flight of stairs and was greeted with bonhomie. the gentleman Lav Sharma was my angel to the exotic art in Garh Palace Jhalawar. He alongwith Mr. Kalyan ji Meena got the door of the world of Rajas and Rulers of yore opened to me. I spent nearly whole of the day amid kings and Princes in the painted galleries of the Palace.
As a painter and artist I could not have asked for more.

the magic and the music from golden threads of time

the poetry resides in the unsung and the silent. Jhalawar is not a big ticket glorified world. It is drunk on its whispered silence and the music of undertones. i walked in the main bazar--the Garh Palace Gate and there was a village market scene. the villagers had put up their hens and cocks for sale and chatted and talked, smoked and smiled. As i walked around to enter the Garh Palace I was greeted by the police officer and helped me get around. the Palace was being white washed and repaired. the persons working for the contractor welcomed me and told me not to worry. They made me climb a tall as Qutb Minar bamboo ladder to reach the upper portion of the Palace. What a view from the top!! The resurgent sky fresh morning air and ofcourse slow very slow moving city of Jhalawar. the kind contractor employees helped me look around a little bit. But since repairs were going on there was hardly any hurdle free space to move around. I thanked them and went around Bhawani Natya Sala--the famed Parsi Theatre where kalidas's Abhgian Shaknutalam was enacted first. I talked to people and felt sad for the derilct state ofsuch beautiful and culture-rich heritage of Jhalawar.
Lo and behold I was being waved to by a gentleman on the first floor of the Mahal. He asked me to come up the stairs. He would soon open a magical world of art for me. I will tell you in my next Post what i found.....
Viktor Vijay