Largest monolithic Nandi at Lepakshi

Granite Nandi at Lepakshi
Granite Nandi at Lepakshi

The monolithic granite Nandi (Bull) is believed to be the largest in India. Built during the Vijayanagar period(14th C CE) it is part of a large temple complex. The exquisite carvings of bell garland, jewellery etc. stand out beside the size.

It is 4.5 Mtrs high and 8.25 Mtrs long. The Thanjavur Big Temple Nandi is smaller.

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Cow & Gate

Cow & Gate at Mathura temple
Cow & Gate at Mathura Dwarakadish temple

Cow & Gate was a popular Milk food available in India till the 1960’s probably imported from the UK. Now the product is not seen on the Indian shelves, though some online stores seem to offer it.

I distinctly remember the logo of the product. -a cow (a Jersey?) standing beside a picket fence and a wooden gate. Wikipedia describes the logo thus: “A cow looking uncomfortably through a somewhat untypical four-barred gate, rather as if its neck had got stuck between the bars”.

The name and the logo are also connected with one of the founders – a surrey grocer named Charles Gates. ( Perhaps an ancestor of Bill Gates!)

The above scene reminded me of the Baby food tin from my younger days. Those were the days of recycling of such packing materials especially used tins of Ovaltine and Britannia biscuits and Horlicks bottles.

The scene is from the famous Dwarakadish temple, Mathura. The temple had just closed when we reached there. The cows, like us, were peering disappointedly at the temple door.

You can view more street scenes from Mathura here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/21kiPT3admQIoIsf2

Taj – an optical illusion

View of Taj from Agra Fort
View of Taj from Agra Fort

This is the view of Diwan-e-Khas and the Taj Mahal from the Meena bazaar side in Agra Fort. To me somehow the Taj appeared to be bigger than what it looked from the Diwane Khas. Our guide confirmed that it is an illusion created by the clever architecture of the Taj.

I had the same feeling when I viewed the Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh
Northern View of Taj from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna.

Boatmen on the Yamuna

Boatmen in the Yamuna
Boatmen on the Yamuna

The scene behind the Taj Mahal on an early Monday morning.

Just a few yards from the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world. A labour of love built about 500 years ago by the Emperor of India in memory of his favourite wife. Took 20,000 artisans 22 years to build. Attracts millions of visitors every year.

All these mean nothing to these poor boatmen for whom it is just another day at work.

 

Monk at Chele La Pass

Monk at Chele La Pass
Monk at Chele La Pass

Chele Le pass is the highest point in Bhutan at 4000 mtrs. Yet it is easily accessible by a motorable road. We, a group of senior citizens, went near the peak in a van and trekked a few yards. Though we avoided the highest point we had a very good view.

A number of monks were also there enjoying the scenery. Here a lone monk walks through the ubiquitous prayer flags.

Badami

On the way to Shivalaya temple, Badami
On the way to Shivalaya Temple, Badami

On the way to the Shivalaya group of temples Badami, Karnataka.

Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a town in  Karnataka, India. It was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock rock-cut structural temples. See wikipedia for more….

Newspapers in Sri Lanka

 

Newspaper vendor in Colombo
Newspaper vendor in Colombo

Unlike Chennai, Colombo wakes up late, especially on a Sunday morning. There was only a handful of shops open. This newspaper vendor was one of them. He gladly posed for the photo. There were only two English papers – Sunday Observer and another. They cost LKR 60 on Sundays (INR 25- 30) There were several Sinhala publications

 

Sri Lanka’s Mango man

Mango vendor Ratna Kumar at Nuwara eliya
Mango vendor Ratna Kumar at Nuwara Eliya

This is Ratna Kumar. He is a Sri Lankan Tamil. He sells mangoes from a van parked at Devon Falls, near Nuwara Eliya on the road to Bentota.

Though he is vertically challenged he is brisk and pleasant. He speaks Tamil, Sinhala, and English. He introduced us to Sri Lanka’s “best” mango ‘Karutha Colomban’. We were hooked.

Digitalization

A wall painting on the way to Baijnath
A wall painting on the way to Baijnath

With demonetization and the consequent shortage of currency in the market, the debate on digital money has been revived. We hear about how petty traders have switched to digital money.

The above scene was captured from a running car using a Lumix point and shoot on the road to Baijnath from Kausani, Uttarakhand, a week before the demonetization.        The M-Pesa ad juxtaposed against the old tailor quietly reading the newspaper tells its own story.

Incidentally, M-Pesa has been a great success in Africa where it has captured quite a large percentage of the bottom of the pyramid. A positive move towards financial inclusion.