16 November 2009

Temple in the Mist..

While in Bangalore (see the previous blog entry) we (Ninad, Manish, Amol and myself) went to see the close by hill station* of Nandi Hills.
I have been hearing about this place for a long time now - it's one of the best spots close to the city (some 45 kms. away from Bangalore) to watch birds!
But there's a lot more than birds to see here - To start off the weather and air is soo much better than in the city.. Then there is Tipu Sultan's impressive Fort (entrance to which is pictured above)
Though we started the day early we took for ever to get there..

We were at the main bus station (Majestic) in bangalore by 6 am but made the mistake of waiting for a direct bus to Nandi Hills - if there isn't a direct bus within half an hour of getting to the bus station it's best to take one to Chickballapur and then change, there are lots of buses and rickshaws from there to the top of Nandi hills. We unfortunately took some three and a half hours to get there having wasted a lot of time at Majestic!
But thanks to some tense fog we didn't have to worry about getting scorched by the noon sun!
In fact the weather was amazing and the fog only added to the mysticism related to this stunning landscape..
And at the summit of the hill were these amazing steps carved into the rock face leading up to one of the old temples.

Here's a few images of the temple itself:
Though extremely modest - the sequence and scale of the spaces in and around it is extremely interesting!
And to end a few images of the surrounding landscape..
(* - Hill station is a term used for a town usually at somewhat higher elevations. The term was used in colonial Asia, where towns have been founded by European colonial rulers up where temperatures are cooler, as refuges from the summer heat.)

Spiritual disneyland and more..

Went to Bangalore over the weekend and here's a series of random photos from the city..

Starting with a strange amusement park like temple... the main attraction at the Shiv Mandir near Kempfort is undoubtedly the giant statue of Lord Shiva.
But besides the shear size of the statue there is nothing spiritual about this temple!
It's almost like a religious theme park - it even has a cheesy theme walk based on Lord Shiva life complete with animatronics - and like in most theme park you have to buy a ticket at each stage!
First a ticket to get in to the complex - extra for the camera; another ticket for your shoes; another to see the animatronics; then there are the actual temple rituals (which also involves money) and of course endless possibilities for making donations..
This is not the first time I've come across such blatant commercialization of spirituality! I had recently written about similar commercialization of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai.
Another place that comes to mind is the huge Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar - there the temple has real theme park like rides (mini roller coasters and all) in its sprawling gardens.
So as cities like Bangalore, Ahmedabad get richer religious organizations are forced to find innovative ways to get the attention (and money) of the nouveau riche!

Moving on .. a series of images from in and around the 'lung' of Bangalore - Cubbon Park:
a small little temple near the Park with a huge Parrot hovering above it's entrance;
a statue of Queen Elizabeth at one of the parks entrances...;
some beautiful rain trees inside;
the violently coloured State Archeological Museum;
and a few images of the Vijay Mallaya's UB City
It's strange that the architectural language of power across the world is soo similar.
And as for the mall in UB City - it's as expected stupidly unaffordable!
If you really wanted your new Louis Vuitton Bag I understand that it makes no sense to buy it here - it's cheaper to actually fly to Dubai or Singapore (or probably even Paris) and buy it there and you may still save some money!
Here's a new office building just across the road that I found a lot more interesting than UB City..

Moving further..
a modern classic from MG road..

There a whole bunch of these amazing driving tips on Brigade road. I wish all city municipalities shared Bangalore's sense of humor! : )

The beautiful LIC building designed by Charles Correa.. I just love the sheer concrete walls
This is probably his most successful office tower - the building is fascinating both at an architectural and urban level. The massing of the towers sits amazingly well within the Urban grid, with the two set of towers popping up at the main cross roads commanding unobstructed views from quiet a distance!

Another interesting traffic related sign post!

The next three images are of an atrocious building on St. Marks street..
it is one in a series of new buildings cropping up across the country
designed by architects who went to the Architectural Association (AA) in London to do their course in DRL and then worked with Zaha Hadid (or someone like her) and has come back to India to unleash this monstrosities here..
to my mind - just a lot of visual noise and extremely pointless!

Outside a new mall ..

Ulsoor lake - one of the many many lakes of Bangalore..

And to end this posting from this great city - photos of the swanky new airport
This is probably the best airport in the country
(though I haven't yet seen the new Hyderabad airport - which I hear is even better)
Very simple, efficient and well designed..

Lastly an image of the airport taken while my flight took off back to Bombay..

See you soon Bangalore!

09 November 2009

Weekend in Matheran

Spend the last weekend at Matheran - a tiny hill station close to Bombay - armed with my new camera and lots of fond memories!

Here's a few snaps of the astonishing landscape of Matheran and it's surroundings..
While I studied architecture - Matheran was the default trekking location for my group of friends - we've trekked here in pouring rains/crazy hot days/cool winter mornings and even in the depth of the night.
The best thing about this place is that no private automobiles are allowed here and because of this the place feels amazingly timeless!
Though Matheran is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Bombay year round it's best during the Monsoons! Can't wait to go there in the rains again.....

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