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Saturday, 31 July 2010

In the spell of Charukeshi

The beauty of Raga Charukeshi has captivated me in the last couple months. This raga, which originated in Carnatic music, has made its way into Hindustani as well. The raga has been used to depict various moods, mainly the pinnacle of Bhakti. It also renders itself very well to both ecstasy and sorrow, which not many ragas can manage as seamlessly as Charukeshi. I have been digging into many of the songs and renditions of Charukeshi in carnatic music, hindustani, dhrupad as well as movie songs.

Here is a collection. The favorite being the fusion by Anoushka Shankar and Nitin Sawhney.

1. Carnatic: Adamodi Galade sung by Charulatha Mani, where the composer, Saint Tyagaraja, begs Lord Rama to speak to him:

2. Movie: Song Shyam Teri Bansi Pukare from the movie Geet Gata Chal (1975)

3. Movie: Kripaya Palaya Shoure composed by Swathi Thirunal, rendered by the legendary K. J. Yesudas, in the Malayalam movie "Swathi Thirunal".

4. Hindustani: Pandit Ravi Shankar on Sitar with Ustad Allah Rakha on tabla

5. Fusion: Anoushka Shankar on Sitar, with composer Nitin Sawhney
Nitin Sawhney - Charukeshi Rain Live at the Electric Proms from Band on The Wall on Vimeo.

6. Movie: Song Ahista Ahista from the movie Swades (2005), sung by Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam.

7. Carnatic: L. Subramaniam on violin, in a class of his own...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 3: Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli

On the same day as my Kikkeri Brahmeshwara Temple visit, I had visited this huge and attractive Panchalingeshwara Temple, situated just 5 kms away from the town of Kikkeri. The village that is host to this majestic temple is Govindanahalli, which also belongs to Mandya district, and seems to be lost from all the modernization that the rest of the world has seen. This 1237 AD Hoysala temple is built on the outskirts of this small village, surrounded by large paddy fields and coconut plantations, adding to its ageless beauty.

The temple is dedicated to the 5 aspects or facets of Lord Shiva, which are, Sadyojata (for the western direction), Vamadeva (for the northern direction), Aghora (for the southern direction), Tatpurusha (for the eastern direction), and Ishana (for the skywards direction). Each of these 5 aspects of Shiva have a separate sanctum sanctorum of their own, and each of them are connected through one enormously elongated Navaranga. Inside this large hall, one can see multiple sculptures of Ganesha, Nandi, Subrahmanya and Mahishasura Mardini, each of which are extremely beautiful. Outer walls of the temple have carvings of a number of deities including the 24 aspects and 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

It is probably a blessing in disguise that there is very little publicity about this temple, as a visit to this place would give you a few hours of guaranteed bliss.

Here is a compilation of some of the pictures I took at the Panchalingeshwara Temple:

Panchalingeshwara Temple, Govindanahalli from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Similar Stories:
1. Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli
2. Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Hoysala Expedition Part 2: Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri

On the 3rd of this month, I had been on my second leg of the Hoysala Expedition, covering two places which are close to each other. One was Kikkeri, a town belonging to Krishnarajapete (K. R. Pet) Taluk of Mandya district. Although it is in Mandya district, it is easily accessible from Channarayapatna of Hassan district, for those who would be traveling from Bangalore. The second place was Govindanahalli, a village 5 kilometers away from Kikkeri.

The focus here is on the temple in Kikkeri, a place that is famous as the birthplace of the Kannada poet Dr. K. S. Narasimhaswamy. The town is home to the 1171 AD Brahmeshwara Temple built with the Hoysala style of architecture. The temple houses idols of Brahmeshwara, Venugopala, Ganesha, Suryanarayana, and Kala Bhairava among others, apart from the intricate carvings showcasing Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva, and the ten incarnations of Vishnu, and the trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. The clinching feature of this temple for me was the huge Nandi statue in front of the main door, which has intricate stone carvings indicating the rope tied around its neck, and the garland of bells it is wearing. The amount of focus and concentration these carvings might have required would leave you stunned without a doubt.

Here is a compilation of the pictures taken there. Only regret on this trip was that I could not see the inside of this temple, as I got delayed at the Govindanahalli temple and they had closed this temple for the day by the time I returned. But the fact that the temple premises had so much historical, mythological and architectural marvels to offer, that it did not feel like I missed something.

Brahmeshwara Temple, Kikkeri from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.

Similar stories: Lakshmi Devi Temple, Doddagaddavalli

Monday, 12 July 2010

"Dreams are those that don’t let you sleep"

ISRO today has successfully launched the indigenous PSLV C15 satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, overcoming the debacle of April. Every successful launch from ISRO brings to the fore, the technological advances the country is making in the field of space research. This also brings back memories of a personal experience shared by former president of India, Bharat Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

"Dreams are not what you get when you are in sleep, dreams are those that don’t let you sleep."

I have heard many people quote this over the last few years, and have read it as being attributed to at least half a dozen people, including Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I don't know where this quote first originated, but I am one of those blessed few who have heard it direct from Dr. Kalam himself.

It was February 2007, convocation of the Visvesvaraya Technological University for the 2006 batch of engineering graduates, and having secured a rank in Computer Science and Engineering, I had got an invitation to attend the convocation at Jnana Sangama, Belgaum. Chief Guest was the then President of India, Dr. Kalam.

Post the convocation ceremony, while addressing us, the young engineers of India, Dr. Kalam recounted an inspiring story from his very early days at ISRO. Through the years 1975 to 1980 ISRO was building up to launch India's first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV-3. By 1979, Dr. Kalam was leading a team of six that was directly in charge of the SLV-3 project, and despite numerous roadblocks, the team was working relentlessly towards the target of launching the rocket in time.

When stage 2 of the SLV-3 became a failure after a successful execution of stage 1, pressure had mounted on the team to bring out their best to achieve successful completion of stages 2 and 3 to ensure India's entry into the elite league. Dr. Kalam and his colleagues worked without considering the time of the day, for endless hours, in their quest to succeed. During these days, he said that there were many days where they had left the work place at 12 at midnight and had come back at 2 in the morning, to resume action. Nobody in the team cared for a lunch break, a decent sleep, or even a sip of coffee or tea. They were all living their dreams. It is in this context, that Dr. Kalam made the remark highlighted above. Truly inspiring words, coming from an inspiring man.

To complete the story, thanks to all the hard work, on July 18, 1980, SLV-3 had a successful liftoff from SHAR, Sriharikota. Soon after, his colleagues lifted Kalam and carried him in a procession on their shoulders. This marked another stepping stone towards India's achievements in space research.

A few snaps from the VTU 2006 batch convocation, Belgaum (click for larger versions):

A stunning life size painting of Dr. Kalam that was presented to him on the occasion. We were not allowed to use cameras during the president's presence, so this was as close I got to getting his picture (It is another story that Dr. Kalam literally "escaped" from his security to spend time with us, shake hands and give little pep talks. The security personnel had a hard time keeping up with the mercurial genius):

Jnana Sangama all set to welcome the president:

On stage, with my rank certificate: :)