Albert Joel

Chronicling India

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Sights of Delhi

Today, a tour of the capital takes you through a mixture of imposing ministries and embassies, modem office buildings and hotels, and along the Old Delhi of vibrant Hindu and Muslim communities crowding in on the Mughal monuments. For more orientation, visit the Tourist Information Office on Janpath.

Start at the southern end of the city, with the Qutb Minar, a symbol of Islam’s impact on India. Begun by Delhi ‘s first sultan, Qutb-uddin, and completed by his son-in-law lltutmish, the 73-m (240-ft) tower was erected to celebrate the Turkish conquest of Delhi. The tower comprises four stories, each a tapering cylinder with angular and convex ribs, separated by balconies.

The top of the tower is off limits, due to dangers inherent in the narrow staircase that leads to the look-out point, so the best bet for a panoramic view of the city is the top floor of one of the taller, more recent...

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Architecture of Mamallapuram

A list of various architectural aspects of Mamallapuram.

SHORE TEMPLE. This temple lacks homogeneity in its lay-out; it was built about a century after that of Mahakutesvara and is its direct successor. It is very likely that the Calukyas influenced this type of temple, which is usually classified as purely Dravidian. Actually we find the same characteristics in it as in the Calukya temples. The square cella is surmounted by a square tower which also consists of several superimposed stories on which miniature models of buildings may be noted. The dome is here slightly different and ends in a finial. This top may derive from the amalaka of the Calukya sikharas or have been inspired by them. The little sanctuary attached behind the main cella (logically, it should have been in front of it) seems to have been added as an afterthought. This temple, which is dedicated to Siva and surrounded...

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Buddha and Buddhism

Sometime around 590 B.C. a seeker after truth arrived at what is now the small town of Bodh Gaya in Bihar. He sat down to and was in guided meditation under a pipal tree and, after some time, achieved Enlightenment. His experience was to have a momentous effect not only on India, but on the whole of Southeast Asia, and in time its echoes were to be heard in most of the rest of the world. Who was this man, and what was his message?

The future Buddha was born Prince Gautama Siddhartha, son of Shuddhodana, king of the Shakya people, in Lumbini, on the India-Nepalese border. There is much controversy about his dates; the Mahabodhi Society of lndia believe he was born in 624 B.C., but many scholars prefer a later date, around 540 B.C. Whatever is the case, it is certain that Gautama was born a kshatriya - a member of the warrior caste. The legend is that King Shuddhodana was anxious to keep...

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The Olive Ridley and the Indian Wild Ass

The government of Orissa is completing a fishing jetty within eight miles of the turtle rookery. Three more jetties are planned. The beach, hosting the world’s largest congregation of nesting turtles - 610,000 were counted in 1991 borders the Bhitarkanika mangrove sanctuary and is itself relatively free of human predation. Local inhabitants eat neither the creatures nor their eggs: in Indian culture’s myths, turtles are one of the 10 incarnations of the Mahadev Shiva. Om Namah Shivaya is all I can say.

But while mating on shore in the two months before they nest, thousands of turtles are snagged and drowned in gill and drag nets. Each jetty will add at least 500 trawlers, devastating this population of already endangered Olive Ridleys. But there is a human side to this story.

Orissa, one of the poorest of Indian states, has recently initiated several projects to develop its untapped...

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Cave Art and Temples in the North

Ellora Caves
While Graeco-Buddhist art followed its course of development on the margin of India proper, local divergences grew less and each school, adapting itself a little, contributed to the formation of a new style which spread under the Gupta dynasty, continued in the following period and finally influenced the art of the Palas of Bengal. Initially, Buddhism remained predominant, but the aesthetic importance of Hinduism gradually increased from now on until, finally, Buddhism was driven out of India.

I shall first present some isolated Gupta statuary, both Buddhist (from the centres of Konark (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the temple for the worship of the Sun or Surya Namaskar, and Sarnath) and Brahman, then Gupta and Pala stupas, and then Gupta caves; subsequently we will examine the post-Gupta rock temples, the last to be cut in India. Finally we shall look at the evolution of structural...

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