November 30, 2012

Pandavula guttalu

On a two-day visit to Warangal, we went to Pandavula guttalu in Parkal, about 45 km from Warangal. On the outskirts, we passed by a place where they were making sculptures of gods and politicians. We had to stop to check it out.

We then drove on, looking at paddy, cotton, tobacco and banana fields, with the gorgeous Telangana rocks dotting the landscape. There is no board of any sort to indicate the location of  Pandavula guttalu, so we had to ask people as we went along.

And then they suddenly appeared, spectacular, and quite different from the other rockscapes in the region. I later learnt that these were sedimentary rocks while the rock formations usually found in this region were igneous.

The rocks were majestic and there was no one around. Just two villagers sitting in a shed apparently doing nothing. One of them (Narayana) came to us, and he turned out to be a guide of sorts.He had obviously grown up there and loved the guttalu, and seemed to be working towards making this a tourist destination. We climbed up, led by Narayana, and he pointed out, high above, a painting of a deer outside a cave. We climbed for about 45 minutes, passing by stunning rocks, greenery, a spot with embedded foot prints which Narayana said were "Dharmaraju padalu", and came to a shallow cave ("like the hood of a snake", he said). In this cave was a panel of vegetable dye paintings of a scene showing the Pandavas and Draupadi. Sadly, it had already been scribbled on.

Narayana made us light agarbattis, which he had carried with him, and told us about the paintings. To me all this  seemed to point at attempts at making this a tourist destination, not just for the rocks, the caves and the waterfalls during the rainy season, but with a religious angle, which of course, attracts the most people.

We returned telling ourselves that we must go back there and explore all the six caves Narayana told us about. Apparently one cave is big enough to shelter 100 people from rain.

All in all, this was a very interesting discovery, and it is always nice to go to a place to which there are no signboards, and which is not thronged with tourists.

November 01, 2012

Oh, Calcutta!

This was a trip for my father, who has always been an admirer of Bengali greats such as Rabindranath Tagore, Sharath Chandra Chatterjee and Satyajit Ray. I myself have always wanted to visit Calcutta and Shantinikentan. And so we went -- my parents, aunt, my children and I -- three generations, each keeping an eye on the other for different reasons! We were there bang in the middle of Pujo and discovered that, despite warnings to the contrary, this is the best time to be in Calcutta. You don't have to do anything just need to do 'pandle hopping' and be entertained.

Apart from this, the city is frozen in time, sans the glitter and malls of modern cities, somewhat a picture of neglect, and one cannot help wishing that they would at least take good care of the grand old edifices that line the roads. The yellow Ambassador cabs, the tram that suddenly makes an appearance, the rickshaws, the rust and green edifices, the festive lights, the sweets...all give Calcutta its very own character and charm. It is a lovable city. 

The famous yellow cabs of Calcutta, that have been around for a 100 years. 
Heard they will soon make way for new kids on the block. 

The tram appears suddenly; it is lovely!

 The very first Durga we saw, outside Kalighat mandir

Durgas everywhere

 An old sweet shop at Kalighat

I loved the artistic lamp posts of Calcutta

Another Durga...I call this the Midas Durga!

A lot of ads feature the lady of the month...including the Lux Cozi innerwear ad!

The clocktower in New Market...our hotel was right next to it, 
and it had the gentlest gong every quarter hour

 These were the surprises I loved as we walked down Calcutta roads... 

...another surprise...

...and another! LP records being sold like CDs! 
We still have some of the records seen here.

Tagore's house...we couldn't go in because of Puja holidays. 
But, why do I feel like I have been there before?

 This was the most delightful pandle we saw! 
All the dolls and decorations were made of wood. 
It looked like the South Indian bommala koluvu.  

The cute deities. I am quite sure these are not immersed.

Outside Mother Teresa's home...

 We were lucky to be at the riverside when the visarjan started 

Time to bring her down from the truck 

Down she came... 

I found this Durga ensemble rather bizarre 

Tagore is everywhere, but this statue is near Amar Kutir
on the banks of Kopai river in Shantiniketan 

 The meditation hall in Shantiniketan. With artistic lighting, it looks superb even at night.

This was Debendranath Tagore's house 

Our gang outside Vishwabharathi University

My father with his grandchildren at the very place
where Tagore sat, taking Hindi lessons 

Strange plant, with inflorescence like plaits...I need to find out what this is.

Edit: I subsequently tried very hard to find out the name of this plant, and finally it was identified by Venkat Vadva of the Hasiru Group, through Sugunasri Maddala. It is called Desmodium pulchellum (Angel's locks).     

 The mural was done by the renowned artist K G Subramanyam, 
who studied at Kala Bhavan and taught there too.

Another mural by KG...Shantiniketan truly makes one's soul happy...

 ...and fearless!

Love you, Kolkata!
Take care.

Photos: Copyright Sadhana Ramchander. Please leave a comment asking for permission if you want to use any photos.