Saturday, April 29, 2006

Of Dhrishtibommai and Butch Cassidy

Ever wondered what happened to all those LPs (record plates) that we used to cherish in the 1970s till the audio tapes took over -- well, in Chennai they are being turned into `drishtibommais,' the demon faces that ward off the evil eye. Here is a shop selling an assortment of drishtibommais. I picked one up and found that the unpainted side had that famous song `Rain drops keep fallin' on my head' from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That doll is now hanging outside my house. But it is now Chennai summer and it will be sometime before rain drops fall on it. Posted by Picasa
The image below is `the real Sundance Kid' as seen on the Life cover. (PS: I thought I had posted this image earlier, but while browsing through the site I could not find it, so decided to do it again.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tirumala - At the top

Here are a few scenes at the top of the hill.
At the top. The main entrance to the Venkateswara Temple. Priests going about their business. Posted by Picasa
The temple elephant. Posted by Picasa
What is Tirumala without the `mottais.' What with the rush involved in seeing the main deity, devotees get a chance to do the `pooja' and pray in leisure outside the temple. Posted by Picasa
Rainbow over the golden gopuram. Please tell me you can make out the rainbow. When I first saw it, it was a bright and perfect arc. I had the camera focussed and just a millisecond away from capturing that image... when I heard this drawn out `Annaaa' and as someone jogged my elbow... a beggar. I turned around, growled and refocussed -- all in less than a second -- but the rainbow had started fading. So I ended up having to tweak the contrast on Adobe and here it is.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 23, 2006


The trip to Tirumala, the temple of Lord Venkatesa, at Tirupathi. Sometime last year we decided to take the stairway that leads to the temple on the hill top.
Here are a series of pics.
The stretch is about 9km and there are over 4,000 steps. In the intial 3 km, the steepest part, there are more than 2,500 steps and the middle section flattens out a bit - not by much - and that is another 500 or so steps in which you cover about 4 km and that includes about 1.5 km along the roadway. The final stretch is again as steep as the initial stretch.
Actually, it is a great experience.
One amazing feature was that some pilgrims were not just climbing the stairs but stopping on each one to smear turmeric and kumkum and light camphor.
The initial stretch is the toughest and the final stretch matches it. Not that it is easy inbetween. Actually the entire stretch is tough. The walkway leading the Tirumala is about 9 km long and has over 4,000 steps -- all of them going up :). Just to give you an idea of how it is, a section of the steps has a name in telugu that translates as - the knee breaker. Posted by Picasa
The path is dotted with shrines like these where you can stop to relax. Posted by Picasa
I wonder if anyone stops to try it. Cannot imagine anyone trying to climb a few thousand steps on a full stomach. Posted by Picasa
The half way point. Posted by Picasa
Yes. I could understand how she felt.
PS: If you are planning the trip remember to take a small camera. By the time you finish I promise it will be as heavy as any pro-piece.  Posted by Picasa
The final stretch - devotees light camphor on each step. Posted by Picasa
Once at the top it feels great to stretch out a bit.In this pic the gold clad gopuram above the sanctum sanctorum can be seen. Posted by Picasa
...and the view is worth it. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lucky Strike

A scene at the Marundheeswarar Temple, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai.I was there a few weeks back and struck lucky - found this group meditating in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a crowded temple. The group was an island of calm.
First I was not sure if I should start clicking away but luckily another guy who was getting ready to meditate gave me the go ahead.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Aruvathimoovar Thiruvizha

Just rounding of the series of pics of the Aruvathimoovar Thiruvizha celebrated at the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore. I could not make it to any of the main events so decided to post pics of the temple car and the procession of the 63 saivaite saints that I had taken a few years back.
A show of hands. At the Aruvathimoovar Thiruvizha, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore. Posted by Picasa
The Kapaleeswarar Temple car starts the ride around the temple.  Posted by Picasa
Crowd swirls around the palanquins carrying the 63 saivaite saints at the Aruvathimoovar Thiruvizha of the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore. Posted by Picasa
On the last day of the Aruvathimoovar Thiruvavizha the 63 Saivaite saints, after whom the festival is named, are taken out in palanquins in a procession with Lord Kapaleeswarar following them. In the this pic all the palanquins can be seen. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Just thought I would publish some more pics from the Kapaleeswarar Temple festival at Mylapore. Here a priest adjusts the flower arrangements on Kapaleeswarar seated on the Nandhi. Posted by Picasa
Karpagambal and Murugan on the Gandharva Vahanam. Posted by Picasa
Coconut seller. (Check out the another coconut seller in the archives - April 2005)
Also, an irrelevant detail: The lens hood worked loose from my camera and almost fell on her head -- after I took this pic. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wish You All A Happy New Year (Puthaandu Vazhthukal). Pic taken at the Thiruporur Murugan temple.  Posted by Picasa
Also, taken at the Thiruporur Murugan temple - I found this guy inside the temple walking around in the crowd. He suddenly struck this pose and held it for several minutes as the crowd gathered around him.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 12, 2006