Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Memory Lane Revisited – Summer of 65 at RIE Mysore

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.

- Saul Bellow

[I am returning from my self-imposed exile and resuming my blogging to ward off the wolf of insignificance]


One of my blog posts in late 2011 [See: 38) Down Memory Lane – Summer (Institutes) of 65 at RIEM (Nov 11) ] had taken me down my memory lane to the year 1965, which marked a significant milestone in my early professional career and that of the Regional Institute (then College) of Education, Mysore (RIEM) where I had started it barely a year earlier.  I had reflected on events and personalities connected with the summer science institutes of that year held at both the University of Mysore and RIEM.  My recollections had been triggered by the ‘discovery’ of a joint group photo showing the staff and organizers of these two programmes posted by RIEM’s alumni association RIEMAA in Facebook.

Another ‘discovery’
I was not entirely unprepared to discover another group photo connected with these events, this one showing both the participants and staff of the two (separate) summer institutes in physics and chemistry for teacher educators held at RIEM, concurrently with similar ones in the university. This revealed itself just last week in my own attic when I was reorganizing my considerable but little used collection of books and magazines spread over half a century.  As with the other photo, I had no recollection that such a precious picture had indeed been captured for posterity.   Unlike the first one which was presumably taken at the beginning of the summer institutes, this one must have been taken at the end, in June 1965.

Though framed, the photo had suffered the ravages of time considerably. Here is the cleaned and scanned copy of it:

(Click to enlarge)

First Row:               M S Rukminiamma, V S Bhooma Devi, A P Suneethi, R Vathsala
Second Row:           K Balasubramoniam, K Rama Rao, M L Deshpande, S N Prasad (Physics staff), Vincent Brown (American Peace Corps volunteer), Prof M D Devadason (director), Dr S Winston Cram (Consultant in Physics, USA), Dr Charles L Koelsche (Consultant in Chemistry, USA), Dr G Chaurasia (Principal),  Dr V Rajamadhav Rao (Physics staff), Raghavendra Rao (Chemistry staff), B N Singh (Chemistry staff), G Meenakshisundaram, H Venkataramiah, S Srinivasa Iyengar
Third Row:              Rajkumar Chibber, V R Bhaskara Sastry, D R Narayana Murthy, K Srinivasa Iyengar, A R Vamana Rao, S K Mittra, R N Sarin, Jitendra Kumar Chand, Parmanand Sharma, J L Ahooja, H K Khanapurkar, D D Chaudhari, P Sukumaran Nair, C N Venkatasubba Reddy, C A Chacko, C Papanna, B V Soman
Fourth Row:            Puttuswamy, Dasappa, K S Govinda Raj, K V Kundangar, S J Maniar, B U Parekh, J J Patel, G N Gnanapragasam, T S Ramaswamy, A Panneer Selvam, M Padmanabhaiah, A Nagaraj, W N Dandekar,, D Muthu

The photo carried all the names of the personae at the bottom, but my scanner couldn’t reproduce them legibly.  So, I have listed them here separately.  As before, the RIEM main building provided the backdrop to the picture.

Despite the passage of nearly half a century after this photo was taken, I remember most of the events and even some of the participants associated with the programme.  For me 1965 was a special year for several reasons that will unfold here.

Some dramatis personae in the photo

Perhaps the most glaring feature of the photo is the front row of four ladies squatting on the floor.  In keeping with the tradition of the times, they ended up taking this posture without feeling neglected in any way.  On the contrary, I remember they did so on their own though our American visitors had felt quite uneasy about their doing so.

Ms Rukminiamma and Ms Vathsala were part of the RIEM set-up, both working as teachers in the Demonstration School attached to RIEM.  Ms Rukminiamma later left for a teaching position in the BARC School at Bombay (now, Mumbai) and met me more than once on her visits to Mysore. The rather traditional looking Ms Vathsala, who was a wonderfully sweet personality with prowess in classical music, surprised everyone by marrying a foreign clergyman and migrating to a South American country.  I have not seen her again.

Of the four ladies, the ebullient Ms Bhooma Devi, buoyed by encouragement from one of the American experts, pursued higher studies in USA and returned to India for a fruitful and productive career in teacher education, including a stint with the NCERT.  I had the pleasure of running into her on several occasions at different places, always followed by long conversations.

Mr A Nagaraj (last row) was a teacher of chemistry on the staff of the Demonstration School.  He was a very creative and popular teacher, and acquired outstanding stature in later years.  I also rather vaguely recall Mr Balasubramoniam (seated first in the second row) having worked in RIEM/DMS for a few years and then moving on to greener pastures abroad.  I have no further information about him.

Among the other male participants, I had numerous occasions to meet Mr Rama Rao (second row) and Mr Vamana Rao (third row), the former as the principal of the government college of education in Mysore and the latter as the principal of a well-known private college of education in Shimoga.

Among the RIEM academic staff, it is sad to note that three of them passed away years ago, including my esteemed senior colleague Dr Rajamadhav Rao.

I have already written about the two American subject experts Dr Cram and Dr Koelsche whose services had been provided by USAID for the summer programme.  The third American seen in the picture, Vincent Brown, was a very friendly and unassuming American Peace Corps volunteer, teaching physics back home.   I remember him telling me that he came from a humble background and the son of a barber.  Lest the readers jump into any inferences I must point out that distinction based on profession is not a hallmark of American society.

Not seen in the picture is another American physics educator, Lane Branson, who had helped us set up many of the teaching aids and equipment that had come to the institution as part of the USAID aid.  He had left after spending one or two weeks initially.  He was to return to RIEM later and work with us for over two years on a major developmental project funded by the USAID.

Having been in RIEM for less than a year at that time and yet to go on a training programme to the USA, my role in the summer institute was of a dual nature, both as a resource person and a participant.

Physics Education Activities

These two summer institutes for in-service teacher educators in core subject areas were the first to be conducted by RIEM which had been founded only two years earlier as a regional arm of the NCERT.  They were also the first of their kind to be conducted in the country, with generous inputs from the USAID. Because of the pre-service four-year B Sc Ed programme started about the same time, these programmes were especially significant for the fledgling institution and set the stage for future activities of the science department.

The physics institute was centered around the PSSC physics curriculum that had made a pioneering debut in USA two years earlier and had a major impact on physics education at the 11-12 grade level there.  Departing from the general practice of teaching the subject from a prescribed/recommended textbook alone, it had supplemented an excellently produced textbook with a wide array of supportive resources for both teachers and students.  These included a very comprehensive guide book for teachers focusing on both content and methodology, workbooks for students, a set of specially developed innovative and inexpensive laboratory equipment, a laboratory manual, supplementary reading material for the students to expand their horizons and, most usefully, a set of about 40 specially produced videos (in the form of projectable 16 mm movie films) that not only provided rich hard-to-replicate learning experiences but also brought the viewers face to face with some of the famous American physicists and physics educators of the day.  Donald Ivy, Patterson Hume, Nobel Laureate Edwin Purcell and Eric Rogers are particularly unforgettable.  The first two had teamed up and featured in a number of PSSC films of outstanding quality, combining entertainment with education in some places, amounting to ‘edutainment’ in modern parlance.  Frames of Reference is one of their videos that has become a classic in physics education [It can be viewed online at:].

The PSSC physics curriculum was the major focus in the summer institutes conducted at RIEM for almost a decade after this inaugural one.  Many of the PSSC and related teaching aids and laboratory equipment and practically all of the PSSC films found excellent use in RIEM’s four-year B Sc Ed programme which became the institution’s mainstay.  The textbook content was adapted into the foundation physics courses extensively.

As part of the instructional programme which called for an intensive exposure to the PSSC physics resource materials, Dr Cram used to encourage the participants to submit themselves to the periodical standardized tests that formed part of the PSSC physics curriculum.  They were cooperative since they were not required to identify themselves on the answer sheets.  Among those who did, I remember Mr Panneerselvam’s (in the last row) performance was easily the best and I had to contend with playing second fiddle to him.  But the performance of the group as a whole was very poor, exposing the participants’ lack of understanding of the basics of school level physics, something that has remained static all these decades with most teachers and students of physics.

During the six weeks of the programme we found it neither possible nor desirable to cover the whole of the PSSC curriculum.  But we were certainly able to uncover a great deal of the popular perception of difficulty and disinterest associated with the subject.

Other highlights of 1965

As already said, 1965 was a very significant year in my own life for several reasons, the more prominent of which are recounted here.

The four-year integrated science education (B Sc Ed) course shaping up at RIEM required huge preparatory work on the part of the academic staff and administration, and the holding of these two summer institutes was an additional responsibility.  The physics department had only two of us (astonishingly, I believe this was two more than the strength of the permanent physics staff in RIEM today!), Dr Rajamadhav Rao and me, on the academic staff and we had to share a huge workload.  The responsibility for setting up the physics labs and deploying the equipment and materials received from various sources fell largely on my shoulders and I found myself spending most of my time in the labs, keeping very late hours.  I could do this because I was single at that time and, more importantly, staying in one of the RIEM hostels for some time and in the nearby university quarters later.
Initially, we had no place even to store a huge consignment of equipment received from Unesco.  There were in fact sixty five crates of them delivered by a large truck one fine day.  Vying with them for priority attention were those received from USAID as part of the summer institutes.  We had also made large purchases from within the country.

1965 also marked some positive developments in my personal life and a clear indication that I was next in line for deputation to the Ohio State University in USA for higher training in Science Education the following year.

The great comet of 1965

My most enduring hobby has been Observational Astronomy, something that has continued to this day despite my recent ophthalmic ordeals.  At the time of these summer institutes my only knowledge of the night sky was the Moon and planet Venus despite having studied (trigonometrical) astronomy as a subject under mathematics during my B Sc (Hons) course during 1956-59.  But this was to change dramatically by the rather sudden and unexpected appearance of comet Ikeya-Seki, in late October that year.  This was a spectacular object visible in the morning sky and truly the comet of the last century (How disappointing that ISON, expected to become the comet of this century last November, fizzled out completely and didn’t even become visible to the naked eye!).  Despite having read about it in news media, my sighting of it came wholly unintentionally, when I was walking towards the city to catch a train to Bangalore well before sunrise one fine morning. I stood dumb-struck for many minutes at this incredible sight, near the horizon to the left of Chamundi hill as I was walking north ward from the hostel.  The bright tail of this great comet appeared to my naked eye to spread 30-40 degrees across the sky and, barring two total solar eclipses in later decades, I have never seen anything so mesmerizingly magnificent.  Not only did I not have a pair of binoculars to explore it further, but I didn’t even know that binoculars could be useful for such a purpose.  This realization came much later.  But before that came a more important realization that I had not even assembled either of the two telescopes that had come to RIEM as part of the Unesco consignment mentioned above.
On my return from the Bangalore weekend visit almost the first thing I did was to assemble the two telescopes (one, a 6” Newtonian reflector of British origin and the other, a 90 mm refractor of Russian origin, both manually operated with equatorial mounts).  Then I started looking at the more prominent night sky objects through them, in conditions tailor-made for such viewing because the college campus was located far away from any disturbing lights and the concept of light-pollution was mercifully unknown in those days.

That morning, nearly half a century ago, marked the birth my most enduring hobby. 1965 ended on a very high note for me.  Intellectually I found myself transformed quickly from boyhood to manhood.

Looking back, on the academic front, I can honestly affirm that 1965 was the year when I learnt the fundamentals of physics, mainly through exposure to the PSSC physics curriculum resources.  The summer institute provided for me a teaching-learning platform in the truest sense of the phrase.

An Invitation

I would very much like to hear from anyone who can provide information about the whereabouts of any of the people in the photograph displayed here, especially from the participants themselves.  In this information age, fuelled by online portals like Facebook, there is a good chance that some of them will recognize themselves in the photograph and get in touch with me and each other as well as become part of RIEMAA if they are alumni of RIEM and have not already done so.

To sum up the events of the summer of 1965, I can do little better than to reproduce the following from my own previous blog post:

Enough planning and organizational effort had gone in to make the Summer Institutes of 1965 a success and a landmark in the history of the institution.  The traditional lectures made way for interactive discussion sessions with liberal use of teaching aids, supported strongly by laboratory exercises built around the PSSC equipment and materials...….  I was as much a participant in the programme as a resource person and, in purely academic terms, ended up receiving much more than I could give; such was the impact of the new PSSC curriculum materials at our disposal. The participant enthusiasm and feedback were both encouraging.  The institute laid the foundation for more such efforts in the future, on a regular annual basis, for well over a decade from then on.  They added significantly to RIEM's reputation and status as a premier institution for teacher education in the country, something that is sadly on the decline in the recent past.  RIEMAA should contemplate how it can contribute to arresting this trend and even reversing it if possible.

A Footnote

A few months back I was delighted to hear from one of my former students, Mr S Chandra Sekaran, now residing in Bangalore, recalling his student days at RIEM and acknowledging some positive influence I had on his professional activities.  He was also thoughtful enough to send me a group photo of his batch of students and staff (1973).  Although I don’t appear in the photo for whatever reason, it took me back once again down my memory lane, to a later period.  I hope to write more about this in a future blog post.  I also hope I will receive more feedback of this type from others in future and help me continue to ward off the wolf of insignificance.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Gol Gumbaz and other monuments of Bijapur – Personal Photo Album Part 20

The city of Bijapur in north Karnataka is famous for its historical monuments of Islamic architecture dating back to the Adil Shahi dynasty that ruled the Deccan region of southern India during 1490 to 1686.  The most famous of these monuments is the world renowned Gol Gumbaz, comparable in grandeur and size to a handful of such ancient edifices in the country.  But for these monuments, most of which are well looked after by the Archeological Survey of India, Bijapur is a dusty and rusty old city with little else distinctive about it.

As mentioned in two of my recent blog posts, I had paid a breezy visit to Bijapur in November last year as part of a family of seven spanning three generations.  We had arrived at Bijapur on a bright sunny morning after a long overnight journey by bus from Bangalore, spent some time in a local hotel, and set out on the visit.  We had hired a taxi for our various visits that also included Badami, Pattadkal, and Aihole the next day as narrated in my earlier blog posts.
I had first visited Bijapur about twenty years ago, but this was before the days of digital photography and had nothing to show from the visit.  This time I have been able to put together a short pictorial documentary, focusing on just a few of the sights of this ancient city.

Gol Gumbaz

The following is typically the first view of the gigantic monument as one enters the well- maintained quadrangle of the sprawling Gol Gumbaz complex:

[As in my previous albums, all pictures are in high resolution and can be blown up to their full size by clicking on a picture and opening it in a separate window]

This is a rather deceptive view since the building in the foreground, now housing a museum, appears to be an integral part of the monument when in fact the domed structure is located well behind it as subsequent pictures will show.

The next picture captures the building in the foreground from some distance on the right side, with part of the domed structure barely visible.

A close-up shot of the same building from the left side shows it in its full glory, accentuated by the huge cannons on either side of the entrance.

As one walks past this building further up on the left, a fuller view of the Gol Gumbuz unfolds as in the next picture, highlighting one of the four seven-storey octagonal corner towers:

The next picture is a frontal view of the whole of Gol Gumbaz as visible from behind a second building that lies between the museum building and Gol Gumbaz.  This second building is seen in an aerial view appearing later.  Apart from indicating how massive it really is (as can be made out from the rather puny looking visitors in the foreground), it also shows how far behind it really is from the unseen museum building in the foreground.

Completed in 1656, the Gol Gumbaz is a massive mausoleum built in memory of Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur.  This cubical structure is about 48 meters on each side and capped by a huge dome of 44 meters diameter.  At each of the four corners of the cube is a dome-capped octagonal tower seven stories high, as seen in the previous picture, with a narrow roughhewn stone staircase inside.  The dome is comparable in size to such buildings as St Paul’s Cathedral in London and St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, though architecturally and otherwise very different.  Incidentally, I have been inside both.

The following picture gives a view of the interior of the building showing the pleasing intersecting arches that give a distinctive look to it, though it is devoid of the intricate carvings and inlay work characteristic of similar buildings of Islamic architecture.  The enclosed structure, seen at the centre of the hall and dwarfed by the arches, surrounds the tomb of Adil Shah.

The Whispering Gallery

Running around the inside of the huge dome is the highly popular and over abused ‘whispering gallery’, so called because even the softest sound note generated at any point can be heard at other nodal points along the interior wall very clearly.  This is because of the large circumference of the gallery with its smooth circular interior that makes possible sound waves clinging to the surface and decreasing in intensity with distance at a slower rate than they normally do because of special acoustic conditions prevailing in the chamber.  The somewhat complicated physics of this phenomenon was first unraveled out by the great British physicist Lord Rayleigh in reference to a similar phenomenon noticed in London’s famous St Paul’s Cathedral.

Visitors to the whispering gallery in Gol Gumbaz almost always shout rather than whisper, thus missing out on the wonderful effects heard with soft sounds.  They end up hearing loud multiple echoes of their voices, often raucous, always eerie, something that amounts to a desecration of the wonderful place.
When we visited the gallery, a thoughtful and helpful guard took charge of the situation briefly and showed us the expected audio effects without interference from other sounds.  Here is a picture of a small portion of the large gallery showing my daughter and grandson listening to the whispers in enthralled admiration.  Mercifully there was no shouting match.

Reaching the whispering gallery at the top (clearly visible in the last picture) in Gol Gumbaz involves climbing up the very narrow roughhewn and very irregular stone steps of a spiraling staircase built into the octagonal corner towers.  This can be strenuous, particularly for the elderly, and I am glad to say I made it to the top without too much effort, but with some assistance from the younger members of the family.  In between the floors I rested a bit, looked around, and absorbed the scene both outside and along the edges of the gigantic building, with camera in hand all the time.

Some sidelights

The view from the top can be spectacular as the next picture shows.  It captures the museum building as well as the other building one has to pass through before reaching the monument.  The lawns and the greenery add to the overall effect.

The next picture shows a view of the intricate sculptured protrusions from one of the sides of Gol Gumbaz at one of the upper floors of the octagonal tower.  Similar sights, though perhaps slightly less spectacular, greet the visitor at each floor.

My last picture of Gol Gumbaz presented in this album is unusual by any standards.  While climbing up the stairs, I noticed an overhanging live beehive at some distance and instinctively zoomed in on it and took a picture.  The bees appeared to be so active and I was so fascinated by what I saw that I tried a super zoom (hand-held) shot of the bees and obtained several good pictures.  Here is a composite of the two pictures, the first showing the hive at a distance and the second an ultra-close up of the busy bees in action.  These are among the most treasured pictures in my collection over the years.  I also captured a short HD video clip of the bees at work.

Before leaving the Gol Gumbaz complex we spent a little while inside the impressive museum building, but my enthusiasm for the exhibits had been deflated by the sight of the ubiquitous ‘No Photography’ or some such stupid exhortation adorning most museums in the country, something that the otherwise efficient Archaeological Survey of India is hard put to justify considering that they ought to be promoting tourism among other things.

Bara Kaman

Located in the heart of the city, Bara Kaman is like an unfinished, indeed barely begun, symphony.  Apparently, Ali Adil Shah wanted to build a mausoleum of unmatched architectural quality.  Twelve great arches were planned to be placed vertically as well as horizontally surrounding his future tomb.  However, for reasons unknown, the work on the structure was left grossly incomplete.  One outlandishly incredible myth is that the construction of the mausoleum was stopped because once completed its shadow would touch the Gol Gombaz!

Though the site itself is well maintained, the entrance to it through a busy side street is an absolute insult to such a heritage site (see picture below).  On one side of the prominently displayed name board is an ice-cream parlor and on the other side a poster (in Kannada) advertising non-surgical solutions for some nagging physical ailments!  Such ads are generally found in public urinals and I had the feeling the entrance was not very different from one.

Stepping inside, we were indeed greeted by a very impressive sight as the next picture shows.  Incidentally, all humans seen in the picture belonged to my entourage; only I was missing for obvious reasons.

The next picture of Bara Kaman shot from the elevated floor level shows the raw and rugged beauty of the intended structure, without any disturbing human presence.


Located on the western ramparts of the very extensive Bijapur Fort between two bastions is the Malik-e-Maidan, roughly translated as the Master of the Battlefield, known to be one of the largest cannons in the world.  Being 4 m long, 1.5 m in diameter and weighing 55 tons, this was transported from Ahmednagar in the 17th century as a war trophy employing a huge convoy of oxen, elephants, and men.  The next picture shows it amidst its surroundings in its present location in Bijapur.

Here is a close-up view of the famed cannon on a platform specially built for it.  The cannon's nozzle is fashioned into the shape of a lion's head with open jaws and between the carved fangs is depicted an elephant being crushed to death.

When I saw this behemoth, I was reminded of the one in the Jaigharh Fort near Jaipur in Rajasthan.  It is displayed fully mounted on its carriage within a covered enclosure [See my earlier blog post: 14) Jaipur the Pink City - Personal Photo Album Part 3 (Oct 10)]

Ibrahim Rouza

The Ibrahim-Rauza is a pair of beautifully symmetric buildings with large central domes and tall narrow minarets facing each other, built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627).  As one enters the complex through a long pathway in a large courtyard with excellently maintained lawns, the building seen on the left is his tomb and the one on the right is a mosque.  The two monuments are separated by a water tank containing a fountain, all on a raised common platform.  The complex is captured in the next picture from just inside the main entrance.  In sharp contrast to the green courtyard, the buildings present a picture of decay and discoloration, even desolation, mainly through ravages of harsh weather over a period of several centuries.

When we entered through the main gate without realizing we had to buy entry tickets, we were harshly pulled up by the tickets clerk who then went on to perform his job as if he was doing us a special favor.

The next picture is a close-up of the tomb with the empty water tank in the foreground.  Without the rusty exterior, it would have been a great sight indeed.

The fa├žade of intricately and superbly sculpted arches embellishing the entrance to the mosque is captured in the following picture:

The arches and pillars inside the mosque present a pleasing picture as seen in the next photograph despite the discoloration and decay.

I sign off with a very curious and interesting  zoomed-in picture of an overhanging ‘key-chain’ of huge intersecting rings supporting what looks like the tip of a gigantic ‘key’ near one of the upper sections of the mosque protruding outward.  I have no idea of what this signifies.


Because of paucity of time we had planned on seeing only four of the numerous monuments dotting the city and regrettably missed out on some that deserved as much attention as the ones filling these pages of my album.  After a quick lunch we hit the road to the Alamatti Dam site near Bagalkot and other places.  The dam site presented some unexpectedly beautiful sights which I intend to feature in a future blog post.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chalukyan Stone Temples at Pattadkal and Aihole – Personal Photo Album Part 19


My visit to the famous Cave Temples of Badami on a glorious afternoon on 11 November last year was chronicled last month [see: 63) Rock-cut cave temples of Badami and surroundings – Personal Photo Album Part 18 (Jan 13)] with a promise that I would write about my visits to the other two places that morning in a later post.  I am doing so rather sooner than intended principally because these two places, Pattadkal and Aihole (pronounced eye-ho-le), together with Badami form a trio of closely related and conveniently located (see the Google map of the region below, marking out these three places in relation to Bagalkot at top left) tourist spots in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, all relics of the great Chalukyan empire that ruled most parts of south central India between the sixth and twelfth centuries.

My group had arrived at Badami the previous night after visiting Bijapur and other places on the way and checked into a good hotel.  These visits, which included the famous Gol Gumbuz, will be the subject of a future blog post.  Early in the morning we wasted sometime on our breakfast and headed for Pattadkal which we reached in very hazy and overcast conditions after driving for about an hour on a road that is quite an insult to the great stone temple complex that greeted us.


In Kannada, Pattadkal literally means ‘coronation stone’ and was once the capital of the Chalukyas and the place where the early kings of the dynasty used to be crowned. It lies on the banks of river Malaprabha in Bagalokot district about 25 km from Badami.  What the visitor finds today is a group of stone temples and monuments, all located close to each other within a large rectangular complex superbly maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India as a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1987.  With its rich greenery and sprawling lawns in the midst of a nondescript village, it looked to me more like an oasis in a desert.  The place represents a harmonious blend of architecture of the Nagara (north Indian) and Dravidian (south Indian) styles in its many distinctive structures.

The biggest and best known of these structures is the Virupaksha temple, built by Queen Lokamahadevi in 745 AD to commemorate her husband Vikramaditya’s victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.  Other important ones are the Sangameshwara temple, the Mallikarjuna temple, Kashiviswanatha temple, the Galaganatha temple, and a nearby Jain temple.
Here is a view of the complex from near the entry gate capturing the greenery in the foreground with three of the major monuments standing out against a hazy background at a distance.
[As in my previous albums, all pictures are in high resolution and can be blown up to their full size by clicking on a picture and opening it in a separate window]

The next picture is a panoramic view of the complex from a closer vantage point showing all three monuments besides two others on the far right.  All but one of the humans in the picture belong to my group (including the friend and guide who looked after all our needs throughout the day) and provide a sort of relief to the overall view, something that might not have been needed if bright and sunny conditions had existed.

Here is a view of the Galaganatha temple on the left and the Papanatha temple on the right, with the tree in the foreground and the lawn around it both enhancing the beauty of the view.

Here is a view that highlights the rich green lawn and the flora in the foreground as much as the three monuments in the background:

The next picture shows the Sangameshwara temple in the right foreground, the view again accentuated by the rich lawn around it.

Here is a view of the famous Virupaksha temple:

Here is another view of the Virupaksha temple along with the rock ‘Victory Pillar’ nearby on the right that carries some significant inscriptions in old Kannada.

Despite the gloomy weather that also affected the quality of my pictures to a considerable extent, the visit to Pattadkal was both memorable and enjoyable for us.  Our parting memory of it is etched in the next picture as we walked out of the complex on a paved path lined with some more serenely beautiful flora and greenery.

Our next destination was the sleepy village of Aihole, a much shorter distance but on a road even worse than the one leading up to Pattadkal.


Described as a cradle for temple architecture in the country, this place village was used in the Chalukyan period as a laboratory of sorts for experimenting with temple building in different styles and sizes.  About twenty temple complexes housing about six times that many temples in all have been identified in Aihole.  Since we had given ourselves only about ninety minutes for this visit we had to contend with seeing only the more important complexes.
It was still hazy and overcast when we reached the place and spent most of our time at the imposing Durga temple complex seen partially in the following photograph.  The plant with its shimmering leaves and flowers in the foreground attracted my attention as much as the temple itself in the background and I have tried to do justice to both.

My next picture shifts its attention at a different angle squarely to the iconic and photogenic Durga temple that would have looked far more impressive but for the unavoidable haze surrounding it.  The pillared corridor surrounding the shrine contributes greatly to the majesty of this monument.  There are beautiful carvings on the walls and ceilings, both in the interior and on the exterior.

Here is a rear view of the same monument, with the intricate carvings both inside and outside standing out in considerable detail.

Stepping inside, I took this picture of the interior showcasing the ceiling as well as the pillars.  The effects of centuries of aging are obvious.

Very close by is the Ladkhan temple housing a Shiva lingam shown in the next picture.  Its two tiered ceiling gives it a very distinctive appearance.

Just across the Durga temple complex on the other side of the road is this Ambigera Gudi complex, the well maintained lawns adding value to the sight.

On our way back, I took the following picture showing the Jyothirlinga temple with the trilingual tablet describing the place standing out nearly as impressively as the monument itself inside the well cordoned complex.

My final picture of this album shows a structure housing a stone statue of Nandi (the bull) in the foreground inside the Jyothirlinga complex, with the temple itself seen in the background.


Unlike Badami and Pattadkal, Aihole is yet to be bestowed the ‘UNESCO Heritage Site’ status.  Two possible reasons are the scattered nature of the monuments and their general state of preservation, many of them in rather decrepit condition.  Nevertheless, Aihole commands as much attention as Pattadkal for its historic and cultural importance, a thought that was not lost on us as we drove back to beckoning Badami.

Before the all-important visit to the famed cave temples and surroundings of picturesque Badami that awaited us in the afternoon (and chronicled in my earlier blog post), there was an equally important interlude – a traditional and sumptuous lunch at the ancestral home of our local host and guide who was also our constant companion throughout the day.  For good measure, nature lifted its veil and showed us Badami at its very best.