Saturday, February 28, 2015

108 Shiva Temples

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Our first stop in Kalna was the "108 Shiva Temples". 108 is an auspicious number for Hindus, and it is the number of beads in a Hindu "mall" (prayer beads). These temples were built in 1809 and have an interesting "aat chala" (8-sloped roof) structure. The temples are arranged in two concentric circles. The outer circle has 74 temples, and the inner circle has 34 temples. It is a fascinating structure, and I wish we could have had more time to experience it.

Google Maps view of the site.
Our rickshaws parked outside the temple.
The park-like space between the two circles of temples.
The outer circle. The temples have alternating white marble and black marble Shiva lingams. When viewing a temple head-on, you can see the lingams in the middle temple and the one to either side, but the lingams are not visible in the other temples.
The Krishnachandra Temple in the neighboring temple complex is visible above the small Shiva temples.
Looking at the outer circle from the doorway leading into the inner circle.
Inner circle temples.
Inner circle temples (and doorway into inner circle).
All the lingams in the inner circle are white marble.
A close-up view of the ornament atop every temple.
Pigeon above the door of a temple.
Looking back at the 108 Shiva Temples from temple complex across the street.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

It's our last day aboard the RV Bengal Ganga, as we travel from Mayapur to Kolkata. We are now in the tidewater region of the river, so its name has changed one last time to the Hooghly.

We had one excursion along the way today, at Kalna.

We left the "mother ship" moored in the middle of the river, and took the "country boat" to shore. This photo shows two small boats crossing the river, and the country boat tied up to the RV Bengal Ganga.
The ghats at Kalna. Not especially inviting with the mountain of trash on the right side, and an open sewer into the river just to the left.
Going ashore via our bamboo gangplank.
The trash doesn't look any better from the top of the pile.
We took cycle rickshaws to a temple complex in the middle of town.
Traveling the streets of Kalna.
The rickshaws had no trouble getting past these trucks, but anything larger would have had difficulty.
Laundry day.
Vegetable market.

Katra Masjid

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Katra Masjid is an interesting mosque in Murshidabad. It is a large mosque that was fortified -- the corner minarets doubled as watchtowers with provisions for using arms against invaders.

The interior courtyard in front of the mosque. The tower in the back lost its dome in an 1897 earthquake.
The passage between the mosque and the outer wall of the compound.
The other side of the left-hand wall faces the main street. The right-hand wall is the back of the mosque.
Yours truly. I particularly liked the screen in this archway. Unfortunately, half of the screen has been destroyed.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

We took horse carts ("tongas") through the town of Murshidabad to the Katra Masjid and back. The masjid (mosque) will be the subject of the next post. Here I'll show views of the town from the back of a tonga.

Getting ready for our ride.
We rode four to a cart.
Riding through road construction. The construction crew was somewhat annoyed at our disruption of their work.
Delivering vegetables. That's a pumpkin on the back. The baskets held tomatoes and a variety of other veggies.
A small house and flower garden.
Murshidabad street.
Market area just outside the Katra Masjid.

Along the Bhagirathi: Murshidabad to Mayapur

Saturday, 21 February 2014

Glimpses of life along the Bhagirathi River. The fog lifts as the day progresses.

An early morning ferry preparing to cross the river.
A village woman poses for us.
A family waves to us from a village.

As we got closer to Kolkata, the population density increased, but in this stretch it was still largely agricultural. One of the notable aspects of Indian agriculture is that it is almost entirely devoted to production of food for humans (as opposed to animals and chemicals in the US). There is a huge diversity of crops.

A man uses grass to tie cucumber plants to stakes.
Rice is planted around mango trees.
A full load of pumpkins.

Pollution is endemic. Some things would be relatively easy to change, but require a change in mindset. Other clean-ups would be more complicated and expensive.

There are far too many un-scrubbed smoke sources throughout India. These are from burning coal to fire bricks.
In towns and cities, the riverbanks are piles of trash. In the background you can see the Hazarduari Palace, a major museum in Murshidabad.

Meanwhile, back on the ship:

A damselfly on the sun deck.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

We had a dawn excursion to Khushbagh (literally, "Garden of Happiness"), across the river from Murshidabad. It was "pea soup" foggy, and we were amazed that the "country boat" crew could even find the right spot on the river to disembark. And even more amazed (and pleased!) that we could find the "mother ship" when we returned in the same thick fog.

The garden contains a small private mosque and the tombs of Nawab Alivardi Khan and many members of his extended family.

The mosque at the end of the garden.
A pavilion in the center of the garden holds a number of graves.
Foggy view from the pavilion.
The walkway between the outer wall of the pavilion and the center room containing tombs.
The environment makes it nearly impossible to control mold and mildew. But it does add an interesting dimension to the walls.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Char Bangla Mandir

Friday, 20 February 2015

Just north of Azimganj is the village of Baranagar. It is noted for it's unique temple complex, Char Bangla Mandir ("Four Bengal Temples").

The temple complex as seen from outside. The temples have a curved two-piece (front and back) roof over three doors, each containing a Shiva lingam.
The four temples are arranged around a small square, as shown in this Google Maps image.
The north temple is the oldest and most elaborate. It is covered with detailed terra cotta tiles.
Tiles over the center door.
Corner detail.
A battle scene from the bottom frieze.
Another terra cotta panel.
This is a Shiva temple complex, so Nandi must be present!

The west temple, again covered with terra cotta tiles.
A closer view of the art over the center door.
The south temple. Still terra cotta, but less richly decorated.
The artwork over this center door is much less detailed.
The final, east, temple was covered with stucco rather than terra cotta. Apparently funds were running out, and less expensive materials had to be used to finish it.