Posts Tagged With: weekend getaways bangalore

Nrityagram, Hessaraghatta, Bangalore

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‘How does one start when one arrives in the middle of wilderness, armed with dreams’ – Protima Gauri

Nrityagram was established by Odissi dancer and student of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Protima Bedi (aka, Protima Gauri,Gauri Maa, Gauri Amma), in 1990. It is a fully functional residential dance school that holds regular, full day classical dance classes and offers multiple year study courses. It follows a culture similar to ancient gurukul. They focus on holistic living in a self-sufficient, intentional community.

The feel of the place is divine. There is a distinctive calmness and purity hanging around in the air. Everything is beautiful – the architecture, the graceful dancers, the flora, the music, the words that one hears, the décor and the laughter. If you go through their official website and look at various descriptions, you will get carried away by their poetic beauty.

Nrityagram, literally meaning ‘dance village’ was designed by Gerard D’Cunha and is located in Hessaraghatta, 40 km away from Bangalore.

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Nrityagram temple

This temple, which is at the entrance of the dance village, depicts the image of Gauri Maa’s guru, Kelucharan Mohaptra, with a caption that means: Temple at Nrityagram. Fashioned from the raw mud of Nrityagram and fired after it was built, the temple is dedicated to space. It is decorated with panels depicting the elements, dance motifs, mudras and designs from costumes and ghungroos. Inside is a granite rock scooped out to hold water and a flame that stays lit.

It is a wonderful experience if you like art, dance or design. It is worth travelling 45 minutes for. As a dance lover, this was a dreamland for me where you breathe, eat and smell dance the whole day, sweet sounds of ghunghroos and pleasant pitter-patter of feet fill  your days, dance is appreciated an art, a God-send gift, dance is a part of soul.

Visit their Facebook page for wonderful pictures and updates about performances and classes.

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Thank you, M and Ee for the pictures

Categories: India, Photography, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

St. Philomena Church, Mysore, India

St. Philomena Church is a gorgeous Neo-Gothic church built in 1941 by a French architect named Daly. Its architecture is inspired by the Cologne Cathedral of Germany. This church was built to fulfil the needs of a growing European population at Mysore at that time. The fact that the church became such an important landmark of the city and is such a popular destination today reflects the secular nature of the King. An old description of the church is ‘A priceless French statue of a celebrated Greek saint in a German cathedral located in the heart of India’.

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An interesting part about the church’s architecture is that its length and height is identical at 175 feet. The 2 spires of the church are made to resemble St. Patrick’s church, New York and are visible from miles away. They give a majestic contribution to the city’s skyline. The 12 feet high crosses on the spires make this church one of the tallest in Asia. There are 3 ornamental doors at the front and several doors on the sides that lead to the prayer hall. All pillars are carved with floral patterns and ceilings depict Biblical events like Birth of Christ, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ in beautiful stained glass. Beneath the altar, there is an underground chapel known as catacomb that houses a priceless statue of St. Philomena in a reclining position. Names of all the donors who helped building this church are engraved on stone tablets on walls of the chapel.

St. Philomena was born to Greek parents in the 3rd Century after they prayed long to God to bless them with a child. Even in childhood, Philomena showed signs of piety. Emperor Diocletion wanted to marry her but she refused, vowing to hand over herself to God. She was tortured and beheaded by the King as a punishment. People’s devotion to her spread and she was given the title of sainthood. The relic of St. Philomena was bought by the then secretary of Maharaja of Mysore to be kept in the church.

Today, the church is not just a famous tourist destination; it is also a renowned religious place.

I would rate this historic monument as a must visit.

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Thank you, M, for the pictures.

A few notes:

– Church timings: 5:00 m to 6:00 pm

– Daily holy mass is held in Kannada, Tamil and English every day in morning and evening. (Updated timings should be available at the church entrance). Special masses are held on Sundays and Holidays.

– An Annual fest is held on 11th August every year.

– The church is all lighted up during Christmas. Special songs and sermons are held on and around Christmas.

– Photography is prohibited inside the church.

– There is no signboard to the effect but many people take their shoes off before entering the church. I don’t think it is compulsory to do so.

– A dress code is not specified but the church expects you to dress decently while in the campus. Inappropriate behavior like casual loitering around, sitting on steps and PDA are condemned.

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Categories: India, Photography, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mysore Palace–India

Mysore is known as the City of Palaces. It houses several palaces and temples that have seen decades of changes in the city. The most well known of all these historic structures is the Mysore Place, also known as Amba Vilas Palace and Main Palace. The palace belonged to the Royal family of Mysore, the Wadiyars. Way back in the 14th century this structure was made of wood and mud. It got damaged by various environmental forces several times later. Subsequently in 1897, the job of rebuilding the whole palace was handed over to the British architect, Henry Irwin.

It took 5 years for this palace to build and it uses different architectural styles – Rajput, Hind, Muslim and Gothic. it is built using fine granite and pink marble. Its tallest tower is 145 meters in height.

The palace has now been converted into a museum housing beautiful antiques and artefacts like lamps, mirrors, furniture and statues. Lot of walls of corridors and halls adorned with wonderful paintings of the royal family and scenes of the Royal family from the olden days. Some magnificent rooms like Diwan-E-Khaas (where the king addressed audiences), Diwane-E-Aam (which was used for public gatherings) and Marriage Pavilion (which is a large octagonal room located on the ground floor). All rooms are grandly decorated with ornamental pillars, stunning stained glass roofs, gigantic chandeliers, and geometrical design mosaic marble tiles. It is very sad that photography is not allowed inside the palace; I missed a great photography experience.

The Royal family gets involved with the people during Dusshera (falls in September or October) celebrations which are considered big in the whole of Karnataka. On the 10th day of the festival, a huge procession, consisting of elephants and other floats, is led from the palace. This festival has been celebrated by the Wadiyars since decades and it still celebrated in an extravagant way. The whole palace is lit up using around 97000 lights. Even today, the king himself travels in a traditional way in a silver palanquin form the palace to the Bhuveshwari temple.

The royal family was in news lately for the sad demise of their last king, Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar. He has not left behind any heirs (which the locals blame on a 400 year old curse).

The palace reflects the grandeur and royalty of the regal lineage. Once you are inside the palace, look at the thrones, large paintings of noble women wearing rich silk sarees, ornate railings and visualize the palace in its functional state, it is a rather extraordinary feeling. It totally captivates you. This destination must not be missed if you are touring Bangalore or Karnataka.

A few notes:

– Palace timings are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Entry fee for Indian Adults is Rs. 40 and for Foreigners is Rs. 200.

– The palace is illuminated on Sundays and Public Holidays. Keep in mind, though, that it gets extremely crowded on holidays.

– Sound and Light show is conducted on all days between 7:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

– Photography is strictly prohibited inside the palace. You can take your time to roam around in front and side and take lots of pictures. Camera has to be deposited at the locker room located immediately after the main entrance.

– You are not allowed to wear shoes inside the palace. There are shelves arranged to keep shoes. You will be given a token in return.

No doubt I loved the palace and found it very impressive. But there are 2 things that upset me. For one, I found the staff pretty rude and rough. It was very crowded the day I went there and maybe they got aggressive trying to control the crowd. But, it completely spoiled the experience. They were almost treating people like cattle. Secondly, you remove your shoes at the entrance and exit the palace towards the back. You then need to take a complete round to reach the front again to collect your shoes. That path is made of cobblestone; so it is very hot. Kids will find this task very difficult. Camel and elephant rides happen on the same path and so, it is dirty too. Walking barefoot on this path was such a downer. It is a better idea to carry your shoes in your bag and wear them immediately after exiting the palace.

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Categories: India, Photography, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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