Travel Shot: The snake on the ceiling

The back of my neck prickled, and an uneasy shiver ran down my spine. I looked around and could see nothing unusual or scary. It was a bright sunny afternoon at the Badami Caves and our tour group was gathered around the guide at Cave Temple 1. There was nothing unusual or strange or eerie there.

Yet, the feeling of being watched persisted and I just could not relax. I still don’t know what made me look up at the ceiling. And when I did look up this is what I saw.

Carving of a snake on the ceiling in Cave 1

Now, I do not have Ophidiophobia, but the huge carved snake on the ceiling gave me a scare. It looked so real that my first instinct was to run away; a couple of people in my tour group actually did leave the cave and walk away when the guide pointed it out to them. To me, it looked like the beautifully carved snake with the multi-hooded head was stretching out its hands towards me. I could not take a photograph right away and this one was taken only after I had visited all the other caves.

Even as I type out this post, I can remember that prickly feeling of unease. I actually looked up at the ceiling to check and found only the ceiling fan whirring away !

Have you come across such realistic looking sculptures during your travels? Do share them with me here. 🙂

The Banashankari and Mahakuta temples: Examples of neglect and apathy

My recent trip to some heritage sites in North Karnataka (Aihole, Badami, Bijapur, Hampi and  Pattadakal) was an eye-opener in more ways than one. While I was amazed to see the excellent work done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in restoring and maintaining the sites, as well as the efforts taken by the Karnataka Tourism Board, I was appalled to see condition of heritage sites not maintained by the ASI. My visits to the Banashankari Temple and the Mahakuta Temple Complex, both near Badami, are perfect examples of this.

The Banashankari Temple site has been a place of worship for about 14 centuries or so, though the current temple building is only about 200 years old. The temple’s name is derived from its location in the Tilakaranya forest. The main deity, Banashankari is also known as Shakambari or the vegetable goddess. Banashankari was the kuldevata or the tutelary deity for the Chalukya kings of the 7th century.

Our tour group arrived at the Banashankari Temple after spending a magical and enchanted evening at the Bhoothnatha Temples and the Agastya Teertha, near the Badami Cave-Temples. And came back to earth rather rudely with a ride through narrow, dusty, potholed and dirty access road to the temple. It was an inkling to the state of the temple itself.

Outside the Banashankari Temple. The guard-cum-lamp tower at the entrance to the Harida Teertha in the centre of the photograph

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