Kutchchy Ethos

The charms of Kutch are embedded into its art. Against the backdrop of the white crystal deserts and the yellow grasslands, the Kutchchy people stride in grace with their bold colourful embroideries. We can see this in their clothes, over their walls, on their beds…almost any place around. Overall a fantastic mishmash!

White Desert of Kutch

White Desert of Kutch

There are two distinct forms of art which are typically seen in the interiors of Kutch – Lippan Art and Kutchy ‘Bharat’ meaning embroidery.

Lippan Art - Murals

Lippan Art – Murals

A Gleaming Amalgamation!

Lippan Art in the 'Bhungas' or circular mud houses

Lippan Art in the ‘Bhungas’ or circular mud houses

Among the many Jat communities in India, Kutchchy Jats are nomadic, separated from their fellow families in Pakistan. They rear cattle, breed camels and indulge in exceptional artwork. Through some family connections, we had a good chance to meet a Jat family deep into the Dhodro village. When we entered their courtyard, we noticed a cluster of round mud houses painted white with bright carved doors. They had thatched roofs and looked like the ones in fairy tales. We later learnt that all mud houses, commonly known as ‘Bhungas’ belonged to one extended family and each sub family had its own ‘Bhunga’. Wow…we were impressed because as soon as we entered one, it felt cool as if entering an air conditioning room. Not only that, it glistened with magnificent patterns and murals with mirrors embedded in them. The whole feeling of a warm welcome, the unruffled ambiance, freshness and the gorgeousness of these homes touched my heart. I couldn’t help writing about it.

Bhungas or Mud Houses of Dhodro Village

Bhungas or Mud Houses of Dhodro Village

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While trying to apprehend so much about how beautiful the ‘Bhungas’ are, I noticed how neatly everything was aligned and arranged. Looking at my baffled face the ‘sarpanch’ or the village head explained that murals on the wall are called Lippan. They make simple patterns with a generous use of mirrors and earthy colours. Usually mixture of donkey or camel dung and clay is used to make Lippan murals. It is hard to believe that donkey or camel dung can create such alluring work.

Lippan Art in a Bhunga

Lippan Art in a Bhunga

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Thread and Countless Mirrors

All over Kutch, we saw a spectrum of colours. Locals wear bright colours so that they can be spotted easily in the wide deserts. They have several types of embroideries like Kambari, Niran, Kherk belonging to different tribes in the region, etc. These patterns are known to be the most advanced and intricate. A lot of them indulge in skirt work and coverlets.

Embroidery of the Jats commonly called Kambri Bharat.

Embroidery of the Jats commonly called Kambri Bharat.

Typically, men set out with cattle while women embroider. These ladies prepare for tocher for their little girls. One such exclusive style of needlework that caught my eye was distinct from the rest. Apparently, it is known to be from Sind in Pakistan. There were rugs folded neatly which had small triangular pieces of coloured cloth stitched on the outer side with the actual embroidery being at the centre. This resulted in small and detached design from the interlaced woven fabric that stretched above the surface of the base cloth. I know it may be difficult to visualize what I just wrote but perhaps a picture might do some justice to my explanation.

A sculptor, a weaver and grandmother!

A sculptor, a weaver and grandmother!

I wondered how it must feel to have your entire life revolving around art. Its almost like you live, breathe, create and worship such a gift. I observed how women gossiped, took care of their children who chased goats while their hands moved swiftly over their needlework. Such incredible and perfected work was a boon! Hail to Kutch…inspiration unlimited!

Sea Cliffs of the Arabian and the Sun Temple…

Legends float all across the world. Legends make the world alive. Similarly, the legend of the Sun Temple in Ratnagiri made me want to write about it.

Outside the Kanakaditya Temple in Ratnagiri

Ratnagiri is one of the most beautiful place that the state of Maharashtra can flaunt. The untouched beaches, the swaying palms, creeks and rivers makes this place perfect to relax and rejuvenate though relaxing is not so much for me. Being here, I wanted to see everything that made this place and everything that this place was full off. While talking to the locals, we noticed they mentioned the Kanakaditya temple several times. They told us to visit this place if we enjoyed historical structures and liked legends. The thought rang in our heads..why not?

Kanakaditya or the Sun God Temple

Amidst the village of Kasheli, almost along the cliffs of the Arabian sea lies this simple temple of the Sun called Kanakadtiya. Even the road to this temple was small and narrow hemmed with coconut palms and velvet greens of the forest. It was windy and passed through many small houses on either sides. When we got there, from outside, this temple looked like any ordinary temple. It made us think if we took all the effort to see a temple which didn’t seem architecturally historic. Since we were there, we decided to peep in. While we walked through the courtyard of the temple,we noticed how simple and serene this place was. It had a stone carved statue of Lord Aditya (Sun God) and had bright paintings of some of his legends. Even though it was colourful it was very pleasing to the eye.

The court of the Kanakaditya Temple

The Colourful Entrance of the Kanakaditya Temple

While walking around, an old man who owned a mango orchard close to the temple narrated the story of this temple. He said that a long time back a boatman decided to travel south from Gujarat. Since he worshiped Lord Aditya, he decided to carry an idol along with him. When he reached Kasheli, the boat halted without a reason. He knew he was not stuck due to a rock but could not reason out its cause. He thought that perhaps the lord wanted him to leave him behind hence placed the idol in a rock cut cave along the cliff of Kasheli village and sailed on further. Simultaneously  a local woman called Kanak, an ardent devotee of the Lord Aditya dreamt of this idol being placed in the cave. With the help of the villagers, she resurrected this beautiful temple which is called Kanakaditya Temple.

Ceiling of the temple

This temple is known to be 1100 years old. It is one of the rarest temple in India. According to statistics, only 4 have been recorded  Konark in Orisa, one in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and this simple one in Ratnagiri. We further hiked to look over the cliffs to see if we could see the cave but lost our way and returned back to the temple only to sit there and breathe in the calm of this place.

Posed on a cliff to search for the cave where the idol of Aditya was found.

The Walk into the Deep Wild Amazon

From Iquitos, we took a boat ride through the Amazon river spread wide and long. In an hour or more, we were asked to get off without much explanation. It felt a bit odd to expect what we didn’t quite expect! So begin here, are few days in the most dense and diverse jungles of the world – The Amazon!

The Amazon River

So off we got from our boats. We were told that we would have to walk through the jungle to get to our lodge.  The morning sunlight streaming through the dense canopy of the jungle felt warm and mysterious. Leaving the Amazon river behind, we started walking through tall tress embraced with ferns, creepers, dew captured by cobwebs all accompanied by a chorus of unusual birds. It was a beautiful warm day and it all began well. Our eyes tried to see everything around and our ears hearing the calls of the wild.

Walk through the dense Amazon

I am not sure how long we walked but perhaps we did for sometime. The fellow who guided us, brought us to this unusual town, which didn’t really seem like one. We walked into a circle of huts which stood tall, almost 12 feet from the ground. When we climbed up to peer into these homes, it surprised me how basic people can live with! This house had a thatched roof with walls that ran only 4 feet tall. There was no furniture, just 2 hammocks, some pots and clay stove. For a moment, it didn’t look like a home! I asked the guide what sort of lifestyle is this. He explained that the houses were always above the ground to protect them from snakes, rodents and other animals. Due to its warm humid climate all through the year, these houses did not have walls. The flowing breeze keeps them cool. They hunted, farmed, bred animals, cooked and lived simple!

The unusual houses if the tribals

A peek-a-boo into an Amazonian home!

Along the way, we walked listening to the flame-back woodpeckers hammering tree trunks unperturbed by us. Slowly we walked into a denser part of the jungle where the squirming insects and mosquitoes found us. Every now and then, we flapped our hands and thumped our feet to avoid bites. Several times during our walk, our guide rubbed his palms on tree trunks which seemed to be a nest of some insect. These mud nests had holes drilled through them and these insects crawled out after he rubbed his hands over them. After he did it a couple of times, Bipin asked him what was he up to. He casually replied saying that these were white termites and when rubbed against your skin, they keep insects off. We were shocked to know that termites could keep other insects off! Then he showed us the difference between white and red termites, red termites being dangerous. This worked, it was miraculous! We strutted along the way…less bitten and comfortable!

Bipin cautiously rubbing his hands against the termites

Deeper we went, the denser it got yet we came across another house in the middle of nowhere.  There was an old man lying in his hammock and a woman sitting on the ground washing something. Suddenly, between to two, something moved. Something large, yet flat and very slow. I almost jumped because it somewhat camouflaged into the pale white soil. And then it seemed clearer, it was the sloth! Wow…I loved it the moment I saw it. I was scared to touch it though somehow I knew it was friendly! Suddenly the woman grabbed it by its collar which was made with palm leaves and dragged him closer to her. It must have been its fastest walk ever! 🙂

The tribal & her pet – Sloth

Got my hands around the little fella – baby sloth of the Amazon

When we started towards our lodge, we came across a man lying right behind the hut. He looked drunk and wasted. The guide and the old man exchanged some conversation. Curious as much Bipin is, he asked what was wrong with him. The guide explained to us that the night before, there was some occasion because of which all villagers from villages around had gathered and partied hard. They decide such gatherings and prepare ahead of time. They pluck this fruit which looks much like the passion fruit. They all sit and chew it  together, collect it in a large pot and ferment it. Then later, it is guzzled down on occasions. The alcohol content in this is so high that apparently the next day, there is no activity in the villages. And yes,it seemed evident! 🙂

The fruit which is chewed, spat out & fermented & then drunk to celebrate occasions!

So along we went, reached our lodge with so much to share already.  The next few days went on riding through the eerie ponds full of weeds, excursions through the forest at midnight, a hunt for piranhas into the Amazon river and eating & drinking yucca fries, wild boars and coconut water. Loved it and above all experienced it!

Our guide who passionately tried to make us experience the Amazon to its fullest

The Wine World in my Eye!

Whats the first thing we think about when we talk about wine? Is the taste, type or the region? Well I think of France though I shall talk about others as well! I know I have a great connection to this country since I studied, ventured and worked for a little bit amongst the Alps. But even then, France is one country predominantly known for its wine! But tell you honestly, Italy is the biggest producer of this majestic drink!

Wines around the World

Let me explain why France is so closely associated with wine. It is because, it is the first country which protected its reputed wines with tight regulations. And since French invented them, we should turn our attention first to France. Fortunately, I had a chance to study them to a small extent. In my two years, I knew that France had vineyards in regions like Bordeaux, Loire, Beaujolais, etc. I tasted many wines and learnt a little from my experience and the techniques of finding out how good the wine is. Pairing it foods came in a bit later. Some of the popular regions in France that I had a chance to visit and taste one of the best wines in the world were from the region Bordeaux, Alsace and Rhône.

Bordeaux

Wineries in Bordeaux

Upstream the Garonne river provides the damp climate suitable for botrytis. A little later I shall explain what this word means but for now Bordeaux sweet wines are the most celebrated wines of its kind. Because of the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, this region experiences humid misty mornings during the arrival of autumn relieved by the late sunshine during the day. This gentle process of dampening and drying is ideal for this wine. This is how my knowledge of Bordeaux Sweet wine began. My friend scrapped out 3 bottles of wine from his basement. I was impressed by his mini cellar since I didn’t know how important and valuable wines are for the French! He preserved his precious preserves! He made me taste all 3. They looked different though they tasted quite the same. I was confused, I thought they all were from the same family of sweet white wines but couldn’t identify anything. Then came the surprise! He told me that those bottles were 15, 11 and 7 years old! He gave me a small tip on these wines. He said they last for 20-30 years and the very top ones are virtually indestructible! They turn rich yellow to burnished orange and then distinguished deep brown..all still edible! I could only say one thing – ripe and rich was the wine from these 3 bottles as we drank under the deep blue skies with  Gruyere and goat cheese fondue!

Alsace

Enjoying the Wines of Alsace

A place of great history and a constant tug-of-war between France and Germany, has left this region culturally distinct. It is a unique blend of both the cultures and grape varieties. They produce medium or very dry wines. Though I am not such a fan of dry wines, I didn’t want to miss a chance to taste one. After I did, I thought they had a deep colour and a fine aroma with rumbustious alcohol content. Just a glass did make me a bit tipsy! But, right after that I was fed a rosé, which had pastel pink colour and I loved it. It is one of the most famous wines in Alsace called the Pinot Noir! Since I lived in this part of the country, this wine was in abundance! I was happy to know that I liked something from here as well!

Rhône

Grape picking and choosing the best ones!
Honestly, they all looked the same to me! 🙂

North and south Rhône are known for their spicy, rich reds and intriguing whites! I had never tasted spiced wines before. Infact I didn’t even know something like that exists since India never had a big wine culture back then. In Grenoble, the city in the Alps, and the wonderful place I lived in, had a cozy pub which served wines only. I guess they had about 100 different varieties. A bunch of us who practically had no knowledge of wines ended up here and got a bit greedy in tasting everything that we thought sounded cool! Fortunately, the bartender realized our sense of nonsense and started recommending what was different and which could suit our taste buds. Since I was the obvious and the only Indian around, he asked me if I wanted to taste something spicy! I was just happy with the word spicy and asked him to bring it on! As always, I was asked to smell and then sip. It smelled a bit heavy but slowly after a few swirls a musky grape smell arose from the glass. Then came a subtle taste of wine. It made me reminiscent of India, my land, my home!

United Stated of America

Wines from the rest of the world seem to attract me after my experience in France. The next place I ventured was the Unites States of America. And of course that is the Napa Valley in California. I realized that people here were very enthusiastic and were so willing to encourage people to drink wines and also went out of their way to help understand this drink. California is the epicenter of the US for wines. Vineyards spread from north to south along the cool hillside on the side of the ocean. Again a new wine was introduced to me, the Zinfandel! I was surprised that my knowledge of wines didn’t take to me this one, so what was this? A red-purple wine, high in alcohol, with heavy fruit concentration  was this wine! It had sub categories in this like the blush which tasted like a little sour raspberry punch, then a flavour strangely herbal and what not! Despite the fact I liked it, I thought it was made for style and fanciness!

In the Napa Valley – California

Cincinnati

Meier Wines – known for 45 types of cherries

The Meier Wines is a little winery in the heart of Cincinnati. A very cozy place with the best sherries and port wines. They had so many varieties that I couldn’t really count them on my fingers. They had 33 Cream Sherry, 11 Pale Dry Cocktail Sherry, Ruby Red Port, 22 Golden cherry and the list goes on. All these wines are unique to this place. This winery sprouted in the early 19th century and is still going strong. is best known for its 44 Cream Sherry and produces over 45 kinds of wines and a premium line of sparkling non-alcoholic grape juices. The uniqueness of this Cream Sherry comes from its ageing process – it is aged in whiskey barrels and this subtle taste of whiskey makes this sherry interesting. The other interesting fact, especially for people staying in USA, is that Meier Wines ships their product to your doorstep.  The only memento we carried back with us were its simple wine glasses.

Canada

Ice Wine from Canada

During one of our trips to Canada, to the beautiful city of Toronto, we had a chance to taste a very interesting variety of wine called Ice wine. Chilly as it was outside, we rushed into a local winery to warm ourselves. We hadn’t come across anything like an ice wine before. Even though it was ice cold, it did soothe us from the windy chill of the city. This wine was sweet tasting which is made from grapes that are frozen while still on the vines. The grapes are usually picked very early in the day, around sunrise, to ensure the grapes are in frozen condition. These wines are very crisp and refreshing, as if they have trapped the freshness from the morning air when the grapes were picked.

Barrels for picking the early morning grapes needed for Ice Wine

Switzerland

The Wine Cellar

Apart from its natural beauty, Switzerland does have a wine culture. Somehow, they have vineyards long its border with France, Germany & Italy. It is believed by the rest of Europe that Swiss wines are very expensive. Since I lived on the borders of France, I got a chance to visit the city of Geneva quite often. Sometimes it became a backpackers trip, sometimes a clubbing trip and once with Bipin. Since I went there so often and since I was picking up so much about wines, I decided to spend a bit on a bottle of Merlot red. Infact I am not too fond of Merlot but nevertheless I wanted to own one. This was the cheapest and it permitted my students budget. I was told that this came from a region called Ticino which was almost Italian. When I went back to Grenoble, I decided to open it with some friends. I had quite made up my mind that I would not like it, but to my surprise, it was different and had a very pleasing after taste. It was light and grassy with a tinge of the oak barrel taste.

Turkey

Mulled Wine of Turkey

Turkey produces a lot of wines despite being its Islamic population. I was quite surprised! I was also told that it is one of the first countries to produce wine. Anyway the one wine I had in Istanbul was a mulled wine which tasted delicious even when it was warm. On one of our last days in Turkey, we decided to have a nice dinner in a cozy cafe or a restaurant. I think we picked the prettiest cafe restaurant on the Taksim Square of Istanbul. Since it was a bit chilly, I decided to taste the warm mulled wine. I had never heard of this before! Apparently, this wine is made by heating and mixing wines, liquors and spices and is traditionally had on holidays. I was excited to taste this one and also surprised to be served in a coffee mug! The chilly weather, cozy cafe, my loved one and warm cup of wine. It was bliss!

Along with the the usual wines and blends, Turkey has a vast choice of fruit wines. Apple, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Apricot, to name a few. These are quite interesting especially to people new to wines since these are sweet and fruity. We did get a bottle back – one of the locally produced Pomegranate Wines, made an interesting after dinner dessert wine.

India

A pretty display barrel

Yes yes India! 🙂 Wine is an emerging culture in my country! A glass of wine hardly was heard of 10 years ago! Now, it is considered as a sophisticated drink and rates higher than other alcohols . People here still don’t have complete knowledge of wines but generally prefer white wines since they are a bit sweeter. Now and then, we go for a lot of wine fests which happen often during the month of November and December. So, wine and cheese marks the end of every year!

During one of the wine fests, I gathered some information that I didn’t quite believe. As soon as I came back, I looked through google and was astonished to know that wine was a part of India during the Harappan civilization. It was called Somarasa and was consumed during religious festivals. It sounds very strange indeed because generally Indians do not consume alcohol on the day of a religious festival.

The lush greens of the Sula Winery

Then, a  few years back we visited the Sula vineyard in Nasik, north of my city of Pune. A beautiful lush greens, neatly aligned grape vines looked gorgeous! The whole ambiance of the place was pretty. I think Sula wines did bring a small revolution among Indians and introduced the wine culture. From my knowledge it seemed like they made good wines. None of the wines were hazy and didn’t have floating particles in them. The swirl gave a a crisp aroma which made me believe that wine has begun its journey in India.

I agree that I don’t have a far-fetched knowledge of wines but these were some of my experiences and memories of this mystique drink. I think once you pick out the flavour and store them in your memory, you can enjoy it better. Also, I believe that if you like it, just sip it!

PS: Botrytis are infected grapes by strain of fungus. Damp conditions are needed for its growth. 🙂

For a cool wine quiz, click on to http://www.lively-wood.blogspot.in/2009/07/all-about-wine.html

Shallow Waters & Mangroves – The Land of Crocodiles & Alligators

Everglades – Swamps of Kissimme River

In 2005, for the first time, I had a chance to see crocodiles and alligators swimming together in the shallow waters of Everglades. This swampy land is situated in Florida in the United States. Everglades hosts over 350 bird and over 1,000 plant and tree species. A place swarmed with reptiles, is an experience which excites and frightens you at the same time.

So now the question begins from what is the difference between an alligator and crocodile? Alligators are in fresh water and crocodiles are in salt water. Did you know that? I didn’t!  However in Florida, in the zone where the salt water meets the fresh water, both can be found. Another distinct feature is that the alligator has a wide U shaped snout and the crocodile has a pointed V shaped snout. So now we are clear about the difference, right? Lets move on to the Everglades swamps and my experience.

Baby Alligator with a U shaped snout

The V shaped snout of a crocodile

Standing on a bridge over looking the thick mangroves and a sea of these reptiles was an inexplicable sight! Overlooking this flimsy bridge was a tributary of Kissimme River with innumerable crocodiles and alligators swimming, lazing and hiding the the eerie mangroves. Since they seemed undisturbed by the presence of a few people watching and fishing at the same time, we got a good view of them. There is this one alligator that intrigued me…he lay like a rock on the bank very close to a guy fishing. And then suddenly slid into the grassy river scaring me! That moment, I was sure that the fisherman was its lunch! I should say that these men who find fish in these dodgy areas are certainly brave!

Lazy Crocodiles

Another very interesting feature of this place were the eerie, dense and mysterious mangroves. I noticed that they were twined thickly into each other and penetrated into the murky water where the fresh and salt water mixed. It seemed that it was almost like a playground or a recreational place for birds and insects. Despite the eeriness, it was strangely lively. I was told that in the dry months birds and smaller animals congregate here to feed and nest since the larger animals cannot break in through. They also protect during the common storm surge of hurricanes. Apart from that, I didn’t know if there were different species of mangroves or just one. It looked like it had a few other colours mixed in them, colours like red, light brown, black and white. I asked the guide and he said that there were two types. The red mangroves identified by their stilt-like roots, and the black and white mangroves which thrive in tidal waters, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Bipin & I gliding through the eerie swamps of Everglades ( The white & red mangroves are seen here)

White Iron Wood Tree seen in Everglade swamps

A tourist attraction which actually lost value in my eyes were alligator farms. I wondered what they did with alligators since their leather was banned in the country. I was curious and wanted to find out more. So, basically, these  farms are simple an exhibition of Florida reptiles and has became a quintessential Florida attraction. It simply  functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows, research and exhibits. The eggs produced by these animals are exchanged or sold to other farms to increase the number of alligators on their property! The concept of alligator farming didn’t please me but certainly educated me.

Alligator Farm

Just for an experience

The stories of the Everglades kept pouring in until we left Florida. What amused me were stories of alligator trespassing and crossing highways. People told us stories like an alligator was found swimming in their swimming pools. Alligators chilling in their backyards. There is special team of people who catch this wild reptile and release it in their natural habitat. Also, all the way through this swampy land, on roads, are signs of alligator crossing. I found the whole caution signs hilarious yet perilous.

This world of reptiles is some experience. It is a sea of knowledge about these creatures who have a tag of being dangerous and a menace to the society. As a rule, you should exercise caution around any of these reptiles. But quite unlike the impression, these creatures if unprovoked are well-behaved and laze, swim and hunt what is available in the marsh.

Into the Kilns & Furnaces – Origin of Pottery

The Gramodaya Sangh, Bhadravati

In 2009, I visited Chandrapur. A city with its vast coal mines and dense jungle of Tadoba. Along with its natural reserves, what intrigued me was a pottery barn in Bhadravati, a little town in 26 kms from rich city of Chandrapur. The Gramodaya Sangha is a centre which fabricates simple and beautiful pottery from the black soil of the Deccan plateau. During my visit, my aunt who comes from Vidharbha (east side of the state of Maharashtra) insisted upon making a trip to this place. Bipin & I being ardent lovers of any sort of art, we decided to stop by.

Bipin getting extremely excited about getting to play with clay

I know sometimes too much information of things get a bit boring so I won’t go too much into its depth but I surely think I should give credit to the late S.K. Mirmira winner of ‘Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Rural technology’ who laid the foundation of this institution in 1955, during the zenith of Bhoodan movement. Cluster of about 35-40 traditional potter families who reside in this area work on the traditional pottery. The rich red clay and good water sources helps in building high quality pottery in this deistrict.

An artisan working on shaping pots

Potters sorting out damaged pieces

It is hard to explain and define this tribal-like pottery. Its simple, yet intricate. It is colourful yet subtle. We had put aside couple hours for this place, we ended up spending almost half our day. The potters explained the process of making these pieces of art. We also got a chance to walk into a humongous furnace which was not lit at the time we visited. It was nice to interact with the locals and find out about their lives which were so closely connected to the creations of mud and clay.

Modest display of pottery

While talking to one of the artist, he told us a little story or a belief of the origin of pottery. He mentioned that since India is a land of elephants , while bathing them, they must have poured water with large clay contents on themselves. After these elephants were dried, the clay must have taken the shape of part of the elephants body which was mostly the head, where it was stuck. This might have given man the idea of using clay to make vessels for storage. Hence the name ‘Kumbha’ is related to the head of the elephant.

Postcard from Gramodaya Sangh

He also narrated the mythological aspect of pottery. He mentioned that during the wars of the Gods and demons, they decided to churn the ocean for wealth. The fierce churning yielded many precious things and among these was the nectar (also known as ‘Amrut’) which made the Gods immortal. Something was needed to hold this nectar. Vishwamitra, the celestial artificer extracted Kala or spirit from each God with which their bodies were made and moulded them into a pot. That is when the first pot was made. From the ‘Kala’ came the first word ‘Kalasa’ or water-pot.

Shaping the little jars

I was also very surprised since some of the people working at this place gave us a lot of information on origin of pottery. For example, he mentioned that ancient Egypt was the first country to prepare pottery of the highest equality. This was discovered after the excavation under the pyramids in 4000-5000 B.C. On the other hand, the Chinese ceramic was made in 200 B.C. The Tang dynasty in 1200 A.D. achieved perfection in porcelain. Numerous facts and stories were one of the treasures we carried home from this place…loved every moment of it!

The pots heading into the kilns for glazing

The Kiln

All this knowledge was showered upon us while walking through the creations. The conversation switched to more technical information on the types of kilns and ovens used. They also talked about how they try to attain temperatures without using a lot of fuel and help lower the disturbance caused to the environment. The discussion then went on about glazing products. Here he mentioned that different colours need different temperatures. For example dark red needs a temperature of 500 degress C while Orange needs 1200 degress C to change and fix its shade.

Aarti and I feeling quite bad to leave this place

It was a beautiful experience in Bhadravati to be among these potters. Not only we bought lots of pottery, we came home very fascinated with this from of art which was surely appreciated without much knowledge.

Pots on their way to kiln

Piece of Art, intricate work in Teracotta

Along the winding, rocky terrain of Hampi……

Ruins & Rocks of Hampi

Along a winding, rocky path to the Achyutaraya Temple, stories of marks of Sita’s saree falling over the rocks when Ravana abducted her in his Pushpak viman (airplane). A little cave which was believed to be Sugriva’s (the monkey warrior) home and so on, was narrated to us. All made into a fine story and located to convince that it’s all true. Every rock, boulder and stone in Hampi has a story to tell. The ruins of Hampi speaks of it’s glory and imperial majesty. 

Rocky terrain of Hampi with its numerous ruins

Story of every rock & ruin of Hampi

Located in Karnataka, Hampi is a place of its own. Huge rocks, ruins carved out of boulders, red soil makes this place inexplicable. Vijayanagara was its name, had an expanse of diamond and jewel markets, enormous mint area, the scandalous concubine trade, the prosperous temples and splurging palace was its character. It saddens to see this place ransacked by the Deccan Sultans and left to perish in the solid soil. They reduced the city to ruins and yet it shows the glimpses of its glorious past.

Pushkarni - Water source near the Krishna Temple

Apart from its man-made splendor, what impressed me were its natural rock formations created by the evolution of mother Earth. Huge and heavy boulders stand unaffected by gravity. It often makes me wonder that how did the people of Vijaynagara accomplish such a mammoth task of using these natural creations to build the city. 

The Palace & Mint Area

Locals tell us stories about existence of almost no boulders in this region. It is believed the the wind and rain swept away the soft soil exposing the hard rocky outcrops. The erosion has transformed these boulder into bizarre shapes. This continued for many thousands of years, crafting the landscape of Hampi. It looks like some one has emptied a gunny bag of rounded pebbles over Hampi resulting into the mysterious looking landscape. 

Shower of Pebbles over Hampi

These ancient people had some fascinating ways to cut rock to suit their needs. If a rock had to be cut straight, a series of holes, all in line were made on its surface. Dry wood was pegged into the plane and then water was poured over to soak the wood. Once it soaked water and its size increased, the tiny pegs made the rock crack perfectly in a straight line.

Art & technique of cutting rocks

During our visit to the ruins, I came across rock formations, thinking this one is better than the last! These rocks seemed like they float on each other or sometimes I felt they have been placed on top of each other…so humanized and yet impossible for a human to even think of! 

Natural placement of Rocks

Grand, majestic and extraordinary is the terrain of Hampi. Kudos to its riches, architecture and of course the magnificent existence of this dusty solid land. 

Me on the Rocks!

Temple built around and over the rock

Bed of Rocks