At 72.5 mts, Qutub Minar is the tallest Minaret in India. With a base diameter of 14.3 mts that tapers to the top at 2.7 mts through 379 steps, this architectural wonder was built way back in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak out of red sandstone and marble. It has intricate carvings and verses from the Quran. A bird’s eye view of the city of Delhi can be had from atop this tower. It a ‘must see’ in the list of any tourist itinery and never fails to immerse the viewer in total awe.
The “Aayiram Kaal Mandapam” or Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars. The hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar in 1569 and it is a structure where the engineering skill and artistic vision are blended. Ariyanatha Mudaliar was the prime minister and general of Viswanatha Nayak, the first Nayaka of Madurai (1559–1600). He was also the founder of Poligar System, the quasi-feudal organization of the country, which was divided into multiple palayams or small provinces and each palayam was ruled by a palayakkarar or a petty chief. At the entrance of the hall the statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar seated on a horse-back is present, which flanks one side of the entrance to the temple. The statue is periodically garlanded by worshippers. Each pillar in the hall is a carved monument of the Dravidian sculpture. The more prominent among the carved figures are those of Rati(wife of Cupid), Karthikeya, Ganesha, Shiva as a wandering mendicant and endless number of yalis(mythical figures of lions). There is a Temple Art Museum in the hall where icons, photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of the 1200 years old history of the temple is displayed. Just outside this hall, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note.
The Sadras Fort or Sadhurangapattinam situated near the Kalpakkam power plant near Chennai is a historic 17th Century Dutch Fort. Although small in size it houses what seems to have been a granary and has a cemetery and gallows. It was established by the Dutch for commercial purpose of export and was a center famous for its finely woven muslin cloth. It was subsequently taken over by the British.
Gingee Fort also known as Chenji or Jinji is situated about 160 Kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India. Dubbed as “Troy of the East” by the British, it was considered to be one of the most impregnable forts in India. Built at a height of 800 feet, it encompasses three hills and is protected by a 80 feet wide moat. It once housed an eight storey Kalyana Mahal, granaries, prison cells, a gymnasium and a temple. It was declared a National Monument in 1921 and is one of the much sought after tourist spots in Tamil Nadu that speaks volumes of the architectural splendor of the by gone era.
Any reference to the famous Gingee Fort in Tamil Nadu is incomplete without a reference to the famous shrine of Lord Ranganatha situated on the Singavaram hill. The temple is visited by both Hindu and Jain pilgrims since it is believed that it was once the seat of Jainism, the presence of plenty of large Jain rock cuts and monoliths bearing testimony to this.
Lord Ranganatha can be seen in a reclining posture on the serpent. It is believed that the original image of Lord Ranganatha from Srirangam was brought and hidden here during the invasions of the muslim ruler Malik Kafur. There is an underground tunnel that connects the temple to the fortress in the adjoining hills and Raja Desingu is said to have frequented the temple unnoticed through this passageway.
This is an amazing view from the Amphi Theater of the Art of Living Campus in Bangalore set against the lovely blue sky. The setting sun creating a riot of colors across the sky giving it a mystical effect – perfect in keeping with the mood of the people present there to hear a spiritual satsung. The colored lights from the building adds to the ethereal mood.