Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Temples, Temples and More Temples

My time in Mysore is quickly drawing to a close and I wanted to share some of the sights I've seen around here in the past few weeks. (And by sights, I really mean temples). It seems that just about everywhere you go there is some fantastic, 13th-century, stone carved Hindu temple. Savithri told me that there's a saying that in some places in India, culture and religion are so ingrained into the earth that it's said a rock can recite a poem. I believe it.

Places like the Ramakrishna Ashram right down the road from me, where I spent a few contemplative hours:

Bandipur National Park:

The park is one of India's best known protected areas and Tiger Reserve. Although I didn't see any tigers while there, the peacocks and elephants were pretty spectacular.

Gopalaswamy Temple in the hills surrounding Mysore:
This temple is located at the highest point of Bandipur National Park and is dedicated to Gopalaswamy (one of the names for Krishna).

With a woman I met on the bus who wanted a photo together.
Wild elephant spotting on the way back down.

Temple at Biligiriranga Hills:

Srirangapatna Temple, Narashsimha Swamy Temple and the nearby convergence of three sacred rivers:

My personal favorite. I took a day trip with Savithri and Natarajan to see this. It was built in 1268 by the army commander Somanth. Due to a Muslim invasion in the century that followed, most of the statues and carvings now have their noses missing (symbolically thought to make it so that the Hindu deities can't breathe).
The Middle panel shows a naming ceremony (the pregnant woman is in the center, and the cradle to her left).

Bylakuppe Golden Temple:
Bylakuppe is a Tibetan settlement about 2 hours outside of Mysore. The area was initially established as a place for Tibetan refugees in 1959 and today there are about 50,000 Tibetans living there. I visited with my friend Pushpa (the wife of a professor I was interviewing for my project) and she showed me around the gorgeous Buddhist temple.
There is so much to see. (Excuse the photo overload).

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