Laze

A journey through India is never complete for me without stopping by in Kolhapur. It’s a shame that I had a 3-year gap from the last visit to this one. Happily, not much has changed in our neighbourhood, except for the addition of many new neighbours. The lake is still visible from the terrace, and plenty of birds to be sighted and identified. 2 out of 3 was not bad for me (identifying birds… ahem… not my specialty).

First, I had to drive out to the Khidrapur temple (or Kopeshwar temple, as it is known), a 7th? 12th? century, ancient site that has been on my wishlist for a few years now. Baba told me about the design of the temple: how the natural light is gradually cut from the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum which is completely windowless. The idea being, your eyes gradually get used to the darkness, and at the most sacred spot you can feel one with God, with no further need for external light. However, the Archeological Society of India has put a dampener on this experience with strategically misplaced tube lights. Plus, the guard at the entrance prohibits photography inside, simply as a show of his power, I guess. The temple is beautiful, and atmospheric, and some other lucky people have made nice pictures in their blogs here.

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Besides the odd outing around town, there’s nothing better to do at home than loll around, breathing the fresh air, and walking down to the lake. Which was made even more fun this time with my uncles and aunts visiting, and college friends driving down from Pune to spend a weekend together.

There’s a happy family portrait from that time sitting in my camera chips somewhere. I must shake off the laziness and put it up one of these days.

 

Photo tour Bahireshwar

My India trip has been as hectic as I imagined, but with a new book released on the heritage of my hometown of Kolhapur, I had an impetus to explore and shoot. We narrowed down our short list to the village of Bahireshwar, just 20 odd km from home. The challenge was to get out of home in the wee hours of the morning; challenging because there are 5000 chores to be done before midday, and my crazy wishlists send that well-oiled machinery into a spin.

After a couple of false starts and changed plans, we finally managed to set out early Friday morning. The main attraction of this village is a temple built in the middle of a pond. We took the route along Rankala lake, and the landscape changed as soon as we got out of the big city into the tree-and-sugarcane-fields-lined road into the villages. Naturally, I wanted to stop and gush. Driving on a narrow road, my first opportunity to stop was at this picturesque bridge.
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There was a curious ruin of an ancient idol in the water that we couldn’t stop to investigate because we hadn’t even reached Bahireshwar yet.
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Plenty of people to ask for directions along the way, and we still ended up at a different temple dedicated to Mhasoba.
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Some questions and answers later, we were charting a path through the heart of the village, to the famed pond and temple. What a sight we were greeted with! If I ever wanted a genuine rural experience, this was it.
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A backdrop of verdant hills, pristine water, blooming lotuses, kids splashing about, the odd buffalo, and a tiny temple the centre of attraction, with a proper modern bridge to cross over. This temple is dedicated to the reclining Vishnu, and that is all I know about it.
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Once we had our fill of the view, we headed back home, first stopping in the village for a photo walk and a bit of shopping. We bought 2 beautiful ghongdi, which are a coarse blanket/rug used by villagers to keep warm that softens over time. The local children had their share of amusement, escorting me from one house to another, inviting me to their homes for tea, and offering me numerous photo ops along the way.

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All this excitement before 9 am, and we were all set for a sumptuous breakfast of Phadtare’s misal and solkadhi.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning

“Good morning!”, said the spider, when I set out today, “you’re late; I’ve been busy weaving all night.”

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“Good morning!”, said the early bird, “it’s time for my flight, and I have a worm to catch.”
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“Good morning!”, said the wild flowers, “Aren’t we glowing today?”
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“Good morning!”, said the pond. “I have a meeting with the lake.”
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“Good morning!”, said the fields, “can you hear the peacocks?”

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“Good morning!”, said the blue butterfly, “I can’t stop and chat”, and flitted away.

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“Good morning!”, said some more flowers, big and small, “who’s the prettiest of us all?”

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“Good morning!”, said the red dragonfly, “I’ll pause and pose if you can capture my beauty, colours, wings and all.”

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“Moo”, said the buffalo, “My turn to dip in the lake; it must be a good morning somewhere in the world!”

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Kolhapur of our youth, revisited

I’m still recovering from a harried, hectic trip to India, and the blogging mood has stayed safely away until now.

This was not a fun trip (sorry family, it really wasn’t), except for a couple of weekends in Bangalore, but we did manage to accomplish much in the area of various paperwork, license renewals, annual health check ups, so it was definitely worth the effort.

There were a few interesting, eye-opening moments, especially when I got down to one project commissioned by my friend, Rupali, to photograph some of the places in Kolhapur where we grew up. Here goes:

1. Dafle House still looks pretty, but all the open space around it is gone, sadly.

 

 

2. Rupali, this was the lane to your home. The house has disappeared, replaced by a colony of boring apartments. Oh, and there’s a Fabindia right outside this lane!

 

3. Our esteemed school, nothing changed, not one thing! The same old buildings, that little room next to the headmistress’ office, with a photo of the first batch of girls that graduated Class X, brought back memories of why exactly I hated school. All our teachers have retired, and I was just about ‘permitted’ to take a couple of pictures.

 

4. This seemingly pointless spot is Dabholkar Corner, one of the places that has changed almost completely. See that blue & yellow building on the left? That’s were we had Treasure Island, our favorite library in a shack, now a hotel or office, I don’t care what.

 

 

 

5. Aditya Corner at Tarabai Park – didn’t we spend hours milling around here – Rupali, Zeenath & I? There was a video rental too, which has given way to a sweet shop.

6. Just around Aditya corner, there used to be a Pop’s corner, where we had ice-cream floats occasionally. Now there are apartments, a bunch of cafes, and a big garbage dump across the road.

 

 

7. One of the sweet spots – the badminton court. This area has Vivekanand College just down the lane for many years now, transforming it from a sleepy lane to wild buzzing activity.

 

8. Castle. Need I say more?

I missed Rajaram College in this trip, but promise to add that sometime soon!

Shopping frenzy: Kitchen towels?!?

For longer than I can remember, our #1 shopping destination in Kolhapur is Sarda (for linen – bed, bath & beyond!). In the past, we made skirts out of tablecloths, then moved on to hoarding bath towels and other linen, for the price of nothing. Not just Reva & I, this place is a must-do for all cousins, aunts, some discerning friends, even random visitors. Lately, Reva’s started me off on a kitchen towel fetish. Can you blame us for loot that looks this good?

 

Heritage drive in Kolhapur

Kolhapur may not be on top of anybody’s list of touristy places in India, but it can hold its own with its architecture, unique cuisine, shopping, and if there’s time,  blessings from Mahalakshmi.

I had a hectic trip to Kolhapur this time, most of it spent at the fitness clinic with Reva, followed by Khau Galli (for bhel, kutchhi dabeli, and other sinful stuff) or Natural’s icecream. We binged to our heart’s content before the ‘sentence’ (diet plan) was pronounced. The one day that we had no clinic agenda we planned a phototour around some of the elegant heritage buildings of Kolhapur, with Baba and Bhaskar Ajoba in tow.

We kicked off our tour soon after sunrise, at Panchganga Ghat and Shiva Mandir.

Next stop: A couple of old churches, one very close to my school (Holy Cross Convent)

The Scout & Guide building has been unfortunately renovated (in the opinion of our in-house architects – Reva & Baba) by totally taking away its heritage character.

Quick sightings of New Palace and Vishalgadh Palace from a distance.

Last stop on the tour: Town Hall and some surrounding buildings (CPR Hospital & Court)

Being Gardes, the only thing on our mind throughout the trip was Phadtare Misal for breakfast, that made us zip through our trip. Needless to say, the misal didn’t disappoint!