Samsung S9+ – The Camera. Reimagined. 10 Use Cases to test the theory.

Every year, Samsung and Apple and now Google (Have you heard of the Pixel 2?) and probably every other company introduce their new phone with one common sales pitch.

“It’s the best camera ever. It’s the best camera we’ve ever put on a mobile phone. It’s the camera reimagined!”

And every year, the death of DSLRs and $1000+ point and shoots is announced as imminent. The $100 – $500 point and shoots are for sure not worth it, not sure why companies even make them anymore. So this year when Samsung touted their phone as “The Camera. Reimagined.” I was intrigued. It’s been a while since I pre-ordered a phone so I pushed the shutter button on this one.

The Unboxing

S9+ unboxing

Let me start by saying The Phone felt great in my hands. This is my first plus size model and I didn’t not immediately see any difference. I guess over the years phones have been getting bigger and the incremental growth each year, has lessened my surprise. There are enough reviews of the phone itself and I agree that there is no difference between any of the phones any more. Pick an Iphone or an Android phone based purely on your ecosystem and stop arguing on which is better. They are THE SAME.

So, let’s get to the camera.

I had two big questions.

  1. Will the S9+ be better than my current S7 and justify my upgrade?
  2. Will the S9+ be better than my Fuji X100f and make me regret my x100f?

I am not going to fall for the trap and bring my DSLR Canon 5d Mk IV into the conversation because to do so is unfair to all parties involved. Let’s set the record straight and say there is no comparison. No matter how good cars get, you will not take your next Honda Accord into the Monaco racetrack.

The Comparison

Test: The Start up. There is nothing more annoying that camera start up time. When I click on the camera icon, I want to snap a photo of what I see at that instant. I don’t go around opening my camera app and hoping a photo moment comes by. So when I see the moment, I want my camera to be ready as close to the event as possible.

Samsung S9+ startup and focus time video

Samsung S7 startup and focus time video

Use Case 1: Indoor portraits. Most of the photos people like me take are of family. Indoors. S9+ was definitely better than the S7 but didn’t compare to the X100f.

Q1 Yes. Q2 No.

Night Indoors Portrait

Nighttime Indoors Portrait 2.jpg

Use Case 2: Indoor Colors. Capturing colors indoors is hard. Yes, you can go pro mode and adjust white balance but really, who does that? S9+ was definitely better than the S7 and came close to the X100f. The X100f had better colors and read the light better but I was impressed with the S9+

Q1 Yes. Q2 Hmm…

Colors IndoorsColors 4Colors 2Colors 3

Use Case 3: Food. Yes, no one wants to see what I am eating, but food is key when traveling and telling the story of that place. I can’t take out my DSLR at a restaurant but I can and do take photos of interesting and yummy food with my phone. Bhel puri – Yummy! The S9+ wasn’t that much better than the S7. This is because both of these have a specific Food Mode and I am sure there hasn’t been much change in the algorithm. The f 1.5 lens on the S9+ did help to let more light in and get more color balance but not by much.

Q1 No. Q2 n/a

Food.jpg

Use Case 4: Outdoors. Skies, Water, Reflections, Trees, Nature. What’s not to like. Basically everything you see outside, says “Take my photo!” Photo 1 shows the S9+ performing very well. Great colors, great contrast. Highlights are not blown and shadows are not dark. Sharpness is not unnatural. Photo 2 shows skies. Again doing a great job capturing the blue sky, maybe not as blue as the X100f but close. Photo 3 shows that there is some amount of curvature being added in the mobile cameras, and the clarity is less than the X100f, but s9+ again does a great job, and way better than the S7. Photo 4 shows why a camera like the X100f or a DSLR is needed. When you take photos outdoors, most often I want it to be good enough to print in large sizes. The photo show the zoomed in crop from photo 3 on the house number and you can see the difference.

Q1 Yes!. Q2 No!

Sunlight 2Sunlight 4Sunlight House 1Sunlight House 2

Use Case 5: Bokeh. How the phone manufactures managed to turn physics into a mainstream concept is beyond me. Somehow everyone knows this term, and everyone thinks backgrounds have to be blurred to make a good portrait. I’ll take the bait. The S9+ again does a great job. The face is perfectly lit, the background is blurred and all of this it does well, because of the 2nd telephoto camera in it. There is a live focus mode and along with some software wizardry it does a wonderful portrait. The S7 was dull. The X100f captured the background colors better without blowing it out. The setting sun’s light came across well. Also the face color was more natural.

Q1 Yes. Q2 No.

Blur Background

Use Case 6: Panorama. Another fun gimmick. The S9+ captured the light and colors so much better than the S7. The creek is my backyard looked beautiful and the blue house across it was blue. The sunlight was captured and the trees were sharp.

Q1 Yes.

Panorama.jpg

Use Case 7: Zoom. Gone are the days of software (Digital) zoom. Well my S7 still used it, but the S9+ has a dedicated 50mm camera, a second camera! Even the X100f had to use a digital zoom, although with a great sensor and lens. All three cameras did a great job here. The S9+ was sharp, the X100f had better colors and the S7 was close except for a more yellow tinge.

Q1 Yes. Q2 Not quite.

Outdoors 1x FlowersOutdoors 2x Flowers

Use Case 8: Selfies. And finally, the reason we all need cameras in our phones. To take Selfies! I am sure I took a lot of them with my dad’s Yashica, struggling to turn it around and hoping when the prints came from my camera shop, I captured most of my face. If only I had patented the word selfie! The S9+ has a 8 megapixel front camera compared to the S7’s 5 megapixel. Not convinced we need more pixels in the front camera, but I liked the colors in the S9+. Way more natural.

Q1 Yes.

Selfie 1Selfie 2Selfie 3

Use Case 9: Videos and Slow motion videos. Videos are a different beast. While it is getting easier to edit, store and share photos easily with friends, family and the public, videos are harder. It took my months to get the right software on my computer to even edit a video. So not great at it, or have a big interest, but with young kids and their grandparents in a different country, videos are a must. I am learning.

Q1: No.

Samsung S9+ Slow motion video

Samsung S7 Slow motion video

Use Case 10: Super Slow motion videos. A new class being introduced. Other camera phones have done it before but just like Apple can claim, that they while never first, they do it best, I think Samsung can claim that here too. 0.2 seconds seemed extremely small, but I am beginning to understand how much happens in that short time. Can’t wait to test this more. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Q1: Yes.

Samsung S9+ Super Slow Mo

Hidden Tips

  1. S9+ can take regular slow motion videos. In the Settings, go to Edit Camera Modes and in the Rear Camera, add the functionality. It will now show as a tab in your camera app.
  2. In Settings, in Picture Mode, there is now a toggle that lets you take and store both Jpeg and Raw in Pro mode. Enable it.

The Conclusion

I remember when I got my S7 and tested the camera, I was blown away. I thought for sure that it was the best camera ever on a phone and really did not think I would ever need a point and shoot again. Then the X100f caught my desire and I was addicted. Again it is unfair to compare with that too, but the S9+ tries. It destroyed the S7 in my tests, and though it doesn’t have the quality of the X100f it can, I think at times, if I forget to take my X100f with me, I won’t be so disappointed in myself.

  • Will the S9+ be better than my current S7 and justify my upgrade? 

Yes, Yes, and Yes! The camera on the S9+ is light years ahead of the S7. 2 years ago I didn’t think that was even possible but the camera has been reimagined after all. 

  • Will the S9+ be better than my Fuji X100f and make me regret my x100f?

No, Never! The camera is not quite reimagined because variable apertures have existed for years (dual in the case of the S9+). The 24 megapixel, APS-C sensor on the X100f in the form factor that makes it easy to stick it into a coat pocket makes the X100f one of the best cameras ever. It definitely is the best looking one. Good try S9+, good try. 

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Coorg – flush with lush coffee

My wife’s dad’s ancestral home is Coorg. Thus she is one part Coorg. If you ever meet anyone from Coorg, notice how proud they are of that fact. There is always a rarefied air about them, explaining why their noses are pointed up when they say they are from Coorg. Coorg doesn’t even exist anymore. It is Kodagu district, just another district in the big state of Karnataka in South India. Right after independence, Coorg Province was declared a state, and in 1956 with the  State Reorganization Act, it was merged with Mysore state and in 1973, the state was finally renamed to Karnataka.

Click here to see all photos from Coorg

Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

The allure of Coorg though is not just in its history; the geography lends itself to myth. Kodagu district is hilly and any elevation is welcome when temperatures can hit 30 C easily in the plains. The highest peaks are all over 5000 feet and when temperatures are cooler and you are standing on higher ground, it is easier to look down from the lofty heights of being from Coorg.

Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Madikeri, the Kodagu district capital is about 5 hours from Bangalore (very elastic, depending on where in Bangalore) and about 2.5 hours from Mysore. The roads are good, with national highway 275 leading you into the district. As you enter the higher ground, the lushness of the hills will pull you in. Coorg is famous for the coffee estates, with Chikkamagaluru being the second district in Karnataka. Together they grow and export some of the world’s best coffee robusta.

Coffee and Pepper Estates, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Coffee Estate, To buy photo, Click Here

Coffee and Pepper Estates, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Coffee is, also, finicky. It requires lots of shade to grow, with very specific elevation, slope and soil requirements. To help provide all of this, eucalyptus trees, with pepper vines and cardamom and vanilla are grown along with the coffee. Together these cash rich forests of coffee and spices made the Coorg people very rich and therein lies another part of the snob sum. While driving around, be sure to stop for Kodagu oranges, especially sweet and plum sized.

Fresh Oranges, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Coorg is best experienced in slow motion. There are plenty of home stays, bed and breakfasts, resorts and spas that will ensure time slows down and with the extremely spotty cell coverage, you have all the time to kill. We stayed at Kavery Estate, a few kilometers south of Madikeri, along the river bank.

Kavery Estate, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Kavery Estate

Spend the mornings in the mist, walking through dense forests teeming with birds or strolling through estates of coffee and spices and let your senses refresh.

Ask your host or hotel to make you a traditional breakfast with Akki Roti and Garlic chutney to go with it and for your other meals, plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are unique to the area.

Akki Roti, Food, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Akki Roti

Coffee seeds drying, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Coffee with the beans being dried in the sun

If staying put, with a book in one hand and coffee in another is not your thing, Kodagu district is also sacred.

Tala Kaveri Temple, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Tala Kaveri, birthplace of the River Kaveri

The river Cauvery (Kaveri) surfaces here, with Tala Kaveri as the widely acknowledged place of first sighting. A temple on the hillside capitalizes on this belief and thousands throng here to bathe in the first drops of this mighty river. The river surfaces above ground a few kilometers downstream at Bhagamandala, where three tributaries come together, gathering all the ground water from the hills and flowing as Kaveri.

Tala Kaveri Temple, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Tala Kaveri, bathing at River Kaveri’s origin

To the east of Madikeri is the Bylakuppe, home to the Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery (or Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargye Ling), the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. The monastery is home to a sangha community of over five thousand lamas (both monks and nuns), a junior high school named Yeshe Wodsal Sherab Raldri Ling, a religious college (or shedra for both monks and nuns) and hospital. Together these sites make Coorg a hot spot for tourism.

Golden Temple, Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe, Kodagu District,

Golden Temple, Namdroling Monastery, To buy photo, Click Here

Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe, Kodagu District, Karnataka, Ind

For kids, the Dubare Elephant sanctuary is worth the trip though with mixed reviews of the treatment of elephants there. It is government owned and a way for the elephants that were once used for logging to keep up with a routine.

Spices, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Pepper

Spices, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Spices from Coorg

On your way out of Coorg, find a store with the big advertising boards and buy some chocolate to compliment the coffee beans and spices. A bottle of fresh forest honey will make the trip sweet to remember.

Fresh Honey, Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

 

A weekend trip to Milwaukee; with kids

Click to see all photos of Milwaukee

Milwaukee, a city that you often don’t think of when you think of kids. After all, Milwaukee is famous for its breweries and Harley Davidson, neither particularly attractive for young kids. I could make a case for the bikes if your children are older. Milwaukee is 2 hours from Chicago, an easy Amtrak ride away or a quick road trip on I-94.

We always start our day at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The building itself is the biggest attraction, an iconic, masterpiece by Santiago Calatrava, a famed Spanish architect who also recently designed the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York City. The building has wings, with a wingspan of a Boeing 747 and it flaps. At noon, everyday, the wings fold in and then reopen magically, drawing oohs and aahs from kids and adults alike.

Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

Inside, kids can also create their own art project on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am – 4 pm. On bright, summer days, there are many fountains that add water play opportunities for toddlers on the museum grounds.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Right next to the art museum, is Discovery World, where science and water come together to enchant and activate all those curious minds. Pet stingrays, or just walk out to the pier and see the sea gulls. There is a restaurant attached, so hungry kids can fill up there too. Right across the street in the parking deck, there is the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum designed specifically for kids 10 and younger. Role playing opportunities are plenty and this is the perfect place to spend if the weather becomes chilly or if you are visiting Milwaukee in the winters.

Discovery World, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

For kids who love nature, the Domes is a great spot. Visit a desert, the tropics, see plants, insects, waterfalls, without ever leaving Milwaukee at the unique Mitchell Park Conservatory. The Domes are also home to the Winter Farmer’s Market and a popular holiday train display during the winter.

Lizard, Milwaukee Conservatory, Wisconsin

Milwaukee Conservatory, Wisconsin

Click to see all photos from the Domes

In the summer, a short walk up from the Art Museum campus is Veterans Park, Bradford Beach, Lake Park and North Point Lighthouse. Bring bikes along and the Oak Leaf Trail is great for exploring the downtown Milwaukee area.

Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country, with thousands of animals and birds and an adventure zone within where kids can zip line. Lots of interactive shows keeps the learning going and the toy train is a must for weary legs. The zoo is open 365 days a year so that’s always a bonus.

As your kids get older, ball games at Miller Park, the many festivals that Milwaukee hosts all become interesting. Food options are plenty, our favorites are Bowls, Cafe Lula and Purple Door for the ice cream.

Icecream, Purple Door, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, can either be a day trip, a weekend trip or a stop on the Circle Tour around Lake Michigan. If you want to cut across the lake and reach Michigan faster, Milwaukee is a port for the Lake Express Ferry Crossing, that uses a fast ferry to cross Lake Michigan in 2.5 hours, leaving you at Muskegon in Michigan. The Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island are all less that 5 hours from there.

Fujifilm X100F – A new romance

Sometimes a shiny new toy is exactly what one needs. 15 years ago, I bought my first digital camera, a Fujifilm Finepix 2650 2.0 megapixel point and shoot. There was something about it, the shine, the ease of use, the quality of the photo and the instant gratification of seeing the images. I was hooked.

Did you know that Fujifilm developed the world’s first digital camera? In 1988 at the Photokina trade fair in Germany, Fujifilm announced the FUJIX DS-1P, the world’s first camera to save data to a semiconductor memory card. Taken for granted today, this method of storage was revolutionary for its time and was a Fujifilm original. With its then-impressive 2 megabytes of SRAM, the semiconductor memory card could hold 5 to 10 photographs’ worth of data.

Source: FujiX DS-1P

In 2004, I bought the first Canon Digital Rebel SLR and now my go to favorite is the Canon 7D. My system has expanded to numerous lenses – wide angle, zoom, prime, attachments – flashes,filters, tripods and camera studio shooting equipment and my love for photography has grown to become a part of me. 20+ countries experienced, 30+ states explored, thousands of memories captured and suddenly early this year, I felt like I had the photographic equivalent of a writers block. I needed to simplify. The promise of a powerful smartphone camera had worn off. The adage that the best camera is the one in your hand, while true, was not inspirational. Then I saw it. I know I’ve seen the previous three versions before but this time, I SAW IT. I FELT IT. My heart raced as I started to read the reviews. I spent a night, a maniac, with the internet my slave, or maybe the other way around, reading and logically justifying my next move, though my heart had already decided for me.

I searched on Amazon and it said the camera will be in stock in a month. My Amazon Prime had failed me. B&H Photo, Adorama all said the same. Then without much hope I decided to check my local Best Buy. Jackpot! They didn’t have it in store but could get it to me in 2 days. Bought!

The doorbell rang and the package was waiting for me at the doorstep. I brought it up and as I was opening it, felt this sudden pang of guilt. Had I been too impulsive, had I just been wasteful, is this my mid-life crisis? I opened the multiple boxes and then I SAW IT. The most beautiful camera I had seen since my dad’s Yashica.

It was my very own FujiFilm X-100F. It was love at first sight. 

Unboxing…

 

First Views…

Fujifilm X100f

Fujifilm X100f

Fujifilm X100f

Fujifilm X100f

Fujifilm X100f

I’ve been using it for more than a week now, and there hasn’t been a time when someone hasn’t asked me about it, commented on how beautiful the camera looks or even where they can buy one. I added to its beauty with a retro leather cover and a hand strap. I want to hold it, I want to use it and I am finding excuses to take the camera out for a spin. I covered my daughter’s Kindergarten graduation with just this camera, instead of my usual gear of Canon 7d with a few lenses and it didn’t disappoint.

x100f

Physical attraction is one thing, very important, but there is truly only one thing that I, as a photographer, care about. The quality of the image to my eye. Over the last few days I’ve tested this camera in different shooting conditions and phew, and ooh and wow and woah!

First few photos…

First photos with X100f Summer 2017

Just a quick selfie

Wedding finery, Palatine, Spring 2017

The colors from the Indian clothes popped!

DSCF0223

On Std. Film, no adjustments

Chicago Home Spring fun 2017 (1000 of 13).jpg

Natural Portrait – Window Light

Heron takeoff

X100f – High Speed Capture

X100f vs. Samsung S7

Now let’s compare the X100-F to my Samsung S7 and see how they performed in similar conditions. Is there a big enough difference for me to take the X100f along with my phone? All photos resized to 1600 pixels on the long end.

Photo 1: X100F Photo 2: Samsung S7

Daylight – The X100f gave me brighter colors, sharper focus and better light metering right out of auto control.

Fujifilm X100f test - compare (9)

X100f

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7

Fujifilm X100f test - compare (7)

X100f

Fujifilm X100f test - compare S7 (11 of 10)

Samsung S7

Fujifilm X100f test - compare (10)

X100f Crop

Fujifilm X100f test - compare S7 (11 of 10) (2)

Samsung S7 Crop

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7 – Lightroom camera

Indoor – Incandescent Lighting

The X100f again gave me better overall exposure.

Fujifilm X100f test - compare (3)-2

X100f

Fujifilm X100f test - compare S7 (14 of 10)-2

Samsung S7

Indoor Portraits

Overall, the X100f again felt more natural, with less noise.

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7 – Lightroom camera

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f – Acros film

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7 – Lightroom camera – High Contrast B&W

Flash

The X100f didn’t add an artificial white to the photo.

Fujifilm X100f Compare

X100f – with flash

Fujifilm X100f S7 Compare

Samsung S7 – with flash

X100f vs. Canon 7d

Now let’s compare how the X100f does against the Canon 7d. The 7d is my go to camera, and I would carry it with me even when I went for walks in the Forest Preserve. Now do I still need to? All photos resized to 1600 pixels on the longest side. No post processing. Tried to match the ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and Exposure Compensation as closely as possible.

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Trail – X100f – better contrast, richer greens

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Trail – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Woods – X100f – Better contrast, Good saturation

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Woods – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Bark of a Tree – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Bark of a Tree – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Flowers – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Flowers – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Leaves – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Leaves – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Tree – X100f – I thought the Canon did better with this shot

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Tree – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Plant – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Plant – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Fallen Tree – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Fallen Tree – Canon 7d

Fujifilm X100f Compare

Portrait – X100f

Fujifilm X100f Compare - 7D

Portrait – Canon 7d

Conclusions

  1. The camera is one of the most beautiful cameras I’ve ever seen or used. And there does seem to be a consensus. Almost everyone I meet wants to know more.
  2. The straight-out-of-camera picture quality is extremely good. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to ever do any post processing.
  3. The 35mm equivalent sensor+lens is perfect. After 2 weeks haven’t missed my zoom lens.
  4. Is it worth carrying the X100f along with the phone. Absolutely! The Samsung S7, as good as it is, does not compare. For the Apple fans, I tested it against the Iphone 6s and again there is no comparison. For the record, The Samsung S7 is way better than the Iphone camera, so that test is unnecessary.
  5. It is not as easy to carry as I expected, slip into the pocket, but I’ll dangle it on my wrist for the extra quality.
  6. Is it better than the Canon 7D and can I leave the 7D at home? For most of the city, local, travel photos, Yes. For a trip to the national parks and fast sports shooting, or really fast moving children, maybe not.

Whether it your camera on the phone, the X100f, or your DSLR with interchangeable lenses, they all have their purpose. Know your specific use and pick your tool, but in most cases, picking the X100f is going to be the perfect choice.

 

Bangalore – there’s much to see if you can dust it clean

Bangalore, or it should be called now, Benguluru, is the Silicon Valley of India. In 1983, Infosys setup an office in Bengaluru and over the next 30 years, other IT behemoths and multi-national corporations made Benguluru their home. Taking the cue from earlier geniuses like Walt Disney, these companies built huge corporate campuses hoping to build communities of young graduates and catering to their every need. Bengaluru, unfortunately was not ready for the great migration. The infrastructure lagged behind and with the lack of any proper city planning, the city crumbled into one chaotic, traffic ridden mess. That is Bengaluru.

That is, however, not Bangalore. Talk to the old timers, the Kannada or Tamil speaking communities in Jayanagar and Malleswaram, the English-educated, generation x, born and brought up in Indiranagar and you will hear fond stories of a city that was cooler than any other, of a city teaming with Hawaiian like gardens, and of a city rich in culture and heritage.

This is the Bangalore, I wanted to find. Over the last few trips, I am of the belief that it does, still, exist. One just needs to weather the boring, copy cat cultures that is non-native to Bangalore and look underneath the veil.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore, Karnataka

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Buy this photo

Click to see and purchase Photos of Bangalore

Day 1:

As you know by now, I don’t do vacation without food. Start your day off, bright and early in one of the most relaxing spots in the city, Cafe Max. On the 3rd floor, of Goethe Instiute / Max Mueller Bhavan in Indiranagar, this rooftop restaurant offers perfectly crafted pancakes, omelettes and french toast along with plenty of fresh breeze and wooded tree top views.

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Cafe Max

With energy to start the day, head out to the Panch Linga Nageshwara Temple in Begur. By most accounts, and by my own research, this is probably the oldest temple in Bangalore.

Pancha Linga Nageshwara Temple, Begur, Bangalore, India

Pancha Linga Nageshwara Temple, Buy this photo

Two shrines within the temple complex, the Nageshvara and Nageshvarasvami were commissioned during the rule of Western Ganga Dynasty. An old Kannada inscription, dated c. 890, that describes a “Bengaluru war” was discovered in this temple complex and is the earliest evidence of the existence of a place called Bengaluru. The temple complex itself is undergoing major renovation with outer walls and new entrance gopurams being built, but the 1000 year old inner halls and shrines are still well preserved. The nandi mantap is a open hall with six pillars with a decorated ceiling, while the walls of the temple are sculpted with numerous scenes from folklore and mythology. The temple is situated on the banks of the Begur Lake, and while the rest of the area is very underdeveloped, especially for an area that falls within urban Bangalore, the temple complex and the lake seem to be well maintained. Sitting by the lake, or inside the temple does give you a sense of being in a different, ages old Bangalore.

Pancha Linga Nageshwara Temple, Begur, Bangalore, India

Pancha Linga Nageshwara Temple, Begur, Buy this photo

Head out to lunch, at Kebabs & Kurries (K&K) at the ITC Gardenia Hotel. Rated as the top restaurant in Bangalore by Tripadvisor, it is certainly worth a visit to taste what I regard as the most authentic tasting cuisine of north India, and probably the best Dal Bukhara outside of Delhi. Their kebabs are also very juicy and flavorful, and their breads were very well done. The desserts are simply outstanding. The restaurant is expensive, maybe even over-priced by world standards and definitely by Indian ones, but given the quality of the food it is worth visiting for occasions. Outside the restaurant, but within the hotel is Fabelle Chocolate Boutique, where you can pick up some macaroons and rich dark chocolate bars to munch on at your next stop.

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Food from K&K

What better way to digest all those calories from rich, buttery food, than to walk it off at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. Commissioned by Hyder Ali in the 18th century and completed by Tipu Sultan, his son, this is one of the most beautiful tourist spots in the city.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore, Karnataka

Moon Gate, Lalbagh, Buy this photo

The garden has thousands of species of plants, brought from all over India and the world, and serves as a migratory home to an ever increasing species of birds. With an intricate watering system for irrigation, this garden is aesthetically designed, with lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools and fountains. Most of the centuries-old trees are labelled for easy identification. The Lalbagh Rock, one of the oldest rock formations on earth, dating back to 3,000 million years, is another attraction that attracts the crowds.

Kempegowda tower, Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore

Lalbagh Rock, Buy this photo

Lovers gather here and with sweeping views of Bangalore from the top of the rock, and a colorful sunset, who can blame them.

The garden also houses a glass house, and many flower shows and exhibitions are held here each year. Bougainvillea plants adorn the pathways and go hand in hand with the colorful macaroons in your bag.

Bougainvillea, Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bangalore, Karnataka

Dinner needs to be fuss free after the fine-dining at lunch, so hit one of the chaat stalls famous in Bangalore for some mouth watering pani puri and bhel puri. Karthik’s or Delite Chaat in Indiranagar and Sri Venkateshwara Sweet Meat Stall in Jayanagar offer different experiences and different styles of chaat but equally yummy. Late night ice cream is the best kind, and so head to Corner House, a joint that is sacred to anyone independent enough to buy ice cream in the 90s in Bangalore. Death by Chocolate is the perfect dessert.

Day 2:

MTR, Indiranagar, Coffee, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Coffee in MTR

Start with idli, masala dosa and vada (if you come early enough) at the Bangalore institution Mavalli Tiffin Rooms or MTR as it is known. The location on 100 ft road in Indiranagar is quaint with good service. The restaurant has its origin in 1924 when a set of brothers from Udupi opened a restaurant serving coffee and idlis and over the next few decades, excelled at their skill. In the 50s, the cafe was renamed MTR and since then haven’t stopped serving food, and have become a household name. Anywhere in the world, MTR branded retail food products are now available.

Less than a kilometer from the restaurant on CMH road is Indiranagar’s Metro Station. This mode of public transportation is new to Bangalore, and only one line is functional, but it is a great start. If they can accelerate the pace of expansion, and increase the service, this might help lighten the traffic chaos on the roads. Take the metro one stop to Halasuru (Ulsoor).

Metro, Bangalore, Karnataka

Namma Metro, Bengaluru

350 meters from the Halasuru Metro station is the Halasuru Someshwara Temple, built by Kempe Gowda I in the 16th century and is a mixture of Hoysala, Chola and Vijayanagara architecture. Lion, Yali, Column, Halasuru Someshwara Temple, Bangalore, KarnaThere are several notable sculptures and decorative features in the complex. An impressive pillar (kambha or nandi pillar) stands near the tall tower over the gopuram. The gopuram itself is one of the most beautiful, exhibiting well sculptured images of gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology. Yali, Lino, Halasuru Someshwara Temple, Bangalore, Karnataka, InThe open mantapa consists of forty eight pillars with carvings of divinities in frieze along with detailed carvings of various animals. While the streets around the temple are crowded, the high walls of the temple, the open space within, the swaying coconut trees, the feeding pigeons, the early sunlight filtering in through the columns all lend a few minutes of silence and serenity to the mind, body and soul and in that, achieves what temples have always aspired to, an escape to find yourself.

Morning silence, Ornate Vijayanagara style open mantapa (hall),

Someshwara Temple, Buy this photo

The temple is very well preserved and large, and as a functioning temple, follows the same timings and rituals. Be sure to visit before it shuts for the afternoon.  Theresa May, the British Prime Minister visited the temple in 2016 while the Canadian Prime Minister and his wife reaffirmed their marriage vows, exchanging garlands at the temple in 2012.

Halasuru Someshwara Temple, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Halasura Someshwara Temple, Buy this photo

Take the metro a few stops further down the line to Cubbon Park. A 300 acre, green space, providing Bangalore with much needed oxygen, is the city’s equivalent of New York’s Central Park.

Monkey, Cubbon Park, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Monkey, Cubbon Park

It was created in 1870 and is home to many Silver Oak and Gulmohar trees. Monkeys visit often so watch your open food, and there is plenty of playgrounds and even a toy train to keep the kids engaged. If the season permits, boating is permitted in the lake within the park. At the entrance to the park, the Karnataka High Court building stands in bright contrast to the green trees, a stone structure in an intense red hue with Corinthian columns and a Gothic Style of architecture. It was built in 1864 A.D during British rule, and is known as the Attara Kacheri.

Bangalore High Court, Karnataka, India

Karnataka High Court

Vidhan Soudha, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Vidhana Soudha

An easy walk from Cubbon Park (or one stop on the metro) is the Vidhana Soudha, the most ambitious, imposing building in Bangalore. It is the seat of the state government, with bold letters claiming “Government Work is God’s Work” at the front of the building. It was built in 1956 by Kengal Hanumantaiya, an engineer who visited many parts of the world, drawing inspiration. Ambedkar statue, Vidhan Soudha, Bangalore, Karnataka, IndiaThe Vidhana Soudha has four floors above and one floor below ground level and is the largest legislative building in India. The central dome, 60 feet (18 m) in diameter, is crowned by a likeness of the Indian national emblem. Inside the complex is a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi while a statue of Dr. Ambedkar, points fervently forward to move the country towards progress. On weekends the building is illuminated.

Chinaswamy stadium, Bangalore, KarnatakaAnother metro stop away is M.G.Road, the nerve center of Bangalore. Many office buildings, along with restaurants, shops and galleries line this avenue, while cricket stadiums, and army clubs provide a natural boundary. Brigade Road, an entertainment district intersects M.G. Road and at the intersection is Cauvery Handicrafts, a great place to stack up on gifts. Grab a quick lunch from the many eateries on Brigade Road, and head to Bangalore Palace.

Bangalore Palace is no palace at all, at least not by Indian definitions. It disqualifies itself, having been built less than 100 years ago. In Indian Historic Time, that is nothing.

Bangalore Palace, 1862-1944, Karnataka, India

Bangalore Palace, Buy this photo

The palace was built by Rev. J. Garrett, the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, between 1862 and 1944. In 1884, it was bought by the then Maharaja of Mysore Chamarajendra Wadiyar X. The entrance fees are steep but once inside, it is easy to get lost in the regal designs. The central courtyard, open to the sky, is uniquely decorated, with balconies that hang over it. A colorful granite bench with blue ceramic tiles sits in the middle, and the rooms around it, still hold pieces of recent history. The rooms are appointed with wonderful wood furniture and the ceilings are painted in colorful motifs. The exterior does resemble a palace with turrets, and expansive gardens. The grounds are used for concerts and some of the most high profile weddings are held here.

Courtyard, Bangalore Palace, 1862-1944, Karnataka, India

Bangalore Palace Courtyard, Buy this photo

Balcony, Bangalore Palace, 1862-1944, Karnataka, India

Bangalore Palace Balcony, Buy this photo

A royal outing, deserves a royal toast, and one of the newest, hippest joints in the city, is Toast & Tonic.

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Toast & Tonic

There aren’t too many places in the city where people get dressed up in dinner jackets and sparkly short dresses, but this is certainly one. Run by the same restaurateur who runs Fatty Bao, a tasty, Asian fusion restaurant, Toast & Tonic, offers delightfully whimsical appetizers and finger licking good entrees. But the main attraction, here are the drinks. Gin is primary elixir of choice and the concoctions are artful and sweet yet potent. Men and women can both find something to entice them. It will guarantee to give you a good night’s sleep though how you wake depends on how long you stay and drink.

Day 3:

Another morning, and another ancient temple awaits. Check into Chokkanathaswamy Temple in Domlur, a Vishnu temple that dates back to the 10th century. Believed to be built by the Cholas, the temple walls are covered in Tamil inscriptions from the 13th century. Carvings and sculptures still adorn the walls, though most of the temple is now renovated. It is a small temple, quietly hidden away in a residential area, but as always, temples have a way of bringing you there and taking you somewhere else. I was searching for history and found within its walls, a moment n the present and some time to the think about the future.

                           Sri Chokkanathaswamy Temple, Chola Dynasty, 10th century, Domlur  Sri Chokkanathaswamy Temple, Chola Dynasty, 10th century, Domlur

Head across town, an Uber is best, to Gandhi Bazaar, to Vidyarthi Bhavan, a vegetarian restaurant founded in 1943. India cuisine. Masala Dosa, Bangalore, KarnatakaIt is one of the most spoken of landmarks of old Bangalore with its Butter Masala Dosa, making mouths salivate just by its mention. Mention a visit to Bangalore to any old Banglorean and you will immediately receive advice on visiting this institution. The place isn’t fancy, maybe even a little on the opposite side, but the food is made fresh, just a few items every morning, and the tables are wiped and turned over fast. Find the time to make it here.

Vidyarthi Bhavan, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

A few kilometers away is the Ashoka Pillar.

Writes Aliyeh Rizvi,  in the Bangalore Mirror, “On a wind torn evening, a group of worried men huddled around an imposing column in the middle of a crossroad near Lalbagh. They had been given the task of constructing it only ten days ago. The column was to mark the inauguration of a new suburb in South Bangalore and C. Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India was to unveil the historic stone name plate at its base the next day. Though time was short, they responded to the challenge. The honour of the company and the city administration was at stake. But now, just a few hours before the event, news had arrived that the sculptor working on the final flourishes had run away! Unperturbed, PS Ranganatha Char of Messrs Ranganatha Char&Co, Engineers, ordered for tarpaulin to shield the men from Bangalore’s temperamental weather. Work commenced by moonlight with a handy Petromax. Arunachalam, the mason, stepped in for the missing sculptor. By early morning, the inaugural Ashoka Pillar with four fierce lions was completed in time to commemorate the birth of Jayanagar on 20th August, 1948.” Read more here…

Ashoka Pillar, Jayanagar, Bangalore, Karnataka

Ashoka Pillar

Jayanagar is one of the most well planned parts of Bangalore. The roads run in crosses, a shopping bazaar lies in its center, residential colonies are broken up into blocks, schools and hospitals are all in the neighborhood and pretty gardens breathe fresh air into this still, conservative part of Bangalore. Today the outer roads of Jayanagar have become the shopping destination for traditional Indian clothing and jewelry. Sari shops like Kanchipuram Silks, Nalli Silks, newer designer fashions from Soch, Neeru’s and some of the most exquisite jewelry stores like C. Krishniah Chetty & Sons and GRT Jewellers all offer the best designs at some of the best prices. India is one of the best places to buy gold and diamonds.

X is for Xmas, Incredible India A-Z

Sacred Heart Church

Head next to the Infant Jesus Church in Vivek Nagar. The foundation of church was laid on April 18, 1969, by Rev Duraisamy Simon Lourdusamy, the then Archbishop of Bangalore. In May 1971, Rev. Fr. L. Peter after being appointed the first parish priest brought the statue of Infant Jesus from Sacred Heart Church, Bangalore and started a tent church at the site. In 1979, the church finally was inaugurated. The church is one of the most visited in Bangalore, not just by Roman Catholics but by people of all religions. Many believe that prayers here are answered, and many claim of miracles after their prayers. On Thursdays, crowds throng the church, for mass, held in many different languages. Thousands of candles are lit, and then melted away, remade and then lit again. One must believe that the concentration of prayers in this one site has some power and in that power lies one’s beliefs. 

Citrus, Leela Palace, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Christmas goodies at Citrus

End the day in Citrus, in the Leela Palace. Definitely not a palace, not even a recent one, Leela Palace is a 5 star luxury hotel, owned by C P Krishnan Nair, who named the resorts after his wife. In 2001 the built the hotel in Bangalore, with 357 rooms, inspired by the Mysore Palace and the architecture of the 13th century Vijayanagara empire, and is surrounded by seven acres of gardens, complete with waterfalls. Relaxing in the gardens sipping tea in china and biting into hot samosas it is easy to forget the congestion outside, and though old Bangalore is hidden away, finding an oasis to hide away from the new one is only a 5 star hotel away.

Waterfalls, Leela Palace, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Leela Palace, Buy this photo

Bangalore, can be difficult to navigate, with its recent non-Kannada negativity, its anti-progressive elements and the constant construction of buildings without supporting city infrastructure, all choking the residents physically and mentally but there is a layer hidden underneath the dust, and one day when the city decides to fight back and clean up, it will glisten with all its old world charm. 

Incredible India – A to Z, a month long discovery of India

In 2003-2004, as I was learning photography, I was publishing a photo a day and was part of one of the first online photography communities at Pbase.com. Photography I realized was a combination of skill, practice and passion for the subject. You can only capture what you want to see. In my case, I wanted to only see the beauty in the world. I wanted to travel to places and learn to appreciate the art, people and culture of that place. So in December 2004, when fellow bloggers asked me to do a series about my native country, India, I jumped on the opportunity. This was published in Pbase and magazines ten years ago and I am now reproducing it here.

A-Z of India

A is for Anjali, Incredible India A-Z

Anjali is Sanskrit for ‘joining hands’. This sacred hand position, called anjali mudra (AHN-jah-lee MOO-dra), is found throughout Asia and has become synonymous with images of the East. In the West, this gesture is a posture of prayer. If you are visiting India, almost all traditional greeting will be followed by this gesture with the word “Namaste.” Saying Namaste properly always makes a great first impression.

The red “Dupatta” (scarf) is made from “Bandhini” (tie-dye) and is very common in India. The word Bandana comes from the Hindi word “bandhana” – to tie.

B is for Bharatanatyam, Incredible India A-Z

Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance. Bharatanatyam is thought to have been created by the Bharata Muni, a Hindu sage, who wrote the “Natya Shastra”, the most important scripture of classical Indian dance. Bharatanatyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, “lasya”, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and “tandava”, masculine aspect. The 3 basic elements of Bharatanatyam are Nritta – Rhythm, Nritya – Rhythm with expression and Natya – Dramatic element.

The story, scene, costume, jewels, they are all a very important part of the dance. The pose Gayatri is depicting here is ‘dreamy’. It is usually used to show longing for a loved one. The dancer usually wears a “sari” made from silk during a performance or cotton during practice. The bangles are an important part of the Indian tradition and most women have many pairs of them.

C is for Chakra, Incredible India A-Z

The word ‘chakra’ is Sanskrit for wheel or disk. You will come across the chakra in numerous places in India. In the center of the Indian flag, is the Dharma Chakra depicting the “wheel of the law” in the Sarnath Lion Capital made by the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation.

Chakras are also the subtle energy channels that run through the body, located in different areas of the body. There are seven main chakras. Chakras are also used as decorations in almost all Indian homes and has a lot of ornamental value. There will be some form of the chakra adorning the walls.

D is for Deity, Incredible India A-Z

Deity – In India the predominant religion is Hinduism. Many believe that Hinduism has many gods. The truth is the scriptures speak of only one true God. The different deities are just personifications of the different forces, elements and moods. It makes it easier for the people to place faith and believe.

Every home will have a ‘Puja’ (prayer) room. These prayer rooms will contain many pictures and statues of the different deities. During different times of the year, prayers are offered to the different deities. Here in this photo is Hanuman, the god of strength during hardship. During times of difficulty Hindus pray to Hanuman to help them just as he helped Rama in the great mythology ‘Ramayana’. Hanuman is also a very wise god, and this photo portrays that.

E is for Elaichi, Incredible India A-Z

Think India, and you can almost smell the spices. Spice is a very important part of Indian cooking. This is a photo of ‘Elaichis‘ – Hindi for cardamoms. Elaichis contain a distinct fragrance that distinguishes it from the other spices. Around eighty percent of the world’s cardamoms are produced in India. There are three kinds of cardamom – black, green and white. Traditionally, in India only the black and green cardamoms are used. The flavor of elaichis are also used in many over the counter food items like cookies and ofcourse everyone’s had an elaichi flavored tea.

Botanical name: Elettaria cardamomum
Family name: Zingiberaceae

F is for Filmi, Incredible India A-Z

Filmi‘ is the Indian slang for over dramatization. India is the world’s largest producer of films. Every year almost a thousand movies are churned out and to the billion Indians this is the best source of entertainment. The stars are bigger than life, the stories are grander than fiction and the industry serves as the livelihood for millions.

‘Bollywood’, ‘Kollywood’, ‘Tollywood’, these are just some of the film industries in India. The star shown here is Kareina Kapoor, the teen queen. Some of the other famous stars are Aishwarya Rai (Miss. World), Kamal Hassan (the winner of the most number of national awards), Shilpa Shetty, the Big Brother controversial winner, and Shah Rukh Khan, the heartthrob of many of the NRI’s and young Indians. If you have the opportunity, catch an Indian film, listen to the songs, watch the action and revel in the beauty of the stars. It is all filmi. Very filmi.

G is for Gita, Incredible India A-Z

The Gita or the Bhagavad Gita is a holy book from the great epic poem Mahabharata, the largest epic. The Bhagavad Gita is the story of the warrior-prince Arjuna and his mentor and friend Krishna, a reincarnation of the God Vishnu. In the great battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna and Krishna ride out into the middle of the battlefield and as Arjuna sees his friends, teachers and relatives fighting for both armies, he is sad at the thought that he has to kill these beloved people. He turns to Krishna for advice.

Krishna counsels Arjuna on a wide range of topics, beginning with the tenet that since souls are immortal, the deaths on the battlefield are just the shedding of the body, which is not the soul. Krishna goes on to expound on many spiritual matters, the paths to devotion, action, meditation and knowledge. Fundamentally, the Bhagavad Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the ego, the little self, and that one must identify with the truth of the immortal Self, the soul, to achieve the ultimate divine consciousness.

H is for Hindi, Incredible India A-Z

Hindi, is the national language of India. This has caused quite a stir, as there are more than 20 languages in India and more than 1000 dialects. Hindi, however is spoken by the most people. Over 200 million people speak Hindi as their mother tongue. In this picture, Hindi is being written with Henna. Henna also known as Mehendi, is a plant, whose dye is used in art forms in India. During weddings, it is customary for all the women to have their hands and feet painted with henna. It is also used to dye hair. Henna is a coolant, thus is very prominent in the desert areas.

I is for Incense, Incredible India A-Z

Incense is a preparation of aromatic plant matter, often with the addition of essential oils extracted from plant or animal sources, intended to release fragrant smoke for religious, therapeutic or simply aesthetic purposes as it smolders. You light the incense on fire, and then extinguish the flame so that the incense continues to glow and smoke.

In India, there is a custom that is followed in almost every home. Every evening, at dusk, lamps are lit, the doors are opened and incense is lit. It is believed that evil spirits will come at dusk, thus lamps and incense are lit to scare them away. The reasons and beliefs might differ, but it is always nice to come home to a welcoming home in the evening.

Incredible India A-Z

Jute is a long, soft, shiny fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is one of the cheapest natural fibers, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. It belongs to the genus Corchorus in the basswood family, Tiliaceae. Jute, one of the oldest surviving agro-industries in India, has been traditionally in use for flexible packaging, specially sacks. Nowadays, the fibers are also woven into curtains, chair coverings, carpets, and trendy handbags. Very fine threads of jute are also made into imitation silk. The fibers are used alone or blended with other types of fibers to make twine and rope.

India is the largest producer of Jute. It is also the leading producer of mangoes, cashews, peanuts, pulses, sesame seeds, tea, and many spices like cardommom, ginger and turmeric. It is also a leading producer of cauliflowers, onions, rice, sugar cane, apples, bananas, coconuts, coffee, cotton, eggplants, oranges, potatoes, rubber, tobacco, and wheat. India has the world’s highest percentage of arable land to the total geographical area, in the world. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of India’s exports and still serves as the livelihood for millions of Indians.

K is for Kumkum and Kajal, Incredible India A-Z

KumKum‘ is the red dot Indian women place on their foreheads. It is believed that the red colour in Kumkum gives immunity against hypnosis. Kumkum has also taken on a symbol of marriage. During the wedding the groom places the kumkum on th bride’s forehead and at the center of the junction of the hair and forehead. He also ties with three knots a ‘Thali’, a yellow thread, around her neck. The three knots signify the acceptance of the woman as the man’s wife, the joining of the two families and an announcement of the marriage to the public. Though tradionally the Kumkum is a red dot made at home from dyes, nowadays it is available in different colors, shapes and designs as stick-ons. It adds a lot of beauty to the Indian woman.

For thousands of years in India, ‘Kajal‘, a black eyeliner has been used to highlight the lower eyelid. It is a mixture of black carbon deposits with wax, medicated ghee, coconut oil, camphor, etc. Mothers usually put Kajal for boys and girls as a symbol to protect the eye from evil. They also use it to make a black dot on the cheeks of the child to add a slight imperfection to their otherwise most beautiful child. This is called ‘Drishti’ and is again used to protect the child from evil and the jealous curses of others.

L is for Lungi, Incredible India A-Z

Lungi‘ is a very South Indian attire. It is worn by men (yes, men), mostly within the comforts of their home. In the villages, most men wear this in the evenings while relaxing. If you watch a South Indian movie, you will most likely see this pose. This is a classic pose of rowdyism, where the villain rolls up his lungi, flexes his muscles, smokes a ‘beedi’, a cheap cigarette, and gets ready to fight. The more sophisticated version of the the lungi is the ‘Dhoti’ or ‘Veshti’. This is worn by men at traditional functions. While the dhoti is mostly white and made of silk or cotton, the lungi is usually made from cotton and comes in many different colors and patterns.

M is for Maurya, Incredible India A-Z

Indian History 101 – M is for Maurya, Macedonia, Magadha, Money and Mahatma.

In the last weeks of 327 BC, the Macedonian king Alexander invaded the valley of the river Kabul, and in the next months, he captured Taxila, defeated the Indian king Porus at the river Hydaspes, and reached Punjab. He wanted to continue to the kingdom of Magadha in the Lower Ganges valley, but his soldiers refused to go any further. Alexander’s conquests had been spectacular, but he had not conquered India. In Taxila, Chandragupta Maurya had seen Alexander and realized he could raise an army too, he captured Magadha in 321 BC, and thus began one of the greatest dynasties in India…The Mauryan Empire. Chandragupta Maurya’s grandson, the great Emperor Ashoka, captured most of India and united it under one flag. However striken by the bloodshed he had witnessed he converted to Buddhism and was then instrumental in its spread.

Ashoka was a great patron of Architecture. Under his reign many Buddhist Stupas and pillars were built. The national emblem of India shown here in the coin and the wheel in India’s flag are symbols from Ashokas’s Stupas. The National Emblem of India is a replica of the Lion of Sarnath, near Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The Lion Capital was erected in the 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka to mark the spot where Buddha first proclaimed his gospel of peace and emancipation. It is symbolic of India’s reaffirmation of its ancient commitment to world peace and goodwill. There are four lions (one hidden from view), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus. At the bottom four smaller animals – guardians of the four directions can be seen: the lion of the north, the elephant of the east, the horse of the south and the bull of the west. The abacus rests on a lotus in full bloom, exemplifying the fountainhead of life and creative inspiration. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital is crowned by the Wheel of the Law (Dharma Chakra). The motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ inscribed below the emblem in Devanagari script means ‘truth alone triumphs’.

In the background is Mahatma Gandhi who was instrumental in shaping India in the 20th century and a great believer in non-violence as was Ashoka.

N is for Namkeen, Incredible India A-Z

Namkeen‘ (num keen) is the name for spicy, salty Indian snacks. Every evening it is customory for the family to get together and have ‘chai’ (tea) or coffee along with sweets and savories. There are many kinds of namkeen and they are differentiated mostly by the ingredients in them. This is a photo of Navrathan namkeen (navrathan = nine ingredients). If you visit an Indian home you will be offered different namkeens in little dishes and trays and this is usually passed around so you taste them all. You are expected to take a little in the spoon, pour it into your napkin and pass the dish around.

O is for Om, Incredible India A-Z

Om is the most powerful chant to the Hindu.

The symbol Om written in Sanskrit represents everything. The material world of the waking state is symbolized by the large lower curve. The deep sleep state is represented by the upper left curve. The dream state, lying between the waking state below and the deep sleep state above, emanates from the confluence of the two. The point and semicircle are separate from the rest and rule the whole. The point represents the state of absolute consciousness. The open semicircle is symbolic of the infinite and the fact that the meaning of the point can not be grasped if one limits oneself to finite thinking.

The chanting of Om drives away all worldly thoughts and removes distraction and infuses new vigour in the body. The chanting of Om is a powerful tonic. I believe when chanted correctly it is simply breathing in and out, breathing in during the O and out during the M. Repeated often it simply clears your lungs and makes you feel better.

Here is the most famous mantra… The Gayatri Mantra

OM BHOOR BHUWAH SWAHA,
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASAYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYAT.

Translation = Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life, Remover of pain and sorrow, The Bestower of happiness, Oh! Creator of the Universe, May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light, May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

P is for Paan, Incredible India A-Z

Paan’ is an ethnic Indian chew usually served at the end of an Indian meal and ceremonies such as weddings, receptions. Paan can be bought in nearly every street corner in India. Paan is a beetel leaf wrapped around beetel nuts, Cardamom, small candies, cloves and spices. It is folded into a triangle and eaten as a whole and chewed. It serves multiple purposes. It serves as a breath freshner, it is believed to help in digestion and it turns your whole mouth red. Though this might look bad now, in olden days women used to chew paan to redden their lips.

P is also for Peacock the national bird of India. The earrings shown here are made from peacock feathers with beads attached. The colors of the peacock are some of the most beautiful you could ever see.

Qutb Minar, Delhi

India has been influenced by many cultures through its vast and glorious history. In around 1100 AD, Islam made its way through India, and this laid the foundation for the Moghul Empire later. This brought not only a diverse religion and culture to the country but a grand new style of architecture. Domes and Minarets were built. Marble and sandstone was used.

This is the Qutb Minar. Soaring high above the Quwwatual Islam mosque is the tower Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak built in AD 1196 to celebrate the invincibility of Islam. The tower has inscribed on it, verses from the Holy Quran. The red sandstone tower of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m high, tapering from 2.75 m in diameter at its peak to 14.32 m at its base, and alternating angular and rounded flutings. It is the tallest tower in India. It is very close to Delhi, so if you are in the neighborhood, take a look. India is a Secular state and it has gained richly by being so.

R is for Rakhi, Incredible India A-Z

Raksha Bandhan is an ancient tradition. Indra (the king of the gods) was feeling depressed. At that time Indra’s wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra’s hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then this festival has been celebrated.

Through time Raksha Bandhan has taken on another tradition. Raksha Bandhan is also known as Rakhi. Rakhi has become a sacred festival for sisters and brothers. Sisters tie rakhis or the sacred thread on their brother’s arm and it is a symbol of love between them. It is a symbol to strengthen ties between them and the sister putting her faith in her brother to forever look after her. Nowadays Rakhis are decorated with soft silky threads of various colours, and also with ornaments, pictures, gold and silver threads etc. Many artists now create custom rakhis and they can range from under 10 cents to over $20.

S is for Salwar, Incredible India A-Z

‘Salwar Kameez‘ or simply ‘Salwar’ is the most common dress worn by women in India. It is made up of loose pants, a long top and a ‘Dupatta’ which is worn as a drape. Though the sari is a very traditional attire and worn by more women in South Indian, the salwar is known for its casualness and comfort.

Nowadays, with the influence of modern fashion and MTV, these clothes are become restricted only to older women and no longer worn by girls unless it’s an occasion. Most girls in India today have adopted the jeans and t-shirt look, which is sad because I think these traditional Indian clothes suit the Indian women so much better. It is ironic because sometimes you can spot more women in Indian clothes on the streets of New York than you can in big Indian cities.

S is also for ‘Shwetha‘ which means white or pure.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Taj Mahal “A white marble tomb built in 1631-48 in Agra, seat of the Mugal Empire, by Shah Jehan for his wife, Arjuman Banu Begum, the monument sums up many of the formal themes that have played through Islamic architecture. Its refined elegance is a conspicuous contrast both to the Hindu architecture of pre-Islamic India, with its thick walls, corbeled arches, and heavy lintels, and to the Indo-Islamic styles, in which Hindu elements are combined with an eclectic assortment of motifs from Persian and Turkish sources.”

—Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p223.

T is also for ‘Tanjore painting‘. Tracing its roots to the historical golden era of the early 18th century, Tanjore artwork is one of the many indigenous art forms for which India is noted. Originating in Tanjore about 300 kms from Chennai( Madras), which was the then capital of the Gupta empire, this form of art developed at the height of cultural evolvement achieved during that period. Crafted with meticulous care the Tanjore pictures are unique. What sets them apart from Indian paintings in general are the embellishments made over the basic drawings with precious and semi-precious stones as well as the relief work which gives them a three dimensional effect.

U is for Upanayanam, Incredible India A-Z

Upanayanam or the thread ceremony is the one of the most important times in a Brahmin’s lifetime. It is performed to mark the beginning of student-hood for a Brahmin. It also deems the bachelor as eligible to study the Vedas. In the ancient days the father taught his son the Gayatri Mantra, and then left him with a Guru, under his care and tutelage. The Guru taught him the Vedas (i.e.taught him to chant them in the traditional way) which in turn ultimately took him near God.

It is believed in Hinduism that the life passes through four stages or ashramas.
* brahmacharin, or celibate student
* grihastha/grihini, or householder
* vanaprastha, or stage of retirement from society (traditionally into the forest)
* sannyasin, or renunciant who breaks all social ties

It is to mark the entry to the first stage that the Upanayanam is celebrated. During the ceremony the boy is given the sacred thread comprising of three strands. These are worn by the boy throughout his life. It is worn like a sash across the left shoulder to the right hip. Before the boy is given the sacred thread, the boy is taught the Gayatri mantra. Then everyday it is the custom for the boy to recite the mantra 1001 times. Of course nowadays, no one follows the tradition though every brahmin boy is given the Upanayanam ceremony.

V is for Veena, Incredible India A-Z

Veena is a stringed instrument. It consists of a large body hollowed out of a block of wood. The stem of the instrument is also made of wood. The national Instrument of India is the celestial Veena. The Veena is associated with Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning (‘Vidya’) in Hindu mythology. Veena is also known as the Queen of Musical Instruments.

W is for Well, Incredible India A-Z

The Indian well is a very familiar sight in most homes. When we bought this house it was one of the first things that caught my eye. In olden days almost every home had a well. The well is usually about 100ft deep and provided water supply to the household. This was before homes started getting water from the Corporation. The water used to be pulled from the well using a pulley and a bucket and rope. Nowadays this has been replaced by motored pumps. The water from the wells these days are used mostly for the garden.

X is for Xmas, Incredible India A-Z

X Mas – India is a secular country. It is in our constitution. I have through this series shown the Hindu and Muslim influence in India. What better time than Christmas to highlight the importance of Christianity in India.

Christianity was brought to India by Jesus’ disciple St. Thomas in 52 A.D. He established seven churches in the Malabar district of Kerala, a south-west coastal state of India. St. Peter then came in 68 A.D. Christianity quickly spread to most of Kerala and to neighboring states. Today there are over 25 million Christians in India. There are Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. There are many different churches and the work of the Christians continues to influence and spread through India.

India is in my opinion one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Budhists, Jains, Sikhs and more all coexist and this truly makes India a very colorful and beautiful country.

This is a picture of the Sacred Heart church at the Mother Teresa Circle in Bangalore, India. Merry Christmas.

Y is for Yoga, Incredible India A-Z

Yoga has probably been one of the biggest Indian influences on the Western world. There are many clubs and organizations and people are slowly realizing the true value of Yoga. Still it has this mysticism about it and people do not relate yoga to true science. The art of yoga is truly scientific.

Yoga has its roots in works more than 5000 years old. It is believed to have been influential since the times of the Vedas. Nowadays there are leading experts and they try to spread the true art form through their disciples. Since Swami Vivekananda many gurus have tried to teach the science behind the art and this is what we must really try to understand.

The pose here is called ‘Trikonasana’ or the triangle pose.

Z is for Zero, Incredible India A-Z

The use of zero is traced to the Indian mathematician Aryabhata who, about 520 A.D., devised a positional decimal number system that contained a word, “kha,” for the idea of a placeholder. By 876, based on an existing tablet inscription with that date, the kha had become the symbol “0”. Meanwhile, somewhat after Aryabhata, another Indian, Brahmagupta, developed the concept of the zero as an actual independent number, not just a place-holder, and wrote rules for adding and subtracting zero from other numbers. The Indian writings were passed on to al-Khwarizmi (from whose name we derive the term algorithm) and thence to Leonardo Fibonacci and others who continued to develop the concept and the number.

Aryabhatta was the first to propose these two statements.
1 (or n) X 0 = 0
1 (or n) / 0 = Infinity
Both these brought a consistency to the mathematical calculations, that was not around before.

Through this series I have tried to highlight the cultural and religious diversity of India and the rich history that it occupies. However to end the series I wanted to emphasize the scientific accomplishments. From Aryabhatta to Ramanujan to Subramanyan Chandrasekhar to Amartya Sen to our president Abdul Kalam, there have been many great scientists and real thinkers. Today India is developing into a leader in technology and development and this will lead India through this century.

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31 days in December

Incredible India A-Z

Lighting the lamps

This is a very ancient tradition in India. For generations lamps are lit in the house. The types of lamps vary from household to household and in the olden days the grander the lamps the grander the status of the house. The flame in the lamp is equated to the lighting of the soul. The lamp that is being lit is called the ‘Kuthu Villake’ and has five corners, each representing the five elements. This is one of the most common lamps and you will find it in most houses. The lamp to the left is the ‘Paavai Villake’ or the lady lamp. It is a beautifully carved lamp with a very ornate base. The lamps are lit with oil and a thread called the ‘Thiri’. The thiri is soaked in the oil and then lit.

Incredible India A-Z

Kolam‘ or ‘Rangoli’ is a decorative design that is put in all Indian houses. You will usually see them before entering any Indian home. Traditionally the kolams are put not only at the entrances to houses but also on the table underneath your plate while eating, near the idols and on kitchen counters. Kolams are made from rice powder, thus it was believed that ants will come and feed of the rice powder and thus will not eat your food or enter your house. This was the original reason for putting kolams. Over the years the practice has developed into an art form with people using it to exhibit their creative side. Rangoli competitions are a common sight in school exhibitions and it requires a lot of skill to make one.

Incredible India A-Z

This is the Daily Sheet Calendar. This is a very essential calendar for many Indians. On the left is the day, date and month according to the Julian Calendar. On the right is the day, month and year according to the Tamil (Southern Indian Language) custom. Jan 1st 2004 is equivalent to 17th of ‘Margazhi’ month of the year ‘Tharana’. In the Tamil calendar the date, month and year differs from the Julian calendar.

At the bottom is more important information about the day. I have expanded that part in the photo. On the first line in yellow is the Star that is ruling on that day. Each day there is a different star and this cycle repeats. In the Indian system, the star that is ruling on your birthday is very important and has a very strong influence on your life. On the third line it simply tells you any important occasion on that day. In this sheet it says it is a new year and that it is a government holiday. On the fourth line, in pink are the times of influence of the ‘Ragu’ star. It is customory not to hold any auspicious events duing this time. In the last line is the good or lucky timings for the day and the important events are held at those times. Thus each daily sheet gives very important information about the day and helps the Indian plan the day’s activities.

The god in this picture is Lord Karthikeya.

Incredible India A-Z

A girl with flowers in her hair is common lyrics in many songs. However in India it is a tradition. Across India you will find women adorning themselves with flowers. Husbands usually buy flowers for their wives and they in turn wear them proudly. This is no longer practiced as India becomes westernized but still in all religious functions, women are expected to have flowers in their hair. The most common flower is Jasmine.

Incredible India A-Z

Blowing the conch. During the olden days when two kingdoms used to fight, when they stood on the battleground, each would announce their preparedness by blowing a conch. The Bhagavad Gita, the holy book of Hindus begins with the blowing of a conch. It is thus a sign to herald a new beginning.

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Mysore and Mandya – in search of Hoysala architecture

It had always been a wish, a plan to visit Mysore on our yearly trips to Bangalore, India. In undergrad, years ago, I had made a day trip to Mysore, but that was before my interest in history, my development of my photographic skills or my passion to promote our beautiful world. This year, with 3 weeks in India, we found the time. Mysore and the surrounding districts are filled with history, art, architecture and culture and is completely worth spending a few days in.

Click to see all Photos from Mysuru

Mysore, Karnataka, India

Mysuru, as it is now called, is 150 km southwest of Bangalore. Unfortunately, though the national highway is well maintained, getting in and out of Bangalore is chaotic and the trip can take 4 hours. 20161220_112512It is best to leave either early in the morning, or after the peak office hours in the late morning. Once out of the city limits, the drive becomes easier with free flowing traffic and plenty of pit stop facilities. We stopped in Kamat Lokaruchi, a vegetarian restaurant designed to resemble a village, and stretched our legs and quenched our thirsts with fresh sugarcane juice. A few kilometers from the restaurant is Channapatna, the Toys City, a city famous for its wooden toys. There are plenty of shops by the road side or visit the craft market in the heart of the town to pick up your handcrafted top or toy train. Sri Navaneetha Krishna Temple, Doddamallur, KarnatakaThree kilometers further, is the Sri Navaneetha Krishna Temple, or Sri Aprameya Swamy Temple. The temple houses the idol of Ambegalu Navaneetha Krishna (crawling Krishna with butter in hand), and is believed to be the only deity of Lord Sri Krishna in this pose.

The famous Kriti (musical composition or song) “Jagadodharana Adisidale Yasode” was composed by Purandaradasa, a prominent composer of Carnatic music,  in appreciation of the beauty of this idol. Listen to the song on You Tube.

Nature is God, Gopuram, Sri Navaneetha Krishna Temple, Doddamall

Sri Navaneetha Krishna Temple, Dodda Mallur, Buy this Photo

The temple is over 1000 years old, and the temple complex provides a great place to relax as it might have for many through the decades. Devotees also pray at the this temple, for the birth and well being of children.

Cave, Carving, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Gufha

Mysore served as the capital city of Kingdom of Mysore for nearly six centuries, from 1399 until 1947. The Kingdom was ruled by the Wodeyar dynasty, except for a brief period in the late 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were in power. The Wodeyars were patrons of art, culture and architecture and contributed to the growth of Mysore. We ate lunch at Gufha, a cave themed restaurant, complete with Shikari Shambu servers, and fake snakes and scorpions on the wall. The restaurant is managed by Pai Vista Hotel and is listed in the Top 10 Mysore restaurants. We didn’t have great expectations for the food but were pleasantly surprised. We started our sightseeing in Mysore, with the Mysore Palace. It is the second most visited tourist destination in India after the Taj Mahal, with over 6 million visitors a year.

Mysore Palace, Karnataka, India

Mysore Palace, Buy this Photo

Her Majesty Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, and her son, the Maharaja of Mysore His Highness Rajarshi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, commissioned the British architect Lord Henry Irwin to build a palace in 1897.

The construction was led by B. P. Raghavulu Naidu who was Executive engineer in the Mysore palace division and the palace was completed in 1912. It is clear that no expense was spared at the time, as materials were sourced from all over the world and India as each room competes with the other for grandness. The Palace also plays host to the Dasara festival with parades and performances through the entire festival period. A tour guide is recommended for the palace to learn the history of the Wodeyars as you marvel at the riches within the walls. If you visit during Dasara, you might get a chance to the see the Golden Throne, covered in 80 kilograms of gold and a royal seat that could truly win the Game of Thrones. The palace grounds is also home to many temples, and are worth visiting.

We ended the day with dinner at the Hotel Royal Orchid Metropole, built by the former Maharaja of Mysore in 1920 for his distinguished guests as a guesthouse.

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The cool winter breeze wafted into the open-air restaurant bringing with it the aromas of north Indian delights, kebabs and curries. We dined like Rajas.

Day 2: We started early, as we planned to do a day trip to ancient Hoysala temples in the Mysore district. Somanathapura is a town located 35 km from Mysore, and is famous for the Chennakesava Temple (also called Kesava or Keshava temple) built by Somanatha, a Dandanayaka (commander) in 1268 CE under Hoysala Empire King Narasimha III, when the Hoysalas were the major power in South India. The Keshava temple is one of the finest and most complete examples of Hoysala architecture and is also one of the best preserved Hoysala temples. The temple is in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and is a protected heritage site.

Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura, Karnataka, India

Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura, Buy this photo

As we entered the temple, we were greeted by numerous school kids who were all there as part of their field trip, each dressed in their school colors, and each seeming more interested in their friendships than in the imposing structure in front of them. They were young, and history only comes alive after you’ve taken care of everything else you need.

In Somanathapura, as the guide spoke and highlighted the art and architecture of the temple, history did come alive. Hoysala architecture bloomed in the 12th and 13th century. Their lathe turned columns are half engineering marvel and half magic, while their bay ceilings are art and science competing for superiority. The sqaure (interior) and star-shaped (exterior) windows are ingenious and the sculptures are full of life and stories. The temple at Somanathapura was built 100 years after the temples at Belur and Halebidu (Click to see Photos of Belur and Halebidu) and the development of their skill is clearly evident. The interior has 16 domes and each shows the progression of a banana flower in bloom. The main idols were damaged in wars, denying them to be worshiped, and thus it doesn’t get the visitors it deserves, which is a shame. Every visitor that visits the Mysore palace needs to make the hour trip to see this. 

Click to see all Photos of Somanathapura

In search of more Hoysala architecture, from Somanathapura, we proceeded 30 minutes to the east, to Talakadu, a sleepy town on the banks of the river Kaveri. Talakadu was captured by the Hoysalas from the Cholas in the 12th century. In celebration, Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana built the Kirtinarayana temple (Keertinarayana) in 1117 A.D. This is the earliest of the group of Hoysala temples in Karnataka, and it shows that while he had the temple layout and structural design mastered, he was yet to incorporate the intricate sculptures.

Sri Keerthinarayana Temple, Talakad, Karnataka, India

Keertinarayana Temple, Talakadu

Sri Vaidhyanatheshwara Temple, Talakad, Karnataka, India

Vaidyanatheshwara Temple, Talakadu

“Let Talakād become sand ; let Mālangi become a whirlpool ; let the Mysore Rājas fail to beget heirs.” uttered  Mysore queen, Rāni Alamelamma before drowning herself in Malangi.

Sand Dunes, Talakad, Karnataka, IndiaThis is the curse of Talakadu, and ever since the 16th century, the town has been covered in sand dunes, burying the temples and the Wodeyar family, against whom the curse was issued have not had an heir to the throne since. Today, many temples including the Kirtinarayana, Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples have been excavated while it is believed that still more than 30 are under the sand. A 2 km, covered path has been added for easy access to all the excavated sites, though walking on sand is not the easiest. The path also leads to the Kaveri river bank where you can dip your toes, swim or cross the river on a coracle, a round boat. The water level varies depending on the rains and how much is released to Tamil Nadu downstream.

Boatsman, Kaveri River, Talakad, Karnataka, India

Crossing the Kaveri in a Coracle

Click to see all Photos from Talakadu

Day 3: Kids love zoos. We must have visited a zoo in every city we’ve traveled to and Mysore was no exception. Zoos are also exhausting and a good breakfast is a must before heading out. The Green Leaf Food Court was perfect. They serve food through the day, changing the menu accordingly and the staff are very friendly. The Mysore Masala Dosa was just right, and one can never go wrong with a vada.

Mysore Zoo, officially, Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens was created in 1892 on 10 acres of the summer palace of Maharaja Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar, and was originally called the Palace Zoo. The zoo was originally set up by G.H. Krumbiegel, a German landscaper and horticulturist.

Mysore zoo, Karnataka, India

Mysore Zoo, Buy this Photo

The zoo opened to the public in 1902 and since then has been expanded to include many new species and even a bird sanctuary. The zoo is one of the oldest in India but also one of the best. Mysore zoo, Karnataka, IndiaThe animals are extremely well cared for, the enclosures are clean, and the layout is very easy to follow. There are lots of animals and lots of information on the animals. The entire path is 3km, and at about two-thirds of the way there is an excellent cafe. The zoo gift shop is well stocked and worth contributing too. The zoo is funded primarily by the entrance fees but there is also an innovative adoption program where patrons can contribute directly to the welfare of the animals. We spent the majority of the day at the zoo.

TIger, Mysore zoo, Karnataka, India

Tiger, Mysore Zoo

Leaving Mysore around 4 pm, we headed to Srirangapatna, a town that is completely enclosed by the river Kaveri to form a river island. The river splits into two flowing around the island. Tradition holds that all the islands formed in the Kaveri River are consecrated to Sri Ranganathaswamy, and large temples have been built in very ancient times dedicated to that deity on the three largest islands.

Water Tank, Columns, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna,

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

These three towns, which constitute the main pilgrimage centers dedicated to Ranganathaswamy, are Adi Ranga at Srirangapatna, Madhya Ranga at Shivasamudra and Antya Ranga at Srirangam.  Devotees try to visit all 3 temples in one day, starting early in the morning, upstream at Srirangapatna and ending the day in Srirangam in Trichy. The Ranganthaswamy temple is one of the oldest, with inscriptions from 984 A.D. from the Ganga dynasty, before the Hoysalas took over in the 12th century and made renovations to it. The temple is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as a monument of national importance.

Jama Masjid, Srirangapatna, Karnataka

Jama Masjid, Srirangapatna

 

Tipu Sultan Death Place, Srirangapatna, KarnatakaSrirangapatna became the de facto capital of Mysore under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The state ruled by Tipu extended its frontiers in every direction, encompassing a major portion of South India and Srirangapatna flourished as the cosmopolitan capital of this powerful state. In 1799, in the Battle of Seringapatnam, Tipu Sultan was killed within the fort of Seringapatam, betrayed by one of his own confidants; the spot where he ultimately fell is marked by a memorial.

Click to see all Photos of Srirangapatna

Maddur Vada, KarnatakaGetting into Bangalore is tiresome with the evening traffic in the city testing your end of vacation patience, but if you stop over in Madduru, and get the Maddur vada to keep you company you should be good. It is made of rice flour, semolina and maida flour which are mixed with sliced onion, curry leaves, coconut and asafoetida. All the ingredients are fried in little amount of oil and then mixed with water to make a soft dough. A small amount of dough is taken and made into a patty and then deep fried in oil until it turns golden-brown to make Maddur vada. A perfect end to a perfect getaway from Bangalore.

Circle, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Mysore is a city of circles