Guwahati on the Brahmaputra

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What was to be a day spent at Guwahati  to get a permit to visit Arunachal Pradesh turned into 3 days; thanks to elections, government offices were closed. We finally left without getting the permit as we were told we could get it at Tezpur instead, which was a better place to be hanging around! Parts of the city are quite pleasant to walk around with huge old buildings and trees lining the avenues, and plenty of birdlife. Things have a somewhat worn air, but pleasantly so.

The mighty river seems to make its presence felt even when not directly visible, and on one of those lazy 3 days we took a ferry across it to Peacock Island to see the golden langurs, a bigger attraction to us than the temple. They are quite beautiful, gentle looking creatures, and somewhat shy. It’s also known as Umananda Island after the temple originally built in the 1600s, then rebuilt in the late 19th c after earthquake damage. This is the smallest river island in the Brahmaputra.

This was a relatively relaxed part of the trip compared to the days that were to follow! Never squeeze in too many places, too far apart in a short time- I prefer to unwind and enjoy a place than rush through seeing as many things & places as possible. Fortunately, my travel companions now agree with me on that as well!

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And I just realised I still have a whole lot of incomplete sketches from Tezpur as well as Bomdila, Arunachal ahead. Hopefully they will be completed and up sooner rather than later ­čś«

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The Five Rathas (Mahabalipuram)

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Post morning sunburn (spent sketching the Shore Temple), we had an OK breakfast of omelettes and toast- the eggs were a bit under-cooked, ugh. Of course we did have a pre-breakfast breakfast? at a South Indian restaurant earlier that morning. But after the 2nd meal, it was onward to the 5 Rathas.

I really don’t advise serious visitors to go on a Sunday, the place was literally crawling with people, and like I may have mentioned in my previous post- the kind who clamber all over the monuments, which offends every sensibility. These are 1400 yr old structures, have a modicum of respect. Fortunately, an artist can eliminate unsightly crowds from a picture unlike a photographer!

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This is hewn out of solid rock to form 5 free-standing monoliths and I love the way the base rock is left raw, so the structures practically grow out of them, Despite the name, there is no historical basis of association with the Pandavas. They were excavated during the reign of Narasimhavarman I and are the earliest monuments of their kind in the country. The variety of super-structures indicate the many types of designs and roofing patterns used at the time.

The first temple from the north, named after Draupadi is actually dedicated to the goddess Durga. Dharmaraja Ratha, the southernmost is also the highest revealing that the rock sloped from south to north. There is also a large monolithic elephant sculpture (seen to the right of the 1st ratha).

There’s plenty more to see in Mahabalipuram like Arjuna’s penance, and numerous temples around it, but crowds and time didn’t permit anything more than rushing through them without being able to really take it all in. Oh well, I guess that calls for another trip there at some point.

Evening at Mahabalipuram

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I’m finally getting around to uploading another of the Mahabalipuram lot- sadly only having one complete day there didn’t permit too much time to sketch ­čśŽ

Here’s where I spent most of my time hanging out, in between trudges to various sights- the food and ambience was great, and I’d sit here with smoothie or sandwich adding colour to┬ámy sketches. The small area of town where all these guest houses and cafes are clustered is pretty clean, it’s nice not having constant traffic all around. You don’t realise how relatively silent a place can be until you DON’T hear the incessant sound of honking!

The food at most places here is pretty good with a helluva lot of seafood- yum yum!

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Sheesh- just realised it’s almost 2 months already since this happened- (hopefully) time for another trip soon.

Temple on the shore

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A few weekends ago, on a work trip to Chennai, it seemed a good idea to visit Mahabalipuram, only 50-60 km away, I’d only seen it in passing before but I was fascinated by the architecture, so different in style & scale from the typical South Indian temple┬átype. Like many parts of Tamil Nadu, it has an ancient history, and was known as a sea port at least 2000 years ago. Most of the structures were built in the Pallava era of Narasimhavarman I in the 7th c. AD. The Pallava line ruled from Kanchi nearby for nearly 400 years and played a major role in the development of art, architecture and culture here. Buddhism & Jainism flourished here as well.

The town itself has a pleasant laid-back feel, old courtyard houses lining the narrow streets converted to guest-houses now, and cafes where you can get all sorts of fare from banana pancakes to seafood. It was particularly relaxing with the monsoon rain making the weather pleasant. I spent Sunday morning sketching the Shore Temple with it drizzling around me and barely noticed when the sun came out and ended up with a sun-burnt neck & arms for my pains- Ouch! I think it was worth it though!

The Shore Temple, dedicated to Shiva is pretty much the main attraction here, it used to be partially submerged by the sea for centuries, but now a retaining wall is built and a stand of casuarina trees as wind-breaker planted. Sadly damage has already been done by sea water and wind to the sculpture. The scale is very much human with narrow spaces sometimes in the perambulatory paths. The 2nd shrine is dedicated to Seshasayi Vishnu. There is a pretty large courtyard with rows of Nandi sculptures.

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I’m finally using my water colour markers and I absolutely love them, I couldn’t get enough of them. This was my first attempt with using them.

More Cherrapunji the (once) wettest place on earth

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More butterflies in Cherrapunji, the magical┬átea shop along the way (where I bought some locally made organic honey) run by the sweetest little old lady. I wish I could’ve grown roots there like the bridges. This is why we travel- to recreate that feeling of timelessness over and over again, the feeling of being alive in that moment and no other and everything else just drops away.

We spent the evening wandering around lower Sohra, where this little church was one of many gems discovered.

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More traveling in the ‘North-east’

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After a long, long (much toooo long!) break, I’m back with this. And I have another few already done, so ready to be posted, and another few getting done!

Even though work is supposed to be creative as well, somehow I end up being less creative when I get busy, and art suffers in the process. After a trip to Singapore a couple months ago where I bought yet more art supplies (haven’t used them yet), I figure I need to put them to better use.

Getting back to the post, this was my favourite part of this trip, it just blew me away- the vast open spaces, the little not-quite town with its quaint churches. It almost seems to have more churches than people. Sadly, the (now second-) wettest place on earth was bone-dry when we visited. On the long path to see the living root bridges, I saw more butterflies in a single place than I’ve seen in all my life put together, and I couldn’t get enough of their gorgeous velvety brightness.

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Projects: Renderings

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Been a long time since I’ve bothered about blogging, and I have plenty of incomplete stuff which can’t be posted. Decided to do a PG course in bamboo technology and I’ve been mostly busy with that, but more on that later. In the meantime, I figured it would be nice to start posting some early work- sketches & renders of project work.

These are for a residential interior project, which didn’t fructify (that’s the case for the large no. of them, incidentally!) For projects like these I have to very quickly, usually in a day or 2, turn out a presentation, so it has to look decent and can’t be too fancy.

These views depict the master bedroom, one of the living room walls, and the ‘entertainment/ family area.

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