September 16, 2008

Jharkot village(3550m) squats under snow-capped mountains of Mustang on Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Location: Jharkot (3550m) & the Mustang mountains from Muktinath on Annapurna Circuit, Nepal (28°49'5"N 83°50'56"E)
Date: 12 April 2000; 10.45am
Camera: Canon EOS 500N (analogue) on slides and scanned

This is the view that greets trekkers coming down the (somewhat dreaded) ThorungLa on the Annapurna Circuit after the beautiful Muktinath Valley. Jharkot is a small village dwarfed by the awesome snow-capped mountains of Daulagiri and the Tukuche peak. It is in the Mustang district which for a long time was closed to foreigners; as Mustang was a base of Tibetan fighters against the Chinese rule during the early days of the Chinese "liberation of Tibet". It is now possible to trek into Mustang with special permits arranged and guided by trekking agencies.

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September 11, 2008

Atmospheric boulder ruins of Hampi, Karnataka

Location: Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, India (15° 20′ 9″ N, 76° 27′ 39″ E)
Date: 28 November 2005; 5.00pm
Camera: Canon Ixus iZoom

Hampi in Karnataka is located in the ancient city ruins of Vijayanagara, capital of the 12th century empire of the same name. It is an important religious centre over the ages with the Virupaksha Temple being considered the most sacred. It is fully intact among the surrounding ruins and are still used in worship. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Virupaksha.

The village and the surrounding ruins is in an atmospheric setting with huge boulders strewn all over the ruins, in any direction one look. Some of these boulders and rocks are quite beautiful, being eroded over the years by the elements. Amongst such rocks are various ruins including carvings on rocks.


September 8, 2008

Devatas on the walls of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Location: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia (13° 24′ 45″ N, 103° 52′ 0″ E)
Date: 10 November 2002; 10.40am
Camera: Canon G1

The temples of the Angkor complex are replete with over a thousand images of apsaras and devatas. Both are supposedly minor female deities; whilst the apsaras are normally in dancing pose, the devatas are more demure and in welcoming pose. These carvings can be found all over the temple complex- on base reliefs, walls, pillars and doors. Devatas are supposedly guardian spirits, custodian of the religious shrines.

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September 4, 2008

Mantras inscribed on mani stones and yak skulls, Tibet, China

Location: Near Reting Monastery north of Lhasa, Tibet, China, (30° 6′ 23″ N, 91° 12′ 18″ E)
Date: 22 April 2003; 5.06pm

Camera: Canon G1
Tibetans inscribed Buddhist mantras such as 'Om Mani Padme Hum' and imagery on mani stones and deposit them in thousands of sites such as temples, road junctions, mountain passes, riversides, bridges and other sites that are imbued with spiritual essence. They are also symbols of worship and thanksgiving. Sometimes skulls of yaks are also inscribed with such mantras and added to a pile of mani stones to reinforce its power to protect people from natural disasters and evil forces. It is also very common for Tibetans who chance upon such religious piles to circumambulate them as a display of their religious piety and devotion. Such practices can be seen in many of the countries in the Himalayan region that practiced or had practiced Tibetan Buddhism such as Tibet proper, Nepal, the Ladakh and Sikkim regions of India and Bhutan.

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September 3, 2008

Slideshow for Sept


September 1, 2008

Mist Transforms Cemoro Lawang Into A Dreamland, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java

Location: Cemoro Lawang village, East Java, Indonesia (7°59'7.19"S 112°59'9.64"E)
Date: 16 July 2008; 7.30am
Camera: Canon 400D with Sigma 17-70/f2.8-4.5

The volcanoes of the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park in Indonesia is really quite a surreal place. The landscape of the caldera and the views of the smoking volcanoes are like something from Mars (not that I have been there before). However equally impressive are the panoramic views across the other volcanoes and mountains to the north, away from the main Bromo-Tengger-Semeru group. Furthermore, like Indonesians in most parts of the country, the Tengger people of Cemoro Lawang (which sits on the rim of the Bromo caldera) and the surrounding villages are super-friendly. It is a delight to wander around the villages and soak in the rural serenity.