Shore Temple of Mamallapuram

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This card came as a surprise from Amit. 🙂

The Shore Temple (built in 700–728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.

As the Shore Temple was initially identified as part of the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram, an ancient Hindu legend referred to the origin of these pagodas in mythical terms. Prince Hiranyakasipu refused to worship the god Vishnu. The prince’s son, Prahlada, loved and was devoted to Vishnu greatly and criticized his father’s lack of faith. Hiranyakasipu banished Prahlada but then relented and allowed him to come home. Father and son quickly began to argue about Vishnu’s nature. When Prahlada stated that Vishnu was present everywhere, including in the walls of their home, his father kicked a pillar. Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the form of a man with a lion’s head, and killed Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada eventually became the king, and had a son named Bali. Bali founded Mahabalipuram on this site.
Myths also mention that Gods were jealous of the architectural elegance of the monuments of Mahablipuram, and as a result they caused floods to occur, which submerged most parts of the city, except for a few structures that are seen now.

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Kathakali dance

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This card, picturing a Kathakali dance, came as a surprise from Som. 🙂

Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in the area of southwestern India now known as the state of Kerala. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers take various roles in performances traditionally based on themes from Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

One of the most interesting aspects of Kathakali is its elaborate make-up code. Characters are categorized according to their nature. This determines the colours used in the make-up. The faces of noble male characters, such as virtuous kings, the divine hero Rama, etc., are predominantly green. Characters of high birth who have an evil streak, such as the demon king Ravana, are allotted a similar green make-up, slashed with red marks on the cheeks. Extremely angry or excessively evil characters wear predominantly red make-up and a flowing red beard. Forest dwellers such as hunters are represented with a predominantly black make-up base. Women and ascetics have lustrous, yellowish faces.

The Pink City

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The last one of Smitha’s cards pictures some of the main sights in the city of Jaipur. Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India. It was founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, after whom the city has been named. The city today has a population of 3.1 million. Jaipur is known as the Pink City of India.

Top left: Jal Mahal (meaning “Water Palace”) is a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city. The Jal Mahal palace is considered an architectural beauty built in the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture (common in Rajasthan) providing a picturesque view of the lake, and the surrounding Nahargarh hills. The palace, built in red sandstone, is a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed.

Top right: City Palace, Jaipur, which includes the Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal palaces and other buildings, is a palace complex in Jaipur. It was the seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur, the head of the Kachwaha Rajput clan. The Chandra Mahal palace now houses a museum but the greatest part of it is still a royal residence. The palace complex incorporates an impressive and vast array of courtyards, gardens and buildings. The palace was built between 1729 and 1732.

Bottom left: Hawa Mahal (“Palace of Winds” or “Palace of the Breeze”), is a palace in Jaipur. It was built in 1798 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, and designed by Lal Chand Ustad in the form of the crown of Krishna, the Hindu god. Its unique five-storey exterior is also akin to the honeycomb of the beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas that are decorated with intricate latticework. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict “purdah” (face cover). Besides this, the lattice also provides cool air caused by the Venturi effect (doctor breeze) through the intricate pattern and thereby air conditioning the whole area during the high temperatures in summers.

Bottom, in the middle: Raj Palace is Jaipur’s formal royal residence and now functions as a hotel.

Bottom right: The Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period. It has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Gadisar Lake

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Another card from my big swap with Smitha. 🙂

Gadisar Lake is one of the most important tourist attractions in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, North India. Its charm lies in the fact that it was the only source of water for the Jaisalmer city in the olden days. A manmade reservoir, the Gadisar Lake in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan was constructed by Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of Jaisalmer. In the later years Maharaja Garisisar Singh rebuilt and revamped the lake.

Nandi

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This card came from Smitha. 🙂

Nandi is the name for the bull which serves as the mount (Sanskrit: Vahana) of the god Shiva and as the gate keeper of Shiva and Parvati. This particular Nandi is located at the top of Chamundi Hills, close to the palace city of Mysore, Karnataka. It is about 350 years old. This is the third largest Nandi statue in India – the statue is about 16 feet high and 25 feet in length.

Narasimha stone statue at Hampi

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This is one of the 4 cards I received from Smitha from India. 🙂

Narasimha is an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu and one of Hinduism’s most popular deities. Narasimha is often visualised as half-man/half-lion, having a human-like torso and lower body, with a lion-like face and claws. (If I have to be perfectly honest, I think it looks more like a frog, not so much like a lion.) This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaishnava groups. He is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need.

This particular statue is located in Hampi – village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.