During 2013 I was travelling at the later end of a Year across Central Asia and SEA. Whilst in Laos which I covered extensively up in the North near Sam Nuea I visited these Menhirs. I hope you enjoy seeing them too?
Shah Jahan was a member of the Mughal dynasty that ruled most of northern India from the early 16th to the mid 18th-century. After the death of his father, King Jahangir, in 1627, Shah Jahan emerged the victor of a bitter power struggle with his brothers, and crowned himself emperor at Agra in 1628. At his side was Arjumand Banu Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal (“Chosen One of the Palace”), whom he married in 1612 and cherished as the favorite of his three queens.
Did You Know? According to one gruesome (and most likely sensational) story, Shah Jahan had his minions cut off the hands of the Taj Mahal’s architect and his workers after the structure was completed, ensuring they would never build another of its kind.
In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal died after giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. The grieving Shah Jahan, known for commissioning a number of impressive structures throughout his reign, ordered the building of a magnificent mausoleum across the Yamuna River from his own royal palace at Agra. Construction began around 1632 and would continue for the next two decades. The chief architect was probably Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, an Indian of Persian descent who would later be credited with designing the Red Fort at Delhi. In all, more than 20,000 workers from India, Persia, Europe and the Ottoman Empire, along with some 1,000 elephants, were brought in to build the mausoleum complex. Design and Construction of the Taj Mahal Named the Taj Mahal in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was constructed of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones (including jade, crystal, lapis lazuli, amethyst and turquoise) forming intricate designs in a technique known as pietra dura. Its central dome reached a height of 240 feet (73 meters) and was surrounded by four smaller domes; four slender towers, or minarets, stood at the corners. In accordance with Islamic tradition, verses from the Quran were inscribed in calligraphy on the arched entrances to the mausoleum, in addition to numerous other sections of the complex. Inside the mausoleum, an octagonal marble chamber adorned with carvings and semi-precious stones housed the cenotaph, or false tomb, of Mumtaz Mahal. The real sarcophagus containing her actual remains lay below, at garden level.
The rest of the Taj Mahal complex included a main gateway of red sandstone and a square garden divided into quarters by long pools of water, as well as a red sandstone mosque and an identical building called a jawab (or “mirror”) directly across from the mosque. Traditional Mughal building practice would allow no future alterations to be made to the complex. As the story goes, Shah Jahan intended to build a second grand mausoleum across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where his own remains would be buried when he died; the two structures were to have been connected by a bridge. In fact, Aurangzeb (Shah Jahan’s third son with Mumtaz Mahal) deposed his ailing father in 1658 and took power himself. Shah Jahan lived out the last years of his life under house arrest in a tower of the Red Fort at Agra, with a view of the majestic resting place he had constructed for his wife; when he died in 1666, he was buried next to her. The Taj Mahal Over the Years
Under Aurangzeb’s long rule (1658-1707), the Mughal empire reached the height of its strength. However, his militant Muslim policies, including the destruction of many Hindu temples and shrines, undermined the enduring strength of the empire and led to its demise by the mid-18th century. Even as Mughal power crumbled, the Taj Mahal suffered from neglect and disrepair in the two centuries after Shah Jahan’s death. Near the turn of the 19th century, Lord Curzon, then British viceroy of India, ordered a major restoration of the mausoleum complex as part of a colonial effort to preserve India’s artistic and cultural heritage.
Today, some 3 million people a year (or around 45,000 a day during peak tourist season) visit the Taj Mahal. Air pollution from nearby factories and automobiles poses a continual threat to the mausoleum’s gleaming white marble facade, and in 1998, India’s Supreme Court ordered a number of anti-pollution measures to protect the building from deterioration. Some factories were closed, while vehicular traffic was banned from the immediate vicinity of the complex.
In 2015 I spent 5months travelling around Southern India. One of the things that struck me the most was there were so many Temples! This one in Mysore is the second in my video collection.
Chamundi Hill is about 13 kms from Mysore, which is a prominent city in Karnataka State of India. Chamundi Hills is famous not only in India but also abroad. ‘Chamundi’ or ‘Durga’ at atop of the hil, the famous Sri Chamundeswari Temple is the fierce form of ‘Shakti’. She is the slayer of demons, ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’ and also ‘Mahishasura’, the buffalow-headed monster.
She is the tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas and the presiding deity of Mysore. For several centuries they have held the Goddess, Chamundeswari, in great reverence.
In ‘Skanda Purana’ and other ancient texts, it is mention a sacred place called ‘Trimuta Kshetra’ surrounded by eight hills. lying along side of west is the Chamundi Hills, it is one among the eight hills. In the earlier days, the hill was identified as ‘Mahabaladri’ in honour of God Shiva who resides in the ‘Mahabaleswara Temple’; this is the oldest temple on the hills.
he Khao Kho Sacrificial Monument was constructed as a monument for civilians, soldiers, and police who lose their lives to protect the border between Phitsanulok, Petchaboon, and Loei from communists from 1968-1982. The monument is a triangular slab of marble that is 24 meters in height, signifying the Buddhist year of 2524 or 1981 when civilians, soldiers, and police held a joint operation to crack down on the communists for good. The interior wall is inscribed with a description of the fight and the names of those who lost their lives.
The Khao Kho wind farm is located on an area of 350 rai and uses GE Thailand Company’s technology. There are a total of 24 windmills that are 110 meters in height. The windmills do not create much noise pollution since each emits less than 50 decibel of noise and can produce 60 megawatts of electricity or 140 million units a year. It has been in operation since May 2016 and apart from generating electricity for the province, it has also brought in tourism revenue.
In early 2015 I visited Myanmar. During my three weeks I travelled from Yangon to Bagan, to Kalaw in the mountains and then down to Inle Lake.
This is the first slide show showing you Yangon and some of the wonderful colonial and modern buildings along with some of the religious buildings too.
Yangon stands on the east bank of the oceanic River Yangon, about 30km from the Andaman Sea. It came to prominence in the latter half of the 19th century when the British made it the capital of their new imperial possession. The colonial port area is still the commercial centre, though the heart of the city remains the gigantic gold Shwedagon Pagoda, visible from most places and so the main focal point.
Sri Chamundeshwari temple is the most famous temple in Mysore, a city in the Southern state Karnataka. It is located on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above sea level and situated at a distance of 13 kms from Mysore. Named after the Goddess Chamundeshwari or Durga, this temple is considered as one of the Shakti Peethas. It is known as Krouncha Pitham. I was visiting it on my 5mth tour round southern India
My most recent photography project from my visit to Wat Pa Lak Roi a Buddhist hell garden. Approx 17km from Nakhon Ratchasima this Garden aims to instruct the Buddhist believer in the ways of Karma and it’s consequences for the lack of. I hope you find this as interesting as I did!
In 2016 I landed in Thailand after 5mths in India, for a rest, well I was far to intrigued with the natural beauty of Thailand to stand still and Phu Phra Bat Park was one of my favourite first visits to the North East of Thailand.
I hope you enjoy it too and venture far enough up North to visit! Phu Phra Bat historical park in Udon Thani province in the North East of Thailand is a forested hill with natural rock formations shaped as caves with large rocky overhangs. The caves were used by ancient man as shelter and as temples where Buddha images were enshrined. What makes this site unique, is that it contains traces of several different civilizations and cultures spanning thousands of years. The hill contains traces of prehistoric man, the Dvaravati period and Khmer presence. The sandstone rock on top of the hill has been cut out during many centuries by glacier movement, wind and rain.
Some of the rock formations provide natural shelter, others were carved into by man thousands of years ago creating cave like structures. Many of the rock formations harbour ancient Buddha images and served as ancient wats (Buddhist temples). A number of walking trails have been been made through the park and there are a number of view points, from where visitors will have great scenic views of the surrounding area. Phu Phra Bat is set in a beautiful, natural and relaxing environment.
The elegant Shwedagon Pagoda is Yangon’s most famous landmark. The massive 99 meter high gold plated pagoda with the diamond studded spire set on top of a small hill in downtown Yangon dominates the area and is visible from much of the city.
After dark there is a mystical atmosphere with the pagoda lit up by spotlights. The very impressive pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is Burma’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage site. The main stupa enshrines sacred relics of the Gautama Buddha as well as the three previous Buddhas.
I dedicate this slideshow to my dear photog friend- Fotoboy Burma Kyi Myint- Gee and the beautiful people of Myanmar