Ayadar Malikmadove is the leader of the village of Yamg near Langar in Tajikistan. During my tour through the Wakhan Valley we stopped in Yamg and were treated to Ayadar’s famous hand crafted Guitars used for traditional folkk music of this area.
I was very honoured to be allowed to video him performing, and to have been a part of this moment. He also is curator for a small and personal museum of the history of the area and it’s people. If you are planning a trip through the Wakhan Valley Ayadar’s place is a must stop point.
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.
In 2015 I journeyed round the southern part of the Indian Continent. Starting in Goa and working my way round the peninsula to Chennai. In the beautiful state of Kerala I stopped in Varkala and after my amazing experience with the Theyyam traditional worship of the Gods in Malabar, I was keen to see the Kathakali.
Wat Rong Khun, better known as “the White Temple” is one of the most recognizable temples in Thailand. The temple outside the town of Chiang Rai attracts a large number of visitors, both Thai and foreign, making it one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions.
Wat Rong Khun is a unique temple that stands out through the white color and the use of pieces of glass in the plaster, sparkling in the sun. The white color signifies the purity of the Buddha, while the glass symbolizes the Buddha’s wisdom and the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings.
The Wat Rong Khun was designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a famous Thai visual artist. To date the temple is not finished. Eventually there will be nine buildings including an ubosot, a hall to enshrine Buddhist relics, a meditation hall, the monks living quarters and an art gallery.
On May 5th 2014 a strong earthquake hit Chiang Rai. Although the white temple was badly damaged, Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to restore and further expand the Wat Rong Khun.
History of the Wat Rong Khun Towards the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was in a very poor state of preservation. Restoration works on the temple started, but had to be halted due to a lack of funds. Chalermchai Kositpipat, a artist born in Chiang Rai, decided to completely rebuild the temple and fund the project with his own money. The artist built the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings. Today the works are ongoing.
Wat Sala Loi, built in 1827 by Thao Suranari and her husband. The highlight to visit here is to see The ancient convocation hall. The hall inside the temple is in an applied Thai style in the shape of a junk riding the waves, the buildings was decorated by local Dan Kwian clay tiles to tell the life of Lord Buddha. The door is made of metal with raised designs of the Buddhist tale and the hall houses a large standing white Buddha image.
In 2007 I visited India in the Rajistan region. During my search for the famous Hevelis I visited Shekhawati, Nawalgarh, Mandawa, Jhunjuno, Fatephur and Dunlod. This slideshow is the collection from all these locations. They were all in different conditions ranging from derelict and falling down to part lived in to completely restored. I have tried to reflect this in my selection of images and even put a couple of images of the restoration drawings put on the walls to guide the artists during restoration. Haveli- Is a huge private mansion in India or Pakistan. The Rajasthani havelis were constructed by the wealthy Marwari community in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan in the 19th century. A haveli typically has two courtyards one for the men and the inner one for the women, the walls were adorned with beautiful colourful frescoes painted by commissioned artists. The themes were usually images of Gods, Goddesses & animals. Mandawa, Ramgarh, Fatehpur are dusty little towns in the Shekhawati area that have many old havelis, which in their glorious days would have been a treat to the eyes, but even today have not lost their timeless beauty. A handful of these havelis are being restored and given a new lease of life by private organizations, historians & architects. Some of them have been converted into heritage hotels.