Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Great Living Chola Temples

I've written enough about the Big Temple at Thanjavur, but on my last visit there I got to visit the two lesser known cousins of the great Chola monument. The three temples in the image above are, from left to right, Brihadeeshwara Temple at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram temple and the Airavateshwara temple at Darasuram, all built within 2 centuries of each other by rulers of the Chola dynasty. I've tried to represent them in the actual proportion of their sizes. Clearly the Thanjavaur monument dwarfs the rest, but the two smaller ones more than make up in terms of their sculptural brilliance. The one at Darasuram, especially, is a treat. Even on a Sunday, my wife and I were the only two people inside the fortification that encloses the main temple. Some pictures here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The perfect insurance against divorce

It took 42 signatures, 6 photographs, 2.5 hrs, 3 witnesses, 14 sheets of paper and lots of overall bureaucratic ill will to get our marriage registered. I didn't think I would say this, but even the cameraman-choreographed reception ceremony at a hindu wedding, where you have to stand on a stage, face harsh flashlights, and farcically smile through an evening, pales in comparison with the pointlessness of all the hoops that you have to jump through at the registrar office. The experience was as nerve-wracking as walking around the fire seven times while my dhoti was slipping away bit by bit. And what's with the denial of courtesy? The officers either had neem leaves for breakfast or they were spiritually offended by the idea of marriage itself because they frowned through the whole rigmarole and refused to even make eye contact. In the end we did celebrate the legal sanction, but on a day like this it's hard not to be libertarian.