Intl Saturdays 26: Wat Arun: Temple of the Dawn

As promised, here are the photographs from within the Wat Arun complex. This temple looked markedly different in appearance as compared to other Wat’s i had seen till then in Bangkok. There were no elaborate wavy sort of roofs around the complex, no excessive use of the golden colour on the structure and no sort of sanctum sanctorum so to speak. On reading up on the temple in its complex learned that the architecture is Khmer, which is of Cambodian origin. 
Wat Arun is a blend of Khmer and Thai architecture and commemorates the the Indian god of dawn Aruna – ah the amalgamation of cultures! One thing that is conspicuous about Wat Arun is the intricate detailing on the main structure – called as ‘Prang’ – and also the surrounding four structures. You will notice that a lot of the material used to adorn the sculptures and the temple exteriors is broken piece of glazed porcelain. 

The temple has these insanely vertiginous stairs leading upto the third terrace which has Lord Indra or as he’s popularly known in this part of the world Erawan riding on a multi-headed elephant on all the four sides. These stairs may look normal from the ground up, but as you ascend you realise that it is quite a steep climb and you will not dare to climb without holding on tightly onto the side railings. 

Like i mentioned above, the main ‘prang’ of the temple is surrounded by four smaller prangs. As you are climbing up the main prang and enter the third terrace from where you can get a beautiful view of this temple town and the Chao Phraya river, you hear a pleasant and repititive sound. You can’t realise the source immediately, but if you stare hard at the top portion of the picture, you will notice some golden coloured leaf-shaped structures. They are in fact windchimes which add an element of sound thereby taking the spiritual experience to a whole new level. A zoomed in image is attached below. 

The temple-guards of Oriental origins are found around the complex and with fine liveries at that.

Take Care,

Portraits 7: The nameless baba

I was shooting along the banks of the Ganga at Rishikesh, when i heard someone calling me. I turned around to find this dreadlocks-sporting baba. He first made the sign of a chillum, asking if i had any. I smiled and said no. He smiled back.

I then went ahead and started talking to him. He seemed to be sober, for a change. We had a good 15-minute conversation and to date i can’t remember his name, but i still remember the conversation. This was probably my first ever attempt at a street portrait as i had just bought my Canon S5 IS back then.
He told me that he along with a group of other Shiv-bhakt babas stayed around the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh and their main aim in life was to practise Shaivism, meditate and lead a nomadic life. He said he had lead this kind of lifestyle for close to 15 years.

“How do you manage your meals then?” i asked. He replied that they completely relied on bhiksha. In a tourist-friendly town such as Rishikesh, there is an abundance of bhiksha and food for people like him. They have very few belongings and would sleep, bathe and smoke chillum along the ghats of the Ganga. There are some sort of open quarters around the Ganga at Rishikesh where a lot of these godmen stay and sleep.
I asked him if he only stayed in Rishikesh or does he move around, to which he said, “Jab garmi badh jaati hai, to hum pahadon me jaate hai. Uttarakhand ya Himachal. Ek hi jagah nahi rehte.” (When the heat increases, we take off to the hills. We keep moving around in Uttarakhand or Himachal but do not stay fixed at any one place).

I did not have the heart to ask him anything about his past or his family. So i took my leave and requested if i could click his picture. He agreed.

Whenever i look at those peering eyes, i am instantly transferred back to Rishikesh. What a lovely place that is!

Take Care,