Friday, October 30, 2009

Jessica Simpson in Bollywood

American singer and actress Jessica Simpson has arrived in India for shooting on location for “The Price of Beauty” that will air on VH1. Reportedly she has won millions of new fans in India while filming her reality show in the country.

The Dukes of Hazzard star Jessica Simpson was in Mumbai wearing a traditional Indian bindi on her forehead and intricate henna tattoo (Mehendi) on her left hand. Simpson’s The Price of Beauty will also feature Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia, with whom she was spotted partying at a Bollywood bash in Mumbai's exclusive Vie Lounge over the weekend. Dhupia will be the Indian beauty ambassador on Simpson's show and accompanying Simpson during her stay in Mumbai.

The show takes Simpson all over the world ‘to meet women, study local fashions, dietary fads and beauty regimes’ and she would be exploring what all women do to look beautiful.

“I have always believed that beauty comes from within and confidence will always make a woman beautiful, but I know how much pressure some women put on themselves to look perfect," Simpson said in a recent press release for the show. "I am really looking forward to discovering how beauty is perceived in different cultures and participating in some of the crazy things people do to feel beautiful. I know we will all learn a lot on this journey and I am so excited that VH1 is coming along on what I’m sure will be a wild ride,” she added.

Bollywood inspired themes seem to sell well in the West, especially The United States, if the number of Hollywood celebrities heading for Bollywood is any indication. The list includes Sylvester Stallone (in a cameo playing himself in Kambakkht Ishq), Steven Spielberg (who recently announced joint venture worth US$ 825 million with Anil Ambani), Julia Roberts who is currently filming Eat, Pray, Love in different parts of the country and Kylie Minogue who recently made her Bollywood debut in the movie Blue (in the song Chiggy Wiggy).

While in India Simpson is expected to indulge in therapies that help her regain peace of mind and meet Bollywood musicians.


As MTV 2004 Video Music Awards performer Simpson poses for a picture at ISC Miami (USCG photo by PA2 Anastasia Burns, taken on August 29, 2004) and picture of Jessica Simpson taken during a USO/DoD Celebrity Tour at Eagle Base 14 November 2001.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hijron ka Khanqah

photo of Hijron ka Khanqah
Hijron ka Khanqah, originally uploaded by varunshiv.

Hijron Ka Khanqah is a monument of the fifteenth century (Lodi period), located in Mehrauli in New Delhi, India, maintained well by the Hijras of Turkman Gate in Old Delhi. The literal meaning of Hijron ka Khanqah is a “Sufi spiritual retreat for eunuchs”.

Hijra is a term generally used in North India for eunuchs. They are a well organized bisexual community and they are considered a religious cult. They dress like women and mostly behave like them. Their presence in special occasions like marriage functions and childbirth are considered auspicious by many people. They are often invited to dance and sing during such occasions.

At Hijron Ka Khanqah there is a large patio where white colored tombs are seen. Of the many tombs there, the main tomb held in reverence is said to be of a Hijra called Miyan Saheb.

Gomateshwara, the tallest monolithic statue

The colossal statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali is situated at Shravanabelagola, the ancient religious town in Hassan district of Karnataka, 158 km away from Bangalore. This gigantic statue of lord Bahubali, carved out of a single block of granite standing majestically on top of a hill, is the tallest monolithic statue in the world. It is 17 m/55 ft (approximately) high and is visible from a distance of 30 km. It was built in the 10th century AD by Chavundaraya, a minister of the Ganga King Rachmalla (975-986 AD).

Set amid two hills and aqua green lakes, Shravanabelagola is a Jain religious centre with an unbroken tradition from the 3rd century AD. The neighbouring areas have Jain settlements and several statues of Jain Tirthankaras. Visitors can have a beautiful view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill.

Gomateshwara, also known as Bahubali, was the second of the one hundred sons of the first Jain Tirthankara, Lord Rishabha, who was the king of Podanpur. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world visit the statue once in 12 years for Mahamastakabhisheka rituals.

According to legends, envious of the prosperity, power and fame of Bahubali, his elder brother Bharat wanted to conquer his kingdom. As war would destroy both the kingdoms, the ministers of both sides began negotiations and decided upon a personal fight between the brothers to settle the matter. The last part of the fight was to be fought by hitting the opponent’s head with fists. Bharat, taking the first blow, knocked Bahubali almost to the ground. The next turn was that of Bahubali who was known for the strength of his arm capable of killing Bharat with a single blow. But realizing that fighting his elder brother for material gains was not righteous, he did not hit him but tore at his own hair. Thus he gave up his kingdom and took up the path of ascetic life and meditation.

According to custom, monks who accept monastic vows must bow to all others who took such vows previously. If Bahubali went to Lord Rishabdev for permission to take monastic vows, he would have to bow down to all his 98 younger brothers, who had renounced worldly life before him. His ego did not permit him do that, and hence could not attain the supreme knowledge.

On understanding about his folly, his sisters approached him and prayed to give up his pride and ego. As Bahubali realized his mistake and shed his pride and ego, he attained divine knowledge, truth and enlightenment. After this, Bahubali went to his father who welcomed him and Bahubali began preaching and showing people the right path.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

At the feet of Gomateswara

feet of Gomateswara statue
Surrender, originally uploaded by вαℓα¢нαη∂∂єя $к.

This image was captured by the original author when the priest bent down to offer his prayer to the idol (statue) of Gomateswara at Shravanabelagola temple, 158 km away from Bangalore, India. One has to climb 500 steps to see this 55 feet high beautiful statue. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, devotees and tourists from all over the world flock to the statue once in 12 years for an event known as Mahamastakabhisheka.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A view of the Thousand Pillar Hall

The Thousand Pillar Hall (Aayiram Kaal Mandapam) of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple actually has 985 carved pillars, not exactly 1000 pillars as the name suggests. Each pillar is carved out of stone in the style of Dravidian sculpture. This hall was built modeled on the 1000 pillared hall of Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunleveli, the first largest Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu.
The Thousand Pillared Hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar (in 1569), the Prime Minister and General of Viswanatha Nayak of the first Nayaka of Madurai (1559-1600). At the entrance of the hall (Mandapam) there is a statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar seated on horse-back.
The hall is famous for its Temple Art Museum where exhibits of as old as 1200 years are displayed. Just outside this hall there are the Musical Pillars, each of which producing different musical notes when struck.
Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi), in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Corridors inside Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu

Creative Commons License
Rameswaram Temple Inside by Mathanagopal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

This is the largest temple corridor in India, the grandest part of the Ramanathaswamy Temple. The 1219 m pillared corridor consisting of 3.6 m high granite pillars, richly carved and well proportioned, built by various rulers over a period of time starting from the twelfth century. The perspective presented by these pillars run uninterruptedly to a length of nearly 230 m.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sumatran Tiger, Indonesia

Sumatran Tiger ; bathing, originally uploaded by tropicaLiving.

Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), the smallest of all surviving tiger subspecies, is found in the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Its stripes are narrower than the stripes of other subspecies of tigers and it has a more bearded look with a mane. It has webbing between its toes that makes Sumatran tigers very fast swimmers. The Sumatran Tiger is genetically isolated from other mainland tigers. According to estimates, at present there are only 100-400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild natural habitats.