Understanding India: Chennakesava Temple
The Chennakesava Temple (ಶ್ರೀ ಚೆನ್ನಕೇಶವ ದೇವಸ್ಥಾನ) is a dead temple. People no longer visit this temple with the intention of worshipping, so instead it functions as a museum. The temple is dead because it has sustained damaged. Several carvings have been chipped and a variety of invaders (the British, vandals) have removed full sculptures from the site. The temple was carved from soapstone, and the earliest inscriptions date back to 1117 AD. According to our guide, soapstone takes 60 to 100 years to fully harden. The softness of young stone allows for intricate detailing while carving.
The temple itself is built on a star shaped platform and has three points, which mark the shrines locations within the temple. The temple honors the Hindu god Vishnu. Vishnu is the "preserver of the universe" according to Hindu belief. Vishnu is the second god of the trimurti. Our guide used the acronym G.O.D. to help us remember. The G for generator, or creator, is for the god Brahma. O stands for operator, which is Vishnu. And D for destroyer, Shiva. Each god has several incarnations, symbols and arms. The temple carvings depict these and many more gods along with their variety of forms. The temple also illustrates a narrative of India; in fact it was used as an educational resource. We were told that once a couple was married they would visit the temple to learn history and kama sutra, which is also carved on the outside walls.
Walking barefoot on the sun-warmed soapstone was bizarre. It was easy to get lost in the details of the carvings. Our guide was kind and clearly well educated. He frequently quizzed us as he led the tour and all of us together would try to remember which god carried the conch or which god had four heads. We marveled at this ancient structure for it's ability to withstand war, invasion and time.
A selfie in a shrine? And my fave god Ganesha, who would reappear on travels over and over again.
Read more about Vishnu and the temple.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Around the Coffee Plantation
Elephant Camp Pt. 1
Elephant Camp Pt. 2
King of Cobras
Kuppalli and Kuvempu
We were in India to complete the filming of the documentary Elephants in the Coffee. And now it’s done. It explores the elephant-human conflict that has been happening in India. The coffee you drink has most likely been wandered through by elephants. They are a nuisance to farmers, but also a god in the Hindu belief. You cannot destroy a god. But you can scare it off with crackers and shotgun blasts. The elephant habitat is shrinking. In its place villages and farms have moved in. Elephants walk the same paths they have for hundreds of years, even if houses, crops, or people stand in their way. How could anyone stop them? Electric fences, trenches and steel beams have been used and are being used to keep them out and keep people safe. Nobody wants a god wandering through their crops eating their jack fruit, trampling their livelihood. But a god cannot be stopped.