Tale of Two Summer Travels!! 

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May was a month of travel , different types of places in a very short duration ! But lots of learnings and loving memories to carry forward!

It was a short family road trip to traditional temples in Tamilnadu ! One particular temple in Tanjavur- “The Periya Kovil (The big temple)” which many of us have read about in our school history books, but that’s the day I was fortunate to see that magnificent structure for the first time, built by Raja Raja Cholan exactly 1000 years before which is now been taken over by UNESCO as a historical heritage site.

It was a hot sunny day when I stepped into this marvellous magificience not beleving my own eyes! I have seen pictures and videos occasionally shown in discovery channel about the mystery behind this architecture which was designed and built with no developed technology- but with just human brains and hardwork ! Trust me with information overload any tourist centre doesnt excite a person , for a simple reason we all are in the quest for knowing things  instantly by just one click!!!Before choosing a place to travel we read, watch vidoes , must have seen that mutiple times in movies, vitually sometimes experiencing it as well – after all this how can the original excite us as much as it is in the videos! This is what happened to me when I stood before the beautiful Grand Canyon !  The first thought which popped up ” did I come here before ? Have I seen this place already ? “. Sometimes the reel pictures are much more wonderful than the real ones.

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But none of such things happened when I visited this historical monument packed with many secrets and mysteries! The temple tower is one of the tallest in the world – a news most of us havent heard and its around 198ft high! At the entrace there is a huge Nandi (bull) carved out of single stone and the main deity is also humungous shivalinga !! The creators of this massive structure, I still cant beleive its man made, I can write about this temple pages after pages , but its nothing compared to what you see when you are there ! Awestruck  I sat there on the podium watching it in the twilight! The temple layout is completely symmetrical! How did they even measure,who was the project manager and team members?Deadlines set ? Logistics planned ? How many months of planning ? Data gathering about that ground ? Who maintained the excel? How did they transport that huge stone from miles away ? How was the project plan designed with so many dependencies?  Can we really say that we are highly skilled and educated with so many aids to help us , even for simple road trip . Google maps ( check) , distance, reservations ( planned and checked) traffic monitoring (check) place to eat on the way ( check) rest area ( check) ………

There are inscriptions all over the temple, sad I could not follow or read that ! But would really love to know what people of those days wanted to say to us or to the world . Have they explained how all this was planned and made ? The creators, I use this word for the artistic adept and talents which brought any architects dream true ! I bet , people will dare not replicate that kind of structure anywhere in the world not just because its a religious icon but it is simply impossible! Born in a conservative Hindu family, I have been raised with weekly temple visits. Every temple is unique and beautiful in its own way , but I never really connected to any particular one , may be because it is too crowded , and more than appreciating the sculptures and artistic talents, people stand there negotiating with God for more – I do that too ! I was taught to pray like that ! Not to mention Piled queues , fights, pandits cheating and looting the innocence in the name of the God. But this miracle stands out of any other defined temples crietria ! Not sure why ! It was thronged with tourists but still it was serne and peaceful.  There were pandits doing Pooja but what I saw there was a huge structure of shivalinga, Depicting the strength and powerful kindom of chola dynasty, and the pride king Raja Rajan carrying even now after so many decades!!!

Well, apart from that lovely spiritual tour with family , I also enjoyed a short vacation in Dubai, with loving cousins !!!  Dubai- geographically placed at the right spot  in map acting as a hub connecting the west to the rest of the world. Somehow this city is full of architecture replicas, everything is tallest biggest widest in the world ! You can see a mini Chicago skyline, the Burj, One twisted building, most of the building in the dull sand Color and date trees queued up on the road sides. There is also an aritificial conservatory of  trees , it’s definitely difficult for anyone to say it is a desert other than the scorching heat. But The most amazing place in Dubai are the sand  dunes and the thrilling Desert Safari ride ! Now we need to appreciate our next creator – not the city skyline designer but the sand dunes pattern maker ! THE WIND! The sand is so soft and pure, that the wind creates beautiful symmetrical designs on it – It was amazing and relaxing to stand in the desert and all you see is only sand , sand everywhere …. touching the horizon”.

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I would say the beauty of Dubai is not the manmade skyline , the biggest, tallest and any other adjective you want to add for these structures but  the creators art of the dynamic sand dunes, stays beautiful and not disturbed with moving quads, bikes, cars and throngs of excited ppl , by the end of the day after all the hustle bustle , the loose sand changes its pattern , size and shape beautifully  with the wind flow to attract another set of tourists the next day!!!

But what keeps crossing my mind is from the stories of Arabian nights ,tents  and camels – the desert dwelling Semitic tribes, arabs with their natural ferocity and love for conquer have created a luxury living now, fancy cars , replicating the wonders of the world in the desert beating the heat and water scarcity and making it a most preferable living spot !

And on the otherside the powerful and wealthy tamil kingdom with extraordinary artistic talents created wonders which are still standing tall and strong  as temples, palatial palaces and rich literature, especially the chola dynasty captial ” Thanjavur ” called as ” rice bowl ” the most fertile land in the past is now suffering to even do small scale farming with no water.  Have we lost such skills of not just building structures but the overall power and strength where even many of temples are not not well maintained  and has to be taken up by UNESCO to maintain its heritage ? Dont we understand the value of such man made beauty nor we dont have enough marketing and branding skills to take it to the world and show that as one of the wonders of the world ? What is that we lag !!!!!

With such heavy heart I returned seeing the dried up Cauvery and river sand looting by the local politicians , killing not just the life of the farmers but also the history which was cherished for years.

Our next generations can see all these historical structures only in VR box! And I can only write as blog and stay helpless.