MASROOR ROCK CUT TEMPLES KANGRA

The Masroor Rock Cut Temples are a little known architectural wonder in Himachal Pradesh. Just 38 km from Kangra town on the Nagrota Surian link road, is this amazing monolithic rock cut temple complex of 15 temples, carved out of a single rock. The complex is surrounded by deodar trees and along this complex is a small pool of water giving it a surreal feel of an era gone by. These are the only rock cut temples in north India.

masroor3In the centre of the complex stands the principal and most elaborately carved shrine – the Thakurdwara. This temple is carved inside and it enshrines black stone images of Ram, Lakshman and Sita facing east. The rest of the 14 temples (7 on either side of the central temple) are carved only on the outside. The entire theme of the temple carvings revolve around the festivity and coronation of Lord Shiva who is the centre of the Hindu pantheon. Locals believe that the Pandavs built the Masroor Rock Temples during their period of exile and pray in the temples even today.

masroor2The remote location of these temples protected them from the invading army of Mahmud Ghazni and their stone construction prevented severe damage in the 1905 earthquake. But now only a few of the original shikhars stand and some of the beautifully carved panels are in the state museum at Shimla. As such one is well aware of the neglect of most ASI monuments and The Masroor Rock Cut Temples are no exception.

masroor5

masroor4Surprisingly this exceptionally beautiful monument does not form part of any popular itinerary of Himachal Tourism. Road2Himachal plans to set this right…

You can see a detailed walk through by Google at http://goo.gl/WDrTY1

The must see crazy castle before the summer of 2015

It may not be Scotland’s biggest castle, but Kelburn Castle – 35 miles west of Glasgow – is certainly the country’s brightest. Forget the traditional grey or brown facade you see on most castles. An array of vibrant colours and oversized, abstract characters cover Kelburn, bringing a thoroughly modern veneer to the 13th-century building.

The Graffiti Project started in 2007 when the castle’s owner, the Earl of Glasgow, learned he needed to remove a cement render that had been added to the building in the 1950s. At the urging of his children, the earl, Patrick Boyle, agreed to have the cement painted before it was removed, so he invited a group of four Brazilian street artists to adorn the castle’s turret and walls with their unique style of graffiti art.

CASTLE02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artists Nina Pandolfo and Nunca, as well as the twins known as Os Gêmeos, used more than 1,500 cans of spray paint to complete the design. The murals depict playful, larger-than-life cartoons in the surreal and imaginative style that the artists are known for in their native Sao Paulo. Their work quickly gained recognition as one of the best examples of street art in the world, mentioned alongside works by Banksy and Keith Haring.

The artwork was meant to be removed after three years, but because it drew visitors from around the world, the earl appealed to Historic Scotland, the government agency responsible for preserving historic buildings, to make it permanent. However, a 2012 inspection revealed that the cement was severely damaging the original castle walls, and the agency urged its removal.

Plans are now in place to remove the graffiti and underlying cement by the summer of 2015. The castle’s owners say they’ll hold a contest for architects and designers to find an equally unique design to take the artwork’s place – one that doesn’t damage the castle walls.

David Boyle, son of the earl, told HeraldScotland in July: “It could be anything, audiovisual elements, maybe, or lighting…we just want to put it out there and see what ideas we get back.”

While the graffiti has gotten most of the attention lately, the interior of the castle reopened to the public in April after a major renovation, with castle tours available in June, July and August. The surrounding grounds, which include forest trails and an animal park, are open to the public year-round, so anyone who wants to see the unlikely artwork firsthand still has time.

Courtsey: BBC

Six Unknown Architectural Wonders

bucharest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palace of the Parliament, Romania
The world’s largest, most expensive and heaviest civilian administrative building, Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament is truly an unknown wonder. “Built by hated communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu… the building is so huge that it is difficult to take a photograph that does its scale justice ,” said Jann Hoke, a lawyer who worked in the palace in the mid-1990s.

Built in 1984, the neoclassical building has 12 stories (with eight additional stories underground), and some 3,100 rooms covering 330,000 sqm. The project cost an unprecedented 3.3bn euros, but it also cost the people of Bucharest much of their city. To build the Palace of the Parliament, one-fifth of central Bucharest was razed, including most of its historical districts, more than 30 churches and synagogues and some 30,000 homes.

“The patterned carpets on the main level, which run through hundreds of yards of wide corridors, were woven inside the building during construction,” Hoke said. “Weaving them outside and bringing them in was not feasible due to their sheer size.

grandmosque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Mosque of Djenne, Mali

Built in 1907, the Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mud structure in the world, constructed almost entirely of sun-baked earthen bricks, sand and a mud-based mortar and plaster. It is considered one of the greatest achievements of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style and was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1988.

The mosque’s three minarets are decorated with bundles of rodier palm, which double as scaffolding for the annual repairs – a tradition that’s become a local festival in April and May.

“The brutal North African summers bring out cracks in the mud and weaken it over time,” said  Abishek Lamba. “Before the yearly rains that follow, the locals get together and re-coat the entire building with clay from a dried up pond.”

chandbaori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chand Baori, India
One of the most overlooked landmarks in India, Rajasthan’s Chand Baori is a spectacular square stepwell, 13 storeys deep, with walls lined with scores of double staircases that descend some 30m to the bottom of the well, where a pool of emerald green water awaits.

The mesmerising maze of symmetrical steps “appears to form a never ending path deep underground,” said Vipul Yadav. With its 3,500 steps, Chand Baori is “one of the deepest and largest of its kind in the world”.

Built by King Chanda of the Nikumbha Dynasty between 800 and 900 AD, Chand Baori was designed to be as practical as it was pretty. Due to the structure of the well, the bottom of it remains cooler than the surface, critical in the hot, arid landscape of Rajasthan.

derawar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Derawar Fort, Pakistan
A fortress of monumental proportions, Derawar’s 40 stunning bastions rise from the desert in a striking square formation. Combined, the fort’s walls form a circumference of some 1,500m and stand some 30m high.

This is a magnificent structure in the middle of the Cholistan Desert,” said Faisal Khan. “Many people don’t know about the Derawar Fort. Even most Pakistanis don’t know of it.”

And for good reason: to get to the fortress, visitors must hire a guide with a four-wheel drive vehicle to make the day-long trip from the city of Bahawalpur, Pakistan through the Cholistan Desert to the fort, where special permission from the amir, or local leader, is needed to go inside.

sheikhiran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Iran
Mona Khatam described the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – an architectural masterpiece of Safavid Iranian architecture – as “a study in harmonious understatement”.

Located in Naghsh-i Jahan Square in the city of Isfahan, the stunningly elegant mosque was built between 1603 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I. It is named after the ruler’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a revered Lebanese scholar of Islam.

The mosque is unusual in that it features no minarets or courtyard. “This was probably because the mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem,” Khatam said.

As such, the prayer hall is reached through a long, twisting, underground hallway, and the decoration on the mosque is extraordinarily exquisite.

“The dome makes extensive use of delicate tiles that change colour throughout the day, from cream to pink,” said Khatam. “Inside the sanctuary you can marvel at the complexity of the mosaics that adorn the walls and the extraordinarily beautiful ceiling, with its shrinking, yellow motifs. The shafts of sunlight that filter in through the few high, latticed windows produce a constantly changing interplay of light and shadow.”

kumbhalgarh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Wall of India
“We have all heard of the Great Wall of China, but few know that India also has its own Great Wall, which has been long overshadowed by its neighbour to the East,” said Quora user Ayush Manu.

The Great Wall of India, also referred to as Kumbhalgarh, is the second-longest wall in the world, after the Great Wall of China. Located in Rajasthan, the wall is 4.5m thick in some areas, extends for 36km and has seven fortified gates.

Rana Kumbha, a local ruler, commissioned the wall in 1443 to protect his fort, situated on a hill above.

“Legend has it that despite several attempts, the wall could not be completed,” Manu said. “Finally the king consulted one of his spiritual advisers and was advised that a sacrifice be made, and a volunteer offered his life so that others will be protected. Today, the main gate stands where his body fell and a temple where his severed head came to rest.”

The wall was enlarged in the 19th Century and now protects more than 360 temples located within its walls, but it remains an unknown treasure to most of the world.

Courtsey : BBC, Quora