Friday, April 24, 2015

Bo Sang Umbrella village,Chiang Mai,Thailand

The umbrellas which you see here in this village are not  mere a  shade providers against sun and rain. They are more than that. They are bright, elegant and full of vibrant colors. Bo Sang umbrellas are treat to eyes.
Umbrella ceiling
Bo Sang is a village in the outskirt of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. In this village of cottage industries what you see everywhere is multi hued umbrellas in different sizes. Some are plain, some are embellished with finely painted  designs , some are made of paper and  some are rain proof. You will not get tired looking at them and can’t escape from the temptation of buying one. Traditional umbrella is made of Saa paper. This is Thai handmade mulberry paper.
Different stages of Umbrella making
 These are wooden umbrellas. It was lovely watching experienced hands cutting the wood, making it into uniform sticks and joining them with the mechanism to open and close. There is  an umbrella factory. Each worker is assigned with the different stages of umbrella making. An umbrella before taking its fine shape would have blossomed through 10 different hands. The final step is painting. Floral, animal designs will take life on the umbrellas and once sun dried it is ready for sale.
In the same complex there are many artisans good in painting. They paint on any material. It can be on mobile phone, purse , a book or anything that you wish to have. That doesn’t matter. I got butterfly painted on my valet. It’s waterproof. Now, that is my souvenir of the place.
They have Umbrella festival during January. I was told that they have beauty pageants, parades and the proud artisans will exhibit all their umbrellas. Would be riot of rainbow colors !
Umbrella festival - Picture curtsey - Internet

Riot of colors , Bo Sang Umbrella village , Chiang mai, Thailand

The handicraft shop in the village provides one stop solution for all different kinds of  the products handmade there in the village. Not only Bo Sang the whole length of the road for 2-3 kms is lined up with Silver, jewelry, ceramic and wooden handicraft shops. You can keep half a day for this side of the shopping.
Handicraft shop
Travel notes

  • Bo Sang is 9 kms North of Chinag Mai 
  •  Can reach there by Songthaew( Local shared taxi) and tuk tuks. Some buses are also there 
  •  It can be combined with neighboring cotton and silk villages 
  • The price of the umbrellas are bit high. Same was available at a better price in Chianag Mai market. But the designs available in these handicraft shop are plenty 
  • Plan it during third week of January to witness Umbrella festival   
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Badami, beyond the four caves -2

This is the second post of the series 'Badami beyond the four caves '. Read part 1 here Part 1
Whether it is Hampi or Badami Ruins are magnetic. They pull  us towards them and enthralls.  May be the huge spaces they provide to our imaginative eyes, make us to visualize the beauty and glory of the very place. We will be lost in love with our imagination. Badami fort is one such skeleton of the past. I kept on filling flesh and life and enjoyed the walk thoroughly.

View of Badami town and malegitti shivalaya from the watch tower
Temple and fort view from the watch tower
 From the watch tower we could see many structures. My guide clarified them  as granaries. We walk through the silent rocks to see granaries and treasuries used during Muslim rulers. Granaries were hollow and well secured with a small opening.

Then we reach a place full remnants of a building  which were said to be the ruins of sandlewood palace. It was burnt hundreds of years back.There is nothing much left intact in this place except the 
underground storage. 

Remnants of  Palace
Next to it is a beautiful temple. I recognize this is the same temple I saw it from the canon location. Its windows are so different from each other. Looking at the remnants I could imagine a gorgeous temple which once stood and worshiped by the royal family. They call this temple as Upper Shivalaya. This temple is constructed out of stone. It is dedicated to Shiva. Only sanctum remains on top of the rocky hill. It is one of the oldest temples of the region I was told.

Window or jalandra

Upper Shivalaya
Few meters away there is a Darga still worshipped and there is a temple next to the Darga making it a harmonious place for both Hindu and Muslims.

Pointing to a deep rocks separated by a meter my guide explains that the place was used for many Bollywood shootings. It was once used as a tunnel to escape.

Shooting spot for movies
Panoramic view from the fort
 We walk further. In the horizon is a series of  rocky structures giving the feeling of natural fort. I was lost to understand which is the man built fort and which is natural.After a big round of the fort we  come out and get down on other side of the fort. It is Bhootnath temple complex on the bank of Agastya theertha(lake). 

Bhootnath temple
There are 2 Bhootnath temples. One was looking not so old. But the one adjacent to the lake was  picturesque with the backdrop of golden colored rocks and the foreground of the lake. It was calm. Entering into a cool temple from the blazing sun was such a heavenly feeling. These temples are not live temples. In the Hindu culture any broken image will make the temple unworthy for worshipping. Even though most of the things look good, a minor defacing of the idol or broken column has made these temples dead. Bhootnath being the form of Shiva, this temple is also dedicated to Shiva.

Main Bhootnath temple
After a peaceful rest at the temple I walk upto the tiny shrines behind the Bhootnath temple. There was a small mantap. Inside that was a finely carved Ananthashayana which is a form of Vishnu. The rock itself was different and with dashavatara( Vishnu's 10 incarnations) carved around him was such a rare image. This stood as my favorite for the day. Few meters around the temple will unveil few more carvings in the stone. There is another cave with Buddha image inside. We need to crawl inside to see that. I feel wow ! Badami is such an amalgamation of Vaishnav, Shaiva, Buddha and Jain architecture.  The rocks around this area has a stains of water flow. My guide told me that   during monsoon there would be few waterfalls . I can imagine how heavenly it would be to see them.

Buddha cave
 Next time when you to go Badami, keep a day and explore the fort. It is worth. But go there when the sun is smiling at you. I am not a student of history, art and architecture. Even then it was a pleasure exploring Badami. For you, history and architecture lovers, I can promise it would be a feast.

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Badami, beyond the four caves -1

It was after a decade and a half that I visited Badami for the second time. My last visit was limited only to four  cave temples. This time I wanted to explore it more and  in detail. While  watching the rocky outcrops on the other side of the  cave temples from 4th cave, I couldn’t resist  the desire to go to the other side in spite of scorching  Sun.  Basavarajappa, my  guide discouraged  me going there in the beginning saying there is nothing to see. He then agreed to  accompany me only when I offered him little more money as guide charges. They call this side of the hill as fort. But what I saw was more than the fort. I am making this post into two parts as beyond the caves is a bigger story to tell.
We were getting down from the 4th cave towards the courtyard. I was surprised to see current conquerors of Badami boulders  whom I didn’t see while climbing up.  Did you guess ? Yes. Monkeys .. My guide clarified me that they had been to Monday market. Now they are returning !!  Hmm… They do shop ..  As I was not carrying anything in my hand it was not difficult to escape from them. I was scared though.
When I look back after entering the fort
 After buying a water bottle from the canteen, we stop a while in front of  the monument  built by the Muslim rulers after the Chalukyas. That is an old dome. To  reach the fort side of the monuments we have to go through the village which is certainly a blot on the landscape. The Path was littered and full of pigs wandering around.  We made a  brief visit to the museum maintained by ASI and then  started climbing the  steps. After a few steps, my guide  all of a sudden takes me to a narrow path which could only accommodate a person to slip through. It opened upto into a flat surface where few monuments were there and the view of the Agastaya theertha(lake) was spectacular. There were few ruins which once probably would have been the part of the glory.
Narrow path when only one person could slip in

Some ruins inside the fort
I get  down from that place and walk ahead through an impressive arched entry which leads to another small temple. Entry has sculpted images on both sides . The temple is standing alone. This again is a ruins of some temple of which only the  inner shrine is  left out. 
Arched entry
Though there is nothing to see in the temple, this place  offers a  great view of the lake and the village around. Behind the temple there is a canon scribble on that reads 1550. From here I can see another temple on the hill ahead and also part of  the fort and a beautiful watch tower. On other side cave temples were crowded with tourists.Their  colorful cloth  was breaking the monotone of the sepia colored rocks.
Canon which read 1550

Watch tower and fort

Spectacular Agastaya theertha , Badami
 I blindly follow my guide who was guiding me into a maze of rocks and forts. I had no clue where I was going. This place doesn’t have anyone around. Hardly any tourists go there I believe. Everything was a kind of standstill. Not even a breeze around to make some strange sounds and nor the movement of the bushes. After there was  very few vegetation. It was as if I am in an eternal silence. Oh! I loved it so much !

Rock formations  had drawn many designs on the floor with the light and shadow play which looked like an abstract rangoli . We walk through the spellbound rocks and climb up a  few stairs to reach the watch tower.
Shadow play

Watch tower
It looks   like a huge well and  there is a flag pole which comes alive only  during August 15, I was told.  The panoramic view of the town and the Badami world  from here is worth the sweat shed to reach here.Sun had made me tired. Accepting the truth of  my falling fitness I rested for a while there.

Pls click here for  Part 2  - Badami beyond the caves

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