Category Archives: India

Different Childhoods

Different Childhoods

“Be careful! Where are you going?”
Well-dressed, sheltered kids curbed their naughtiness as they heeded the warnings let out by the elders. The polythene, trash strewn water could be deep. They wanted to have fun but not at the cost of their clothes or the anxious commands of their elders. As they climbed up and down the steps cheerfully and carefully under the watchful eyes of their parents, two other kids jumped down from the platform in the middle of the pond.

The new entrants playfully jumped through the shallow, dirty water towards the side of the pond. The sheltered kids watched spellbound with wonder and amazement at these kids gamboling through these dirty waters. Do not know what was going through their minds as they looked at the kids who freely frolicked in the waters. Different childhoods – sheltered versus unshackled!

As parents or elders, do we sometimes shelter our kids too much? Should we let them enjoy the simple things in life? Do we curb their natural, curious instinct, exploratory spirit in the process of sheltering them? I remember we used to sometimes float paper boats in the roadside puddles. Do not see that happening very often now a days. Are the kids today more mature, more worldly-wise albeit minus the playful, exploratory spirit?

Tirthankar Statues on Gopachal Parwat

Gwalior Fort: Gopachal Parvat / Ek Patthar ki Baori

History and Architecture holds a spell-binding fascination for me.  When I visit Gwalior, I try and revisit the historical monuments to relive the countless moments I spent here as a child.  Yesterday, I visited Ek Patthar ki Baori (aka Gopachal Parwat) where artisans painstakingly carved twenty six giant statues of Jain Tirthankars in stone.

The ride on the motorcycle, a converted Yamaha RX100, was a great feeling, as usual, a slow ride with no helmet.  With the warm dusty breeze on my face as I rode along, I reached the rocky terrain at the slopes of Gwalior Fort.

The local Jain community has worked wonders around the monument, having cleaned and landscaped the whole area.  Gardens have sprung up around the base of the Fort, with walls built to harvest rainwater, to irrigate the trees that have been planted.  The area is very clean, quite a contrast to what I had seen before.   I also had to take off my shoes as the community deems it to be a religious holy place.  So, I walked up the small but arduous climb barefoot on the path, landscaped with rough cut stones and cement.  My feet were burning as I stepped on the stones but happily, I climbed to the monument, in anticipation of photographing the beautiful sculptures.

As I reached the monument, I was impressed.  The statues have been cleaned and well-maintained.  There are twenty six statues of Jain Tirthankars in various upright and seated positions.  There is a mention of the monuments being built around 1424 a.d. under the reign of Tomar King Dungar Singh in an inscription in one of the caves.  Built between 1398-1536 by kings of Tomar dynasty, these are quite a spectacle to behold.

Ek Patthar ki baori is in the first cave, a water reservoir carved out of a single stone.  Honey bees swarmed around as I peeked into the locked baori.  As I photographed the details of the statues, a group of pilgrims came up to pray.  I quickly took a couple of photos to show the scale of the statues.

Women in Prayer

The largest idol of Bhagwan Parshwanath seated on a Lotus is the largest single stone carved statue in the world.  It is 47 feet high and 30 feet wide and extremely difficult to photograph in its entirety.  More on this later…

Here is a photograph of the row of statues as seen from an opening in the rock…

Tirthankar Statues on Gopachal Parwat

Innocence in Rain

Splashing in the puddles
rain drops dance
off the red umbrella
It’s time to float
my paper boat
Notes of innocence
waft in the air
the spirits
play a rain-song
as two little kids
marvel at the skies