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Old June 1st, 2011, 04:22 PM   #1
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Lost temples of India


Just saw a fascinating documentary titled 'Mysteries of Asia: Lost temples of India'. Here's the link to the 52-minute long video for anyone interested: Mysteries of Asia: Lost Temples of India | Watch Free Documentary Online

Quote:
"...historians and others examine temples built in India more than 1,000 years ago. They remain quite intriguing, though today’s tourists rarely visit them. Records reveal that trained elephants had to drag millions of stone blocks to help erect these structures."
I had no idea. Apart from the fact that these temples are "beyond imagination" in their scope, size and architecture, the programme looks at how something of such scale could have remained hidden for so long. The answer is that these scattered "lost temples", mostly buried in a thick canopy of forests, were first discovered by a British captain in February 1838. From a distance he found them "exquisite" but on a closer look he was "appalled" by what he saw -- namely sculptures of "group sex, aroused males, eager females", sex of every kind imaginable, decorating the walls. Their "chaste Victorianism" led the British to cover it all up and instead focus on sedate buildings like the Taj Mahal (built by a Muslim ruler) that coincided with their belief of one God, their ideas of chastity and also of what the East should look like. "The British were never able to figure out Hinduism -- half-naked priests worshipping phallic statues, sculptures indulging in orgies," which is why these temples continued to be ignored by Western scholars and tourists. To this date the temples don't receive many tourists whereas the Taj Mahal has gone on to become a symbol of sorts for India. That sounds a bit simplistic to me, to be honest. Weren't it the very same Brits that first translated Kama Sutra into English? Not to mention not all of these temples were erotic.

Anyhow, some interesting trivia gleaned from the documentary:

1. The temples located in southern India were built around 1010 AD by a king who had embarked on a building frenzy to appease gods. Hinduism forbids people from taking life yet as a king he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to expand his empire so erecting glorious temples was his way of placating gods and preventing his being born as a worm in the next life (he believed in reincarnation).

2. The largest of these temples is the biggest temple in the world, big enough to house 200 Taj Mahals. It can hold the Kremlin, the U.S. Senate, the Houses of Parliament, and still have room for the palace of Versailles and St. Peter's Basilica.

3.The temples, even those that soar hundreds of feet into the sky, are all made of granite. The nearest quarry was 50 miles away, (poor) elephants were used to drag the slabs over to the building site. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of stone was moved for this purpose.

4. The documentary has some black&white footage of elephants used as war machines in the olden days. Apparently they used to be fed some sort of liquor prior to a battle as a means to get them ready to rampage and "slice through the enemy".

5. There's an entire city that has been lost/forgotten, described in its heyday by a Portuguese trader as "as large as Rome and the best provided city in the world". Once it was lost to the invading Muslim armies from the North it was never resettled. It's since become a "city of ghosts".


I don't know how much of this is substantiated and the tone of the narrator is a bit sensational in places, so be nice if someone knowledgeable (hint for the resident Indologist ) shared their views on this.

Thank you for reading,
Rosi
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Old June 1st, 2011, 04:30 PM   #2

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Interesting. I would like to know more about this as well.
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Old June 2nd, 2011, 09:15 AM   #3

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Amazing temples! Thanks for sharing!


Makes me wonder if ancient Egyptians ever used North African elephants..
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Old June 2nd, 2011, 10:40 AM   #4

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its so amazing to think of these ancient and forgotten temples, there's almost something 'mystical' about them
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Old June 2nd, 2011, 11:00 AM   #5

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It reminds me of Cambodia. Very impressive, can't say I know much about them.
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Old June 2nd, 2011, 11:10 AM   #6

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Wonderful thread Rosi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosi View Post
5. There's an entire city that has been lost/forgotten, described in its heyday by a Portuguese trader as "as large as Rome and the best provided city in the world". Once it was lost to the invading Muslim armies from the North it was never resettled. It's since become a "city of ghosts".


I think they were talking about the wonderful city and empire of Vijayanagar,
Vijayanagara_Empire Vijayanagara_Empire


The problem with these temples is the same that have Indian history: lack of knowledge out of few achademics in the West, I don't think is a problem of moral and sexuallity. The idea of misterious temples hided in the Indian jungle is present too in Western portray of India, remember Mowgli and the Book of the Jungle.

But Taj Mahal... is too beautiful, it would win any poll about the very best human building.

If i'm correct, the docu mix several towns and temples, the sexual ones discovered for Europe by the victorian Englishman are these
Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments
, while most of the time they talk about
Gangaikonda_Cholapuram Gangaikonda_Cholapuram
and
Rajaraja_Chola Rajaraja_Chola
But they are different, the first temple is in the north, between the Gangetic plain and the Deccan plateau, it belongs to Hindic kings, while the other temples are in the south, and belongs to Chola dynasty, who were Dravidians.

Last edited by Frank81; June 2nd, 2011 at 11:27 AM.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 03:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petyo View Post

Makes me wonder if ancient Egyptians ever used North African elephants..
It's not beyond the realm of possibility. North Africa used to have a subspecies of forest elephants, smaller than their savannah counterparts, it was these elephants that Hannibal took across the Alps. That subspecies has since gone extinct. If you could train them, you could use them. Elephants are very useful animals. If Hannibal could train them maybe the Egyptians could too. The savannah ones, however, are considered untameable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post

I think they were talking about the wonderful city and empire of Vijayanagar, Vijayanagara Empire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yes indeed, thanks for the link, it's a very well written article.

Quote:
But Taj Mahal... is too beautiful, it would win any poll about the very best human building.
The credit goes to the Persians.

Quote:
If i'm correct, the docu mix several towns and temples, the sexual ones discovered for Europe by the victorian Englishman are these Khajuraho Group of Monuments - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , while most of the time they talk about Gangaikonda Cholapuram - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Raja Raja Chola I - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yes, it did. It begins by saying those temples were swept under the carpet (so to speak) because of their eroticism but then goes on to talk in detail about non-erotic temples in a completely different location. It doesn't quite add up. But Discovery is known for sensationalising stuff.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 06:35 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosi View Post

The credit goes to the Persians.



Are you sure? Didn't the native artisans make some of the most remarkable jobs there or am i wrong?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosi View Post


Yes, it did. It begins by saying those temples were swept under the carpet (so to speak) because of their eroticism but then goes on to talk in detail about non-erotic temples in a completely different location. It doesn't quite add up. But Discovery is known for sensationalising stuff.

Yeah but we shall forgive them since many people only know history through their docus. This docu you've posted is very well written and filmed and with its many mistakes surelly is attrackting many people toward the issue.

I love the Hindu temples but for many years didn't have look them, thanks to this thread I'm "revisiting" them. Love how they made those stone sculptures on the walls, like this one from the Sun Temple in Kornak

Click the image to open in full size.


Or the stone chariot of Vijayanagar


Click the image to open in full size.
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 12:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
Are you sure? Didn't the native artisans make some of the most remarkable jobs there or am i wrong?
Right (i just looked it up on the internet). Thanks for correcting me, that was rather thoughtless of me.


Quote:
Yeah but we shall forgive them since many people only know history through their docus. This docu you've posted is very well written and filmed and with its many mistakes surelly is attrackting many people toward the issue.
You are right, despite its shortcomings it does give one plenty to think about. I liked it so much I saw it twice, back to back. I'd never seen a historical documentary twice in my life before.

Quote:
I love the Hindu temples but for many years didn't have look them, thanks to this thread I'm "revisiting" them. Love how they made those stone sculptures on the walls, like this one from the Sun Temple in Kornak

Click the image to open in full size.


Or the stone chariot of Vijayanagar


Click the image to open in full size.
Beautiful!
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Old June 3rd, 2011, 03:07 PM   #10

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I've found this astounding collection of pictures from Khajuharo, those guys were really crazy

Khajuraho Photo Gallery

Click the image to open in full size.
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