in xanadu did kubla khan etc. etc. etc.

on the way to srikalahasti, we came across this building, the mandapam of the oneness movement. it is the largest pillarless hall in india (the movement claims), able to seat 8,000 people. the oneness devotees are followers of sri amma and sri bhagwan, a holy couple that preach … actually, i have no idea what they preach. love, compassion, a higher power … ma nishtana, one might say.  oneness’ adherents say it is “a world changing phenomenon that is helping people of all faiths and paths move into higher states of consciousness,” and the temple is supposed to be “endowed…

rocks

as we drove through andhra pradesh, we saw granite rock formations that looked as though they had been built by hand. quoting from one website: andhra pradesh is endowed with spectacular rocky formations, which at many places, are simply awe-inspiring. they are indeed a natural wonder of stony ridges and hillocks shaped into picturesque balancing forms through millions of years of weathering and wearing. the deccan plateau, that is the vast expanse of peninsular india, south of the vindhyas and composed mostly of grey granite, is among the oldest and hardest rock formations in the world. geologists date these rocks…

150,000 bricks

my comrade-in-cameras james and i took another roadtrip, this time into andhra pradesh. on our way to the temple town of srikalahasti, we stopped at a brick kiln, one of many along the road. the bricks are stacked up and the fire is built underneath. they are not as sturdy as bricks made in the u.s.; if one has a crack in it, you can break it with your hands and it will crumble into pieces. there were two or three families living in thatch-roofed huts (with brick walls, of course) on the site. i didn’t ask the head of…

albania

my photos of albania got picked up by the photo editor at the indian edition of the sunday guardian, and after some back and forth, she offered to include my abandoned factory photos in the paper’s picture essay section here: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/picture-essay in addition, the blogger service that i’d used for all of my albania blogging has said that i have to join the google accounts or something, or they’d block access to the blog. i may have inadvertently done what they wanted me to do anyway, but i have had to load all of those posts to this blog as well…

arubathimoovar festival day 2

we went back the next day for the main procession, of lord shiva and the 63 saints. the streets were not as crazily packed as they were the day before, but the area in front of the temple, which had been enclosed for the occasion, was fully jammed with worshippers. oddly, the event wasn’t as grand as the celebration of the day before, but i think it had more religious significance. i saw a group of kids in the chariot from yesterday, so of course i had to climb up as well and take a look. i don’t know if…

arubathimoovar festival

today, my friend and fellow tirupati traveler james and i went to kapaleeswarar temple to see the arubathimoovar festival. arubathimoovar celebrates 63 saints who were canonized for their devotion to lord shiva, and the highlight of the festival is the parade of temple chariots, each of which carries a statue of a saint through the streets. one of the first things we encountered was a group of beggars who roll themselves through the streets, chanting, blocking traffic, and begging for alms. as the middle shot shows (and i’m only including it as evidence, not because it’s a particularly good shot),…