Monthly Archives: June 2014

Layers of History II, Karla Caves and The Ekveera Temple

Wherever you are in India, you are a  witness to several historical eras juxtaposed together, like several geological eras in a single sedimentary rock. This is true whether  you are  in  Colaba or Karla.

The Karla Caves sit atop a mountain in the Sahyadri range.  The cave complex is made up of the largest Chaitya or  prayer hall  in India and the Viharas which serve as living quarters for the monks.   If the cave temple complex is a relic of India’s distant Buddhist past, the present is represented  by a much smaller temple dedicated to Ekveera Devi.  In fact, most of the visitors to Karla are Hindu pilgrims.  Ekveera, is the kuldevata (literal translation: clan deity, roughly like the Catholic patron saint) of the Kolis, the fisher folk who were Bombay’s original inhabitants.  She has also been adopted as kuldevata by many other Marathi speaking communities of Bombay.

The Ekveera Devi temple is one among many temples in Maharashtra that sit atop a mountain. Some are behind  impressive  fortifications while others are tucked away in plain sight next to Buddhist cave temples from another era.  Their location makes sense when you realize that higher altitudes are cooler during the summer and offer a measure of safety along with a peaceful place to meditate and contemplate. Watching the sun go down in the Western Ghats is a spiritual experience in and of itself.

Karla Cave Temple Complex  and Ekveera Devi Temple

Entrance to the Prayer Hall and the Ekveera Devi Temple

Ekveera Devi

Her Tortoise

Living Quarters  for the Buddhist Monks

A View of from the Top

To check out other posts about my India trip, click here

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Wednesday Afternoon Moment of Zen

The Main Prayer Hall, Karla Caves, Lonavla

I was here almost a month ago, a cool place to be in the middle of May, literally. The temperature inside the caves was at least ten degrees cooler than the outside. It is one of the many Buddhist cave temple complexes found all over India. Buddhism once flourished in India, especially during Ashoka’s reign.  The main prayer hall has Ashoka’s pillar at its entrance.

Chilling On a Caturday Afternoon

Hold the Calls and Send the Nip

Chillaxing

By two_kittehs  Photo: ShiroNeko’s blog

When it comes to relaxing, kittehs know the best.  The most relaxed cat on the intertoobz has appeared on these pages before.  He also has a YouTube channel.   I am going to follow his example to attain Purrvana.

An Ode to the Bounty of Summer-Hapoos Mangoes

Its been just two weeks since I came back from India.  However, the arrival of summer-like temperatures  is making me nostalgic about my trip. Before the monsoon arrives in early June, Bombay  is enveloped by punishing heat and  oppressive humidity.  The hardy souls who venture where angels fear to tread are rewarded by the seasonal bounty of ripe Hapoos mangoes.   In my biased opinion, they are the  best tasting mangoes in the world.

When ripe, they are a bright reddish orange.  When you bite into it, the mango has a velvety texture that melts in your mouth but it’s the heady sweet bouquet of ripening mangoes that draws you in, in the first place.

When I was in India I ate a Hapoos mango almost everyday, sometimes twice in a single day. I ate it by itself, in yogurt, juiced (aamras), with clotted cream, in an ice-cream and in kulfi.  If you have never tasted Hapoos, you should put it on your bucket list.  The Hapoos season is brief, late April until the arrival of the monsoon. There is no real substitute for the Hapoos but  Ataulfo mangoes are somewhat similar.

To welcome summer, I am going to post recipes using mangoes in the next few days.  I am starting with a recipe for mango lassi. If you have any specific requests email me or leave it in the comments below.

A Green mango on a tree, in my friend’s garden in Lonavla.

Mango Lassi

Ingredients

2 cups frozen or fresh ripe mangoes (I use the frozen mangoes from Trader Joe)

2 cups nonfat or 2% yogurt

2 tbsp sugar (more if you want the lassi to be sweeter)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

If using frozen mangoes, thaw them.  I usually add the sugar and the salt when I am thawing the mangoes.  If you have never diced a fresh mango, there are step by step instructions here. Use a blender to blend everything together.  Serve chilled. You can add some fresh mint or basil  for  a variation.  You can also leave out the grated nutmeg and cardamom if you don’t have them at hand.

The Dark Lord is Back

He has arisen from his crypt to blame President Obama by penning an op-ed full of lies and ugly insinuations with his equally evil spawn in the Wall Street Journal.  The latest news from Iraq has brought the war mongering neo-cons out of the woodwork and they are furiously penning op-eds and making rounds of shouty TV,  laying the blame for the current mess in Iraq at the feet of President Obama. Like before, their flunkies in the media are giving them an able assist.

Everything Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration have said about Iraq has been based on a tissue of lies. They roughed up Iraq, killing untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, just because they could, at a great cost in terms of both lives and treasure.  I also remember the relentless demonizing of anyone who did not fall in line about the plan for the invasion of Iraq.  Anyone who did not support George W. Bush 100% was labeled a traitor, remember Dixie chicks?  Now Dick and daughter are insinuating that the sitting President of the United States is a traitor. As Betty Cracker so eloquently wrote in Balloon Juice this morning, Irony is Dead. Off the top of my head, a list things that Cheney and company were wrong about regarding Iraq:

  • Saddam Hussein was not involved in the attacks of September, 11 2001
  • He did not have nuclear weapons
  • American troops were not welcomed as liberators
  • The war did not pay for itself, total cost of the war  three trillion dollars and counting
  • The war did not bring a stable democracy to Iraq
  • The much touted surge did not work

What were are seeing in Iraq  now is direct result of the botched invasion in 2003.   History did not begin when Obama was elected for the first time.  Given their track record President Obama should do the exact opposite of whatever Cheney and company suggest. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.  As for the media, no matter what he does, it is always the President’s fault. So whatever they say deserves to be ignored as well. 

 

Dick Cheney (2)

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images  Caption Credits: Schroedinger’s Cat

More Gulmohar

More Gulmohar

I took this picture on a sunny Sunday morning  while in India. In the foreground is the Arabian sea. More Gulmohar here and here are my other dispatches from India.

Caturday Kitteh Is Hard At Work

Witty Lols

By two_kittehs

Iraq Is in the Headlines Again

Some recent headlines:

From the Telegraph,

Iraq crisis: ISIS militants push towards Baghdad – live

 

From the New York Times,

Fears About Iraq Continue to Push Up Oil Prices

 

From the Guardian,

Iranian general visits Baghdad to assist with defence of Iraq capital

In other words:

Mission not Accomplished

Flame of the Forest

Flame of the forest or the Gulmohar tree just before the monsoon rains arrive.  I took this photo in Lonavla, India, in the last week of May.

Wednesday Literary Lol

Red Headed League

By two_kittehs