Memoirs of a Visitor to India, pt. 3

The Temples

Bull Temple in Bangalore
I built several mini-sites devoted to the San Diego Museum of Art’s large collection of South Asian art: The Binney Collection I got to know Rama, Hanuman, Vishnu, Sita, Nandi, and was looking forward to seeing how these deities were worshipped in the temples.

My hotel taxi driver, Paul, took me to the Bull Temple/Hanuman temple. The Bull Temple is one of the largest Nandi sculptures in India. It is solid granite and worshippers come to praise Krishna and are blessed with good luck. One of the temple’s hosts spent some time with me to describe the importance of the temple. I was given a flower and a thumb full of powder on my forehead for prosperity. It was a very peaceful visit.

Hanuman temple
The Hanuman temple sits next to the Bull Temple. Hanuman is one of the most loved deities in India. He is a monkey figure that has shape-changing powers and helped Rama find his kidnapped wife Sita.

This temple was much busier. People lined up to have their blessings delivered into the shrine. Afterwards, they would walk around a corridor that surrounded this internal shrine. This seems to be a common procedure as it was similar in another temple I visited.

Paul then took me to a craft emporium, Sultania Arts Emporium, where I spent way too much money on bronze sculptures, silk, and silver jewelry. The salesman was a bit of a huckster, but the merchandise was top quality. It sold itself. I hate to bargain. If they list a good price, I’ll pay it. If not, I’ll walk away. This shop let me bargain a little and I was happy overall.

Hindu Temple in Bangalore

We then went to one of the most amazing religious areas I’ve ever seen. It was a large temple just behind the hotel. A tourist would never find it. It was old, well-used, and honest.

I’m agnostic. I don’t believe in any religion. However, I appreciate the architecture and art of various churches. The only church that gave me a similar feeling of warmth and awe was Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This temple’s power wasn’t in sheer size and architecture. It was the personal level of the many shrines, the age of the buildings, the massive bronze Nandi, the potpourri of scents from fires and offerings, the friendly people, and the overall feeling of comfort.

Hindu Temple in Bangalore

If you come to Bangalore, you must visit this shrine. I regret that I didn’t write down the name. It’s not far from MG Road; hidden amongst small market streets behind the Lido mall/Ista hotel.

Traffic

I loved the traffic in Bangalore. There. I’ve said it. Its anarchy combined with civility and a ton of honking. Painted lanes are a mere suggestion as the traffic swells to 4-5 lanes on small roads. Rickshaws, bikes, scooters, cars, and people jostle back and forth, keeping an eye on each other, a hand on the horn, and a prayer to Hanuman for safe journey.

to cross the road, just run like crazy
I even enjoyed crossing the streets. In fact, I was down right disappointed when an intersection had a cross walk. You stand on the sidewalk and wait for some hesitation or break in the traffic. As soon as it happens, you step into the street and move a few feet, dodge left or right, wait for a break, run a few more feet, stand in the middle of the road, recover, and then continue this frogger routine until you reach the other side.

I’m in Munich now and it’s just flat out boring to have all of these pesky traffic rules and boring cross walks. I want to run free and jostle with the best of them.

P1030787
The traffic is also a whir of colors and shapes. I became obsessed with the rickshaws; small motorized carriages on a motorcycle chassis. They zip in and out of traffic, the drivers are often bored looking at any stop, the passengers hold on for dear life, and the windshields have any number of religious figures stuck to them.

I also watched an oxen cart move down the street, dogs that defied traffic, women riding side-saddle on scooters, and rickshaw repairs in situ. I wish I could have bottled the traffic. I’d have a sip of it whenever I’m on the 101 and bored to tears.

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