When The Past And Present Collide – A Marriage Of Contemporary Fashion And History
Saree Story At Pataleshwar Caves Pune
An inherent love for fashion has been a part of me for as long as I can remember, but a recent interest in history and understanding it, has led me to treasures I had left unexplored and unappreciated all my life. We all dream of travelling the world, some of us even spend our life savings doing so, but often we miss out on the unadulterated beauty that surrounds us, it stays hidden and obscure till a happy detour might lead a lucky few to it. One such serene and beautiful oasis sits right in the heart of the city, across one of the busiest streets and a few steps away from Fergusson College.
I am ashamed to say that I have lived in Pune for a long time and even studied in Fergusson college and in-spite of this, I never even knew of the existence of The Pataleshwar Caves. My ignorance has impassioned my desire to learn about our history, to represent it in all its glory and to share it with as many people as I can.
Pataleshwar Caves : The History
‘Patal’ refers to the realm under the world and ‘Eshwar’ means God. The Pataleshwar caves, quite literally, are at a descent of a few feet below the level of the city, four steep steps carved our of rock take you to an era of past glory. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is carved out of a single basalt rock.
As is customary, the Nandi with its all consuming devotion to Lord Shiva, sits guard in the “Nandi Mandap”, which is an exotic and elaborate canopy of solid stone, supported by gigantic pillars. The raised stone platform on which the exotic, serene and enormous Nandi sits has a stone ceiling and numerous pillars, which create a endearing picture and leave one over awed. Surrounded by this one cannot help but feel astonishment at the level of skill and artistic genius possessed by creators in the 8th century, when the structure was created.
The main temple itself has horizontal passages, the first two passages create a hall like structure, the ‘Sabha Mandap’, which overflow with devotees on certain days of the year. The passages are supported and separated by the trademark stone pillars, which do not just serve a practical supportive role, they also help create an atmosphere of serenity, calm and stillness by skilfully conducting a symphony between the sunlight from outside and the darkness from within.
Beyond the Sabha Mandap, hidden away in the depths of the cave, sits the Shivalinga in the Gabhara. There are also beautiful statues of Ram, Sita and Lakshman outside the sanctum.
A visit to the Pataleshwar caves on a Monday morning is a blissful experience, unlike any other and one that I would highly recommend. The caves reverberate with strong soulful voices chanting “Om Namah Shivay”, water and milk dripping down the Shivlinga and the temple bells ringing. Sitting here and soaking in the spirit and sounds of the mandir provide the soul some much needed respite and leave it filled with a sense of bright warmth and hope.
If ever there is a need to get away, to look within or to put life in perspective, amidst the beauty of this ancient cave is where it must be done, it is a blissful experience like no other.
Saree Story : The Fashion
I picked a saree to complement the mood of the Pataleshwar caves and to honour its sanctity. Like I have said in so many posts before, to me the saree is the most versatile garment I have ever known. With its Chameleon like characteristics, it can be anything you wish it to be – fierce, fiery, adventurous , sultry, coy, classy and so much more. The colour yellow, has a peculiarly calming effect on me as do the mildly fragrant roses. The yellow saree stands out against the characteristic dark stone of the caves creating the desired contrast.
I have to thank The Archaeological Survey Of India for granting me permission to shoot at the beautiful and valuable protected monument. It is thanks to this permission that I could capture the beauty of the Pataleshwar Caves, as I see it.
I do hope this will pique your interest in our history and our historical monuments, I hope this motivates you to take a few minutes to dive deep within, surrounded by the mesmerising stone caves.
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