Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Day Seven - 14 Dec 2017


It was free and easy on day seven as we would be leaving for airport in the evening at around 5:30pm to catch a 8:10pm flight from Vijayawada Airport to Bengaluru Airport then take the Singapore Airline flight back to Singapore. I was on an earlier hotel check-out time at 12 and I also had a some discomfort in the stomach so I did not go out in the car to sketch the Krisna River or the city for the last time. Those who were on 3:00pm check-out time did that. After the hotel check-out, we went shopping for some gifts and kurta blouse for me and shirts for my son. I came back to the hotel and managed to do this sketch inside the hotel lobby looking out to the street from the corner glass panel. It was also the last sketch in the Seawhite Conertina Sketchbook. Perfect!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Day Six Afternoon


38m high sitting Buddha in dhyana position at Dhyana Buddha Park, Amaravathi, Andhra Pradesh, India.

The Buddha statue was commissioned in 2003 and completed in 2015. The statue has a museum in the base underneath it, which consists of sculptures depicting scenes with Buddhist significance, most modern copies of the original reliefs from the Amaravathi Mahachaitya stupa which are now in museums around India and the world. The eight pillars signifies path for salvation followed by Buddha, four zones for noble truths and five ayaka pillars for stages of life. Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation is going to complete the Theme Park in front of the statue which is said to be opened for the public in 2018.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Day Six - 13 Dec 2017


171213_museumIn the morning we visited the Amaravati Archaeological Museum and there was a model of The Great Stupa or Mahachaitya in the open courtyard. We were not allowed to take photos inside the museum so I sketched this big sculptural cow on the left. It was about 2.0m long x 1.2m high housed inside a transparent box. We then walked to the ruins of The Great Stupa nearby and stayed there to sketch the park. I sketched the original foundation of the stupa and you can imagine how big was the dome on top of it. All the broken pieces from the stupa were displayed at the museum earlier and it depicted the life of Buddha and the glorious history of the Indian dynasties when Buddhism flourished in Amaravati. The stones displayed here at the park were relics from various locations in India.

Amaravati was home to best known 2000 years old Buddhist relics, which made the place an important pilgrimage for the Buddhists even to this day. The famous monk in the classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West" with Sun Wukong, the monkey king was said to retrieve Buddhist sutras from the west, ie Amaravati.

Architectural Drawing by, Amaravati Mahachaitya or The Great Stupa was built around the 2nd century. It was the largest stupa in India and the stupa was earlier a simple structure with limestone crossbars and simple carvings, but when renovated by the Satavahana rulers, it became a highly marked architectural monument. Excavated a few years back, this stupa is engraved with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. If you are interested to know more The Great Stupa and Buddhism in Amaravathi, this link is very useful.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Day Five Afternoon


We decided to travel as the same group and explore Mangalagiri in the afternoon. It was an eye opener to witness how the workers here operated the hand-looms to make sarees in the dug trenches into the ground. Yes, they did not sit on the ground or the chairs but slip their legs into a trench in the ground. It was cooler and save the ceiling space in this way. The workers were paid $500 Rupees or $10 SGD for a saree which took two consecutive days to complete. I didn't think I was able to work in that kind of environment with repetitive movement and noise for even a few hours. Complete a sketch was already an difficult task with constant bombardment of repetitive sound from the hand looms. It certainly was not music to the ears but visual treat to the eyes with so many colours from the textiles on the hand looms and the costumes worn by the workers.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Day Five - 12 Dec 2017


Mission Accomplished! Our group visited all the villages assigned to us and we could choose to join any other group to continue sketching a village or to have our own itinerary in the afternoon. Before that, all groups set off to visit Undavali Caves together in the morning so here is a sketch I did.

Left: Drawing by Mr. Peters - Panikkar, K. M. (1880) The Cave Temples of India.

Undavali Caves was located on the banks of Krishna River in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. This very popular tourist spot was around 10km from Vijayawada and 40km from the town of Guntur. Undavali caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th to 5th centuries A.D. There are several caves and the Undavali Caves were the best known and largest at four-storey high with a huge recreated statue of Vishnu in a reclining posture inside a room. It was sculpted from a single block of granite inside the second floor.

Undavalli caves were an example of how many Buddhist artifacts and stupas in Andhra were converted into Hindu temples and deities. It was originally a Jain cave resembling the architecture of Udayagiri and Khandgiri. The main cave was one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, primarily primitive rock-cut monastery cells carved into the sandstone hills. Initially the caves were shaped as a Jain abode and the first floor abode still retained the Jain style; the vihara exhibits Jain monastics and includes tirthankara sculptures. This first level of the cave was a carved vihara and included Buddhist art work.

The site served as the Bhikkhu monastic complex during ancient period. The walls of the caves displayed sculptures carved by skilled craftsmen. The caves were surrounded by the green countryside. From the high hill above the cave overlooking the Krishna River many fine specimens of rock cut architecture could be seen. It was a fine example displaying three religions - Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism in Undavali Caves.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Day Four Afternoon


We were given two villages to visit on day four, after leaving our host, our driver brought us to V Square for lunch where we met other groups when we were about to leave for Sakhamuru palem. We were not given a contact at Sakhamuru so our driver gave us a ride to the small village. The view unfolded in our eyes when we entered the village was spectacular as we were greeted by a beautiful lake and lush vegetation. I sat under a big tree and sketched this scene directly oppostie the lake. A big star adorned the church at the far end signalling X'mas would be here soon. I noticed in this village a tall water tower on the right, water tank in the middle and a new water supply station on the left so water resources management could be an important and vital issue. Hopefully the new Amaravati city will have new and modern infrastructure to benefit the future generations of all the villages we visited.

Sakhamuru Palem was a small village but the villagers were so friendly. The kids surrounded us when they returned home after their school hours but they were all very well behaved. One elderly man came to us and said he was one of the landowners in the first group that visited Singapore. That must be in late November. Suddenly I felt we were so small in this universe but somehow we were connected in some way. So surreal but true.