Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

14 January 2010

The climate's delicate, the air most sweet, the temple much surpassing the common praise it bears

The road From Shimla to Rampur snakes its way from Cart Road, passing the suburbs of Sanjauli and Dhalli. It winds its way through the evergreen forests, skirting the wonderful Catchment Forest of Sheogh. En route fall those two ugly, concrete-covered tourist traps of Kufri and Fagu. Also on this road, you find some enterprising fellows who have set up shop - for tourists with a penchant for having themselves photographed in ''local dress". (It's a different matter that no local would ever recognise these outfits, much less be caught dead in them!)

This road wends its way past the truly unattractive town of Theog. You'd be forgiven for driving past it without a second look. But then, you'd be missing a little gem of a village which lies just a kilometre outside Theog. The place is called Janog. I found a pair of lovely temples. One all done up in candy colours, now fading to a nicety; the other, a typical wood and stone structure, its stone and wood attractively ageing thanks to the elements of nature.

The "younger" temple is that of Chakreshwar, a local deity. It is a pretty, two-storeyed structure currently squeezed between the homes of the inhabitants of Janog. Like many I've seen in Himachal, it has attractive embellishments: beautiful floral, curlicue patterns edging its sides. As always, wooden tassles, alternately coloured pink, blue, yellow and white, dangle and sway in the light breeze. Also as in Himachali temples, one has to rest content with looking at the structure from outside as noone but the temples caretakers are allowed inside.
The local pujari informs me that Sankranti, a festival falling on 13th January, is an important one for this temple. This is the day when the Gods are taken out to meet the devotees. This confluence of the sacred and the secular is an intriguing one, especially since the presiding deity is expected to troubleshoot on behalf of the devotee. The diwaan of Janog informed me that usually a goat is sacrificed on the occasion, not on the express wish of the deity, but so as to allow the locals to enjoy a hearty celebration meal afterwards!

What you see below is the "older" temple, or the deora. Hindu temples are never de-consecrated, so to that extent this remains a holy spot. However, locals have long since abandoned it in favour of the newer version. It has a little place for the homa, the sacred fire lit for special prayers, and while parts of it are still cheerfully coloured, it wears the slightly folorn look of someone whose time has passed. Devout men and their religious texts do not sound a canting peal in its walls, yet, there is a sense of the resting of spiritual oars here.

This is the frontal aspect of the temple. This is yet again, a pretty example of the attractive sloping-roof style with its typical projecting horizontal pillar.

The roof is graven with a thousand images of joyous celebration, men and women holding hands as they dance to the tune issuing from myriad musical instruments.

The pillars and the cross-beams hold faith firm and encircle the temple sanctum with affectionate gravity. There are no walls to shut out the clamour of the outer world and direct the mind to higher realms. Yet, the mundane and the sacred meld into one here.


Ann said...

Fascinating architecture, I like these little gems you find for us.

Ravinder Makhaik said...

The older hill temples and the accompanying iconography are sermons in wood but the newer ones which have begun to use cement, steel and other modern construction materials can never match the aesthetic sense that you so beautifully portray out here.

Gallimaufry said...

Ann, you need to come over to see it for yourself :)

Ravinder, old is truly gold in the case of all Indian temples, and espcially so for Himachali ones, isn't it? The new ones leave me cold.

petrenkov said...

Pretty nice site you've got here. Thanks the author for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Truly yours
Jeph Normic

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