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  • Thumbnail for Bodhisattva figure
    Bodhisattva figure

    Bodhisattva figures adorn the outer walls of the caves. These bodhisattva figures represent the ideal of leaving one's family, wealth, and social standing to take up the life of a wandering Buddhist mendicant seeking enlightenment

  • Thumbnail for Painted Bodhisattva on pillar, close-up
    Painted Bodhisattva on pillar, close-up

    The pillars inside this cave display many figures of Buddhist monks as bodhisattvas and buddhas. These monks wear the traditional monastic robe covering one shoulder. The bodhisattva holds the lotus, symbol of enlightenment.

  • Thumbnail for Standing Buddha in Stupa, Chaitya Hall, cave 19
    Standing Buddha in Stupa, Chaitya Hall, cave 19

    This standing Buddha figure within a stupa-like structure is placed within a large chaitya hall, a cave where monks gathered for teaching and community ritual practices. The straight, rigid form of this Buddha is reminiscent of figures of Jain tirthankaras, with whom early Buddhist monks shared many ideas and practices. The Buddha is depicted with the royal headdress of an aristocratic person but in the ascetic simplicity of an unclothed body.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, older brother with infant
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, older brother with infant

    Small older brother has accompanied his family for this ritual celebrating the birth and health of his siblings and cousins. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, older siblings entertaining the infant
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, ritual of thanksgiving for child, older siblings entertaining the infant

    Older siblings and cousins entertaining the infant while he waits for the weighing to be completed. [For description of the ritual, see cbind0043.]

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque perfume kiosk
    Aurangzeb Mosque perfume kiosk

    Outside many mosques in India, small shops sell perfumes and small ornaments. Before prayer, all must perform ritual ablutions to purify oneself. From an early period, perfumes have been associated with the idea of purification.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh, mother's tomb shrine
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh, mother's tomb shrine

    Within a few yards of the tomb shrine of Zar Zari Zar Baksh lies the tomb shrine of his mother, also understood to intercede with God on the behalf of pilgrims. Women pilgrims often pray to her to help them conceive a child.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad fairies' tank, pariyon ka talab
    Khuldabad fairies' tank, pariyon ka talab

    The Jalal al-Din Dargah overlooks this spring-fed pond which is understood to have miraculous healing properties. In particular, people with mental illnesses drink and touch this water hoping to regain their health.

  • Thumbnail for Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree
    Khuldabad Jalal al-Din Dargah, tree

    This oddly shaped but magnificent tree is said to have spontaneously begun growing when the saint threw a stick in the courtyard. Women tie colored fabric on its branches as a symbol of their petitions to the saint.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj
    Kailash Cave Temple, painted Shiva Nataraj

    A brightly painted image on an inside pillar in the area outside the inner sanctum presents a lively image of the dancing Shiva Nataraj. In some parts of the temple, the ancient pigments seem to have been preserved, probably due to their placement in areas protected from the elements.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga between bull horns
    Ellora, Datta Temple, Linga between bull horns

    On a pillar of the temple, a lingam sits between the horns of a bull.

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque, sign
    Aurangzeb Mosque, sign

    Sign in English and Hindi for the Tomb of the last Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. Behind this sign is a small sign explaining that anyone who vandalizes this monument will be subject to imprisonment of up to three months, a fine of up to 5000 rupees [more than $100], or both.

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque and Tomb, sign
    Aurangzeb Mosque and Tomb, sign

    This sign in the courtyard of the mosque complex explains that this area contains the Shrine of the saint, Zainuddin, and the tomb of the son of Aurangzeb, Azamshah. The sign is written in English, Hindi, and Urdu.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, viewed from a distance
    Ellora Hindu Caves, viewed from a distance

    Part of a series of caves carved into the basalt rock of these hillsides are the Hindu caves offering particularly beautiful images of such favorite scenes as the weddings of Shiva and Parvati, and Rama and Sita. Cave 29 known as "Sita ki nanahi" or "Sita ki kunda", the bathing place of Sita, draws honeymooning couples who take their pictures in front of the magnificent waterfall. During the monsoon season, this waterfall falls into a beautiful pool between two caves.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, balcony entrance detail
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, balcony entrance detail

    These auspicious celestial creatures, the male gandharva and two female apsarases appear to be floating or flying, just as they are described in mythological texts. They live among the clouds but are associated also with water, sensuality, music, and dance. Connected with Indra, king of the gods, the apsarases and gandharva depicted here might represent Indra's devotion to the Buddha and the many bodhisattvas.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions

    At the Tomb Shrine of the mother of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, women tie glass bangles over the door lintel into the shrine room as symbols of their petitions.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1
    Kailash Cave Temple, amorous couple 1

    Auspicious figures of amorous couples in small stone niches adorn the magnificent Kailash Cave Temple, cave #16 in the series of Ellora Caves. These figures represent fertility and good fortune for all who see them.

  • Thumbnail for Qawwali, impromptu afternoon performance
    Qawwali, impromptu afternoon performance

    A senior qawwali singer is joined by other men to sing qawwals in praise of God, the Prophet, and Sufi saints. This was an impromptu qawwali performed with men who happened to be at the dargah.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway
    Ellora, Ganapati Temple, inner sanctum doorway

    The small inner shrine of the temple is set off from the rest of the temple by this decorated doorway. Devotees ring the bell to announce their presence to the god and then step over the door frame to perform their puja and receive darshan. Barely visible just inside the door is the image of the elephant-faced deity.

  • Thumbnail for Yu Gardens
    Yu Gardens

    Photograph of the interior of the Yu Gardens, Shanghai.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Temple, Parshvanatha tirthankara
    Ellora, Jain Temple, Parshvanatha tirthankara

    Parshvanatha, a digambara monk, is always depicted resting against the coils of a snake and protected under the hoods of snakes. He is also shown over the wheel of a chariot, with elephants, lions, and devotees at his feet.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora, Jain Caves, Mahavira shrine entrance
    Ellora, Jain Caves, Mahavira shrine entrance

    This shrine is dedicated to the 24th tirthankara, Mahavira, who is understood to have lived in the 6th or 5th century B.C.E. Mahavira is depicted seated in the lotus position having achieved a state of pure liberation. Other tirthankaras are depicted behind him.

  • Thumbnail for Room
    Room

    During my homestay I snapped a picture of my room for posterity. Note the tatami mats, futon, space heater, and "desk".

  • Thumbnail for Sushi on conveyor belt
    Sushi on conveyor belt

    Brendan Eagan enjoys a dinner of sushi at a "rolling sushi" restaurant (the food comes to you on a conveyer belt) with his host family in Nagasaki.

  • Thumbnail for Red Door, Suzhou Gardens
    Red Door, Suzhou Gardens

    Photograph of the natural splendor of Suzhou's famous gardens. This view features a distinctive round red door set into a white wall.