It was my first visit to Bhubaneswar and I must share a very enlightening conversation I had with the priest in the 7th Century Parashuram Temple, one of the temples we went to in this beautiful city of many ancient temples . It was as an after thought actually, that I had ventured into the inner sanctum ,the entrance to which had eight figures engraved on it. Something familiar about the engravings made me hang behind and take a re look for something told me I should know what these were. The Pujari noticed me linger and came up to me and said they were the “Grah” the Planets and I was like, Eight planets? What came to mind immediately was a memory from almost thirty five years ago when at the Kapaleeshwara temple in Mylapore I believe young Sankar my nephew had stood beside the Navagraham idols and asked if this is Navagraham then where is Nagesh? (Only Tamil film aficionados will understand this profound question)
The question in my mind however was that if these were the “Grahams” then were was the ninth one? Were there not nine planets? Nava graham? The Pujari then explained to me , an understanding smile on his face and a knowing twinkle in his eyes that “the ninth planet had not yet been discovered sister , this temple was built in the 7th century and so we see only eight” He further told me that I should take a careful look at the Mukhteshwar temple ( 11th century I think) when I went there after this , where I would find the ninth planet for “by that time you see it had been discovered” This was not just enlightening , but amazing and awe inspiring and absolutely surreal . Even now when I think back to what was revealed to me , it makes my hair stand on end and my heart leap out in wonderment at the great truth of our universe and its eternal , undying magic. Phew!! I was privy to mankind’s supreme attempts at harnessing the wonders of the galaxy all those centuries ago…
The precious heritage of its ancient and awe-inspiring temples is obviously cherished and maintained in a manner that is an example other cities can learn from. Temples built from hundreds of years ago are carefully nestled in the centre of neatly laid out gardens with enough room for devotees and tourists alike to pay their respects.
This city of a thousand temples also is home to the modern temple of IT culture the impressive Infosys campus. More impressive than the campus is the size of the heart of its “talent” as they call their personnel. They threw the campus open for my patient support group meeting and not only that, gave of themselves and their facilities with a charm and generosity that will forever endear them to my heart.
Bhubaneswar or BBSR as this charming city is called by its gung ho citizens was a revelation. I had not known that Le Corbusier of Chandigarh fame had designed a great part of this beautiful, charming city and was delightfully surprised by its wide roads, gracious bungalows and some very interesting murals on the walls that hugged the streets. Apparently that was the idea of one of the city’s Municipal Commissioners and she had some of the most immensely intricate designs typical of the region, its aappliqué works, pattachitras and handloom designs adorn the walls along the roads. It gives the city a perennially festive look and surely keeps ugly posters and pan stains (hopefully) off them.