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On the night of 8th November 2016, the government of India published the new Indian currency (500 and 2000), the news came in like a storm, at around 8pm, the “Demonetization” Effect. The country had zero clue and we were already in for something new. The Demonetization news brought new changes and also new stories for the country. 

All the fresh currency featured pre-eminent monuments of India. Here is a little peep into the Monuments highlighted in the new six currency notes. The notes feature a few prominent places that the Indians are proud of, join in, and walk with us to the beautiful places. 

KONARK TEMPLE (Rs. 10, January 2018)

Konark Temple

Laid out like a giant chariot, the Konark temple is every architecture’s dream spread in front of you. Honoured as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984, this mystifying phenomenon is found in the outlandish town called Konark in the state of Odisha, earlier known as Orissa. The Konark temple derives its name from the Sanskrit words ‘Kona that means angle and the latter ‘ ark’ the sun. Built-in the 13th century under the rulership of King Narasimhadeva I, the great ruler of the Ganga dynasty, the construction of the temple took the labour ship of 1200 artisans for 12 years. Since the king was a worshipper of the Sun, the temple was built as a humongous chariot for the Sun god.  The chariot has been accompanied by seven horses and twenty-four wheels that draw it towards the sky. The wheels carved into the stone walls of the temple don’t stand just for symbolisms but represent a sundial that can tell the exact time of the day. They also represent twelve months of the Hindu calendar. The Konark temple is guarded by two lions killing two war elephants being crushed, under whom lays a human being. The Lion here illustrates the power and the elephant represents wealth. This piece of art has been used to depict the problems that a common man faces in his lifetime. The three different sides of the images of the sun god in the temple have been positioned in a way that the rays of the sun fall directly in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The Sun temple has been bestowed with beautiful carvings and sculptures that depict the major pursuits or puruṣārthas of life. The four puruṣārthas are Dharma (righteousness), Artha (prosperity), Kama (psychological) and Moksha (liberation). Sculpted images of Hindu gods, animals, birds and more can also be seen here.  Around the year 1676, the Konark temple also called the Black Pagoda by European sailors due to the temple’s dark appearance. It acted as a major landmark for sailors in the Bay of Bengal. They also believed that the temple has magnetic powers that pull the boats towards it.

ELLORA CAVES (Rs. 20, April 2019)

Ellora Caves

Sculpted from high basalt cliffs of the Charanandari hills, were the Ellora caves found in the Sahyadri hills of Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Ellora, also known as Elura and in the ancient times as Elapura are hundred rock-cut temples out of which only thirty-four are accessible to the public. The caves have been regarded as a UNESCO world heritage site since the year 1983. The caves depict the amalgamation of three religions Hindu, Buddhist and Jain through its temples, and monuments making it the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world. Ellora comprises of seventeen Hindu caves that were built between 550 to 600 CE in the Kalacuris period. The extravagant carvings of the Hindu caves are the most exquisite and dainty. The most remarkable being the Kailasa temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva has received accolades for being the largest rock-cut structure anywhere in the world. The cave gets its name from the Kailas Range of the Himalayas where Lord Shiva was known to have resided. The effigy of Lord Vishnu in the form of man-lion battling a demon is surely a sight to behold. An elaborate representation of Hindu dainties in the Sanskrit epics of ancient India Ramayana and Mahabharat make the stunning rock-cut structure an integral part of the Ellora caves. Apart from the Hindu caves, the twelve Buddhist caves were built after them during the 600 to 730 CE. The Cave twelve inside the Buddhist caves is considered the most ornamented. The Visvakarma cave consists of on the biggest Buddha statues. The Cave five is said to be one of the extravagant parts amongst the rest of the caves as it comprises of seventeen cells and a large hall with ten rows in two columns. A flock of Buddhist monks would gather here to conduct assemblies. Lastly, the five Jain temples were constructed between 800 to 1000 CE. The cave thirty-two consists of carvings of flowers and other intricate delineated. The Ellora caves attract various visitors from different parts of the world, especially to witness the annual Ellora Festival of Classical Dance and Music that is held in March every year. 

HAMPI (Rs. 50, August 2017)

Hampi

Hampi or the Group of Monuments is a small town located near the state of Karnataka. It was earlier regarded as the capital of the Vijayanagara dynasty and the second-largest city in the world. Hampi was included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. It was known to be one of India’s richest place due to its trading practices with Persia and Portugal. Hampi was founded in the 14th century by Prince Hakka and Bukka. Hampi or the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire was defeated in the battle of Talikota by the Muslim Sultanates. The capital was drawn into shambles by the sultanates. Since then Hampi has remained in ruins. The ancient empire boasts exquisite architecture through its temples, gardens, mandaps, and bazaars. The most revered ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire was KrishndevarayaRaya, who in his reign built the Hazara Rama temple. Inscriptions of the Ramayana have been etched on the walls of the temple. It was the place of worship for the royals where performances were also held. Another famous attraction of Hampi that was built during the rule of Krishnadevaraya is the Vitthala Temple situated in the Hampi Bazaar. Even though the construction was never finished, the temple is one of the integral pieces of art of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. The Garuda Shrine or the stone chariot poised in the centre of the temple belongs to Lord Vitthala an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The wheels of the Chariot are were once considered to be movable. The pillars of the temple produce music when tapped, hence, are famously called the musical pillars. The temple is a remarkable spot that showcases the entire Vijayanagara in its true beauty. Another temple located in the Hampi Bazaar is the Virupaksha Temple, one of the earliest monuments of the city. The temple is dedicated to Virupaksha who was an incarnation of Lord  Shiva.

Related Topics:- HAMPI – “The City of Ruins

RANI KI VAV (Rs.100, July 2018)

Rani ki Vav

Situated on the banks of the Saraswati river in the town of Patan, Gujarat is the 900-year-old Rani ki Vav. The recently introduced lavender one hundred rupee note features this stepwell that has suddenly brought attention to this once unknown site. Also known as the queen’s stepwell, Rani ki Vav is the only stepwell to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was also awarded the cleanest iconic place in India at the 2016 Indian Sanitation Conference. The Rani ki Vav was built as a memorial by Rani Udayamati for her husband, the 11th-century king, Bhima I of the Solanki Dynasty. This explains why the stepwell is known as the queen’s stepwell as it epitomizes the love of a queen. This seven-storey structure measures 64 metres in length, 20 metres in width and 28metres in depth. It is known to be one of the finest and prestige examples of fine craftsmanship and architecture. The architectural style showcased by the craftsmen is known as Maru-Gurjara. The Rani ki Vav or the stepwell has been designed as an inverted temple. The tour down the prestigious stepwell will make you witness the sanctity and holiness of this place that consists of over 1500 sculptures. Stepwells have always known to be a unique form of a water storage system in India. Water wells in which the water is stored by descending a series of steps. It is popularly said that the water in the vav is considered to be magical, as it cures people, due to the herbs that are found. Many years ago the Rani ki Vav was flooded by the Sabarmati River. It remained submerged in water and it was only around 1980 that it was evacuated by the Archaeological Survey of India. The state of Gujarat offers its visitor a peek into its heritage and culture through magnificent caves, monuments, monasteries and craftmanship. Gujarat is known for taking pride in its vividness and lively celebration of its festivals. The state also provides shelter to various wildlife species. Gujarat Tourism has been featured under the Incredible India initiative by the government of India.

SANCHI STUPA (Rs. 200, August 2017)

Sanchi Stupa

The Sanchi Stupa was built in the 3rd century BCE by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The Stupa is located at the Stupa town in Madhya Pradesh. Conferred as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1989, it is deemed as one of the oldest Buddhist monuments of India. The construction of the stupa was supervised by the wife of King Ashoka Devi. Town Sanchi was the birthplace of Devi as well as the venue of her wedding with Ashoka. It is said that the earlier stupa held the relics of Lord Buddha. A stone made hemispherical dome was made on top of the relics of Lord Buddha. An umbrella-like structure encircled by a terrace that was then installed on top of the dome as an indication to honour and protect the relics. In the first century, four intricately carved gateways or toranas facing all four directions and a balustrade surrounding the stupa were added. The general of the Maurya Empire Pushyamitra Shunga during the establishment of the Shunga Dynasty destroyed the Sanchi Stupa into shambles. But, it was later reconstructed by his son Agnimitra. The re-construction was bigger than what was created during the Mauryan dynasty. The dome was flattened out to cover the stupa. Three umbrella-like structures were created instead of one on top of the dome to symbolise the three jewels of Buddhism that are the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha. A staircase was also added to let visitors experience the beauty of the stupa from a closer perspective. The stupa town is surrounded by various other stupas. Barely 9 km away to the west of Stupa is Satdhara that comprises of forty stupas. Bhojpur or Morel Khurd has over sixty stupas and Andher in the southeast, Sonari to the southwest, and Satdhara to the west of Stupa. Further south, about 100 km away, is Saru Maru.

RED FORT (Rs. 500, November 2016)

Red Fort

The sumptuous monument where the national flag of our country is hoisted every year by the current prime minister of India makes us relive the times when India broke the shambles of the British rulership and was declared a federal parliamentary democratic republic is Red Fort in New Delhi. Built on the banks of Yamuna, the Red fort or the Hindustani Lal Quila was established by Shah Jahan in 1639. The completion of the process of construction occurred after ten years. Shah Jahan built it as a place for his capital, Shahjanabad, today what we know as Old Delhi. This red sandstone monument was designed by the same architects that had built one of the most elegant seventh wonder of the world Taj Mahal. It is well known that the Red fort was previously white as it was made through limestones. But, the white colour of the stones started fading off due to which the Britishers decided to paint it red. Originally named Quila-e-Mubarak as it was the residence of the royal family but, the Britishers after revamping the colour decided to name it the Red Fort. The octagonal-shaped Red fort stands tall at a height of seventy-five feet and covers 253 acres of ground.  The Fort has a total of three gates for the entrance of which the Khizrabad gate was constructed for the convenience of the royal family. The other two gates, Delhi and Lahore are currently open for public access. It comprises of a hall (Diwan-i-Aam), balcony (Jharokha), bath (Hammam), canal (Nahr-i-Bihisht), step well (Baoli), garden (Hayat Baksh Bagh) and a mosque (Moti Masjid). The Red Fort stands adjacent to the Salmigarh fort built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546 AD. An unknown fact of the Red fort is that the Kohinoor diamond was part of the Diwan-i-Khas, the private court of the palace.