Inside the temple town of Dharmasthala is a collection of vintage elephant chariots or temple chariots. This is different from the elephant chariots they used in wars in the earlier days.
Elephant chariots are usually used during religious festivals. It was told that before their transfer to Dharmasthala, these magnificent chariots with their intricate carvings and decorations have often suffered neglect. These 15th century temple chariots were brought to Dharmasthala from several places of Karnataka and were restored to their original grandeur by dedicated craftsmen so that people may, once again, admire the beauty of these chariots of the gods. Indeed, the intricate bas relief of the Indian gods and deities are awesome enough that one can actually linger the whole day just to appreciate it.
However, looking at this display of Indian heritage that is open to the elements may not last long. There were around 6 of these chariots on display under a open shelter with tin roofing. If these were not transferred to an enclosed museum it will continue to decay in the passing of time.
Be that as it may, I was at awe looking at these chariots. The intricate design makes a photography junkie like me so much excited that I did not know where to start and what to shoot. I had to compose myself, shedding off that over-excitement at the sight of these museum pieces, and had to and make do by covering all possible angles with the little time left before we have to move on to Udupi. Everything just looked to surreal. I could just imagine how these chariots looked when decorated and take the center stage of the religious festivals. I am just blessed to see these Indian heritage.
How it is used during festivals is more grand than I could imagine. I am glad that I have seen decorated elephant chariots in Udupi.
More photos at Flickr Set: The Vintage Chariots of Dharmasthala
View Hassan to Dharmastala in a larger map
Do you like this article? Like us on Facebook, too!