Vintage elephant chariots of Dharmasthala

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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.

Temple Chariots of Dharmasthala

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 an open shelter with tin roofing. If these were not transferred to an enclosed museum it will continue to decay in the passing of time.

Temple Chariots of Dharmasthala

Be that as it may, I was in 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 so 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 this Indian heritage.

Temple Chariots of Dharmasthala

How it is used during festivals is grander than I could imagine. I am glad that I have seen decorated elephant chariots in Udupi.

Temple Chariots of Dharmasthala

More photos at Flickr Set: The Vintage Chariots of Dharmasthala

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.

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