Last weekend we took a trip to the coffee land of Karnataka – ‘Chikmagalur’. For a change we booked a homestay in the middle of the coffee plantations. We started from Bangalore at 6am and reached Chikmagalur around 11am (the distance is ~250km). We had hired a car for our round trip. After reaching our homestay and unpacking we immediately set off for our first day of sightseeing to Bababudangiri and Mullyanagiri mountain peaks. We also spent some time at the beautiful Jhari falls. Cars can go up almost near the peak. After this there is a jeep service to take you to the waterfall.
On the second day, we first visited the Veera Narayana temple in Belavadi. Belavadi is said to be the place mentioned in Mahabharatha where Pandava prince Bheema killed the demon Bakasura and protected the village and its people.This ornate trikuta (three shrined) temple was built in 1200 C.E. by Hoysala Empire King Veera Ballala II. The material used is soapstone (steatite). This stone is extremely easy to chisel, but attains iron-like firmness when exposed to the atmosphere. To maintain the shine of the temple, the stone is treated with a chemical wash and then wax polished once in ten years. Each of the three shrines has a complete superstructure (tower on top of shrine) and is one of the largest temples built by the Hoysala kings. While the famous temples at Belur and Halebidu are known for their intricate sculptures, this temple is known for its architecture.
It is believed that Veera Narayana Temple was constructed in two phases. The temple is exquisitely crafted and is one of the architectural marvels of India.
This is a Vaishnava temple and all three shrines have images of the Hindu god Vishnu, though in different forms (avatar). The central shrine (older shrine) has an 8 ft (2.4 m) tall image of Narayana with four hands and is considered one of the best examples of Hoysala art. It is well elaborated with ornamentation and stands on a padmasana (lotus seat). The southern shrine has an 8 ft (2.4 m) tall image of Venugopala (the god Krishna playing a flute) including a garuda pedestal and the northern shrine has a 7 ft (2.1 m) tall image of Yoganarasimha, sitting in a yoga posture. Decorative sculptures such as kirtimukhas (gargoyles) are used to make the shrine (vimana) towers ornate. The Archaeological Survey of India has voted the idol of Lord Krishna here as the most beautiful of all Krishna sculptures in the world.
After that we visited the Chenna Keshava temple in Belur. The magnificent shrine is dedicated to Lord Vijayaanarayan, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu. This temple was built to commemorate the victory of the Hoysalas over the Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. According to historical records, it took over 103 years to complete this profusely sculpted masterpiece of Hoysala architecture. The huge temple complex enclosed by high walls has a garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), a sukhanasi (vestibule) and a navaranga mandapa. There are two gateways, but only one is crowned by a gopuram. The brackets outside the temple are adorned with voluptuous beauties (Madanikas) in different dancing and ritual postures.
Our last stop was the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebeedu. The shrine is very similar to the Chenna Keshava temple at Belur, but its figures are more profusely carved. James Fergusson, an art and architecture expert was mesmerized by the beauty of the shrine. He remarks that the temple “may probably be considered as one of the most marvellous exhibitions of human labour to be found even in the patient east” and compares Hoysaleswara with the famous Parthenon in Athens. The temple complex consists of two identical temples each with its own array of navaranga and sukhanasi and Nandi mandapas. Both the sanctums have a characteristic star shaped ground plan. The two temple halls are joined by a common verandah creating a spacious columned interior. Thousands of intricately carved sculptures depicting scenes from the mythological epics Ramayana, Mahabharata, puranic legends, beasts and beauties etc. adorn the temple walls. There are about thirty five thousand sculpted pieces in the shrine, noted for their breathtaking beauty, but the south doorway unrivalled for its filigree work is considered to be a masterpiece of delicate carving. Both the sanctums enshrine an east facing lingam, preceded by a Nandi mandapa with a huge statue of Nandi bull, the celestial vehicle of Lord Shiva. Behind the Nandi are the large figures of Lord Suryanarayan with seven horses and Arunadeva.
The homestay experience was also refreshing. Breakfast and dinner were provided by our courteous host Subhada. There was a nice spread of delicious Malnad style food. She was also very friendly and took good care to see that we were comfortable.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others” —Jack Welch
The question of whether leadership skills are innate or acquired has been debated for long and evokes strong opinions on both fronts. We have seen how certain people stand out among the crowd and are born leaders. And yet there are others who through observation, learning and focus have developed leadership traits with experience over time.
Here are 10 traits which I believe a successful leader should cultivate:
- Integrity: A leader works inside out. He/she first works on self-development – cultivating qualities like integrity, communication, empathy and resilience. They have strong faith in their core values – what is right and wrong. At the same time, they are open to feedback. Only when a leader is able to conquer himself can he inspire others.
- Direction: A leader has to have a clear sense of direction in conveying the vision, mission, values, goals and plans to the team. A leader without direction is like a ship without a captain. Without a clear direction, the employees will be lost and eventually lose enthusiasm.
- Example: A leader has to lead by example. He/she has to walk the talk. This is one of the most difficult traits to cultivate. Employees who see their leader stand up and lead will be engaged and willing to perform to their best potential. A leader who shows vulnerability and believes that he is one with the team and working with them together will be respected by employees.
- Empathize: Empathy is putting yourself in another person’s shoes to understand how they feel. A good leader not only listens carefully but also responds with care and concern. An employee may forget what you say or do but will never forget how you made them feel.
- Empower: A leader delegates authority and gives an employee the power to take risks and make decisions. This develops confidence in employees to take initiative and increases their learning curve. Empowering an employee fosters open communication and recognizes their contribution. This works better than controlling or micro-managing their behaviour.
- Collaborate: Traditional top-down leadership approach is being replaced in the modern workplace by a collaborative style which blurs the lines between the boss and the employee. Such leaders openly share information with the team, facilitate brainstorming and encourage feedback from team members. A leader is also a coach who guides the team members to achieve superior performance.
- Inspire: This trait is often held as a mystery. Some leaders have a natural ‘charisma’ a magnetic appeal around them which attracts followers. But there are ways in which this trait can be developed for example ‘expertise’ in a subject, being ‘warm and approachable’, ‘exuding passion and enthusiasm’ and being a ‘role model’ for others to follow.
- Communicate: A leader spends most of the time meeting people, so interpersonal communication is regarded as one of the most important traits to develop. A good leader clarifies the goal of the message, delivers the message clearly and with conviction and makes sure that the listener has understood the message. He/she is also open to constructive feedback and sees it as an opportunity to grow.
- Decide: A leader has to be confident to take different types of decision based on the situation. It can be a command decision-making where decisions have to be made in split-seconds without consulting the team. This applies to war and crisis situations. Then there is the consensus style where the team votes and arrives at a decision. In the collaborative style of leadership the leader invites feedback from the team but makes the final call. A leader also the team to make the decision in certain situations to empower them and develop their confidence.
- Risk: Being over-cautious and indecisive is an impediment for leadership. A leader has to take risks and encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace. This in turn develops the employees into confident risk-takers and encourages a culture of learning.
I had the opportunity to visit Bangkok during the last weekend with my cousin and I found it to be an amazing and bustling city with something for every type of traveller.
On the first night we visited the tallest rooftop bar in Bangkok atop the Baiyoke hotel. From the 84th floor one can have a breathtaking view of the city. The revolving floor offers a 360 deg view of the Bangkok skyline.
On the 2nd day I took a short half-day tour of the city covering the Grand palace, the Wat Pho temple of the reclining Buddha and the Golden Mount temple.
In the evening we went on a Chao Phraya river cruise. This is a memorable cruise of 2 hour duration. During buffet dinner on board the passengers are treated to a live music and dances. One also gets a view of the the Wat Arun temple and the Grand Palace. The transport to and from the hotel is also included in the package.
The city is bustling with the shopping malls and other tourist attractions attracting visitors from all over the world.
I disagree with the premise of this topic. It assumes that being a genius can only bring worry and sorrow and that all simpletons are happy and joyful.
I would choose to be a joyful genius. I think there is no greater joy than that experienced by a genius in his/her moment of serendipity. The ecstatic moments of Archimedes and Kekule show that they experienced great joy on their discovery of ‘the principle of buoyancy’ and ‘the Benzene ring’ respectively. They did spend years working out their problems and when they took a step back and relaxed, they had their moments of intuition, their ‘Eureka’ moment. Such men like Einstein, Edison, Archimedes and Kekule have discovered the workings of principles that have benefited mankind as a whole. Is there a greater joy than this?
A fool or simpleton on the other hand lives a self-centred life. They may be content but they have to be prodded to work. They may appear happy but many of them have been known to harbour great sorrow. The point is that you may be a simpleton or a genius but if your work can touch another soul and make them happy then you have made a difference.
Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba, told his son –“ you don’t need to be in the top three in your class, being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad. Only this kind of person [a middle-of-the-road student] has enough free time to learn other skills”
A genius is not defined by grades or society. Many of the great geniuses were college dropouts. They thus found more time to tinker around with their hobbies and passions till their problems became their life goals and they started dreaming of these problems – many a time sacrificing their sleep. Many of us think that their discoveries were moments of magic forgetting the hard work and sweat that these great men of genius put in!
Daily prompt: Countless
Countless grains of sand
Strewn on the beach
Countless drops of water
in the Ocean
Countless stars twinkle
In the night sky
Fall from the sky
To make things right
Countless the thoughts
that rise in our mind
Countless the love
in a mother’s heart
In simple everyday moments
If only we realise
Countless they all seem
But they really do count
© copyright skm, 27th May, 2016
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Vidhan Soudha, Bangalore
Cubbon Park, Bangalore
My family and I have just returned from an exotic Bali escapade. This trip was a feast for our senses and was an eye-opener for us regarding the deep-rooted culture and sense of community in Bali.
We stayed at the Ibis hotels, Nusa Dua. This hotel is opposite Holiday Inn resort. Nusa Dua is the centre for water sports in Bali.
On the first day of our trip we tried out Snorkelling and banana boat ride.
For the 2nd and 3rd day we hired a driver Mr. Agusto to take us around Bali. We visited the rice terraces in Ubud. At the coffee plantation we got to sample different types of coffee and tea and also to see the process. Our lunch was at the Kintamani volcano. We also saw a dance performance depicting a story about Kunti and Sahadeva.
After that we visited the Batik factory, the art centre as well as the stone art centre.
On the last day of our trip, we visited the Tanah lot temple and finally we went for the Bali Safari. The architecture everywhere around Bali is influenced by Hindu temples. At street centres there are giant statues of Lord Ram, Ghatotkacha, Lord Hanuman and Lord Ganapathi.
Bali has 83% of people practicing Hinduism with the rest practicing Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. The people are very humble and have a strong sense of community and faith. Every house here has a temple. There is also a community/territorial temple as well as a main temple.
Our driver told us that school children recite the Gayatri Mantra everyday. We also saw ladies make offerings in the morning and evening at the doorstep, at temples and at workplaces.
Bali is an exotic place and it is amazing in that it is able to embrace the modern while retaining its ancient roots. The airport is ultra-modern comparable with other new airports around the world. You can see vast green fields and cattle and at the same time you see young children riding motorbikes and Scoopy’s.
The economy of Bali is tourism- centric. And the young are moving from an agro-centric culture to learn English (you can see many English coaching centres). They are eager to join the hospitality industry.The people of Bali are creative and enterprising and this can be seen in the beautiful artwork, stone carvings, wood carvings and batik work on display in front of their own homes or at tourist attractions. Places like Kuta, Denpasar and Seminyak have lot of shopping malls and fast food outlets whereas Ubud, Nusa Dua, Batur, Tanah lot etc have more small-scale industries like art, stone carving, wood carving and cultivation of rice, vegetables, fruit and coffee.