The Nartiang Monoliths is one of the most fascinating megalithic sites in India. Located in the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya, roughly 60 kms from the state capital of Shillong, it has the largest concentration of monoliths at one place in the state.

The locals refer to the place as "Kper Mawbynna", which means "Monolith Garden". As per Jaintia legends, the biggest monolith in the site was raised by a "giant" man named U Mar Phalyngki, a trusted lieutenant of a Jaintia king, to commemorate his victory in battle. The other monoliths were erected by U Mar Phalyngki, U Luh Lyngshkor Lamare and various clans of the Nartiang village between 1500 - 1835 AD.

The Jaintia kings ruled in these parts from 1500 - 1835 AD, with their capital in Jaintiapur, in the plains of Bangladesh at the foot of the Jaintia hills. Nartiang was, apparently, a summer capital of the Jaintia kings. As I roamed around in the monolith garden, I was struck with wonder at this large collection of megalithic monuments. Some of the stones were gigantic, and I wondered how such large stones were transported to the hilltop, and what made the ancient inhabitants of this place expend so much time and effort for erecting these formations. I will share my observations as we go through the photo journey.
The "Other Side of Midnight" radio program with Richard Hoagland which was broadcast on Saturday Dec 22, 2018.

It was a 3 hour discussion on a range of topics which I have written about. The primary focus was on the article that I had written on the impending end of the Kali Yuga: "The end of the Kali Yuga in 2025: Unraveling the mysteries of the Yuga Cycle". But we also touched on many other subjects such as Consciousness Changes, Yoga Mudras in Christian Art, Jesus in India, The Balochistan Sphinx, the Ratnagiri Petroglyphs and more.

The "Earth Ancients" radio program where I have a discussion with Cliff Dunning about a possible Olmec migration from ancient China. I had discussed this hypothesis in detail in an article titled:
"Olmec Yogis with Hindu beliefs: Did they migrate from ancient China?"

There is significant evidence suggesting that the Olmec civilization, which appeared in a fully formed state in Mexico sometime around 1500 BCE, adopted many elements of Hindu temple architecture, yogic practices, and deities, as well as Chinese artistic styles, traditions, and the Shang script. These striking correlations can be effectively explained by migrations from Asia, most likely from the Xia or Shang dynasty of China. This was by no means the first wave of migration from Asia, or the last.

I get introduced at around 50:10 mins into the podcast.

The ruins of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire that flourished from 1343 to 1565 AD are scattered throughout the medieval city of Hampi, located on the banks of the pristine Tungabhadra river. One could spend days out here, exploring the temples and palaces, markets and rock cut monuments, riversides and rock-strewn hills. Most of the gorgeous monuments here were built by the Vijayanagara rulers, but they were destroyed, burnt and left in ruins by a coalition of Muslim sultanate armies in 1565 AD.

The Vittala Temple in Hampi is grandest of all monuments in Hampi and represents the epitome of the Vijaynagara style of architecture. Built in the 15th century by King Devaraya II, it is dedicated to Lord Vittala or Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is famous for its iconic stone chariot and the unique musical pillars. Because of its amazing architecture, visitors to Hampi see this place after having seen all other attractions. In my case, as well, the visit to the Vittala temple capped of a memorable tour of this fascinating temple town.

The Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple is located in the Nandi village, at the base of the Nandi Hills, Karnataka. The temple is not very well-known and a only a few people visit it everyday. Yet, it has some of the most exquisitely carved pillars and sculptures in the whole of Southern India.

We visited the temple after going to the Nandi Hills. It can be reached quite easily from the base of the Nandi Hills by driving 6-7 kms through verdant fields and hilly terrains. The drive was short and scenic, but since there were no signboards we had to stop ask around a couple of times to make sure that we were going in the right direction.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are three shrine rooms (garbagriha). The central shrine room is dedicated to Uma-Maheshwara i.e. Parvati-Shiva. The temple was originally constructed in the 9th century by the Nolamba dynasty, and was built upon and enlarged by succeeding dynasties. The environment inside the temple is calm and peaceful, and its a great feeling to be able to walk around undisturbed and appreciate the architecture.

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves in Bhubaneshwar were built in the 2nd century BCE by King Kharavela to serve as residential blocks for Jain monks. They are built on two adjacent hills which used to be known as Kumari Parvat, but are now referred to as Udayagiri (meaning "Sunrise Hill"), which has 18 caves, and Khandagiri (meaning "Broken Hill") having 15 caves.

There is a long history of Jainism in Orissa. The 23rd Tirthankara, Parsvanath, had done considerable preaching in Orissa in the 8th century BC, while the 24th and last Tirthankara Mahavira had visited the ancient Kalinga capital of Toshali. King Kharavela of the Chedi dynasty had patronised Jainism and built these caves. Even after the death of King Kharavela, Jainism continued to hold sway under his successors.

It takes around a couple of hours to visit the caves. Since they are scattered across two hills, one gets a nice view of the surrounding landscape while walking around. Monkeys abound here, but they dont bother the visitors unless they are carrying food items. Aesthetically, the caves do not match up to the Buddhist caves of the same period, but are, nevertheless, priceless ancient treasures.

There are many "sacred groves" in the Khasi and Jaintia hills of Meghalaya. The people believe that a forest deity called "Labasa" resides in these sacred groves and protects the village and community, and provides for their well-being. One should not take anything out from the grove - be it a fruit, flower or a twig - or leave anything behind (even spit). Else, the forest deity will get offended and unfortunate things will happen to the person.

We visited the Mawphlang sacred forest in the East Khasi Hills, roughly 25 kms from Shillong. The term Mawphlang means "moss-covered stones" - probably a reference to the large number of moss-covered monoliths in the forest. Our guide was very interactive, and explained to us the medicinal properties of many plants and trees growing in the forest. These sacred groves have rich biodiversity, and a large number of endemic and rare plant species can be found here. 

There are different types of monoliths in the forest. Our guide said that they are "memorial pillars for clan ancestors", without providing additional details. Monolith building is no longer a living tradition amongst the Khasi tribals, since most of them converted to Christianity over the past 100 years or so. The best sources of information about these ancient stones that dot the hillsides and groves of Mehgalaya are the exploratory surveys done in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when monolith building used to be a custom.

The Brahmeswara Temple in Bhubaneshwar was built in 1058 AD, by Kolavati Devi, the mother of the Somavanshi king Udyota Kesari. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Its grand architecture is reminiscent of the Mukteswara Temple, which is believed to be the earliest work of the Somavanshi period. Along with the Mukteswara and the Rajarani temples, the Brahmeswara Temple is very pleasing to the eyes, and has some excellent sculptures and relief carvings.

The Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneshwar was built in the mid 11th century AD. The temple has no images within the sanctum (probably stolen), but it is believed to have been dedicated to Lord Shiva on the basis of the carvings on the exterior. For instance, the dvarapalas (doorkeepers) carved on either side of the entrance - Prachanda and Chanda - are found in Saivite temples, while the lintel of the jagamohana (mandapa) has an image of Lakulisa, the founder of the Pasupatha sect of Saivisim. Some historians believe that the architecture of some temples of Central India, such as the Khajuraho Temples, originated from this temple. 

Nalanda was established as a Mahavihara i.e. a large university-cum-monastic institution, in the 5th century AD by Kumaragupta of the Gupta dynasty, in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern day Bihar). It was the most prosperous and famous university of the ancient world. It was patronized by the Gupta Emperors, and subsequently by King Harsharvadhan of Kannauj in the 7th century, and the Pala Kings of Bengal from the 8th - 12th centuries. The Palas rulers were prolific builders whose rule oversaw the establishment of four other Mahaviharas modeled on Nalanda at Jagaddala, Odantapura, Somapura, and Vikramashila.These five seats of Buddhist learning formed a network, and it was common for great scholars to move easily from position to position among them.

The 108 Shiv Mandir or Nava Kailash in Kalna, West Bengal, was built in 1809 by the Maharaja of Bardhaman, Tej Chandra Bahadur. The complex contains 108 aat–chala (eight sloping roofs) temples arranged in two concentric circles. The outer circle has 74 temples and the inner circle has 34 temples.

Kalna (or Ambika Kalna) is a small town on the bank of the Hooghly River (Ganges) nearly 82 kms from Kolkata. Not many people may be aware of it, but Kalna is a remarkable temple town and contains some of the finest specimens of Bengal terracotta architecture.

The Maharajas of Bardhaman built a number of temples here in the 18th century, which are adorned with intricate terracotta tiles depicting images from the mythologies and daily life. Most of these temples are arranged in the Rajbari Complex maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

We spent an hour walking inside the temple complex, appreciating the many architectural styles on display. Worship is still offered to the deities in these temples, but one must reach there before noon, since the deities are taken inside and the shrine rooms are closed for a few hours in the afternoon. Overall, its a great place to visit on a weekend trip from Kolkata.

The Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Kalna Rajbari Temple complex has been nicely maintained by the ASI. There is a central garden around which the various temples are arranged.

The Pratapeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Pratapeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the first temple that you see when you enter the Rajbari Complex. The temple is named after King Pratap Chand. It was built by his widow, in the name of her deceased husband, in the year 1849 AD.

The Pratapeshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is built in the Rekha deul style, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The temple is built in the Rekha deul style with a square base and curvilinear shikhara.

The Pratapeshwar Temple has rich terracotta ornamentation, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The temple has rich terracotta ornamentation. Although the temple is small, it has the most intricate and well-preserved reliefs of all the temples in the complex.
The Pratapeshwar Temple has rich terracotta ornamentation, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
Scenes from daily life, as well as deities and tales from mythologies.

Krishna flanked by his principal wives - Rukmini and Satyabhama. Pratapeshwar Temple, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
Krishna flanked by his principal wives - Rukmini and Satyabhama. The mermaid in the image is intriguing. It has been depicted in the European style holding a horn. Could this be a colonial influence, since the temple was built after the arrival of the Europeans?
Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
There is an octagonal Ras-mancha next to the Pratapeshwar temple

The Ras-mancha is an octagonal, roofless, brick-built structure. Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Ras-mancha is an octagonal, roofless, brick-built structure with 24 arches. The autumnal ras-lila of Lord Krishna used to be staged here.
The Lalaji Temple dedicated to Radha-Krishna, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Lalaji Temple dedicated to Radha-Krishna. It is a three-storeyed, brick-built, Pancha-vimshati ratna (25 ratnas or pinnacles) temple, erected in 1739 by Braja Kishori Devi, the wife of Maharaja Jagat Ram. It is the oldest temple in the Rajbari Complex.

The char-chala Nat-mandapa of the Lalaji Temple, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The char-chala (four sloping roofs) Nat-mandapa (dancing hall) in front of the temple.

Garuda on a pillar inside the Lalaji Temple, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
Garuda on a pillar. The symbolism of a bird deity perched on top of a pillar can be found in cultures around the world.

The idol of Krishna inside the Lalaji Temple, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The idol of Krishna (about to be taken inside since the darshan hours are over). The idol of Radha has already been taken inside. Notice the rich terracotta ornamentation on the arches.
Lalaji Temple terracotta ornamentation, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The facades of the temple are decorated with terracotta ornamentation.

A row of five brick-built at-chala temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
A row of five brick-built at-chala (eight sloping roofs) temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, built in the 19th century.
The Krishna Chandraji Temple dedicated to Krishna and Radha, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The towering Krishna Chandraji Temple in the distance.
The Krishna Chandraji Temple dedicated to Krishna and Radha, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Krishna Chandraji Temple, dedicated to Krishna and Radha, is another magnificent brick-built Pancha-vimsati ratna (25 pinnacles) temple built by Raja Trilokchand in 1751-55.

It has an elongated ek-chala (single sloping roof) mandapa or jagamohana in front with three arched entrances. It is interesting that triple entrances are a common element of temple architecture found in cultures across the world.

The Krishna Chandraji Temple dedicated to Krishna and Radha, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The side-view of the Krishna Chandraji Temple. There are only 5 Pancha-vimsati ratna (25 pinnacles) temples in West Bengal and 3 of them are located in Ambika Kalna, of which 2 are in the Rajbari Complex.

Terracotta ornamentation on the Krishna Chandraji Temple dedicated to Krishna and Radha, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
Terracotta ornamentation on the facade.

The Vijay Vaidyanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The Vijay Vaidyanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built by King Trilokchand. It is an at-chala (eight sloping roofs) temple with triple arched entrances. According to local lore, King Trilokchand’s mother had prayed to Lord Shiva for a son. When her wish was fulfilled, she instructed Trilokchand to build a Shiva temple after he became the king.

The Vijay Vaidyanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kalna Rajbari Temple complex, West Bengal
The front view of the Vijay Vaidyanath Temple, with its triple arched entrance adorned with terracotta tiles.

The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, India, is the most sacred place of pilgrimage for Buddhists. It was here, on the forested banks of the Phalgu river, that Prince Siddhartha sat under a Bodhi tree and attained nirvana in 623 BCE, at the young age of 35, on the full moon day of the month of Vaisakha. Emperor Ashoka built a chaitya (temple) here in the 3rd century BCE, although the major part of the present structure probably dates from the 2nd - 3rd centuries CE.

The Konark Sun Temple was built around 1250 CE by king Narasingha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is located at Konark, roughly 35 kms north of Puri on the Orissa coastline. The term Konark is derived from the Sanskrit terms Kona (meaning angle) and Arka (meaning sun).

The main spire (bada deul) of the temple once stood 229 feet high, but it collapsed sometime in the 17th or 18th century. It was called the "Black Pagoda" by European sailors as late as 1676, because the massive spire of the temple appeared black when the sailors sailed by the coast. What remains now is the jagamohana or mandapa (assembly hall) which is also an imposing structure with a height of 128 feet.

As per traditional accounts, the inner sanctum (garbagriha) of the temple originally had an idol of the Sun God which was suspended in mid air with the ingenious use of magnetic and diamagnetic (which are repelled by a magnetic field) materials. It is a scientifically established fact that, "diamagnets can be levitated in stable equilibrium in a magnetic field, with no power consumption." Therefore, the traditional accounts could have a grain of truth to it.

The traditional accounts also hold that there used to be a large diamond affixed on the headgear of the Sun God's idol. Since the temple is aligned on a East-West Axis, the first rays of the morning sun used to fall on this diamond and light up the entire sanctum creating a grand spectacle. When Kalapahad, the general of the Sultan of Bengal, destroyed and ransacked the temple in 1568 AD, he took away the diamond and damaged the loadstone. As a result, the main spire began to collapse in stages, and the last standing bit, a small curved section, collapsed in 1848.

The entire temple was conceived of as the chariot of the Sun God, with immense wheels and horses. The monumental design of the temple, along with the highly intricate artwork, is awe-inspiring to say the least. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. I have visited this temple multiple times, since it is close to the seaside town of Puri with its famous Jagannatha Temple, and each time it has been an enthralling experience.

The Nandi hills are a short drive of 2 hrs from Bangalore. It has a hill fort called Nandidurg, built by Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. While there are many stories regarding the origin of the name Nandi Hills, the locals believe that it got its name from a 1300-year-old Nandi Temple situated on the hill.

It was a pleasant experience trekking on the hill top to visit the places of interest. A guide is recommended for locating some of the off-beat places. The cool air and the scenic views makes it a great day trip from Bangalore.

The Bharhut Stupa was built in the mid-2nd century BCE (c.125 - 100 BCE) in the village of Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh. The stupa dome had collapsed long back, and the torana gateway and stone railings were moved to the Indian Museum in Kolkata.

The stone railings of the Bharhut stupa are unique in the sense that they have been embellished with a profusion of intricate carvings. Moreover, it was quite amazing to see that the carvings on these red sandstone walls have retained their polish and sharp edges even after 2000 years of erosion! 
Earth Ancients radio program with Cliff Dunning where we talk about the possible comet impact in the Indian Ocean at around 3700 BCE that created the Burckle Crater and the chevron dunes off the coast of Madagascar and Western Australia. The tidal waves from this impact may have been responsible for the sinking of the legendary, golden, city of Dwaraka.  

This interview is based on my article: "The Comet Impact in the Indian Ocean that may have submerged Dwaraka".

My discussion with Cliff begins at 51:01 mins into the program.

The Mukteshwar Temple at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, was built between 960 - 975 AD by the Somavanshi Kings. The term Mukteshwar means "Lord of Freedom", and the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who grants us freedom from our illusions.

The exquisite carvings on the temple walls, and the unique arched "torana" or gateway, has led this temple to be regarded as the "Gem of Kalinga Architecture". This temple is a must-visit when one is in Bhubaneshwar. The evenings are supposed to be the best time to visit, as the rays of the setting sun falls on the red sandstone walls of the temple. 
The Ankh was one of the most popular symbols of Egypt, symbolizing “life” or the “breath of life”. It’s a very ancient symbol, dating from the Early Dynastic Period (c.3150 – 2613 BCE), and appears widely in inscriptions and iconographic art. Relief carvings often depict gods holding the ankh at the nose of the pharaoh and conferring on him the “breath of life” or “eternal life”. It, thus, represented the life-giving powers of the deities.
The Hall of Records 

For a long time there have been speculations about a secret chamber located beneath the Great Sphinx at Giza. The idea had been popularized by Edgar Cayce, the 19th century American psychic, popularly known as the “Sleeping Prophet”. For nearly forty years, Cayce used to enter into a trance-like state and give profound information on various subjects. Many of his predictions about the future have come true, which is why his statements on the Sphinx have generated so much interest.
The Yali in Indus Art

Mohenjo-daro seal M-300 depicts a composite animal with a pair of horns, the tusks and trunk of an elephant, lion’s mane, the graceful body of an antelope, the hind legs of a tiger, and an upright serpent-like tail.