Orion and Kartikeya

Of all the constellations that embellish the night sky, it is Orion which is probably the most conspicuous and easily recognizable one. Since the Orion constellation lies on the celestial equator, just south of the ecliptic, it can be seen from any part of the world. 

Kartikeya Slays Mahishasura

A Harappa molded tablet (H95-2486) shows a person thrusting a spear into the shoulder of a water buffalo. He is pressing down the water buffalo’s head down with his foot, while holding the tip of a horn with his left hand. A yogic figures seated in mulabandhasana posture, and wearing a horned headdress with a central leafy branch, is looking on. What is the significance of this image?

Harappan Molded tablet H95-2486 depicting an individual spearing a buffalo
Figure 1: Harappan Molded tablet H95-2486 depicting an individual spearing a buffalo. Source: harappa.com

I had initially thought that this might depict a buffalo sacrifice as part of a funerary rite, which is a common practice amongst some tribal cultures of the Indian subcontinent. However, the horned yogic figure would look out of place in a funerary scene. Besides, even in tribal cultures, buffaloes are never speared by holding their horns. This is a dangerous undertaking, and is likely to be the work of some heroic figure. 

The La Venta Museum in Villahermosa, Mexico, has an intriguing collection of Olmec sculptures, including three colossal Olmec stone heads. The artifacts had been moved there from the Olmec settlement of La Venta in western Tabasco, when petroleum exploration in the 1950s had threatened the safety of these rare objects.

Not many would have heard of the archaeological site of Chandraketugarh in India, located roughly 35 km from Kolkata in Eastern India. Chandraketugarh used to be a prosperous, coastal city engaging in international trade, with continuous habitation from c.400 BCE - 1250 CE. All that remains at the site today are the remnants of a brick-built Buddhist temple from the 10th century CE. 


The "Char Bangla" temples in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal were built by Queen Bhavani of Natore in 1755 CE. Each of the four terracotta temples were built in the style of the traditional village huts of Bengal with two sloping roofs, called "Do-Chala" or "Ek Bangla" temples.

Each of the temples have three arched openings and 3 Shiva-lingas. Their facades are ornamented with terracotta panels, depicting scenes from the daily life and and Puranic legends.  

When the temples were built nearly 250 years ago, the Ganges (Bhagirathi) used to flow nearly a kilometer away. But today the temple is barely 10 feet away from the river bank, and its boundary wall has already been damaged by the river.

Getting to the temples is half the fun. Since they are located in Baranagar, on the other bank of the Ganges from Murshidabad, we took a ride on a country boat from the Azimganj sadar ghat for a 25 mins trip upstream. A road journey would have taken considerably longer, and certainly less enjoyable.