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VCU Archaeology

Dispatch from India, Part 4

by Bernard K. Means

On Thursday morning, May 11, 2018, I crossed the recently completed automobile/pedestrian bridge that leads from the main road through Srinagar (Garhwal) to meet HNB Garhwal University archaeologists Sudhir Nautiyal and Mohan Naithani.  I should note that, while the bridge is complete, the access to the bridge from either side is still one year away from being finished.  One can drive from the campus to the bridge in about a half hour from the guest house where I am staying over a quite bumpy dirt road, or one can do what I did, and make a 5 minuted walk.

bkm_2018-05-07 07.18.02

Our goal that day was to visit some Hindu temples located about three-hours from Srinagar (Garhwal) and higher into the Himalayan foothills, with the highest about 1500 meters (ca. 5000 feet) above sea level.  Some snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas were visible, especially the Chaukhamba Peak.  The beauty of the landscape was aurally marred by the persistent tourist helicopters flying about the area–there was a heliport nearby.

The first temples we stopped at were at the town of Narayan Koti, including one small temple complex with a cluster of small temples, some dedicated to various aspects of the celestial sphere.  I 3D scanned one idol dedicated to Jupiter and Mohan and I both 3D scanned the smallest of the temples using our Structure scanners.  We were met at the temple complex by the Hindu priest Vijaya (I did not get his last name) who told us about these 9th to 10th century A.D. temples. I 3D scanned his head, with his permission.

Vijaya then took us over to the main temple where Mohan and I 3D scanned a nandi, a statue of hanuman, and a statue of Jakh Devta.  All of our successful 3D scans, by the way, will be available via a collection on Sketchfab dedicated to Uttarakhand temples (https://sketchfab.com/virtualcurationlab/collections/uttarakhand-temples).

After our scanning efforts, we went to Vijay’s quarters where we had tea. As we left, we watched traditional techniques used for threshing wheat. Vijay participated.

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We next went to the Nala temple. Here Mohan and I 3D scanned a statue of Ganesh and another Nandi.  The latter was a challenge because it was in full sun and I had to use my own shadow to help with the 3D scanning process–the Structure scanner does not work with objects in full sun.  Note to self, bring a big umbrella on the next visit.

Our next temple stop was the Kashivishwanath Guptakashi temple, where our activities were limited due to the large number of pilgrims and active worship in the main shrine. We did 3D scan a Yaksha that was off to the side of a temple. A borrowed umbrella gave us the shade we needed.

Then, we were off to the Kalimath temple. One has to cross a pedestrian bridge across the  Saraswati River to get to the temple–which was flowing quite beautifully and peacefully when we crossed the river. Here we 3D scanned another Nandi sculpture and another Ganesh sculpture.

Our visit was short as the day was getting long, and we had a long drive back.  We did stop for a spot of tea before I was dropped off on the new bridge to the university campus that I had crossed earlier that morning.

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