Sunday, November 23, 2014

World's 5 Rarest Gems


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) calls musgravite "a rarity among the rare a particular gem on our research examination 'want list.'"

A very close relative of another hard-to-find gemstone, taaffeite (and often misidentified as such), musgravite was first discovered in 1967 in the Musgrave Range of South Australia.Facet grade -- the baseline measurement of how clean cut a sellable stone must be -- for musgravite was not reported until 1993. As of 2005, there were only eight musgravite specimens in the world.

4.Black Opal

Opal is Australia’s national gemstone, and black opal is the rarest and most valuable of its kind, at times selling at prices that rival the best diamonds. The stone must have a rich, black background, but base colors come in all shades of gray, which is why opinions vary on what is a "true" black opal.Found in the Lightning Ridge area in northwestern New South Wales, black opals are natural, solid stones that absorb scattered white light, giving it brilliant spectral colors.


You probably haven’t heard about this stone before, but Serendibite is currently the number three most expensive and rarest stone on the Planet. It has an extremely complex chemical composition. In it you can find Calcium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon and Oxygen. Until present there have only been three stones cut.

2.Red Diamonds

Red diamonds, just like any other diamonds, are made of compressed carbon. However, the brilliant red color in these diamonds is formed from a structural defect in the crystal lattice structure, which is why they are the rarest of the colored diamond collection.Only a handful have ever received the grade of "Fancy Red," meaning that they are pure red with no modifying color. Most are sold at market for millions of dollars.The Argyle mine in Australia is the primary producer of pink and sometimes red diamonds

1. Jadeite USD 

Until recent years jadeite has been something of a mystery mineral, but we now know of primary sources in Guatemala as well as several California occurrences of white or grayish jadeite. Boulders in which a few small freestanding crystals have been seen occur in San Benito Co., California, with additional finds in Clear Creek, between New Idria and Hernandez. All Mexican jadeite is in artifacts, from unknown sources. The record price for a single piece of jadeite jewelry was set at the November 1997 Christie’s Hong Kong sale: Lot 1843, the “Doubly Fortunate” necklace of 27 approximately .5 mm jadeite beads sold for US$9.3 million

Ancient weapons of South India

Human beings have probably always killed each other. Early people used clubs, axes and spears. They also used bows and arrows. (Cave paintings from Spain dating from 10,000 to 5,000 BC show men fighting with bows).


A wooden club is a surprisingly effective weapon. As early as 6,000 BC African cave paintings show people armed with clubs. Much later wooden clubs were still used in Africa and the Pacific. Early axes were made of wood and stone. (Like the tomahawk of the Native Americans). However the sword was not a practical weapon until people had become skilled in making things from metal.

Valari (throwing stick)

A valari  or valai tadi is a throwing stick used primarily by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka. Valari were used in war, fighting, and hunting. It was the favorite weapon of choice in a deer hunt.


Kattari (first blade)

The katar or katara is a type of push dagger from South Asia. The weapon is characterised by its H-shaped horizontal hand grip which results in the blade sitting above the user's knuckles. Unique to South Asia, it is the most famous and characteristic of Indian daggers. Ceremonial katar were also used in worship.



The gada  is a blunt mace or club from India. Made either of wood or metal, it consists essentially of a spherical head mounted on a shaft, with a spike on the top. Outside India, the gada was also adopted in Southeast Asia, where it is still used in silat.


The gada is the main weapon of the Hindu god Hanuman, an avatara of Shiva. As the god of strength, Hanuman is traditionally worshipped by wrestlers in South and Southeast Asia. Vishnu, one of the deities making up the Hindu trimurti, also carries a gada in one of his four hands. In the Mahabharata epic, the fighters Bhima, Duryodhana, Jarasandha, Balarama and others were said to be masters of the gada.




The trishula is a type of South Asian trident also found in Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a Hindu-Buddhist religious symbol. The word means "three spear" in Sanskrit and Pali. In India and Thailand, the term often refers to a short-handled weapon which may be mounted on a danda or staff. But unlike the Okinawan sai, the trishula is often bladed. In Malay, trisula usually refers specifically to a long-handled trident while the diminutive version is known as a tekpi.


Thirupatchi copy 

An aruval usually measures 3-6 feet in length.The blade of this weapon originates at the grip and extends to the main part of the blade. You can describe it as a sickle with an extension. You can also think of it as a Sword with a reverse curve. The shorter versions were handy for breaking apart coconuts, and the longer versions were more like Battle Weapons. The shorter version is usually seen in small villages.Blades are mostly straight with a curve towards the end, allowing it to function as a grabbing tool. The straight portion of the blade is also used for cutting, like a standard knife.


The maduvu , also known as a maru or madu, is a weapon from India. Most commonly called maru, it is also referred to as maan kombu after the deer horns from which it is made. The weapon typically consists of two blackbuck horns pointing in opposite directions connected by two crossbars which also act as a handle. Later variations were often tipped with steel and sometimes fitted with a plate of leather or steel to act as a shield. In the Panjab, the maru was typically constructed entirely of steel.


The maru originated among the Dravidians of south India and was favoured by the Bhil people. A similar weapon, consisting of a handle mounted on an antelope horn, was used as a crutch and served as a self-defense implement for the jogi who were forbidden by their order to carry conventional weaponry.The maru is a primarily defensive weapon favouring a low stance, in which the wielder strives to stay lower than the opponent thereby reducing any openings to the body's vital points. Typically, the maru-wielder will block or parry attacks before countering with a thrust, choke, lock or disarm. Offensively the maru is treated similarly to a dagger, used for stabbing.


The urumi is a longsword with a flexible whip-like blade from India. Originating in the country's southern states, it is thought to have existed as far back as the Maurya dynasty. The urumi is considered one of the most difficult weapons to master due to the risk of injuring oneself. It is treated as a steel whip, and therefore requires prior knowledge of that weapon. For this reason, the urumi is always taught last in the martial arts.


The word urumi is of north Keralan origin. In the state's southern region it is more commonly called a chuttuval, from the words for coiling or spinning (chuttu) and sword (vaal). Alternative Tamil names for the weapon are surul val (curling sword) and surul katti (curling knife).



Silambam is a weapon-based Indian martial art from Tamil Nadu, but also traditionally practised by the Tamil community of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It is closely related to Keralan kalaripayat and Sri Lankan angampora.


The term silambam derives from the Tamil word silam meaning "hill" and the Kannada word bambu from which the English "bamboo" originates. The term silambambu referred to a particular type of bamboo from the Kurinji hills in present-day Kerala. Thus silambam was named after its primary weapon, the bamboo staff. Masters are called asaan (ஆசான்) while grandmasters are addressed as periyasaan. There are numerous styles of silambam such as nagam-16 (cobra-16), kallapathu (thieves ten), kidamuttu (goat head butting), kuravanchi, kalyanavarisai, thulukkanam, etc. The nillaikalakki discipline (from nillai meaning posture and kalakki meaning to disturb or shuffle) is the most widespread style outside India, and is most well known in Malaysia. The styles differ from one another in grip, posture, foot work, length of the stick, etc.Silambam may either be practiced for the purpose of combat (silambam) or purely for demonstration ( azhangara silambam).



A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint, obsidian, iron, steel or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.


Spears can be divided into two broad categories: those designed for thrusting in melee combat and those designed for throwing (usually referred to as javelins). The spear has been used throughout human history both as a hunting and fishing tool and as a weapon. As a weapon, it may be wielded with either one hand or two. It was used in virtually every conflict up until the modern era and was most likely the most commonly used weapon.


Sword & Shield

I believe we all know how its used and its most used weapon in history of man


Bow and Arrow

The bow and arrow are known to have been invented by the end of the Upper Paleolithic. Projectile points (used on spears or atlatl darts) are known from earlier prehistory, dating to the Middle Paleolithic. Bows eventually replaced spear-throwers as the predominant means for launching sharp projectiles on all continents except Australia.


Archery was an important military and hunting skill before the widespread and efficient use of firearms, throughout classical antiquity and the medieval period. Arrows were especially destructive against unarmoured masses and the use of archers often proved decisive. Mounted archers combined range with speed and mobility. Archery is also featured prominently in the mythologies of many cultures.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Padmanabhapuram palace

Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in at Padmanabhapuram Fort, in Padmanabhapuram, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, India. Padmanabhapuram is the former capital city of the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore. It is about 20km from Nagercoil, and about 50km from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long. The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats. The river Valli flows nearby.


The palace was constructed around 1601 AD by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Venad between 1592 and 1609. It is believed that the Thai Kottaram was built in 1550. The founder of modern Travancore, King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1706–1758) who ruled Travancore from 1729 to 1758, rebuilt the palace in around 1750. King Marthaanda Varma dedicated the kingdom to his family deity Sree Padmanabha, a form of Lord Vishnu and ruled the kingdom as Padmanabha dasa or servant of Lord Padmanabha. Hence the name Padmanabhapuram or City of Lord Padmanabha. In the late 18th century, precisely in 1795 the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Thiruvananthapuram, and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continues to be one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hallmark of traditional Kerala style architecture. This palace may be the best to visit in anybody's pleasure trip to Thiruvananthapuram, if you are interested in history.








padmanabhapuram-palace (1)




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Attukal Temple:Pongal Festival

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple is a shrine in Kerala, India. The temple is renowned for the annual Attukal Pongala festival, in which over a million women participate. Attukal Temple is situated within 2 kilometres of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.


The Goddess Kannaki (Parvathi) is the main deity in this temple. The mythology behind the temple, relates to the story of Kannagi who was married to Kovalan, son of a wealthy merchant. After marriage, Kovalan met a dancer and spent all his riches on her forgetting his wife. But when he was penniless, he went back to Kannagi. The only precious thing left to be sold was Kannagi's pair of anklets. They went with it to the king of Madurai to sell it. But an anklet was stolen from the Queen which looked similar to Kannagi's. When Kovalan tried to sell it, he was mistaken for the theft and beheaded by the king's soldiers.

Kannagi got infuriated when she heard the news and rushed to the King with the second pair of anklet. She broke one of the anklets and it contained rubies while the Queen's contained pearls. She cursed the city of Madurai, and it is said that due to her chastity, the curse came true. Kannagi is said to have attained salvation after the Goddess of the city appeared before her. It is said that on her way to Kodungalloor, Kannagi passed Attukal. She took the form of a little girl. An old man was sitting on the banks of a stream, when the girl went to him and asked him whether he could help her cross it. Surprised to find the young girl alone, he took her home. But she disappeared. She came back in his sleep and asked him to build a temple where he found 3 golden lines in his grove. He went ahead and did the same, and it is said that this is at the location of the present Attukal temple.

Pongal festival
Worship during Attukal Pongala at Tippu Street, South Fort, Thiruvananthapuram.
Attukal Pongala is the main festival of this temple. Millions of women gather every year in the month of Kumbham around this temple and prepare Pongala (rice cooked with jaggery, ghee, coconut as well as other ingredients) in the open in small pots to please the Goddess Kannaki.




 Attukal (1)

 Attukal pongala (1)



Lake Natron:Lake that turns animals to stone

Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake is fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng'iro River and also by mineral-rich hot springs. It is quite shallow, less than three metres (9.8 ft) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving behind a mixture of salts and minerals called natron. The surrounding country is dry and receives irregular seasonal rainfall. The lake falls within the Lake Natron Basin Wetlands of International Importance Ramsar Site. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C (140 °F), and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as much alkaline as ammonia, which has a pH of 11.6).






Calcified Bat


CALCIFIED SWALLOW, LAKE NATRON, 2012 -- From Nick Brandt's book Across The Ravaged Land (Abrams 2013)

Notable Indians who lived in China

Hui Li
Hui Li  was an Indian Buddhist monk who visited China in the 4th century. He is the founder of the Lingyin temple (328AD). The name is also written Huili.
1024px-Kumarajiva_at_Kizil_Caves,_Kuqa Kumārajīva(334–413 CE) was a Kuchean Buddhist monk, scholar, and translator. He first studied teachings of the Sarvāstivāda schools, later studied under Buddhasvāmin, and finally became a Mahāyāna adherent, studying the Mādhyamaka doctrine of Nāgārjuna. Kumārajīva settled in Chang'an, which was the imperial capital of China. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit to Chinese he carried out during his later life.
Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis
Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis (10 October 1910 in Solapur, Maharashtra, India – 9 December 1942, in China;was one of five Indian physicians dispatched to China to provide medical assistance during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. Besides being known for his dedication and perseverance, he has also been regarded as an example for Sino-Indian friendship and collaboration.
Along with the Canadian Dr. Norman Bethune, he continues to be revered by the Chinese people. In April 2005, both their graves were covered completely in flowers donated by the Chinese people during the Qingming Festival, a day used by the Chinese to commemorate their ancestors.
There were two Indian Buddhist masters named Buddhabhadra, also known as Bodhidharma in China during the 5th century CE. This article is about the Shaolin abbot. The other was a translator.The Indian dhyana master Buddhabhadra also known as Bodhidharma was the first abbot of Shaolin Monastery.
Former Worthies Gather at the Mount Shuang-feng Stūpa and Each Talks of the Dark Principle contains the following reference to him:
Dhyana Master Buddha says: "The extreme principle is wordless. The sagely mind is unimpeded."
According to the Deng Feng County Recording (Deng Feng Xian Zhi), Bátuó came to China in 464 CE and preached Nikaya Buddhism for thirty years. Thirty-one years later, in 495, the Shaolin Monastery was built by the order of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei for Batuo's preaching.Bátuó's disciples Sengchou[1] and Huiguang were both expert in the martial arts by the time they began their studies of religion with Batuo
BodhiruciBodhiruci was a Buddhist monk and esoteric master from North India (6th century CE) active in the area of Loyang, China. His 39 translated works include the Sutra on the Ten Grounds and commentary, and the Shorter Sukhāvati Sutra with commentary.
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan.
Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend. The principal Chinese sources vary on their account of Bodhidharma's origins.Aside from the Chinese accounts, several popular traditions also exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins.
The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386–534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.
Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch'an and Zen tradition.
Bodhidharma's teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra.
The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hallidentifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself.
Amoghavajra was a prolific translator who became one of the most politically powerful Buddhist monks in Chinese history and is acknowledged as one of the Eight Patriarchs of the Doctrine in Shingon Buddhism.