Monday, June 26, 2006

More Vicarious Traveling: "The Lost Temples of India"



Someone posted a Learning Channel documentary called "The Lost Temples of India" on Google Video.

It exploits many of of the annoying clichés you would expect, including repeated references to elephants and a near obsession with the phallic symbolism of the Shivalingam.

It also plays a bit of a geographic and historical trick on viewers, by starting and ending with the erotic temples at Khajuraho (which it insists are "lost" and "forgotten"), and shots of the Taj Mahal. But in between it is actually mainly about the South: the temples built by Rajaraja Chola, the city/kingdom of Vijayanagar, and the Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. The attempt to link the Hindu temples of Southern India with Khajuraho is nonsensical, but I suppose the producers felt they had to sex it up a bit (elephants alone would be insufficient!).

Despite its many flaws, it must be said that the cinematography in "The Lost Temples of India" is quite good -- there are some beautiful shots of the temples in question. And there are actually a couple of facts in the documentary, though they sometimes get lost amidst the Orientalist cheese. Since we're traveling vicariously, why not enjoy it a little?

5 Comments:

Blogger tilotamma said...

No by lost and forgotten - they meant on the international tourist map.

I am glad for the documentary because thanks to that I planned a trip to Thanjavur.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If elephants were used for the construction of the temple, then skipping them to avoid clich├ęs would not make any sense, would it?

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zhivago,

Please keep your rants for elsewhere. I know your kind and the ideology that motivates you.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the video in Google and am trying to obtain a DVD copy for myself.

Although this video is not perfect, I have to say that it is one of the best produced video chronicling the great Hindu temples of Southern India. It greatly showcases the vibrant, brilliant, and leading culture of India back in 1000 AD. I suggest that our Schools in India should teach them as part of the curriculum.

Some of the facts which I really enjoyed:

1) The Thanjavoor temple at that time was 10 times taller than the next tallest temple in the world.
2) In the bathing scene descrbing the unique aqua duct of Vijayanagar empire, the Narrator pokes fun at the Europeans at that time. He says that Hindu's took bath every day, from the kings / queens to ordinary peasants, whereas Europeans bathed once a year.

Overall, I think it's a must see for all Indians. I wish the Indian Government would fund the development of such videos to celebrate our great history. Without us writing about our history, how does one expect future generations know our past?

Thanks.

Arun

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes good doc. but no sandwiched cliches please!
Its fatiguing to eat the same ol cheese!
Overall despite the ol funk
thought most was well done.
The Khujrao was so poor in s-execution/taste.(and I do mean its' s-execution as in termination
of the life which would otherwise been an excellent documentary.)
It really does great injustice to the documentary as a whole.
So Final Grade B + or 2 and a half star out of a possible 4 star rating.

9:31 AM  

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