marți, 15 martie 2011


Here I am, still (mentally) in the Salt Range, in Pakistan. As I was scanning my slides I got attracted to one of a ruined Hindu temple at Ketas, and decided to try to paint it. It seemed to exemplify what attracted me to that place: an austere beauty, a limited pallette of colours, the way the buildings seemed to merge with the earth. Here's what I posted about this temple earlier. I saw it in 1986:
In nearby Ketas a ruined Hindu temple complex straddled the main road. On one side of the road caves were cut into the cliff, on the other a sacred pool had declined into a marsh. Behind the pool were a fort, two large buildings with domes like inverted lotuses, and a few whitewashed shrines with plain yellow-washed domes.

No one could tell me to which god the temple had been dedicated. Later I read that it had been a temple of Shiva. The pool was full of Shiva's tears, which fell when his wife Sati died. The place used to be a centre of pilgrimage -- Hindus came to bathe in the pool -- but it was now very dilapidated. The temple was situated in such a way that it controlled the road, which was at this point a pass between low cliffs. According to the British District Gazetteer for 1904, "with some exceptions these priests are ignorant and quarrelsome, and are by no means popular in the neighbourhood." They used to extort tolls from travellers through the pass.

Squatters lived in the buildings now. A boy sat on a roof, reading a book beside a petaled dome. Behind the temple a hamlet sprawled beside a few cultivated fields.