A spectacular wall of basalt columns in the southern Highlands of Iceland. Vehicular access to this area is granted only once a year during the annual sheep roundup in the Fall.
An extraordinary evening with Her Majesty.
No mountain in Iceland inspires as much awe and affection as Herðubreið (“broad shouldered”), set in the desolate expanse of the Ódáðahraun (“Lava of Evil Deeds”) lava field in the northern Highlands. The table mountain (1682 m) took shape in a subglacial eruption around 20,000 years ago. To the natives it is indisputably the “Queen of the Icelandic Mountains.”
Access to the Queen doesn’t come easy, exacting a long plod on a rough track cutting through lava, punctuated by fords across glacial rivers. The purlieus of Herðubreið resemble a sci-fi version of an alien world with a cast of actors given to periodic fulminations. The feared Askja caldera is within sight as is the massive shield volcano Kollóttadyngja.
The sequence captured in the following images almost didn’t happen. An impenetrable band of clouds on the horizon had smothered the setting sun and we were on the verge of calling it a day. But then we noticed a flicker at the base of the mountain. Before long the fire had worked its way up and the drama was on. Our deus ex machina was a slit that had opened up in the clouds, draping the Queen in the sweetest light imaginable. Words cannot adequately describe the frisson experienced in these moments. Capping our luck was the absence of the notorious Icelandic wind.
At the end of the sequence a short video is offered.
Narkasur 2015 in Goa.
Recycling the introduction from posts in years past –
One version tells of the vile Narkasur, embodiment of the forces of darkness (tamas), ignorance (avidya) and baseness (adharma). The puranas recount his comeuppance at the hands of Krishna who deployed the sudarshan-chakra (discus) to behead the fiend. Narkasur‘s vanquishment lead to the restoration of dharma, and the Diwali celebrations represent a renewal of the memory of Krishna‘s triumphal moment.
In Goa is prevalent the quaint practice – perhaps unique in India – of the reenactment of the Narkasur mythos. On the eve of Diwali, effigies of Narkasur are mounted at village squares and towns. After a night of boisterous revelry, they are consigned to flames at dawn.
These photos were taken last month on November 09, 2015, the eve of Diwali. A short video below captures some of the scenes.
My earlier posts on this theme are consolidated here.