Delhi, the city rose and fell 6 times.
This is its 7th incarnation.
On the streets of Delhi you can see glimpses from all its pasts.
Alive in the places. Alive on the faces.
This week’s feature on my website, a collection of photographs the Delhi I know and love. http://www.anuradhasarup.com/…/G00006c5lDE…/C00006QcGbkRI5T0
Making the website was a difficult task. Selecting and shortlisting photographs from thousands across the last eight years and finally limiting myself to about 200 that made it to the published website. Each photograph recalled the place, the people, and the mood it was taken with. As such each shot a part of me.
More galleries are yet to be added. So do visit now and stop by again often in the weeks, months and years ahead.
It was an article in the Wall Street Journal “Where to Find the Wells of Wisdom“ that brought back memories of a week-long temple tour to the spiritual centers near Udaipur.
The article is on Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar and lists five places where he finds spiritual peace, well-being and knowledge. Having worked for Shriji for many years, it is remarkable how he keeps his stamina and cool through hectic days, that leave most of us (me definitely) wilted. It is written by Mr Perry Garfinkel, a well-known journalist and author of the 2006 bestseller “Buddha or Bust: In Search of Truth, Meaning, Happiness and the Man Who Found Them All”
Well back to my story now :-D.
I was on a photography tour for a new edition of the 101 Moments CD on Udaipur which was to feature a spiritual tour of the Mewar region. The well-known Shri Eklingji, Shreenathji and the Adinatha temple at Ranakpur featured prominently. However no less important were Dwarkadhishji, Charbhuja and Kesariyaji.
Eklingji with its complex architecture and importance in Mewar history is yet a place of great calm over-riding the fervour of the hundreds who visit everyday.
Shreenathji and the Ranakpur temples both great pilgrimage spots. Both beautiful in their own way though for me with a minus of their full-scale commercialisation.
It was the smaller, lesser known temples of Dwarkadhishji, Charbhuja and Kesariyaji, which I found had the most impact. The simple local flavour. The strong link with their local village communities. Living, organic and charged.
If you are visiting Udaipur, a visit to the temples will definitely be an experience you will long remember.
Most temples allow photography of the complex. Photography of the deity is not permitted.
Mornings and evenings are when crowds gather. Having people in the photographs is my personal preference for the colour and life they add to the frame.
Wide angles and zooms are both required. The complexity of the spaces is best captured by wide and the details (some often many meters above) demand a good zoom.
Some twenty years ago when I shifted to big-city Delhi from small-town Jaipur one of the things which disoriented me most was not being able to see the horizon. Even if at times I had an access to a roof or a high-rise balcony, houses and roads stretched on and on forever.
Where were the open spaces? Where was the horizon? What should I stare at when I needed to think?
Slowly walls took the place of horizons. If it had a pretty picture on it, even more so. The definition of space became confined to floor areas.
Horizons are now like old friends. Met rarely. On vacations or weekend drive outs. Each time they are seen they are missed.
Photograph details: Tonemapped HDR of 3 handheld exposures. Colour adjustment in Photoshop.
In our search for weekend photo opportunities across Delhi, it was pure luck that we came to know of the changing guard ceremony at the Rastrapati Bhawan on Saturday morning.
While the ceremony is a weekly affair and open to everyone, yesterday’s ceremony was a more elaborate version. The 15th Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles Regiment was handing over the task of guarding the President of India to the 28th Battalion of the Madras Regiment.
Well before the ceremony, I had positioned myself with the press photographers at one end of the road. Zestfully guarding my right to the center of the road’s yellow line. And for a few minutes soaked in the atmosphere of professional camaraderie the press photographers shared. Calling each one not by their individual names but the channel or media they represented. Ensuring that there was no jostling or inadvertent intrusion in each others frames.
It was a good place to be.
Our shoot went down hill quite literary after this. As the crowds swarmed their way up Raisina Hill, inside the iron gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan, a fellow photography enthusiast friend and I found ourselves locked out.
One gate one we got asked “Are you Press”
truthful us said no. “Sorry only press allowed”
At the other gate when asked “Are you Press”
we (prepared this time we thought) said YES! “Sorry no Press allowed!!”
And on our final attempt, on asked to produce ID, the national government issued driving license didn’t meet the standards of military citizenship proof. (My eyebrows have been raised since then. Been 24 hours or more)
Ah ha but that my dears is life. You just can’t win when you just cant win 🙂
“They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace – Christopher Robin went down with Alice. “Do you think the King knows all about me?” “Sure to, dear, but it’s time for tea,” Says Alice”
And so, we went for a good Madrasi breakfast 😀
Photography tip: Arriving early and marking your positions in advance is smart. Learning to lie with confidence, at times, a vital asset.
An early Sunday morning shoot on the streets of Old Delhi. Our focus to capture faces of the men who live and work there.
Khari Baoli is Asia’s largest wholesale market for spices. The air heavily laced with red-hot chillies, rich turmeric and very fragrant saffron. My sneeze rate of 1 atishoo per second soon broke the ice, and had even the most serious of these hard-working men giggling away.
Photographer friend and I were in street portraiture heaven. A multitude of facial features from men that came from across the country. Each face sharpened and refined by the harsh Delhi sun and the harsher life they lead.
Sunday morning was no holiday for them. As they waited their turn to load, unload or transport away whatever consignment came their way.