Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gujarat and Goa

The last time I had gone to Ahmedabad, Gujarat was for CEPT exam, which I dropped midway and went to Mount Abu. That was seven years ago when summer was at its peak. But the last month's visit had on and off monsoon showers and good company to leave me very fond of the city. I also made visits to Anjaar and the neighbouring places during the trip and was amazed by the number of temples that exist. And these were not just some roadside worshipping places put together with a bag of cement and few bricks, these were lavishly spent temples with marbles soaked in intricate architecture. A Swami Narayan temple or Jain temples could be found at a stone's throw distance. I went to one which was on the outskirts of the Bhuj carrying my manual SLR camera. In that vast fortress sized temple I couldn't find my muse. Clearly, Gods and idols had left my wonders ages ago, but the human vulnerability towards it still amuses me. Next to the temple there were workers cutting and varnishing metal rods to be used for the extension of the temple premises and I spent my film roll capturing them. My photographs carried way much more expectations from them than the marble structure sheltering Gods.

Once I was done with Swami Narayan temple, I went to Praag Mahal in Bhuj. An old gate located in the end of a thin road welcomed me to the decaying palace. I wasn't sure if it was the earthquake or just the sheer history of the building that had left it gracefully destroyed. The ceilings were half exposed and the exhibits coated with dust actually complemented the age of the building. In parts one could see the renovation work in progress but it was the untouched aura and smell of the place that helped in the display almost making it a time capsule.

The sad state of Indian monument preservation is that not many are done with good attention to detail. Aaina Mahal, the palace next to Praag Mahal had hints of preservation work done but with a callous approach. Paintings framed with cellophane sheets and exhibits labeled with amateur use of sketch pens gave it a school project work appeal. I believe one should do it with extreme care or not do it all. Let the whole thing age naturally but don't powder it cheaply to hide it's age. 
After Bhuj, I went to Mandavi which is situated near the sea. The open landscape of a sea had always been a treat to me while taking photographs. The white space and the liberty to compose the photographs with few constraints are the hidden joys of a geeky graphic designer when he embraces the sea. Had a camel ride too :)

And then from one beach to the other - Goa for Design Yatra. But more than Goa, it was the conference that really blew my mind. To meet such good speakers with amazing work in a span of three days was overwhelming. It left me inspired with some self doubt to battle with. The other good memory to hold on to was the visit to Hotel Venite, sitting in a tiny balcony eating Goan sausages. Thanks to Ojasvi Mohanty for introducing me to this place.

These two trips left me a lot to ponder with. New plans are shaping up and it definitely looks promising. I think I have filled up this post with many things, the post in the upcoming months will shed good light on the new beginnings I am heading towards. And how I dare to end this post without mentioning Brownu. I met her in Ahmedabad and for the two days I spent a lot of time with her hair all around. It was like visiting my childhood days when I had Lucy (Alsatian breed, bit ferocious to strangers but I literally grew up with her).


  1. Shammi...you are just incredible while shooting/drawing the old, historical buildings, palaces or monuments...

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