Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Durga Puja 2014 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight

Durga Puja 2014 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
Sweetest face of the Goddess I came across on Panchami at Alamganj puja pandal!
Yes, now a days smart cum fast-evolving Bengalis start their Durga Puja pandal-hopping right from Panchami. Previously it was a trend in Kolkata and this time I found its spread in my city Bardhaman too! Puja organizers were liberal enough to inaugurate their pandals and open them for visitors right from the evening of auspicious Panchami. I prefer visiting Puja pandals either in daytime when there's no "kilometer long" queue or midnight, by the time other people conclude their celebration for the day. If you haven't experienced Durga Puja in West Bengal you'll probably find my timings bit awkward. May be in the next post I'll publish a photo to show you, how dense the crowd actually is in the prime hours of evening. After midnight as the number of visitors lessens in puja pandals, photographic opportunities do increase. So, due to these various conveniences I have my own sweet hours for pandal hopping.
Durga Puja 2014 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
These are not smoke engulfing the Goddess, but synthetic cotton, a component of wall decoration
Last night I managed to visit only four famous Puja pandals of Bardhaman, two located in the proper city and the other two were from Barsul, a panchayat area not far away from the city. People debate whether theme Puja has killed the essence of traditional Durga Puja... I care least as long as the pandal decoration is not too harsh for my eyes and the Puja committee doesn't put a "No Photography" board. Among four places I visited, the Idol of Alamganj Durgotsav committee turned out to be most beautiful, idol of Barsul Young Men's Association was most unique and the idol of Barsul Jagarani  Durga Puja Committee was certainly the most photogenic one! Durga Puja in Bengal is not just about the idol, it is about the whole ambiance that's artificially created by artists, called theme. Theme-wise also, both the pandals at Barsul were way ahead of whatever little I saw of Bardhaman. Sarbamilan Sangha took "Amarnath yatra" as their pandal theme and despite their lot of expenditure things didn't quite click well for them. Anyway, be a part of my Panchami midnight pandal hopping. I'll be back with other awesome puja pandals of my city in the next photo post.
Durga Puja 2014 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
Doesn't this white elephant look awesome? This is the pandal of Barsul Young Men's Association!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Durga Puja 2014 - Idol Makers' friendly Kids

Durga Puja 2014 - Idol Makers friendly Kids
Nothing beats a group of kids requesting you to take their photos!
This Durgapuja-overpowered Bong is back again with his third photo post of Durga puja 2014 diary. In my last visit to idol-artisan's workshop, while I was capturing the meticulous painting process of clay idols by veteran artists, a group of kids flocked around me, inspecting my modest photography gears. All of them hailed from the potters' neighborhood, if not that family itself. They must had have seen those interesting steps of idol making thousand times before but certainly not a beardy man somersaulting with a camera on their clay floor. I could clearly see longing in their eyes to get photographed. What can be a better gift for a photography enthusiast than subjects volunteering to get shot!
Durga Puja 2014 - Idol Makers friendly Kids
I had to tickle his tummy to bring out his natural self...
Kids hate to pose still for more than a second. So, when you're capturing more than one or two of them in dim light, there ought to be someone with a blurred face. Don't blame your point and shoot camera, it's a part of the game... accept and enjoy the challenge. My subsequent Durga Puja 2014 photo posts will consist of pandal hopping with a fixed aim to bring the best of idols, themes and decorations for your visual delight. Once again repeating my humble disclaimer, especially for those kind friends who visit this blog and expect new photos regularly- due to Durga Puja I might not be able to publish a photo daily or as per my usual interval... please do visit back in a while to catch glimpses of Durgapuja pandal hopping. There are four more photos waiting below... do checkout.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Durga Puja 2014 - Artisans busy in Painting of Idols

Durga Puja 2014 - Artisans busy in Painting of Idols
Eyes of the Goddess are painted on Mahalaya, called 'Chakkhu Daan'
Here continues my Durga Puja 2014 photo-diary. In my last visit to icon-artisan's workshop to explore the magical art of idol making, I had found almost all deities in eyeless and colorless forms. They were simply clay images by then. I was badly curious to witness how artists paint eyes on their clay sculptures. My latest visit turned out to be quite rewarding and this time I carried my tripod too! Although I missed the 'Chakkhu Daan' of Goddess Durga (i.e. the ritual of painting eyes on the clay image of the Goddess which is ideally done in the day of Mahalaya), I was lucky that artists were painting eyes on clay images of other Gods and Goddesses of Durga family. I could also capture few other steps of idol making, like- putting the base color of idol with electric paint sprayer and covering the naked clay images with colorful fabrics.
Durga Puja 2014 - Artisans busy in Painting of Idols
Icon-artist painting eyes on an idol of Goddess Laxmi with unshakable concentration!
Durga Puja 2014 - Artisans busy in Painting of Idols
An idol of Goddess Durga waiting for fabrics, after its preliminary painting works are over.
It was quite surprising to see how fast icon artisans can paint eyes on their idols. They do it undisrupted, as if distributing ink one by one to every little boy standing in the queue! I was continuously monitoring their swift work flow from behind the camera. When I asked one of the artists, "Dada, I've been capturing your movements with the brush, doesn't that affect your concentration, or to put it simpler, are you not conscious of my peeping on your ongoing art?", with a small professional smile he replied, "Not at all. We're used to strangers' interferences. Everyday many prospective clients visit in our working hours. So, we attend them in the middle of these works only." Presently a sac of clay costs them 150 odd bucks. How these idol artisans are managing their clients' demands and surviving never-ending financial challenges are coming soon in this blog as a separate post, but not right now in this festival time. I'll keep posting my Durga Puja 2014 diaries whenever I get a chance to come online and meanwhile you click on the "Read more" button below to checkout my rest of the photographs showing artisans busy in painting of idols.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Durga Puja 2014 - Durga Idols yet to get their Vision

Durga Puja 2014 - Durga Idols yet to get their Vision
Clay heads of idols at their preliminary stage of making...
If you web-search for "biggest Hindu festival", three results will fill up your display- Kumbh Mela, Diwali and Durga Puja. Whether you call it Durga puja or Navaratri/Dusshera, the basic concept behind this grand Hindu festival remains the same, i.e. victory of Goddess Durga (icon of 'good') over the buffalo demon Mahishasura (symbolic of 'evil'). The beginning of this sacred autumn festival of Durga Puja is marked by Mahalaya, the day preceding the first day of 'Devi Paksha' (Fortnight of the Goddess) according to Hindu calendar. The 4'O clock morning radio program 'Mahishasuramardini' on the auspicious day of Mahalaya kick starts the actual mood of this festival in every Bengali's mind! Mahalaya is not just about listenting to Birendra Bhadra's soul-touching recitation of Mahishasuramardini, it is the very day when idol artisans religiously paint eyes of the Goddess after fasting for a day. This custom of painting eyes on eyeless clay idols is one of the most important rituals of Durga Puja and known as "Chakkhu Daan"! After Mahalaya I gave a quick visit to idol-artisan's workshop to capture some photos of idol making. Most of the idols were yet to get their eyes painted and the artist told me, now a days due to increased work load they fail to follow old conventions.
Durga Puja 2014 - Durga Idols yet to get their Vision
Goddess waiting for an artisan to paint her eyes...

Durga Puja 2014 - Durga Idols yet to get their Vision
One word- 'Ma' and Her million forms!
These idols in the clay house didn't have their eyes yet. So, probably I've to give another short visit to capture those motherly eyes of the Goddess. Anyway, I'll be posting many more photo stories on Durga Puja 2014, so, do hop back! Being a hardcore Bengali ('Bong' for many of you), I may not be able to post regularly during these Durga Puja days which I'm sure you'll excuse. Meanwhile scroll down and enjoy three remaining photos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kids building Sand Castles on the Beach

Kids building Sand Castles on the Beach
I wish I could build a castle like these playful kids, without thinking of the futility of my labor! We adults get so carried away by thoughts of our future that opportunities lying idly at our present doorsteps are often missed. We should really ask these prudent kids how to build castles of sand without worrying unnecessarily of those roaring waves. May be 'living today' is not a bad idea...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hazarduari Palace Museum of Murshidabad

Hazarduari Palace Museum of Murshidabad
I had posted a black and white front view photo of this grand monument last month. For readers who're new to this photo blog, I'm copy-pasting the small paragraph on Hazarduari Palace Museum from my old post: "As the name 'Hazarduari' suggests, this palace of thousand doors by the bank of River Bhagirathi, built in 19th century during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah, is presently under the authority of Archaeological Survey of India and houses a museum displaying the collections of Nawabs consisting of furnitures, oil paintings, arms, statues, rare books and manuscripts. Hazarduari, the lone monument that has drawn Murshidabad into historical cum tourist map of India, is a good example of Indo-European architecture, strongly reminiscent of Italian style, as evident from its huge flight of stairs at the front, colossal pillars and the facade of the building! Hazarduari palace was used holding the durbar, other official works of the Nawabs and also for the residence of high ranking British officials. The Durbar hall with its lofty dome adorned with fine stucco ornamentation, is the most attractive feature of this monument. I must mention that I read somewhere, out of thousand doors, only 100 are real doors." I kept my promise by posting this photo of Hazarduari Palace with its well maintained garden and clock tower. If you're interested I'll come up with more monuments from Murshidabad.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Old Film Camera

Another Old Film Camera
It may look like a SLR camera but it's a point and shooter only. It is the oldest camera present in our family which belonged to my father. I remember him loading this camera with black and white films, until I got my hands on photography with the cute new Yashica camera. We had lent this cam on several occasions to our different relatives, as keeping a camera at home was not in fashion those days, at least not in Bengali families. If I remember correctly it was Kodak who revolutionized the concept of point and shoot photography in our region by marketing cheap cameras like Kodak KB-10. By watching the ad in television common men started thinking that they too could own personal cameras! By the way, in this camera, the colorful logos of sun, moon, cloud etc over the dial where you can adjust the aperture attract me most. Though I couldn't get any trace of its manufacturer through google-search, I must admit it had captured some very acceptable photos in its time.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Sacred Valley of Muktinath

The Sacred Valley of Muktinath
Located at an altitude of over 3700 meters, at the lower side of Thorong La mountain pass, Muktinath is a holy site for both Hindus and Buddhists. I'm sure Lord Vishnu would pardon my ignorance if I confess that I went there to get a closer glimpses of mighty Himalayas and to experience slightly wilder portions of the Annapurna trekking trail rather than as a devotee. If you are a pilgrim and least interested to trek, you may directly reach Muktinath by two available options. Take a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and then couple of hours bouncy jeep drive, or, private tour operators arrange for helicopters (which carry 6-8 tourists) from different hubs of Nepal to Muktinath.

Friday, September 19, 2014

There's a New member in the Elephant Family

There's a New member in the Elephant Family
Elephants are one of the most socially organized animals but with some uniqueness! Like us, elephants too exhibit family groups and clans but, unlike us, social lives of male and female elephants are completely different. Female elephants spend their lifetime in highly bonded matrilineal family groups (this also contains calves irrespective of their gender), whereas adult male elephants spend solitary lives or in association with other males in small groups. Amidst this gender differentiation, calves always share protective space well fortified by adult elephants of the herd. Possessiveness over their calves is quite evident in the behavior of adult elephants in a group. Elephants know how to pamper their kids, I feel.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bathing time is Over for the Day

Bathing time is Over for the Day
The Gangasagar beach is quite dirty due to over enthusiastic pilgrims and thousands of rituals conducted over the beach throughout the day. Many won't like it but being a nature lover I must say, religion (it's not the religion but the religious blindness actually) is ruining the beautiful beaches of Sagardwip island and polluting the sea water. Anyway, if you ever visit there make sure not to contribute to the natural damage. I tried to overlook the otherwise garbage-scattered beach of Gangasagar and found some colorful sunset silhouettes of busy pilgrims. By the way, which site can be a holier alternative for worshiping God than your own mind?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fisherman Mending his Fishing Net

Fisherman Mending his Fishing Net
Whenever I travel to coastal areas I get amazed by the limitless enthusiasm and physical strengths in fishermen covering that zone. In this photograph, the fisherman who's mending his fishing net is not a heavy built person, but mostly I see fishermen in Bengal carry big hanging tummies, rather potbellies, sadly which has nothing to do with their labor, but their disproportionate diet on board which comprises plenty of boiled rice and fish. Yet they are so active and agile! Chatted slightly out of context... yes, deliberately, because I've zero knowledge on fishing nets... so, if you have please enlighten me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The young Monk with his Puppy

The young Monk with his Puppy
I met this young monk in a Tibetan monastery at Pokhara. Beside being a graceful boy he turned out to be a dog lover too and his pup was kinda cute. Being a part of the Sangha,right from this age he lives on mendicancy, ideally eating once a day and keeping just five things- the traditional robe, a razor, a needle, an alms bowl and a water strainer as his personal belongings! Perhaps he's a sramanera as of now and by twenty years of biological age probably he'll ordain as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk). It's never easy to lead such a life... don't believe me? Well, try spending a day without your smartphone and you'll realize it yourself.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Carved Wooden vintage Grocery Shop in Kathmandu

Carved Wooden vintage Grocery Shop in Kathmandu
Such old shops selling various stuffs, with beautiful wooden carvings over their doors or pillars are in abundance in Kathmandu city. The entire city is ornamented with wood carvings from various pages of history, unfortunately mostly under-maintained! Although Nepalese are usually very jolly people but the lack of business due to mushrooming modern stores and adjacent upmarket malls are quite evident from the face of this shopkeeper lady.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Hornless Rhino of Jaldapara

The Hornless Rhino of Jaldapara
Indian one-horned rhinoceros is the center of attraction in Jaldapara, a national park on the bank of Torsa River, located at the green foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar district of West Bengal. Rhino's horn are made up of pure keratin (almost similar to your nails) and grows up to an average length of 10 inches! It's the horn that kills this animal. Like ivory, horn trading is illegal in India but who cares for the law? Law and human greed are blind anyway. Poachers have successfully reduced the total population of Indian one-horned rhino, also known as greater one-horned rhinoceros to a meager number of 2575, of which 108 were recorded inhabitants of Jaldapara National Park in 2007. So, in the photo above, the fifth largest land animal is grunting "Give back my horn, or I'll track you, find you and kill you"... Horn traders, run for your filthy lives now!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nashipur Palace of Murshidabad

Nashipur Palace of Murshidabad
Almost two and half kilometers away from Hazarduari Palace Museum, Nashipur Palace, or more popularly known as Nashipur Rajbari in Bengali, is one of the tourist attractions of Murshidabad! This photograph shows an inside view of the palace. You can see the temple in the courtyard as viewed from a veranda. But, if you see the front of this Nashipur palace you'll find a good similarity with Hazarduari. I wish I could be more respectful to Raja Debi Singha who had built this royal structure about 150 years back. Well, he was a tyrant arse-licker to British, extorting tax from common men. Till now, members of 'once upon a time' royal family live in this palace and the deity inside the temple is worshiped with devotion. Every year, on the occasion of Jhulan Yatra, a fair is organized in the palace complex which is a prime source of entertainment for local people. When you explore the interior of Nashipur Rajbari, be careful to guard your head from thousands of pigeons who have high tendencies of pooing over visitor's bare head... so watch out!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Clouds wooing the full Moon - a Photo Story

Full Moon and Clouds Photography
It is not a Story of immortal Love you find in Novels, it's very earthly, rather corporeal!
It had been more than 2 years since I last captured full moon photos. My tripod was lying unused under a thick coat of dust in the storeroom and there was a sense of guilt somewhere in my mind for ignoring night photography for quite a sometime. Day before yesterday had a full moon night and I was ready with my gears on our roof. Beating the jealous mosquitoes, I clicked lunar photos in three episodes- early evening, around 10 PM and finally by 2:30 AM. Other than the position of the moon if anything changed with time was the cloud wooing her at that very moment! I was so fascinated with all those attempts of courtship from different clouds passing by the gorgeous beauty that it became impossible to leave my photo post without a pinch of fiction it deserves.
Full Moon and Clouds Photography
All were blind in her dazzling aura. She too had scars. Sadly nobody was interested in her story.
If you dropped by in search of a photo story, you'll find it in captions below photographs and in that case you may skip these paragraphs. But if you're a point and shooter and interested to click similar or better full moon photos then cling on to learn few handy tricks while photographing the only natural satellite of our planet, located as close as 384,400 kilometers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sleepy Windmills of Frasergunj

Sleepy Windmills of Frasergunj
Frasergunj is a beach town in South 24-parganas district, West Bengal. Other than the busy fishing harbor if anything attracts you there that has to be the long queue of sleepy windmills near the beach. Although India is the world's fifth largest wind power producer, unfortunately, my state West Bengal is nowhere in the scene despite its favorable geography, while leading states are Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra etc. As a prime obligation to this green planet let us focus more and condition our minds towards different renewable sources of energy. Amen.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Leopard from South Khairbari Nature Park

A Leopard from South Khairbari Nature Park
Those who've read my travelogue of Dooars must have already seen this leopard photograph. For others, here's my two liners about the capture. Leopards are ferocious hunters with extremely powerful jaw muscles to favor their carnivorous food habit. Leopards are not only good tree climbers but they drag their prey high up into the tree branches! An adult leopard can weigh up to 70 kg and capable of catching a speed up to 57 km/hr! As you know basic parameters of a leopard now, and as you can see it's not a caged leopard from any zoo, guess how did I manage to click his photo. Well this gentleman was a resident of the Leopard Rehabilitation Center of South Khairbari Nature Park, which is a must visit destination for wildlife lovers if you're traveling to Jaldapara National Park. I could photograph this leopard from a close distance without risking my life as I was safe inside a solar-battery driven van. I assume he was 9 feet away from my lens!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kids Bathing and Playing in the River - a Photo Essay

Kids Bathing and Playing in the River - a Photo Essay
"Yeppy, look Tina, today those jackals are nowhere around!"
Kids splashing water in a river in the name of bathing make excellent subject for candid photography. But to keep the composition look spontaneous and lively you shouldn't make them aware of your presence with the camera. Sometimes a camera may boost up their spirits of playing too, gifting you with more heroic stunts, but, that you should expect only from boys, more so when you're a male photographer. Children get gender apprehensive by the age of around 5 years, so doesn't matter how much fatherly or brotherly a man you're, girls playing in the river are bound to shy away if they note you with a camera aiming at them!
Kids Bathing and Playing in the River - a Photo Essay
"Yes Olive, I told you right they won't turn up before the midday train whistles"
So, there are two ways of photographing little girls bathing in the river. Either stay at a considerable distance and use the telephoto (zoom) end of your lens or, keep a woman beside you which will make your subjects feel comfortable. Second option, although hard to follow if you're traveling solo, gives you better results. Just note the stiffness in my subjects in the third photograph (below) as they came to know of my shooting. So, to avoid them leaving their fun play in the middle keep yourself invisible.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Sunset over the Indian Ocean
Sunset from the deck of a ship is undoubtedly magnificent to watch but capturing the beautiful moment with a basic point and shoot camera can be quite a challenging affair. The low light situation adds up to the pendulous motion of your ship and you keep on getting blurry shots. If you shoot up the ISO, shutter speed increases but it gives you shots too grainy to be acceptable! It is the combination of three factors: waves' mercy, your luck and off course your repetitive attempts that can help you getting few splendid sunset shot shots over the Indian Ocean. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake
I beg you pardon if the ambiguity in the title "Lady of the Lake" brought you here, actually this photo has no connection with any Arthurian legend whatsoever. This elegant fellow-traveler lady was enjoying the mild Pokhara sun over the beautiful Phewa lake. Usually western tourists enjoy novels, hiring shaded boats for the entire day, one of the most appropriate things to do for relaxation in your vacation! Hope this lady of the lake discovers ClickingPhotos someday and I can gladly handover her candid image.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Firoz Minar at Gaur

Firoz Minar at Gaur
Firoz Minar is located at Gaur (pronounced as 'Gour' in Bengali), a historical ruined city quite close to India-Bangladesh border, in the Maldah district of West Bengal. This tower is almost 25.60 meters high with spiral staircase and 73 steps up to the top, was built around 1486 AD probably by Saifuddin Firoz, an Abyssinian who procured the crown of Sultan by killing Barbak Shah. Like most other minarets of India, the entry to this Firoz Minar to ascend to its top is restricted for visitors, off course due to safety reasons only.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Beach where Two Worlds Met

The Beach where Two Worlds Met
Reflections of the sky over wet beaches at different times of the day are amazing, aren't they? For me, this was one of those heavenly abodes where two worlds met harmoniously! Can you guess whether this photo was captured before the sunrise or after the sunset?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fleecy Clouds over the barren Himalayan land

Fleecy Clouds over barren Himalayan land
This photo was taken near Lomanthang, a remote place in Nepal that falls under Annapurna Conservation Area. In 3000+ meters altitude where winds turn harsher than storm almost everyday by afternoon, how can you even expect some greenery! Look at those uniform longitudinal furrows over rocks, resembling pillars from a distance. Those are nothing but artistic whims of dry wind reigning Tibetan plateau! Doesn't it look like these little fleecy clouds are abandoning the barren Himalayan land before afternoon winds turn up?