Books : Indian Monuments

 (sanjay austa austa)

Photobook on Fatehpur Sikri: Penguin Books/ DK

(click on photo to go to gallery)

I am no historian but I love monuments.  I had been maintaing an elaborate though desultory   picture blog on  Indian Monuments when Penguin Books commissioned me to  shoot picture books on some famous monuments for them. That took me on a whirlwind tour around India. Though monuments fascinate me, I may not have taken the trouble of travelling to some of them of my own. For instance Sanchi Stupa and Udaigiri Caves  in central Madhya Pradesh. They are both so far deep  in this big Indian state and so far away from the nearest city , airport or railway station that I would have possibly never visited them in my life. Most history buffs  don’t bother about Sanchi either unless one is a Buddhist and on a planned  Buddhist itinerary  around India.

I had visited Khajurao twice before but this time it was an exhaustive photography tour. I had to shoot  almost every major Khajurao temple and their famous erotic sculptures. I did not mind that too much only that the  publishers in their wisdom sent me  during the foggiest time of the year and there was barely any window of light for me to shoot in.

The Yamuna has not only considerably shrunk in volumn over the decades but become increasingly filthy around the Taj. (sanjay austa austa)

Gone to the crows? Taj Mahal reflection in the Yamuna.

Taj Mahal was of course on the list too as were most prominent monuments in Delhi including the Red Fort and the  Humayun’s Tomb.  But I also had a chance to travel to South India where I photographed a completely different architecture. Starting with Mahabalipuram, I travelled down the coromandel coast in Tamil Nadu shooting the temples of Madurai, Kumbakonam, Chidambram and Thanjuvur along the way. I don’t know why but the  publishers wanted straight , boring `guide-book’ sort of photographs. Precisely the sort of photographs I detest. Naturally I have not displayed them in this gallery.

Photographer in India

4 Responses to “Books : Indian Monuments”

  1. Manjunath Shenoy says:

    Paid to go around India photographing buildings? Go on, pinch me, I think I am dreaming!

  2. Suja Mathew says:

    The theme that reverberated to me in most of these pictures was the human element that gave these pictures a dynamic quality, tying the picture to its place and making it culturally significant. A very personal set that tells me the story of the photographer as well…

    • sanjay austa says:

      Suja thanks. The publishers however wanted no humans in the pictures. I know what you mean . Yes indeed the human element adds depth to pictures of monuments. Thanks for your comments.

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