A collage of MEMORIES

A collage of MEMORIES
A collage of MEMORIES

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


                                           ONE  DAY AROUND KUMORTULI-BAGBAZAR

                         Photography , something I started when I was in my school final years, I took it seriously since 11th standard. And since then there was no turning back, not even when my parents were against it, not even when my mom used to hide it inside the safety locker of her cupboard, not even when I did not have a good camera (only a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS, I had) and the picture quality was really very very poor, no matter how splendid moment I captured...The devotion, the passion was gradually paying back as my pictures started getting acknowledgement, publishing in renowned Magazines. Well, the first published work came out when I was in my 12th and it was no doubt a great thing for me. Now after all these years, my parents are very much approving, one of the best support for me! Around 8 published works are not so bad after all for a starter, what say? ;)

                     So, here I go...on the 10th August this year, I got a event invitation on Facebook from a magazine where I contribute now regularly. Due to some turmoil in life and health, I was not so keen initially. But then my best support-friend-mentor Sumit Chakraborty insisted that I should go and so in a double state of mind I decided to board the train to Sealdah with him, trying to get composure and interest in the photowalk, and also to divert my mind. So here I give the route map of the place which were to be covered in the photowalk. In this context I would give you a brief info about Kumortuli. Located in Northern Kolkata, this is the place renowned for Idol-making. From here the idols are sent not just in and around Kolkata, but to outer states and abroad. Who does not know about the Durga Puja , the most important festival of the Bengalees?

                        So we got down at Shobhabazar Metro station and waited for other members to turn up (me and Sumit had turned up around one hour before!). The event was organised by Travel Chhuti , a monthly magazine. It was the first photowalk organised by TravelChhuti.

                       It was a humid day, the Sun with its usual heat! My interest as well as energy was a bit up but not high! So here we started with around 29 members at around 2:45pm whereas we were to start around 1:45pm. We were given ID cards to hang around neck, with which we could enter and explore any place inside Kumortuli we want. I found Arijit, a media-helper of the magazine , a good friend of mine and we were on free moods immediately. 

                       Entering kumortuli, the admins of the magazine took coupons for all of us, so that we could click photos free of cost! (Surprised? Just imagine the huge popularity of Kumortuli, that people now have to cut coupons to click pictures or to roam about). The above was my first shot while entering the village of the idol makers. There some artists were drying these idols with burners.

                      Along with Sumit, I started exploring the narrowest lanes of West bengal (at least I thought so! I cannot imagine narrower lanes than that of Kumortuli). On each sides of the lane, there you can see either  idol makers' small huts (read studios!) along with their living space behind or upside, supported by bamboo. At that time one can understand the strange life of these unfortunate idol makers who after the strenuous crafting works, earn meager. The houses were so congested with each other that I had to imagine how they could live there...The drainage system is so poor, here and there you can see garbage, leftover food...Walking a midst of them, that too along the narrow lane was an opportunity to think about their lives in these lanes. The children looked at us with curious eyes, the elders however made no reaction, no wonder they see such photographers almost everyday.

                           The above three pictures were taken in front of a studio where this middle aged man, very jovial and photogenic were happy to see both of us clicking pictures of him. Some another artist passed by commenting, froom which I could make out that a number of photographers from news channels as well as freelancers had came before and clicked his picture. But his face had no such pride, rather he was so interested to pose, he answered nicely to the questions Sumit asked him while trying to capture some beautiful expression. Sumit is talented in this work no doubt, after all he's in photography for around 20 years!

                       We headed forward, Sumit had entered a studio where an aged uncle were carving white plaster of paris and marble statues to give them perfect look. I also entered, but decided to come out to give him and Sumit some free space to talk while clicking pictures. I saw this boy working on this Ganesha idol with rapt attention in the studio, another side of the lane. 

                         This boy was working alone inside this small studio, surrounded by idol-heads, wet clay and half-made idols. The surroundings would give a nice background to our pictures, so we sat in front of the hut. Sumit asked him some questions such as whether he worked alone, how much time it took, what he does in rain etc etc. He answered some, with unusual halts, seemed that either he was too engrossed in his work or he was not happy with us visiting his studio. Even I asked some questions as per Sumit had suggested but same result.. So we came out after taking some shots. Some photographers we did not recognise, immediately entered afterwards, started taking pictured almost lying on the soil! We roamed about beside and then again entered after they were finished, Sumit again asked some normal questions but it seemed that he did not hear. Then only we understood that the poor boy had some problem with hearing as well as talking. It was saddening. 


                         Have you seen the glittering ornaments of the idols? Well, this is how those are made (see the first picture above). The next one was clicked just after coming out of the hut of that poor boy. Here you can see the dingy lanes of Kumortuli, the studios built right on the lane. Imagine how they manage while it rains suddenly...They have plastic coverings beside, but the rain would already drench these clay idols..

                            Kumortuli is not only famous among the Bengalees or the non-bengalees living in West Bengal but all over the world. These foreigners had came to visit the pristine heritages in and around Kolkata, and turned up here at Kumortuli. I passed them, but Sumit insisted that I take some portraits, no matter how much I say that Portrait is not my forte. Well, these pictures made me reconsider my thoughts!! Some said, she looked imposting, some said I was supporting the fact that smoking is not injurious and the list goes on...But what do I care? I know these pictures meant neither of them, rather it was just my effort to capture some expressions turning them into portraits. She looked nice and photogenic, so I took pictures. It does not mean I have an huge attraction towards western culture, smoking and all! 

               Sumit had clicked this picture of mine while clicking the pictures of the young lady! 

                    And this is Sumit, I clicked this one when he was checking his shots (otherwise he seldom agrees to give a pose!)

                        It was my last shot while coming out of Kumortuli...This old lady sat in a Paan-stall and looked photogenic... See? I don't capture just foreigner beauties..huh!

Our next destination was Bagbazar Ghat . We sat on the ghat staircases waiting for all to turn up, then we were served hot Singara (samosa). We all talked about the experience of the photowalk, the next photowalk, the goals of the magazine, upcoming contests and all..It was the end of the day, the Sun setting over the horizon of the river, the launches passing by..A great scene to behold.

                        The aarti started at 6pm, and we sat on the staircases to capture these wonderful moments. The air was filled with intoxicating aroma of the amber incense sticks and the diyaas. The two pandits started their aarti , devoted to the river Ganga. It was tough to capture the pictures while the subjects were in motion, that too in night. I took the pictures in light mood so that the pictures come out bright, I pressed shutter continuously so that I be able to capture atleast some good moments. In utter surprise I found that some of the pictures came out really satisfying!

                      So this was the end of our photowalk, we bid adieu to the members and headed to the Bagbazar station to catch the train..exhausted but happy, this was the day well spent. Both of us enjoyed a lot after so many days without much active photography. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014


             It was a bright day at Pondicherry. We got up early and after finishing our breakfast headed to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the famous spiritual community established in the Indian territory of Pondicherry (now Puducherry ) by Sri Aurobindo on 24th November, 1926. At that time there were a few disciples staying with Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo subsequently decided to withdraw from public view for continuing his spiritual work and handed over the responsibility of the sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) and the ashram to his spiritual collaborator, "The Mother", earlier known as Mirra Alfassa.  


                     In the early history of the ashram, there was a regular routine. At 6am everyday, the Mother appeared on the ashram balcony to initiate the day with her blessings. Sadhakas (spiritual aspirants), would have woken up very early and completed a good portion of the day's work including meditation and then assembled under the balcony to recieve her blessings. 
                     As the ashram grew, many departments came up and were looked after by the Sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) as a part of their sadhana (worship): the offices, library, dining room, book/paragraph painting, workshops, sports/playground, art gallery, dispensary/nursing home, farms, dairies, flower gardens, guest houses, laundry, bakery etc. The heads of the departments met the Mother and took her blessings and orders. She would meet the Sadhakas individually again at 10am and in the evening at 5:30pm, she would conduct meditation and meet the Sadhakas.

                    In addition, four times a year Sri Aurobindo and the Mother used to give public Darshans (spirirtual gatherings where Guru bestows blessings) to thousands of devotees gathered to receive grace.

                           Today, Pondicherry has become an important  destination for spiritual seekers as well as tourists. Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to the ashram. When we entered, it was as if we had entered in another world, where peace prevails, where one can immerse all the sorrow and re-awake. Not only the Indians but huge number of foreign tourists were sitting on the mosaic-marble floor, deeply engrossed in spiritual books, pamphlets, some in deep thought or meditating with eyes closed.  A sanctum was nearby, with a small water body --flower petals scattered over. What a neat, tidy, peaceful, serene ashram it was! We saw the marble statue of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, in front of which, the devotees were sitting and meditating. The rooms were clean, calm and so was the library. None talked loud, people checked books, pictures, pamphlets, subscription forms etc.

                    The visiting hours for the visitors are from 8am to 12noon and then again from 2pm to 6pm. The ashram has no branch, the only one is at Pondicherry. Here is the address for your convenience : Marine St. , White Town, Puducherry 605002.  Contact no. - 0413 223 3604

                    Camera is not allowed inside or near the Ashram, so I could not click pictures. Pondicherry is anyway a very picturesque town with Portuguese buildings and beautiful lanes. After visiting the Ashram, we went to the beach beside, stayed there standing and enjoying the salty wind and sound of mild waves....then headed towards Chennai. 

                        The VGP Golden Beach is located on the Bay of Bengal in Chennai, Tamil NaduIndia. It is a major tourist attraction in Chennai. It is situated in the East Coast Road from Chennai to Cuddalore via Pondicherry. 

                      One of the most endearing attractions is the surging Bay of Bengal --a private, velvety beach with silvery sands --on the Marina, the world's second longest beach. You would hardly find any where else, an amusement park that has an enchanting sea at the backdrop.

                    The breaking of the waves and the whistling of the winds are music to the ears. It's also a safe beach where one can go for a bath or a short swim, come ashore and have a fresh water shower to cleanse. Adequate services are provided to help people enjoy.

Monday, 1 September 2014



                           It was about 9:30am when we reached Chennai by the early-morning train from Bangalore. The time was the last week of October. our guide Arjun welcomed us at the station and we headed towards Mamallapuram. Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram is a town in Kancheepuram district, around 60km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu .
By the 7th century, it was a  port city of South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas . It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and 9th century and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . So needless to say, I was overwhelmed with excitement for the trip, but unexpectadely the rain started tremendously pouring water to my excitement! But may be the nature took pity on our excitement and after 15-20 min there was bright sunlight


                     Our first stoppage was Thirukadalmallai , a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu , built by the Pallava king in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean. After building the temple, the remaining architecture was preserved and was not corroded by sea. The large entrance gate is the main attraction. A number of small tented shops were there outside the temple. Here a few cows with surprising look caught my gaze --the cows were large in size and had horns of about 3ft long. The foreign tourists were very much excited clicking pictures of those cows. A small crowd had been formed.


                         We had our lunch on the way to Shore Temple and Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas). The Pancha Rathas or Five Chariots are five monolithic pyramidal structures (Rathas), literally Chariots named after the Pandavas (Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva) . Beside these, there is also a chariot named after Draupadi . These sculptures are complimented by some enormous stone animals including a large elephant. Dating from the 7th century, the sculptures were sculpted from the craved stones from the cliffs of the shore of the Bay of Bengal . In the Pancha Rathas, each Ratha is sculpted in a different style. The different sculptures, some half-finished, may have been examples of different styles of architecture, probably practised on by young students. An interesting aspect of the Rathas is that, despite their sizes, they are not assembled --each of these is carved from one single piece of large granite stone. The carvings are instance of the hard labour of hundreds of years. 


                   After the Five Rathas, we headed to the Shore Temple , the oldest structure in the area. Built in c.700 A.D. it is spread along the Bay of Bengal with the the entrance from the western side away the sea. 


                                 Unlike Mamallapuram's other monuments, the temple is not carved from rock, and the bulk of the current structure is a reconstruction after it was struck by cyclone. Recent excavations have revealed new structures here. 


                                   It's not particularly large and the carvings have been badly eroded by the salty wind and the tide, but this adds to the sense of tranquility. The area around the temple consisting a landscaped park, lush greenery and hordes of souvenir hawkers at bay enrich the beauty of the place making a huge tourist attraction.


                        The drizzles had just started then and we took shelter under a tree but that was just for a few minutes, as the rain had ceased. We came out of the shade of the tree AND was spellbound to see the rainbow formed over the sky, beneath there was the gushing deep blue sea!  It was a moment treasured...


                  But anyway, we had to rush back to our car as the sun was biding adieu and the evening was gradually setting in. We had to cover two more places --Arjuna's Penance Bas-relief and Krishna's Butter Ball, about which I had blogged last year, when I had just started blogging! Here is the link http://photoshreya.blogspot.in/2013/07/krishnas-butter-ball-one-day-at.html


Monday, 14 July 2014



Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden previously named as Model Floriculture Centre, Sirajbagh, Chashmeshahi, Srinagar, is the largest Tulip Garden of Asia spread over an area of about 12hectares. it is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan Range with an overview of picturesque world famous Dal lake.

This garden was conceived, conceptualised and created by Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir in the year 2006-07 with the aim to boost floriculture and advance tourism in Kashmir Valley.

In the month of April, this year I got the golden chance to visit this vast valley of tulip in the Jammu and Kashmir trip. The morning started with the scorching sun, and it was the day for sight-seeing around Srinagar. Tulip Garden was the first destination and so excitement was on the highest peak!  The famous film Silsila, where the suave Amitabh Bachchan and the ever-glamourous Rekha thrilled us with the song sequence "Dekha ek khwab" ; it was a song before my birth but thanks to my parents, I got to watch the film and the song of course a numerous times. Every time my mom would say how exquisite the tulip garden is and how she wants to visit the valley. So obviously it was in my travel wishlist too and here I was visiting this garden, with my parents!

Okay, so we entered the garden after taking tickets 40 rupees per head. AND as soon as I entered, I was like OH MY GOD! the valley is stretched faraway and you will wonder where it ends. You will find yourself encircled by tulips and tulips everywhere. I started clicking immediately but the I remembered that the ticket is valid for only half an hour, so I had to hurry otherwise I could not complete the full garden. I headed forward and was amazed to see the burst of colours all over. No, not a red carpet to welcome you, but thousand coloured carpets are spread by these tulips to welcome you whole-heartedly. I was confused about which one to click and which one not! rows after rows of flowers were tossing their heads as if to welcome to their region.

A number of  gardeners were there to plant the saplings, water them, cut the weeds, and take a lot of care of the bloomed flowers which are the center of tourist attraction. they do not notice the tourists as they are always busy caring the large garden. 

One of the surprising thing was that none was tearing the leaves or plucking the flowers. The reason may be that they wanted to show respect to the heavenly creation of nature OR may be that they did not want to give 500 rupees as a compensation/fine for tearing or plucking flowers-leaves. Well, while roaming about I saw a baby running towards a tulip flower to pluck it and his mother (who was busy talking with her sister before)  came running and screaming at him not to pluck that flower. It was so damn funny to see how people are so afraid of giving fine LOL :)

There are green grass carpets spread in the middle of the rows of flowers. People roamed about there, some entered inside the rows of tulips and got clicked (of course with tender care so that the flowers don't get affected). Couples, school children (class-bunkers!), honeymoon couples, families and also some crazy-minded people like me were roaming, clicking, some even asking for clicking pictures of them. It was the pick-season of flowers and so huge number of tourists turned up. The garden remains open only for 2-3 months, because after that the flowers get dried up, the monsoon sets in and before that period the snowfall does not allow flowers to bloom. I noticed that some flowers had already started to dry up. Even the travel guide Raju told that in his career of about 10 years, he saw the tulips for the first time. So no doubt I was very lucky to catch a glimpse of the great valley of tulip flowers. 


The different flower shrubs beside the tulip-rows accentuated the beauty apart from the tulips. Besides Pine, Deodar, Spruce, Willow, Maple trees give shade by the rows of tulips. The Apple trees were in full bloom, fully ornamented with white flowers. There were rows of table-chairs and cement slabs where the tourists and visitors were taking rest, some taking food. As it was really scorching heat, so I stood under a Maple tree, it felt soothing after roaming and clicking under sun. There is also a floriculture centre beside the garden which provides saplings, seeds, fertilizers etc . One gets to know a lot more about how to plant Tulips and grow them from there. The Palm Swifts, Barn Swallows, Himalayan Bulbuls kept fluttering over the flowers and Golden Eagles and Shikras kept flying above with sharp look beneath.

Every year, Spring Tulip Festival is held here at the Tulip Garden. This year it was held from 12th to 14th April. it was a grand fest, where celebrities turned up and made the Spring Tulip Festival 2014 a great success. 
You can check the following links for videos of the tulip garden: