Monday, September 28, 2009


Durga 'Puja' in Calcutta has been highly commercialised, specially through hype in TV. Days' count starts blinking on the screen 90 days before 'Mahalaya'.Endless advertisements and talks and reports on what minor celebrities plan to do during the 'Puja' spoils the celebration's mood because of over-exposure. Gradually, DurgaPuja is turning to be a carnival.

Yet, artistic decoration and the height of workmanship of the artisans toiling for weeks attract lakhs of people who stream through the PujaPandals for 4/5 evenings.The rush allows just a glimpse , because , there is a constant push to move and make room for the next person. I normally cover a few of the famous ones in South Calcutta during early hours of the morning or noon.In the evenings, I enjoy the shows of TV channels. Much to my chagrin,in 2009, TV channels, who did cover the Puja crowd a lot, were very particular about not showing the details of award-winning images and pandals !There must have been requests of Puja Committes about not showing the details so that curiosity attracts larger and larger crowd,which in turn means,bigger support from sponsors.

Weather was a spoil-sport this year. September weather is, as such, humid.Calcuttans had to brave a few showers too. are a few photos capturing the moments of joy :

Tired face of a priest. 'Evergreen' pandal @ Ballygunge, against the backdrop of the knees of Mahisasur .

Durgabari @ Ballygunge Place. Notice the bright red garlands on Devi's body.

The best performer in a competition of impersonating DeviDurga among local children @ (Behala) Airport 'More' near Parnasree.

Seeking the blessing of the Goddess, after the priest performed 'Arati'.@ (Behala) Airport 'More' near Parnasree.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Udaipur, the White City of Rajasthan.Viewed from the hill of Sajjangarh.

My wife is from Rajasthan.Therefore, I have visited Rajasthan on many occasions during the 3 decades of married life. I have visited Udaipur and Chittorgarh , among other places, more than once. I have always been influenced deeply by the splendour of these places offered to the visitors.

A visitor of Rajasthan looks forward to views of historical monuments, lakes (of Udaipur) and hills ( Araballi) and desert. This trip added a new chapter to our previous experiences.During this trip, we discovered the beauty of the Ranakpur valley , lush green after monsoon. As our car travelled through winding roads of this valley , cutting through the green hills dotted with small hamlets and rolling meadows, we soaked in the tranquility of nature.

View of Lake Palace on Fateh Sagar Lake @ Udaipur, as viewed from top of Sajjangarh.

We visited quite a few places and monuments we have missed out so far. We visited Sajangarh @ Udaipur, offering wonderful view of the city and lakes below) , Eklingji's temple (30 km from Udaipur), Snaolima temple ( on the way to Chittorgarh), Ranakpur's temples and Bikaner's forts.There was one problem we faced throughout this tour - that of cloudy sky, often coming in the way of photography.Nevertheless , we clicked a lot of photographs of the places,events and monuments, some of which are quite interesting.

Jagadishji's Temple @ Udaipur. Built by Rana Jagat Singha(1st) in 1652.The temple's front was extensively damaged by Aurangzeb's army in 1736. Rana Sangram Singha(2nd) restored the temple to its glory in 1780.

A hermit stands unperturbed while a couple is engaged in sex on his right and two women dance on his left. Jagdishji's Temple @ Udaipur.

The entrance of 'Jayastambha' compound @ Chittorgarh, just before the sunset .

The ones I liked most - three faces of Shiva(Chittorgarh),oblique rays of the sun lighting up a plaque showing Palidana's temple, 'jhoroka's of Bikaner, private collection of paintings @ Bikaner ( some of you may have heard/read of 'RasikPriya' series.... presumably the better paintings are in the private displays in the confines of the palaces, still a clutch of interesting ones in display @ Lalgarh Museum), sleepy pregnant camels in the Camel Farm.

Three faces of Shiva.LH - solemn.RH - Rudra. Temple @ Chittorgarh.The details will show lots of emblems .

Monkeys abound the premises of 'Jayastambha' @ Chittorgarh. A view of a monkey sitting on the head of a Lion @ 30' height .

Temples of Rajasthan are opulent. The silver facades, gold ornaments, exquisite clothes make a visit to Rajasthan's temples an experience out-of-the-ordinary. It is a pity that for security reasons, photography is strictly prohibited in most of the temples. For memory, one has to depend on framed photographs sold outside these Temple complexes.As a positive fall-out of this practice, I found artists of Rajasthan create paintings of Srinathji some of which are work of art.The price, including framing, can be Rs 10,000/- or more.But, the display of artistry is awesome.

I shall end this introductory part of my 'visit report ' with a few photos from my repertoire.