Archive for July, 2012

Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

July 25, 2012 9 comments

Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

Space age view of century old temples

It was a winter Sunday morning almost a decade ago, when I desperately panned my SLR film camera (Vivitar v3800s) to shoot a panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The negative and the prints still at my possession but by limited dark room knowledge was not enough to stitch up the panorama.

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

A decade later in April 2012 I was back again at the same spot where I panned my DSLR (Nikkon D60) to shoot a 8 shot panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The shots were stitched up in a matter of minutes in my digital darkroom.

Read more…



India in the World Economy

Tirthankar Roy

Cambridge University Press

India in World Economy: Cover

India in World Economy: Cover

Six of my photos have been published in the book titled “India in the World Economy” by Prof. Tirthankar Roy, reader in the Economic History Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The book have been published by the Cambridge University Press.

My photos covered a wide range of topics from terracotta temples to close up of terracotta panels, showing ocean going ships and European soldiers. From closed down Chinese restaurant and temples in Calcutta (Kolkata) to abandoned light house at the mouth of the Hooghly. Prof. Tirthankar Roy also provided me with an elaborate testimonial.

All my six photograph published comes with an elaborate narration which was also provided be me.

Prof. Thithankar Roy also mentioned my name in the preface of the book “India in the World Economy” thanking me for the photographs he has used in his book and also mentioning about my impressive collection of photographs on historical sites of West Bengal.

Read more…

Srinagar ~ Mughal Gardens

“The concept of paradise as a garden is one of mankind’s oldest ideas.The paradise promoised in the Quran consists of several terraces of gardens, each more splendid than the other.”

World Heritage Series, Humayun’s Tomb

“Inheriting the Greek love of order and logic, Islamic gardens – like their buildings – are regimented into lines of perfect symmetry; balance and design is all; nothing is left to impulse or chance.”

William Dalrymple, City of Djinns

Babar, the first of the great Mughals, introduced into India the Timurid – Persian scheme of a walled – in – garden, subdivided into four quaters by raised walkways and canals. As the Mughal empire spreads its wings into India the Mughal gardens started coming up in different parts of the country.

Obviously Kashmir, the paradise on earth, was the ideal place to built the mughal gardens, the paradise promised by the holy Quran. It was fourth Mughal ruler Jehangir, who took up the initiative of building of first Mughal Gardens of Kashmir.

Sirnagar, the present capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), houses three spectacular Mughal Gardens, complete with raised walkways water channels lined with fountains. Mughal Gardens of Srinagar are a prime attraction for tourist and locals alike.

Cheshma Shahi

Royal Spring

Cheshma Shahi (Mughal Garden), Srinagar, J&K

Cheshma Shahi (Mughal Garden), Srinagar, J&K

Cheshma Shahi, the smallest but most elegantof the Mughal Gardens of Srinagar, was built by the governor Ali Mardan Khan, under the patronage of Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 – 33. Cheshma Shahi (or Royal Spring) derives its name from a water source, a spring located at the uper most terrace of the Cheshma Sahi Garden. The water of the spring is said to posses some curative properties, especially for stomach ailments.

The triple terraced Cheshma Shahi garden is strategically located and offers great view of the Dal Lake and the adjacent Jhelum Valley of Srinagar.

Shalimar Bagh

Abode of Love

Central Pavilion, Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar, J&K

Central Pavilion, Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar, J&K

The most spectacular of the Srinagar’s Mughal gardens, the Shalimar Bagh was constructed by emperor Jehangir for his beloved wife Nur Jahan. Shailmar (abode of love) Bagh follows the three terraced Mughal Garden layout with  a dimension of 587m by 251m.The first terrace housed the public garden, the second the emperor’s garden and the third and final terrace housed the zenana (harem). The Shalimar Bagh also served as a royal court, during the summer months, and houses the Diwani Amm (public audience hall) and the Diwani Khass (private audience hall).

The Shalimar Bagh is built on a flat land with four radiating arms from a central water source. The water channels are lined with fountains and are marked on both sides by chinar trees.

Nishat Bagh

Garden of Bliss

Nishant Bagh, Srinagar

Nishat Bagh, Srinagar

Nishat Bagh (Garden of the Bliss) is the largest of the Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens. Built in 1633 by Asaf Khan, the brother of Nur Jahan the garden is not a royal garden. As Nishat Bagh is not a royal garden, its hierarchical than the other Mughal Gardens of Srinagar. Nishat Bagh has twelve terraces, each representing a zodiac.  The terrace begins from the public street level, which connects the garden’s water to Dal  Lake. The twelfth terrace is located in the zenana gardens.

A central water stream, nearly 4 meters wide and 20 centimeters deep, flows down from the top of the garden through a channel decorated with fountains and occasionally divided into fountain pools. Chadars, stone ramps engraved with wave patterns to render the flowing water more beautiful, transfer water between the various terraces. In several places, stone benches cross the axial water stream near a chadar, and serve as seating platforms for the visitor’s enjoyment.

Nishat Bagh creats a striking contrast with the Dal Lake in the foreground and the towering Zabarwan Hills in the background.

Related links from my personal website:

Other blog entries on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)

Transition of Venus and the Birth of Cinema

July 4, 2012 4 comments

6 June 2012 5:00 am Kolkata. I was up in my Saltlake terrace to witness the sunrise, yes sunrise. But it was no ordinary sunrise it was something special, very special, something that wont be witnessed in the next 117 years!!!!!

Transit of Venus (The tiny black spot on the 9 'O clock position of the solar disc is Venus). Shot just after sunrise from Calcutta

Transit of Venus (The tiny black spot on the 9 ‘O clock position of the solar disc is Venus). Shot just after sunrise from Calcutta

Yes you have probably got it by know I was about to witness a rarest of rare celestial event, the transition of Venus. It was well past the schedule sun – rise time but the sun was yet to be seen in the heavily polluted sky above the concrete jungle of Saltlake.

Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen (Sketch Courtsy: Biamn B Nath)

Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen (Sketch Courtsy: Biman B Nath)

It was almost 5:30 am more than a half an hour after schedule sunrise time I got the first glimpses of the sun. It was partially covered by clouds but soon the whole disc of the rising sun emerged out of the clouds. I pointed my Nikkon D60 DSLR fitted with the Sigma 70 – 300 mm (no filter was required) lens and zoomed in at the maximum level and clearly a dot was visible at the 9 O clock position. Yes it was Venus, walking along the disc of the sun.

As I photo documented the rare celestial event, using a x – ray plate as makeshift filter, I was transported back in time and back in 1874 when French scientist Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen also photographed the transition of Venus using a new photographic technique.

The root of the story goes back to early 18th century when Edmund Halley, of Halley’s comet fame, came up with the theory of measuring the distance between the Sun and Earth (Astronomical Unit) by taking advantage of the transition of Venus.

But transition of Venus was not a regular event and Halley left for the heavens in in 1742, 19 years before the next transition of Venus was to take place. Halley used the concept of parallax during the transition of Venus to accurately measure the astronomical unit (AU). Halley wanted to place two observer in the same longitude maintaining a maximum North – South distance, thus taking maximum advantage of the parallax error.

During the next transition of Venus in 1761 voyages were sent all over the world carry out Halley’s experiment. But the scientist came across a strange problem!!!!. It is understood that a exact time of the Venus entering the Sun’s disk is to be noted. But the scientist observed that the circular dot of Venus turned into a water drop shape the moment it entered the solar disc. The phenomena was not only unexplained but also unexpected but it prevented the accurate time keeping and in the proses failed to fined the accurate value of AU.

The phenomena came to be known as “Black Drop Effect” and the scientist were unable to come up with any solution for the next transition in 1769.

Janssen's 48 frames (Each teeth like structure represents the portion of the solar disc with Venus as a dot) (Image Courtsey: Desh)

Janssen’s 48 frames (Each teeth like structure represents the portion of the solar disc with Venus as a dot) (Image Courtesy: Desh)

For the transition of Venus in 1874 the scientist were more prepared not only they had more advance telescope but they had a new weapon in their armory – PHOTOGRAPHY!!!! Photography was the the most powerful tool of measuring and recording the exact moment of the transition. But shooting multiple frames in a short span of time was something unknown at that time.

Enter Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen, the French scientist who inspired by Samuel Colt’s revolver design, developed the PHOTOGRAPHIC REVOLVER which shot 48 frames per second. Janssen discover not only solve the problem of “black drop” but helped to measure the value of AU with great accuracy. But the story continued and two decades later the Lumiere brothers, used Janseen idea to create the first movie camera leading to the invention of cinema.

“Necessity is the mother of invention” goes an old saying and it is hard to believe that a scientific need of observing a rare celestial event can lead to the discovery of the most popular source of entertainment in the modern world.

As I stood on my Saltlake terrace wondering about the strange coincidence Venus was well into her walk along the solar disc. It was time for another black drop and time for Venus to bid good bye to the Sun only to return after 117 years!!!!!


Special Thanks:

  • Prof Biman B Nath: Baman B Nath is a professor of astrophysics at the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. A talented artist Baman (da) has provided me not only with the sketch of Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen but also provide valuable inputs regarding the transition of Venus.
  • Prabir Biswas: Fellow photographer and armature sky watcher, Prabir (da) has provided me valuable tips for photographing the transition of Venus.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,135 other followers