Capturing Malleswaram’s ‘ancient light’

On the 1st of August 2010, 12 of us participated in a photowalk to the Bangalore heritage temple sites, Kaadu Malleswara and Nandeeswara, in Malleswaram. I organized this photowalk to help a friend, Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan, who used to conduct photowalks in Chennai before he went to Bristol, UK to pursue higher studies. His course, Masters of Arts in Archaeology for Screen Media (MAASM), looks at archaeology/heritage and media practices and explores ways in which archaeology can be presented to an audience. He had requested some photowalks to be organised to help him with his thesis.

This photowalk was called Ancient Light (from the greek: Archaeo(logy) + Photo(graphy)), and it has a FaceBook group and a  Flickr group.

A photowalk is a very informal group of people, photographers either by hobby or profession, who get together to document a certain place or area, each according to his or her own ‘lights’. Photowalks may be made by groups of people who are already known to each other, or they may be regular events, in which newcomers are welcome to join.

The requirements for the Ancient Light Photowalk were as follows:

The photowalk would have to be in actual excavation sites, museums, state/public managed heritage sites or libraries. There would be three individuals to take on specific roles:  the archaeological site photographer, the documentary photographer and the tourist. Once the walk was done, the participants would upload photos to the specified group sites.

With all these parameters in mind, I offered to organise the photowalk. I considered the Bangalore Fort, situated in the Krishna Raja Market (KR Market) area of the city, or the Kaadu Malleswara Temple (and the Nandeeswara Teertha located opposite) in Malleswaram,  as possible venues, and chose the latter, as they were less-documented of the two.

One of the unusual features of these temples is that photography is allowed everywhere within the temples; a welcome change from the ‘No photography’ rules enforced strictly in most Hindu temples. I also like the fact that anybody can visit these temples, not just Hindus.

I emailed a photography and other e-groups I belong to, and some close friends. I had a fairly good response, and a dozen of us were present for the photowalk.

The Malleswaram photowalk was less a ‘walk’ than others, as it involved only two temples and their immediate environs.  However, the facets of archaeology, architecture, culture, heritage, religion, and people converged, and so the endeavour kept us busy for over two hours.

It being the middle of the monsoon season, we were concerned about the light; but as it happened, the rain held off, and the evening light did make for interesting images.  We were also able to shoot the lights cast by the temple lamps, as dusk fell. In this sense, it was more interesting than just shooting in broad daylight. We were able to experiment with the use of the flash in the interiors, and settings for outdoor photography as well.

Here is my photodocumentation of the Ancient Light Photowalk, in ten images.

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We hope we helped with Chandrachoodan’s thesis, but we certainly helped ourselves to a wonderful evening of photography and heritage, together.

About Deepa Mohan 147 Articles
Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.

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