A visit to Dakshinachitra

A welcoming Kolam and flowers greets visitors
The glass of chilled mosambi juice was a life-saver. The blinding white heat and the humid haze that had assaulted my senses from the time I had landed in Chennai dissipated a wee bit.

I became aware of the quiet and calm of Dakshinachitra, “a living museum of art, architecture, crafts, and performing arts of South India”.

Located on the East Coast Road in Muthukadu, Dakshinachitra is about 21 km south of Chennai. The sprawling, 10-acre complex houses carefully recreated heritage structures, traditions and culture from the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is also a hub for performing arts, a retreat for artists, a learning centre for students, an exhibition space, a place to visit for the culturally inclined tourist… And a place that I had been wanting to visit for a long time, particularly to see the heritage structures.

So when the opportunity to visit Chennai came up about 10 days back, I planned my itinerary in such a way that I would go straight to Dakshinachitra from the airport itself. So far so good. What I had not accounted for, or rather ignored what everyone told me, was the severity of the infamous Chennai heat. I mean, how much more different could Chennai humidity be from Mumbai’s? By the time I reached Dakshinachitra, I was almost dehydrated and was having fond thoughts about Mumbai weather !

A shady courtyard at Dakshinachitra

Though the mosambi juice and lots of water revived me enough to brave the heat and take a walk through the heritage houses, the relentless heat made it difficult for me to really enjoy my visit there. I did manage to walk through the entire section of heritage structures, but my mind and camera did not register or record everything I saw.

But do allow me to share with you what they camera recorded. 🙂

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Travel Shot: The Chinese fishing nets of Cochin

Cochin or Kochi is a beautiful city and a photographer’s delight. I was in the city for 2 days in November in 1998 as part of a larger and a very memorable trip along the West coast of India (you can see a couple of pictures from that trip here and here). Even today, I can vividly recall the sights and smell of Jew town, the spice markets, Cherai beach and of course the strange-looking, but extremely photogenic Chinese fishing nets.

Chinese fishing nets at Cochin

It was late afternoon when we reached the area where the Chinese fishing nets were (I can’t really remember the area now). And what a sight it was. The cozy winter sunlight made everything look soft and dreamy. And the Chinese fishing nets looked delicate as if they were spun out of air and sunlight and sea-foam. The gentle wind made the nets mirror the rippling sea waves. It was a magical sight.

So magical, that I had no recollection of taking this photograph. It is only when I developed the film roll (yes, it was that far back) and saw the photographs that I found out. I discovered this yesterday among some other photographs and decided to share it with you here.

The Chinese fishing nets in Cochin are probably one of the most photographed “sights” in India and that too from all angles and all possible moods. Just type these words in any search engine and you’ll know what I mean. And yet, each photograph is special as it captures the mood through the photographer’s lens. Just like mine. 😀

So tell me, have you photographed the Chinese fishing nets of Cochin? Do share the link in the comments section. I would love to see your images and the mood that you have captured.

Travel Shot: Sunrise at Kovalam Beach

In the winter of 1998, a friend and I embarked on a trip along the West Coast of India beginning at Honnavar (Karnataka) and ending at Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) 10 days later. It was a hop on, hop off trip, one of the best trips I have ever undertaken, and a trip that I remember for various reasons.

While in Thiruvananthapuram, we took a spur of the moment decision to spend the night at one of the hotels on Kovalam Beach. That turned into quite an experience—being the only Indians staying back, being the subject of countless stares and comments, and dealing with plate-sized spiders in our room. After a sleepless night (you didn’t really expect us to sleep with the spiders around, did you?), we stumbled out of our room at daybreak—all red-eyed and cranky—to see a glorious sunrise.

Sunrise at Kovalam Beach, Thiruvananthapuram

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