Monumental India

ISBN 10: 0865651973 / ISBN 13: 9780865651975
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Monumental India presents breathtaking panoramic views of North India's famed monuments and sites as well as little-known architectural gems. Produced in a landscape format and including stunning multipage gatefolds, it covers many fascinating varieties of styles and periods and features sprawling Hindu and Jain temple complexes, imposing Islamic tombs and mosques, serene Buddhist monasteries and stupas, colonial and royal palaces, and majestic forts. The camera enters magnificent darbar halls where maharajas once held formal audience, and the opulent interiors of their private apartments, with mirrored decorations, chandeliers, and luxurious brocades.

 

Beginning high in the Zanskar Mountains, Amit Pasricha photographs the 13th-century Thiksey Monastery that clings to a hillside in Ladakh. In Chandigarh, he captures Le Corbusier's revolutionary design that altered the course of modern Indian architecture, and in Agra and Delhi, the iconic Taj Mahal and the colonial North and South Blocks. He travels across the deserts of Rajasthan to the massive 15th-century Rajput fort of Kumbalgarh, and crosses the plains to Madhya Pradesh for the sparkling Jai Vilas Palace and the 2nd-century BCE Sanchi stupa, ending this incredible journey at the prehistoric Bhimbetka Caves

 

Amit Pasricha enlists the elements - sun, snow, mist, and cloud - to give the photographs cosmic drama, and his mastery of the panoramic format underscores the majesty of nature and the glory of manmade structures. His images capture the broad sweep of an edifice along with its finest, most intricate details. Aman Nath's insightful text completes this beautiful collection of photographs, making Monumental India a limited edition to be preserved and treasured.

From the Author:  *INTRODUCTION*
 
 Many years ago, while I was still at school,my father, then photo-editor at
 the American Centre, asked me if I would liketo emigrate to America.I was
 already a photographer and even way back then,there wasn't a shadow of
 doubt in my mind. No, I said, I belong hereand my instincts work so much
 better here in my homeland. Photographically,I could recognize and respond
 to every subtle nuance of the Indian canvas,every intangible could seep
 into my images - the dark quality of an overgrownruin, the breaking of the
 monsoon on hot ground, the call of thebrain-fever bird on a humid hillside,
 the shriek of the peacock over thesun-bleached ramparts of a fort, temple
 bells across holy rivers, the murmur ofpraying monks, even the march of
 modernity over an ancient country - all thisto me was familiar, even when I
 was seeing something for the first time. Itwas all spun from the same
 thread that had spun me, and I wanted tophotograph it.
 
 Many years on the road as a travel and tourismphotographer, shooting India
 in bits and pieces - art and culture, historyand tradition - left me
 yearning for a more complete vision. I soondiscovered that panoramic
 pictures in many ways set the subject within acontext.
 
  My brief for this pictorial book on themonuments of North India was a
 difficult one. I was to shoot unpeopledlandscapes - 'sanitized' was the
 word used. There are few countries morepeopled or less sanitized. I was to
 give the image the mood of an old lithograph,where very large and dramatic
 monuments were occasionally offset by one ortwo traditionally-attired
 persons. Now, traditionally-attired personsare a lot harder to come by than
 you would imagine, in present-day India'sfast-changing society. I thought I
 would photograph while India sleeps.Unfortunately, I found, Indianever
 sleeps. Yet somehow, in my long months waitingupon these monuments to
 reveal themselves to me, each one of them did.None failed me.
 
 Indian history tells us how this country is a greatconfluence of diverse
 cultures. Traders, missionaries and armiespoured in through the Western
 Himalayan passes down to the dusty plains.Some of them were permanently
 caught up and held in the valleys and troughsof Kashmir and Himachal,
 creating a beautifully erratic patchwork ofcultures - Mongols in one
 valley, Aryans in the next; Buddhism in therainshadow, Islam by the
 glaciers; burqa-clad women on one mountain,polyandrous ones on the next;
 courtly Persian spoken in one village, aTibetan dialect in the next.
 Europeans came in from the ports and theremains of colonial occupation can
 be seen in the churches and bungalows of mistyHimalayan hill-stations and
 in the cantonment towns and garrisons of thenorthern plains. In Delhi,
 grandiose edifices stare down their imperialnoses at India'steeming
 millions.
 
 As I educated myself about each of mysubjects, I found that each monument,
 despite the attrition of time, or despite itbeing swamped by urban sprawl,
 or despite the sometimes over-enthusiastic'restoration', nevertheless
 preserved its character. You just had to waitinside it, or outside it, long
 enough, until you saw it. I also saw thatwhile average Indians have a
 reverence for just about everything in nature- even animals, stones and
 cow-dung - their reverence does not extend tohistory. They will happily
 colonize or cannibalize historical buildings,incorporating them into the
 present, often to the horror of the Westernviewer. As a wise Indian once
 explained to an upset Englishman, "You mustunderstand sir; in Indiawe burn
 our dead."
 
 Nevertheless, in India you are never very far fromhistorical ruins.
 Hundreds of medieval forts are silhouettedagainst every horizon of
 Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh -their crumbling contours rise
 out of deserts, sandstone scarps, ravines andmustard fields. At every turn
 there are cenotaphs, memorials to forgottenroyals. Small thorn-choked
 temples bear the palm prints of a *sati*. Allthis is part of the terrain,
 scarcely noticed by the villagers except whenstories are told on summer
 nights as the men sit, passing around the*hookah* and slapping away the
 mosquitoes. Descendants of princes unable tomaintain their palaces and
 forts sold them to the government, where theywere turned into shabby
 citadels of bureaucracy. Some simply abandonedtheir hilltop fortresses to
 the elements, or left behind an old retainerto shoo away the cattle that
 tried to take up residence in the royalboudoirs.
 
 The last two decades have seen India breakaway aggressively from its
 post-Independence socialist foundations.Heritage has been rediscovered as a
 paying proposition. Many palaces and fortshave been dusted off and
 resurrected for lavish 'maharaja' weddings.Cash-rich urban Indians and
 foreign tourists have made heritage hotelscommercially viable. But many
 archaeological treasures still remainundiscovered. Most times there are no
 records of these fiefdoms, their wars andalliances. Their history is
 chronicled only in the wistful memories oftheir royal descendants.
 
 In order to do justice to the physical andmetaphysical scale of India's
 monuments I needed to* * extend manyparameters of perception. I needed to
 fit into my frame even more than the eye couldsee. I shot each panorama
 part by part, scrupulously maintainingperspective, and then digitally
 `stitched' the images together, to create anever-seen-before vista of the
 monument. Views that sometimes stretched to360 degrees, so that the viewer
 could be everywhere at once. In some of theimages, there is even a small
 time-lapse between one section of thephotograph and the next, resulting in
 subtle light variations. Just as it isexperienced in real time.
 
 However in the final analysis, it is to themonument itself that credit must
 go. When I was a very young photographerattending a Photographic Workshop
 in Maine, a professor looking through myportfolio refused to critique it,
 saying, that with a subject as exotic asIndia, I would have to be
 completely incompetent in order to take a badpicture. And now, even at its
 widest angles, India allows no space forhubris.

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Title: Monumental India
Book Condition: New

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Amin Nath
Published by Vendome Press (2008)
ISBN 10: 0865651973 ISBN 13: 9780865651975
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