If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite – William Blake
Photographed at the Chowmahalla Palace, the seat of the Nizams of Hyderabad, India (January 2012).
I took over 150 pictures at the Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, India on my last visit, which felt like a lot at that time. Now in the comfort of my computer at home, I wish I’d taken another 150-odd. The Golconda fort offers endless possibilities for photography. There are relatively unexplored nooks and crannies and it isn’t too difficult to get away from the throng of visitors to the fort.
It is easy to let the mind wander into imagination of how this place would have looked in its heyday. Now all that remain are crumbling stones that tell a story of a time gone by. Rooms stark with their shorn walls, mute in their silent despair, as they too gradually disintegrate to dust.
In the next installment of this series on Golconda Fort, I shall be covering the journey to the top of the fort. Please click on any picture to see further detail on my flickr pages.
Technical Details: Nikon D80 Tamron 18-250 f3.5/5.6 lens Post-Processed in Adode Lightroom and NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0
Annavaram is a village situated about 125 Km south of Visakhapatnam in the East Godavari district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The village is famous for the holy hindu shrine of Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami situated on a hillock in the Ratnagiri Hill range of the eastern ghats about 300 feet above mean sea level.
The temple itself is a short climb from the Annavaram village, and is also accessible by car. Legend has it that the location of the statue of the deity appeared in a dream to a local brahmin E. Prakasam, who with the help of the local zamindar (landowner) Sri Raja I.V.Ramarayanam traced the statue to the top of the hillock and helped to set up the temple in about 1891.
The name Annavaram is a conjugation of the words Anina (Wanted) and Varam (Boom). This temple is now considered to be second only to the famous Venkateswara temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The temple is constructed in the classical Dravidian style with two tall towers (gopurams) facing due east and west.
The temple complex offers great views of the Bay of Bengal (on a clear day) 11 miles east of the temple as well as the village of Annavaram 300 feet below.
The large central courtyard of the temple has facilities for pilgrims to bathe, stay or eat, as well as halls and rooms for various religious ceremonies (marriages etc).
A stroll through the temple shows that the temple was constructed and extended over time, with some old buildings and some more recent construction. The oldest part of the temple as it stands today dates to just over 110 years. But if the legends are true, then a temple may have existed in this very place for many centuries before falling into disrepair.
Pilgrims flock to Annavaram from all over the state to fast and pray. On any day of the year, the temple is a hub-hub of activity.
I must confess that I’ve never been inside the sanctum itself in all my visits to this temple. I find the environs of the temple fascinating and love observing the faith and piety in the pilgrims visiting the place. I also find the views in and around the temple beautiful and serene.
Annavaram is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re non-religious, and particularly if you are a practicing hindu. The trip from Visakhapatnam takes about 2.5 hours by hired taxi cab. On a clear day you should also be able to see Bay of Bengal (but I’ve never managed to see this in all my visits).
Do photographs look better when selectively colored? Selective coloring involves painfully desaturating a picture to leave only the portions that need highlighting. There are many ways to desaturate a photograph, and I use Adobe Lightroom adjustment brush to remove colour from portions of a picture. The pictures below show both the original picture and my selectively colored version. Which one do you prefer?
One method of removing colors from a picture is by desaturating color groups. In the picture below, I removed all the greens, blues and yellow. This has the desired effect of making all the leaves and sky become monochrome while leaving just the flowers with color.
The above makes the picture look a little artificial due to removal of the yellow-green components from the petals too, as well as with other flowers in the background showing through the foliage. I then attempted to use the adjustment brush to remove all color from the picture except for the two flowers in the foreground (as below).
Personally I’m pleased with my selective desaturation as this brought out the vibrant colors of the flower, which were otherwise lost in the bright greens of the leaves and the blue of the sky.
Technical Details: Nikon D80 with Tamron 18-250mm f3.5/6.3 Lens 1/640 f/8.0 55mm Location: Araku Valley, Visakhapatnam Processed with Adobe Lightroom 4.1
The Borra Caves are located in the Eastern Ghats mountain range of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. These caves lie in the scenic Araku valley of Visakhapatnam district. The caves are possibly one of the largest in the country and have an impressive display of stalactites and stalagmites.
Travel from Visakhapatnam (about 90Km) takes around 3+ hours by road but a whopping 4+ hours by train. The train ride is scenic and includes more than 30 tunnels en route from Visakhapatnam.
The lighting inside the cave brings out the beauty of the geological formations, but it was extremely difficult to set up a tripod due to the sheer number of visitors.
The speleothems are still being formed inside these caves, and there is a constant drip of water from the roof of the caves. The picture below shows some of the drip points on the roof of the cave.
All said, a visit to Borra caves is highly recommended if you are anywhere close to Visakhapatnam. The natural beauty of the surrounding Araku valley, with its own distinctive coffee beans, and indigenous tribals, make this spot an ideal day trip.
I think sunsets are beautiful. They mark the end of a day, promises of rest and a new beginning with dawn the next morning. The geographical location of Visakhapatnam means that sunsets are always on the side away from the sea, and I’ve never been an early riser to capture sunrise on the sea in the morning.
The sunset seen from the Kailasagiri Hill in Visakhapatnam was particularly stunning.
A beach road runs along the coast from Visakhapatnam to Bheemunipatnam for 46km, a stretch of which can be seen in the photograph above. Bheemunipatham has evidence of early Buddhist culture dating back to the 3rd century AD (photographs of Bheemunipatnam in a future post).
Kailasagiri has huge statues of the hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati and a small mountain railway that offers scenic vistas of Visakhapatnam and the coast north towards Bheemunipatnam. Kailasa or mount Kailash is the abode of Shiva and Parvati according to hindu mythology. One of the mountains in the Himalayan range is the mountain called Kailash (6638 msl).
But all good things must come to an end, and it was with a heavy heart that I left this beautiful place. I could not, however, resist taking one last shot of a glorious golden sunset.
PS: As always you can click on any of the pictures above to see a full size view.
Visakhapatnam (aka Vizag) is a large coastal city in the eastern coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. I am a frequent visitor to this city as this is where my wife’s family live. Vizag is sandwiched in a narrow strip of land between the bay of bengal and the eastern ghats mountain range that runs along the eastern fringe of India. Here are some pictures from my recent visit earlier this year.
Visakhapatnam is an important port on the east coast of India and is the only natural harbour on the eastern seaboard of the country. Due to its strategic importance, it houses the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
The eastern ghats on which Visakhapatnam nestles offers beautiful vistas of the sea and the city. Prominent among this are the Kailasagiri Hills, a popular spot for visitors.
More in Part 2.