Mahamallapuram – Confluence of Heritage and Sea.

Into the sea

As part of our Vismaya ( www.vismayaforcause.org ) outing , I visited Mahamallapuram and this blog is a collection of my pictures , thoughts and commentary about the place.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city and UNESCO World Heritage site in Tamil Nadu, India. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. A significant amount of coins and other artefacts excavated from this region also indicate a pre-existing trade relation with the Romans even before it became a part of the Pallava Empire.

Mahabalipuram’s early history is completely shrouded in mystery. Ancient mariners considered this place the land of the Seven Pagodas. There are others who think that Mahabalipuram suffered from a great flood between 10,000 and 13,000 BCE. Controversial historian Graham Hancock was one of the core members of a team of divers from Indian National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society based in Dorset, UK who surveyed the ocean bed near Mahabalipuram in 2002 CE. He is more inclined to believe the flood theory. His exploration also afforded him a fair glimpse of the vast extent of submerged ruins of the city. After his underwater exploration, he reportedly commented, “I have argued for many years that the world’s flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject … But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong.”

Many opinions exist about the origin of the name of the site too. The most popular explanation is that the place is named after benevolent King Bali, also known as Mahabali. The ancient Indian text of Vishnu Puran documents his exploits. After sacrificing himself to Vaman, an incarnation of Vishnu, he attained liberation. “Puram” is a Sanskrit term for a city or urban dwelling. Mamallapuram is the Prakrit version of the original Sanskrit name.

Architectural Master pieces (Pallava Gems)


During the rule of Mahendravarman I (600 CE – 630 CE), Mahablipuram started to flourish as a centre of art and culture. He himself was a well known poet, playwright and orator. His patronage helped the creation of a number of the city’s most iconic landmarks. This period of artistic excellence was duly continued by his son Narasimhavarman I (630 CE – 680 CE) and subsequent Pallava kings. Here are some of the Monuments

Shore Temple :

The Shore Temple (built in 700–728 AD) is so named because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. At the time of its creation, the site was a busy port during the reign of Narasimhavarman II of the Pallava dynasty. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India.

Shore temple
Shore temple
Monolithic Tank
Monolithic Tank
Nandi and the temple
Nandi and the Temple
Bull and the temple
8th century Tank

Beaches and Life !

Mahabalipuram is also known for beach amidst the rocks and lagoon; It makes it a perfect combination of history, tourism and beaches ideal for vacation. The beach stretches for about 20 km and there are numerous lovely beaches present all along the coastline perfect for a little relaxation. Also, at this captivating beauty of Mahabalipuram a dance festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu every year where one can get to see extremely talented classical dancers performing against the backdrop of the sea.  Here are some images

Beach Blue hour
Beach Blue hour
Prayer
Prayer
Sunrise
Sunrise
Into the sea
Into the sea
Morning chores
About to be reclaimed
About to be reclaimed
Sea shells on sea shore
Sea shells on sea shore
Morning surf
Morning surf
Sunset
Sunset on the beach
In Love with the sea
Splash on the rock
Splash on the rock

Cheers,

Goutham Ramesh 

Text Credits :wikipedia

Photographing Milky Way

Can we photograph milky way or part of it from earth ?

Yes we can ! Even  though not in full , a part of it as we are inside it!  and there are lots of photographs of milky way shot by photographers before. Just Google it.

Inspiration

When ever I used to see pictures of milky way photographed by using a DSLR,  a sense of awe engulfed me and always used to wonder how to do it , my cousin Arjun (http://arjunhaarith.blogspot.in/)  attempted it during his treks in the Himalayas  successfully and his pictures egged me to try on my own! And this set in the urge to get a decent picture and the quest began!

Successful attempt

Arjun’s picture instilled some kind of obsessive madness to record this on my camera. Me and  Murali (www.muralisantham.com ) had many discussions on cracking this code and we did try to shoot in Hampi , but the light pollution negated our efforts. We also figured out with right tools , technique and a mathematical formula we can crack this ( see method to madness below )

During our recent trip to mountains of south India  we cracked it and pictures are shown below. 

The light on the left is not a fire but a light trail left by moving Car…

The red leaf is due to effect of my car’s tail lamp on the plant nearby …

Method to Madness

As always I’m happy to share the techniques used :

  1. Identify a place which is completely dark , which is devoid of any light pollution
  2. Next  figure out where this is in our night sky and and what time it is above the horizon , a simple google or a right kind of app will help! Yes we did do some research to find out where it is visible and we found out it will be visible at the horizon    in Northern hemisphere at 4 AM IST in Jan 2018. 
  3. Choose the right camera! For the Milky Way you are going to want to get as much light into your camera as you can before the rotation of the Earth starts to blur your image. So using a camera that can shoot a decent image at 1600 or 3200 ISO is a wise choice ( My Nikon D750 it was )
  4. Choose the right lens! When choosing a lens, I would recommend a very wide angle lens; something that will allow you to capture a huge portion of the sky. The main reason is because the Milky Way is massive! It will stretch across the entire sky and to get it in your composition can be challenging. The wider your lens the more you will see — by wide I mean small focal length. As you get more comfortable shooting the Milky Way you can move in closer with a larger focal length to capture the galactic core and so on. To start out look at something in the 14mm — 24mm range. (My 15 MM lens from Venus optics it was )
  5. Use a proper tripod! The exposure can go upto 30 seconds based on a formula, so usage of a tripod is a must. ( My Manfrotto 190DB it was )
  6. Point the camera at that location ( its not that clearly visible to naked eye )
  7. Exposure ! This is the trickiest  part .  For me ISO was 1600 and the aperture was fully open to optimise the light falling on the sensor , but shutter speed is something which is tricky , because a longer exposure will leave a star trail and lesser exposure will not be enough to record light on the sensor, but a mathematical formula comes to help. The formula is called 500 rule and it is 500 Divided By the Focal Length of Your Lens * crop factor  = The Longest Exposure (in Seconds) Before Stars Start to “Trail”!  so for me it was 500/15   ( 33 sec ) ( D750 is a full frame Fx camera so no crop factor )  I used a 30 sec exposure … ola I  got it and the result is there to see.

Cheers

Goutham Ramesh

 

Great Indian Desert

The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 17th largest desert, and the world’s 9th largest subtropical desert. About 75% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining 25% is in Pakistan. In India, it covers about 320,000 SqKms, forming approximately 10% of the total geographic area of India. More than 60% of the desert lies in the state of Rajasthan and extends into Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana. This desert comprises a very dry part, the Marusthali region in the west, and a semidesert region in the east with fewer sand dunes and slightly more precipitation.

 
Since i’m a man of few words and more a man of images I would like to convey the beauty of this magical place through my Images. Feel Free to browse them and let me know your thoughts
 
 

Jet d’Eau On Lac leman

Camera : Nikon D5100

Lens : Nikon 18-55 VR

Exposure :  1/200 @ F8

Location : Geneva, Switzerland

Thought Process :

Walking along the shore lines on Lake Geneva, I was searching for a view point where I could capture this wonderful fountain as i reached the shoreline towards the old town , i noticed this cruise ship which provided a nice foreground; The clouds were magical …

About the Subject :

 

The Jet d’Eau ( Water-Jet) is a large fountain in Geneva, Switzerland, and is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, being featured on the city’s official tourism web site and on the official logo for Geneva’s hosting of the 2008 UEFA Championships.Situated at the point where Lake Geneva empties into the Rhône, it is visible throughout the city and from the air, even when flying over Geneva at an altitude of 10 kilometres (33,000 ft).

Five hundred litres  of water per second are jetted to an altitude of 140 metres (460 ft) by two 500 kW pumps, operating at 2,400 V, consuming one megawatt of electricity.The water leaves the nozzle at a speed of 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph). Diameter of the nozzle is exactly 4 inches (10 cm). Maximum height of water jet is about 140 metres (460 ft) above water level. When it is in operation, at any given moment there are about 7,000 litres (1,500 imp gal; 1,800 US gal) of water in the air. Unsuspecting visitors to the fountain—which can be reached via a stone jetty from the left bank of the lake—may be surprised to find themselves drenched after a slight change in wind direction.

Text Source :  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_d’Eau

Thoovanam Falls

Camera : Nikon D5100

Lens : Nikon 18-55 VR

Exposure :  1/40 @ F8

Location : Chinar Wildlife Sanctuary , Tamil Nadu India.

Thought Process :

This was a amazing site , but the exposure was challenging , i decided to expose the highlights , knowing very well i can bring the details in the shadows out. Conversion to monochrome was required to eliminate  distractions of colour

About the Subject :

Located within the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thoovanam Falls is a breathtaking cascade that originates from the Pambar River. The magnificent cataract, cascading from a height of 1400 feet, fascinates many nature lovers and trekking enthusiasts. Visitors can avail a guided trek from Karimutti Forest Station to the falls. Being a part of the sanctuary, visitors are not allowed to trek without an entry ticket.

This falls is a visual treat for visitors. Set amidst wilderness, the falls offer unparalleled photo opportunities. From cascading waters, lush flora to untamed animals, visitors can click several photos that would remind them of their visit to this wonderful place.