Gurdwara Ber Sahib

Gurdwara Ber Sahib is situated in the Sultanpur lodhi town of Kapurthala Distt.

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It is situated on the bank of the rivulet Kali Bein, half a kilometre to the west of the old town; Guru Nanak performed his morning ablutions in the Bein and then sat under a Ber (Zizyphus jujuba) tree to meditate.

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Guru Ji meditated at this tree daily for 14 years, nine months and 13 days. While Bathing here one day in Bein River Guru Sahib disappeared and was missing and returned after three days. Upon returning enlightned Guru began his life long mission of preaching Sikhism. (http://www.sikhiwiki.org)

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I was most impressed by the pond, the contrast of its green color and the white stones around under the harsh midday sun. The black fish adding to the scenery, but I am afraid I did not manage to capture it properly.

As in every Gurdwara, we had to visit the langar hall, which was quite empty at that time. But being one of the most sacred place for Sikh it is quite big and can host quite a crowd.

The tea master

The man poured us some massala tea with the device below; which is quite a clever invention to serve the usual crowd.

The device

As an eminent foreign guest after having our tea we were hushed into the kitchen, where a group of volunteers were making chapatis.

A beautiful light was pouring from the windows.

We had to decline the invitation to make chapatis ourselves.

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Back in the Langar hall.

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Around the pool a enclosed bathing areas for women only.

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The living quarters.

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Outside the Gurwara, volunteers shining the shoes you have left before entering the temple.

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Gurdwara Ber Sahib

Amritsar street photography

Tea merchant

India is a feast for the street photographer, photo friendly people, a lot of color, everything is so different, so many things happening all the time. The tea merchant with his yellow scarf is one of the first pictures I took. Through the window of the car stuck in the traffic jam.

One of the many horse carts around

Soon we had to step out and walk to the golden temple as the traffic was so bad on Sunday. I stumbled on one of the many horse carts with the driver standing up gauging the traffic.

You can read the visit of the temple here.

Rickshaw driver

After the temple visit looking for our car, I came across this friendly rickshaw driver.

In the afternoon we went to Wagah border ceremony; here also the crowd after the ceremony on the way out offers many photo opportunities.

Ice cream

The crowd after the ceremony is eager to partake in ice cream, pop corns

The last pop corn parlor before the border

It gets dark quickly, and there is nearly one km of little stalls stretched along the car parks.

A fruit stall
Some more spicy stuff
“Let’s ride”: the burger stall

There is not enough time to stop at every stall to take some shots of vendors and their patrons. In this early evening, the lights, the fumes and the colors of the stalls make a beautiful composition every meter.

All shots with the Leica M262, Summicron 50mmF2.

Amritsar street photography

Wagah Border Ceremony

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan is a daily event attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike. It is a well oiled affair and when following a few basic instructions if very easy to attend.

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From the Indian side, once you reached to the last parking before the border you will have to walk 1 or 2 Km before getting to the venue. You need to carry your passport if you are a foreigner, which will bring you to a separate seating area (more later)

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You cannot carry much apart from cameras and wallet. No bags are allowed, I read that bringing in water is not allowed, but you can buy some inside.

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I carried 2 Leica M bodies with lenses and the 90mm in my pocket, my passport, cell phone and wallet without problem.Note that cell phones are not working in the area.

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The venue looks like a stadium with the actual border being at the center. The crowd can go as high as 2000 people from the Indian side.

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The event starts at 5h30pm and last 30 minutes. You need to arrive well in advance ( we were there by 4h30pm ) to secure a seating;  I was told that some people were sent back on the day we were there.

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The ceremony is a show of rivalry and cooperation between the two countries, It starts with preliminaries of Bollywood style music played full blast, and displays of flags.

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After a moment the guards will enter the arena and do their show.

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The crucial bit is the seating, the area reserved for foreign passport holders in quite close to the border and on the top of the seats, this has the advantage of giving us some shade (the sun sets in the Pakistani side and it became very hot at some point), but the view of the Pakistan side is quite limited.

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Also you are quite far ways form the show; the pictures here are done with the 90mm Elmarit on the M262, they give a good description of the event but are not great. Also keep in mind the light it not great and goes down, I needed higher ISO (400, then 640 then 1000) and also the place is very dusty.

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Can you do better? Well yes: hang around until the top sits are full so you can sit lower and have a closer / better view. But the border guards are trying hard to make you sit at the right place.

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At the end of the show it is possible to go close to the border and have a shot or two with some Indian guards.

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I am not a great fan of demonstrations of national pride, but this was really fun. I was a bit concerned by the security aspect, being so close to the border, but it did some seem to bother the many foreigners that were present and I it did not feel unsafe there.

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All shots done with Leica M262, Elmarit 90mmF2.8

Wagah Border Ceremony

On the road to the Lac D’Allos

One of the exciting bits of our small outing in France southern alps was going to the Lac d’Allos, a place I did not visit in more than 20 years. Allos is a ski resort 2 hours drive from the sea, situated at 1500 meters of altitude with highest slopes around 2500.

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The side of the valley of Verdon opposite the resort is part of the Mercantour natural reserve and its highest pic, Mont Pelat is 3050m.

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One of the popular walks is to go up to Lac d’Allos. This lake situated at 2300m is the largest natural high altitude lake in Europe. It covers 60 hectares and has a depth of 50 m.

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Flickr-1007537From the last parking place, the walk is an easy 45 minutes uphill until the majesty of the lac and surrounding mountains appears.

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When reaching the lake there is a high altitude refuge, providing food and drinks during the day and shelter for the night.

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From the refuge, a lot of path are available, with various distances and difficulties, I walked a few of the in my teens. If you pass by the area and like hiking, this is worth your time.

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The lake and the “Towers” in the background

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You can have another hour of pleasant walk around the lake, admiring the scenery, flowers, drift wood, or marmottes (marmot in english).

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A marmot, the furry local

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Up the refuge is a small chapel.Flickr-1007636

The weather even in early July can be treacherous and we had some rain that day, forcing us to retreat in the refuge. Remember that as easy as this walk is, this start to be the realm of high altitude.

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Inside the refuge you can always hope to make some nice encounters and engage in interesting exchanges. Here Gilles from Lille, was walking the mountains for a week. He likes to play music and use it to exchange with people he meets.

 

All shots Leica M262 + Summicron 28 asph or Summicron 50 or Elmarit 90mm F2.8

 

On the road to the Lac D’Allos

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

Small walk to Neil Road a few weeks back  to check the intriguing architecture of the old abandoned St Matthews Church.

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Most of the information here is taken from Remember Singapore  a great site about things of the past in Singapore.

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The original church was built in the 1890’s as a place of worship for the British sailors.

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It operated though all the first half of the 20th Century, including the Japanese occupation during WWII.

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In the late fifties, St Matthew’s embarked on a re-building plan of its main church building.

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Designed with a distinctive Modern style, the new double-storey building consisted of a prayer hall on top of a large function room. It also possessed an unique vertically protruding roof that looked like a ship’s prow, and a tall concrete bell tower that was erected beside the main chapel.

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The bell was removed sometime in the 2000’s.Flickr-1006999

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Also, after the war, St Matthew’s Church carried out plans to, expand its premises, including the construction of a vicarage and a kindergarten was also built in the early fifties.

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The new kindergarten was designed in simple Art Deco-style; it had a sloping roof laid with terracotta Marseilles tiles and timber windows with louvers.

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Color pictures Leica M262 ; B&W pictures Leica M4 with Kotak TMAX 100.

Wide angle Summicron 28mmF2 Asph ; normal lens Summicron 50mm F2 type V

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1

 

I bought my first Leica in 2009; it was a very nice M4 paired with a Summilux 50mm version2; both from 1967 as close as I could to by date of birth (I was a bit worried at the time about getting involved in the double stroke or single stroke on the M3).  In 2009 I was already back into film for 2 years, I was lusting for a Leica. After much considerations I splurged the equivalent of 2500 USD on the above combo.

M4

If was not love at first sight with the Leica. First I was back to the shop (actually another) to invest in a light meter (Sekonic 380s). Then I brought it in  couple of trips, but with mixed feelings.

Japan 2010

I enjoyed using the little fellow, but really the results were no all great and also I have a trouble bringing the Leica on travel : I though the 35mm was redundant with my DSLR; at least in term of format.

The following years I bought a few other film cameras and got distracted, so indeed the love story with the M4 was not going the right way.

In 2013 I invested in a small LeicaIIIc and a Summitar 50mmF2; this fellow had a couple of problems, but I quite liked it for shooting around.
The Leica IIIc

I got a couple on third party lens in various stage of in-usability to pair him with (a back focusing Jupiter 35mm, a non-focusing Canon 135F4, not mentioning  the Industar of the Zorki 1) , but all in all we had good fun. Around this time I also invested in a 21mmF4 Color Skopar, that I always found difficult to use. And I made my first Leica trip only to Taiwan.

LeicaIIIc Taiwan 2013

Leica M4 Taiwan 2013

Last year finally when Lee Kwan Yew passed away I shot a lot of the funerals with the M4 and my interest was aroused again by the Leica M, so finally for a similar amount of the M4 kit, I bought a minty M6 Classic (Back) and a Summaron 35mmF2 (The version with the goggles).

And so started the year of shooting with Leica(s) (to be followed)

The year of shooting with Leica(s) – Part 1

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 4 – SUKHOTHAI

We had decided to fly from Bangkok to Sukhothai, that was half a good idea as the plane was mid afternoon and staying at the airport we missed nearly a full day of holidays.

Despite its name being quite well known, Sukhothai is actually a very small city. The center is mostly made of hotels and restaurants for tourists visiting the main attraction; the Historical Park.

The Sukhothai historical park is a vast compound of ruined temples just outside the city centre. This is a very large area, better be visited by bicycle as some temples are quite remote. You can easily spend a half day in there. We went for the walking option, but we missed a couple of nice spots.

This man is picking what seems to be algae from the moat surrounding the main temple.

You can find there dozens of temples, shrines and shedis (pagodas), in various states of conservation. You can take hundreds of pictures of Buddha statues in various positions and state of decay.

There are also some nice pieces of water, used for the Kratong festival, which unfortunately would happen a few weeks after our visit.

NORTH THAILAND TRIP – PART 4 – SUKHOTHAI