Kali Mata Mandir – Pathiala

Quite a different athmosphere from GURDWARA DUKH NIWARAN SAHIB when crossing the city we came upon the “Kali Mata Mandir” the “Black mother temple”.

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This beautiful temple is said to be very popular and we preferred to visit it in daytime, before the crowd.

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Devotees are already coming to offer they prayers and ask for the blessings of the black mother. With a bit of discussion with the priest I was allowed to take a couple of pictures of the Divine Mother Kali and the priests (The statue was brought back from Bengal in the 1900’s)

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The Kali shrine opens towards the outside of the compound; through it you enter a courtyard surrounding the temple below.

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At the back of Kali shrine is another shrine of what I believe being the goddess Jyoti; the Hindu goddess of light and the “Vel”. She is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and is closely associated with her brother Lord Murugan .

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People of the temple are collecting offerings for various causes. I gave some rupees I had left for one of them, although I am not sure what it is for.L1000275

I had none for the next ones which were a bit unhappy about the fact.

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The part if the temple below contains an older Shiva temple that opens once a year only, an old local gentleman told us he visited it only once in his life.L1000285

Finally we found  a group playing music and singing in the temple hall; I cannot tell if they were playing for the gods or rehearsing for later ceremony, but they seemed to be very please of our short attendance.

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You can visit http://maakalidevimandirpatiala.com/ for more information

 

Outside the temple a rickshaw rider waits for customers

All shots Leica M262 with Summicron 50 or 28; Rickshaw rider is Leica M6, Cron 28mm and Kodak TMY400

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Kali Mata Mandir – Pathiala

Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib – Patiala

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The Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib is situated in the north part of the city of Patiala in Punjab, 80 km from Chandigarh.

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It  is the place where Guru Tegh Bahadur came to rid the by then village of a serious and mysterious sickness which had been their bane for a long time. The place where Guru Tegh Bahadur had sat under a banyan tree by the side of a pond came to be known as Dukh Nivaran (meaning eradicator of suffering). Devotees have faith in the healing qualities of water in the sarovar (pond) attached to the shrine.

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We were very lucky when arriving there late afternoon, as the Gurdwara was preparing for a celebration the next day. Plenty of people where gathering already some very colorful as the young Sikh above. Or the older gentlemen in the following pictures.L1000228

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The gentlemen on the right was here with his family and used to live in what is now Pakistan before India’s partition in 1948.

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I always enjoy seeing people working; here partaking in the cleaning and preparation of the next day ceremony.

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We skipped visiting the kitchen this time.

All shots above Leica M262+Summicron 28/50

Below are some film shots, Leica M6, the other summicron, and Kodak TMY 400

Gurdwara dukh Niwaran Sahib – Patiala

Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

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The Phul or Phool cinema is a theater in Patiala in Punjab.
It is an impressive Art Deco building erected in a rather large compound in a rather busy traffic junction in the city.

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I first spot it from the car when we passed by, and as we were having some samosas on the other side of the road I could not resist to cross the junction for a closer look.

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India the (other) land of cinema! Our guide discussed with a man that looks to be the guardian or operator or both of the cinema and he happily showed us around. The art deco fixtures are beautiful. Not only could we see the entrance, but also the upstairs foyer and the projection room.

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The old projectors are now at rest replaced by a digital device. We could even peep into the room where Judwaa 2 was showing.

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The highlight of the visit was when our host (below) showed us to the top of the building.

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Thank you very much sir for the visit.

All shots in very poor light with Leica M262 and Summicron 50mm. I did not wand to loose time changing lens, but the the view of the roof top with the moon and the projectors view would have benefit from a wider lens. For the poor light, I have to consider if a faster would help. Maybe a 35Lux sometime?

I am just printing the portrait above and posting it to the cinema today.

Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

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

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, known as Sri Harmandir Sahib,  is the holly place for the Sikh faith.

L1009510 The entrance is a short walking distance from the street, but on the Sunday we visited the traffic was so bad we had to envoy a nice stroll through the streets of the city. A bit esplanade sits in from of the temple (above) where many pilgrims sleep at night. The entrance is North gate called also the clock tower.

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After having left your shoes at the counter, covered your head and washed you hands and feet you can step trough the gate and access the path around the Sarovar (the holly pool of immortal nectar) and have a view at the golden temple, the sanctum-sanctorum.

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Benevolent and photo friendly guards are posted around the pool.

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Sunday may not be the best bet to visit as you see above we were not alone.

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In various stations devotees envoy a ritual bath, note that there are special enclosed sections for women. Sikh are so open minded that we were told nobody would be offended if a non Sikh  would have a dip.

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An important part of the Sikh temples is the kitchen offering food to every visitor, school kids above were waiting to get their meal.

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Inside the Akal Takhat

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A Sikh man reading the Holly book in a small chapel around the pool.

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Volunteers working at the cleaning of the holly pool.

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Sikh apprentice meditating, yes you can become a Sikh (Elmarit 90F2.8). There can be many reasons, like getting married to a Sikh for instance.

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Good bye.

Leica M262, Summicron 28 and 50 and Elmarit 90

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE – AMRITSAR

Evening Ceremony at the Golden Temple

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Sri Harmandir Sahib

Every night a ceremony is held in the Golden Temple in Amritsar (also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib), the holiest Sikh temple.

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It is called “sukhasan“, it consists in bringing back the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh, from the Sanctum (golden pavilion) to its resting place (Akal Takht).

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Priest and devotees line the way between the two places and watch the palanquin being brought from the resting place to the pavilion and the Guru Granth Sahib return.

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It starts at 9h45 and last 30 minutes; the place is really packed and it is very difficult to have a clear view of what is going on.

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Communal Kitchen outside the temple

On the way back a blue Hindu temple (“Saturday temple”) can be found, this small place sees many devotees, Sikh and Hindu alike.

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One of the temple priests (Left) and our guide.

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Man selling offerings for Krishna

The area around the Golden Temple is very lively at night, with a lot of food stalls and people walking around.

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(All shots Leica M262 and Summicron 28 or 50)

I will make a summary pape about our travel in Punjab; more information on Sikhism can be found on http://www.sikhiwiki.org/

 

Evening Ceremony at the Golden Temple