Wednesday, September 14, 2016

5 Places in India I Wish Photography was Allowed

Last week, a friend of mine wrote an article on Mysore, India and that article brought back some bitter sweet memories of the place. While I absolutely loved the town, I did have a bit of bad experience while exploring Mysore Palace because even though photography is prohibited there, I just couldn’t resist clicking pictures of the interiors the beautiful palace and an official tracked me down due to CC TV footage and, very rudely, deleted the 3 pictures I had taken of the peacock room. That article and this memory is the reason behind todays' article. Here are five places in India where I wish photography was allowed – mostly for the place itself – and where banning photography makes absolutely no sense.

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1.   Mysore Palace, Karnataka
The majestic palace and the quirky, colourful and symmetric interiors of the palace are a delight for any photographer. Even after paying an entry fee to explore the palace, to not get a chance to click the interiors is a shame. Of all the places I would list in this article, Mysore palace was the only one where I couldn’t resist breaking the rule and clicking some pictures because the corridors are that brilliant. And to have something that amazing in India and not promote the actual beauty of the place didn’t make sense to me at all. Nor are the colours photosensitive, nor is the place jewelled heavily throughout, then why would you restrict photography inside the palace, especially the corridors? What exactly are they hiding or protecting? This question has puzzled me for quite some time but no answer has made sense to me till date.

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2.  Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan
Have you seen Ranakpur temple? If not, no worries, if yes – imagine an older, grander and more detailed version of it. That is Dilwara. Exquisite, delicate, intricate carvings with white marble. between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, Dilwara temples’ complex, in Mount Abu, is a one of its kind gem of Indian architecture. The detailing in every part of the temples – roof, pillars, statues – everything will leave you spellbound and make you wonder how much hard work and dedication has gone into making them. But all the work is for your eyes only and the amazement a fading memory after the visit. Photography is strictly prohibited in the complex. You get postcards and printed photos of the entire complex outside the area, where you can buy them to strengthen your memory, but you just can’t click pictures. Apparently photography here was permitted till late 90’s but not anymore.  Does the photography restriction make sense to you now? It never made sense to me! The temples have Islamic domed roofs – extremely ordinary looking, to save them from Muslim invaders attacks back in time. They were threatened at some point in the history? Are they still in danger? Maybe yes, of vanishing in pages of time, because surprisingly a lot of people don’t even know about them still. Wont photography help in such crisis?

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3.  Kalahasti Temple, Tamil Nadu
Okay agreed, South India has crazy number of restrictions in almost all its temples; many have the photography restriction too, and people don’t question them. Then why was I disappointed with Kalahasti having a photography ban? Because it made no sense. The temple is old and grand and not very well known. From outside it is almost lost in the main road thanks to the long stretch of shops selling temple stuff. But when I entered the temple, I was pleasantly surprised by the clear carving on black stone and the spacious, thought for layout of the temple. Similar to Kanchipuram temple – where photography is allowed in the corridors, Kalahasti also is a photogragher’s paradise, but alas – no photos! I am not saying allow us to click the deity, but just the place, so that people know of this wonderful place and make an effort to visit it while visiting Tirupathi temple.


4.  Chattia Jagannath Temple, Odisha
Okay, seriously I feel Odisha Tourism needs to do something around photography restriction that is there almost everywhere in Odisha. Unless it manages to do something, no matter the number of campaigns, tourism wont thrive! Anyhow, this particular temple – have you even heard of it? What if I tell you this is the oldest Kalki Avatar (the last avatar of Lord Vishnu) Temple in India and that it is the most important Jagannath Temple in Odisha after the main Jagannath Temple in Puri. Surprised? The temple itself, though is very old, is repainted every two years and kept as new as possible. The roofs and the walls of the temple have stories of all the tem avatars of Lord Vishnu in traditional painting style (the one you would find on Patachittra). The temple is also easy to find as it is just off the highway near Jajpur (Close to Cuttack, Odisha). But guess what even after all this, the place is not known to many other than the locals. Wouldn’t photography help bring the place some much needed limelight? Weirdest part about the temple, I was allowed to click pics of whatever I could see from just outside the gate. The guard actually told me – “Click from there. If you step even an inch inside the premises of the temple I will break your camera.” You get the disappointment now, right?

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5.  Akshardham Temple, Gujarat
Not allowing photography in the main shrine makes complete sense, anywhere – but what about around the place? Akshardham of Ghandhinagar, Gujarat is one of the most brilliant modern temple structures I have seen till date, but Unfortunately have no pictures of the area, because well photography is prohibited. I guess the photography ban in the area was imposed after the terrorist attacks on the temple, not really sure about it. But whatever maybe the reason – not being able to keep a physical memory of the place in form of a picture was heart breaking.

Have you been to some place where photography was prohibited and it just broke your heart or got to your nerves? Let me know in the comments below.



14 comments:

  1. Yes, I have heard that Dilwara temples does not allow pics and I too, would want it to be allowed :( Even Meenakshi temple is another place where I wish it was allowed. Only mobile pics are allowd.

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    1. I didnt know of photography not being allowed in Meenakshi Temple...but atleast they let you take the cellphone. Wish it was allowed in Dilwara.

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  2. I am happy that my post made you pen down your valid thoughts on some baseless rules in our country. The Mysore palace is one such example. When I clicked this image, this is exactly what I thought, What are they hiding?
    if they wish to protect it, why allow seeing from the eyes?

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  3. Dilwara temple looks interesting.. I have been to Mysore palace and yes i was very disappointed with photography ban. Atleast they can charge separately for camera. By the way, one correction - sri kalahasthi is in Andhra pradesh and not in Tamilnadu.

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    1. Exactly. Many places in India charge separately for Cams which is cool but total ban is disappointing.

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  4. Unlike our neighbors (Nepal), India does not make enough efforts to thrive on tourism.. although it's cultural diversity and mysticism attracts many people from all over the world... For some inane reasons, the tourism is only focused in small areas such as Leh/Ladakh (they have done a wonderful job to actually build a tourist focused industry) .. Goa .. Andamans.. and probably few more I am not able to recollect right now..

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    1. Not really. India does try to do everything to promote tourism, but then somewhere down the line they need to lift unnecessary bans to make those efforts to make some deep impact.

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  5. As much as I would love to photograph all sites I visit, I believe preserving the site is more important.

    Flash photography really destroys many art forms and there is no way to prevent it than banning cameras altogether, especially in countries like India.

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    1. Agreed some places need more care and are in danger due to flash photography and I would call those bans valid too. But I am pretty sure that is not the case with majority of the sites I posted here. But guess something we just can't change.

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  6. Omg, they tracked you down?! I don't understand why they restrict photography - it's not like we, the common people, would re-create the same structure and design in our backyard :-( I've been to Akshardham - it's incredibly amazing - and yeah, the only thing that reminded me of the place was the postcard that I bought from the shop.

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    1. I know right! Why the restriction is often so puzzling.
      Even I make do with postcards for such place :(

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  7. Nice article...... Have been to Akshardham bt now will try to go to Kalhasti
    Seems amazing place ......once again (it's a nice article)

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    1. Thanks Kashish...Hope you like Kalahasti when you go there :)

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