Category Archives: Uncategorized

Demoiselle Cranes in the Sunset.

Cranes in the sunset SOM_8966 headerIt was late in the evening. The sky was ablaze with a spectacularly colourful sunset. We we standing in the salt plain of the Tal Chhapar wildlife sanctuary, enjoying the brilliant colours of the sunset, before calling it a day. There was a slight but chilly breeze, but otherwise it was very quiet.

We heard the faint call of Demoiselle cranes, or Kurja as they are locally called. The Demoiselle cranes, indeed all cranes, have a very far reaching call. The call of the Demoiselle Crane is unmistakable. It is a sad call, mournful, full of longing, and yet it also reminds one of new beginnings and of far away lands.

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The Western Tragopan – A Painting : Acrylic on Canvas 15″ x 19″

SOM_6937-headerAlmost a decade ago, in 2006, I, along with a Danish friend,  made a series of exploratory treks into the remote Himalayan jungles of the Daranghati Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh. We were conducting a preliminary survey for the presence of the elusive and rare Western Tragopan. The locals call the Western Tragopan the Jujurana or the king of birds (Juju = bird and rana = king), in my opinion a much more appropriate name for such a regal bird.

In all we must have spent about a month in the mountains. It was tough but it was also one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. You can read a more detailed write-up about those treks here http://somendras.com/?p=283 .

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The Common Kingfisher – A Painting (Acrylic on Canvas) 15″ x 18″


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We were birding around Kaza, in the Spiti valley, on a clear and sunny afternoon late in September. Despite the sun, there was a chill in the air. It was late in the “season”, and the bird activity had slowed down substantially. Most migrants had already left for their winter abode. There were patches of ice on the stream, the night temperatures were already dipping below the freezing point.

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Views of Nanda Devi and other Himalayan peaks from Berinag

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During the initial days of the Raj, Britishers were not allowed to buy land in Kumaon. In 1827, a Dr. Royale petitioned the British Government to allot a vast area of non-farming land in Kumaon to Europeans for tea gardening. In 1837 the British Parliament passed a bill allowing Europeans to keep private property in India and Lord Baton, the then commissioner of Kumaon ordered that hilltops with suitable climatic and soil conditions be given free of cost to Britishers for tea gardening as some people had found tea plants growing naturally in these areas. Thus started the tea gardens of Kumaon.

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The Pink-browed Rosefinch – A Painting : Acrylic on Canvas 19″ x 23″


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Chitkul, the last village in the Baspa valley, is a birdwatchers’ paradise. It is one of the few places in the western Himalayas that are higher than 3000m and are still accessible by road. To top it all, it is located in the Raksham-Chitkul wildlife sanctuary.

I have spent a lot of time birding in the areas around Chitkul. The Pink-browed Rosefinch (Carpodacus rodochrous) is a common but very beautiful bird of this region. I have spent hours observing this bird in and around Chitkul. This painting is inspired by a sighting of a male on a dry bush. In this painting I have tried to capture the experience of seeing such a beautiful bird while alone in the wilderness of the Himalayas. Hope you enjoy it.

 

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The flames of desire : A Painting – Acrylic on canvas – 17″ x 26″

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The flames of desire.

A painting by Somendra Singh.

Acrylic on canvas – 17″ x 26″

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Rushing Torrents II

IMG_7870 headingMy fascination with rushing torrents shows no signs of abating! What better place to photograph fast moving streams of water than the mighty Himalayas. During my trips to the Himalayas I always stop and try to capture the essence of the innumerable streams rushing down from the heights. This is the second collection of images of Rushing Torrents. The images were captured on my visits to the Himalayas in the last couple of years. I find them quite moving!

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The White-bellied Redstart – A Painting (Acrylic on Canvas) 15″ x 18″

White Bellied Redstart SOM_4539 headingI saw this male White-bellied Redstart (Hodgsonius phaenicuroides) near Chitkul in the Baspa valley, Himachal Pradesh. It was skulking in the undergrowth, rummaging about in the dampness for insects. It would give fleeting glimpses and then disappear back into the shrubbery. I decided to sit very still and wait patiently.

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The White Throated Tits – A Painting (Acrylic on Canvas) 15″ x 18″

White Throated tits SOM_4536 headingIt was a crispy cold December day. I was on an assignment, to photograph the Forest Rest Houses of Uttarakhand. After photographing the Janaki Chatti Forest Rest House I had decided to trek up to Yamunotri. Although the pilgrimage season was over and the shrine would be closed, I was curious to visit the source of the mighty Yamuna.
After a long and steady walk I was at the highest point of the trail. The track passes through a very old oak forest, crosses a ridge and then descends to the Yamunotri shrine. The forest was silent and the birding had been quite slow.

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The Red-headed Bullfinches – A Painting (Acrylic on Canvas) 15″ x 18″

Bull finchesSOM_4533 headerIt was the beginning of the monsoon season. We were birding along the Taluka – Naitwar road, a few kilometers from the Naitwar village, in the Govind National Park (Uttarakhand). Birding was slow, possibly due to the intermittent showers we had been having throughout the day. We were walking along a stretch of the road that travels through a nice broadleaved forest. The shade of the great trees made the forest floor quite dark.

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The Solitary Chukar – a painting (Acrylic on Canvas) 15″x18″

Chakor SOM_4540 headerOur car was nearing Khab, a small village at the point where the Spiti river meets the mighty Sutlej river, while on our way back from a long visit to the Spiti valley. We were driving through some of most treacherous roads in India in my Alto (a small 800cc car). I was on the driving seat, concentrating on the road, which wound along a narrow gorge far above the Spiti river.

Suddenly a Chukar (Alectoris chukar) ran down the hillside, crossed the road and paused at the edge. The car was slow and I managed to stop it without startling the bird. Although we were quite close, the Chukar stood very still and looked back at us enquiringly. I bought my camera up very carefully and managed to take a photograph before it jumped off the edge of the road and glided down to some rocks far below us.

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Khajuraho, the jewel in the heart of India


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The temples of Khajuraho were built by the Kings of the Chandela dynasty during the 10th and the 11th century CE. The building of these temples started almost immediately after the Chandelas came into power. Surviving temple inscription suggest that many of the currently existing temples were completed between 970 to 1030 CE.

The temples are made of very good quality sandstone, with a granite foundation that is usually concealed. The builders didn’t use mortar: the stones are put together with mortise and tenon joints and they are held in place by gravity. This form of construction requires very precise joints. The columns and architraves were built with megaliths that weighed up to 20 tons.

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The Pink City of Jaipur – An architectural portfolio : Part II

IMG_4441 headerThe pink city of Jaipur is unique in that it is the only pre-modern Indian city that was built according to a master plan, in one go. The walled city of Jaipur still retains the distinct architectural character imparted by its unique heritage, and it still is a photographer’s dream come true.

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The Pink City of Jaipur – An architectural portfolio : Part I

IMG_4398-headerThe pink city of Jaipur is unique in that it is the only pre-modern Indian city that was built according to a master plan, in one go. The walled city of Jaipur still retains the distinct architectural character imparted by its unique heritage, and it still is a photographer’s dream come true.

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Portraits of Thakuran Devi Singhji Chomu and Rawal Sangram Singhji Samode

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Just finished these two portraits for the Restaurant @ Samode Haveli in Jaipur.  They now adorn a wall in the central hall of the restaurant.

The portraits were made from old black and white photo prints. I copied the old photographs with my camera, cleaned them and then digitally printed them on museum grade canvas using my Epson Styluspro 9900 printer. I then hand painted the canvas using acrylic paints.
 

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The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling : Some memories

Header CRW_5781In May 2004, on a sudden whim, I signed up for the Basic Mountaineering Course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling (HMI). In retrospect, it was a great decision. Although I was well past my prime, I was older than most of my batch, I was also physically quite fit and very keen. I enjoyed the course and I have very fond memories of the time I spent at HMI.
 

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Memories from a trip to the Kumaon Himalayas

Sunrise over the Humalayan ranges, as seen from Chaukori.

Sunrise over the Himalayan ranges, as seen from Chaukori.

While reorganising the images stored in my backup disks I stumbled upon these pictures from a long and leisurely road trip across the Kumaon Himalayas.

 

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Har-ki-dun, a trek in the Govind National Park, Uttarakhand

This trek was the result of another off beat assignment. I was asked by a relative, who is also a publisher, whether I would be interested in working on a coffee table book covering the Forest Rest Houses of Uttarakhand. I jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to shoot the remote and less accessible Forest Rest Houses (FRHs). The first trip was to the Northwestern regions of Garhwal and the trek to Har-ki-dun was a part it.

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