Rani ki Vav and other stone marvels

Architecture student Hemangi Kadu is showcasing her first independent photo exhibition, Splendours in Stone that includes Patan's Rani ki Vav (the Queen's Stepwell), which was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 22, 2014

Q. Why did you pick this theme for your first photography exhibition?
A. I had visited the Patan stepwell a year ago while I was in Ahmedabad. It was an experience that lingered on for a long time, even after I had returned to Mumbai. This made me feel that I should share this wonderful experience with people It was only about a couple of months ago, when I looked back at my folder of the photographs of Patan, that I decided on an impulse to showcase an exhibition of photographs. I felt my photographs have sufficiently captured that experience of encountering something so beautiful. My work essentially deals with the experience of being a 'rasik'— the experience of being enlightened as a spectator.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site at Rani ki Vav
The UNESCO World Heritage Site at Rani ki Vav, Patan. Pics courtesy/ Hemangi Kadu

Q. Why did you choose the Queen's Stepwell at Patan, in particular?
A. The Queen's Stepwell is the largest of its kind, with over 500 intricately carved sculptural masterpieces. It's fascinating to realise that the mastery of the artisans who sculpted these figures in 1050 AD, made the stepwell a functional structure, but also one that was created with knowledge and aesthetics. Today, such subterranean architectural edifices are a rare sight. It is important to create awareness about the heritage of India. ; this made me think that it's a fitting subject for my first exhibition.

Stone sculptures at Rani ki Vav, Patan
Stone sculptures at Rani ki Vav, Patan

What were the challenges you faced photographing these structures?
A. There are new barriers put in the well; these made for the greatest hurdles as they appear in the frame. Also, access to the lower level is barricaded where one could have the best view of a reclining figure of Vishnu —a marvel in itself.

Hemangi Kadu
Hemangi Kadu, Photographer

From: March 13 to 22, 10 am to 7 pm
At: Sir David Sassoon Library, Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Call: 22843703

While shooting at architectural sites

>> Direct sunlight on intricately carved monuments can give you opportunities to play with contrasts. Softer light can have a magical effect.

>> For shooting detailed figures, the human eye-level is more appropriate. The compositional requirements change depending upon the purpose of shooting —whether it is for general documentation or for personal artistic expression as abstracts.

 Basic knowledge of history of the monument helps immensely.

 At monuments, is always better to avoid obstructions caused by crowds. Visits need to be planned accordingly.

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