Monday, September 29, 2008

Lalbagh Flower Show

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bangalore, India was commissioned by Hyder Ali in the year 1760, and was completed by his son Tipu Sultan. The garden has more than 1000 species of flora, many of them imported from different countries. The Glass House, modeled on London's Crystal Palace, is the center of attraction.

Biannual flower shows are organized every year in January and August, on the occasion of Republic Day and Independence Day of India respectively. I took these photographs during a quick tour of the August flower show. Some dignitaries were coming to visit the show, so I had restricted access to many areas, including the glass house.

The Lalbagh gardens have always been a favorite haunt of mine when I started out with photography. Having a square kilometer of landscaped gardens with flowers, trees, butterflies, birds, a lake, lotus pond & other such interesting and varied subjects to shoot helped me learn different aspects of photography in the nicest environment possible.

There are three memories in particular I have regarding my earlier wanderings around Lalbagh.

The first is with respect to having a following (a fan base as I like to call it). With my long barreled 75-300 lens mounted on my Canon film SLR (quite a sight when zoomed to 300mm), I would get off the beaten track, into the wild outgrowth trying to photograph butterflies. Now, these are one of the peskiest of creatures to photograph, they never bother to show any consideration to the earnest photographer who is trying to capture them in their glory.

The strange man, with the strange instrument glued to his eyes, making like a statue - this sight never failed to inspire curiosity amongst the crowd that will always be thronging Lalbagh which ever day of the week it is. So wherever I go, I would have this entourage of 5 to 10 people, keeping a respectful distance behind me, and still trying to peek over my shoulder at what it is exactly that i am aiming the camera at.

Needless to say, one or other of them would get impatient and make a sound, driving away the one butterfly that condescended to sit patiently for the one microsecond that it was willing to spare for the desperate photographer.

The second memory is of being asked questions regarding camera and photography. Just because I am holding what seems to be a very expensive camera, people come to the conclusion that I must be an expert in all aspects of photography & equipment. So every ten minutes or so, someone holding a regular point and shoot (most often the Kodak 800 or whichever model, the one with manual film advance and comes for Rs 800 or 900 with a Kodak Max film free), would come up to me ask me questions like why is his flash not firing, or film advance knob is not turning anymore, or the most common request - can you take a photo of our group?

The third and funniest memory is of getting suspicious stares from all the couples hiding in nooks and corners, under trees, on the benches, behind the bushes. Both of us share a common interest - getting away from the crowd, however, with very different purposes in mind, I must add!

The very moment I stumble upon any such couple, they would instantly loose their interest in each other, and gain an equally intense interest in the surrounding flora and fauna. That interest would last until I pass through their field of vision, trying to suppress a smile and praying that their curses would not have any permanent effect on me.

Lalbagh remains open from 6 AM to 7 PM daily. Entry is free from 6 AM to 9 AM and from 6 PM to 7 PM for the benefit of joggers, other times, a nominal entry free of INR 10 is charged.

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1 comment:

  1. TravellersDiary(Kalyan Banerjee)4:41 PM

    Some nice shots indeed. The comment on the difficulty of shooting a butterfly was hilarious, but true indeed. I haven't been to the Flower Show yet but went to LalBagh last week. I absolutely adored the walk at the Lake periphery, with the birds doing their usual chores. I was lucky with a few shots!