It features about 160 images and captures various facets of the temple

A book of photographs that celebrates the millennial history, art and culture of the Big Temple in Thanjavur was launched here on Monday.

Vibrant at 1000: Big Temple, Thanjavur, India (published by Productivity and Quality Publishing) is professional photographer Iqbal K. Mohamed's assortment of visuals of the legendary temple.

The coffee table book, available in hardbound and paperback versions, features about 160 images and captures the various facets of the Big Temple, from its sheer scale to the architectural splendour and structural innovation.

Launching the book, film art director Thotta Tharani said he had learnt early into his long association with the author while doing advertising projects that he approached his craft seriously.

Writer Indira Parthasarathy, who received the first copy, said that as someone who hailed from Thanjavur, he complimented the effort to perpetuate in photographs the legendary temple, which was a treasure house of temple architecture and social history.

Presiding over the event, N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, who wrote the foreword, said the work was an elegantly produced tour de force.

Describing the book as a well-conceived and beautifully crafted secular expression of a creation, Mr. Ram said the photography was one that avoided the artiness of self-conscious art and worked within aesthetic restraint.

As a wonderful offering coinciding with the millennial celebrations of the temple, the effort of photographing the Big Temple in all its facets reflected Mr. Iqbal's technical mastery and deep reverence for history, Mr. Ram said.

Answering questions from the audience, Mr. Iqbal recounted how he had felt very much one with the place during the project which was undertaken over a span of 21 days, spread over a year. He often worked 12-14 hours every day at the temple.

While most of the shots were taken during the morning or evening light, a lot of flash units were used, he said. He cited the image of a fresco where he had resorted to the technique of “light painting” to light up the subject, while another frame was shot at 4 a.m. balancing artificial light and the moonlight.

Anuradha Iqbal, who contributed the text accompanying the visuals, and K. Srinivasamurthy, publisher, also participated.

Copies of the book can be obtained from the publishers at (044-24344519).