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Updated: January 9, 2013 19:07 IST

Old city in a new light

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CAPTURING THE CITY'S CHARM: Naveen Sekar and Rohini Rajasekaran with the book. Photo: Special Arrangement
CAPTURING THE CITY'S CHARM: Naveen Sekar and Rohini Rajasekaran with the book. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kadambavanam captures interesting facets of the Temple town

Madurai has caught the eyes of this budding photographer. Naveen Sekar, a Visual Communication student from Loyola College, has come up with a coffee-table book on the temple town. Kadambavanam lends the viewer a holistic glimpse of the city’s people and places. With nearly 30 images, the 50-page book evokes the street life, markets, the temple, various communities living in Madurai and the roadside food. Rohini Rajasekaran, a psychotherapist based in Bangalore but essentially Madurai-bred, has written the text for Naveen’s pictures.

What started as a college project for Naveen culminated in Kadambavanam. He found Madurai best suited for street photography. “Moreover, it’s my hometown and I know it better than any other place,” he says. “It took a year and a half to complete the book after a lot of research and ground work. I even got to know some lesser-known facts while doing the project. For example, the maiyya mandapam in the centre of Vaigai which we pass by every day holds a rich history behind. Not many know that the structure was constructed for the royal family to sit and watch the event of Lord Azhagar entering the river. I was fascinated to know such facts.”

The book is presently being given away to friends and known people. Naveen plans to add features to bring out a more in-depth version that will be priced and sold in book stores.

Rohini Rajasekaran says, “Madurai has always been a mix of cultures for centuries together. It’s an amalgamation of old and modern architecture. Likewise, the city has welcomed migrating communities such as Sourashtrians and Anglo-Indians. We have tried to showcase the warmth that Madurai radiates -- the friendly people and colourful life.”

Naveen is working on separate books covering the Jain caves in and around the city, festivals and portraiture of the people. “I am trying out the possibility of a series,” says the young photographer, who is also currently working on a photo essay on Thiruvottriyur, near Chennai.

Published by Chella Meenakshi Centre for Education and Research, the book was released by Joseph W. Elder, Professor of Sociology/ Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin, who has also written the foreword. The first copy was received by Dr. R. Venkatraman, Rtd. Professor of Art and History, Madurai Kamaraj University.

J. Rajasekaran of Chella Meenakshi Centre says, “This is an initiative of the centre to encourage young talents and support them in their endeavours.” At the launch ceremony, Dr. Venkatraman praised the work. “They have tried unusual angles to bring out unknown facets of the city,” he said. “It’s an attempt to portray the old city in a new light.”

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