The Delhi Heritage Photography Club has a large membership of enthusiasts who visit a monument a week. Its exhibition at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre is a must see

No matter what efforts are made by ASI, INTACH or other agencies like the Agha Khan Foundation to document, preserve, conserve and protect our built heritage, there is little that they can do as long as the rest of us do not begin to treat this heritage as ours. Visit any monument and you see candy wrappers, empty potato wafer bags, water bottles, tetra packs strewn across lawns and path ways. Graffiti and other efforts to deface monuments and betel leaf stains in all corners complete the picture.

Fortunately there are little rays of hope. Several individuals and organisations have started heritage walks in Delhi, many schools and colleges have woken to the idea of heritage and environment conservation, small groups have started meeting and going on heritage walks or organising cycling tours of Delhi. Percival Spear, who taught History at St. Stephens College, used to take his students on such bicycle rides. One of his books “Delhi, its Monuments and History”, is actually woven around these bicycle rides, a new version updated and annotated by Prof. Narayani Gupta and Laura Sykes was brought out by Oxford in 2010. The book should be acquired by all those who want to explore the city on their own.

The small groups that have begun exploring this most fascinating city have drawn upon a wide variety of enthusiasts and one of these groups, called the Delhi Heritage Photography Club, was started a little over three years ago by Vikramjit Singh Rooprai with a handful of friends and family members. The club that now has its own website “monumentsofdelhi.com” has grown to have more than 1350 members. Members meet almost every week and go to photograph one monument. The first open photo walk was organised in October 2010 and the members have now covered 80 monuments, this roughly means that they have been out photographing 40 out of the 52 weekends for the last two years. This is most certainly an enviable record.

Over this period a group of young artists has begun to join them. While Vikramjit and his band of avid amateurs with all kinds of cameras go shooting or discussing merits of various lenses and the best time to capture a monument, the artists sit in their chosen spots sketching or doing a water colour. The Delhi Heritage Photography Club is occasionally joined by a band of cyclists who bicycle from Noida to be part of the photo walk.

An exhibition called “Monuments of Delhi” showcasing 100 photographs chosen from virtually thousands of photographs taken by these armature photographers has been mounted inside the lobbies of Core 4A, 4B, 5A and 6A at the India Habitat Centre. The space has been provided free of charge by IHC to encourage both amateur photographers and conservation enthusiasts. The exhibition is on till the end of November, the photographs are on sale and part of the proceeds will go to the Ashish Foundation, an organisation working with differently abled children. The exhibition was inaugurated by two differently abled children, some children from Ashish Foundation are learning photography from members of DHPC.

Go see the exhibition, these photographs document our heritage, they are also works of art. Go if you care for differently abled children and neglected heritage. Both need you.

Before winding up I need to own up to two mistakes in my last piece. I had expressed my gratitude for the book “Trees of Delhi” and its author Pradip Krishen but had mis-spelt his name as Pradeep and while describing the red flower Calliandra I wrote Calindra. I plead guilty.