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Tryst with lively ghats of Benaras

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An exhibition of paintings titled "The Beauty of Benaras Ghat" by Delhi-based artist Soumen Dutta is now on at Open Palm Court Gallery of India Habitat Centre.

In pursuit of his artistic journey, Soumen recently crossed the boundaries of the Capital to portray the ghats of Varanasi. Fascinated by the ghats as an artist, Soumen's dream of capturing them on his canvas was realised when he travelled across the western bank of the Ganga in April last and January this year.

Almost 60 per cent of the work at the ongoing exhibition is in watercolour and the remaining 40 per cent is in black and white.

Stating that he was impressed with the architectural extravaganza of the ghats, Soumen says: "Along the 5-km-long stretch of the western bank, I sketched in my boat the cityscape of temple shikaras, mansions, gateways and tall minarets. I was absolutely ecstatic about the endless stone steps that sweep imperiously down to the water's edge. The ghats reflect centuries of building work undertaken by the rich and powerful of the land."

Soumen says he discovered that almost every ghat had to a story to tell whether it was of the mysterious sadhus who meditated underwater or of temples that Goddess Ganga did not like and so were washed away. "I had my most creative satisfaction travelling down alone along the ghats and observing them teeming with life moving past like images to capture for a life time," adds the artist.

Soumen says his earlier series was on historical monuments like Lodi Garden, Qutab Minar, Hauz Khas, Purana Qila and Red Fort. Interestingly, the works were all in pen and ink medium.

The exhibition on Benaras ghats concludes this Friday. -- Madhur Tankha

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