What : Heritage Photography Trip by CTC
Where : Vellore
When : 23rd Sep 2012
Who : A bunch of photographers ( and some posers too :P ) most of whom were strangers to each other at the start of the journey.
What I expected : It was group of photographers in a trip together all you would expect is for everyone to be in their own world clicking insistently. And also for the trip to be a very formal one with not much fun or interaction.
What it was : A bunch of crazy-ass fun loving people who made the whole day super awesome fun. Thanks to all who didn't even think twice before cracking jokes and teasing the others and also the others who just teased them back rather than getting offended. We didn't even know the names of each other till the end of the journey but I learnt that name is the last thing you need to make friends. On the whole it was a great trip and to quote Nivya(the organiser) "A trip is only as good as the participants", so kudos to everyone who were a part of the trip.
In Detail : Being a dormant member in CTC for more than one year now I finally decided to become active with this trip and I am very happy that I did. The first time I have been to Vellore and I totally fell in love with the place and the temples there.
Awakened by a call from my friend (who was also one of the participant) at 4 in the morning I dragged myself to get ready and left to koyambedu. We were picked from near Nathan's Cafe by around 5:45 AM and so the journey began. Most of us dozed off during the travel we were jerked up when our driver decided to show of the surround music system in the van. So we travelled a while with blasting music and finally reached a hotel to have our breakfast. After breakfast we travelled a little while longer to reach our first destination the Vallimala – A temple for lord muruga on top of a hill.
When someone said it was about 450 steps to the top I thought '450 .. how hard could that be' and only after reaching the top completely exhausted and out of breath I realised how bad my fitness level was. We clicked pics of and around the temple and rested for a while. There were some beautiful small cradles tied to the trees around the temple which provided as a nice subject to photograph. Then as we headed down we found a small lotus pond in the middle of the rocks and got to work with our cameras. There a few couples who were having some private time in the shade there, they were chased away from there cause of our constant clicking and loud comments. We finished off with a group photo which involved the photographer Gautam running across rocks in 10 sec to be in the photo.
Our second destination being the jain caves on the way down from the temple we headed that way chatting and teasing each other along the way. We reached the entrance of the caves but instead of facing just a gate we were stopped by a fallen tree.We couldn't let that stop us from getting to the caves now, could we?? Went around the tree, found our own path, jumped the gate and finally reached the caves. The effort was completely worth it, the caves had some sculptures on the rocks. And the water dripping down from the rocks made the place so cool and it felt so wonderful be there away from the hot sun. After hanging out there for a bit we reached down tired and thirsty. We quenched our thirst in a small cool-drink stall on the foot of the hill before boarded our van.
Our next destination was a beautiful temple with lush green lawns and tall tr
ees providing all the protection needed from the hot sun. But sadly the temple was closed and it wouldn't be opened for a while. We clicked some pictures of the gopuram inside through the small gap in between the gates and also of the beautiful lawn. Later we headed to a small patch of water in a river nearby where some of the guys took a dip in the waters along with the kids of the place. The kids and our fellow travellers had some major fun playing in the water and challenging each other on their swimming abilities. Then we headed back to the temple to take a group picture before we left for lunch.
Post lunch we reached our final destination the vellore fort which houses a beautiful temple with some amazing sculptures. With so many beautiful frames to be captured, all of us got to business immediately clicking away anything and everything we could. After taking all the time we needed in the temple we left to the view point in the fort. With the journey coming to an end we all took some final pics of each other, had some fun, pulled each other's leg and finally headed back to the van.
The journey back was filled with some of us dancing away and the others cheering us on. Looking at our pictures we complimented and critiqued each other on our pictures. And there were some doubt clearing and explanations going on about photography. Then we decided to stop at a coffee shop where finally we introduced each other and spoke a little about ourselves and also the trip. The introduction itself was super fun and felt more like a ragging session in college. So that's it we had our coffees and teas and headed back to Chennai with the memories of a beautiful trip and friendship of some wonderful people and not to forget some wonderful photographs.
Looking forward to more such trips.
Some Fun Moments :
The guys trying to explain to the hindi walas the 'petromax light' senthil-gowdamani comedy.
The argument between anoop and the others about who has two wifes lord muruga or ganesha. Sweta explaining the whole thing patiently to anoop and karthick(being another name for muruga) ended up getting a nick name 'guy with two wifes'.
The loud comments about the couples who climbed all the way to the top of the hill to spend some time alone and finally chasing them away.
Gautam's struggle while taking the group photos – first one where he had to run in 10 secs through rocks to be in the frame and second one where he was getting ragged by everyone while he was struggling so hard to getting the settings right owing to the bad lighting situations.
Dominic who just wanted to just pose by sitting on top of a horse ended up being taken on a short round in it all the way yelling "dai podhum da" to the horse guy.
Gautam grabbing the camera from nivya to take a picture of two girls walking past our van as we were just about to leave and the photo turning out to be a really beutiful one.
The introductions at the coffee shop by the end of the day where no one could escape the full-fledged ragging.
The comedy dancing by ajay, gautam, vinod, swapna, sweta, karthick, nivya, pramod and myself (aruna) in the van on our way back to Chennai.
And finally a big thanks to Pramod and Thirumalai (actually everyone else too) for being so lively throughout the trip and making it a wonderful experience.
By Karthik Gopal
It was a such a wonderful trip and I am very happy to have made it along with all of you. 3 days on, and the memories of the trip are still lingering in my head. Here's a brief write up of the trip. Photographs, I'll post after a while
There is a certain enchantment in visiting places of historic value. There is wonderful mystery in visiting unknown places. There is great joy in meeting new people and making new friends. Very few opportunities present themselves with all of these put together. CTC's Heritage photography trip was one such occasion. So with the beloved camera in tow we all set out early in the morning on the one day sojurn. Soon the mini bus was teeming with enthusiastic photographers and eager trippers. While much of the journey in the early hours was spent sleeping, the whole clan was up and buzzing once breakfast was taken. Thanks to the lively entertainment provided by some of the merry men and women, the bus journey in the hot weather was enjoyable.
And so we reached our first stop, the Vallimalai hill - A lovely hill in the midst of a sleepy village. So much so that there was nobody to gape at a few townsfolk stepping out of the bus with fancy cameras fitted with long cannon-like lenses (even the Nikon lenses were cannon-like for those who were waging the Canon-Nikon battle). A lovely idyllic pond greeted us at the base of the hill. Some of us explored all sorts of angles to click pictures of the pond while the rest settled down on the steps, feeding the fish with puffed rice. We then proceeded up the hill.
With nobody like Peter to egg us up the steps, each of us took his/her own sweet time. Half way up, we encountered a gang of worshippers piously making their way up, singing hymns with glee. Our star entertainer, Pramod joined their enjoyment by dancing with them. The steps eventually gave way to the facade of the little temple and revealed a lovely panorama around. The gracious Tirumalai rewarded us all for climbing with chocolate laddu :) All around the temple people had built little stone pyramids and hung little cradles to get their wishes fulfilled. A little path led further into the other side of the hill where little mandapams were built. After some group snaps, we proceeded further, much to the chagrin of Pramod and a few others who wanted to visit an ashram set up there. We climbed down the stairs to visit the Jain caves.
A fallen tree and a 4 foot gate is no match for CTC champs. The age old stone carvings, the cool water trickling into the cave and the ripples on the water all became forever etched in our cameras. Satisfied and happy, we descended from the hill and made our way to a welcoming juice shop. Once our thirst was quenched, we proceeded onward to the Somanatha temple
It was a beautiful old temple surrounded by trees, a well manicured lawn and a river nearby. The only disappointment was that the temple was closed. That was quickly put away as there was enough to take pictures of, including a calm little owl perched on a tree! Even a common handpump was not spared from the prying vision of a photographer's lens. The cool shade of the tree with a nice platform provided us with a nice setting to take some rest. After a few group snaps here, we moved to the river for some fun and frolick with little boys in the water. A few of us even took a dip in the gentle river water. Having had our share of fun here, we moved left the villages and their narrow winding roads behind and reached Vellore. The journey had made us quite hungry by now and we devoured the full meals as though we had not eaten for days! After the rejuvenating food, the photographers made it to the last destination - the vellore fort
We got down at the parking lot and went to the magnificent Jalagandeshwar temple inside the fort.
The main Gopuram was imposing and the view was quite breathtaking. Impressive carvings and intricate sculptures adorned the structure - a treat for any photographer. There was more of the beautiful stone work inside in the town hall. Multitudes of pillars, each carved with a unique design left us enchanted. We all took as many pictures as we could Then we went to explore the fort walls. The fort was magnificent with towering walls and sentry posts at regular intervals. There was also a lovely moat surrounding it with little boats to enjoy a ride in. We all strolled around the fort premises for a while, lapping up the evening sun, which finally set on our one day trip.
It was time to head back to Chennai and get back to our regular lives. But there was more to come. We may have concluded our trip but the fun did not. For once the incredibly loud speakers in the bus with their resounding bass effect were tolerated and the mad dancing started. Everyone pitched in the dance, led by the ever-so-fresh Pramod with great support by Ajay. Introduction sessions were refuted in the bus but it eventually kicked off at a roadside tea shop. After a final round of leg-pulling at the tea shop, the gang finally settled down to some melodic numbers. It was time to part as Koyambedu, Guindy etc arrived and one by one, everyone left.
With every trip we make, we leave a bit of us behind in the places we visit and we take a bit of those places with us too. Same was the case here. We left a bit of our attraction to these beautiful places and we took memories of them with us. Every CTC trip has a common line after the agenda..."return to chennai with pleasant memories and like-minded friends". So true...Each of us are glad we made it to the trip and made it back with loads of new fun loving friends.
Until the next time,
Have loads of fun friends!
By Dominic Sahayaraj
GOD!!!! Time already 4.58, I am still at Velachery… Karthick's call informed that they are already at Guindy railway station, drove my bike like mad and ran like hell and huffing and puffing I reached the van time 5.15AM. Sorry Guys for the delay, my sincere apologies and will see it never happens again.
Nivya said a curt hello but didn't look irritated, she very had the right to be but it did not show, I guess that is why is she is such a great organizer.
The Van had a very decent interior and seats were also very comfortable the diver was very alert and courteous (a rarity amongst drivers……I recommend we use this guy for future trips but organizers choice is final).
The van by this time had picked up groups from Tidel and Guindy, the next pickup was at Olympia Towers.
At Koyambedu the last group got picked and we were on our way and as I mentioned earlier the seats were very comfortable everyone was dozing try to catch up the moments of sleep which was lost by waking up 3am/4am etc.
We made the first pit stop for breakfast and myself and Sunil (my last trip organizer) sat chatting together joined by Swetha and Mukund. Mukund informed that he had been very active in CTC earlier and then went into of hibernation and joined this trip after a long gap. For Swetha this was the first CTC activity and she is from Hyderabad and Post graduate from IIT Rookee and working in Chennai as Civil Engineer and doing research in TAMIL Language (not literature) like counting the no of alphabets in TAMIL which ja ka ra is missing etc.
After about hour, we reached our first destination Vallimalai and while walking towards the temple kulam, I got know two more budding photographers Aruna and Swapna. The Group has a good photography session of the picturesque place while Group were busy clicking away, I was waiting for the famous photographer Thirumalai (Thiru) to arrive and he too arrived and started his usual antics.
Then began the ordeal of climbing the steep temple steps to reach the main temple where I came to know another enthusiastic person Pramod who showed some great dance moves which was in synchrony with the chants made the climbing those steps easy and finally we had reached the top and the view from the top was fabulous and fantastic and worth all the effort.
By this time I came to know the other members of the group we had Dhaval (Gujarati settled in Chennai), Karthick (Cognizant), Avinash (Tata steel Tada), Anoop (Cable and Wireless), Shree Hari, Hari (Sai Engg Student), Ajay, Gowtham, Vinod (Organizer 2), Murali.
We had a great time on top of the hill as it was a real photographer's delight and everyone had a share of their antics. Pramod kept posing like climbed Mt. Everest and pestering everyone to take his photo followed by the antics of Thiru you couldn't ask for more. Swapna was so enthralled by the lotuses in pond that she bent precariously for clicking some shots. (Thank god she didn't trip and fall). I sure we going to hear more about Swapna and Aruna in times to come…
Karthik had used me as model and promised to pay me hope he remembers the promise.
The descent was not that tough as climb and that were the group got separated and I was with the one which went to van and on the way we had some soft drinks from the nearby shops….poor swetha could not fulfill her choice of having golee soda as none of shops had it and the one which had it had store it in such as way that even swetha who claimed to have a good immune system refused to have it.
The other group finally arrived and they had their share of fun at the Jain caves which we missed sadly.
The next stop was Somanatha and Cholaeswarala Temples which was unfortunately closed for lunch, hence we could not enter inside but it did not stop the group from having some fantastic fun taking Group photos on the lawns using karthik's tripod and Gowtham trying directing us like Gowtham Vasudevan Menon.
As there was a dried up river nearby one group which want have some fun in water went that way and others stayed behind in the shade.
Pramod, Thiru were up to their usual antics using the boys as the models while Ajay, Gowtham, Vinod had their share of fun by taking a dip in the pond. It was hard to spot Gowtham among the boys as he also looked like one of them….
Swapna and Aruna too were busy clicking, Swapna did some gymantics and jumped from the bridge on riverbed which motivated me to do the jump. Swetha wanted to try but could not said she had some sprain while she was walking/running on the treadmill (sprit was willing but the flesh was weak) so she took the longer route. Swapna sitting on bridge was used as model by our photographer Thiru.
Our next stop was for lunch at Vellore. (I still have to pay Ajay a balance of Rs. 5/- as I did not have change). After lunch while some were having ice cream and some were having juice, Swetha got robbed of her juice by Parmod and Ajay by putting their straws in her cup.
We came to Jalakandeswara Temple near Vellore fort and group had a great time clicking way Vinoth was mentioning that he won't mind spending the whole day here as the sculptures were so beautiful and I too keenly follow these kinds of sculptures and carving and try to decipher the message/meaning behind them. Attached some of them
Chinese Version of Bodidaraman
(You too can create your own interpretation.)
Here, Thiru and Gowtham scared a tiny tot with their cameras (no matter of cajoling giving chocolates would stop the kid from crying).
From Jalakandeswara Temple all of us walked to the Vellore Fort and got a good view of the landscape. Here again antics of Parmod and Thiru came to play and here also we had a good fun taking semi Group photos.
Then I suddenly find everyone is started clicking in one direction…. the beauties of CTC Heritage trek were together Nivya, Swetha, Swapna, Aruna it got stopped only when the Thiru stood alongside (..like a beast). Thiru was complaining when I stand no one clicks when girls stand everyone clicks. (Well Thiru have a heart…the world always has a soft corner for the fairer sex).
As this was our last spot in our itinerary, we all walked back to our van and I and Pramod did some bit of horse riding which led to some grumbles inside the van for delaying them.
On the way back, we were treated to some refreshing tea and coffee by our generous organizers Vinod and Nivya (treated because I did not pay for them). Also, we had a hilarious self introduction near the tea stall. My only regret being Anoop coming and telling that he didn't hear my introduction. (Well I was the first to start Anoop).
During the rest of journey back, Pramod kept us entertained through his dance moves with Ajay, Gowtham, Swetha, Aruna, Swapna and Nivya too shook a leg.
Also during the drive back, Aruna gave gyan about white light balance, shutter speed etc which really very informative and really these girls are really going to go places.
Finally, the van dropped us at the pickup points safe and sound.
I would like to mention that this one of the most memorable trips I had after very long time and thank the organizers for arranging such a magnificent trip and looking forward to joining in future trips.
It was a very lively group. Special thanks to Karthik and Pramod for helping us with co-ordinating in the pick up points. Thanks to everyone in this trip for the wonderful spirit to volunteer for any activity.
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