Frame by frame: Tracing the peak, Kailash and its tales

The surreal geography of Kailash Manasarovar area has come alive at photographer Milan Moudgill’s debut exhibition in the Capital. Featuring 54 high-quality art prints, three panoramas — with the largest being 4×20 ft — it follows in the footsteps of Swedish explorer Sven Hedin and Indian ascetic Swami Pranavananda, revisiting how the sacred region in Tibet was brought into geographical knowledge.

“I started this in 2002. My last trip to the sources of the rivers Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Indus and Karnali was in 2007… It’s been only six months that I started working on the project in earnest with an idea to put out an exhibition,” shares Milan, who has captured the north, south, west and east faces of the Kailash peak. Explaining why he felt the urge to “get unique views from different angles”, he says, “They’re not something you can shoot off a pilgrim trail… The west face is only seen twice in the parikrama. East face is not seen at all.”

Milan Moudgill has a fun moment, with fashion designer Ritu Kumar, at the opening of his debut exhibition. (Photo: Manish Rajput/HT)
Milan Moudgill has a fun moment, with fashion designer Ritu Kumar, at the opening of his debut exhibition. (Photo: Manish Rajput/HT)

As part of this project, the sources of the Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej were visited in 2007 — a full 100 years after Sven Hedin did, using his journals, written accounts and maps from the archive of the Swedish National Library, their National Archives and the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. “I am a graphic designer and all of this wasn’t my forte at all. I just had an idea and went for it. The most fascinating part was to find Swami Pranavananda’s material. He has written three books, uske alawa there’s nothing available till his box of archives was found,” says Moudgill.

This ongoing exhibition offers new perspectives of the peak. Displayed at the galleries are never-seen-before archival material of Swami Pranavananda. Milan has also captured a rare look of the area in winter, when the lakes are frozen. To explain this and a lot more, there will be a walk through at the gallery on August 5 and 6 at 5.30pm.

“I’ve heard about Kailash Mansarovar since childhood. I definitely want to go there,” says Aanchal Singh, a Delhi-based student visiting the exhibition. Echoing similar sentiments, Deepika Sharma, a teacher who visited the opening of the show, says, “My parents have done the journey and ever since then they have been mesmerised. I came to the exhibition to get to know more about the region. The idea of figuring out the actual sources of the rivers is extremely fascinating.”

Catch It Live

What: Kailash-Mansarovar: A photographic journey

Where: Visual Arts Gallery and Open Palm Court Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road

On till: August 9

Timing: 10am to 8pm

Nearest Metro Station: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on the Violet Line

Author tweets @Nainaarora8

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