Ensconced in an orchard in the Goan village of Advalpal, an old and precious temple of Hanuman lies in a state of criminal neglect. Physical decay of the structure has taken hold, inside and out. This corrosion of the land’s cultural soul is a corollary to the ecocide underway in Goa.

Inside the shrine an exquisite image of Maruti greets the visitor. But there is more – the entire temple is embellished with kaavi (sgraffito) and represents one of the finest examples of its kind in Goa, as seen in the photographs below.

Ravaged by destructive mining the settlement of Advalpal is under severe pressure from rapacious miners and their political enablers. The future of this temple is highly uncertain – it is located on private property and the owner has had ‘offers’.

Hanuman of Advalpal, Goa

Hanuman of Advalpal, Goa
5D, 85L II

 
Hanuman Temple in Advalpal, Goa

Hanuman temple in Advalpal, Goa
5D, 24-105L

 
Kaavi Art at Hanuman Temple in Advalpal

Kaavi art on temple façade
5D, 24-105L

 
 
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  • Steven Pereira - November 27, 2011 - 4:24 am

    Mr. Rajan.

    Glorious insights to Goa unlike any of the many books i been trying to read about Goa.

    🙂ReplyCancel

  • hrishikesh - July 20, 2010 - 6:00 am

    This is a fabulous temple. I wonder if we can notify the authorities so that they may add this as a heritage property and disallow any random reconstruction/ sale.

    If the family in question need to be compensated this can be done by public funds as it is a shared heritage.

    Thank you for the fabulous picture.

    This site obviously needs some TLC and soon !!!ReplyCancel

  • Augusto Pinto - May 11, 2010 - 7:24 pm

    Even looking at the photograph in these maddeningly hot summer months makes one feel so refreshingly cool. Somewhat strangely, I hope that old Hanuman remains a little obscure in his haven in Advalpal, with just a few but discerning followers. For if the hordes begin to worship him then someone or the other will want to display their devotion to the monkey man by razing this little beauty down and replacing it with the concrete that so pleases modern sensibilities.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - May 11, 2010 - 5:03 am

    Strange world where we have to protect Hanuman rather than the other way around!ReplyCancel

The first rays of the sun melting the crest of the Panamint Range at Zabriskie Point in California’s Death Valley make for the purest of eye candy. A clutch of photographers can be reliably found there at dawn jockeying for slots on the mound overlooking the badlands. It is easy to be seduced by this iconic location and overlook other photographic opportunities right next door. On this morning, I explored compositions figuring the borate-laden hills lined up along the highway near Zabriskie Point. With an assist from the early morning light the warm yellow hills cut a crisp picture.

Death Valley, California

Borate-laden hills in Death Valley, California
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 

The black & white interpretation of the above image also makes for a compelling image.

Death Valley, California

Death Valley, California
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
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  • Arun - May 5, 2010 - 5:21 am

    This could easily set off rumors of cities of gold 🙂

    Did you consider cropping out some of the foreground that is in shadow, so that the hills are one-third of the frame from the bottom?ReplyCancel

Moonrise over the Trona Pinnacles.

Moonrise at Trona Pinnacles

Moonrise at Trona Pinnacles
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 

After my first magical evening, I made two more jaunts to the Trona Pinnacles later that same week hoping to frame other perspectives especially from the far south end of the lake bed. Unfortunately, on both these occasions the light was nothing to feel good about. Furthermore the intensity of the wind gusts made setting up of the tripod very difficult so I walked around and explored handheld compositions with the 300mm telephoto.

Lunarscape at Trona Pinnacles

Lunarscape at Trona Pinnacles
5D Mark II, 300L f/4 IS

 
 
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  • Rani Thompson - May 3, 2010 - 10:33 am

    Well…tired of watching this black beauty…please post some colors here….I really enjoyed your pictures from VaranasiReplyCancel

  • thaths - April 21, 2010 - 6:24 am

    Rajan,

    One trick I learned about photographing moonrises is that it is best to photograph it a couple of days before the full moon. On full moon day the moon rises right as the sun is setting. A couple of days before, the moon rises while the sun still has a few minutes to set. This gives you an ideal scene where the moon is coming up from the horizon while the golden rays of the setting sun paint your scenery.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - April 21, 2010 - 3:01 am

    The first one has almost unearthly splendor 🙂ReplyCancel

  • jc - April 20, 2010 - 8:26 pm

    Good Lord! Rajan,

    What are you doing 20+ miles from the nearest anywhere?

    beautiful shots.

    jcReplyCancel

During a recent visit to Death Valley in California‘s Mojave Desert, I overnighted in the desert town of Ridgecrest to photograph the nearby Trona Pinnacles. This atmospheric locale has served as a setting for several well-known sci-fi movies and commercials. The basin with its Trona Pinnacles, the adjacent Searles Lake salt pan serviced by an unlikely railroad, and flanked by the Slate Range to the east and the Argus Mountains to the west, evokes an ambience that is at once enchanting, eerie, and alien.

From: Death Valley and the Northern Mojave by William C. Tweed and Lauren Davis (Cachuma Press, 2003)

As dawn approaches, the Trona Pinnacles emerge like a dream landscape from the parched bed of Searles Lake. The silhouettes of over 500 strangely shaped towers cluster together against a vast plain rimmed with distant hills. Old-timers call it Cathedral City, an apt name for such a mysterious looking place.

Although it may be hard to imagine, the Trona Pinnacles once protruded from the bottom of a deep lake. During the ice ages that occurred between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, runoff from the Sierra Nevada periodically coursed into Searles Lake…The pinnacles consist of an unusual “rock” called tufa. It resembles limestone and forms entirely underwater…

…From a distance Searles Lake looks like any other Mojave Desert salt pan. But this playa is different: its deep lakebed sediments contain 98 of the approximately 112 elements.

 

When I got to the Trona Pinnacles about an hour before sunset, I was dismayed to see both the eastern and western horizons plastered with a ribbon of clouds. With only two nights shy of the full moon, I had timed my visit to capture the moonrise over the Slate Mountains. Now it appeared I would be hit with a double whammy – denied both the magic hour sunlight and the rising of the moon. Adding to the irony – it was a pleasant, still, wind-free evening (my next two forays later that week were met by strong wind gusts).

Resigned to my karma, I set up shop on the ridge next to the Trona railroad and went about my business. And then something totally unexpected happened. The sun dipped below the Argus Mountains behind me and the Pinnacles suddenly came alive, awash in sweet light. I could scarcely conceal my excitement at the unfolding scene. I will let the photographs below tell the story.

Trona Pinnacles

Setting up for the Trona Pinnacles shoot: the thin strip of white is the salt pan
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: sun behind the clouds when I first arrived
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: awash in sweet light moments before sundown
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: lengthening shadows
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: shadow play
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: light and shadow
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: the lone beacon
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Trona Pinnacles: moonrise
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
Trona Pinnacles

Moon over Trona Pinnacles
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
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  • […] 2010 I experienced an enchanting evening at the Trona Pinnacles. On my visit in December 2012, I was witness to another equally engrossing […]ReplyCancel

  • Manuel Tavares - April 20, 2010 - 1:58 pm

    Hi Rahan,
    These Pictures are truly spectacular. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    Regards….Manuel ( Eddie ) Tavares.ReplyCancel

  • […] my first magical evening, I made two more jaunts to the Trona Pinnacles later that same week hoping to frame other […]ReplyCancel

  • Arun - April 19, 2010 - 6:19 am

    Great shots!

    The last two are my favorites.ReplyCancel

  • Shree Datye - April 18, 2010 - 3:12 pm

    Dear Rajan,

    Really fantastic pictures ! Enjoyed each and every of them.

    ShreeReplyCancel

  • Salus Correia - April 17, 2010 - 6:55 pm

    Hello Rajan,

    That is just superb! You have the ‘gift’ mate, of simpling adding to the beauty of mother nature’s beauty!!!

    A great job, very well done, congratulations!

    SalusReplyCancel

My photo essay Varanasi – India’s Holy City is now up and running at The Huffington Post. It should be featured in its Religion section today.

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