Manoj Arora’s first solo show, ‘Rediscover Hampi’ at Bikaner House, features photographs that capture the beauty of the silent ruins of the ancient capital of the Vijayanagar Empire

Manoj Arora’s first solo show, ‘Rediscover Hampi’ at Bikaner House, features photographs that capture the beauty of the silent ruins of the ancient capital of the Vijayanagar Empire

Manoj Arora’s innate attraction towards monuments and their magnificent history took him to Hampi in Karnataka during the prolonged pandemic last year. “Luckily, it was not over-crowded and I had the space and time to connect with the subject leisurely, taking shots in whichever way that appealed to my eyes and touched my heart and soul,” he says.

As a result, he returned with 600-plus frames that captured the beauty of the silent ruins of the ancient capital of the Vijayanagar Empire in multiple hues and moods. Arora froze bewitching images of monoliths, rocks and boulders, the elaborate carvings and inscriptions on the stones, the narratives in the murals of the temple ceilings, the sculptures and the trees against the play of light.

Just before the inauguration of his photo exhibition ‘Rediscover Hampi’ at Bikaner House, he was both excited and nervous about his first solo show. But his panels magically engaged the art connoisseurs.

Photo exhibition ‘Rediscover Hampi’ at Bikaner House, in Delhi on Tuesday

Photo exhibition ‘Rediscover Hampi’ at Bikaner House, in Delhi on Tuesday
| Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The exhibition features 80 prints that Arora describes as ‘realist and mythical’. “There is an indescribable beauty in this timeless place that doesn’t require a language to express. I want people to feel and experience this 14 th century city and take pride in the country’s heritage,” he says.  

Whether you are looking at gods and goddesses carved in stone and captured in the refractive indices of dusk or fading murals on the ceilings of the famous Virupaksha Temple, or the sun rays falling on a wizened tree that stands tall amid the ruins — every shot of Arora’s speaks through its composition, depth and solitude.

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The destroyed forts, royal and sacred complexes, the pillared halls and mandapams, the memorial structures and shrines, the riverside features, the bazaars and residential quarters, the gates and stables, the reservoirs and hydraulic works, the towers, arches and ornate pillars: everything integrates harmoniously into the landscape and reveals the socio-political and economic prosperity of the times.  

“Every vestige of the past there has a story to tell,” says Arora.

Photographer Manoj Arora seen with curator Uma Nair at his photo exhibition Rediscover Hampi

Photographer Manoj Arora seen with curator Uma Nair at his photo exhibition Rediscover Hampi
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Art critic Uma Nair, who curated the show, says ‘Rediscover Hampi’ is a contemporary conversation on antiquity that brings out passages of time. She worked on the compositions for six months categorising them under six different themes in order to bring out the historical beauty of the UNESCO-recognised site by the banks of the Tungabhadra River.

“Arora’s narrative assemblage is born within the sculptures, murals and monuments of the capital of one of the greatest kingdoms of South India. His photographs help find a lost heritage, add to one’s knowledge of history, highlight the art and skills of photography and brings to fore the vision and passion of the photographer,” says Nair.

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hosted by Masha Art, the exhibition is on till September 22; At Main Art Gallery Bikaner House, Pandara Road, India Gate; 11 am to 8 pm.

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition

Rediscover Hampi Manoj Arora’s photo exhibition
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement



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By Dipak

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