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  • Income Tax Chief Commissioner launches travelogue ‘Ladakh and Spiti Chronicles’

    Published on March 5, 2019

    Mumbai : A city-based Income Tax Chief Commissioner Mr. Mahendra Singh, a member of the Indian Revenue Services and an avid wildlife and travel photographer, will be showing his artistic side with the launch of his coffee table books in two volumes, ‘Ladakh and Spiti Chronicles’. This is a book that will really make one wonder how much the study of the world around us can be elevated by texts like this one, texts that blur the lines of genre and introduce places to us like delicious secrets just waiting to be explored.

    The book is not intended to be a travel guide for the amateur tourist. What differentiates this book from every other book on Ladakh is the romance of the region captured in its pages rather than the practicalities such as ‘where to stay?’, ‘which tourist locations to visit?’, or the more millennial question ‘where do I click the best selfie?’ or ‘would this make a good Instagram story? In his own words, “This book will take you on a journey through Ladakh and Spiti. Every page will unveil a unique and breath-taking photograph whose sole purpose is to hold the reader captive until the need to delve further is too powerful to ignore”, shared 58 year old Income Tax Chief Commissioner Mahendra Singh.

    Bollywood Actress Madhuri Dixit visited the show and unveiled the books , ‘Ladakh and Spiti Chronicles’ today at Jehangir Art Gallery where the photographs are exhibited. While discussing about the books, she shared “It was a pleasure to my eyes to see these wonderful photographs. Mr Mahendra Singh has managed to transport the viewer to Ladakh and Spiti without leaving the city and he has depicted the beauty of these places through the lens beautifully. After seeing these pictures, now I am Keen on visiting Ladakh and Spiti to see these wonderful sights in person, very soon”.

    Income Tax Chief Commissioner Mahendra Singh shared, “My first visit was to Ladakh in 2012. We were astounded by the forbidding landscape, the Warmth of the People and their Magnificent Monasteries. That led to further reading and research on the land and its people, I put together the images and the information about them in 2013”, he spoke while talking about ‘Ladakh Chronicles. While sharing information about companion volume titled ‘Spiti Chronicles’, he added “In 2017 my wife, Iti and I took an excursion to Spiti. The similarity with Ladakh and the few significant differences were striking. That called for a companion volume. It also provided the space for me to elaborate further on the themes common to both Ladakh and Spiti Chronicles’.

    On his experience of the place and its people, he says “I was enchanted by the cold and bleak desert landscapes of Ladakh and Spiti perched on the south eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Its association with the legendary Shangrila for ages was particularly intriguing. It was the meditative quality of this region which drove me to try to capture it in all its beauty”.

    Both these volumes have been designed around capturing some fifty facets of each of these places. Those facets together, hopefully, provide a comprehensive overview of

    the Geological Backdrop, the Geography, the History, the People, their Social Organisation, Livelihood and their Religion. These books will bring the reader closer to the mountains and experiences with the inhabitants of Ladakh without leaving the comfort of home.  “The Buddhism there is different from that in the rest of India. Tibet, like most other places had its own ancient culture, Its belief systems, rites and rituals known as Bon Chos. These were not abandoned but incorporated into Tibetan Buddhis”, he adds while throwing more light on the books. Examples of Prayer Flags, Prayer Wheels and the Cham Dances have found effective place in the books.

    The author has managed tolavishly illustrate the books with photographs taken by him in the two Volumes dedicated to Ladakh and Spiti, respectively, which provide a crisp, colourful and a comprehensive overview of this land shrouded in mystery and mystique. The travelogue is the culmination of his 7 year hard work, choosing from over 3000 images and selecting the best 32 which has made it to the final compilation covering the adventure capital of the country, a destination that has the top three highest mountain passes in the world.

    About the Author:

    Income Tax Chief Commissioner Mahendra Singh was born in a family of landlords in a remote village on the banks of the Saryu River near Ayodhya. He grew up in close proximity to the local wildlife consisting of fish, tortoise, river dolphins, migratory ducks, deer, jackals, wolves and so on. He moved to Chennai for his graduation and to the Delhi University for a post graduation degree in Political Science. His passion for wildlife photography had to be put on the back burner in pursuit of his livelihood and ultimately he became a Taxman. As an officer of the Indian Revenue Service, he has served at Delhi and Chennai and is presently posted as Chief Commissioner of Income Tax at Mumbai. His family usually accompanies him for two or three photographic excursions every year, typically for a week to ten days. Alongside his core passion for wildlife, travel photography has become a significant part of his recent photographic output.

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