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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Snapped Up

A homemaker and former professor of photography, Jyoti Pai is set to hold the first solo photo exhibition on Ladakh this week

Snow-Capped mountains, twisting rivers and winding roads—the sights of Ladakh can send people into a tizzy. But for Jyoti Pai, a former professor of photography from Mumbai, the land was a calling of sorts.

Determined to capture the tantalising scenery through her lens, she set out to Ladakh for a second time recently “to be able to show the natural beauty of places in our country”. Now based in Goa, Pai (40) is set to return to Mumbai with the first solo photography exhibition of 60 photographs of Ladakh, to be held at the P L Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, Prabhadevi, from April 25 to 27.

Coming from a family of photography lovers, Pai took to photography naturally. Her “expensive hobby” — as the homemaker calls her skill — nurtured the travel bug in her. And then, Ladakh beckoned.

The highest plateau in Kashmir at over 9,800 feet, Ladakh lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. Known for its remote beauty and culture, Ladakh is sometimes called ‘Little Tibet’ for the strong Tibetan influences on its culture and lifestyle.

“The majestic mountains, enchanting lakes and valleys, lush green meadows… all these won me over the first time I visited Ladakh. Nestled cozily in the dazzling snow-capped Himalayas lies the most picturesque panorama you can imagine. A complete photographer’s delight,” she says.

A mother of two, Pai taught photography at the Nirmala Niketan College of Home Science in Mumbai for several years before shifting base to Goa. Her photography was on the backburner then, though she continued to run a photo studio.

“There have been several combined exhibitions by women of Ladakh. But this is the first time a solo exhibition is being held by a woman on this remote area of the country. She has visited it twice and shot her pictures on Xpan,” says aerial photographer Gopal Bodhe of Pai.

In an invite for the photo exhibition, senior advocate from Mumbai Adhik Shirodkar says: “Her (Jyoti) multi-faceted personality manifests itself in the breathtaking photographs in her first solo photo exhibition depicting Ladakh, where she went twice, in all her grandeur.”

Despite the challenges of the tough climb, the breathlessness and the winding roads, Pai recalls the high she felt at the Khardung La and the amazing calmness on the shore of Pangong Lake.

“I started shooting from Rohtang Pass. The idea was to tell the world through my lens that even in India there are these breathtakingly beautiful places with virgin mountains and lakes to visit,” Pai signs off.

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