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India’s Islamic monuments through Behl’s eyes
May 30, 2013, 2:20 pm
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With its vast, diverse and enchanting cultural heritage, it is no wonder that India provides a treasure-trove of inspiration to the artist’s eye. Renowned art historian and photographer Benoy K Behl has encapsulated this inspiration and captured  timeless Islamic monuments across India which have been placed on exhibition at Al-Edwani Hall Dahiyat Abdullah Al-Salem till May 27.

“India has a vast, rich and varied heritage of Islamic architecture. These monuments are a great treasure of India’s culture and are of particular value as they reflect artistic and cultural links with many other countries,” said Behl.

From the 12th century onwards, Islamic dynasties were set up different places across India and subsequently, the Mughal monuments of North India became very well known, especially in light of their breath-taking beauty. “The confluence of local talent with inspirations from Iran, Arabia, and Central Asia resulted in mausoleums, mosques, madrasas, palaces and fortresses that were unique in the history of Islamic architecture,” he explained.

The richness of Islamic architectural heritage extends across the country. According to Behl, India has more beautiful medieval Islamic monuments than any other country —a fact less well known.

Behl’s work has allowed for an expanded view of Islamic architectural heritage icons in India. Through his lens the audience is able to almost step into the frame and be transported to the heart of cultural awakening.

Apart from the glorious symbol of love — the Taj Mahal, the lineup also includes several mausoleums, palaces and fortresses. The exhibition also presents the exquisite mosques and dargahs of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kashmir and other parts of India.  “Far more than in the North of India, it was in the Deccan that India received the cultural and artistic influences of Persia and of the Arab world. The many exquisite monuments of the Deccan display the confluence of cultures which took place here,” said Behl.

“I have been to every corner of India many times. In my travels across the length and breadth of India, I’ve found out that the country has an absolutely vast Islamic heritage.” Behl said, who holds a few world records of having exhibited his photographs in more than 32 countries by over 250 major institutions.

The ongoing exhibition is part of his vast project on Islamic Heritage Monuments of the World, covering 42 countries. During his stay in Kuwait he is scheduled to capture the grandeur and beauty of the Grand Mosque in Kuwait as part of the project, he told The Times. He is also planning to document other major Islamic monuments in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Mali, Spain and Romania.

“I’m keen on making the Islamic world aware of this wonderful contribution of theirs and also the whole world to recognize that we are talking about one of the most sophisticated, thoughtful and kindest cultures of our times,” he said.

With over 35 years, in the field, Behl has taken over 36,000 photographs of Asian monuments and art heritage, made a hundred documentaries on art history and his exhibitions have been warmly received in 29 countries around the world.

By Darlynn Amara

News Editor

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