A photographer's muse

A photographer's muse

The works of Shivashankara Banagar serve as an example of a rare kind of contribution to revive waning historical ruins. He spends a good part of his day documenting the unknown faces of Hampi on his camera. 

He has captured many wonderful phenomena through the lens, like sunrises and sunsets, with a vivid perspective.

Many scholars, including historian Robert Sewell, have studied and documented the glorious past of the lost Vijayanagar Empire. 

Banagar says Hampi remains unexplored even though many historians and archaeologists have been exploring it for many decades now.

According to him, Hampi has three dimensions, mythology, folklore and history.

Myriad mythical anecdotes have always surrounded Hampi. The name Hampi has been derived from Pampa, the ancient name of the River Tungabhadra.

 Shiva was impressed with her dedication and granted her a wish, because of which she chose to marry him. 

The place came to be known as Pampakshetra thereafter. Upon Shiva’s marriage with Pampa, gods from heaven showered gold on the place. It is probably because of this legend, that a hill in Hampi is called Hemakuta, the heap of gold.

A popular folklore associated with this landscape is with the epic Ramayana. Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom of the Vanara King Sugriva, is said to be modern day Hampi. The Anjaneya Hill here is believed to be the birthplace of Hanuman. 

Matanga Hill, one of the highest points of the site, is named after the sage who protected Sugriva against Vali, and guided Shabari. 

Right beneath the hill, on the Southern bank of the Tungabhadra, lies a boulder carved with the figures of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman. This supposedly marks the spot where Lakshmana crowned Sugriva king. 

Hampi, the erstwhile prosperous kingdom of Vijayanagar empire, has its remains spread over 236 sq km.
 Anegondi, Khanapur, Virupakshapura and Hanumanahalli are extensions of Hampi, which interest explorers. 

Banagar’s interest is limited not just to Hampi and its stationary monuments. His enthusiasm extends to capturing through his lens, the flora and fauna of the region too. He has documented over 50 species of birds. 

He has lived with the shepherds of the region and captured their lifestyles. He has also travelled to the countryside around Hospet and beyond and captured unique moments of the life there.

Banagar has used social media to get attention to his work. He succeded in this and has gained immense popularity. Many people come to visit the places which he has photographed. Many ornithologists identified new species of birds in the region and came to Hampi to study them. 

He has now developed a niche for capturing historical landscapes in different lightings. Banagar is a journalist, who has worked for many newspapers. He now runs his own advertising agency, Banagar Media Solutions. 

Banagar says that Hampi is not the only place which is being protected and preserved by the Department of Archaeology and other organisations. It extends to Anegondi, Kampli and Sandur. 

Thus, documentation of the place is a Herculean task, recording literally or in any manner is a massive task. 

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