Hyderabad doctor pays tribute to Kargil War heroes

Hyderabad doctor pays tribute to Kargil War heroes

Hyderabad doctor  pays tribute to  Kargil War heroes

There are different ways of celebrating freedom and men and women in uniform that guarantee it.

An oncologist who treats dreaded cancer trying to save patients every day made an interesting photographic journey from Srinagar to Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir along with his family and exhibited his work as Shikhara (The Summit) in memory of those brave hearts who fought enemies from the other side of the border.

Shikhara was held at State Art Gallery at Madhapur in Hyderabad and a symbolic War Memorial was put up at the exhibition. The journey of  Ravi Kumar from Kashmir Valley to Leh was dedicated to “The Heroes of the Indian Armed Forces, who bravely fought the Kargil War of 1999.”

“Each mile of the journey reminded us the death several times. I had to shoot most of the pictures from the window of a SUV on bumpy roads, with a hand-held camera,” says Ravi Kumar.

The consultant oncologist is a busy professional.  But, still he pursues his passion for photography, art and classical music with many international awards to his credit. His passion for photography drove him and his wife and two daughters to Ladakh region. Accompanied by wife, Nitika, a costume designer; two daughters Sanjana Saxena, a medical student and musician; and Radhna Saxena, an architect, artist and musician; ventured on an adventurous road journey for 8 days in the last week of May 2015. 

The family on their way visited Drass, the coldest inhabitated place in the county, War Memorial coming up between Drass and Kargil, and had a peek into the harsh terrain and terrible conditions under which soldiers work to make countrymen safe. Then, the thought of dedicating the exhibition to Heroes of Indian Armed forces came. The exhibition also had pictures of  War Memorial of Kargil  set up by the Army at 9,000 ft above the sea level.

The family, especially the doctor, clicked photos with gay abandon during the exhilarating journey with mountains on one side and valley on the other. Despite difficulty in getting vantage points to get the scenic beauty of the heaven on earth, as Kashmir is described, the family ended up with over 3,000 photos.

Of them, 75 were on display. “Armed with a backpack of Nikon DSLs, Nikon and Stigma Lenses and a tripod, I embarked on this trip with my family,” said Ravi Kumar.

“Our driver was discouraging us from stopping and getting down as the terrain was narrow and constant threat of landslides. To get the images right in such conditions, I had to use high shutter speeds,” Ravi Kumar said.

“With weather being fickle―from sunshine to rain and sudden snowfall―it is a challenge to the upkeep of the equipment. I managed to freeze a few photos of snowfall. Our preparation of carrying memory cards helped us to take a good number of pictures,” he said. 

Among the exhibits was a collage of inspirational military quotes such as “What is lifetime adventure for you is a daily routine for us,” a sign on Ladakh-Leh Highway.  The other one is “Sleep peacefully, at your homes, Indian Army is guarding the frontiers”. Some of the other quotes included “A soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what’s behind him.”   Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s famous quote: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha”. Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey’s quote “If death strikes before I prove my blood, I swear; I will kill death.”

The doctor’s family travelled in near zero temperatures. “Our sole aim to travel by road was to enjoy the scenic beauty of the valley and capture the same for memory,” Sanjana Saxena noted.  “We have humbly dedicated this exhibition to Indian Armed Forces, who bravely fought the Kargil War; we have realised how our soldiers posted in those locations fight not only the threat from the militants, but also harsh cold winter.  Each day for them is a new battle for their survival,”Nitika, doctor’s wife, said.

Each mile of the journey reminded the family of death several times. Ravi Kumar said from Leh, they went to Changla Pass, Pangong Lake then to Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable road in the world and Nubra Valley and Siachin Base Camp.  The photographs were curated by  Nitika and daughter Radhna Saxena.  Sanjana Saxena has done poetic description of each of these handpicked 75 photographs.

Narendra Luther, a well-known historian of the city, and photographer Arvind Chengi were among those visited the exhibition.  Narendra Luther termed each of Ravi Kumar’s photographs as paintings and masterpieces. “It is very difficult to take pictures in such an extremely difficult weather conditions,” he said.  He appreciated  Ravi Kumar for the excellence of his photography. Arvind Chengi, who himself is one of the best photographers in the city lauded the efforts of  Ravi Kumar.

Col Deshpande and Col Vikram Singh, senior army officers of the Army Headquarters of Telangana and AP Sub Area inaugurated the exhibition. A wreath was also placed as a mark of respect to heroes of Kargil war.

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