Sparrows by the Columns

From Ambarnath, India

I stood in an ancient shrine to Lord Shiva – the Destroyer of Death in the Hindu Trinity.

Known as the shrine of Ambreshwar or the Lord of the Skies, this was a 10th Century stone jewel incredibly tucked away in the heart of a bustling Mumbai suburb.

Intricate carvings made up this age-old monument lost in the bustle of high rises and the clangor of a city.


As I walked around the stone complex, I was transported to a time when skilled artisans of yesteryears would have chipped away with their chisels even as architects carefully watched over the design of such a wonderful complex, creating poetry in stone.

The late morning sun slanted down upon these columns, lighting up the feminine divinities holding their oil lamps in worship. At that moment a couple of sparrows flitted into the foreground, continuing their incessant chatter upon a stony perch.

I sketched the scene to capture the elements of light and shade and took a couple of black and white pictures with my less-ancient Rolleiflex. I later recreated this in my studio on a scratchboard that I had prepared – for, only this medium could capture the detail of such a powerful scene.

– In my new book Rambles into Sacred Realms: Exploring Divinity through Pen and Paint, I invite readers to experience such adventure and imagery illustrating my travels.

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