The magazine of the photo-essay
August 2019 back issue
Southern India
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
National Geographic photographer, Catherine Karnow, will be sharing her vast knowledge of photography and experience of travel in Southern India on her latest photography workshop. 15th January to 2nd February 2020. “I am so enthusiastic about this workshop! Last year was a great success, and I am eager to introduce you to the marvelous, magical places and people we experienced. We learn so much about history, religion, social customs, art, culture and food; and have unique access to places and people off-the-beaten path.” CK For more information and a full itinerary, visit Catherine’s website All photographs ©Catherine Karnow
by Catherine Karnow
Putamma Nilkand, 47, irons laundry every day in her tiny stall right on the street in Mysore. The iron she uses weighs 17 kilos and is filled with charcoal embers. "I am happy that I am able to stand on my own two feet and make my own living."
Madurai is considered the "soul" of South India. The extraordinary 14th-century Dravidian Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, sometimes called the "Taj Mahal of South India,"  is a major pilgrimage destination, and attracts tens of thousands of devotees daily. "Meenakshi" is the three-breasted "fish-eyed" warrior goddess. The temple depicts most of the key legends from the Vedas and the Ramayana Hindu text. Note the detail of the God Shiva sitting atop her mount, the bull Nandi
At the Flower market in Madurai, roses are sprinkled with water to keep them fresh. Flowers have great traditional and spiritual significance are an essential element of daily devotional life in Indian culture, and are used for many purposes.  People start each day offering flowers to their deities; they are used at weddings, parties; and for adornment to please God.They are a symbol of strength, purity, and generosity. Pink roses symbolize grace, sophistication and elegance; they are expressions of platonic love and friendship and are given as an expression of beginning love or admiration.
In the remote village of Kandukathan, a classic 1961 Ambassador car crawls by one of the hundreds of imposing, crumbling mansions originally built by prosperous 19th-century Indian traders to show off their wealth. The palatial houses, measuring anywhere between 1,860 and 6,500 square metres were mostly built between the early 1800s and the 1940s. This rich mercantile class filled their villas with treasures such as Bohemian chandeliers, Italian marble, Burmese teak, Belgian mirrors, and priceless antiques. Exterior details such as the balustrade of arched windows on this one show a European influence. The area has yet to be recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, and mansions are being torn down, or repainted gaudy colors.
In the remote village of Kovilur, priest Njayabhard blesses Jaya Deepak, (left), who is having troubles in her (arranged) marriage. Jaya comes every Friday and believes the blessing will subdue her marital discord.
In India the cow is sacred, and cows are allowed to roam freely, Kothamangalam.
In the tiny hamlet of Punnainallur, near Thanjavur, mother and baby goat pose in front of a colorful village home.
Portrait of a family in the tiny hamlet of Punnainallur, near Thanjavur.
A magnificent "kolam", in the form of a lotus lantern, in Pondicherry. Mainly a South Indian tradition, the kolam is drawn every morning, mostly by women, in front of houses, businesses, temples, etc. Traditionally made with rice flour, it is a work of art that also feeds ants, birds and other creatures. The kolam represents living in harmony with creatures around you, filling your life with good karma.
A fishing boat pulls up to shore at the beach at Mahabalipuram. Some say that the painted eyes are intended to help the boats at sea find their way back to land. Others say the eyes are meant to scare off sharks or water monsters, or are meant to bring good luck and fortune.
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