The Explore Armenia Grant
Supporting Photography in Armenia
A Passage To Armenia
Sugato Mukherjee - West Bengal, India
A visit to Armenia means entering humanity’s purest traditional roots. From the biblical beauty of Mount Ararat to its archeological and architectural wonders, Armenia is a treasure trove to the intrepid traveller. And equally attractive is the deep-rooted cultural heritage of this Caucasian country. As a travel photographer, my proposed project would be to highlight the uniqueness of Armenia to the wider travel community through photo essays, articles and exhibition.
Calcutta, my city, has a strong Armenian presence for the last two centuries; so much so that we have an Armenian Church in the heart of the city and an Armenian Street, where most of the community had once lived.
A journey to Armenia means entering humanity’s purest traditional roots and discovering one of Europe’s legendary enclaves. From my Armenian friends settled in Calcutta, I have come to know of their homeland that was the first to adopt Christianity as the state religion, in A.D. 301. And of Armenia’s churches – sprawling, majestic complexes nestled in the folds of wildly green canyons and hilltops – bearing brilliant testimony to the creative power of one of the world’s oldest, and least heralded civilizations. Armenia’s deeply religious past is also manifested in its pagan temples and monasteries tucked deep in the wildflower-dappled hills and valleys, filled with the mellifluous notes of duduk – one of the symbols of Armenian identity.
If tumbling landscapes and staggeringly beautiful architectural and archeological sites are the major draws for undertaking a travel to Armenia, equally attractive is the deep-rooted cultural heritage of this Caucasian country with an eclectic mix of resolute European vibes and Central Asian elegance and charm. Since its independence from the USSR in 1991, this Caucasian nation is on its way to cultural resurrection and progress for the Armenian people.
Goals of the Project : As a travel photographer and writer, my proposed project would be to explore these multidimensional layers of Armenia and highlight its uniqueness among the wider travel community as a beautiful travel destination through photo essays and travel articles in print and online, both in national and international publications. Additionally, I would host the photos from this proposed project in my website and present the modern Armenia through a gallery exhibition in an art space in Calcutta.
Utilisation: The grant would facilitate meeting up the travel expenses to Armenia and document its landscapes, culture and people in the following places – the atmospheric capital Yerevan, cobblestoned town of Dilijan, Khor Virap monastery to soak in the biblical beauty of Mount Ararat, dramatic volcanic landscape of Gegham mountains, Noravank in the midst of red-rock valley, winery of Areni, prehistoric cave dwellings of Khndzoresk, the ancient Hermon village and of course, the temple of Garni and Geghard monastery. The proceeds of the grant would accommodate to accomplish the project within Armenia to cover the aforementioned travel destinations.
About Me : I am a photographer and writer based in Calcutta and have contributed to publications including The Globe and Mail, National Geographic Traveller, Al Jazeera, Roads & Kingdoms,New York and Jet Wings International. My coffee table book ‘An Antique Land : A Visual Memoir of Ladakh’ has been published in 2013 and received critical acclaim. My work on the sulphur miners of Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia has been awarded by UNESCO.
As a photographer, I endeavour to portray a land’s uniqueness and how its people integrate themselves into its geographical and cultural textures.