31 July to 9 August 2022 | Visual Arts Gallery & Open Palm Court Gallery, India Habitat Centre
Illustrated lecture- 6:00pm • Sun, 31 July, 2022, Visual Arts Gallery
Kailash-Manasarovar; a photographic Journey by Milan Moudgill in the footsteps of Sven Hedin and Swami Pranavananda revisits how this sacred region in Tibet was brought into geographical knowledge – including the discovery of the sources of the Brahmaputra, Sutlej and the Indus.
Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, who slipped into Tibet in 1906 determined to unlock the plateau’s secrets. He arrived at the Kailash-Manasarovar area in south-west Tibet, a region sacred to the Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and the Bon. When he emerged two years later Sven Hedin had discovered the sources of the Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus, become the ‘first white man’ to circumambulate Kailash, sailed on the holy lake Manasarovar, and mapped its bed.
Three decades after him, the Indian ascetic Swami Pranavananda arrived in the area and travelled extensively, overlapping with Sven Hedin’s explorations. He challenged, with merit, the Swede’s ‘discoveries’, especially the sources of the Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus.
These two vastly different visitors and their accounts—the discoveries of one, and the critique of the other—brought the geography of the sacred Kailash-Manasarovar region, until then enveloped in myth and lore, into modern view. This project follows both journeys, and through an interplay of archival material, contemporary pictures, and an in-depth examination of the debates that arose, traces the story of how our modern understanding of this area came to be.