*Times of India : "Snapshots of history: Global Wikipedia photo contest
sending Indians scouting for rare monuments"*
On the pretext of a picnic, Gurgaon-based *Anupam Ganguly* recently took
his family out to a place called Gandhak Ki Baoli. The journey to this
medieval stepwell near Qutub Minar involved taking Google map printouts,
wading through a gridlock of slums, asking several apprehensive locals for
directions and assuring them that he wasn't part of an election campaign.
Over the past few months, Ganguly's wife has tolerated many such "picnics"
only because he has a legitimate reason. "I intend to explore unknown
monuments," says the business analyst, who has already submitted close to
1,400 pictures for a contest called 'Wiki Loves Monuments'. WLM is the
biggest global photo contest around monuments organized by Wikimedia
chapters and groups annually.
People are invited to upload images of monuments under a free licence for
use on Wikipedia. This year, with over 1,300 candidates and 10,000 photos,
India ranks eighth in terms of the number of entries submitted. "You need
not be a professional photographer to participate , just someone who
travels and takes pictures," says Mumbai-based *Karthik Nadar*, secretary
of the Wikimedia India chapter. "Uploading these photos can help
Wikipedia," he adds. Last year, in fact, it was a beautiful photograph of
the rear end of Taj Mahal taken on a cellphone that won Delhibased
schoolteacher *Narender Kumar Gautam* the sixth prize in the international
contest. "I wanted to capture a rare angle of the Taj Mahal," says Gautam,
who received a cash prize of Rs 20,000, a calendar and a certificate for
his only submission.
"It has increased my confidence and inspired me to do better," says Gautam,
who feels elated when friends recognize his photo online. However, the
prize is only a small part of the motivation. "Pictures tell a story beyond
words," says Delhi's *Nupur Rawal*, who submitted photos of monuments last
year to help people in other countries connect with India in a unique way.
"For instance, if a Japanese newspaper wants to write about Indian history,
they can go ahead and use my images because photos on Wikipedia have a
Creative Commons licence. This means they can be used freely," says Rawal.
Besides, the pursuit of rare slices of Indian history has led people like
Delhi-based *Ranjit Kumar* to explore the nooks of Chandni Chowk. "Everyone
has seen India Gate but very few outsiders have seen Ghalib Ki Haveli. I am
just trying to put a place that I love online," says Kumar. On the other
hand, Ganguly, who can now rattle off facts about little-known structures
such as Jamali Kamali mosque and Rajaon ki Baoli in Mehrauli, has now
developed an appreciation for Mughal architecture. He seeks out
documentaries on Indian history.
After the WLM contest closes on September 30, a jury of photographers and
Wikipedians will shortlist 10 photos for the international contest.
Ganguly, who was in the top 50 last year, says, "I want to be in the top 20
this time." This means a few more family picnics.
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