Reported By: Nivedita Singh
Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee
Last Updated: March 18, 2023, 08:13 IST
Som Chand and Harsh are on duty as security guards at the historical Rani ki Vav in Gujarat’s Patan but, once in a while, oblige tourists struggling to take photos. (Image: Nivedita Singh/News18)
Harsh and Som Chand, both middle-aged men, are tech-savvy and able to change camera modes – a skill they have picked up on their journey as security guards-cum-photographers – and by having run through different kinds of phones
Being a solo traveller at a tourist destination can pose some difficulties, including posing for photographs with no one to click any. That may not be a problem if you are visiting the famous Rani ki Vav, or the Queen’s Stepwell, in Gujarat’s Patan, where two humble security guards step up to take unique and Instagram-worthy pictures.
The charge? A smile of gratitude is all.
Som Chand and Harsh, both middle-aged men, are on duty as security guards at the historical site but, once in a while, they oblige tourists struggling to take photos.
“At least give me a chance,” Harsh said, as I struggled to fill the frame with the picturesque stepwell with me at the centre. After some hesitant moments, I handed over my phone and what came back was nothing short of the work of a professional photographer. The panoramic photographs clicked by Harsh turned out to be some of the best I collected on my trip to Gujarat with the IRCTC-operated ‘Garvi Gujarat’ train.
When I asked what the charge for the photos was, he said it is the smile on people’s faces that gave him satisfaction. “We are standing here the whole day and whenever I see someone struggling, I click their pictures. The smile on their faces gives me satisfaction. I don’t ask for money in return. But there are few who offer us some, so we take it,” he said while talking to News18.
Seeing our interaction, a crowd gathered around 49-year-old Harsh, all wanting to be photographed by him. There was a similar scene not too far from Harsh, as 52-year-old Som Chand obliged people by clicking their photos at the 11th century monument.
“I have been posted here for the last 15 years and clicking photos for the past 10 years. Back in the day, there were not as many people who visited. So, one day, I clicked some photos sitting on the stairs. They turned out nice and everyone appreciated them. So I started experimenting. Now I am quite comfortable with phones and photography,” Som Chand said.
Both the guards are tech-savvy and able to change camera modes – a skill they have learnt on their journey as security guards-cum-photographers. Having run their hands through hundreds of different phones, there is little that confuses them.
“We have clicked so many pictures on so many different phones that we are aware of all these settings,” they said.
They also take the tourist lean season to up their game and teach others as well. Som Chand, who is from Patan, did not ask for money but said he took it when offered as it helped run his family.
“I don’t ask for money. I am satisfied when people are happy with my photos. But we are private security guards and don’t earn much. I have three daughters. I don’t ever ask for money. If someone offers it out of love and happiness, we accept it. Eventually, I have a family to run,” he said.
Rani ki Vav at Patan in Gujarat is a unique structure built in 1063 by Rani Udayamati of the Chalukya dynasty to commemorate her husband Bhimdev I. The stepwell is made in the form of an inverted temple and showcases superior craftsmanship of the era.
Over the years, it was completely buried under silt and only the shaft and some pillars were visible. The stepwell was rediscovered in the 1940s, and the Archeological Survey of India restored it in the 1980s. The stepwell has been listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites since 2014.
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