Aruna Har Prasad has many stories to tell about her garden. For instance, the times when she found one of her dogs making friends with langurs. Or, when she was arranging a fern in a vase and a beautiful caterpillar, with a string of what looked like sapphires on its back, emerged from it. Or when a moth that glowed like a torch sat amid the ferns. “It is almost like a fantasy land,” she said.
It was around 12 years ago that Har Prasad started growing a garden at her home, Kas-a-Bebinca, in the village of Assagao in Goa. Now that garden, spread over an acre, is a little ecosystem in itself. There are insects, reptiles, langurs and the eight resident dogs.
“Bebinca’s garden grew from a fistful of wild seeds shaken like dice and strewn all over the red soil,” said Har Prasad, who has been photographing the garden’s creatures from the beginning. An exhibition of those images, titled Wild and Free in Kas-a-Bebinca, is showing at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi.
Over the years, Har Prasad learnt to identify which plants attract what insects, something that helped her in photographing the creatures up close. According to her, the photography tips and techniques she picked up during her reconnaissance trips helped greatly.
Her images of the creatures in her garden are intimate, without the sheen of professional wildlife photography. They show the colours on the wings of a butterfly, the garden bug with a pattern on the back, a frog with an almost-translucent skin. They celebrate the beauty of the small wonders around us.
A variety of visitors have made their home in Kas-a-Bebinca – the jungle fowl who was attracted to the jungle-like growth of the garden, civet cats, caterpillars, frogs and butterflies.
“Wild and Free in Kas-a-Bebinca’s focus is not on the bigger, more boisterous, animals like lions and tigers which are considered more majestic, but on the smaller, colourful creatures who bring so much beauty in the world,” she said. “There is an entire world growing in the shadow of the thicket and that is the world you will see in this exhibition.”
Wild and Free in Kas-a-Bebinca is on display at the Visual Arts Gallery in India Habitat Centre, Delhi, till August 25.