The October issue of Geographical Magazine is out in the UK and this month feature my story on the Chettiar community of Tamil Nadu state in India.Numbering more than 25,000, Chettinad’s mansions were built by a Hindu caste of Chettiars called the Nagarathars. They were bankers and merchants who made their fortunes outside India in Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore during the times of the British colonialism. With this new found fortunes they built mansions, exquisite palaces that rivaled those of even the Maharajah’s using teak from Burma, marble form Italy, tiles from Japan and steel from England.
But these glory days only lasted until after the WWII when the British left Burma and they were forced to leave return to India. Suddenly with no income their mansions began to decay and fall down or were pulled take and the pillars, windows, doors and antiques were sold. Some estimates say that around 20 per month are coming down. Hopefully, with the aid of preservation projects such as the Revive Chettinad Society, and the influx of tourism these mansions can be saved before they all fall down.
A Thai man harvests grapes for wine in Thailand's Samut Sakhon Province.
Courier International in France has just published one of my images to illustrate an article on Asia’s growing wine industry. The image was shot in Samut Sakhon Province, south of Bangkok, and shows a local farmer harvesting grapes from very unique vineyards. The pickers collect the grapes by balancing on poles laid across the canals that separate the vines and moving round by boat. The grapes from these ‘floating vineyards’ are then bought by Siam Winery, one Thailand’s largest wineries producing the Monsoon Valley brand. Unlike other vineyards in Thailand, Siam Winery buys its grapes directly from farmers in the surrounding area who have grown grapes here for decades.
More of my images about Thai wine can be seen at www.lukeduggleby.com and www.photoshelter.com/c/lukeduggleby.