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In most other countries this extraordinary complex of crumbling buildings would have been restored to its former glory and promoted as an attraction. But India is crammed with palaces and forts, many of them fallen into disrepair. Navlakhar in the northern state of Bihar is a few kilometres from the Nepalese border and sprawls on the edge of the small town of Rajnagar. It was built in the 18th century for the Maharaja of Darbhanga whose descendants still own the site but who seem reluctant to invest in its restoration. The main palace, at nearby Darbhanga itself, was damaged by an earthquake in 1934.

Part of the complex, enclosing a broad courtyard, serves as a college, with bleak echoing classrooms under high ceilings. Other parts support straggling vegetation and provide shade for munching cattle, the perfect set for an Indiana Jones movie. A gleaming white temple stands at the far end, close to a border guard post where soldiers in hats crowned with coloured manes glare suspiciously at photographers. There’s a magnificent portal supported by giant stone elephants. Kids dive from the backs of buffaloes in a pond.

Another example of India’s endless capacity to surprise and astonish. And perfect material for an essay in black and white.






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All shots made with Fujifilm XE2 and Fujinon 18-55 zoom, set to Monochrome.