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  • This is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.
      Shri S. Paul
    Photographer, on the infra red exhibition Ladakh Huess
  • I am proud to know this couple- Shamim and Sasmita. This book reflects the labour of their love. We could reach the place because of the power of his lens.
      Janab Arif Mohammed Khan
    Former state minister, at the inauguration of the book
  • Words fail me; outstanding!
      Mr. Rajiv Lochan
    Director NAGMA, on "One Fine Tuesday"
  • At times Delhi looks beautiful but the kind of flavour Shamim has brought about in black and white is not only very beautiful but after this book we all will see these monuments from a fresh perspective.

    ( while unveiling of the book 'Forgotten Dilli - Portrait of an immortal city')

    Extraordinarily taken pictures. Akhtar is someone we are proud of.

    ( on 'Ladakh Hues " )
      Mrs. Sheila Dixit
    Ex-CM Delhi
  • When stones burst into songs

    Qutub Minar must count among the most sketched, painted and photographed monuments of the world. What the Eiffel Tower is to Parisians, the Big Ben to Londoners, the Brandenburg Gate to Berliners and the Statue of Liberty to New Yorkers, the Qutub Minar is to Dilliwallahs. It is older and more spectacular than all the other monuments.

    I have seen hundreds of photographs of Qutub Minar but none to match the cover of Forgotten Dilli, Portrait of an Immortal City by Sasmita S. Akhtar and Shamim Akhtar. Shamim is a Bihari Muslim, now in the IAS, posted in Delhi. Sasmita is an Oriya Brahmin, a sociologist, who is a product of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Between them, they produced a pictorial album on Lakshadweep and now one on the old monuments of Delhi.

    Sasmita has written the text; Shamim has taken the photographs. They have limited their work to the end of the Mughal dynasty in 1857. They have pictures of baolis (step wells), dargahs (Sufi shrines), forts, mosques, and mausoleums. What arrests the readers attention is the interplay of light and shade on trees and clouds to highlight every monument.

    It is a sheer joy to turn over the pages of the book again and again. It reminded me of an old film song, 'Geet gaaya paththaron ne ' 'The stones burst with songs'.
      Mr. Khuswant Singh
    The Telegraph, 6th March 2010
  • 'A stunning exhibition, highlighting the unique beauty of Ladakh...extremely impressed by the quality of his images.'

    (on the exhibition, Rode to Heaven in 2008)

    'I have great pleasure in commending this book to all those who love mountains. Packed with photographs, there are short descriptive notes which are useful.'

    (In the foreword of the book, Rode to heaven: Ladakh in 2009)

    ...I myself have not been able to go to Kailasa nor will I be able to go to in this life; but after reading this book I feel I have also done half parikarma.'

    (At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within' , at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011)
      Dr. Karan Singh
    At the inauguration of the book, 'Kailasa: A journey within', at the Shanti Stupa, on the 30th of Jan. 2011

The Author

Shamim was never very keen on writing. In fact writing has always been a nightmare to him. In 1992, when he desperately tried to get a job as a photo journalist, every where he was told that since he was a student of JNU pursuing M.A. in Sociology, he should be a journalist or a writer.

During his M.A. days, he co-authored a book on Sociology for the civil service aspirants with a senior friend from JNU. After that writing was the domain of Sasmita and Shamim was only interested in photography.

Destiny introduced him to Late Mr. Khuswant Singh in 2008 and the legend was very impressed with his views. So he recommended that Shamim must try to pen down his thoughts.

As a result, Shamim started writing blogs which were well received by the intellectuals because of his original thought process and simple way of writing.

Before that, Shamim and Sasmita had authored their first book “Floating Pearls in Arabian Sea- Lakshadweep”. This book was written by Sasmita and Shamim took the pictures and designed the book. Mr. Wajahat Habibullah the then Chief Commissioner of Information wrote the foreword and unveiled it too.

Taking inspiration from the advice of the legend Khuswant Singh, Shamim wrote his first coffee table book “Rode to heaven – Ladakh”. This was more of a biker’s diary and not a very scholarly piece of work. But that was appreciated by Dr. Karan Singh who not only wrote the foreword of the book but was full of praise. This book became a best seller in no time.

Shamim and Sasmita’s third book “Forgotten Dilli- Portrait of an Immortal city” was a result of 16 years of pure passion. Shamim has taken the pictures and Sasmita has written the text. This book got applause from every section of the society. Smt. Sheila Dixit inaugurated this book and appreciated it a lot. Even Mr.Khuswant Singh wrote a review “…. I have seen hundreds of photographs, sketch, paintings of Qutub Minar, but none to match the cover of Shamim’s book Forgotten Dilli.”

The Kailasa book posed a real challenge. This book is not just about the journey to the Holy Kailasa and Manasrovar, but is spiritual in content. Shamim, due to his spiritual inclination, responded to the divine call and wrote the entire book through free flow random thoughts. This book was unveiled in 2012 at Shanti Stupa and great scholars like Dr. Karan Singh, Ved Pratap Vaidik, Arif Mohammad Khan, and Professor Anand Kumar were delighted. They all endorsed this book “Kailasa- a journey within” to be the best book on the abode of Shiva in India till date.

Now, Shamim wants to pursue serious writing and he is working on some more books besides coffee table books of national interests.

Photo Gallery