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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
June 12, 2014
The Mystique

Dear friends

Thanks for visiting my website and having the patience to spend much of your valuable time. One must wonder what being a mystique is all about. Can someone like me, a cog in the machine as a middle level officer, with a family of two kids even dare to think about mysticism?

Please allow me to share with you in brief what germinated in me, by the will of Lord, and how I manage to live in both the worlds with equal ease. Being the eldest son in my clan, in my early childhood, I was given Islamic education and have been a firm believer of Allah. But there always was a quest to understand why I should fear Him, when I can love him with utmost passion. I was too young to ask questions to my Islamic teacher and neither was any such discussion allowed in the family. But my father, surrendering to the will of Almighty, supported my quest and allowed me to explore my own path.

At the age of 15, a tiny incident had a major impact on my life and then I left home to study in Patna in 1985. Since I did not get the hostel, I had to look for a rented accommodation. Then I realized that our society is so divided that a Muslim boy is supposed to stay only in a Muslim mohalla and not in a Hindu locality. After a long search, a Hindu washer man was kind enough to give me a room.

I had given up non-veg and cooked my own food. Till I graduated, sitting idle at the bank of Holy Ganga everyday was my routine. Neither did I understand the concept of “meditation” nor was this any ritual to me. Watching the flowing Ganga and the sunset over it was like taking a divine bath.

My wilderness took me to the Himalayas several times on my 100cc bike and I was only getting thirstier. Years passed by, and I came to JNU Delhi.

I was 22 then, and I met Sasmita (the first girl in my life). Life became jovial and I was also entrapped in the worldly measures of success and happiness. But my frequent rides to the Himalayas was never interrupted even from JNU. I share a bond with the majestic mountains and feel a divine pull. Despite having the best looking girl of my class, sometimes I used to discuss my views on spirituality with my friends in the campus. Few appreciated it while most joked that I was only trying to prove myself to be “secular”.

At this point I would like to clarify that believing in the Almighty in any form makes one a believer , but to be able to feel the spirit, one needs to open up to the idea that every human being has the potential to “find” Him within. I never considered myself a religious man despite my absolute surrender to the Almighty. I have been in quest for a spiritual life where there is no code, bar of sacred or profane, just the pure light.

I got into civil service and married Sasmita with the blessings of both our parents. The “arrogance” of being an officer took over, and I was distanced from my real self. In the year 2000, I was blessed with a daughter and “looking within” was no more a part of my life. I was in the process of becoming less than human like most of the so called “civil servants” in this country.

God was kind and I met a female Japanese monk Katsu Horiuchu who lived at Rajghat for 20 years. With her blessings I started coming back to myself slowly and till date she is my beacon.

Finally Kailasa called me and I went on Yatra in 2009. Sasmita and I were lucky enough to go to Him together in 2010. My book on Kailasa is a glimpse of what he has bestowed upon me.

I do not find myself different from any other human being, but for the fact that I intend to understand the reason for being born with five senses and want to use them for the good.

Here I will keep posting my thoughts about the life, the creator and the various paths that lead to Him.

Lastly I would like to say …..

We are normally “born" into a religion,

an open mind and a connected soul would know

that whichever path one takes,


whomever you follow,

it only leads to one master.

Sabka Mallik ek" ....

and even
Quran says .. “there have been many prophets”.

"As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so O Lord, the different path that men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee ."

 -Swami Vivekananda .( September 11,1893 in Chicago)


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