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Mumbai Blasts: Previously Unseen Pics from 26/11

While covering the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai last year, I found myself racing from the Leopold Cafe to the Taj and to the Nariman Bldg; shooting pics, updating my twitter feed and simultaneously keeping an ear on what the locals were telling me. Everything happened so fast, there was not much time to think ~ just do! I shared with you all many pics of events as they unfolded. Now on this one-year anniversary, I want to share a few more pics from those horrific three days last year.

At the top level TAB here: Mumbai Blasts, you can find links to all my previous articles, photographs and related press coverage.


Thursday am: This was from the first morning when Mumbai woke up to the terrorist acts which started the previous night. Early that morning as I got out of the house to go for my run I encountered scores of assault weapons toting commandos outside our bldg, a block behind the Taj. I scampered back, got my camera and ran to the Terrace, from where I took many of these pics.

Part of the Taj is smoldering from the fires the previous night – but all the domes are still intact.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Crows scooping around the smoldering embers created an eerie feel of the evil perpetrated by vile humans inside.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

After a couple of hours of pacing at home, I h
Outside the Leopold Cafe, this was one of the saddest pics I took that day. There were many pools of blood there on the sidewalk and streets, but this sight of the serving tray, just hurt. Apparently, the terrorists had stood by the front doors of the Leopold Cafe and fired inside. some of the patrons and this waiter dashed out the side door on Nowroji St. But the terrorists had walked out on the side street heading towards the back door of the Taj. As they walked/run, they sprayed either side of the road with bullets and this waiter was killed still clutching his serving tray.

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Here is a pic of the street corner where the Leopold Cafe is shuttered. Onlookers are looking down Nowroji st towards the Taj.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Steps from here, one of my friends was also shot. His family own several small storefronts right there. his father and all rushed inside their Pharmacy store, he rushed out and pulled down the metal shutter of the shop. But himself caught 5-6 bullets and died outside. BUt he essentially saved his father, other brothers and cousins who had rushed inside.

Notice the chalk marked circle on the sidewalk on the right. That was where the terrorists has dropped off a back-pack bomb. Thank fully it did not explode and the police retireved it and defused it. That store there, is actually a muslim owned and run barber shop where I got my haircut just the day before.

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Leopold Cafe

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Leopold Cafe

The pathetic attempt to cordon off the street in front of the Leopold leading to the Taj!
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Leopold Cafe


Thursday pm: I was surprised I was able to get so close to the Taj and the Firemen there.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 firemen
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 firemen

Thursday night: This series of pics of the burning dome of the Taj were the most gut wrenching pics I have ever taken.  Then I just stayed on the terrace, starring unbelievably at this bonfire in front of my eyes, tears streaming down my face. Here I was in an eerily quiet neighborhood, while this bonfire lit the skies; everyone around me appeared to be sound asleep, deep in their dreams, while just a few feet away, lives were ended most cruelly. I wondered then if this jewel of Mumbai will last the night.

In this pic the dome is burning, and this huge plume of smoke rising to the skies seem to carry with it the souls of the innocent who lost their lives there.

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Friday am: As soon as my eyes opened the next morning, I dashed back to the terrace.  I sighed – the Taj was still there.  You cannot imagine, psychologically, this was such a powerful and relieving image for me. The Taj Stands!

The silhouette of the Taj with the burning embers of the dome still aglow.  Yes,  the terrorists hurt us, but they will never destroy us.  Terrorists will never win! We are bigger and stronger than that.

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

Friday am: A closeup of the burn’t out dome of the Taj! (I had just realized I had a zoom lens in my bag)
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008

In the midst of all the posting, I received replies on my twitter feed that I should withhold ‘reporting’ information which could help the terrorists. I could understand the concerns and did not share the following set of pics till a few hours after it transpired. Of course the terrorists inside the Nariman Bldg could hear the helicopters buzzing over their bldg, but there was no reason to alert their co-conspirators who ‘were’ monitoring media channels.

Helicopter carrying commandos approaching the Nariman Bldg –
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

They hovered over the Nariman Bldg and the commandos rappelled down on the terrace.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

Here’s the second commando – I think these were called the Black Cats from the nearby naval base.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos
And the third,
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos
and the fourth
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

The helicopter then lifted off …
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

and flew back to ferry more commandos. I think they did 3-4 trips.

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

I was in awe of the beautiful helicopters buzzing so close over my head! With the deafening roar, I felt a part of the commandos effort to wipe out the terrorists at the Nariman Bldg and I prayed that they succeed quickly.
Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

Taj Hotel Burning Terror Nov 2008 Nariman Bldg commandos

Will add a few more later in the day. So, please stop by and browse later in the day.

Comments

  1. i see these pictures after more than two years. i havent seen this side of the mumbai attacks. Back then i was watching television coverage of attempts to release the hostages. and was feeling adrenaline rush. today, when i see ur Pictures, i am MAD. i Feel terrible of not being able to contribute. YOu were very brave. I hope i was as brave as you.
    Salute.
    Be safe.

    • Heh, thanks!
      Then, I too was MAD! and just wanted to share what I was seeing. I was scared too, but as I started venturing out and seeing the carnage, the fear vanished.
      Too bad so many had to give their lives.

      Arun

  2. extraordinary photos, arun. what a sad, sad day.

    • Thank you Jessie! It is one, that is etched in my memory! (and I am not sure if you realize, we were actually there to see meera for the first time, so it was such a beautiful, and yet tragic visit.

      Thank you

      Arun

  3. i wantmore information and photo can you send on my email I-D its my orkut I-D and i liked all information and picture about 26/11

    • Hi Nikita:
      Thank you for your interest. All my pics are posted on my blogs in the various articles cited here and under the TAB “Mumbai Blasts.” At some point, I will put together a Picture book and will let you know when that is ready.

      Best Wishes
      Arun

  4. Arun, I really liked your pictures and I appreciate your patriotic sentiments. Well done. Well said. I didnt know you were in Mumbai at the time.

    Mumbai is a lot safer now, I have heard. The TAJ itself has a lot of extra security, thanks to the great Ratan Tata who helped a lot of the victims with compensation etc, including the roadside Panwallas, what a great gesture.

    • Hi porus:
      Many thanks for your comment – and fantastic that we could connect here.

      Yes, I was there for another reason and it just happened then! But I felt it my duty to just go out and document what I saw with my eyes and share my thoughts.

      It was a difficult time and I thought I put my family in danger.

      And yes, I was there in Aug and things are coming along quite well. RT is doing a great job and we wish him every success. … and you know what a powerful symbol it is in our neighborhood. As kids with shirts missing buttons, we all snuck in the Taj corridor and felt like royalty. I can still smell the taj perfume … here and now.

      When are you going to be in Mumbai next? I am planning a trip later this month or in Feb.

  5. The pic with blood in the street touched me the most.. how I wish all of this would end and the world would be a better place to live for everyone.. Thanks for sharing them

  6. Poornima Prabhu says:

    Thanks for sharing the pics. Times flies by so quickly, looks like it happened just yesterday…

  7. Thanks for sharing Arun…very powerful and moving pics

  8. Hi! Let me tell you that I read a NYT piece about your tweets a year ago and I understand how important was twitter for citizen journalism, so I decided to join and begun an incredible journey.
    Thanks a lot for this great job, and my best regards!

    • That is very interesting and Thank you Miguel for your follow and retweets!:

      Interestingly, I had joined twitter just two weeks before I got to Mumbai last year and in the midst of tweeting, I was still learning how to do it well. And a lot of friends were emailing me with suggestions and all.

      And yes, what an incredible medium.
      Thank you and wishing you the best for the holidays.
      Arun

  9. Arun,

    Thanks for sharing these pictures. I’m very moved your work and your words.

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