Serena Chopra’s “The Ancients” is the outcome of her travels throughout Bhutan over a period of twelve years. Having endured the harshest conditions traversing through remotest regions of the country to meet and interact with our people, she has written with deep insight and love of the places and people she has met and developed a great affection for them. From Laya in the North to Merak Sakten in the East, from Haa in the West to Samchi in the South, Serena has left a trail of friendship and goodwill.
...Her accounts of the way of life in different parts of Bhutan, our ancient traditions, culture, our spiritual heritage have been beautifully and endearingly recorded with her sensitive heart and through her photographs.
This is a rare and special book which takes you to the real Bhutan in a way which will want you, the reader, to embark on a journey of discovery of the Land of the Thunder Dragon, I am proud to call my country.
— Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck
Queen Mother and President of the
Tarayana Foundation of Bhutan
“An exquisite glimpse of one of the world’s most extraordinary countries.”
— William Dalrymple
Writer and historian
“Serena leads us through her visual journal more as a companion than as a voyeur. To hold ‘The Ancients’ in ones hands is much like sharing a decade of her personal engagement with Bhutan. The strength of this book is the perfect balance of her diary texts with her fine and delicate photography. The design and production enhances the special quality of this rare documentation. With this Serena revives that lost art of the visual journal.”
— Dayanita Singh
Serena Chopra is a graduate in English Literature and Mass Communication. She was an entrepreneur for 20 years till in 2004 she returned to work with her twin passions—photography and journalism. Her first body of work on Bhutan led to solo shows in New Delhi, Bhutan and New York. A monograph of this work was published in 2007.
Serena, very sensitively, almost invisibly without intrusion, walks her viewers into an all-encompassing portal that reflects the many manifestations of the lives of her subjects, the people and places that she is moved by.
She has explored and delved into the life and times, truths and realities of resident Tibetan exiles who have made Majnu Ka Tilla, their home away from home in Delhi; she has participated in a photo exhibition at the Bonjour India Festival (2013) showcasing the remnants of a past French heritage in Chandernagore; she has photographed Naga sadhus at the Kumbh Mela (2010) in Haridwar and during Shivratri (2013) in Varanasi.
Serena is currently working on a travel story series on the Indian Himalayas which she calls ‘Himalayan Diaries’— beginning with Uttarakhand. She is also working on a project in Kedarnath, capturing the traumas and the human resilience that followed the cloud burst tragedy of 2013.
She has recently completed Along the Ganga, the second in a series of picture notebooks, published under the banner “Ageless India” (series editor: Malvika Singh; Academic Foundation, 2015), which is a collection of 52 photographs that tell a visual story of her personal journey.