Piecing Together India’s Heritage One Photo at A Time [Indians Top Contributors to World’s Largest Photo Contest]

This year India is leading the in the number of contributors for the Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest by a huge margin with 905 contributors so far*. Russia comes in at the second position with only 458 contributing users.

With his point and shoot camera, Anupam Ganguly has been keeping busy for the last few weeks. Unlike how most professionals in Gurgaon spend their weekends, Ganguly has been frequenting architectural monuments and places of historical significance with missionary zeal.

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal by Anupam Ganguly

“I used to take photographs before too, but this month, I’ve been going every weekend,” says Ganguly. It is that time of the year, when hundreds of enthusiasts like him scour the country for pictures to upload to Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM), a photo contest run by Wikipedia, the world’s largest online encyclopedia.

With the help of these volunteers, India is now one of the top 10 contributing countries across the world to the contest. More than 900 contributors from India have uploaded nearly 6000 photographs to the site, making it one of the highest contributing countries.

“I was not aware of the Mehrauli Archaeological Park in Delhi until I went through WLM, and on my visit I ended spending a whole day there,” says Ganguly, who is now one of the highest contributing Indian on the site. A business analyst by professions, Ganguly works for an MNC in the National Capital Region. In 2012 he submitted 794 photographs and became the highest contributor in India and 55th in the world.

This year, India is leading the in the number of contributors by a huge margin with 905 contributors so far*. Russia comes in at the second position with only 458  contributing users.

Wiki Loves Monuments is an annual international photography competition organized by Wikimedia, held in September every year. In 2011 The Guinness Book of World Records named it the world’s largest photographic competition.

WLM 2013 Participating Countries
WLM 2013 Participating Countries

Participating Wikipedians take pictures of historical monuments and heritage sites in their region, and upload them to Wikimedia Commons, which is an online repository of free-use images, sound, and other media files.

The contest usually runs from 1 September to 30 September, and participants should upload photographs during this period to take part in the competition.

Last year, Pranav Singh from Delhi won the first prize in the international contest and Narender Kumar from Delhi, came in 6th.

Tomb of Safdarjung By Pranav Singh  Won WLM 2012
Tomb of Safdarjung By Pranav Singh Won WLM 2012

The interesting bit is that not all contributors are interested in the prize. According to a survey conducted by Wikimedia, “75% of the people said that they participated only because they wanted to contribute to Wikipedia and not to win anything.”


History of Wiki Loves Monuments

The first WLM was held in Netherlands back in 2010 for “Rijksmonuments”, which means national monuments in Dutch, was started as a project to encourage photographers to seek out Dutch National Heritage Sites. During its first event WLM participants submitted 12,500 photographs.

The following year WLM grew to 18 participating countries in Europe in a collaboration with European Heritage Days. This time more than 5000 participants submitted 170,000 photographs making it the largest photo competition in the world.

In 2012, the competition went global with 35 participating countries beyond Europe and saw submissions of nearly 350,000 photographs. A picture of Tomb of Safdarjung from Delhi, India, won the contest.


How Wiki Loves Monuments Works

National and regional heritage institutions provide official data regarding monuments, heritage and archeological sites. Each monument is assigned a unique identifier and these can be attached to the photographs at the time of upload using “Wikipedia templates”. Using Wikipedia templates also allows easy Wiki-editing.

A program called erfgoedbot (‘erfgoed’ in Dutch means heritage) collates and sorts all the images and identifiers, organising them into correct categories, and updates the Wikimedia Commons database.

The database then connects the photographs with the monuments list in Wikipedia using the monuments ID accordingly.

Read more about WLM India here, and about the 2013 WLM contest here.

*At the time of writing.

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