One of the most amazing things to witness at the Kumbh Mela festival is the parade of sadhus (monks). The parade takes place on the main bathing just before the auspicious time for the dip in the holy Ganges river. Monks parade from their tented areas in thousands to the river. Here are a collection of photos from the Kumbha Mela festival that took place in 2010 in Haridwar, North India.

Our spiritual and photography tour to the Kumbh Mela festival and north India next February begins in 5 months and 9 days. For those of you who are thinking of joining us I suggest to sign up as soon as possible as it will become almost impossible to get accommodations and even transportation to the festival. Train tickets sell out in a day when they go on sale when what you are attending is the largest human gathering on earth.

 

We continue with our series of photographs highlighting the Ganga Aarti ceremony that takes place at the Kumbha Mela festival in India.

We’ve themed our tour to the Kumbha Mela festival as a spiritual and photography adventure as there’s be countless opportunities for photography during the festival and the days we travel across northern India. Click this link for more information about this Kumbh Mela tour.

The Ganga Aarti ceremony begins and lit oil lamps are waved ceremoniously to devotional singing casting beautiful shades of colors in the Ganges river.

The crowd departs after the ceremony

Thousands leave the banks of the Ganges after the ceremony leaving a ghostly trail in this long exposure image

 

Part of the Kumbha Mela festival is the evening Ganga Aarti celebration down by the banks of the holy Ganges river. Aarti is a Hindu ritual wear an oil lamp or lamps are lit and then waved ceremoniously at a deity. In this case the the holy river is looked open as the deity and the lit lamps are offered at the river.

Hundreds of thousands, if not more, attend this ceremony during the mela. Crowds gather early to find the best seats in the house and huddle along the banks of the Ganges for the ceremony.

Today’s series of photos takes a look at the crowd waiting for the ceremony to begin and tomorrow we’ll share photos from the ganga aarti ceremony itself.

Join our spiritual and photography adventure to the Kumbha Mela festival and across north India next year in February.

Long chains hang from a bridge providing a lifeline for those pilgrims that get swept away in the strong currents

 

The grand 2013 Kumbha Mela festival is only a little over 7 months away. Quite a few people have signed up for our spiritual adventure to this festival and across north India and we hope you will too.

Today, I’d like to share some photos taken by a dear friend of mine, Anna Kastner. She’s attended the last two Kumbha Mela festivals in Allahabad (2007) and Haridwar (2010) and the collection of photos that you see here are from both of these events. Thank you Anna for sharing these photos with me and those that follow my blog.

The Kumbha Mela festival along with all the places we are going to on this journey will provide unparalleled opportunities for photography and hence we’ve themed it a “Spiritual and Photographic Adventure“.

Many man made bridges are created to ferry pilgrims across the Ganges river. Allahabad, India

Sadhus joyfully dive into the Ganges river at Haridwar during the Kumbha Mela there in 2010

Accommodation for the millions of pilgrims range from luxury tents to sleeping along the Ganges river

A sadhu practices the severe austerity of holding his hand in the air for years...

Thousands of sadhus parade along the main street in Haridwar slowly making their down to the Ganges river

 

I always feel blessed when I have the opportunity to visit the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. The sanctum of the temple is powerful and the experience each time ineffable.

I always leave my camera behind when I go to temples and if I do take my camera I hardly ever take any photos. This trip I decided that I’ll spend one of the morning’s capturing life in the temple showing Hindus worshiping, some of the shrines, and highlighting some parts of this beautiful temple.

I’ll start from the outside of the temple and slowly make my way in over a few parts which I will cover over the next few days. Our spiritual adventure continues and we are enjoying the extended stay of 3 nights in Madurai.

The north entrance to the temple with its massive doorway and spectacularly colorful tower adorned with countless statues

A close up look at one of the towers from within the temple through one of the ancient skylights. Bars have been placed across the skylights to protect the temple from intruders.

A close up look at a couple of statues on one of the towers.

A smaller tower, no less colorful and beautiful, adorns one of the inner perimeter walls.

Entering past the perimeter walls long corridors grace the temple with spectacularly carved pillars

At one of the entrances, the temple elephant sways gracefully, fulfilling his morning duty of blessing pilgrims

 

2013 kumbh-mela-itinerary in Allahabad and across India

A 13-day epic journey to the Kumbha Mela and across North India

The map above does not shy away in reminding us that our spiritual adventure will take us almost all the way across north India. A massive distance to cover with a great many things to see in between. It also tells us that most of our travel will be by train. 4 train rides in total including an overnight ride which is always fun. I love traveling by train in India and have always felt it is one of the best ways to see the country and to interact with the locals.

Click here to see details of our Kumbha Mela itinerary.

Dates: 4th to 16th Feb, 2013
Duration: 12 nights, 13 days

 

mendut-temple-and monastery central-java indonesia

Another wonder in Central Java is the small but beautiful Mendut temple. It’s on the itinerary for one of the places for us to visit during our upcoming meditation and wellness retreat in Indonesia in September.

Located a little over 3 kms from Borobudur this temple may appear insignificant to the mighty Borobudur but is home to an exquisitely carved 3 meter high statue of Buddha. Unlike most statues of Buddha that are usually carved in the lotus position or in a laying down position, this Buddha is seated, western-style, majestically in a throne with both feet firmly placed on the ground.

A massive, beautiful, sprawling ficus tree stands next to the temple, a quiet symbol of endurance and patience, two essential qualities on the spiritual path.

Next to the Mendut temple is the Mendut Buddhist Monastery which has beautifully kept grounds and small ponds of lotuses and lilies.

buddha-statue-mendut-temple-indonesia

Buddha statue in Mendut Temple in Central Java