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.

 

The Kumbha Mela is, needless to say, a photographers paradise. For those of us who have never been to a Kumbha Mela or never will, it is these men and women that do their best to bring this experience to our doorstep by photographing this exhilarating festival, if it is even possible at all to do so.

It’s not an easy task to say the least. Long hours on your feet, being shoved, pushed and pulled in every which way and every thing taking place in a split of a second.

The main bathing day with the colorful parade is especially challenging. Nobody seems to know what, where and when things will be taking place. One can only hope to be positioned in the right place so I was up early and placed myself in what I thought would be a strategic position. But before long I was sandwiched into a crowd with absolutely no way to move in any direction. I watched in utter dismay the parade of sadhus go by. My lens sadly hidden behind a sea of heads.

After the parade was over everyone that had gathered headed off in a different direction or followed the procession to the Ganges river. The street had never been so empty in the last few days. I waited there thinking that perhaps, if it is my good karma, that theses sadhus would return the same way they went down to the river. And surely enough my patience paid off. About an hour or so of patiently waiting the parade returned and this time I ensured I was perfectly placed.

Many of the sadhus don’t mind being photographed. In fact, some of them will gladly pose for you. But it is always polite to seek permission first before taking a photo of these holy men and women especially if you are coming in close for a portrait shot. During the day I also occasionally pointed the camera in the opposite direction and captured the images above showcasing a few of the photographers present at the Kumbha Mela.

If you would like to be at the Kumbha Mela festival next February in India for an amazing spiritual experience and boundless photographic opportunities do join our spiritual adventure that is planned to take us across North India. Click this link to find out more about our Kumbh Mela spiritual and photography tour.

 

On July 6th I did a blog post of photos of Indian children I photographed in the little town of Nagaur in northern Rajasthan. Here are a few more photos of kids from that town. The town truly is in the middle of the desert and the only highlight besides the wonderful people is the amazing 1700 year old fort.

 

I enjoyed my time in the little town of Nagaur. Located 2 hours north of Jodhpur in state of Rajasthan, India, Nagaur is a little oasis in the desert with literally nothing around it. And there is nothing to do in this town other meets its people and get a flavor of local life. And the one place to stay is Ranvas Nagaur, the 4th century fort which has been partially converted to a boutique hotel.

On the evening we arrived there we explored the town and here are a few photos of some of the locals I photographed.

old-woman-rajasthan-india in town of Nagaur

Drinking chai, Indian tea, is a favorite indulgence for most locals.

The metal pot maker holds up one of his latest pieces.

 

I’m in a little town 2 hours north of Jodhpur in the state of Rajasthan, North India. On an excursion yesterday evening in town I encountered so many children with bright smiling faces and sweet shyness. Here’s a small collection of photos for now. Thanks for a great evening kids!

India children rajasthan in town of nagaur

rajasthan-children-nagaur india

children-nagaur-rajasthan-jodhpur india

rajasthan-children-nagaur-india

 

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

 

Since I posted a few days ago about Mana, the last Indian village before Tibet, I thought I’d share a little about the journey to Badrinath.

Badrinath is the little town just prior to Mana village. It is famed for the Badrinath temple, one of four holy sites in the Hindu Char Dham pilgrimage. All four sites are located deep in the Himalayas and accessible only in the summer months, and of these four Badrinath is considered to be the most important one. Badrinath is at an elevation of about 3,415 meters (11,204 feet) and is located on the banks of the Alaknanda river. The beautiful Neelkanth peak is right next to the town towering at 6,560 meters.

The temple is dedicated to Vishnu and is sacred to the followers of the Vaishnavite sect of Hindus.

Badrinath is located about 233kms north of Rishikesh and it is a good two day drive from Delhi if you are driving about 8 to 10 hours a day depending on road conditions. As you get closer to Badrinath the road gets worse to the point it is just a gravel road with no railing carved out of a side of mountain with frequent falling rocks. Yup, it is as scary as it sounds. Despite this thousands make the trek up here each year in the summer to worship at this sacred temple.

Lower in the mountains the roads are better but they wind endlessly to Badrinath

Lower in the mountains the roads are better but they wind endlessly to Badrinath

Local villages using a paved section of the road. Most parts aren't paved and many vehicles have been swept of the road by falling boulders as well.

A Sadhu (monk) making his way to Badrinath.

Vehicles snake their way around the Himalayas...

The scenary is simply breathtaking the higher you get

Badrinath Temple, one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites

view-of-himalayas-sunset-badrinath

View of the Himalayas at sunset from Mana village, north of Badrinath

Stars shower over Neelakant, towering at 6596m (21,640 feet), as strong winds blow snow of the top in this long-exposure photo.

Neelkanth in the morning, hidden behind clouds.