Cover photo – Wagah Border, Mahesh Nair.
People believe that travel photography is all about capturing and sharing beautiful, amazing, inspiring scenes and sights. We think it’s more than that. Travel photography is an insight into the culture of different places and people, a window into the emotions felt during a journey, and a memory of the instant connection we feel with a place, scene or sight. Sometimes these scenes and sights are locations – mountain ranges, forests, lakes and oceans or monuments. And, sometimes these scenes and sights are occasions and people.
Every nation in the world has certain rituals and celebratory days that are relevant to its history and provide the world a glimpse into its culture, so does India. Our numerous festivals, religious practices, and diverse lifestyles would make for interesting and engaging photo-stories. Among the many photograph-worthy occasions that the country has to offer, there are five which we feel everyone should be witness to at least once in their lifetime. These occasions are known to have inspired feelings of joy, mysticism, patriotism, and wonder in people from across the globe so why should you miss out?
Here the five scenes and sights every travel photographer must capture in India.
Republic Day Parade, Delhi – The official annual celebration of the adoption of the Indian Constitution is a sight that invokes deep patriotism even when viewed on TV, then being actually present on location is an experience in itself. The occasion gives you a first hand opportunity to witness and capture the spirit of patriotism and pride of a free nation. The displays put up by the three defense wings, the parades, various cultural programs and fleets showcasing cultures of the different states and the Beating of the Retreat ceremony on 29th January provide opportunity for great photographs.
Wagah Border Evening Ceremony, Amritsar – Another awe-inspiring sight is the evening ceremony or lowering of the Flags ceremony at the Wagah Border, Amritsar, – the only road link between India and Pakistan. Carried out every evening before sunset by both the military of India and Pakistan, the ceremony has soldiers from both the sides displaying pride, patriotism, and might. The coordinated military movements and simultaneous lowering of the flags on either side of the border and the charged atmosphere of the place during the ceremony is a must see sight.
Kumbh Mela (Ujjain, April 2016) – Described as the largest religious gathering on earth, the Kumbh Mela is held once every three years in rotation at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. It is believed that bathing in the sacred rivers – Sangam (Allahabad), Ganga (Haridwar), Shipra (Ujjain), and Godavari (Nashik), can wash away all sins. It is no wonder that the Kumbh Mela attracts devotees from across the country and tourists from all overthe world – an ideal occasion to observe beliefs and culture of our country and capture them through your lens.
If you need further motivation to visit, then this quote by Mark Twain, who had the privilege of witnessing the Kumbh of 1895, would definitely spark your interest –
It is wonderful, the power of a faith, that can make multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvellous to our kind of people, the cold whites”.
The Ganga Arti – It is held every evening after sunset at the banks of the Ganga at Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi. A religious ritual worshipping the Goddess Ganga, which despite the loud singing of hymns and chants, brings spiritual peace and also provides a visual delight. The light generated by the diyas and colour added by the flowers can help invoke feelings of hope. Again, the visual imagery that is created by the sunset, light of diyas, and colourful crowd, provides opportunity to capture some great photographs.
Durga Puja, Kolkata (Sept/Oct) – It is believed that the city of joy comes to life during the Durga puja. A festival marking the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasur, the five days of Durga puja are celebrated with great pomp and gaiety in Kolkata. Everywhere you go, you are greeted with pandals depicting the greatness and power of the goddess, celebrations and fairs, and cultural events. During these five days the city has the making of a great fantasy set – lights, joy, bonhomie, great food, dance, and above all happy and hopeful people – all things must for some wonderful and memorable photographs.
All these occasions not only serve to provide great insight into the culture of our country and an opportunity to capture some wonderful moments, but also take you on a trip to the different states of India – UP, Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Bengal, giving you lots of scope to add to your travel photography portfolio.
Happy Travelling and Happy Clicking!