Varanasi, is one of the most desired places for photographers across the world to explore the culture of India. I have been longing to go there for past few years and finally got a chance to visit in November 2017 along with my friend Sreenath.
We had planned to stay for a week so on the first day we put our cameras away, took our phones and did location scouting. We spoke to people and tried to find out about the different events or rituals which happen in Varanasi daily. Finally, after one full day of scouting we came up with a list which we were going to cover during this week
It is performed daily at 6.45 pm in the evening after sunset by a group of priests at the Dashashwamedh ghat. There are many beautiful aspects of this ritual that can be captured like the large crowd gathering along the banks of the river, Incense preparation for the aarti, priests waving the multi-tiered lamp, priests waving the yak-tail fan etc. People take photos both from the land and also from the boats which are standing in rows along the entire stretch of the ghat. But one thing that I can guarantee is that you will be blown away by the visual spectacle and left with a lot of positive vibrations.
Sunrise & sunsets
As it was November and the beginning of the winter season, we could capture the dramatic foggy sunrise. The best part of the sunrise here are the subjects in the foreground like the people performing yoga, some doing their morning prayers etc., allowing every photographer to tell unique story with his photos. This is the reason Varanasi is one of the best places to take sunrise and sunset photos.
Before I started for Varanasi the general feedback I got about the Agoris where that they were rude and arrogant people, so I was little scared and skeptical about the idea of taking their portraits. But when I landed in Varanasi the people there had a completely different opinion of them. So, with the help of one of the locals we went and met few of the agoris and participated with them in some of their rituals. Although they don’t speak to us they were very humble and kind. It was very low light conditions but we were able to take few amazing portraits of them. (N Always take their permission before taking photos)
Sarnath Stupa (Dhamek Stupa)
Dhamek Stupa is the place where Buddha gave the first sermon to his first five brahmin disciples after attaining enlightenment. This is just a 30min drive from Varanasi and unlike Varanasi this place is really well maintained and very peaceful.
Varanasi is a street photographer’s paradise. This city is so devoid of space but still there are all kinds of business thriving on either side of the streets. One very important advice I can give is that please keep take care of all your belongings and if possible have a lighter and more portable camera for street photography.
Well I am sure there are many more places to be explored in Varanasi but for a week this is all that I could do. I hope to visit this beautiful place again sometime soon.
Things in my camera bag:
Nikon D750 – Nikkor 24-120 f/4 (for landscape & portraits) , Samyang 14mm f2.8 (for landscape)
Sony A6000 – 16-50mm lens ( for portraits)
Please do check my photographs and share your comments and thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.