As a travel photographer, Christopher Atkinson, aka Ascending Aperture, looks at each new city, jungle, or village with a completely different perspective to most travellers. India is one of those countries that not everyone thinks they can visit, but as Christopher’s photographs show, it’s worth putting aside any apprehensions to explore this true cultural utopia.
I have been to India twice and both times I have had two very different experiences, coming away with new and different memories, sights and stories to tell each time. Many people say India is a challenging place to travel, which it can be at times, but it is this organised chaos and circus-like conduct of daily functionality which makes it such an intriguing place to visit. This is a country of ingenuity, history, a rich culture and a cuisine which changes from place to place. Together these factors work as a team which enable travellers to experience something new every day in India, no matter how many times they have been.
In the bustling streets of the subcontinent’s capital, this lady goes about her daily life selling drinks, food stuffs and cigarettes to travellers and native city dwellers alike.
The Babas or sadhus of Varanasi have an impact on all the travellers and pilgrims who visit this city of religion; they come across as devoted Hindus steeped in mysticism to some, while to others they are a daily commodity, with their prayers enabling the recipient’s bad karma to be burnt. To be a Baba they are considered to be dead unto themselves, legally dead to the Government of India, and have to attend their own funeral before following a guru for several years.
Shot from a chai shop at 6:30am, this independent woman makes her daily commute to work with her broom in hand, navigating the colourful streets of Varanasi.
On the bustling ghats of Varanasi, along the banks of the mighty Ganges, this family prepares for the departure of their loved one to Nirvana, bypassing the next step in the Hindu life-cycle as they are being cremated and scattered into the river Ganges. Coming from a country where a funeral is a drawn-out affair, it was definitely an odd, but humbling experience.
On a street corner in a small town called Hunsur, near Nagarhole National Park, an elderly woman stands in the intense early morning sun, selling floral lanyards for social and religious occasions for 15 rupees or 12 pence.
An early morning sight, captured at 5:30am. I woke early to see the sunrise over the mighty river Ganga or Ganges. As a boatman sails his way to work it is already 20 degrees, people wash in the river while others pray and mediate along its banks before another busy, hot day in this epicentre of spirituality.
At points along everyone’s journey through India – whether it be north, south, east or west – you will be sure to encounter animals in your everyday life, from the sacred cow you attempt to pass in a narrow market place, cunning monkeys that try to steal your food or cheeky goats, which I have even shared Jeeps with!
After waking up early, it was time to tick something off my bucket list; to watch a magnificent sunrise over the Taj Mahal. I saw the mirror reflection of this iconic building and I had to capture it. The Taj Mahal is so iconic that, as a photographer, it’s always important to look for new perspectives.
As I walked closer to the Taj it seemed far away, until I finally got up close. I immediately felt swamped by its size and grandeur. From 1632 it took 22,000 people 17 years to build the Taj Mahal, and the hard work paid off as it truly one of the greatest buildings I have ever seen.
Devaraja Market is one of the best markets in India, found in the historical city of Mysore. This is a city steeped in history, famous for being the birthplace of yoga, its palace and the Dasara festival where elephants walk through the crowded streets.
Every night on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, a ceremony is performed in remembrance and celebration of all of the people’s lives who have been cremated and passed onto the next life at Varanasi that day. It is an incredible sight to witness.
Shot when I was staying in rural Tamil Nadu, these hard-working women return from a day out picking cotton in the green, fertile fields of the south before the night draws in and elephants come out searching for food.
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About the Author:
My name is Christopher Atkinson and I am a travel, street and portrait photographer who shoots under the pseudonym Ascending Aperture. I use a mixture of mediums from 35mm and 120 film to digital SLRs. I have a deep passion for travel photography, and I love the challenge of capturing quick or intimate moments and daily events which other people may not see. Follow me here: blog, Instagram, Facebook