16-21 january 2011

from sunday to friday i was in varanasi, the holy hindu city on the ganges. i went up there to take photos of the ghats (palaces overlooking the river that various kings and princes built over the centuries) for five days.  i will write more about the experience later, but as i took nearly 2,000 photographs – many of them destined for the trash bin – it will take me a while to sort through my thoughts.

a sadhu, or hindu holy man

varanasi is an ancient city with narrow winding alleys and busy markets, but most of the activity centers on the ganges where pilgrims come from across india to bathe in the waters. the place is also crawling with tourists and “seekers of alternative lifestyles,” let’s say – i.e., latter-day hippies. it made for interesting people-watching.

corpse being bathed with water from the ganges prior to cremation

the highlight of the trip was the hour i spent photographing the cremations on the banks of the ganges at the manikarnika ghat. most of the photos you’ll see on the internet of the manikarnika ghat are taken from the river or from a distance, because photography is strictly off limits inside the ghat – unless you’re willing to give the headman 6.000 rupees, which is what i did.  more photos to come.

Author: cohn17

Photographer and baker of macarons.

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