July 10, 2011

Vintage India - Benares (Varanasi)

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This set of pictures from India in the mid - 70’s is from the holy city of Benares, now know as Varanasi.  It is a very ancient and cultured city situated along the banks of the Ganges River.
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I had a very quick visit there, perhaps a day or two, en route circuitously to Nepal, and can’t pretend to have grasped the ethos of this complicated place. The older part of the city, where I lodged, was like a labyrinth and a bit overwhelming to a casual tourist such as myself.
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But at that point I was several months into my Indian adventure, and had learned that the most important response to an overwhelming experience in India was to just go with the flow.
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A boat trip down the Ganges, near sunset, served as a nice parable for the state of being I found myself in.
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All along the shore, the Ghats, or steps, are visible.  The Ghats are used for religious rituals, including ritual spiritual cleansing through immersion, and funeral pyres.
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All of my pictures from this journey, preserved as prints, have taken on a very vintage feel--I find it amusing that there are many photo apps that attempt to emulate this look, while I have been busy photo editing to clean mine up--but the Benares pictures in particular have a very dreamlike quality to them, matching the tone of that surreal drift down the river.
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Above is the boatman who took me on that journey.  He seems lost in reflection as well…

2 comments:

Allison Ann Aller said...

You have been blessed to have spent time in that City of Light.

Sue Reno said...

Allie, I absolutely agree. It was a rare privilege.