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.
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.
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.
A boat trip down the Ganges, near sunset, served as a nice parable for the state of being I found myself in.
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.
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.
Above is the boatman who took me on that journey. He seems lost in reflection as well…