A soulful connect

A photographer is awestruck by the spiritual beauty of Benaras and the architectural marvels in Agra.

After years of anticipation, my creative eye led me to the most photogenic of sites in India — Varanasi and Agra. Being a professional photographer and a tour leader, I was fortunate enough to imbibe the beauty, purely with photography on my mind.

A close view of the main tomb of Taj Mahal, AgraA close view of the main tomb of Taj Mahal, AgraA view through the arches of Agra Fort Entrance of Agra FortAA view through the arches of Agra FortA view through the arches of Agra Fort

The innumerable ghats and rituals that flank the banks of the holy river Ganges are a visual and spiritual treat. We walked across the 4 km stretch, covering the famous ghats — Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Assi Ghat, Harishchandra Ghat, etc. Chants of mantras, rituals with flowers and vibhooti, busy pundits, wanderers and saffron-robed monks, colourful boats painted with ads, and thousands of seagulls — it was a haven for photography.

Dhobi ghat at VaranasiDhobi ghat at Varanasi

The Ganga aarti (or pooja) in the evening is a sight and experience to behold. We hired a boat to get a good view of the aarti, and docked an hour early, before the boats started gliding in. The pooja was memorable and left us peaceful for more shutterbugging.

Monks in VaranasiMonks in Varanasi

We also visited the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple to offer prayers. Walking amid narrow alleys, it was my first serious take on street photography and I loved it. Benarasi saris are the finest in India, with their finely woven silk and intricate designs. We visited a bustling area where every house was a factory of beautiful craftsmanship of exquisite silken weaves.

Priests in VaranasiPriests in Varanasi

While Varanasi is famous for the Ganges, Agra is home to the iconic Taj Mahal. A sight no words or photos can truly capture. This Unesco World Heritage Site is the “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally-admired masterpieces”.

Ghats of Varanasi at nightGhats of Varanasi at night

There is an instinctive joy at being in the presence of such craftsmanfsship and beauty. Millions of photographs are taken, but one can’t quench one’s thirst for this glorious monument. It is a sight to behold. It’s no wonder that in 2007 it was declared a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World. From beauty to history, the Agra Fort and its unique architecture came next. Its history is fascinating. We came back click-happy, bonding with the jewels we had unearthed.

The writer is a professional photographer, blogger, workshop leader, and a photography consultant whose sites and blog are very popular

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