The Ganges at Sunrise

This is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Texture.

In November 2014, we visited the ancient city of Varanasi in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh. We went out in a rowboat on the Ganges River early one morning to experience the sunrise, as Hindu pilgrims have done for centuries. We gazed east, while just to our west, the never-ending funeral pyres burned on the shore. The photo contrasts the texture of the worn paint on the boat with the smooth rippled surface of the water. The solid darkness of the water is broken by striations of sunlight reflected on the ripples created by the oar.

This photo was taken on November 19, 2014. Specs are:

Olympus TG-3, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/160 sec, 4.5 mm.

Goat Herd at Badami

This is our entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Animals.

In February of this year, we toured the sights of Badami in the Indian state of Karnataka.  Our hotel nearby featured a nice balcony for recovering from a day spent walking in the hot sun.  As we sat admiring the golden hour before sunset, we became aware of a goat herd, complete with two herders and a busy small black dog, making its way home for the night.


This photo was taken on February 16, 2019. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, 87 mm.



See You Soon

This is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Endings.

In the fall of 2014, we visited Shimla in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, hoping to see the Himalayas without actually climbing them.  Instead, we were merely terrified passengers in the car that climbed to Shimla about 2200 meters above sea level.  (We had traveled from Amritsar to Shimla in one day, with the last three hours of the journey being  85 km of steep zig-zag road, thankfully arriving before pitch black night.)   The hotel for our three nights in Shimla was Wildflower Hall, the former residence of Lord Kitchener, commander-in-chief of the British Army in India (1902-1909).  On our last night there, we found this lovely sendoff on a small table in our room.

This photo was taken on October 28, 2014. Specs are:

Olympus TG-3, ISO 800, f/2.0, 1/25 sec, 4.5 mm




Coonoor Station Water Tower — Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and Ladders

This is our entry in Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Chutes and Ladders.

In February of this year we rode the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) toy train from Coonoor to Ooty in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  This railway is a meter gauge, or cog, railway, having a middle rail with a rack that allows a train to climb steep inclines.

Our tour company had arranged to get us tickets for the afternoon run, but a taxi drivers’ strike scheduled for that day threw our plans in disarray.   Our guide, who lives in Coonoor, worked his magic to get us tickets for the earlier train, but even then it was uncertain whether the train would run at all that day.

We arrived early to be sure of a seat, since two trains-worth of passengers could be expected to queue for the one train ride (if it happened at all).  We were early enough that the morning’s haze had not burned off yet, but swirled mistily a few feet above the ground.  Any object photographed even a short distance away was muted by this mist.  The water tower shown below finally rose above the mist that enveloped the shrubs below it, but the sky beyond was featureless.

This photo was taken on February 5, 2019. Specs are:

Canon 100D, ISO 320, f/9.0, 1/500 sec, 106 mm.

Architectural Harmony of the Mysore Maharaja Palace

This is our entry in Lens-Artists Challenge #44 – Harmony.

The Maharaja’s Palace, built in 1907, is a huge building in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in Mysore, India. It was the seat of the Wodeyar maharajas until the creation of the modern Indian state.  One fabulous but gaudy area of the palace is the Public Durbar (Audience) Hall. The repeated granite columns and stucco ceilings provide a stunning sense of harmony and near symmetry. It was built to impress and it does. As Mel Brooks said in History of the World, Part 1, “It’s good to be the king.”

Ooty Tea Plantation

There are many hill stations in India. These were built by the English as places to escape the oppressive heat of Indian summers. One of the hill stations we visited was Ooty which is home to many tea plantations.

Tea is grown on trees that are constantly trimmed to the height of shrubs so that pickers can gather the leaves. Only the leaves of new growth can be turned into tea and the smaller the leaf, the higher grade tea it is used to produce. The plantations are quite beautiful.

The individual plants look like something in a lawn. Ligustrum comes to mind.

We visited a plantation in Ooty. After paying a small fee to visit the plantation, we had an opportunity to taste free samples and buy tea and — for some reason — chocolate. The tea samples were truly wonderful but the reviews of the plantation we visited complained that the tea sold in the shop is a much lower quality than the tea in the tasting room. As a result, we didn’t buy any.

Aside from the fields, the tour also included walking past the factory where the raw tea leaves are converted to a finished product. The factory is very humid and looks dangerous but it was interesting to see how something that initially looks like lawn trimmings makes it into our tea bags. The tea is then sold at auction and marketed by companies like Tetley.

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Signs you are in India

We traveled to India to see things that are different (if we wanted to see things that are “the same,” we’d just stay home).  Signs are one thing we found to be different. This post has a few that we found interesting.

As an aside, our driver (Saran) found a long line at the only shower available for drivers in our hotel in Hospet. Rather than be late (or unbathed), he bathed in the river where the “Beware of Crocodiles” sign was posted. Experiences like that shine a different light on first world problems.