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.

Rowing on the Ganges at Dawn

This photo was taken on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, around 8 AM. We were on a rowboat like the ones shown and took the photo into the sunrise, which was opposite the funeral burning ghats on the shore behind us. The Ganges is magical at any hour, but sunrise is one of our favorite times.

This photo was taken on November 18, 2014. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/640 sec, focal length 25mm (35mm equivalent).

The Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath

This is our entry in Dutch goes the Photo!’s Tuesday Photo Challenge – Old.

Gautama Buddha is the Buddha upon whose teachings Buddhism was founded. During Buddha’s lifetime,  he identified four important sites for pilgrimage: Bodh Gaya, where he attained enlightenment; Lumbini, his birthplace in Nepal; Sarnath, where he delivered his first teaching, the dharma; and Kusinara, where he died and attained nirvana-after-death. 

In September 2014, we visited Sarnath, located almost one mile northeast of Varanasi in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. The Dhamek Stupa, built in 500 AD, enlarged several times but still unfinished, is believed to be at the same location in the deer park in Sarnath where the Buddha delivered his first teaching to his five disciples. The stupa is just over 140 feet tall and 90 feet across at the base. Because it is an important pilgrimage site, many people visit this stupa and walk around it clockwise three times while reciting a mantra or prayer.

The Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath

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

Olympus TG-3, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/500 sec, 9.61 mm


Descending Kedar Ghat

This is our entry in The Daily Post Daily Prompt: Descend.

In November 2014, we visited the city of Varanasi (formerly Benares or Kashi) on the banks of the Ganges River in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  Pilgrims to Varanasi descend ghats (steps) to perform their ritual baths in the Ganges.  Pictured here is Kedar Ghat.

Ritual Bathing at Kedar Ghat

This photo was taken just after sunrise on November 19, 2014. Stats are:

Olympus TG-3, ISO 800, f/3.6, 1/30 sec, 11 mm

Mystery & Lighting Effects

Ganges Aarti, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

While appearing mysterious to Westerners, this man is part of the Ganges Aarti, a religious ceremony with 12 Hindu priests (pandits) simultaneously performing the same set of rituals. In Varanasi, the ritual occurs at sunset on the holy Dasaswamedh Ghat (steps), near Kashi Vishwanath Temple.This choreographed nightly lighting of lamps, accompanied by chanting, is an offering to the Goddess Ganga of the Ganges River, the most holy river in India.  While a popular viewpoint is the rooftop of a shop behind but higher than the ceremony, another option is to hire a local boat for an even better view from the river.

Ganga Aarti, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India