The Pup Story

Hi there!

I ll begin with stating a more than less true statement…”we all love young ones”. Some like young human babies, some like young kittens, baby goats and cows are very cute too..and some, like me, puppies!
They come in various shapes, sizes, colour and temperament too, but one thing that they all are, very very cute.
In India, stray dogs are mostly considered as menace and moms can be heard sternly repeating and reiterating a million times to their kids, not to play with them. Not because they hate dogs or such, but more so because the puppies may not be very healthy and the risk of being bitten by the mother dog, is always there. But that doesnt put the kids off. And as for me, I have already been bitten once, have taken an anti-rabies course too, so… I dont have much issues at all, and mom also knows, no point telling me not to play with em :p

So, here are a few I found playing nearby. Maybe I ll get some more tomorrow too.

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I love rusk!

 

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Puppy face…redefined!

 

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No one goes past me!!

 

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The awesomeness…3 times!!

 

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The pack!

 

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Curious!

 

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On the lookout

 

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Looks timid!

 

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On the watch!

 

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Going Veg!

 

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Play Fights!

 

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Everything deserves a bite!

 

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Ah..interesting!

 

Despite the fact that these pups are absolute balls of happiness and fur, maybe only a lucky one or two will survive due to the diseases they contract or lack of food. Feeding the puppies is frowned upon by a lot of people for reasons best known to them. I feed them as and when I find them nearby, cz by me, these pups are still very innocent, and they wont go bite or do you any harm unless you do anything untoward to them. I hope, someday, these stray pups get some place where they can grow and be healthy.

Cheers!!

Varanasi – IV(The last Arati)

There I was, on the ghat, with the 18-55 snapped on, and then I saw the spot I would want to be, to capture the priests in the way I imagined them! I was there waiting patiently and the light was slowly dimming and my enthusiasm was growing too. Am I in the right position, will I get my shots correctly, was relying on the kit lens a good idea?? I will admit, the camera settings, were last of my worries. I know my way around the settings and I like to believe, that I can handle them fast so I was not much bothered. As I was waiting for the ceremony to start, I saw a very pretty lady out there, hopping very energetically and snapping away. As she came near my spot, I asked her, in the techy-est way possible, what ISO she was using. She casually replied, that she was shooting No Flash! I thought, she didnt get my point, so I asked again, and then she actually showed me which setting she was shooting at, and that moment I immediately understood that what she was doing was the easy way in the situation. She simply said, experiments are fit in a park…this I ll remember for quite some time! I thanked her, and then shot the night in the No Flash Auto setting. Dear pretty lady, if by any chance, you are reading this, thank you once more, you taught me a very important lesson, I ll be grateful for your tip.

From my position, I could see all 5 priests, and these are what I caught and I am satisfied!

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During the arati, having goosebumps is a very common condition. You are bound to feel the energy there, the grace, the grandeur and the power! I will go back to this place, again, soon!

I ll sign off the way they did….

“…Jay Ganeshay Namah
Jay Gange Namah
Har Har Mahadev….”

Varanasi – IV (The Forts)

On the last day of the trip, we went to the Chunar Fort and the Ramnagar Fort!

The Chunar Fort was built on a very strategic point right on the bank of the River Ganga and its a perfect vantage point for keeping an eye out for attackers from all the directions. This was built by Sher Shah Suri and then the Moghuls took it over and then the British. Since the British, till date, the fort has served as a garrison for armed forces. But now, within the next 3 years, the fort will be handed over to the ASI for upkeep and maintenance. It is rumored that there exist secret tunnels to as far as the Red Fort of Delhi, some 700 kms away. There is also a big, rather huge 200 ft deep well, with provisions to go right down to the water level, used by the princess there. Jail houses and gallows are also present and the living quarters of the soldiers back then, are used as classrooms for the modern counterparts.

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These carving used to have diamonds and gems encrusted in them. Apparently, the British didnt like leaving the shiny stuffs behind while leaving!

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The 200 ft or maybe deeper well!

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A motorable, single lane pontoon bridge!

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Birds’ eye view from one of the walls!

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Now, the Ramnagar fort is more of a big house to a super rich prince. Within the fort are his cars, Ford, Cadillac were the ones I could recognize, just a few from about 15 of them. Then, there are galleries filled with guns, from smaller than palm to so big that it would need at least three people to fire them. Sadly, photography is not allowed within the gallery! This fort also oversees Ganga, but from the other side, beautiful and majestic none the less.

En route, from Chunar to Ramnagar, we came across shops selling these clay and stone stuffs. They are cheap, and can be used as souvenirs and for gifts. There are small toys, made of clay and glazed, they cost about 3 to 5 INR. Also, bargain here, you can get at 75% of the original asked price if not lesser.

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The balcony was the only part differently colored! Stood out!

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The Ganga and the other bank! Looks like much hasnt changed over the centuries.

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Found some local, friendly fauna!

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We left Ramnagar fort around lunch time! Giving me plenty of time to return back to the guest house, grab a hasty lunch and run back for one last shot at getting the shots I wanted of the Ganga Arati.
Check them out on the next part!

Cheers!!

Panoramic Sarnath

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Just found a panorama shot I took at sarnath. I am standing in the excavated section of a vihara and the Dhamek Stupa is visible on the left side of the photo! Hope you like this!
Cheers!!!

Varanasi – III (Ganga Arati)

Continuation of the third day, rather the evening! I reached the spot around 1730 and realized that I was a bit late. I managed to get a space near the steps in front of the the priests. From my point, I could manage to capture flawlessly, at max, 2 of the priests. So be it. I still have one more day, and I knew the vantage point I would need for the shots that I wanted.

Here goes the evening shots.

First, the small lamps are lit on the topmost step! This adds a nice light boundary.

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One of the fire carriers is basically a snake headed lamp and it looks simply amazing!

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Ladies, mostly the elderly ones, they lend their hands for the smaller lamps that are used as decorations.

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Once the preparations are done, at the decided hour, the prayer songs start and the so does the fire incantations…and once they do, except for being taken in totally by the grandeur and awesomeness, there is very little else that remains to be done! If you have a camera, then click some pics quick and then sit back and enjoy!

The conch shell sounds the auspicious beginning!

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Incense smokes follow!

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And then, the lamps!

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The effect is spiritual and spell binding!

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Fire Incantation

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Next day,  we travelled to two forts. The Chunar fort and the Ramnagar fort. And on the last day, I managed to get photos that made me term my trip a success! Coming up shortly!

Cheers!!

Varanasi – III (Sarnath)

The next day, was an eventful one. The first half of the day was spent at Sarnath and the evening at the ghats watching the Ganga arati once more.

Sarnath, situated about 30 kms outside Varanasi is a holy place for Buddhists. It is at this place, that Gautam Buddha, gave his first sermons to his five disciples post attaining enlightenment. At the spot where he gave the sermon, during 2nd century BC, Ashoka commissioned an built the Dhamek Stupa. The Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Emblem were both situated nearby.

During the ’70 s , the ASI excavated the area and found the various artifacts and they have been kept safely and securely in the museum situated nearby, a must visit place on your Sarnath tour plan.

Sarnath Temple
Sarnath Temple

At Sarnath, you will find school children out on picnics and tours very frequently and the tickets are pretty cheap. Also, there are numerous shops with wares which might interest a lot of people. Do check them out but before buying, do bargain hard. Often, prices can be dropped to about half of the asking price.

Buddha painting within the temple
Buddha painting within the temple

Photography is not allowed within the museum unless you have a Govt. Of India approved permit, but then, it doesnt hurt much not taking photos of the sculptures, the experience of viewing them and reading the related stories are pretty fulfilling.

The Idol within
The Idol within

The excavated site and the stupa have a boundary, ticket price nominal. There are lawns and lots of place to sit and enjoy the tranquil environment. Meditating monks are not uncommon too.

Here the excavation can be seen with the Dhamek Stupa in the background. While in the second photo a wall carving has been shown.

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Vihar wall
Vihar wall

Above: Carvings on the Vihar walls

Below: Carvings on the Dhamek Stupa

Carvings on the stupa
Carvings on the stupa

We retraced our path through the park and back to the main temple and before leaving, the prayer wheels, demanded attention and the respect!

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Post our return, we freshened up and I went back to the Dasashwamedh ghat for another arati viewing session. This time, I was armed with the  200mm lens! The arati covered in the next post.

Cheers!

 

Varanasi – II

The evening of the first day at Varanasi, we went for a boat trip from the Assi Ghat towards the Dasashwamedh Ghat with the intention to see the evening arati from the river.

The speciality of this ghat, and the one beside it, the Rajendra Prasad ghat is that they host multiple aratis simultaneously, 5 and 7 to be exact. And, for most of the time, the purohits conducting the arati do it in sync and hence it is a pretty awesome sight. The arati starts at 1815, but in the winter months, the place gets crowded by devotees and onlookers from 1700. So, if you want to grab a good spot, be there by 1715 . You ll find boatmen coaxing to take a ride to the opposite bank and back, charging around 40INR for the trip, pretty reasonable, but a bit of bargaining always helps. Also, found in plenty are photographers with portable printers who ll take the photos in poses of your and their choices and print and deliver immediately, at about 20INR per copy.

I realized that, from a moving boat, taking photos of people who are also moving is a pretty difficult job, hence, not many usable shots from that evening of the arati. But its an awesome spectacle. Once I understood that trying to take photos would be fruitless, I switched the camera off, and saw the aratis. It truly is a breathtaking sight and a memorable event. Night shots of boats on the Ganga, they came out good though!!

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Next day the destination was Sarnath and the evening I spent in finding a good spot to capture the arati from! Stay tuned! More coming up!!

 

Varanasi – I

Hi all…
I was out on a tour of the holy city of Varanasi. This city gets its name from the rivers Baruna and Assi, they meet with the holy river goddess Ganga in this city. Here there exist a number of Ghats, cemented banks that is. Home to a multitude of people from a wide spectrum of economy and religion, this city has a very rich cultural history and heritage. Apart from the religious aspect, here exists one of the biggest university in Asia, the Banaras Hindu University boasting 124 faculties including engineering, medical, arts, commerce and sciences and many more.

I spent 4 days here. My trip was very specific in nature. Specific in the sense, I went in with the intention of capturing Ganga Arati that takes place every evening. I also made a short trip to the Buddhist town of Sarnath and a couple of forts! I ll try to add in small bits of info also as and when suitable!

I woke up and started to walk towards the Assi Ghat at 0530! This is how the BHU campus looks at that hour!

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I reached Assi Ghat by 0630 and went straight to work with the camera.

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A very soothing voice came from the ghats. There was this man, named Bhomi, boat operator by profession and an amateur singer. I listened to him singing for sometime and then walked west towards the rest ghats.

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Birds are plentiful there…

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After walking for another hour, hunger got better of my will to continue and I turned back. Was lost in the alleyways and ended up having to negotiate right of passage with a big buffalo…luckily for me, he was an understanding one, and let me pass without much issues…no pics of him though…

Varanasi is a place frequented by Indians and foreigners alike , hence fooding and lodging accommodating multiple cuisines and cultures us present here. Streets are crowded and at times, they are not very clean!

This was the morning…the first evening coming up next! Stay hooked!