Pashtun architecture

Photography: Traveling light without sacrificing Quality, extremes on body and equipment, India April 2016.



From one extreme to another… the streets of Kolkata,
the spectacle of Kumbh Mela and the
awesome, ancient ruined city of Mandu.
India, April 2016


Oh Boy…this post has been long overdue, but you might notice also I have changed the look of the Blog and that took time… or shall I say, making decisions, decision, decisions…
plus some technical issues.
Anyway here it is, a slight new look and a new post from my last trip to India with a small but exceptional group of good friends.

Warning:

Some viewers might find a few images offensive;
Sadhus (Nagas) do not wear any clothing at all.
Viewer discretion is advised.

It was an awesome Journey, and If you ask me if I do it again… YES, of course I would!
I selected some images from each place for this post, but if you like to view more from this amazing Journey please click on the LINKS below to my
PhotoShelter Gallery.
There are so many other great Images but
unfortunately I can't squeeze them all into this post.

-
Kolkata, 2016
-
Kumbh Mela,Ujjain 2016
-
Mandu, 2016

It all started in the streets of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta
the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River
(
I love Kolkata… its never boring!)

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This is Kolkata!

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The streets of Kolkata.

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The famous Kolkata Oil massage at Babu Ghat along the River Howrah

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In the back streets and hidden Alleyways of Kolkata.

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A Slum area in Kolkata.

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A worker at the Flower Market braiding flowers, Kolkata.

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A porter counting his daily income at the Flower Market, Kolkata.


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Preparing flower arrangements at the whole sale Flower Market, Kolkata.


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Break time with a small cup of Masala chai (Tea) at the whole sale Fruit Market, Kolkata.

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Group of Fisherman in the Wetlands outside Kolkata.

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Locals from a small village wading through the Mud
searching for the last fish in the Wetlands outside Kolkata.


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View towards a modern Buildings from the Wetlands
outside Kolkata.


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"The Window Cleaner" modern and colorful architecture in Kolkata.

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Shadows in the streets of Kolkata.

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Colorful steel gate at a metal workshop.Kolkata

After a great week roaming the streets in Kolkata we flew to Indore (Madhya Pradesh) near Ujjain for the Kumbh Mela, witnessing first hand the spectacle of this one in a lifetime event.
This event in the Hindu calendar takes place only every 12 years, and it is here where you have
“Butt naked, Penis exposed and Pot smoking” Sadhus mingle freely with the crowd.
Our other destination was the ancient ruined city of Mandu, an amazing and historical site in the state of
Madhya Pradesh.
Then back to Delhi; but before catching our return flight home we made another two-day trip to Vrindavan and Matura,
Uttar Pradesh about 3 hours drive from Delhi.

Kumbh Mela
- The gathering of millions; pilgrims from all over India mingled with the most amazing Sadhus you ever can encounter, from the naked Nagas, to totally bizarre characters amongst devotees and pilgrims, an endless sea of moving colors.
The real challenge began at the Kumbh Mela.
Moving around with cameras looking for the right images in soaring heat with very little or no shade amongst millions of Pilgrims.
Just getting from our humble Hotel to the river took some serious walking (there was absolutely no vehicle access allowed due to security) and navigating amongst this enormous crowd was certainly not an easy task and
definitely not a walk in the park.
(Note: I actually booked the hotel some 6 month ahead of time and the usual wakeup calls were around 3AM)
The other “hardship” we had to endure; our Hotel was pure Vegetarian (which I don’t mind) but also no beer or other alcoholic beverages were available.
My dear friends Hubi and Bob were suffering a bit more on this occasion, especially the craving for a cold Beer after a long day in the heat.
The actual event: - Ujjain Simhastha is a Hindu religious mela held every 12 years in the Ujjain city of Madhya Pradesh, India. The name is also transliterated as Sinhastha or Singhastha. In Hindi, the fair is also called Simhasth or Sinhasth (due to schwa deletion). The name derives from the fact that it is held when the Jupiter is in Leo (Simha in Hindu astrology).

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A small temple of worship at the Kumbh Mela,
Ujjain April 2016


It is one of the four fairs traditionally recognized as Kumbha Melas, and is also known as Ujjain Kumbh Mela. According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu dropped drops of amrita (the drink of immortality) at four places, while transporting it in a kumbha (pot). These four places, including Ujjain, are identified as the present-day sites of the Kumbh Mela.“Kumbh” the literal English translation means “Pot”, which emerged from “Samudra Manthan” (Churning of the Ocean) between Gods and Devils.
The term ‘Mela‘ signifies’Fair‘.-


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The Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, April 2016

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Sadhu (Naga) with his cellphone, Ujjain Kumbh Mela

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Sadhus (Naga's) smoking a Bong, Ujjain
Kumbh Mela 2016


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Naga Holy Man roaming around during the,
Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, April 2016



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Sadhus (Nagas) "it is the look after-all," Ujjain,
Kumbh Mela 2016


I have to admit this Journey was very different but also awesome in many different ways, a constant challenge, putting up with unbearable heat as temperatures reached way above 40 degrees and walking miles on end, not only in Kolkata but even more so during the Kumbh Mela.
On the brighter side, making images by walking is better anyway as long you have plenty of water.
Due to the heat, starting the day prior sunrise was a must and made it somehow bearable at least during the early hours of the morning, plus inhaling the ever-present smoke from the Sadhu’s smoking weed during the Kumbh Mela had a “calming effect”.


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"In trance" Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016


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Pilgrims surrounding this Naga Holy Man,
Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016


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Ujjain,Kumbh Mela 2016

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Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016

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Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016

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Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016

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"Blessed if you ring the bell on his penis" but I am not sure why he is wearing two watches on his ankles. Ujjain,
Kumbh Mela 2016


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Another cool Character, Ujjain Kumbh Mela 2016

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"Blues Brothers", Kumbh Mela, Ujjain, April 2016

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The colors of the Kumbh Mela 2016

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The colors of the Kumbh Mela, Ujjain 2016

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The colors of the Kumbh Mela,women drying their Sari after their holy bath. Ujjain 2016

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Women worship and taken their holy bath.
Kumbh Mela,Ujjain April 2016


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Its all in the Eyes…Kumbh Mela, Ujjain 2016

Of course we had to carrying our own water supply and cameras for the day, since going back to the Hotel was
not an option at all.
What made also a difference, some of us including myself used the
Panasonic Micro Four-Thirds Lumix Cameras
and
Lenses instead logging around those heavy DSLR’s.

For additional equipment used (Lenses etc.)during this Journey and more info see below at the end of this Blog Post.

Traveling light without sacrificing Quality certainly proved a point this time around.


Mandu or Mandavgad is a ruined city in the present-day Mandav area of the Dhar district. It is located in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh, India, about 35 km from Dhar city. In the 11th century, Mandu was the sub division of the Tarangagadh or Taranga kingdom. A fortress town on a rocky outcrop about 100 km from Indore. The oldest mosque in this area dates from 1405; the finest is the Jama Masjid or great mosque, a notable example of Pashtun architecture.

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The entrance hall at the Jama Masjid or great mosque
in Mandu, April 2016
The Construction of this mosque was started by Sultan Hoshang Shah Ghuri and completed by Mahmud Shah Khilji in 1454 AD.
By far, this is the most majestic building at Mandu. It is said that the builders had designed it after the great mosque of Damascus.



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The main durbar hall of Hindola Mahal, Mandu, April 2016

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He greeted me at the entrance to the Jain temple in Mandu, April 2016


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He honestly was just there…
Mandu, April 2016

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Carrying a heavy load…Mandu, April 2016

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"Should I eat first in the Restaurant or should I check in first? Mandu, April 2016

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The ladies having a break at a small tribal Village near
Mandu, April 2016


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Sunset and silhouette of an ancient Watchtower and Boab tree. Mandu ki Imli, a local parlance
for Baobab seeds, is a special kind of tamarind used by the people of Mandu in the State of
Madhya Pradesh, India. The fruit which looks like papaya is originally the fruit of the Baobab tree
and Mandu is the only place in the whole of Asia where one can found Baobab trees.
Scientifically known as Adansonia the tree is a native of African lands.


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On the road near Mandu April 2016


Even so the heat was still with us exploring this part was a lot more laid back and we had all the area for ourselves, the mammoth crowd had “disappeared” and Mandu become R&R for us, in particular for Hubi and Bob since beer was not an issue anymore.
Now I like to thank Bob, Hubert and Reinhart for the surprise Birthday cake, I really don’t know how they managed it but somehow they got a super nice Cake for me in this remote part of India.

Apparently they had ordered it from another very small town some 35Km away. Thanks a lot guys!

But there was also another cake that Hubi made in the Kitchen at the place we stayed and that one was very different indeed, (fresh Tomatoes with fried eggs over the top and a single candle) but I enjoyed that one too.
I love Tomatoes and my eggs and he knew this only to well. Thanks Hubi.
The cool thing was… I had a great Birthday in a very different and unique place, made only possible by a bunch of good friends.

Thanks my friends for being part of this truly awesome Journey.

GD

Just one more.

…but this is an entirely different story and believe it or not,
it is in Black and White,
oh… I might throw in a bit of color, lets see.



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Access to this facility was almost impossible, but I managed to get in and
we had the rare opportunity to photograph a leather tannery.
More soon…


Additional equipment info:
I used for the entire trip the MFT -
Panasonic Lumix GH4 and the GX8

See below a list of lenses I carried with me on this trip,
but about 70% of the time I used the Lumix G Vario
12-35mm f:2.8. with the GX8.

The ISO varied under normal condition
between 200 and 800 ISO In some cases I had
no choice but to go up
to ISO 3200 and I am very impressed with
the results. The Noise which is little up
to 3200 ISO looks more like a nice film grain
and I like that a lot.

I also tested on this trip the
New Leica DG
Vario-Elmar 100-400mm
handheld all the time
and never going beyond 400 ISO on the GX8
Here the Dual stabilizer made really all the
difference, this is truly an excellent Lens.

Other Lenses I carried on this trip included the:

Leica DG Nocticron 42.5 f 1.2
-
I totally love this one! One day I just took this one
out for the whole day
and nothing else using it with the GX8

Everything fitted nicely in one small bag including my
MacBook Proand I also pushed myself in bringing along
only little clothing everything was hand carried luggage
and traveling became easy.


My other Companions:

LUMIX G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH
(superb)
Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH
(great all a-rounder)
Lumix G Vario 12-35mm f/2.8
(
totally awesome)
Lumix G 20mm f/1.7
(just so small but yet so sharp)
Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0
(excellent wide angle)