Impressions of India

Impressions of India

Images of India

ย It is impossible to not be in awe of what is India. She is at once chaotic, unruly, exaggerated and constantly in motion.

The pace of life is frenetic and I believe all of India must be sleep deprived.

It is impossible, at least for me, to fully understand, much less describe her. And that’s the fascination.

Images of India
Offering Diyas, River Ganges, Varanasi

I have heard that there are more billionaires minted in India each year than any other country in the world.

But that is not what attracts me. My India is rather tattered and frayed. And orange.

Especially the northern portion. Everything has a coating of orange from the polluted, smog-filled airย and blowing dust from the arid land.

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

Saffron, a color that symbolizes all aspects of Hinduism, is the color of sadhus and saints,

ascetics and sages. It is the color of the holy men who have renounced the world

and represents the quest for light. The spirituality in the holy cities such as

Varanasi and Vrindavan, and festivals such as Kumba Mela in Allahabad is palatable.

Images of India
Ritual Bathing, Varanasi
Images of India
Morning Offerings, Varanasi

The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.

___Swami Vivekananda

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad
Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging… I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…

___Annie Dillard

ย The Widows of Vrindavan. Widows, especially in rural areas, are often left impoverished and

mayย find their way to ashrams such as those in Vrindavan.

There they will pray and recite mantras to Lord Shiva in exchange for room and board.

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

Ladies chat briefly while saris dry in the billowing breeze.

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad
Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

If I were asked to define the Hindu creed, I should simply say: Search after truth through non-violent means. A man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu. Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after truth… Hinduism is the religion of truth. Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of truth we have not known.

___Mahatma Gandhi

Images of India

Marigold and rose petal offerings float on the River Ganges during the

recent Kumba Mela festival, the largest gathering of mankind ever.

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad
Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad
Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

Hindu ascetics, or Sadhus, holding court.

Images of India
Kumba Mela, Allahabad

It is said that hashish opens the mind and allows for deeper meditation.

Images of India

A Hindu priest and follower of Lord Shiva offers his morning offerings and prayers.

Images of India

Funeral pyres burn day and night on the ghats along the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi,

one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities on earth.

Images of India
Images of India

There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.

___Keith Bellows

Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 238 Comments

  1. Your work keeps getting better and better Ron – this post is really beautiful and you’ve tied it nicely to the theme. I love the Dillard quote with the photos. I’m curious, in the amazing portraits did most of the people agree to be photographed or did you use a long lens to shoot anonymously. If the former, did you have a guide who asked permission for you? Really powerful, congratulations on a wonderful work of art.

    1. I almost always use my 24-70mm lens for this kind of shooting and the images are usually cropped some in post processing. If no eye contact has been made, I just take the photo. This is my preferred way. Once someone sees the camera they pose and some of the spontaneity is lost. If eye contact is made I usually ask permission with a gesture of raising my camera and ask “ok?” If they say no or ask for money I simply smile and move on.

      Thanks for your generous comment, Tina. I sincerely appreciate it.

  2. Some of the most unbelievable photos of India — and people of any nationality — I’ve ever seen. Love the expressions you’ve captured, the clarity, lighting, etc. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you very much for your most generous comment. And thank you for visiting.

  3. Wonderful Ron !!!! incredible pictures Thanks to share this part of your country with us.

    1. Thank you Sophie. I am glad you enjoyed them.

  4. Just fabulous.

    1. Thank you Mike. It is so good to see you here.

    1. Thank you so much and thanks too for visiting.

  5. Gosh! What a wonderful story Ron. So vivid, alive. I see this in some imporatnt journal, like National Geographic … or something.That first picture is a million dollar one. It is so arresting! Good luck – with the important journal … ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Gigi, for your supportive comment. You are the greatest. I think for now, the “important journal” will remain wordpress.

  6. I am totally awestruck by your amazing photos, Ron. I’m sure this must be one of your best posts ever. Love the Swami Vivekananda quote……..very profound.

    1. Oh, Sylvia, you have made my day. I am pleased with the post, too. Thanks for your kind comment and your loyalty.

  7. There are some beautiful portrait shots in this blog… congrats!

    1. Thank you Thomas. I appreciate you commenting.

  8. One of your best posts yet with the most beautiful set of images; it gives such a wonderful insight into northern India. I too have been mesmerised by the beauty of a country that I can’t wait to return to. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much Jean, I take that as a real compliment. Hopefully you will be able to return soon.

    1. Thank you so much Nathalie, and thanks for visiting.

  9. Your pictures are magnificent. I feel blessed to have seen them.

    1. Thank you Karuna. I am happy you enjoyed them.

        1. Karuna, I am happy the pictures have meaning for you. You are having quite the life adventure.

  10. I love the praying widow.

  11. Wonderful!!! Better and better and better everytime…
    You say it is difficult for you to fully understand India ….I think you do much more than you ever think…You have your eyes open, your heart open…And there it is , the country and their people, and their believes, and their way of life…Thanks a lot for sharing it!

    1. Such a kind and generous comment. Thank you Ilargia. As I’ve said, India fascinates.

  12. How did you get such photos! Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Ron, your images are breathtaking. Your description of India is perfect – “constantly in motion” – and you have captured the essence in your beautiful photos. Since India is such an energetic rush for the senses, it’s a joy to have your images to contemplate it … calmly. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again – richly deserved. All the best, Terri

    1. Its nice to be complimented and the words as well as the pictures. I sincerely appreciate your comment Terri

  14. So many Americans will never see this world, or even care to. We are sterilized here, literally. Everything comes in plastic, is plastic, and colors are chosen in accents only. Yet, here is a world awash in colors, showing how beauty is perceived in its most imagined forms… great post!

    1. What you say is true but, sadly, the scourge of plastic is everywhere. Bottles and bags litter the entire planet I am sure. Thank you for kind comment.

  15. Beautiful work, I feel the need visit India. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you. You should go if you have the chance. I have been three times and yearn for more.

  16. Surprisingly quality writing, for this medium especially. I read a book recently by Amitav Gosh, Sea of Poppies. My first taste of India, even if from over 100 years ago, yours, my second is equally as good.

    1. I’ll take that as a compliment. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve read Sea of Poppies as well. One of my favorities. Another equally good book is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

    1. Thank you Carol, nice of you to say. I know you have seen a lot of them.

  17. Very soothing, the wondrous variety of humanity here. India sees so much beauty in all parts of itself–there isn’t the psychic strain of constantly trying to stuff everyone into a uniform mold like other nations. India seems to accept and understand that its multiplicity is its abundance. Revealing this, your photographs settle my soul.

    1. I agree with you. India is so cultural and religiously diverse that it is very hard to stereotype, and , as you say, that is their abundance. Thank you for commenting.

  18. The energy of India comes through beautifully in the photos. India is on my list of must visit places. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I hope you do go. Its wonderful. Thank you for visiting.

  19. Lovely portraits Don. I am, however, discomforted by the way India is perceived to be a land of the holy men whereas there are so many other aspects and places to explore. It might be tough to move away from the usual circuits of Rajasthan, Delhi, Benares, Goa etc., but there are countless other cities and portraits waiting to be shown. I know one tends to do the tourist spots first – even I would definitely mot miss Paris if I went to France. But, I have a request to all those who visit this beautiful country. Just add one off beat city to your trip each time you come over. You will not regret it and your readers will thank you for it. I don’t mean to pass judgement here – just saying that any one who can find the time to do this might find a different facet to explore.

    1. You are so right. India is immense and diverse. Almost impossible to explore it all. My goal here was to experience a Kumba Mela and the holy cities of Varanasi, Vrindavan and Mathura. Not to stereotype India. Don’t know if Allahabad, Vrindavan and Mathura qualify as off beat. But they are nothing like India’s big metropolises.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it. Are you Indian?

      1. Yes, I am and from North India too. So, I have a positive bias towards the cities you visited. I now stay in Mumbai and there are several places in Maharashtra I have been to since I moved. If you like beaches, you should visit places along the Konkan coastline.

        While Goa is the most popular, there are lesser known beaches that are as beautiful. So, you could stay in Goa and take short trips to beaches like Vengurla, Tarkarli etc. South India has amazing temples and natural beauty too but am not much of an expert on that area.

        I don’t mean to sound all knowing. Just that I feel sad so many other places that offer a different experience don’t get as much exposure as a few tourist circuit cities. Which ones to visit is obviously the travelers’ prerogative, but I wish you a happy experience each time you visit.

        1. Thanks for your comment and great suggestions. Check the “India” tab on my home pare and you’ll find much more from me on India.

          1. Impressive pictures of Kolkata. Loved the others too. You are a master at capturing expressions. Thanks for sharing these pics with us.

            1. Thank you for visiting. I am happy you enjoyed the posts.

  20. Reblogged this on chynaman118 and commented:
    Wanted to know India denotes what kinda nature …..
    Femiline or masculine

  21. Amazing images!!! You make me want to visit India!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. marvelous…expressive pics……..loved the portraits…’s the people who make our country unique…….

  23. Ron… really beautiful and the pictures ornate it beautifully.. This is the tip of the iceberg… A lot is beyond… Lot of mysteries….. At places there is light and at places darkness… Its a mixture of both…running simultaneously… glad u covered it…..

    1. I know you are right and I would love to delve deeper into the culture and spirituality. Thanks for you thoughtful comment.

  24. Man, that is just AWESOME. And, one of the best photo sets I have seen in a while…

    1. Thank you. I think you are awesome for saying so, ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. You have captured the “Saffron” in India very well !

  26. And the diversity within the country itself is very huge. I am seeing a lot of new cultures and traditions. I just moved 1900 kilometres within the country. Great article and fantastic pictures.

    1. Surely India must be the. Most culturally diverse county in the world. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  27. speechless i am…what a fabulous way to look at an amazing side of India…i really appreciate the selection of the words that followed every really inspired me to have my camera and click a story like this..

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It means a lot.

  28. As an Indian myself, I am impressed by the moments you’ve captured. One thing about people who visit India is that they tend to focus on the not so developed side and don’t bring out the developed side of it, which leads to a lot of stereotypes about India. I like how you’ve explained what pictures you’ve taken and made the instances clear. The photos are beautiful and truly bring out the traditional, raw side of India.

    1. Prunima, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am fascinated by Indian culture and spiritually and tried to express that in my post.

  29. I really like your post. Am an Indian. Highly awed the way you described every My India ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Anytime. It was really good. ๐Ÿ™‚ pleased to follow you

  30. Nyc post.Am a hindu, living in Ghana. Will definitely love to visit some time. Thanks for sharing. I love India! It’s great to be a hindu!

    1. I hope you can go to india some time. I’m sure you will love it. Thanks for your comment.

  31. You’d also check out Nepal, the country of Lord Buddha!

    1. It is on my list. Someday soon, I hope.

      1. Nepal’ll waiting for you to explore its nature, culture & the great Himalayas!

      2. Nepal’ll be waiting for you to explore its nature, culture & the great Himalayas!

  32. Amazing clicks and equally beautiful words complementing them. You have painted my India so beautifully. Simply awesome. Loved it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you for you comment. It mean a lot to me.

  33. You’ve done a wonderful cover story on my country I hope you come here again and explore other parts to because you have a way of telling stories like no one else ! Thank you for this beautiful and enriching piece ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot when you, an Indian, likes my work. I hope to return to India again and again.

  34. Amazing post.amazing photography. .following u for sure

  35. Ron, what a spectacular post!!! Every single perfect frame and quote evocative of the colour and complexity of India! I echo Tina’s comment….your craft improves by the day. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! This one was a no-brainer ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I take that as a real compliment coming from you. I am very sensitive to how Indians perceive my posts. I want to get it right. As you know, India and it’s culture are endlessly fascinating to me. Thanks Madhu.

  36. An incredible set of images Ron ~ truly inspiring and mesmerizing… Your words too also add to this incredible mix of impressions, such a blend of emotions, moods, shadows and lights throughout every piece of this post. Beautiful. And a just reward with being Freshly Pressed. Well deserve ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Just being in India makes the photography all the easier, but I appreciate your generous comments, especially about the writing. Thanks, Randall.

  37. I really enjoyed your photos in this post. There is something tasty about all that gold and orange. When I see pictures like these of India it makes my mouth water as if in anticipation of a delicious meal. I’ve never been and don’t see my path heading in that direction anytime soon, but should the opportunity present itself I won’t resist.

    1. Donna, I really enjoyed your comment. I suppose there is so etching tasty about the colors of India. Thank you for commenting

  38. Such beautiful pictures! If only to see them in the flesh. ๐Ÿ™‚ great post

    1. Thank you Tess. I hope you will get to India one day. It is amazing.

    2. My hope is that some day you will “see them in the flesh.” Thank you for commenting.

  39. Beautiful! Captures the beauty of India in a different light..I would really appreciate if you could take a look at my blog.

    1. Thank you. You are off to a great start with your blog. I love your title.

  40. nice blog. I can assist you to some of the local site seeing in and near the capital city if you wish t visit India again.

    1. Thank you very much and thanks for visiting.

  41. Its beautiful. .
    Iam from India..I never thought of orange as the colour of North India. .you are soo right
    Sad part is that these days majority of Indians dont admire this side of India.

    1. I think what you say is true everywhere. Thank you for your comment.

  42. My husband is from the South so I have not had the chance to travel to Delhi, Agra or Varanasi but your photos on this post and elsewhere on your blog only make me want to plan a trip to India this year and insist on a trip up to the North. It is apparent from your writing and photos that you love India as much as I do.


    1. I hope you can make it to the North, it is so totally different from the South and that diversity is India’s strength.

  43. Thank you for reminding me of India! We had planned to go there once upon a time, but were unable to
    do so. We did see and visit with Swami Vivekananda and three of his disciples in New York however.
    Here’s to Your Health!

    1. Hopefully that opportunity will come soon. Thanks for commenting.

  44. Nice post.. Give a try for South India too ๐Ÿ™‚ You have a plenty over there as well

    1. Have been in the South for a short time. Would love more time there.

  45. I’m seriously impressed with your works and thoughts that you have shared with every one here.
    If there was a way kneel in front of you,I would have. Trust me

    1. Thank you for your generous comment and for visiting. No kneeling necessary. ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. I have no wordsโ€ฆmaybe just one – Excellent!!! Bye, Kamila

  47. Obviously is a great post with a nice photos! I hope can travel to north of India one day . Thanks for sharing anyway
    I’ll be blessed when you come and visit my blog my friend . Thanks .

    1. I think you are off to a great start with your blog. Very nice writing style. Thanks for your visit.

  48. Hi! You definitely captured the complexity of the beauty of India! Really Inspiring! Would it be okay to use your photos as inspiration for my paintings?

    1. I would be happy for you to use my images as inspiration for your art. Just please send me photos of your paintings. I would love to see them.

  49. Its so nice to hear about my country from someone else! ๐Ÿ™‚ amazing post! Kept me mesmerised! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    1. So very kind of you. I am happy you enjoyed it. Thanks.

  50. Great post and amazing photos.

  51. I’m so happy to have found your blog, my these photos show me the India that I know and remember from my visits. What amazingly beautiful photos, showing the beauty of the Indian people, thank you.

    1. I am glad my pictures brought back fond memories for you. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    1. Thanks Bams. Always nice to hear from you.

  52. I live in Mumbai and generally try to go for holidays to places which are quiet and have fewer tourists. So, I’ve never seen the places in your photographs! The India I see when I get out of Mumbai is usually green….

  53. The colours in these images are breathtakingly vibrant. Simply beautiful!

  54. These are some of the most amazing photos I’ve ever seen. Beautiful post.

    1. Thank you so much. I am happy you enjoyed them.

  55. Despite being from India, I don’t think I could’ve illustrated the complexities of its culture better than you have!

    1. I take that as a real compliment. Thank you.

  56. Wow, Ron, you have really captured India here. What a marvelous gallery of photos. I’m curious. Do you take these pictures by asking if you can take them, or do you do it clandestinely with a telephoto lens? I’m so envious of your ability. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. No telephoto lens. If we make eye contact I ask permission, usually by gesturing. Otherwise, I just shoot. At the crowded festivals people generally expect to be photographed. How are things going in China?

      1. All is well in China, Ron, just trying to settle in and learn my way around. I get to go on holiday next week, along with the whole population of China. It’s the National Day holiday from Oct 1-7. It should be crazy and interesting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  57. Such a beautiful and interesting insight into the country. You’ve really made me want to go visit

    1. You should go. India is so very fascinating.

  58. Absolutely love these beautiful out of the world photographs of my neighbor country. Stunning photos and enlightening words.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for visiting.

  59. Beautiful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  60. Amazing and Brilliant. You have beautifully captured the essence of India (my country).

    1. Thank you so much. I am happy you enjoyed the post.

  61. “There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and wonโ€™t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and soundsโ€ฆ I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.”

    Lines like this make me proud t be an Indian. Just discovered your blog, definitely following you.

    Thankyou for making my country look so pretty.


    1. Thank you for your kind words. All the more so because India is your native land.

  62. Stunning presentation of your experiences, you really brought all of us there with you. Thank you.

  63. Beautiful pictures and wonderful presentation! Can’t say more as these pictures speak for themselves. Kudos!!

  64. The pictures are just amazing.. Is is ironic that I haven’t visited these places, being an Indian and that a perspective from someone outside India makes me feel a little …. guilty? I want to visit Kumbh Mela someday!! Mesmerising pictures, really!

    1. Your country and people are quite lovely and make me want to return again. Thank you.

  65. Excellent pictures. I have not visited varnasi even though I claim to be a devout hindu. keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for visiting.

  66. Thinking of this an what people go through make me feel grateful for what i have. An things others do for me

  67. Breathtaking pictures this post has. Nicely described.

    1. The culture is indeed amazing and the people lovely. Have you been?
      Thanks Gary.

  68. You’ve captured our country in such lovely pictures; tiring as it may be, one can never tire or get bored of India ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You are so right. India is mesmerizing. Her people warm and friendly, her colors dazzling. Thanks so much for your kind words and for visiting.

  69. astounding

    1. Thank you so much and thanks, too, for visiting.

  70. Wonderful pictures. You’ re amazing, Ron. I like and I share. Take care.

  71. Reblogged this on Outosego and commented:
    India. Through the lens of Ron mayhew.

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