I love taking photos and to me, there is no better place to take photos than around the Indian Subcontinent. The rich colours, friendly people, varied landscapes, over-populated cities and stunning countryside mean it is a haven for taking great pictures. Here are my top 10 photos from my travels around the Subcontinent.
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I love old Land Rovers, and was regularly seen under a bonnet or knee deep in oil when I worked in African Safaris, so I was delighted to bump into this old girl in a rainy Darjeeling. It looked absolutely exhausted, like it had been in a fight, was the worst colour for the muddy trails of the Himalayas but it was still doing its job way beyond its use-by date. I felt its ragged looks, bent bumpers and black eye were perfectly in tune with a black and white scene on a cold and rainy day way up in the hills.
I was really looking forward to my first toy train experience. The track between Shimla and Kalka is famous for its scenery, crossing over 800 bridges and passing through about half as many mountain tunnels. But it was a fatigued family man who caught my eye, struggling with the demands of seven in the morning and three children all wanting the window seat.
I had been in Varanasi so long that hotels began to give me little free treats as a thank you to my seemingly endless stay. One of which was a tour of some of the less-visited parts of the town where I found two women in an old shrine. One was very lively and keen to offer me proposals and photos, whereas her friend was quieter and offered a little bit more mystique. After chatting for a brief time, she allowed me to take her photo, which now hangs on my wall at home.
This wasn’t the Delhi I was expecting. Technically a satellite city, I was lucky enough to stay in a modern penthouse In Gurgoan for a couple of weeks and I was amazed by this new, technological India. The high rise buildings and tenant’s private tennis courts were a far cry from the old havelis and bustling markets I had come accustomed to. A clear sign of the rapid middle class development in the subcontinent.
I like looking at this night time photo alongside the shot of ultra-modern Gurgoan. Udaipur city centre shows the contrast between old and new as skyscrapers and tennis courts are replaced by ramshackle old buildings and small street vendors. The large tree hides a hindu temple, a nod to the history and religion that was seemingly absent in the modern commuter cities which focused more on fast food and air conditioning.
The classic start of the trail to Mt Everest in Nepal, it had already taken me two weeks trekking to get up to Lukla, which felt like a metropolis compared to the teahouses and tiny Sherpa villages that had been my home for the last fortnight. The ‘Welcome’ archway at the end of the road is a rite of passage for any modern expedition to the summit of the world’s highest mountain and even though it wasn’t the start of my trek, it still felt special to be passing through.
Street Footballer, Silguri
Silguri is just at the foot of the Himalayas below Darjeeling and I had to wait some hours here for a train to Kolkata. I was entertained by a group of local children playing football on what looked like abandoned rice fields. It was the first time I had seen an interest in football in India which grew rapidly when I arrived in Kolkata, where it is rapidly gaining support alongside cricket as the most followed sport in the city. The child’s Argentina shirt was in honour of Lionel Messi, who was playing with his country in the city that weekend in a game which sold over 80,000 tickets. More signs of rapid change in India.
Nepalese Tour Guide
I had taken a ten hour bus to the tiny village of Jiri, around 50km from Kathmandu to start the classic trek to Mt Everest. With no map, guide, or even a coat, I remember arriving with some apprehension ahead of what would be at least a month’s walk. On my first day of walking, I managed to get lost within around five minutes amid a beautiful pine forest on the edge of the town. Fortunately a local guide happened to be walking up into the woods and walked with me along an almost invisible trail until I got my bearings. I witnessed little bits of kindness like this throughout Nepal which often rescued me from ending up miles off course.
I had travelled over 20 hours on a bus from Kathmandu out to the tiny village of Letang, around 100km from Darjeeling, right on the India/Nepal border. The trip was supposed to take 12 hours, so when I arrived 15km outside the village the last transport through the steaming jungles had long since departed. With no other option I was forced to trek through the forest in pitch darkness, which as the village symbol on a sign I saw was a Tiger, I was a little nervous about. After trying to sleep next to a herd of cows (which turned out to be goats) for protection, I eventually made it to the village just before sunrise. I don’t particularly love this photo, but considering the effort to get to this tiny village, the rewards of views like this from a rickety old bridge made it all worthwhile.
I had just started to pluck up the courage to ask people if I could take their photo when I arrived in Kathmandu. As soon as I arrived I instantly thought I was in a portrait paradise, everyone looked like they had a thousand stories etched into their faces, so the morning after my arrival, I rushed down into the streets to see what I could find. This old gentleman was a playful old character, like an actor who knows he can play hard to get and the parts will come, he must have been approached a thousand times. On talking to him, he kept pointing at the sky, I wasn’t sure why at first, unsure if I had done something wrong. I soon realised though, that he was pointing at the sun, waiting for it to rise over a rooftop so that he could catch the perfect light…