Most people take annual holidays to chill and get away from the pressures of daily life, trouble is we’re pretty chilled anyway, so, how about a little (challenging) adventure. Somewhere with life, colour, texture and life (did I already say that?).

Well, life is in abundance, possibly too much abundance where we chose… India, more specifically Rajasthan. As soon as we stepped out into the baking hot streets of Delhi this ‘life’ hit us like nothing we’ve ever experienced. The noise, smells, sights and sheer dynamics of every day life. Slightly overwhelmed, we played it as cool as possible, attempting in vain to blend in hahaha, not a chance! The local traders were onto us in a flash, very persuasively (attempting) to lead us to their shops, stalls or businesses. Everyone was so nice yet we realised swiftly that we were simply being perceived as walking wallets. The whole Indian culture seems to revolve around money, yet not in a crude or selfish way, simply a way of life and survival. Pointing a camera at a local usually resulted in an expectation of them being paid 10 rupees.

Below is a tiny selection of images which give a flavour of this dynamic and rich culture. We barely scratched the surface and my head’s still spinning from the experience. We spent over three weeks travelling over much of Rajasthan and some of Punjab, I could have spent all this time in one town, on one street and still never got to the bottom of it. People say regarding India, ‘all of life is right in front of you’, this is so true.

If people think a wedding is emotionally charged, India must be a volcano.

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Happy holy man :) There were too many of these. Might have been something to do with having to pay-as-you-shoot ha!

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Local chap doing his daily washing in Udaipur.

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Street food being prepared in Varanasi as funeral processions were walking passed. The contradictions of life were mesmerising.

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Kids were the best! They LOVED having their photo taken. “One photo, one photo” they yelled, and not one rupee demanded :)

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Rickshaws. These were everywhere, the driver usually hires them for 200 rupees a day, owning one is quite posh.

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Sunrise, Varanasi.

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The streets of Delhi. This scene was typical but you should have heard it!

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Agra and the Taj Mahal, shot from Agra fort.

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Taj Mahal. Encapsulated by what seems a permanent scaffold.

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Local train at a crossroads. The authorities hate people hanging out of trains now, so this scene is gradually becoming rare.

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Agra fort.

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Jubilant Sikhs arriving in Amritsar and the Golden Temple near the India/Pakistan border.

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Jaipur from the road to the Monkey Temple.

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Going to school, India style.

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Vibrant local Rajasthan dance display.

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Curious kids. Some people rarely come into contact with travellers, when they do the fascination is fascinating to watch.

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Very cool holy man. Jaipur.

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Being driven by a tuk tuk is like nothing you’ve ever experienced, hold on tight and enjoy :-/

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Monkey at a holy shrine overlooking Pushkar.

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Typical backstreet scene. The colours and textures scream out to be photographed.

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Holy man… Yep, just before I handed over 10 rupees!

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Hmm… During our travels we had to endure a 19 hour train journey, which was very real.

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Sunset over Lake Pichola, Udaipur and a very chilled skipper!

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We have dogs and cats roaming our streets. India has a proliferation of cows doing the same, bizarre if you’re not Indian.

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Local lady in Jodhpur.

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Wash day in Udaipur.

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School trip to City Palace, Udaipur.

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Sikhs bathing prior to dipping into the sacred lake at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

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View from City Palace, Udaipur.

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Back street scene… Normal :-/

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I accrued a huge gallery of neglected bicycles, this almost turned into an obsession. Here’s number 76!

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Rickshaw siesta time.

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Ghats of Varanasi. It generally takes three hours for the body to burn, if there’s any remains the body is thrown into the river (or so we were informed).

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Street scene.

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Varanasi Aghori holy man. These (I believe) are known to eat the remains of the cremated.

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She didn’t blink once, she was lovely :)

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Luckily I had my (discrete) Fuji XT-1 camera, with it’s flip up screen. So useful when not wanting to be detected taking shots.

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Jodhpur street scene.

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Fuji XT-1 set to totally silent electronic shutter, he didn’t flinch!

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Step away from the main town centres where few travellers go and people are fascinated by you.

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Local Rajasthan woman in traditional dress on her way to wash some dishes, just before a sandstorm blew in.

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Jodhpur (the blue city). Cows on a balcony! This was well into the back streets and labyrinths of the local parts of Jodhpur.

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Locals going about their business in Jodhpur. Tuk tuks ready for another busy day.

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Jodhpur lady. She genuinely posed for this shot. Women invariably were suspicious and turned away.

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Inside a Jodhpur house. These ladies practically dragged me and Sara in, so rare is it for them to see foreigners in the back streets of Jodhpur.

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Taj Mahal with colourful visitors.

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Boat owner on the Ganges, looking rather chilled!

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Bike :)

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Siestaring local in the midday heat. Silent Fuji XT-1 again, very useful.

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Kids playing at one of many step wells dotted about most of the towns. This one at Jodhpur.

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How many sets of eyes can you see in this shot?

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Cute kids :)

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Reassuring and touching moment.

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Cows… Everywhere!

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Waiting for our first train, which got cancelled… Welcome to India.

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Local band. Jaisalmer.

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Shot this from a train as the other train passed. Practically everyone we came into contact with was upbeat and happy :)

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This guy is famous in Jaisalmer and Rajasthan. He gave us a personal mini concert that evening during our rooftop dinner. Spellbinding!

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Young fisher boy. Ganges, early morning.

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Varanasi street hustle and bustle.

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Prayers at Varanasi. This takes place EVERY night!

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Early morning Ganges scene. Very tranquil.

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Commuters disembarking.

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Local skipper preparing blessing candles. Ganges.

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Amritsar locals not wanting to wait for the train to pass. Life is very organic here!

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Sikh bathing in the sacred lake at the Golden Temple, Amritsar.

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Sarees hanging in a Jodhpur shop. The colours and vibrancy… love it.

 

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