Worldwide Photographic Journeys

Coming Soon – 2021 Maha Kumbh Mela and Gujarat tours

30th May 2019

The 2022 festival of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar is the largest religious gathering on earth

In early 2021, Wild Images leader Inger Vandyke will be hosting a small group tour to visit the largest gathering of people on earth at the spectacular Kumbh Mela festival which will be held in Haridwar, India. The festival is the largest peaceful gathering in the world, and considered as the “world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims”.

A beautiful Indian girl offers a floating candle to the spirits on the Ganges River of India

Attended by millions of Hindus from all over India, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We will spend four full days at the Kumbh Mela photographing different events and the many thousands of pilgrims in attendance.

A young pilgrim at the Kumbh Mela with his garland of Marigolds

From there we will venture further down the river to the famous, charismatic city of Varanasi where we will seek out more pilgrims, the city’s famous Saddhus and photograph life as it unfolds on the river during the Kumbh.

“Varanasi is older than history. Older than tradition. Older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together” – Mark Twain

Finally, in the back streets of Kolkata we will seek out a local artist’s colony for some wonderful street photography.

Portrait of a young boy in the former colony of artists at Kathputli, India (Image by Inger Vandyke)

One of Kathputli’s performing fire breathers in Delhi (Image by Inger Vandyke)

The dates for this tour are yet to be determined but it is anticipated that it will take place around February 2022, in line with the dates set by the Hindu holy calendar.

A Saddhu paddles his boat that on the Ganges River of India at Varanasi

The total duration of the tour will be 10 nights.

Pretty Mir girls in Gujarat (Image by Inger Vandyke)

Directly after the Kumbh, we are planning a tribal photography tour in the beautiful Indian state of Gujarat. This culturally rich part of India borders with neighbouring Pakistan and is home to beautiful tribal people including the Mirs, Jats and Rabaris. We will visit nomadic Rabari cattle herders, camps of beautiful Mir women and the elaborately decorated Jat people living near the vast salt desert of the Rann of Kutch.

The incredible, etched wrinkles of an elderly Rabari woman in Gujarat

Gujarat, India’s “Land of Legends and Lions” is the westernmost state of the country and borders neighbouring Pakistan.  This wild and beautiful corner of western India is sometimes known as India’s Tribal Belt as it is home to some of India’s last intact traditional tribes.  Our tour is an exploration of this extremely diverse region where we will seek out nomadic Rabari cattle herders, meet beautiful Mir girls with their incredible decorative dress, visit workers on the salt pans of Kutch, visit some of the state’s ancient temples and meet the artisans that make Gujarat famous across India for their beautiful work.

A Rabari herder with his cattle at sunset in Gujarat

Gujarat is filled with rich traditions including cloth making, pottery, salt harvesting, wooden boat building and embroiderers.

Portrait of a beautiful Mir girl in the Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat (Image by Inger Vandyke)

These tours may be taken separately or combined as one to really immerse yourself in traditional Indian culture.

The hands of Lilu, a Rabari tribeswoman in remote Gujarat. Her silver bracelets are indicators of her social status and wealth in her community (Image by Inger Vandyke)

Lilu. Rabari women often have many tattoos and one of their most cherised motifs is that of a Scorpion, a symbol of fertility (Image by Inger Vandyke)

In the last twelve months Inger’s work in documenting the destruction of Kathputli in Delhi was recognised when she was appointed as one of the photographers of India in the prestigious international Atlas of Humanity project which documents the world’s ethnic and cultural diversity, including its vanishing tribes and communities.   The full story of Kathputli can be found on the Atlas of Humanity website.

Early morning in Kathputli (Image by Inger Vandyke)

Join her on an exploration of some of India’s most beautiful cultures and locations.