Shadowed archway looking towards a large white building (The Taj Mahal)

India in Ten Snaps: A Photo Essay

Mark Stewart Destinations 6 Comments

By the time we travelled to India, we thought of ourselves as fairly seasoned travellers. We’d bounced around Canada, the Us, and spent nearly half a year roaming throughout Southeast Asia. We even lived in a car for six months while crossing Australia. On this trip alone, we spent time in South Korea and Nepal before crossing over, we figured it would be a nice warm-up for this incredible land.

We were wrong.

India is without question the craziest, most intense, wonderful, shocking country we’ve ever set foot. Nowhere is more colourful, offensive, smelly, in-your-face, loud, and absolutely beautiful. No amount of travel could have prepared us for the sensory overload that would be those few months.

I’ve wanted to do a bit of an India gallery for some time now, but couldn’t fathom the idea of concentrating hundreds of photos down to such a small handful. There’s just no way that could possibly do the country justice.

Then again, no number of pictures could ever convey the emotion of such a place. So rather than try to explain the raw power of India with mere images, I’ll just give you a tease. A small taste, hopefully enough to pique your interest enough to consider paying the incredible land a visit.

Gold covered building surrounded with a pool of water

The Golden Temple – Amritsar, Punjab

The equivalent of Mecca to Islam, or the Vatican to Catholicism, the Golden Temple is the holiest of shrines under the Sikh faith. Perfectly white, intricately designed walls surround the sacred pool in which the temple – coated in real gold – rests. Though our time in Punjab was an overall beautiful experience, viewing such a stunning work of architecture such as this was beyond expectations.

Black vehicle with a yellow batman logo licence plate

Batmobile – Udaipur, Rajasthan

Tuk-tuks, the quintessential budget taxi found in developing nations from Guatemala to Thailand. India is no different. And like tuk-tuks throughout the world, drivers like to add their own bit of flair. Sometimes it’s in the form of wild paint jobs, sound systems, flags and flowers. Other times it’s much more subtle, like this one found on the streets of Udaipur.

Camel in the sand

Sleepy Camel – Thar Desert, Rajasthan

From the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the tropical jungles of the south, the landscape here changes as often as the local dialect. In the state of Rajasthan, in the country’s northwest, lies the Thar Desert. An expanse of sand and shrub that extends all the way into Pakistan. Crossing the desert by camel is one of the most unique – albeit uncomfortable – activities.

Girl sitting on the ground

In the Moment – Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Rishikesh is the self proclaimed yoga capital of the world. Tucked away a few hours north of Delhi, close to the mouth of the Ganges, this spiritual village gained popularity after the Beatles stayed here and wrote the White Album. Although tourism has certainly dampened the true vibe of the place, it still holds some unexplainable energy that one can’t ignore. Here Kylee sits in meditation along the banks of the river near the Ashram we were staying.

Sunset over a city of blue buildings

The Blue City – Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Jodhpur’s blue hue sits beneath the shadow of a fortress perched above the city on a small mountain. Whatever the reason for the blue paint, typically believed to pay respect to Lord Shiva, it’s an outstanding sight to behold. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been fortunate enough to photograph. During the golden hour, the brilliant yellow from the sun compliments the rich blue of the stone walls perfectly.

Colourful buildings on green hills

Tibet in Exile – McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh

One of the highlights of our time in the country was our visit to McLeod Ganj, high in the Himalayan foothills. Aside from the breathtaking scenery and colourful buildings, this is where the majority of Tibetans settled following exile from their homeland almost 70 years ago. It also happens to be the centre of the Tibetan government and home to the Dalai Lama himself. We were incredibly fortunate during our visit to be welcomed into his residence to take part in one of his incredibly inspirational teachings.

Brown cliffs against the ocean

The Perfect Calm – Anjuna, Goa

Following nearly three months of constant travel through Northern India, we were exhausted. Crowds and chaos, extremes of emotions in all waking hours. Our initial plan hadn’t seen us heading any further south than Mumbai. Thankfully, a last-minute decision had us relaxing under towering palms on the coast of the Arabian sea. This scene was our first glimpse of the ocean of the trip, following a 12-hour train ride and a long, dusty walk under the sun.

Silhouette of boy playing cricket on the beach

Cricket Kid – Patnem, Goa

This is one of those photos that I completely lucked out with. We were sitting at one of those makeshift beach bars, thrown together haphazardly with bamboo and leaves, sipping on some sweaty bottles of Kingfisher. Sunset beer was a pretty regular part of our daily routine but this time a group of kids picked up a little game of cricket right in front of us.

Several women and children standing

Gracious Locals – Rajasthan

One memory that holds strong from our visit may seem rather insignificant when compared to other experiences. Crossing into Rajasthan by train from neighbouring Punjab, our train car was mostly empty. A group of women with their children boarded a few hours into the journey and sat near us. The curious kids couldn’t stop asking questions about us and our home. The women graciously offered to shared their packed meal with us, including stuffed peppers, grilled vegetables, and delicious flatbreads. Their generosity and conversation was a wonderful experience.

Taj Mahal through a tunnel

The Taj Mahal – Agra, Uttar Pradesh

No list of India would be complete without this true epic tribute of love and loss. In essence, it’s a simple mausoleum built under Shah Jahan in the 15th century for his wife. In person, it’s truly one of the most beautiful structures we’ve ever laid eyes on. That being said, my favourite (of dozens) of photos I have from that morning, for whatever reason, is this one.

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About the Author

Mark Stewart

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Mark is the co-founder, photographer, author, and part-time editor of These Foreign Roads. A former chef, he left the professional kitchen in search of interesting experiences and unique cuisines from around the world.

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2 years ago

Wow. I am from India and I totally love these pictures. Definitely a teaser but a substantial one.

2 years ago

Nice project! It’s very difficult to squeeze such a big diverse country into 10 images! 🙂

Andrew Comte
1 year ago

Great way to show off the country. I like the idea. The Golden Temple looks spectacular.

10 months ago

The pictures made me nostalgic and reminded me of our luxury Rajasthan vacation we took sometime back. You have captured the essence of our Indian culture pretty well. If you plan another trip to India, explore south India and eastern part. Every state has its own story to tell. Thanks you for writing this blog 🙂

Thanks!
Manisha