In a win for wildlife, the latest tiger census in India has seen an increase of 200 tigers from just four years ago! Launched in the early 1970s, Project Tiger relocated entire villages to open up habitat corridors for the big cats, thus minimizing conflict with humans, and giving the wildlife room to rewild the lush sal and bamboo forests and grassy meadows.
Join me in November to experience the best India has to offer: we will travel to two national parks to photograph the elusive big cats as well as barasinghas, rhinos and the massive wild water buffalos. We might even see sloth bears and leopards!
November is a time of celebration too. Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated all over the country with spectacular light displays, gift-giving, a delicious sweets. It is a time of spiritual uplift, a celebration of good over evil, and the end of the harvest season.
After the crush of the Kumbh in Haridwar, the nature and solitude of Ranthambore National Park was a welcome change. With an area of 400 sq. km encompassing rocky hill crests which descend to open valleys between the Aravalli and Vindhya ranges, dotted with water pools and fruit trees, this park gets its name from the thousand year old fortress, which looms above the forest. Well known for the diurnal activity of tigers, Ranthambore is a very special and unusual area where a natural present meets a historical past.
My attempt to explain the timing of the Ardh Kumbh Mela:
Haridwar is the place for the well-known Kumbh Mela. Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious gathering which is celebrated for forty days and is the biggest religious ceremony in the world; “Kumbh Mela” translates to “Festival of Urn”. At any given place, the Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years. There is a difference of around 3 years between the Kumbh Melas at each of four locations. The exact date is determined according to a combination of zodiac positions of the Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon. The Purna Kumbh Mela, the biggest and the most auspicious fair, occurs every twelve years and is organized in rotation among four places where drops of the sacred nectar spilled over: Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. A mass pilgrimage for the Hindu community of India, the Kumbh Mela is rumored to be one of the largest congregation of sages, yogis, ascetics, mendicants, men, women and children on the planet. But every sixth year after a Purna Kumbh Mela, an Ardh Kumbh Mela takes place. In the Hindi language the word “Ardh” stands for “half” and “Mela” means “fair”. The “Ardh Kumbh Mela” is called so because it is held at the sixth year and marks the halfway stage between the celebration of the Purna Kumbh Melas every 12 years. The Ardh Mela takes place at Haridwar & Allahabad only. And then there is the mother of all Kumbhs, the Maha Kumbh Mela which happens once every 144 years.
OK, I think they are drinking way too much spilled sacred nectar…
For me – early in my career people told me not to bother going to India – they said it had nothing to offer and I should focus elsewhere. So for over a decade that’s what I did. Worst advice ever!
Once I finally saw India with my own eyes—I’ve been back just about every year since and I’ve still just scratched the surface it’s beautiful, complex and wonderful variety of culture, nature, landscape and wildlife.
I’ve added a new photo tour for India in January/February 2016 that can either be just one week or over two depending the time you have. I’ll be taking you along an extraordinary route that combines the best of Inida, full of lore and splendor, punctuated by diverse photographic attractions.
The Kumbh Mela is a rare mass pilgrimage when Hindus from all over the world journey to bathe in the sacred river Ganges. It is considered to be the largest peaceful gathering in the world. I have been to several Kumbhs and can help effectively navigate you through this large and colorful congregation of pilgrims, yogis, and sages. Following the Kumbh we will travel to Ranthambore National Park where a highlight will be the chance to photograph elusive tigers and leopards and other rare wildlife.
This extroverted journey takes you along an extraordinary route that combines the best of India, full of lore and splendor, punctuated by diverse photographic attractions.
The Kumbh Mela is a rare mass pilgrimage when Hindus from all over the world journey to bathe in the sacred river Ganges. It is considered to be the largest peaceful gathering in the world. I have been to several Kumbhs and can help effectively navigate you through this large and colorful congregation of pilgrims, yogis, and sages. Following the Kumbh we will travel to Ranthambore National Park where a highlight will be the chance to photograph elusive tigers and leopards and other rare wildlife. Click below to see the full itinerary.
Built on a mountain ledge with spectacular views, the Shanti Stupa in Leh, India, is situated at a breathtaking 13,999 feet elevation. Enshrined in its base are relics of the Buddha. It is a Peace Pagoda, built by the Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists to promote world peace and commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism.
The serene and peaceful Shanti Stupa is the latest addition to my Open Edition Fine Art Collection. Save 20% on Shanti prints purchased this month! They are printed on EPSON Premium Photo Luster paper using archival EPSON Ultrachrome inks, and I hand sign them with a silver acid-free pen.
This trip, which ranged from the color riot that is the Holi Festival in Mathura, to the holy waters and ghats along the Ganges in Varanasi, through the beautiful landscapes and tigers of Bandhavgarh and on to colorful desert settings of Rajasthan, was a terrific experience for us both. Art Wolfe magic was a big part that experience. Art is a funny, engaging and kind human being, as well as an excellent, patient teacher of photography. We would join him again in a heartbeat for more photography travel and hope to do so soon!