Personal photo walk at the Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad 2001

The Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on earth, is taking place these days in Haridwar and everyone makes plans to go. I recently read a post about the fact that photography is now prohibited at the Kumbh grounds, which I feel is completely ridiculous. It seems the Indian government has gone a little too far with all this ‘terror’ security and is making everyone’s life more difficult while not really securing anyone. The same thing is happening in the UK now, and only last week a huge gathering of photographers at Trafalgar square was calling to protest English cops’ continuing harassment of photographers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

So all this brings back memories of the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2001. I am not sure I will be going to the Kumbh in Haridwar this time, but in 2001 I came to India for this reason alone. I was a commercial photographer in Tel Aviv at the time, and the plan of moving to India was already shaping up. I had just bought a new camera; the Nikon F100 and new lenses, and was going to India to play with it a little.

Thinking back about this trip now feels like it was in another life time. The F100 is of course a film camera, and I carried a bag of 200 rolls of film with me, to be used in India over a period of one month. I had only used about 80 rolls but this was an expensive trip anyway. The amount of money it took to process these rolls could have gotten me a digital camera today!

I went into my archive and dug out a few of my images of the 2001 Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. It is very interesting to look at one’s work in the perspective of time, especialy knowing now, that I had no idea what I was doing at that time. Being a commercial photographer, I had no clue of how to tell a story and how to properly document the event. I was simply walking around looking for nice pictures and hoping I manage to get a few. I must admit that I was mostly disappointed with my results at that time. In that sense, it would actually not be a bad idea to go back to the Kumbh Mela today and see what I come up with.

Anyway, here are a few pics from my trusted F100 that served me so well until it was replaced by the D70 when I stared shooting digital. Good or bad, it was simply an unforgettable experience!

kumbh-mela-grounds

women offer their prayers at the holi sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga during the maha kumbh mela, Allahabad, January 2001

A boat man at sunset at the holi sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga during the maha kumbh mela, Allahabad, January 2001

Boats on the river at the holi sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga during the maha kumbh mela, Allahabad, January 2001

Boats on the river at the holi sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga during the maha kumbh mela, Allahabad, January 2001

A night view of the Kumbh mela grounds from the bridge over the dry river bed of the Ganga river in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

A young boy selling ground nuts at night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

A sadhu and his belongings at night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

An old woman listening to fortune telling machine at night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

A woman going in for a holi dip at night at the holi sangam, the confluence of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga during the maha kumbh mela, Allahabad, January 2001

At night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

people make fire to keep warm at night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

people sleep under strong yellow lights on a foggy night at the Kumbh mela grounds in Allahabad during the Maha Kumbh Mela, January 2001

16 Responses to “Personal photo walk at the Maha Kumbh Mela, Allahabad 2001”

  1. anrb says:

    Awesome shots..you have a unique style

  2. anrb says:

    Awesome shots..you have a unique style

  3. sanjay says:

    How easy it is to forget the expenses when you are chasing dreams as a photographer. Hoping to go there a cpl of times in spite of the wierd ban, and see what I can get. And who knows, it would be a good start to me going pro, as i am trying to nowadays :)

  4. sanjay says:

    How easy it is to forget the expenses when you are chasing dreams as a photographer. Hoping to go there a cpl of times in spite of the wierd ban, and see what I can get. And who knows, it would be a good start to me going pro, as i am trying to nowadays :)

  5. bulbul says:

    As always very atmospheric.

  6. bulbul says:

    As always very atmospheric.

  7. Tom Bourdon says:

    Great shots, you’ve capptured a real sense of atmosphere.

    Allahabad is much more photogenic then Haridwar where this years mela is. Unless you want to shoot advertising boards that is….

    Good work

    Tom

  8. Tom Bourdon says:

    Great shots, you’ve capptured a real sense of atmosphere.

    Allahabad is much more photogenic then Haridwar where this years mela is. Unless you want to shoot advertising boards that is….

    Good work

    Tom

  9. Bo Johnsson says:

    Lovely pictures from a lovely country. What film did you use (Fujichrome Velvia?)?

  10. Bo Johnsson says:

    Lovely pictures from a lovely country. What film did you use (Fujichrome Velvia?)?

  11. Madhur Mangal says:

    the light ambience in every pic
    very lightistic!!!

  12. Madhur Mangal says:

    the light ambience in every pic
    very lightistic!!!

  13. I always feel looking at your old work is so important to see where you came from instead of locking it away and never looking at it again like lots of people do. These are great-not only do they tell a story of the Kumbh but they tell another story-yours.

    P.S. Photography banned at the Kumbh Grounds?  for real??

  14. Thank you Kismet. This post is from 2010 when the Haridwar kumbh mela took place so in not sure about the ban. However, even in 2001 there was problem to shoot on the ghat during snan so I have a feeling itight be even more so today.

  15. Yes Bo, it was mostly Fujicrome Provia 100 and 400


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