India is a diverse country that is rich in heritage and color. Small cultural villages, thick lush forests, the azure outline of the Himalayas and immense meadows give India the distinction as one of the top places for photography. Most travelers visiting India will flock to the tourist places and take the same photos many have already seen. To photograph the real India and her people, you must go off the beaten track to get the pictures that will remain on your walls and in your heart for years to come.
Belur and Halebid Temples
In the southern state of Karnataka stand two tiny towns, Belur, and 16 km further Halebid: home to some of the most exquisite temples in India. They reveal the brilliant artistry of the architects who created them. These towns were once at the center of an empire that was ruled by the Hoysala dynasty in the 12th century. Just as the famous temples of Khajuraho leave you wanting more, Belur, and Halebid bring to light the builders proficiency of a lost art. Here you will see the elaborate Hoysala architecture and exquisite carvings. The little towns are not as thick with tourists and remain a dream for photographers travelling through India. In addition to the magnificent temples there are plenty of excellent photos to be taken of the streets and people who inhabit these small towns.
Resting in the Himalayan foothills, Dooars has diverse flora and fauna in tropical forests, countless flowing streams sculpting the green blanket of tea gardens, rolling plains, and rippling hills climbing up from the rivers. A run through the Dooars valleys, the doorway of Bhutan and the whole north east of India, can be the photographic event of a lifetime.
Chawri Bazaar is located to the west of Jama Masjid and is a mecca of sights and sounds that will amaze everyone from the novice to the professional photographer: with the rich colors of the fabric to the brightly colored wallpapers and wedding cards all hung within view of the streets. There are people of all kinds milling about and haggling with the vendors. The streets are filled with scooters, cars, and rickshaws; laborers with their backs filled with supplies, and shoppers all vying for passage in the throng of the daily market. Here the opportunity to photograph India’s people during every day life, the rich colors of the Sarongs, the tiny shops, and the colorful food from vendor’s stalls lining the roads are limitless.
Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River deltas at the foot of the Mikir Hills. The littoral habitation is based on predominantly tall, dense prairies peppered with lush jungles, interlocking creeks, and abundant small lakes. The waters of the Brahmaputra flood seventy-five percent of the region yearly, and the soil is comprised of sedimentary accumulations of the River and its branches.
This park is one of the last areas in the heart of Assam in eastern India untouched by humans and holds the earth’s largest inhabitants of one-horned rhinoceroses and many mammals including bears, panthers, tigers, thousands of bird species, and elephants. The photographic opportunities are so wide-ranging that clicking away in the same direction will offer a diverse range of landscapes & creatures that are truly awe-inspiring. This a a part of India truly off the beaten path and ripe for photography.
A half century ago, Vijayanagar was the hub of a Hindu kingdom that controlled the entire south and was the most imposing city in India. Vijayanagar defended themselves from the Muslim intruders for hundreds of years. Ultimately the Hindus were trounced and the city was pillaged by the Muslims and deserted. Now all that endures is the small village of Hampi: many miles of a brilliantly severe and stunning panorama of small sheer hills shrouded with enormous granite sarsens (sandstone blocks), strewn with hundreds of temples ruins. The views of the hills and ruins are striking, interspersed with villages clustered in the remains. The photo opportunities are endless and some of the best travel photography in India can be captured here.
For photo lovers like the members of our travel club a trip to India incorporating the above highlights will make for the trip of a lifetime. It’s more exciting to venture off the beaten path anyway and the photography rewards will be abundant! We’re planning a trip to some of these places next year so be on the lookout! For now check out our destination travel guide on the highlights of Delhi.