These two young boys were busy dredging for scrap metal – they had a magnet on a long line and threw it again and again into the water, hoping for a lucky find… They were on a small island just off the riverbank, that was used by the boatmen to moor their boats overnight. We’d been using it to film some landscapes away from the crowds.
We were staying in an ashram on the far side of the river – away from the city and the fort. Each day we crossed by river boat, about a dozen people on each boat powered along by a couple of oars. The first picture is from the morning we left the KM and it was the day before the main bathing day: for several days the crowds had been growing larger and larger and on this day it was estimated that there were between 10 and 15 million people present. On the next day, the most auspicious for bathing, the papers told us there were 30 million people present.
This was an epic sight – as far as I could see around the horizon, along the banks of the rivers, were millions upon millions of people, all patiently waiting for their turn to bathe in the waters.
It’s a truly remarkable feat of engineering and civic planning: during the couple of months between the flood waters of the Ganges and Jumna receding and the auspicious month for the festival, the authorities construct a city capable of housing many millions of people. An entire city with roadways, electricity, water, 28 temporary police stations, with 12,500 officers and lost a persons bureau is constructed on the sandy flood plain. This year the authorities say that they built 150km of roads, 550km of pipes and supplied 80 million litres of clean water. It works with beautiful efficiency and is truly epic in scale: these shots were taken from the top of the small south Indian temple to Hanuman that nestles underneath the Moghul fortress.
Earlier this year I was asked to make a film about a group of American pilgrims traveling to the Hindu festival of the Kumbh Mela which takes place every twelve years on the banks of the Ganges at Allahabad. Over the course of the month long festival over 100 million people were said to have visited to bathe at the confluence of the 3 rivers – the Jumna, the Ganges and the mythological Saraswati.
I was mostly shooting HD video on a big-old Sony850 TV camera but also managed a few shots on the 5D… this week I’ll upload a couple each day and then the whole gallery on Saturday.
Today’s are from the road trip between Varanasi and Allahabad.