The alluvial mud plains of the river Ganges allow, for a matter of months, a magical canvas city to be fashioned which attracts up to 100 mllion visitors over its short lifespan. Following the visitors’ departure the river swells again with monsoon rains and the city returns to its natural subterranean landscape, all traces of human occupation swept aside in the currents. At the heart of the temporary festival-city-landscape is a confluence of rivers where the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical underground Saraswati come together in a flourish of colour and energy. This is the spiritual heart of Prayag, today known as Allahabad.
More images, mostly unpublished, from the Kumbh Mela at Allahabad 2013.
Crossing the Goddess was eventless. The pontoon bridge stretched out like a slightly twisting snake, the supporting plastic oval bollards elevating the wooden and metal bridge effortlessly above the brown flow, and the water slipped through the gaps without causing eddies or whirlpools. It was wide but shallow, the sand and silt that lined the shores clearly visible beneath.
The jeep left the bus station and began threading its way through a maelstrom of colour, activity and noise. Rickshaws, motor bikes, animals and people were dodging each other with long practised skill, as our vehicle incredibly found a path through this moving tapestry of obstacles.
Text continued here.
The aphorism “Stranger in a Strange Land’ is no idle description of our experiences in India, especially as Heinlein reportedly originally envisaged the story based on Kipling’s The Jungle Book, with the equivalent of Mowgli being raised on a Martian landscape rather than wolves in the Indian jungle.