Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are meeting a 'Baba' in a small market town of Maharashtra, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Driving between locations in the Maharashtra state he photographed this holy man near a road wearing saffron-colored clothing. One of the things that the photographer is fascinated about in Maharashtra and in many other places in India, is that religion is such deeply rooted in the Indian society. In Hinduism a 'Sadhu' is a religious ascetic or holy person, who is solely dedicated to achieving 'Moksha', the liberation and release made through meditation and contemplation of Brahman.
Driving between locations in the Maharashtra state he photographed this holy man near a road wearing saffron-colored clothing. One of the things that the photographer is fascinated about in Maharashtra and in many other places in India, is that religion is such deeply rooted in the Indian society. In Hinduism a 'Sadhu' is a religious ascetic or holy person, who is solely dedicated to achieving 'Moksha', the liberation and release made through meditation and contemplation of Brahman.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024


On a round trip in the Indian state of Maharashtra, the photographer has photographed people and market towns in this region. People as the 'Baba' photographed on the picture above. These holy men are part of everyday life in India and they are encountered everywhere, especially in holy places and at great religious festivals. 'Sadhus' stand for all the activities and efforts, which the believer undertakes to approach the divine and ultimately obtain the liberation from the cycle of rebirths. Self-caste and yoga as well as a life in asceticism and meditation serve this purpose.

What language is spoken in Maharashtra?

Marathi is spoken predominantly by the Marathi people of Maharashtra. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa.

Maharashtrians have a rich cultural heritage
Maharashtra is one of the most populous states in India, with a population of over 120 million people. The people of Maharashtra are known for their warm hospitality, strong work ethic and vibrant culture and the Maharashtrians are very proud of their culture. They are a diverse people, with a variety of languages, religions and customs and the most common language spoken in the state is Marathi. Other languages spoken include Hindi, Gujarati and English.

The people of Maharashtra are known for their hard work and entrepreneurship. Many are involved in various business activities, including agriculture, manufacturing and services. Many of the state’s industries are based on traditional crafts and activities such as printing, weaving and pottery. The people of Maharashtra are also passionate about their food and the cuisine is famous for its use of spices, curries and fried snacks. Popular dishes include 'Vada pav', 'Bhaji' and 'Puri'.

"Maharashtrians have a rich cultural heritage, with a variety of traditional festivals and celebrations. These festivals often involve music, dance and feasting and the most popular festivals are 'Ganesh Chaturthi' and 'Diwali'. The people of Maharashtra are known for their strong sense of community and family values. They are a friendly and welcoming people who enjoy spending time with their families and friends"

Vibrant culture, ancient monuments and stunning scenery
Maharashtra is a state located in the western part of India and it is the second-most populous state in the country and is home to the cities of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. Maharashtra is known for its vibrant culture, ancient monuments and stunning scenery. It is also home to some of India's most important religious sites, such as the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Elephanta Island and the Mahalakshmi Temple. Maharashtra is the third-largest state in India by area and it is bordered by Karnataka, Gujarat, Goa and Madhya Pradesh to the south and Telangana and Chhattisgarh to the east and the state has a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. Maharashtra is a major hub for industry, with a variety of manufacturing and services sectors.

Maharashtra is also one of India's leading agricultural states, with some of the highest yields in the country. Maharashtra is home to several major wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, including the Tadoba National Park, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. These parks are home to a variety of animals, including tigers, leopards, sloth bears and elephants.

Maharashtra is home to several ancient cultures, including the 'Marathas', the 'Satavahanas' and the 'Rashtrakutas'. The state has a rich history and culture, including traditional music and dance forms and the state is also home to a variety of languages, including Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi. Maharashtra is one of India's most important states and is home to some of the most vibrant cities in the country. From its stunning scenery to its vibrant culture, Maharashtra is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore India

Outstanding historical sites in India
Maharashtra is the third largest state by area in India and the 'Sahyadri' are a hilly range running parallel to the coast as an average elevation in the lanscape. Maharashtra is a state in India that besides its landscape has some outstanding historical sites, including the caves of Ellora and Ajanta, which are among India's most important historical sites, as well as the state has a highly interesting culture and the Marathi people, where the majority of them are Hindus. Maharashtra is worth visiting with cultural sites, which are not yet crowded with tourists and it is a great place to see the spirituality of India and to enjoy the beautiful, partially untouched landscapes.

Many of the sites are outside the cities and these rural areas are also known as the 'Countryside' or a 'Village' in India and they have a very low population density. In Rural areas, agriculture is the chief source of livelihood along with fishing, cottage industries, pottery and more. Baba means father, grandfather or wise old man in India and the name was also used for Hindu and Sikh ascetics the so-called 'Sannyasis' and is also commonly used to their names.

Divided in many revenue divisions
Before the British rule, Maharashtra region was divided in many revenue divisions and the lowest administrative one was the village. Village society in Marathi areas included the 'Patil' or the head of the village, which is the collector of revenue. And the 'Kulkarni', which is the village record keeper and these were hereditary positions. The 'Patil' usually came from the Maratha community, where the 'Kulkarni' usually was from 'Brahmin' or higher caste instead. The village also used to have 12 hereditary servants called the 'Balutedar'.

The 'Balutedar' system was supportive to the agriculture sector. The servants under this system provided services to the farmer and economic system of village. The base of this system was caste. The servant used to get job according to their castes. There were 12 kinds of servants called 'Bara Balutedar', such as 'Sonar', goldsmith, 'Gurav', temple priest, 'Nhawi', barber, 'Parit', washerman, 'Kumbhar', potter, 'Sutar', carpenter, 'Lohar', blacksmith, 'Chambar' cobbler, 'Dhor', 'Koli', fisherman, 'Chougula', assistant to 'Patil', 'Mang' and 'Mahar'. In this list of 'Balutedar', 'Dhor', 'Mang', 'Mahar' and 'Chambhar' were Untouchables.

Maharashtrian history, language and cuisine
The Maharashtrians are proud of their history and language 'Marathi'. More than 3/4 of the inhabitants are Hindus, as well as members of the Muslim, Christian and Buddhist faiths. In Maharashtra you will discover many temples, some of which are several 100 years old. The modern Marathi language developed from the 'Maharashtri prakrit' and the word 'Mahratta', which is later used for the Marathas and is found in the Jain Maharashtri literature.

"The terms Maharashtra, Maharashtri, Marathi and Maratha may have derived from the same root. However, their exact etymology is uncertain. The most widely accepted theory among the linguistic scholars is that the words Maratha and Maharashtra ultimately derived from a combination of Maha and Rashtrika"

Languages in Maharashtra
The official language is Marathi although different regions have their own dialects and English is applicable in urban areas. Spoken Marathi language varies by district, area or locality in its tone and a few words. 'Konkani' and 'Gujarati' are also spoken in some areas. Other major dialects include 'Varhadii' spoken in the Vidarbha region and 'Dangii' spoken near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. As a photographer and traveler in India the market towns are outstanding as well.

The Maharashtra cuisine
Places where you can get a good impression of the Maharashtra cuisine, which covers a range from mild to very spicy dishes. Wheat, rice, 'Jowar', 'Bajri', vegetables, lentils and fruit form staple food of the Maharashtrian diet. Some of the popular traditional dishes include 'Puran poli', 'Ukdiche modak' and 'Batata wada'. 'Pav Bhaji' and 'Vada pav' are dishes that became very popular in the last 50 years. Meals and mainly lunch and dinner are served on a plate called 'Thali'. Each food item served on the 'Thali' has a specific place. In some households, meals begin with a thanksgiving offering of food, the so-called 'Naivedya' to the household Gods. Maharashtrian cuisine has many regional varieties including 'Malvani' also known as 'Konkani' and 'Varadhi'. Though quite different, both use a lot of seafood and coconut and the staple foods of the 'Konkani' people are rice and fish.

Large road network in Maharashtra
Maharashtra has the largest road network in India at 267,452 kilometers. 17 National Highways connect Maharashtra to 6 neighbouring states. The length of National Highways in Maharashtra is 3,688 kilometers. Maharashtra has a large state highway network. 97.5 percent of the villages in the state were connected by all-weather roads as of March 2010 and the Yeshwantrao Chavan Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the first access controlled toll road project in India was made fully operational in April 2002 and the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has been providing passenger road transport service in the public sector since 1948, linking most of the towns and villages in and around the state with a large network of operation. These buses, popularly called 'ST', which is the name for State Transport, are the preferred mode of transport for much of the populace.

In addition to the government run buses, privately run luxury buses also ply between major towns. Other modes of public transport, such as a seven-seater tempo have gained popularity in semi-urban areas.

"I had always been fascinated with the vibrant culture and rich history of Maharashtra, one of the largest states in India. So, when the opportunity arose, I packed my bags and set off on a journey to explore this beautiful and diverse region"

See this video about Maharasthra in India made by The Indian Express.

The photographer's own experience of being in Maharashtra
"- My first stop was the bustling city of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. Known as the 'City of Dreams', Mumbai instantly captured my heart with its energy, chaos, and liveliness. As I navigated through the crowded streets, I was greeted with the sight of the iconic Gateway of India, a monument that holds a significant place in the history of the city. After spending a few days exploring the famous attractions of Mumbai such as the Marine Drive, Haji Ali Dargah, I headed to the popular beach Juhu Beach", the Photographer says.

"- Next on my list was the holy city of Nashik, situated on the banks of the sacred Godavari river. Apart from being a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, Nashik is also famous for its river in the middle of the city and I enjoyed a peaceful walk along the Godavari River, taking in the beautiful scenery around me. As I traveled further into the state, I was amazed by the diversity of landscapes each place had its unique charm and left a lasting impression on me"
, the Photographer says again.

"- But it was not just the places that made my trip to Maharashtra memorable. It was the warmth and hospitality of the locals that truly made it an enriching experience. Be it the street vendors serving delicious 'Vada pav' or the kind strangers who helped me with directions, the people of Maharashtra were always welcoming and friendly. My journey culminated in the lively city of Aurangabad, a perfect mix of heritage and modernity. I was mesmerized by the grandeur of the famous Ellora caves, which housed some of the finest rock-cut architecture in the world"
, the Photographer says again.

"- As I bid goodbye to Maharashtra, I felt a sense of fulfillment having experienced the rich culture, history and natural beauty of this state. It had been a journey filled with unforgettable memories and I left with a newfound love for this incredible land. I can't wait to visit again and discover more hidden gems that this state has to offer. Maharashtra truly is a treasure trove waiting to be explored"
, the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Mumbai street child

Mumbai street child

Read also:  Mumbai street child

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a 'Baba' in Maharashtra. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.