In this sixty-second archive story by Kristian Bertel, we are seeing the sunrise rise at the Ganges in Varanasi, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Sunrise or sun up is the instant at which the upper edge of the sun appears over the horizon in the morning as seen in this photograph by the photographer from Varanasi in India. The term can also refer to the entire process of the sun crossing the horizon and its accompanying atmospheric effects and in religions such as Hinduism it is still considered a god in India.
Sunrise or sun up is the instant at which the upper edge of the sun appears over the horizon in the morning as seen in this photograph by the photographer from Varanasi in India. The term can also refer to the entire process of the sun crossing the horizon and its accompanying atmospheric effects and in religions such as Hinduism it is still considered a god in India.

Morning sun in Varanasi

Many ancient monuments were constructed with solar phenomena in mind. The sun, as the source of energy and light for life on earth has been a central object in culture and religion since prehistory. Ritual solar worship has given rise to solar deities in theistic traditions throughout the world and solar symbolism is ubiquitous and from its immediate connection to light and warmth, the sun is also important in timekeeping as the main indicator of the day and the year.

Hymns to the sun in India
In India at Konark, in the state of Odisha, a temple is dedicated to Surya. The Konark Sun Temple has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surya is the most prominent of the navagrahas or nine celestial objects of the Hindus. Navagrahas can be found in almost all Hindu temples. There are further temples dedicated to Surya, one in Arasavilli, Srikakulam District in Andhra Pradesh, one in Gujarat at Modhera and another in Rajasthan. The temple at Arasavilli was constructed in such a way that on the day of Radhasaptami, the sun's rays directly fall on the feet of the Sri Suryanarayana Swami, the deity at the temple. Chhath, also called Dala Chhath is an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the chief solar deity, unique to Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai. This major festival is also celebrated in the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Chhattisgarh. Hymns to the sun can be found in the Vedas, the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism. Practiced in different parts of India, the worship of the sun has been described in the Rigveda. There is another festival called Sambha-Dasami, which is celebrated in the state of Odisha for the surya. The Gurjars or Gujjars, were sun-worshipers and are described as devoted to the feet of the sun god Surya. Their copper-plate grants bear an emblem of the sun and on their seals too, this symbol is depicted. The sun god in Hinduism is an ancient and revered deity. In later Hindu usage, all the Vedic Adityas lost identity and metamorphosed into one composite deity, Surya, the Sun. The attributes of all other Adityas merged into that of Surya and the names of all other Adityas became synonymous with, or epithets of, Surya. The Ramayana has Rama as a descendant of the Surya, thus belonging to the Suryavansha or the clan of the sun. The Mahabharata describes one of its warrior heroes, Karna, as being the son of the Pandava mother Kunti and Surya. The sun god is said to be married to the goddess Ranaadeh, also known as Sanjnya. She is depicted in dual form, being both sunlight and shadow, personified. The goddess is revered in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The charioteer of Surya is Aruna, who is also personified as the redness that accompanies the sunlight in dawn and dusk. The sun god is driven by a seven-horsed Chariot depicting the seven days of the week.

Mother Ganga
At sunrise and sunset, when the path through the atmosphere is longer, the blue and green components are removed almost completely leaving the longer wavelength orange and red hues seen at those times. The remaining reddened sunlight can then be scattered by cloud droplets and other relatively large particles to light up the horizon red and orange. The removal of the shorter wavelengths of light is due to Rayleigh scattering by air molecules and particles much smaller than the wavelength of visible light. Sunset colors are typically more brilliant than sunrise colors, because the evening air contains more particles than morning air. India’s holy Ganges begins as a crystal clear river high in the icy Himalayas but pollution and excessive usage transforms it into toxic sludge on its journey through burgeoning cities, industrial hubs and past millions of devotees. Worshipped by a billion Hindus and a water source for 400 million, "Mother Ganga" is dying, despite decades of government efforts to save it and thousands of Indians immerse themselves and idols of their gods every day, believing a dip in the Ganges absolves a lifetime of sins. People drink the water and use it for crops. But the pristine waters soon becomes a distant memory as the Ganges snakes its way down to the densely populated plains of north India, where too much water is sucked out to maintain a healthy flow. Sliding under bridges in the industrial city of Kanpur, the water's color turns dark gray. Industrial waste and sewage pour in from open drains, as clouds of foam float on its surface. At one stretch, the river turns red.Nearby, tannery workers haul chemical-soaked buffalo hides into huge drums. The filthy run-off is dumped in the river. India has pledged to build more treatment plants and move more than 400 tanneries away from the river, but his three billion clean-up plan is badly behind schedule. Less than a quarter of an estimated 4,800 million liters of sewage that flow daily into the river from main towns and cities is treated and the sorry state of the Ganges is most keenly felt in Varanasi, the ancient and most holy of cities for Hindus. Religious students practise yoga, pilgrims seek spiritual purification and families cremate their dead by the water’s edge, scattering ashes so that souls go to heaven and escape the cycle of rebirth. Along the bathing ghats, prayers invoking followers to keep the Ganges clean fill the hot evening air. As the river widens it curves southwards, towards the Bay of Bengal, passing thousands more villages and swelling cities.

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 sunrise in Varanasi. 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.