Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are meeting an Indian man at Vidyapeeth Road in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of around 1.2 million inhabitants is not only the holiest city of the Hindu faith, but also one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It was first mentioned in the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata more than 3,000 years ago under the name of 'Kashi' and was already a center of Hindu faith and pilgrimage from all over India, believing that Varanasi is the center of our universe, where the portrait of this Indian man was taken at Vidyapeeth Road.
Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the city of around 1.2 million inhabitants is not only the holiest city of the Hindu faith, but also one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It was first mentioned in the Indian epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata more than 3,000 years ago under the name of 'Kashi' and was already a center of Hindu faith and pilgrimage from all over India, believing that Varanasi is the center of our universe, where the portrait of this Indian man was taken at Vidyapeeth Road.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on June 25, 2024

Vidyapeeth Rd portraiture

At the same time, Varanasi is considered the city of the god Shiva, which is why the hundreds of temples and places of worship within the city were largely dedicated to him. Many of the pilgrims come here to experience salvation and to purify themselves of their sins in the holy Ganges River. This is as sacred to the Hindus as hardly anything else. Some even settle down by the river to spend the last days of their lives and die by the river. Here, too, the body of the deceased is regularly burned and the ash is handed over to the river. But Varanasi is not the one center of India's Hindu faith, but is also known industrially for its silk processing, perfumery and ivory arts.

What should I see in Varanasi?

While traveling through Varanasi, you will not be able to avoid visiting the 'Ghats' on the Ganges. The 'Ghats' are the countless bathing steps along the south bank of the river, spread over a length of over 5 kilometers. What is worth seeing here is not the construction of the steps, but the religious practices practiced at their feet. A large part of the 'Ghats' were once built by wealthy princely families, such as the 'Ghats' of 'Dasaswamedh' and 'Manikarnik', which are among the most visited.

A great destination for photographers
Taking portraits in India can be a rewarding experience. With its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes and rich history, India is a great destination for photographers looking to capture the essence of the country in their images. The first step in taking portraits in India is to find the right people and as India is a diverse nation with many different ethnicities, religions and languages, finding someone who reflects the culture you are trying to capture is essential.

The people of India come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths. The majority of the population is Hindu, followed by Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and others. Each of these religions has its own distinct culture and traditions, which can be seen in the faces of the people of India. The people of India have a variety of skin tones, ranging from light to dark and this is a result of the various ethnic groups that make up the population. For instance, the people of the north have lighter skin tones, while those from the south have darker skin tones.

Lighting is also an important consideration
When you have got your subject, it is time to think about your location because the steets of India are often bustling and vibrant, making them an ideal backdrop for your portraits. Lighting is also an important consideration when Taking portraits in India. Natural light is often the best option as it gives your photos a soft, natural look. It is also important to consider the clothes of your subject and India is known for its vibrant colors and patterns, so choose clothing that reflects this. It is also a good idea to accessorize to add texture and interest to your photos and consider the composition of your photos. Try to include elements that tell a story, such as a specific landmark or an interesting background.

Each face is unique and holds its own story
The faces of India also reflect the country's geography. People from the coastal areas tend to have dark skin tones, while those from the mountainous regions have fair skin tones. In addition, the people of the Himalayas often have an exotic look, due to their unique facial features and hairstyles and the clothes worn by the people of India also reflect their culture and beliefs. For instance, the women of India often wear 'Saris', while the men typically wear a 'Dhoti' or 'Lungi'. Both men and women often wear traditional jewellery, such as bangles, earrings and necklaces.

"The faces of India are a reflection of its rich culture and history and each face is unique and holds its own story, making India a fascinating place to explore. Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an adventurous trek, India has something for everyone. No matter where you go, you will be sure to find a friendly face and a warm welcome"

Portrait taken in the Vidaypeeth area of Varanasi
'Vidyapeeth' is an ancient Sanskrit term that translates to 'Place of knowledge'. The concept of 'Vidyapeeth' is a long-standing tradition in India and it has been used to refer to educational institutions, centers of research and places of spiritual growth. 'Vidyapeeths' were founded by the great rishis or sages of ancient India. They were founded to promote the pursuit of knowledge, encourage the development of wisdom and encourage spiritual growth. 'Vidyapeeths' were places where students could receive a proper education and pursue their own interests, with a focus on the development of both the body and the mind.

Known for their emphasis on spiritual growth
In modern times, 'Vidyapeeths' have become a popular concept in India and have been adapted to meet the needs of today's students. Many modern 'Vidyapeeths' offer a variety of educational programs, ranging from traditional academic studies to more specialized fields such as engineering and medicine. These schools also often offer a range of extracurricular activities, including sports and the arts. 'Vidyapeeths' are also known for their emphasis on spiritual growth. Many offer courses in yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices, as well as courses in philosophy and ethics and these courses help students to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them and to cultivate an appreciation for the importance of living a life of balance and harmony.

In addition to their academic and spiritual offerings, 'Vidyapeeths' are also known for their commitment to social justice and service. They often promote volunteerism, community service, and social awareness and provide students with the opportunity to get involved in these important causes. So, 'Vidyapeeths' are an important part of the Indian educational system, offering students the opportunity to pursue their own interests in an environment that is supportive, welcoming and inspiring.

There's something to see in Varanasi

On these two ghats mentioned above there are simple held, small temple in honor of the goddess Ganga, the goddess of the sacred river and the pilgrims come here for a variety of reasons, such as asking for health, salvation and happiness during the bath or to say farewell to their loved ones, who are burned here. After the bath follows a blessing through one of the many priests who wait above the steps and the awarding of the forehead signs. Along the entire route, you can watch believers in their rituals and listen to the melodious prayers they recite. However, we would ask you to keep your distance from the worshipers so as not to disturb you during the ritual.

"The portrait above was taken in the Vidyapeeth area, where the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith also is located. Established as Kashi Vidyapith and later renamed, it is administered under the state legislature of the government of Uttar Pradesh"

After visiting the 'Ghats', it is a good idea to follow some of the pilgrims who, after their bath in the river, head towards the city to visit the Vishvanath Temple, the holiest temple in Varanasi, which is also known to the god Shiva. According to tradition, the first Vishvanath Temple was built over 2,000 years ago and rebuilt after every hostile takeover and destruction that overtook the city. In the 17th century, under the Emperor Aurangzeb, a mosque took the place of the Hindu temple and the present-day temple has since remained intact to the delight of the faithful. Not only the history of the temple is something special, the architecture also impresses the visitors of the facility and the roof consists of a large round dome and two towers. The temple houses the so-called 'Shiva-Linga', a symbol of the god Shiva and its creative, as well as preserving and destructive power and this is often bathed by the pilgrims during prayer with holy river water.

In addition, many offerings such as flowers or sweets and the interior of the temple may only enter Hindus. Instead, you can examine the narrow streets around the temple buildings around and they are filled with different shops of local sellers, in which you can buy one or two rarities. As you walk around, you will notice that the area around the temple is heavily guarded, but you do not need to worry and this is due to tensions between Hindus and Muslims in the past.

Vidyapeeth a place in Varanasi
As a photographer and traveler in Varanasi you can really feel the historic past. With the city's 3,000 years of existence, it is no surprise that Varanasi has an exciting and eventful history. It was founded as a result of Kaysha, the son of 'Suhottra'. After being taken over by the Ghurids for the first time at the end of the 12th century, it was under Muslim rule for more than half a millennium, so many of them were forced to convert to Islam because of Hinduism.

See this video about Varansi in Uttar Pradesh made by The Social Traveller.

After many Hindu religious institutions had been rebuilt in the 16th century under the rule of the tolerant Emperor Akbar, the summit of the reunification was reached at the end of the 17th century, when the ruler Aurangzeb closed several schools of Hindu doctrine and destroyed the Vishvanath Temple and in whose place he had a large mosque built. Only after his death in the early 18th century, the city was able to recover under the reign of Raja Zamindar and find their way back to Hinduism. After India gained independence from Britain, the city of Varanasi was declared a 'Tel' of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

'Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith' owes its birth to the educational, cultural and political aspirations of pre-independence India. The early period of this institution pulsated with the national freedom struggle and the teaching provided original dimensions to the concept and movement of Indian socialism.

Read also:  The people of India

The people of India

Read also:  The people of India

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 an Indian man 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.