Varanasi has held a special place in the hearts of many photographers, both Indian and international. In some ways, its a microcosm of the rest of India. Energy- colour- hustle and bustle- chaos, crazy are just some of the words used to regularly describe Varanasi in between photographers. These are the very first things that pass through a photographers head as he/ she sets foot in Varanasi or on the first glance of a picture depicting it.
Achal Mishra, explores a different Varanasi. One that is completely away from these popular notions. It is a version , though seen by many surely, and experience by those living there, but rarely photographed and published.
Varanasi always fascinated him, he described to us via email- ” From my childhood days, from hearing my grandmother talk of ‘kashi’, to growing up as a photographer, following Raghubir Singh and Raghu Rai’s work from the city, to watching it’s portrayal in Satyajit Ray’s films, Varanasi has always held my fascination.”
He goes onto say ” I first visited there in August of 2015, unmindful of the weather conditions, and had found myself in a rather subdued version of the city. Monsoon had flooded the ghats (banks of the river), so there was little to nothing happening around, and the overcast weather only added to the dullness. It wasn’t the Varanasi I had read about and seen pictures of. ”
Describing his second experience of Varanasi he says-
” Next time I visited was in January this year, and this time again, the Varanasi I met with was something different altogether. The winter fog engulfed the city most of the time, clearing a little towards the afternoon, only to take over again by evening. It added a mysterious aura to the otherwise hustle-bustle of the place, which thrived on nevertheless. You only had to walk a little into the unknown to find out that the cold hadn’t daunted the morning bathers. It was through these misty ghats, aided by cups of chai, that I navigated with my camera. I shot with my Fuji X-Pro 1 and 18mm lens, which was relatively easier to carry around and was less attention-seeking ”
The following are the images he took that morning-
Copyright of all images rests with the photographer. © Achal Mishra 2016
About the Photographer- Achal Mishra is a 19 year old proud Bihari from Darbhanga, Bihar currently studying Film studies at Kings College in London. Check out his latest work on his Instagram @achalmishra. His latest short film ‘Kafan’ can be found here on YouTube. Keep up with all the latest on his projects through his Facebook page.
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