Dwarka… One of India’s holiest cities. The ancient kingdom of Krishna. The most Western point of India. Now a quiet and rather magical little pilgrimage town on the sea.
I’d been to Dwarka in 2007. It was remote. Off the radar for most visitors to India. Coming back now, almost 9 years later I was surprised to see that not a whole lot has changed. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. A friend of mine got his hands on some 15th century Portuguese documents from the early Jesuit priests in India. He found it funny how some of their accounts were exactly the same as what we could still see in India today.
We rode to Dwarka from Somnath. The road went through green farms, along the sea and across a few bridges. Above is a little bridge with a typical situation unfolding – traffic jam because a herd of animals is blocking the road.
When I say that not a whole lot has changed, it doesn't mean that nothing has changed. The government has recently built a bridge going over the Gomti river near the area where people take their holy baths. The bridge has still not opened officially. Things take time here.
The last time I was here the tide was high during the 5 or so mornings that I stayed in town. This time it was low. As the sun started to rise Rabari camel men appeared out of nowhere on the shores of the river with their camels. They offered camel rides for the kiddies and anyone else who was up for it.
I have no idea what connection camel rides have to a place of pilgrimage. I suppose it's more of an Indian memento thing. Like – I was there and I rode a camel. Like the plastic lions and plastic guns on Girnar hill. Makes sense? Neither for me.
The camel men come with their own plastic chairs. There's a lot of sitting around while waiting for customers.
Curiously, there are only 4-6 camel men and 300 plus photographers in Dwarka. So told me one of the local photographer boys. Sure it gets busy sometimes, but 300?
There are still pigeons flying around and getting fed by pilgrims in Dwarka. There's something about India and birds for me. I keep photographing the theme over and over in different places.
Women enjoying last moments before sunset over the Arabian sea.
Vendors of all sorts of snacks gather around the shore in the evenings. The boy in the middle isn't from Dwarka. He comes from Uttar Pradesh, one of India's most populated and reputedly one of the most corrupt states. He came with the family to sell Chana Masala and makes a decent enough living. Dwarka is more appealing than home for his whole family. Can't blame them. It's one of my favourite places too.
A priest is accompanied by a dog as he begins the evening fire pooja (prayer).
There was not much to shoot during the fire pooja, but I got this image of Hardik after it finished. The attendees of the ceremony come up to the fire and get themselves blessed by holding their hands over it and then moving their them over their face, downwards over the body.
After the fire burned out, those who are particularly devout went to a little hut around the corner from the temple and got high as a kite in the sky on marijuana. I opted for hot milk with dates instead.