Towards the Akhara

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This is a view of the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh at a few minutes from Varanasi (Benaras).
I was there a few weeks ago in the middle of winter and early in the morning, before sunrise, at the time where a heavy fog is still darkening the atmosphere of the countryside.
It is also providing a hazy effect which in a way emphasizes the timeless touch of many of my images.

At that moment I didn’t know yet that I’ll meet amazing faces of several generations of pehlwans (Indian wrestlers) that I would enjoy to capture with my camera.
I couldn’t expect that aura of invigorating peace and tranquility that was at the other side of this lane.
This place, away from the crowded environment of urban India, is actualy the ideal location for an akhara.
At the shade of a tree, under the aroma of freshly moistened earth and the coolness of a refreshing breeze, strength is measured against strength and moves and counter moves are born and develop in sweat…

All the pictures are following this one.

“Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this.”
(Blaise Pascal – French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, 1623-1662)

This image was shot at Scindia Ghat along river Ganga in Varanasi (Benaras).
This young man was striking several poses in order to catch my attention so I could take a few snaps of him but I was pretending not to see him as I am mostly working on natural poses.
It was a Sunday afternoon before sunset and he came there to wash his laundry, his attitude was amazing, full of narcissism, each of his gesture was carrying vanity and pride…
After a while I couldn’t help laughing and I took a few pictures, in fact he knew that I was leaving the akhara nearby where I often take pictures of the pehlwani (wrestlers).

The pillar on the left belongs to the remains of a massive palace which used to stand on Scindhia ghat.
The entire structure has sunk several feet into the earth since its erection and is still gradually and slowly sinking.
Sometimes in the winter when the holy waters of the Ganges come very low it is possible to see it otherwise most of the time it stays underwater.

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