Varanasi, India is an incredible place, a real eye opener and a step back in time. You witness events you may have never imagined, or have ever wanted to see. It’s completely unavoidable and totally unpredictable. It’s the kind of place that you shouldn’t expect anything, but embrace every moment.
Warning: This post is about a graphic photo that may be disturbing for some viewers.
I was walking along the Ghat’s in the morning, as I did most days, when I came across this staggering scene: A distressed Indian woman standing on the steps by the River Ganges, confounded by the body of a deceased infant floating on the water.
I instantly froze, my skin turned cold as I tried to get a closer look. I wasn’t sure whether it was a human or an animal. You often see dead cows, dogs and other animals floating down the river. As I observed I recognized the hands and feet of a child. It didn’t feel appropriate taking a picture, but I knew if I didn’t than I would have regretted not documenting the sight.
I remember slowly inching my way closer down the steps towards the woman, removing my camera strap from around my neck and holding the camera at my waist with my finger on the trigger. I did this because I wasn’t sure how people would perceive or react if they noticed me with my eye to the viewfinder.
As I approached I clicked this image before stopping a few meters behind where the woman stood.
She was quietly speaking in some kind of tongue. That is when I decided I shouldn’t impose, which is when I walked away. I do however regret not staying as I would have liked to speak with her and find out the story.
An Indian friend who was with me at the time was shocked as well, but he explained it’s often a common sight to find deceased children in the Ganges, because the children are not cremated like the adults. Instead they are sent off into the river to drift downstream.
This is incredible India, where two worlds live parallel to one another.
About the author: Drew Hopper is a fine art travel and landscape photographer based out of Australia. Captivated by the diversity of cultures, people and environment, Drew ventures far and wide to capture pictures that define his experiences with the vision that they will impact and inspire an audience in a way individual to each viewer. You can find more of his work and writing on his websiteblog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and 500px.