#WPLongform, Congress Party India, Delhi, Delhi smog, Indian traditional dances, Jahaz Mahal, Phool Walon Ki Sair Festival, photography, Red Fort, travel, wholesale spice market
We continued our exploration into the madness that is Delhi. We thought we’d go find the spice market. We all had visions of open stalls heaped high with bright colourful spice powders, being sold by women in bright colourful saris – a photographers’ paradise. I don’t know how it happened, but after taking the metro, and then walking for a long way through an area of crushing poverty, and then onto an extremely busy main road, and asking and asking all the way, we finally found, by venturing into side streets and narrow alley ways, the wholesale spice market. Not at all what we expected, but was just as fascinating, if not as colourful. I think we found our way into a place few westerners visit. It was neither pretty nor monumental, but the men (and the two women) we found there in those narrow alleys, in between being extremely industrious, were wonderfully friendly and welcoming, and seemed generally delighted to have us there.
We walked a long way down this incredibly crowded street
Then headed into the side streets and alleyways.
It’s turmeric in the sacs.
Chillies, and dried mango
The Phool Waalon Ki Sair Festival, or Procession of the Florists, is an annual festival. Six or eight different states of India present their traditional dances, awards are held, and it’s an important festival for both Muslims and Hindus. After the dancers perform they then parade on the back of trucks from the performance area at Jahaz Mahal, or Ship Palace, to the shrine of a Sufi saint. Our travel agent Vini came through with some special invitations giving us seats in the front row of the second-level VIP section. We could hardly have gotten better seats. We arrived very early which was a good thing. Huge crowds came to watch the dancing. It was a magical evening, performance after performance of fabulous dancing from all over India. Just breathtaking. I wish my photos could capture even half of the wonder of the evening. I hope they convey something of the fabulousness of the dancing.
First we met these two in the street
The performances were held here, at Jahaz Mahal
This last group of the evening literally poured a huge mound of marigold petals onto the stage, and then after some dancing proceeded to more or less bury the couple reclining on the stage. Spectacular! At the end they all threw marigold petals into the audience.
And one from Julie
We chose, unknowingly, to go to the Red Fort on the same day the Congress Party was holding a political rally. Members of the Congress Party wear pink turbans, and we saw many pink turbans that day. The crowds were even worse than usual, which we wouldn’t have thought possible. On the metro we were packed in body to body and I experienced a whole new level of intimacy with strangers than I ever have before 🙂
The Red Fort is a big, imposing, rambling, old, seventeenth century, red stone fort, built by some Mughal emperor or other. My knowledge of Indian history is woeful. It will probably stay that way. In spite of the crowds and the smog I’m glad we went. Some fine buildings, and some fine people watching.
Delhi smog. This photo was taken mid-afternoon looking straight at the sun.
One more post to come on Delhi. We did a walk around Old Delhi arranged by an organization that helps rescue street children and went to Jama Masjid which is the largest mosque, and some markets.
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.
Fascinating as usual. Alison, stop dissing yourself about the photos! They were all beautiful and always are. In fact, as I was looking at this page’s photos a question arose — what camera do you use, and typicallly what lens? The question came up from the 1st three on this page… the foreground to distance is all in focus, yet there’s a wonderful depth to each of them. I think the smog is helping create that distance softening that we see in many of the great renaissance landscape paintings. The other thing that strikes me is the range of tone you always get, even within the blocks of brightest and/or darkest colors. Like the 2nd photo (“turmeric in the sacks”)… both the white bag in the foreground and the bags in the darkish background room are full of tonal detail.
Congrats on your nominations. Even better, they’re community pass-it-forward awards, indicating that you’ve become a popular online presence. Of course! Your stories and photos are very special. Kudos!
Thanks for your comments re my photos. I love photography, but it’s not my number one thing and probably never will be. There’s also writing, and blogging, and travelling, and the spiritual path, and a nomadic life, and photography is just a part of it all. When you have two sibs who are professional photographers, and who are helping you get better at it, it’s hard not to become aware of the flaws. I’m also aware that a significant part of the reason for the difference in quality between Julie’s and my photos is her camera and the hulking great lenses she carries around. She does it because photography is her number one thing. As long as I’m nomadic I’ll never do that so I’m learning to accept that there’s only so much I can do with the equipment I’ve got. At the same time I’d still love to get that kind of sharpness and clarity – esp in low light situations – with the camera I’ve got, but of course it’s not going to happen. I also know that I take some pretty good photos 🙂
And I know that I’m learning a lot from Julie, and really appreciate her willingness to teach me. Photoshop rules!
My camera is a panasonic lumix with a leica lens, 24x optical zoom, dslr, shoots raw, fairly new on the market.
Thanks re the blog awards! I was surprised and thrilled. The next post will be about the Liebster Blog Award. I’ve also been nominated for the Inspiring Blogger Award. I’ll get to that one later – still trying to find time to choose who to pay-it-forward to.
Danny Breslin said:
Great photos, you really seem to capture the spirit of the place and the people.
Thanks Danny. That’s what I try to do; to give people a sense of the place without actually being there. Always with both the writing and the photography I strive to make it more than …..and then we did this…..and then we did this……
Sometimes it’s a challenge 🙂
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Awesome clicks Alison. I live in Delhi but cherishing the true colors from your lsnses.
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Alison and Don said:
Thanks Himanshu. We loved Delhi’s awesome craziness!
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