Planning the trip to India

In my mind there are many countries and places I wish to go to both as a traveller and a photographer. Lately any trip I go on, plan or dream about revolves around the completion of my book. Iceland, New Zealand, Japan and Chile for example are high on my list, primarily because of their photographic potential.

Strangely and ironically I have never felt a pull or desire to go to India. I say strangely because it has been a magnet for travellers and photographers for many decades and ironically because without planning it or intending it, it would seem I am going to be going there in March.

Back in August Jim won the STA travel photographic competition he had entered a couple of months before. The prize was a trip for two to India with flights provided by British Airways. I was honoured and flattered when he asked me if I wanted to go with him. I said yes. Obviously.

We have just about moved beyond the early (and pleasant) planning stage that involves sitting in a pub talking about it. Guide books and maps are being bought and we have narrowed things down to two distinct and exciting possibilities.

The first is to fly to the far east of India, above Bangladesh, travelling around there before heading north into Bhutan. Permits and visas may be a problem with this. Surprisingly the travel permits for this region of India would appear to be more of a problem than the visas for Bhutan.

The other option, which at the moment seems more likely, would be to fly straight into the mountains up to Leh, spend a few days there before flying back to Delhi and then travelling out to Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi, via the Holi festival in Mathura. The overriding theme for this part of the journey being the Ganges. The biggest drawback for this would be the weather in late March in the Himalayas.

As I said though, planning is still at an extremely early stage. The two main issues of travel permits and the weather have not really been looked at in any great detail so I have no idea whether they will be large enough to make us change our plans or go with one option over another. We also intend to start contacting various publications with some ideas for articles and proposals for photographic essays. We are both photographers but want to use this opportunity to get something out of this trip beyond images for our books or portfolios. It may be hard to believe but we are looking at this as work. Extremely exciting work, yes. But still work.

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