Banana seller in the city of Thekaddy, Kerala, India. The amount of bananas on display in this warehouse was truly staggering - bananas in vehicle-sized piles, bananas on ropes, and in every shade of green, yellow, and brown imaginable. This man's shop represented one of maybe 100 similar shops housed within the sample building. Pro tip: bananas are high in potassium - great for when you're electrolytes are low, like post-ogling millions of bananas.
Temple in the Hassan District, Karnataka, India. The Hassan District, nearly 1000 years old, has a rich religious history. At different times, it has played host to a major Jain temple (with the world's largest monolithic stone statue!), temples dedicated to Shiva, and the center of the Hoysala Empire. Impressively, not only were these figurines intricately carved, but they were one of perhaps eight layers of decoration surrounding this particular temple building. These were constructed on a timeline of many decades, with attention to detail and longevity being the primary points of importance.
Fishermen operating the Chinese fishing nets of Cochin, India. Although these nets are enormous (65 feet wide, 30 feet high), the catch per cycle is only a few fish. However, the fishermen use manpower and a rock pulley system to control the raising and lower few minutes, allowing for many cycles per hour.
Spice box from Cochin, India. Clockwise from top left: hot chili peppers, white peppercorns, black peppercorns, turmeric fingers; middle: whole brown cardamom. Other common ones include: saffron, hot chili peppers, whole fennel, more hot chili peppers, and turmeric fingers. While saffron remains somewhat of an expensive delicacy here in the United States, it is only about 10% of the price in India (although quality varies, of course). These flavors and more combine to give each region (and smaller) very distinctive tastes!
Elephant with ceremonial headdress (known as a caparison) in Cochin, India. The elephant was out on a practice run for an upcoming festival; as a melting pot, Cochin incorporates many different festivals, from traditional Kerala events, to Northern Hindu gatherings, to Christian and Islamic festivals.
On the longboat to Marari Beach, Kerala, India. Tourism is an important part of the Kerala economy, and for good reason - the state boasts white-sand beaches, good weather, and cultural/religious destinations.
Banana chip production in Thekkady, India. The rain was torrential as we came through, forcing the deep-frying process to move under the shop's roof - don't try this at home! This village is near the Periyar Tiger Reserve, one of 27 in India.
Beautiful calligraphy surrounds the main arches of the Taj Mahal, telling stories from the Qur'an. Two interesting factoids: instead of being painted on, the calligraphy is actually created by inlaying black marble in the white marble, and that the font size increases higher up on the structure, done to ensure that the text appears to be uniform throughout the structure. The inside of the Taj is decorated with (among other things) a lapidary (complex inlaying) of precious and semi-precious stones, which create a wonderful sparkle.
Fun fact about the Taj Mahal: it is totally symmetric (both left/right and back/front), except for two aspects. The first is a little unavoidable, as the Arabic calligraphy around the edges is difficult to write/understand in a mirrored fashion. Secondly, the tomb was constructed by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal in the middle of the structure; when he died, his son (who deposed him) placed his tomb just off to the side. Confusingly, the miniature minarets extending from the main structure can create an optical illusion that some pieces are at different levels.
Itmad-ud-Daula's Tomb, or "Baby Taj", was the Shah Jahan's inspiration for the more well-known Taj Mahal, constructed XYZ years later. While smaller, its design is no less intricate or sophisticated - very impressive in its own right.
Maintenance worker looks out over the temple in Chennai, India. These temples can be sprawling complexes of structures with very intricate stonework, requiring a significant amount of upkeep. Pro tip: circular polarizers are a great way to bring out the sky and the clouds by altering the quality of the light entering the lens
The Red Fort was constructed on the banks of the River Yamuna by the Emperor Shah Jahan. Like many things associated with royalty in India, the palace decorations can be completely over-the-top in their opulence and ostentation (this example being at the Red Fort in Old Delhi). The work is incredibly intricate and finely crafted - a show of resources. Many arches across North India show this scalloping around the arches as a nice architectural touch.
A Bishnoi brother and sister outside their hut near Rohet Garh, Rajasthan, India. In some countries and cultures a girl of this age may assumed to be the mother, but the Bishnoi women tend to get married at age 18 or 19 (to men 22-23), and have their children from there. (This shot is one of my favorites)
Grandmothers can have distinctive fashion sense, too! While clothes in India are tremendously colorful, she has picked out an unusual combination of single-color scarf and interestingly-patterned pants and shirt.
A mother with her child, proudly displaying her hand freshly decorated with henna in Cochin, India. Henna is generally milled into a powder, mixed with an acid (like lemon juice), let rest, and applied using a variety of tools to form a temporary type of body art.
A devout man stands next to the wall of a temple devoted to the god Vishnu in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Ascetics in India frequently wear clothes of orange saffron color, making them very easily distinguished. Like many places of worship, this temple runs a kitchen for the "ill, infirm, maimed, and saintly".
The Chaumukha Temple, a Jain temple in Rajasthan, is one of the most astounding structures I've ever seen! It has over 1,400 columns, 24 halls, and an incredible 80 domes. Each pillar is carved individually - the temple took over 60 years to complete in the 15th Century. HDR was used in this shot to capture the vibrance, power, and intimacy of the structure.
The Mehrengarh Fort was constructed in 1459 when Rao Jodha established/conquered the city below, to be renamed Jodhpur (Rajasthan, India). Situated on a 120ft sandstone hill, the fort enjoys an excellent view of the old city and offers protection against invaders. It also functioned as a royal residence, and has an inordinate amount of space for the social functions that come with such a position. The afternoon light fell at a beautiful angle over the fort, highlighting its impressive construction.
A Bishnoi woman prepares lunch inside a poorly ventilated hut. The Bishnoi people are conservationists to the core, for whom the preservation of animal and vegetable life has been a religion since the 15th century. Their name comes from the 29 tenets that the founder laid down (bish = twenty, noi = 9).