India Through the Lens: A Year of Memorable Moments Part 1

“The journey itself is my home.”


365 days of homestays, high altitude cycling, and beautiful landscapes throughout India.

Delhi is a harsh place where poverty and wealth are seen in such extremes living side by side. The rickshaw drivers are considered some of the poorest people, often times not even making enough to eat though they risk their life and health daily as they pedal people around this very chaotic city.



I was able to visit the lotus temple, a Baha’i temple located in Delhi.


One of my first “local” experiences was cutting grass for a few days with these ladies near Manali. During the fall they frantically collect as much as they can in order to feed their cows throughout the snowy winter. Every evening they invited me back for tea and food in their homes after we were finished working.




Cycling through this area enabled (or forced) me to cycle over many high passes, including the three tallest ones in the world.




And of course, the beautiful mountainous landscapes are what made cycling up and down worth it.




Spiti valley was one of my favorite places in all of Asia. Cut off for eight months every year due to snowfall, these people are self-sufficient farmers who work hard during the summer, then stay indoors and hang out with their community during the cold winter. Many of these villages were close to or above 4,000m, and in some areas, makeshift “dhabas” or small tea stalls are set up during the summer as no one can permanently live in such high altitude areas.









My first of many homestays took place in Spiti where I spent a few days hanging out in a very small village with all of the children.




These dried cow patties are very important throughout the region for fuel as there is no wood for fires. During the summer the women collect and dry them and then store them in order to have enough for the whole winter.


This was one of many monasteries I visited throughout my stay in the Tibetan Buddhist parts of northern India.


I then stayed with four ladies who taught me to make ghee (a special purified butter that is very prevalent here) before they dressed up in their traditional outfits for a photo shoot.




I stayed in a slum for one night with a group of construction workers who lived in makeshift shacks at the side of the road.




Many times as I cycled throughout the mountains I would have to pull over to let a large group of sheep and goats pass. During the summer they are brought up to higher pastures to graze, and then must be escorted down again in the fall.



Just after exiting the foothills of the Himalayas I was invited into what would be my most memorable homestay in India. I lived for two weeks in a farming village which had never seen a westerner, and was adopted into two different families who fed me like a queen and taught me about their ways of life. I will never forget the hospitality and generosity these women showed me.


Though gramma didn’t speak a word of English, she helped teach me some Hindi and always gave me a huge hug when I came back home.


The family dressed me up for a wedding we all attended which ended up being an amazing cultural experience as the ceremony and concept of an arranged marriage is so different than what I grew up with.



I befriended the two Nepali children whose parents worked in their fields as well.




Richikesh, a very tourist town situated on the Ganges is especially famous for its yoga, Babajis, and daily puja. I spent a week feeding the monkeys and living in an Ashram where I was to discover just how inflexible I had become.





My favorite small dhaba which served rice, dal, veggies, and chapati for forty cents had the cutest dishwasher of all.


Arriving in the “real India” (meaning no longer Ladakh) proved to be a shock as the men were hostile and the landscapes very plain and flat. The one exciting part was the busy roads which were full of ox, horses, and fully loaded bikes.






My last homestay in India began when an older Sikh man with a bright orange turban saved me from four men who had been chasing me on their motorbikes for over an hour. I then spent a few days relaxing on his enormous farm while the small children in the village showed me around.




As they were rice farmers I got a tour of how it’s grown and collected during my stay.


Here is a beautiful baby girl who was the servant’s child at the wealthy Sikh family’s house. Unfortunately because of the despicable caste system the family kept telling me to put “it” down because she was “dirty.” Of course I did the opposite, and spent most of my three days there carrying her around. Though I never saw her smile, cry, or really move at all during my stay, on my last morning she came and found me and straight away reached her arms up to me because she wanted to be held.


Part Two: Nepal

Part Three: India

71 thoughts on “India Through the Lens: A Year of Memorable Moments Part 1

  1. Amazing. Your pictures are so captivating and even more your subjects seem captivated by you. You have captured the moment and the essence. Your photography is outstanding. May I ask you what camera you are using? The pixel quality is so crisp.

    • Thank you! These were all taken by the sony rx 100, it’s actually just a small point and shoot but it has great quality. Now that I’m out of Asia though I was begin to us my Nikon d5000

      • Wow, I’m surprised but then not really. Technology is moving along so quickly now. I was using a panasonic with x10 zoom with a leica lens, only about 6 years old but clearly, very outdated now.
        I look forward to seeing what you capture with the Nikon.
        Thanks for sharing and good luck on your next adventure.

  2. Pingback: Nepal Through the Lens: A Year of Memorable Moments Part 2 | A Wandering Nomad

  3. I am so following you! Wonderful. Although I confess I worried for you as I read this and more so when I clicked through and read your ordeal.
    Have you seen the Bicycling Dutch Girl’s site? A sister on wheels!
    Be safe!

  4. I so want to do some intense backpacking like you have done through the times. I am from himachal but still haven’t explored it like the way you have. As much as wild blooded I am/was, all my life, I have been so hooked up with family and career. But looking at people like you, living the dream, one feels quite hopeful.

  5. What an amazing adventure you have had. I recently visited India myself but didn’t spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked. This has inspired me for a return trip.

  6. Absolutely stunning photos! Those kids are just adorable.

    My favourite photo has to be the one of the sunset over the river, with the praying statue. Just gorgeous. And the black and white images at the beginning are really great idea- India is a country I associate with huge amounts of colour, so it’s interesting to see that it’s still just as interesting in black and white.

  7. Looks like you had an amazing journey. The pictures are awesome, all those people, it’s like the faces are shining and giving light to all the dusty desert landscape. They really reflect something heavenly. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  8. Your pictures are fantastic, eye-opening, and refreshing. Those people are all beautiful, and it’s good to see people can be brave and embrace adventure while honoring people’s lives and culture. BTW on behalf of everybody who reads this, thank you so much for loving on that servant’s child. Talk about breaking your heart!

  9. These photos are incredible. I love the pictures of the ladies with the doors in the background. What a beautiful and vibrant display of your journey, amazing memories captured on film!

  10. That’s very impressive..!! I lived in India for quite some time, mainly in the urban places and got to visit some remote places; but my experience is nowhere in comparison to yours..It’s rich in details and comprehension of their culture.
    It’s simply amazing. Next time, I go there, I will make sure I take this article for references of places I should visit.
    #awesome pictures too! 😀

  11. lovely images and narrative…spiti is now one of my favourite places in the world as well..right up there with ladakh:)looking forward to following more of your travels…

  12. This blog post was great and the pictures are amazing! I was hoping you could kindly visit my blog and comment or like anything you found interesting?

  13. Wow! I am so impressed by your breathtaking photos and adventurous spirit. I am incredibly inspired by you! India is a country I very much hope to visit in the future. I love seeing young women strike out on their own to explore the world. I’ve been warned time and time again about the dangers of traveling as a young woman, but it’s nice to know there are others out there. When you have the time I would love to talk about your trip! I’ll also be reading your entire blog now 😉 Best wishes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s