Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (Modern day Lumbini) lived a benevolent prince born to the chief of the shakya clan. Trained in wrestling, swimming, and archery, entertained by dancing girls, and instructed by wise brahmins the prince’s life floated on every possible luxury, however his soul drowned in a mysterious sadness.
Something as persistent as his own shadow drew him into the world outside the palace walls. One day while exploring the streets the prince encountered three simple things: a sick man, an old woman and a corpse being carried to the burning grounds. Deeply affected by this parade of suffering the prince resolved to search for the answers to the problem of life. After exchanging his fine clothes for the simple robes of an ascetic and cutting his long gracious hair the prince silently left the palace and began his long journey through India.
He decided to begin his search in one of the harshest regions of central India, the desert cities of Rajasthan. Expecting to learn more about human suffering by observing the hardships of the people in this desert land the prince was extremely surprised to instead find it a land of maharajas and majestic forts, of sand dunes and camel trains, of glittering jewels, vivid colors, and vibrant culture. Here he found joy amidst hardship but no answers. The prince then traveled east following the sacred River Ganges until he reached the holiest city of India.
Varanasi, an abode of the divine but also a sanctum of death. Making his way through the city the prince came across thousands of old and ailing pilgrims awaiting their last breath on the ghats of the mighty river eager for moksha (Liberation from the cycle of life and death). Here he found hope through death but again no answers. Uncertain, unwilling, and unable to find the answers to the problem of life the prince continued his journey north towards the hidden valleys of the Indian Himalayas. On the way however he curiously noticed a tiny vine growing out of the soft soil.
The vine bent over rocks, curled within cracks, twisted through bushes, and finally extended its tender leaves into the warm sunlight. Suddenly a realization struck the prince. He noticed that the essence of life is not within us but rather around us. The people we meet and the places we visit shape our choices and the way we see the world. Throughout his journey the prince had met countless people, from musicians to farmers, from boatsmen to priests and they had all taught him something new about himself. His journey had taken him to unusual and unexplored places which made him realize that the answer he had so desperately been seeking was ultimately within the journey itself. ‘A journey through India’ is a collection of photographs of a similar journey of self-discovery I took through India in the summer of 2021.
About Niko Works
Ever since I learnt how to drive, I have been exploring remote villages of India to interact with people and cultures which are very different from mine. For this reason, photography has become a great excuse to take a deeper look and given me the ability to share these unique visuals with the rest of the world. Environmental portraits I believe are the best way to tell a person’s story as it not only emerges the viewer into the scene but also conveys what it felt like to be with the person in the frame. Therefore, since a few years I have been on a mission to document stories of people working in unique and challenging environments and those who live in close bond with nature throughout India. My journey so far has been life changing and I have had the opportunities to take some incredible and rare photos. Having the right approach and being able to communicate with most of the people in the language they understand has proved a great asset for me and helped me with my goal of creating one of a kind and impactful photographs.