Hello!! We are Dionna and Sean from very humid Singapore and our pictures were taken in Vrindavan, India. Our traveling adventures all started when we were dating a couple of years back when we decided to do what all couples must - a couple's trip! We made our way down to Hong Kong and the rest is History! We try to make it a point to travel at least once a year. But that never really happens - we always end up traveling at least 2 to 3 times in a year.
What brought you to Vrindavan specifically?
The main purpose for our visit to Vrindavan, India, was for a pilgrimage. As my girlfriend's family are Hare Krsna, we normally would try to visit this Sacred Village whenever the given chance arises. This area also gave us the opportunity to capture portraits and places that have rich religious values within the Hare Krsna religion.
How did you spend your time? What was your experience like?
The Vrindavan village is said to be where Lord Krishna spent majority of his childhood days, so most of our time was spent temple hopping around the city via river or by land. Each temple represents different deities; and each deity represented different ideals. For instance, Lord Ganesha represents Obstacles, Intellect and Wisdom & Lord Krishna represents Devotion.
As we expected the entire village was vegetarian. Cows are known to be sacred within the region, therefore many are seen roaming around the streets while passersby can be seen seeking their blessings. In the event we wanted to feed any meat cravings, we would have had to drive to Delhi – a mere 4 hours away! We did gracefully eat Indian food for the 10 day duration of our trip, which was honestly not an easy feat. This is mainly because Singapore has an abundance of Indian restaurants available, and the last thing anyone wants to do while on vacation is to have to eat the same food they would back at home.
Overall, we’re proud to say that we allowed ourselves to absorb the culture, people and surroundings with an open mind. Albeit the hygiene may have remained doubtful, what was prominent was the clarity of pure spirited people that made our experience there extremely enriching.
What recommendations do you have for future travelers intending to visit the region?
Places to visit:
(Please be aware that both suggested landmarks are approximately 4 & 2 hour drives respectively from Vrindavan)
- As hyped up as it can be, the Taj Mahal is still a must do for any traveler! Be in awe of this architectural beauty that took 22 years & 20,000 people to build during the 16th Century. This said, the marbles used to create this scintillating mammoth of a building also creates different hues throughout the day.
- Also visit the Red Fort where the Mughal Emperors used to reside during the 18th Century. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site!
- If the intention of your trip is to have self-introspection, Vrindavan is the best place to remain. Everyone is a Vegetarian and the village holds as many as 5,000 temples; great enough for anyone who is seeking cultural and spiritual awareness. The village on its own is already amazing!
Food & Accommodations:
- For lodging, the best bet for any traveler would be Iskcon, which is very famous amongst travelers both for food and lodging. We are privileged to know a family friend, so we decided to take up residency at his place during our stay.
- As food is really affordable there, one to look out for is 'Masala Dosa'. It's filled with curried potato fillings along with fermented crepe batter made from rice flour. Coupled along with curry condiments, it's bound to make you go Gaga and wanting more. However, eating street food is never advisable! Keep a look out for local restaurants to keep your guts pink and healthy!
- And lastly, another tip for any traveler heading to Vrindavan, keep your valuables intact and stashed away! The village is filled up of pesky trouble makers who will take anything shiny and yummy! Yes, these Monkeys can be a pain in the neck! ;) Otherwise, it's very safe!
Can you share any fun facts or interesting stories behind how your pictures were captured?
For almost every shoot, I prefer to strike up a conversation with the person in the picture. In my opinion, the entire idea of Photography is not just being able to snap a shot and preserve the scene, but the experience that was made available while taking the shot. Conversing and building up relations with the person on the other side of the camera adds more potency and value to your image!
There is this particular incident, when my girlfriend's family went into a temple for a prayer, and I stayed behind to shoot. This Rickshaw Rider came up to me and requested for me to take a shot of him, so I gladly obliged. What came next was spectacular; he started to take the cloth from his Rickshaw and started posing for me as though he was auditioning for a Bollywood Film! What was truly incredible was the very fact that these people do not earn much but were so free spirited and hospitable and that made them extremely rich.
What was the most unglamorous part of your trip?
We were honestly very lucky in that everything was as smooth as a Tofu! The language barrier was both exciting and intriguing. Although there were moments that were hard to put across when conversing, it is exactly those kinds of scenarios that create the experiences you hope for during your travels. I will say, though, we were not prepared to endure the immense amount of traffic while on our 4 hour journey from Delhi to Vrindavan!
Where can readers see more of your travels and work?
Both I and Dionna will be creating a portfolio website that will be launched by the end of July. This website will showcase Design, Illustration, and Imagery & Art Production Works as we embark in a new chapter of our lives moving onto the creative industry! Please keep a look out for www.oooze.co or you could alternatively follow @studio.oooze on Instagram for more updates on our work!
Images Courtesy of Sean Gabriel & Dionna Lee