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* India

I traveled throughout India for two-and-a-half months in fall of 2012. (For the story, see my book Pilgrimage To India!) It was amazing, and mystical, and magical, not only the temples and ashrams, but the everyday life happening all around! Some of those were my favorite photos, everyday people doing everyday activities.

Delhi

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Lakshmi Narayan Mandir in Delhi, India. The temple, dedicated to Vishnu and Lakshmi, was funded by the Birla family. There are many altar alcoves inside with pujaris (priests) offering blessings. (Narayan is another name for Vishnu.)
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Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Birla Temple
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Guptakashi

Vishwanath Mandir or Hidden Shiva Temple in the village of Guptakashi (means Hidden Shiva) in the Himalayas, Rudraprayag District, Uttarakhand, India, is on the road to Kedarnath Temple.
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Vishwanath Shiva Temple, Guptakashi, India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Ardhnareswar Temple on the right is in Guptakashi (Hidden Shiva) in the Himalayas, Rudraprayag District, Uttarakhand, India. Ardhanareshvara is dedicated to the half-man half-woman deity representing the merging of masculine and feminine, Shiva and Parvati.
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Ardhnareswar Temple beside Shiva Temple, Guptakashi, India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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KaliMath

Kalimath village is regarded as a divine place and shakti peeth on the river Saraswati in the Himalayas, Rudraprayag District, Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the `Siddha Peeths` of the region and is held in high religious esteem. The temple of Goddess Kali is visited by many devotees especially during the `Navratras` Nine Nights of the Divine Mothers. It is the only place in the world where there are temples to Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, the three Divine Mothers.
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Kali Temple at KaliMath India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Kali Temple at KaliMath India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Rishikesh

This is one of my all-time favorites, a Sadhu (Holy Man) tending a street-shrine on Trevani Ghat in Rishikesh.
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Indian Sadhu (holy man) tending a street shrine
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Three photos of the Pushkar Temple on Pushkar Mandir Rd, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. One of the most beautiful, colorful, and intricately decorated temples I saw in Rishikesh. It is listed as one of the oldest temples in the area.

Finding it was a bit of a miracle. I had one of those “not to scale” maps that meant the street I was looking for could have been a couple blocks or a couple miles down the road! I simply followed my intuition and managed to turn down the right road; it was only a short walk from the Ram Jhula Bridge.

As I walked along, two boys on bikes said, “Hello!” I greeted them as well, and asked, “Temple?” They pointed further down the street I was on.

The street here is very narrow hence the slightly skewed photos. At the time I was there, the temple was closed and wouldn’t open for several hours, so I had to miss the interior.
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Pushkar Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Pushkar Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Pushkar Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Kunjapuri Temple is located near Narendranagar 28 Km from Rishikesh. Dedicated to Goddess Shakti. According to legends, Kunjapuri Mandir is located where the chest part of sati fell. Uttarakhand, India. This is a shaktipeet; legend says a piece of the Goddess Sati fell here when she died.
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Temple Entrance Arch
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Kunjapuri Temple near Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Temple
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Kunjapuri Temple near Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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This man was drumming for a wedding taking place at the temple.
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Wedding drummer at Kunjapuri Temple near Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Shiva Temple open for blessings on Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India.
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Shiva Temple Lakshman Jhula Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Trayabakeshwar Terah Manzil Temple at Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh, India. The ground floor displays many gated altars open only when blessings are being offered. This is a pujari (priest) offering blessings at the Ganesh Altar.
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Trayabakeshwar Temple pujari offering blessings Ganesh Altar
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Two photos of the Shri Adi Badrinath Temple on Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu.
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Entrance arch, altar with statue of reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi in background.
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Entrance to Shri Adi Badrinath Temple Lakshman Jhula Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Closeup of entrance statue of reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi.
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Closeup Shri Adi Badrinath Temple Lakshman Jhula Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Entrance to Sri Bharat Mandir Temple and museum, Mayakund, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. On the grounds there is a museum of ancient stone carvings, some dating back to the Second Century.
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Entrance to Sri Bharat Mandir Temple and museum
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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View of the entrance to the Vishnu Temple. I, along with several others, waited for the temple to open for blessings.
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Entrance to Vishnu Temple
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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This is the detail of painted ceiling at the entrance to the Vishnu Temple. Note the beautiful Lotus, a common symbol in India.
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple entrance
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Sri Bharat Mandir Vishnu Temple, Mayakund, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. This temple complex was an easy walk from Triveni Ghat.

Below are several photos of the exterior relief paintings of deities.
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple, Mayakund, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. Exterior relief paintings of deities.
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple, Mayakund, Rishikesh, district of Uttarakhand, India. Exterior relief paintings of deities.
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Sri Bharat Mandir Temple Rishikesh India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Varanasi

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The Chhhath Festival. Thousands of people bring decorated baskets of food to the Varanasi ghats to thank Surya the Sun God for sustaining life. This is the only Vedic Festival dedicated to the sun.
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It was during this festival that I had the opportunity to perform the immersion ritual for purification. I immersed myself three times and, after the third time, I had a rather profound rebirthing experience!
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Chhath Festival, Ganges River, Varanasi, India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Nag Nathaiya Krishna Ceremony Ganges River Varanasi India

Two photos: Thousands of people gather on the Varanasi ghats to commemorate the victory of Krishna over the serpent Kaliya. A boat enters the circle in the water and a boy playing the role of Krishna jumps into the river.
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Nag Nathaiya Krishna Ceremony, Ganges River, Varanasi, India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Nag Nathaiya Krishna Ceremony, Ganges River, Varanasi, India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A Shiva street shrine on Assi Ghat in Varanasi.
Many large shrines like this have gates. I was fortunate in being able to photograph this one both locked and open.
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Shiva Street Shrine near Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Shiva Street Shrine with altar Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A father and his children untangle a fishing net, Assi Ghat, Varanasi.
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Father and children untangle fishing net near Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A mother with her children wash clothes in the Ganges River, Varanasi.
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Mother and children doing laundry Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A typical day on the ghat in Varanasi, India, on the bank of the Ganges River. Laundry drying in the sun as tourists stroll the ghat and a man bathes in the river.
Laundry Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A man repairs his boat, Ganges River, Varanasi.
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Man repairing boat Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Boatmen on the Ganges River, Varanasi.
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Boatmen Assi Ghat Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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A typical day on the ghats on the Ganges River: boatmen, pedestrians, and cows.
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Assi Ghat Varanasi India with boats, cows, and pedestrians
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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Street shrines are everywhere in India. They typically are decorated with flowers and incense. People leave gifts of money.

Shiva Street Shrine Varanasi India
© Photographer: Michelle K Wood | Agency: Dreamstime.com
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