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Help us to document Raj Yatra, most difficult pilgrimage in the world.It is a unique opportunity, next will take place in 12 years!
20 backers pledged £504 to help bring this project to life.

About

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I am a photographer with over 10 years’ experience, who is constantly driven by the opportunity of using a picture in an intercultural dialog. I have successfully completed a number of projects including:Click Academy- promoting social empowerment and giving children possibility to act in Poland, and Great Britain; Romani Click- statement of the Romani Communities on their heritage in Poland and in context of migrant communities in Great Britain; Martushka Fromeast documentary in Poland.

Last year I successfully completed first part of my story on Himalayas capturing beautiful traditions of shamanism in Nepali Himalayas, preparing portraits of shamans in their homes as well as working with a group of local children from Shyabrubesi, a small village in Nepal, empowering them to prepare illustration to the local legend.The project was exhibited internationally (in New Delhi, Georgia, China, Nepal, Krakow, Warsaw and London) as well as won BZ WBK Press Photo 2014 competition in Poland.

My passion for the Himalayan culture started in an early childhood when my uncle was telling me stories about the threat, sacrum and adventure in the mountains. When I visited Himalaya for the first time I was overwhelmed by the meaning of the stories created, promoted and connected to rivers, lakes and mountains.

My professional experience and personal attachment have driven me to work on a long term project called “Stories from Himalayas” aiming to enhance and promote Himalayan heritage globally. Himalayas are full of stories, but this heritage is normally hidden from the outsiders and it needs to be preserved. Communities across Himalayas have unique philosophies, histories and ceremonies accumulated over millennia.

Help me to preserve tens of thousands of years of accumulated cultural heritage, sophisticated environmental wisdom, spiritual traditions, and a unique aspect of humanity!

Nanda Devi Raj Yatra

This year edition of the project is to document three-week-long Nanda Devi Raj Yatra, a pilgrimage and festival in Uttarakhand in India. The results of the project will be a photographic and video content to create mobile exhibition and multimedia presentation distributed worldwide.

To go for Nanda Devi Raj Yatra I teamed up with Mukesh Khugsal, photographer currently based in New Delhi but with roots in Uttarakhand.Mukesh has a deep knowledge of Uttarkhand culture and tradition. He was head of photography in Rajula movie, the first ever fulltime movie set in Uttarkhand Himalayas which got to mainstream cinemas across India as well as Head of Production of next movie about culture from the hills, Aas, awarded with Best Audience Choice Award during Delhi International film Festival 2013.

Nanda Devi Raj Yatra is one of the longest and most difficult pilgrimages in the world: it is a three-week barefoot journey of 164 miles in Indian Himalaya, led by a four-horned ram during a foul weather at the end of the rainy season. Raj Yatra is a very rare event. It will start on August 18th 2014 after a gap of 14 years. This 280-kilometre pilgrimage takes the Himalayan Goddess Nanda Devi from her maternal home to her matrimonial home in Mount Kailash. After traversing rain-swollen rivers, dangerous windswept passes, and terrifying ice fields, pilgrims reach the lake Rupkund, located at 15 000 feet and surrounded by hundreds of human skeletons. They then cross a narrow vertical spot called "the Path of Death" and proceed to the lake of the fire sacrifice, Homkund, where - according to the faithful - the four-horned ram leaves the procession and finds its way, unaided, to the summit of Mount Trishul, which is called Kailash by the local people. A deep feeling of faith and reverence for Nanda Devi in Himalayan folklore reflects the respect held for women. Yatra combines obscure faith, mysteries and thrills with a flood of devotees.

What drives me:

I was planning to photograph Nanda Devi Yatra last year but due to the heavy rain and cloudburst in June 2013 in Uttarakhand which led to major loss of life and property and caused massive destruction to the region, the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra has been postponed till 2014.

This year yatra will go via the terrain heavily affected by the floods. It creates a very special and tragic narrative for the pilgrimage.The legend connected to the roots of the pilgrimage is that Nanda Devi, consort of Lord Shiva left her village and went to the mountain Nanda Devi. Therefore each time when the yatra starts, heavy rain occurs as if the devi is crying. The pilgrimage visits many villages of this part of Uttarkhand. The rout goes via high attitude areas and passes by a Lake known as Roopkund surrounded by hundreds of ancient skeletons. According to local mythology, once a King took some dancers to this sacred spot. Due to a heavy snowfall the people were trapped and the dancers were transformed into skeletons and stones that can be seen in Patarnachonia. Another myth is this that king Yasodhwal's wife was pregnant and while she was giving birth to her child, her placenta flowed down to Roopkund and this in turn caused the death of the people there.

My project will reflect on the interconnections of modernity, religious beliefs and natural disasters.

How will we do that?

In order to prepare in - depth photo narrative myself and Mukesh will join Nanda Devi Raj Yatra. I will prepare a traditional photo essay and he will capture videos as well as collect interviews with pilgrims. The outcome of the project will be a mobile exhibition and a multimedia presentation of the material collected.

All the collected money will go towards covering the costs of preparation of the pictures: costs of internal travels, accommodation and food for two people as well as costs of hiring local potter to help carry things while in the mountains.

Risks and challenges

The pilgrimage takes place during a monsoon and will be held in high altitude. The journey is very challenging physically and require employing the qualified potter to help us carry our equipment. We have been working on adapting our bodies to the new conditions for the past few months. We have carefully built network of contacts to support us while in mountains.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 6

    You will be in our hearts and we will do one prayer in your intention in one of the holy places we are going to visit.

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    Pledge £7 or more About US$ 8

    Oh that is awesome! You will receive thank you note at the projects Facebook event and website.

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    Pledge £10 or more About US$ 12

    Personal email with thank you note and one of the project pictures in low resolution.

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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 24

    Your name shown on at the multimedia presentation in Internet. You will be also send a documentary picture in high resolution from the exhibition by email which you can use for personal purposes.

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    Pledge £25 or more About US$ 30

    We will put your name and we will hung them near Roopkund. This will be a guarantee of your good luck for the next two years as well as will bring you closer to enlightenment.

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    Pledge £30 or more About US$ 36

    Your name featured in a special film about the project which will be posted in low resolution on Internet.

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    Pledge £55 or more About US$ 66

    You will receive by post 30/40 photo from the project - photographers choice as well as a special cd with selection of folk music from the region.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About US$ 181

    You will receive a CD with a full resolution film about the yatra as well as 24 pages book featuring project results.

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    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 604

    You will receive framed and signed photography of the photographers choice as well as a full version of a project book.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,209

    You will receive 100/70 cm signed and framed copy of the project photographs of your choice as well as a project book.

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Funding period

- (18 days)