Life in the City of Death, Varanasi

Varanasi is the holiest city in India, situated on the banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, North India.  One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the city is the beating heart of the Hindu universe, a crossing point between the physical and spiritual worlds, and the Ganges is viewed as a river of salvation, an everlasting symbol of hope to past, present and future generations.

Hindu pilgrims come to bathe and wash away a lifetime of sins in the Ganges river and to cremate their loved ones at the burning Ghats before their ashes are placed in the river.  Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges remits sins and that dying in this holy city ensures release of one’s soul from the cycle of its’ transmigration.

Kate Lewis has sought to capture the life, chaos, and colour of Varanasi and present a broader view of the City of Death, one dotted with a vast and beautiful culture, landscape and history that is seldom celebrated.  Lewis acts as a humble recorder, whilst applying a photojournalist style and approach to the imagery, allowing the subjects, culture and environment of this vast city to be the key elements of this story, portraying Life in the City of Death.