A group of Polish travellers traversed 2,800 kilometres along the Ganga, starting from the estuary in Sagar Island in the Bay of Bengal, to the source of the river in the distant Himalayas. The five-week journey, from Bengal to Gangotri, took them across three diverse regions of Northern India, giving them the opportunity to document life along the river for a riveting short video (above).
Set to Armand Amar’s City of the Birth, the video knits together shifting scenes along the Ganga, capturing fragments of life from its banks. Balbin Grubczynski, the filmmaker, also provided a detailed description of their travel to add meaning and context, writing, “I want (the film) to flow like the Ganga river, which accompanied us on the whole journey.”
This was the group’s second visit to India. According to Balbin, it started out with them looking for a Bengal tiger in the wild forests of the Sundarbans. The journey continued as they watched corpses being burnt in Varanasi and admired ritual ablutions at the junction of the Yamuna, the Ganga and the Saraswati in Allahabad at sunrise. Haridwar, where the Ganga leaves the Himalayas and flows into the lowlands, “was the place we most felt hypocrisy of religion, or rather their worshippers,” wrote Balbin.
The travellers made it all the way to Gangotri, the source of the river, to meet a sadhu who claims to have spent the past 12 years alone in a cave, isolated from civilisation. The result of that journey certainly shows us the familiar river seen through new eyes.