Finding shade – Walking across India – Moving Upstream

How did you manage?

One of the most common questions that people ask in relation to the long walk along the river Ganga is, “how did you manage your stay while walking?”. It is a legitimate doubt and through a couple of posts on our website, we offer you a glimpse into what ensued.

A night under a pakariya tree, (Fig/Ficus family)
A night under a pakariya tree (Fig/Ficus family) in rural Uttar Pradesh.


Sleeping by the road side, warm offerings by strangers.
Sleeping by the road side, warm offerings by strangers.

The dynamics of finding a shelter depend upon a variety of factors: the type of area(urban/rural), time of stopping (nights are much harder then early evening), and surprisingly a lot on the happenings of the day – doesn’t help if you’re all dirty from a day of walking, but clearly helps if you meet someone while walking who offers you shade.

Measuring sun damage after 100kms of walking in high fever.

But what trumps all of this, especially in rural areas, is the generosity and empathy of people. The act of walking has the power to remove barriers, bringing people to the same platform irrespective of tags and hierarchical definitions that society generally functions around.

Love unparalleled, lessons in humility and generosity. These people changed me, for life.

Some of the best moments have been spent in villages, with people lending a space in their homes and offering food and support;

The good company of moo-ing and chewing all night.
The good company of moo-ing and chewing all night.

while there have been days when finding shelter was difficult and the night was spent on an empty stomach.

This was an incredibly strange night, surrounded by people but no food because i wouldn’t buy.

At other times, small towns and cities didn’t have much to offer, except hotel rooms;

One of those times when one can’t afford to not rent a room, it had been a few rough days on ground.


The story of the stay in this room is sad, forced because of communal tension and riots in my path ahead.

while highways always obliged with some space at one of the many dhabas;

The spaces available at dhabas are always so epic, reality and dreams mix up with noises continuing through the night.

and then there were times when people would appear out of nowhere and take care of everything for the evening:

With the heroes who gave me shelter, food and unparalleled love.
With the heroes who gave me shelter, food and unparalleled love.



Stayed here, at an old age home with a generous hero who cooked the night’s meal for me even though he himself didn’t have to eat.

I can only share a limited set of stories and pictures here, because there’s a story for every night from the many months of walking, but you can write to me if you’re intrigued by something particular or leave your queries in the comments.

Resting with fishermen, on a deserted river bank a little upstream of Allahabad.

This photo set is limited to the first leg of the walk from Ganga Sagar to Garhmukhteshwar (~2000kms of walking); by next week we’ll be sharing another set of images, with stories of resting spots from the second leg of the walk (~500kms) between Bijnor and Gangotri.

This photo story attempts to offer an insight into what it would be like to walk across India and i sincerely hope it inspires you to go out and do your own walk. You can write to me at if you want to discuss about your journey, i’d be happy to help you out with some tips; or if you have any questions, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, i will try and answer these questions with the next set of pictures.


Moving Upstream is our homegrown project, the first edition saw us walking 2500kms along the Ganga from the sea to source. We are working to create a multifaceted experience revolving around the river. For more from the project visit:, and follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for more frequent updates.

We’re working on expanding our work with Moving Upstream to other rivers of India, if you’re interested in collaborating as an individual (participant/artist/researcher) or as an organisation (partner/sponsor) please reach out to us. Should you wish to re-publish this article, send us an email at:

2 thoughts on “Finding shade – Walking across India – Moving Upstream

  1. Hi sid,
    Interesting to know your “finding shade” stories. One can really assume what goes in this kind of project, for exploration of society, mankind and rivers.
    Would be also interesting to know:
    Did u buy your food always/ sometimes/ never during walk upstream and few picture stories ?
    All the best for all your future enndeavours !!
    Kuldeep Yadav

    1. Glad you liked it Kuldeep, and yes, it does take a lot in making a project like this.

      No, there were only a few times when i needed to buy food. Often i would make it a rule to not spend money.

      Thanks for your good wishes.

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