Of all the myriad ways we’ve found to lose little bits of our souls to social sharing platforms, there’s one that rises above the pack for its ability to rise at all. At its worst, it’s a breeding ground for selfies, bad poetry in painful typography and inspirational quotes with typos. But at its best, Instagram has become a confluence point of creativity and the most accessible means of storytelling that’s just one click (or filter) away. In the case of travel photography in particular, it’s an instant portal to another place at the very same time, and it’s one of the things we’ve grown to love it for the most.
Rather than let the love fester inside of us, we thought to take it by the hand and dig deeper though. We scoured through endless search words and word-of-mouth tips to arrive at this list of truly special Instagrammers from India who make us feel like we’re discovering our own country again, every day through their images.
Scroll on for more than little inspiration to pack your bags and remember—this kind of teleportation comes with a hashtag.
Abhinav Chandel is based in McLeodganj, way up in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. It comes as no surprise then that his photos capture life in the stunning terrain, each photo accompanied by a wonderful write up that allows intimate glimpses into his own being. ‘It’s a strange phase I find myself in, I am neither happy nor sad, I am neither a chaos or at peace, dangling somewhere in between I sway with the wind. I am finding these new dreams, new thoughts, meeting new people, losing people every day,’ he laments in a particularly soft and muted photograph of his of a train trudging its way through the hills. He also posts images of his poetry, and if his Instagram doesn’t make you experience a heavy dose of anemoia—the term for experiencing nostalgia for a time you’ve never known or imagined—nothing will.
HG loves: The simplicity of his images coupled with the complexity of his prose.
II. Abhinav Singhai
The first thing you notice about Abhinav Singai’s Instagram is that he eschews the default square format and instead prefers landscape and portrait shots. His photos are a mix of solitary landscapes and detailed architecture interspersed with glimpses into culture and religion. Some of his most eye-catching photos are his long exposure shots of star trails and the Milky Way. We know we’re just looking at them through a screen, but these incredibly hypnotic photos of the night sky make us feel quite small in the grand scheme of things. Singai’s photos of New Delhi’s Jama Masjid and his black-and-white and sepia series on the Taj Mahal are full of emotion too: the former, with their wide-angle format showcase the extent of the fervour and passion of the devoted, while the latter captures a highly solitary and romanticised version of a monument that is usually besieged by hordes—you can almost feel the sense of peace and quiet that pervades these photos.
HG loves: The way Singhai manages to invoke emotion, even with something as bare as a deserted landscape.
III. Arati Kumar-Rao
Arati Kumar-Rao’s Instagram takes you inside rural India. Scenes of village life—their joys along with their trials and tribulations—sit side by side with some amazing animal photography, time-lapse videos, and her own sketches and doodles inspired by her travels. You should also read about one image that impacted her deeply, here.
HG loves: The thought-provoking captions Rao writes to accompany every post.
IV. Eva Erdmann
Eva Edrmann’s Instagram is full of her travels, especially India. Her photographs are mainly landscapes and portraits and she seems to favour earthy tones as opposed to bright blues and vivd greens, like most other travel photographers—her images have a beautifully muted quality about them. She also seems to be a big fan of the golden hour—plenty of her shots are taken at sunset, giving her photos that warm tinge. From the Kumbh Mela to Orissa, Edrmann has captured some beautiful moments. She may only have been travelling through India for a bit, but her images are going to stick in your mind for ages.
HG loves: The way Erdman manages to get her subjects to open up—it’s in the eyes, and almost every travel portrait of hers is stunning.
Jitendra Singh’s Instagram is a mix of people and places—all in rich, vivid detail. Ladakh seems to be a favourite muse, and he’s photographed everything from the Leh Palace to Pangong Tso. He’s also captured slices of life in Shimla, Kinnaur and Khajjar.
HG loves: His series of photos on Holi celebrations. Don’t miss them.
VI. Kim Changkwon
Seoul-based Kim Changkwon’s Instagram is a catalogue of his travels and his striking pictures of India firmly grants him a place on this list. A quick scroll through his profile reveals that he too seems to prefer landscape and portrait modes over Instagram’s default square format. From beautiful and evocative portraits of Ladakhi tribals and sadhus on the ghats of Benares to night-time shots of the Milky Way, Changkwon’s feed has us scrolling through it multiple times and feeling more and more dejected with each scroll.
HG loves: The fact that Changkwon has captured Ladakh in black-and-white. With the incredible contrast Ladakh provides, most photographers stick to colour shots. But it takes on a whole new avatar in black-and-white.
VII. Magdalena Bagrianow
Magdalena Bagrianow is a Polish freelance photographer based in Sharjah. Her Instagram has some gorgeous portraits of Rajasthani tribals that she took when she was in Pushkar while the straight-up intimacy and communication between the photographer and her subject is almost tangible. From watchful camel herders to alluring gypsies and pensive sadhus to grinning children, Bagrianow has skilfully captured aspects of Rajasthan through her lens.
HG loves: The intensity behind nearly each and every photograph.
VIII. Naveed Mulki
Naveed Mulki’s Instagram is a mix of people and places, and his captions consist of beautifully worded prose that tugs at the heartstrings. ‘The first thing that was truly mine, were my footsteps. They followed me around, they told me where I was meant to go and they took me just one step further than I had ever been before. Then, the voices in my head began to appear. The moment I heard doubt, my toes dug into the ground. The moment I heard pain, my sole began to slide backwards. Till one day, I couldn’t hear my footsteps any longer, it was just voices and more voices,’ says one. Mulki’s vivid prose combined with his imagery makes him one of our favourites, and the people that currently follow him probably share the sentiment.
HG loves: The fact that Mulki’s page is a wonderful balance between the visual and the narrative. Far too often, words and images vie for our attention with one usually trumping the other. He manages to reign them both in and create something magical.
IX. Neelima Vallangi
Neelima Vallangi claims to be addicted to travel and blames it on her 2008 trip to Ladakh. She recently quit her job in the IT industry and began travelling and photography full time. If reading this didn’t make you envious enough, wait till you see her photos. We’re particularly taken by her images of the night sky: one over the Mongolian Steppes and another over Niel Island in the Andamans. Both show a velvety, inky sky studded with millions of stars. Most of her other images feature vivid imagery and bright colours: lots of bright blue water, rich green grasslands and deep orange sunsets.
HG loves: Vallangi’s POV shots. They make us really jealous.
X. Ruchir Wadke
Some of Ruchir Vadke’s photos have a sense of movement and urgency to them, such as the black and white photo of the blurred man whizzing past Mughal Gate in Bhopal’s old city on his bicycle. Vadke seems to eschew Instagram’s in-built filters in favour of manual contrast and saturation adjustments, and his photos of Himachal Tosh Valley are crisp and stunning.
HG loves: The fact that he’s more attuned to manual fine-tuning rather than simply slapping on a filter.
XI. Rushi Tambe
Rushi Tambe calls himself a ‘compulsive and impulsive traveller’ and his Instagram is choc-a-block with stunning landscapes and people shots with a bit of wildlife here and there. Sweeping vistas of foggy mountains and empty beaches jostle for space with close ups of architecture and animals.
HG loves: The mood and tone of Tambe’s photography isn’t something that can be easily mimicked or achieved.
XII. Shubham Mansingka
Shubham Mansingka is an economics and finance graduate who quit his job to slow travel across India and the world—and photograph it along the way. His Instagram features plenty of North India’s usual suspects—Manali, Ladakh and Kinnaur, alongside some beautiful shots of Rajasthan and other Indian destinations. Not only does he seem to have a different take on how and what he photographs, but he also accompanies many of his posts with a little write up: a poem, or a few lines of prose.
HG loves: His foggy, dream-like forest photos taken in North India
XIII. Siddharth Agarwal
Siddharth Agarwal, or Asid (yes, pronounced like acid) as he’s known, is a traveller and photographer. If his Instagram could speak, it’d probably sing you a lullaby—it’s that soothing. Beautiful, mottled greens, subtle browns mix wonderfully with black-and-white city shots, faded out sunsets and deep, dark, shadowy pictures.
HG loves: Agarwal’s eye. No matter what he’s shooting, he manages to give it a wonderfully distinctive look and feel.
XIV. Siddhartha Joshi
Siddhartha Joshi started his blog The Wanderer to blog about his travels and share his stories. Now, it’s a full-time occupation. One look at his Instagram page and you can tell that Joshi is all about his subject—nearly every photo features a human or animal, whether it’s the inquisitive camel up front and centre with his master in the background, or the mud wrestlers of Chinchechi Talim. It’s evident that Joshi likes to connect with his subjects—and it’s even evidenced further by his popular hashtag #tellmeyourdreams, wherein he gets his subjects to open up and share their dreams with him and his followers.
HG loves: Joshi’s year-long project ‘Tell Me Your Dream’. It’s a wonderful way to get extraordinary stories out of people you see every day.
XV. Subhash Chandra
Subhash Chandra’s photos invoke a deep sense of wanderlust and travel-envy—most of his photos consist of his trips to the hills up north. As he trekked through the Rupin Pass, which starts at Dhaula in Uttarakhand and ends at Sangla in Himachal Pradesh, Chandra captured the changing countryside around him—from thick forests and gushing streams to windswept peaks and ethereal snow blanketed landscapes. He’s also big on photographing Rajasthan and there’s a smattering of the state in his feed.
HG loves: The crispness of his images.
Researched by Raj Rege