River of Life



“Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers,
barbers and bunnias,pilgrims -and potters -all the world going and coming.
It is to me as a river from which I am
withdrawn like a log after a flood.
And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle.
Such a river of life as no where else exists in the world.”
– Rudyard Kipling, Kim


Howrah Bridge

For more than 20 centuries, travelers have walked, ridden, prayed, traded, invaded, escaped,
fought, and died along the 1,500 miles of the Grand Trunk Road which stretches from Kolkata to Kabul.

On the GTR in Bihar State, India

Here are some pictures of people and places I have taken along the route of the Grand Trunk Road during the past thirty years.

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

Agra, India

Near Agra, India

 Red Fort, Delhi

Allahabad, India

Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India

 Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism all developed along the route,
and Muslims proclaimed their beliefs on their journeys along the road.

Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India

Amritsar, India

Amritsar, India

Sikh Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

 The Grand Trunk Road served as the two way escape route for
75 million refugees caught between Indian and Pakistan during Partition.

Lahore, Pakistan

Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar, Pakistan
Peshawar has been a haven for Afghan refugees during decades of war.

Outside of Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar is strategically located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

Landi-Kotal, Pakistan
Near the border with Afghanistan

 Khyber Pass connects Pakistan and Afghanistan

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

This ribbon of humanity stretching Northwest from Kolkata, the city of culture and joy, to Kabul, the city of conflict,
has been moving merchants, buyers, conquerors, refugees, prophets, nomads and pilgrims through what is today
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

On the road to Sarobi

Along this road, forged by conquerors and invaders,
the GT facilitated some of the most significant historical developments which affect us today.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul is over 3,500 years old; many empires have  invaded the valley for its
strategic location along the trade routes of Central and South Asia.

 Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Along the route of the GT there is a  struggle between secular modernity and the conservatism of ancient religions.

68 Responses to “River of Life”

  1. Such beautiful pictures:) lovely to have stumbled upon your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Beautiful. Photos with emotions.

  3. […] s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1); })(); Tweet( From Facebook )Beautiful photography!! River of Lifestevemccurry.wordpress.comKOLKATA TO KABUL Kolkata/Calcutta “Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers […]

  4. very touching..

  5. Arshpreet Says:

    Simply awesome work, full of colors of life. Inspiration for budding photographers.

  6. Harj Dehal Says:

    Great pictures, looking forward to your next Birmingham (UK) exhibition

  7. Fantastic stuff! I’ve just returned from 2 months in Pakistan where I met some of the warmest and most hospitable people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. This takes me back! It’s a shame the media portrays these places in such a negative light. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Following you like millions of people out there. Please continue to amaze me.

  9. Isolete Calheiros, Porto, Portugal Says:

    Each one of these pictures tell a story. Through your eyes we can reach the greatness of humankind. Very impressive work. Thank you.

  10. great photos Sir Steve….

  11. A coveted glimpse into a world I know nothing about… Thank you for sharing. I especially like the portraits… So many stories in those eyes.

  12. Always fascinating. New ways of story telling! Steve you inspire..

    Kindly visit my posting EVERYONE HAS A STORY and give feedback.. Thanks

  13. Wonderful photographs. I always look forward to your blog posts, they’re invoke so much inspiration through the thorough presentation of beautiful photos and well edited texts. It’s a pleasure to follow your work!

    Audrey @ http://www.thebeautifulcollector.com / http://www.pinterest.com/thebcollector/

  14. Great photographs Steve !

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Thank You for posting these great photos, as always

  16. Dear Steeve,
    Thank you for sharing trough your so well done blog the wanderful art and life you have.
    I have similar feeling for freedom, despatately looking for human soul and the beauty the earth can offer.
    My site and blogs started not before long and I am taking more courage to continue stimulated by yours. Photography speaks by itself and it is realy dearing to make such a blogs, but somehow it works…
    I’d be happy to meet you if you have a way trough Paris – as the saying goes: “burds of a feather flock together”.

  17. Stunning as always! The contraption in the last image is a Bioscope! Thought they were extinct!

  18. Steve, you capture the soul of the people, their nation and light with exquisite reverence. Many thanks.

  19. I’m afraid of becoming repetitive, but this is relly amazing. Like it very much.

  20. hidayat shinwari Says:

    awosome pic,,,,, great contribution but f u hav some pic of khyber pass plz uplod them

  21. your photos are always so beautiful and inspiring!

  22. Jeffrey Diamond Says:

    Sensational as always. The portrait of the blue eyed Pakistani girl is one of the best I’ve seen, so sensitively portrayed.

  23. Beautiful. I like the most, your photos of people, they are talking about their lifes

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Wonderful scenes full of life!

  25. No need any comment. It’s real photo! Fully feeling

  26. Love these, the colors!!! One of the only times I preferred color to b and w.

  27. Caro Sr Steve
    Suas imagens sao impressionantes, nos transportam a lugares fantásticos, mostram sempre a essência do ser humano e dos lugares onde vivem,
    O sr tem um dom maravilhoso que é o de contar historias com suas fotos
    abraços do Brazil

  28. just excellent description and fotos too. i have traveled this grant trunk road from Delhi to Calcutta six times. first time on bicycle . second time, third time by hitch hike and two times on my Royal Enfield 350cc bike. the way you have described, is highly appreciated. good luck for your journey to life like this specially.

  29. Inspiring theme of photographs. Beautifully captured and I learn from every post. Thank you!

  30. indian photographs r really awesome stills

  31. Hardika Says:

    you know i’ve had this idea for sometime now…i want to write a meandering account of a trip on the GTR something inspired by Three men in a Boat. I hope I do it someday… I’ll definitely mention you for inspiring me…it was nice bumping into you in Kolkata:)

  32. Guido De Felice Says:

    Superb work!!!! Grazie

  33. Absolutely amazing…every time I look at your images I am moved to tears!!

  34. Mioara Says:

    Thank You for photographs.

  35. Souvik Pal Says:

    Thanks a lot Sir for sharing with us & also many many thanks for the GT road map…I am actually planing to travel the whole length of GT road…

  36. SMITHA Says:


  37. I’m inspired by your images everyday.

  38. Richard Knaggs Says:

    Superb set of photos, has rekindled my interest in going to that region.

  39. joeladdams Says:

    I would walk the GTR just to find that gentleman with the giant wrench….great images.

  40. wonderful world, wonderful people, wonderful pictures!!
    tahnk you

  41. I can’t imagine the wisdom and beauty behind your eyes…

  42. A wave of emotions rise and stir within me with each photo I look upon. Grippingly beautiful. Thank you, Sharon

  43. Wow very beautiful, the colors are just so stark and vivid at times, enjoyed it

  44. Amazing pictures Sir… Lovely.. A big salute..:)

  45. breathtaking.

  46. I’m in love of your photographs. Thank you so much for sharing with us… Muchas gracias, de corazón.

  47. Sheila L Says:

    Very beautiful work. I love how you capture the eyes. The little green eyed girl shot is amazing.

  48. I see a country torn between its rich colors and history and the burden it brings. Ironic that there is this road to the world outside, but no one really escapes. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  49. Having lived, worked and travelled around the North West Frontier Province, Pakistan in 1980/81, these superb images bring back memories of the people and places I was privileged to meet and see – good stuff Steve and many thanks.

  50. stunning pictures !!

  51. António Marques Says:

    Beautiful and moving. Thank you, Steve.

  52. Алек Арабаджиян (Facebook Alek Arabadjian) Says:

    Masterpieces !!!
    My favorite : On the road to Sarobi

    THANK YOU for sharing

  53. Thank you for sharing your work with the world… Spending time with your photographs is a life changing experience. Thank you.

  54. Steve (if I may, and call me Bulent). We met on a cruise (either on the Silver Seas or a Royal Viking Line Cruise) in the 1990s. I was giving lectures on the intersection of art, science and mathematics (with Leonardo as the foil) and you were regaling us with your spectacular shots of India. I just left a comment at your website: ‘Steve McCurry’s photos defines the very pinnacle of photographic art. Whether it is National Geographic’s most famous picture ever, “the Afghan Girl” or the poignant image of subject revisited after a generation, or the myriad images of India and Africa — they are all penetrating and incisive. Mr. McCurry has established a bar so high, that the rest of us can only admire and envy, or attempt to match and fall short.” You might remember me from http://www.bulentatalay.com where I made a link to your blog. National Geographic Books published my last book, “Leonardo’s Universe”.

  55. Amazing photographs, inspiring journey!!!

  56. Amazing shots, awesome journey!!!

  57. Love the imagery, and inspired to get back on the road.

  58. 문정희 Mun Jeong Hee Says:

    새벽에 멋진 사진들을 보며 음악을 들으니 감성돋네요……… Very sensitive pictures !! I was moved TnT
    my country time is am 00:30 ……….. it’s nice night~~아름다운밤이에요~~

  59. Thank You. I arrived in Calcutta in 1990 as a 20 year old female coming straight from a suburb in Winnipeg Manitoba.
    It changed my life, I miss it so much. Thanks for reminding me.

  60. joy chowdhury Says:

    thanks for sharing boss

  61. meriem Says:

    I love the pics!

  62. Reblogged this on Oxford School of Photography and commented:

    more from the man

  63. Inspiring photographs. Thank you for sharing.

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