Photographer Michael Benanav traces nomadic tribe Van Gujjars' spring migration [Photos]
American photojournalist Michael Benanav chronicled the nomadic Van Gujjars' annual spring migration
A community that lives off the land, an annual migration of around 200 kilometres to the middle Himalayas and an everlasting bond with buffaloes that would put a dog’s love to shame was enough of a draw for American photojournalist Michael Benanav to make his way to India in order to spend some time with the Van Gujjars. Here, Benanav poses with Sharafat (16).
The idea was to document the lifestyle of these forest-dwelling nomads, which is under constant threat of being swallowed by the developing world. Here, Khatoon adjusts the load on one of the mules during the migration. Photograph by Michael Benanav
For 44 days, Benanav followed the Van Gujjars on their spring migration from the jungles at the foothills of the Shivalik Hills to the lush pastures high up in the mountains. Here, Chamar milks one of the buffaloes. The milk is the only source of income for the Van Gujjars. Photograph by Michael Benanav
Benanav's fascinating insights into the life of the Van Gujjars is documented in the book, ‘Himalaya Bound’. Here, a wounded yearling is carried to safety. Photograph by Michael Benanav
The Van Gujjars, who trace their origins back to Kashmir, first came to the Shivaliks some 1,500 years ago; today, they are distributed across the many northern states. Their lives revolve around their buffaloes — the milk being their only source of income. Here, Bashi tends to the buffaloes. Photograph by Michael Benanav
The experience resulted in Benanav starting the Traditional Cultures Project a few years ago, which documents indigenous societies around the world before they disappear. Here, Yusuf supervises the herd as they take a water break. Photograph by Michael Benanav