SharonBillyI can finally contemplate my return to India at the end of 2022 – it will be three years that I have been away, the longest in 20 years. I have missed the instant transition of being in India mode, alive and alert as soon as I hit Delhi airport. I always feel as though I have to hit the ground running with my senses in full throttle, as I leave Delhi and begin negotiating and navigating my way to the next destination – usually Dharamsala. The plane trip is very scenic and once I hit the tarmac it feels as though I am home again. I still regard it as my second home, even now that I have returned to Australia to live.

The first thing I am looking forward to is the sight of the mountains, a constant presence from the moment the aircraft lands on the short tarmac. I look forward to being reunited with my two dogs Billy and Maddie, who are being cared for by Kalpana and her two children. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to seeing my friends and their families, including Vikas and Shiv. Whilst we see each other often on Zoom, it will be an added bonus to see them in person with a class of chai in our hands.

Who could forget the shopkeepers of Dharamsala, who always comment on my return, ‘Long time away, Madam’. I’m always astonished that they remember how long I’ve been away for. I wonder what they will say after this long stint away.   – Sharon (founder of Ekno Travels)

As a photographic tour leader for Luminous Journeys, a provider in world class photo tour adventures, I lead groups of photographers around various countries in South Asia, including India, where I have the pleasure of teaming up with Vikas and Ekno Travels. They are ground handlers for our India tours and make them run comfortably and smoothly. I created our Incredible India Photo Tour Workshop alongside Vikas in 2017, after we researched the best destinations for landscape, people and culture photography. We worked together to create the best itinerary we could for a photo tour that was both original and rich in photographic opportunities. We had fun doing it too, and in working with Vikas I appreciated how lucky I was to have the best guide anyone could hope for, who is both professional and very personable. I miss working together, but in 2022 I believe it will be possible once again to travel throughout India, and that is an exciting prospect.

After a lot of research and brainstorming, Vikas, myself and Bennett Stevens from Luminous Journeys ultimately created the perfect 15-day photography tour in the north of India. We picked the best rock to stand on for a sunrise shot of the impressive Mehrangarh Fort overlooking the blue city of Jodhpur. We worked out how to shoot the Taj Mahal from the nearby Mehtab Bagh (literally ‘Moonlight Garden’) while including a human subject in the shot. We organised photographing a Saddhu (holy man) on a wooden boat on the River Ganges in Varanasi at sunrise, as well as bringing camels and dancers into the Thar Desert near Jaisalmer for both sunset and sunrise shoots while arranging for guests to have the opportunity to camp and spend a night on the sand dunes with musical entertainment and delicious Rajasthani food. Not to mention researching the best places to be during the Holi festival of colours for the most action-packed and exciting shots, and how to protect expensive cameras while being in the heart of the powder throwing action.

We’ve conducted our India photo tour three times since its creation, and we were so fortunate to still do the 2020 tour in February/March, just before the Covid pandemic impacted the world. During this early 2020 tour news of the virus was starting to get some buzz, and the Delhi international airport staff were taking everyone’s temperature on arrival while asking us if we felt any fever at all. But no one could have predicted what would soon follow – an almost two-year end to world travel in Asia, especially to India.

As an Australian living in Brisbane, I am excited that there is talk of the borders opening again this year, meaning India tours in 2022 will be possible again. And I can’t wait to return to this land that elicits so much emotion and excitement in me. I first travelled to India in 2004 for six weeks, and I then met Ekno’s founder, Sharon, in Nepal. I since continued returning to India and will do so throughout my life, learning a little bit more about it each time I go, exploring new places and aiming to take even better photographs than the previous time.

Our next India photo tour that we have scheduled to run with Vikas and Ekno Travels is ‘Luminous Ladakh’ on July 6 2022 – a newly researched tour that covers the Himalayan north of India. Our ‘Incredible India’ tour is slated to run in February 2023, and will include the Jaisalmer Desert Festival and photographing wild tigers in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve.

Visit: for more tour info.
David Lazar’s India photography can be viewed at his website:
Follow him on Instagram:

In March 2020, as I was touring Dharamsala, local tourist attractions were literally starting to close around me. While I had an inkling things were getting serious, it wasn’t until I got the official text from DFAT telling everyone it was time to get home, that I realised the seriousness of the situation. And as I stood in Delhi Airport, with more people than you can begin to fathom, never would I have imagined that 19 months later we would still not be able to travel.

I will never again take for granted the hustle, bustle and madness of the streets of an Indian city. The incessant tooting of horns, the endless stream of traffic. The sensory overload of so many smells and colours. The people going about their business here, there and everywhere, winding between vehicles, animals and other people.

I will never again take for granted the peace and tranquility of an Indian village, with its open space and smells of earth, nature and smoky fires. I will even welcome the discreet stares, and the sometimes not so discreet stares, of the locals.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to spend time with the people I have come to know and care about during my Indian travels over the past few years. Yes, technology is great! And we can Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp but NOTHING will ever replace sitting down to a meal of dahl, rice and roti or a steaming hot chai with your friends, chatting about what’s going on, how the kids are going and having a laugh together.

I have booked a return ticket for the end of June. I’ll be there, savouring every sound, sight, smell and whatever else India throws my way.

Danielle has two tours planned for 2022:

Supporters of Samadhan Delhi Tour: 15-21 October 2022,
Jaipur add-on tour: 23-25 October 2022
Dharamshala immersion tour: 27 October-4 November 2022