At the moment, if you pass by the Maison du Voyage in Paris, you can catch the exhibition Inde, instants éternels (“India, eternal moments”) featuring pictures that Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts took during several trips to the South Asian country.

Pascal’s exhibition at the Maison du Voyage in Paris. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts/Maison du Voyage

The exhibition presents a collection of photographs that Pascal Mannaerts has taken over several years and all around the country, a series of “snapshots of life, rituals, extraordinary festivals, unforgettable moments, faces of people, encounters made on the road”.

The pictures chosen for the exhibition aim to “evoke the subtle and timeless magic of this mythical country”. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

“Each trip to India is a wonder and an all-encompassing experience for me,” Pascal Mannaerts told Lonely Planet. “India is like a book full of different stories, India is an endless path. We could travel its roads to infinity without ever getting tired of it. India is full of surprises,” he continued.

A man meditates on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, in 2008. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

It was during his first trip to India in 2000, in fact, that Pascal’s eye shifted from that of an amateur photographer to that of a professional. “I really started to take pictures with more attention,” he remembered. “My first visit to India really dazzled me. I fell in love with this country and I truly felt inspired from the very first days I was there,” he continued. It’s only natural, then, that his exhibition should reflect his “real passion” for India.

A woman posing in front of a temple in Varanasi in 2013. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

“Photography reflected this spontaneous desire that I had to immortalize my experiences and my discoveries, to capture their essence and their beauty,” Pascal said, talking about his beginnings. Somewhere among those experiences, he decided that he wanted “to make these passions for travel and photography, my main activity, and make a living out of them. And here I am today.”

A woman praying at the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran, in 2015. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

Pascal’s photographic work always has “the interactions [he has] with local people as its priority, and he always places human beings as the main focus”. While India is the place that sparked his interest in travel photography, the entire continent of Asia draws Pascal’s attention time and time again.

People are always the focus of Pascal’s works, as proven by this portrait of Señora Deilys, taken in Havana in 2016. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

“There are so many things that fascinate me about Asia,” Pascal said. “I can, of course, find some of these things in many other places in the world but, in Asia, I feel like there something more. It’s the richness and diversity of the cultures and places to discover, the spirituality which can be very intense or just float in the air like an aura of wisdom, it’s the interactions I have with the local people,” he explained.

“Striking a pose at the monastery in Battambang, Cambodia, in 2014”. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

The feelings hanging around a certain trip or experience are difficult to convey once you’ve returned home, but Pascal told Lonely Planet that it’s exactly what he hopes to do with his photography: “I hope to be able to show the beauty of what I personally find and discover, the emotions that I feel and their intensity. I hope that my images will touch people,” he said. And of course, he hopes “to inspire those who hesitate to go and discover the world.”

Pascal “behind the scenes” of one of his travels in Myanmar in 2014. Photo by Pascal Mannaerts

If you want to be inspired as well, the exhibition Inde, instants éternels will stay at the Maison du Voyage until October 2018, and you can find more information about it here. You can also follow Pascal here.

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