Photographer Dan Eckstein documents India’s vibrant trucking culture

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India’s Wild Rides

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Photos by Dan Eckstein

It’s wilder than an episode of BJ and the Bear. But truck driving in the land of the Grand Trunk Road, where sideview mirrors are seldom used and lanes are a mere suggestion, is always an adventure. Documentary photographer Dan Eckstein became fascinated with the brightly decorated commercial trucking vehicles that range from India’s new highways to one-lane mountain passes, and the daring men who drive them. DB caught up with Eckstein to find out more.

Do the decorations have any meaning?

The truck decoration tells a lot about the driver, his religion, his caste, the company that he is working for, and the region that he is from. For example, Sikh drivers will adorn their trucks with the Khanda and have pictures and shrines for famous gurus and warriors inside the truck compartment. Muslims will often have images of the Taj Mahal and Hindus images of various gods and painted scenes from Hindu mythology.

Where did you travel to capture the trucks?

The photos were taken along a 2,500-kilometer road trip throughout the northeast Indian states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, and Haryana. Did you have a favorite place along the journey? Rajasthan is particularly beautiful with its ruined forts and colorful dress.

Can anyone rent a car and drive around India and see these trucks?

Foreigners are free to rent vehicles and drive around India. The roads are a bit rough and the driving style takes some getting used to, so most people end up hiring a car and driver, which costs about the same as renting a car.

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