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A photographic journey through India with National Geographic's Steve McCurry

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry has spent three decades creating vibrant, telling photos of the people and places of India. Those images are currently on display at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. The exhibition titled "Steve McCurry: India," in partnership with the International Center of Photography (ICP), coincides with publication of his new book by Phaidon, "India," featuring 150 lushly colored images.

India has long been fascinating subject matter for photographers. McCurry's vision of the sprawling and complex human tapestry that is India has been uniquely captured by his lens for the past 35 years. Many of the photos in the current exhibition are iconic; several have never been seen by the public.

The first time McCurry, now a member of the prestigious Magnum photo agency, set foot in India, his planned six- or seven-week trip turned into a two-year stay. He said that he had no comprehension of India "until I stepped off of the plane. I wasn't prepared for the feeling of magnificence that it evoked. It felt both chaotic and connected."

His first sojourn in the country launched his career. Since first setting his eyes on India, he has traveled there more than 80 times. Each time he finds new inspiration in the "beautiful chaos."

McCurry is perhaps best known for his memorable photo of the young refugee, known as "Afghan Girl," with the mesmerizing green eyes, Sharbat Gula (1984). McCurry's images of India make an equally indelible impression. The exhibit of the American photographer's photos include those from his previous books, "India by Rail" and "Monsoon."

One of the photographer's favorite images from his body of work on India is the one of colorfully clad women huddled together in a dust storm that is the cover of his new book. McCurry describes capturing the women, caught in swirling dust in Rajasthan while singing a prayer for rain along the side of a road, as magical.

The new book, "India" is seen by the photographer as a "personal journey" showcasing what has touched him in a "profound way." That connection is readily apparent in the photos showcased -- the viewer feels the intense, direct gaze of many of McCurry's subjects.

The retrospective of McCurry's India images, spanning three decades of work, is on exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art from November 18, 2015 -- April 4, 2016.

Radhika Chalasani is senior photo editor at - On Twitter

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