Real life temple of doom? Meet the Varanasi tribe who chew the heads off live animals and devour human flesh

These are the incredible pictures of one photographer’s first-hand experience with the exiled tribe of Aghori monks from Varanasi, India.

As part of their rituals, they eat human flesh, drink from human skulls, chew the heads off live animals and meditate on top of cadavers.

Cannibal Tribes

An Aghori Monk of Varanasi covered in white face paint and an orange head dress

Cristiano Ostinelli, the Italian photographer, has brilliantly captured what life is like for these exiled monks.

He said: “There is a great mystery around them and the Indians fear them, they say they can predict the future, walk on water and do evil prophecies.”

The monks use a combination of marijuana, alcohol and meditation to help them reach a disconnected state of heightened awareness and bring themselves closer to revered Hindu god Lord Shiva.

Cannibal Tribes

The monks use a combination of marijuana, alcohol and meditation to help them reach a disconnected state of heightened awareness and bring themselves closer to revered Hindu god Lord Shiva.

The Aghori also believe that by immersing themselves without prejudice in what others deem taboo or disturbing, they’re on course to achieving enlightenment.

They live among India’s cremation sites – where Lord Shiva and goddess Kali Ma are said to dwell – and feed on what others throw away.

The Aghori also believe that flesh and blood are transitory and that the body is ultimately inconsequential.

Cannibal Tribes

The exiled tribe believe in engaging in taboo practices in search of spiritual enlightenment

They emphasize this notion through their habit of dwelling in cemeteries and by surrounding themselves with death and decay.

The Aghori shun material belongings and often walk around unclothed. This encourages detachment from what they see as earthly delusions and better signifies the human body in its purest form.

Cannibal Tribes

The Aghori shun material belongings and often walk around unclothed

Today’s Aghori trace their roots to 17th-century puritan Baba Kinaram, who is said to have lived to the ripe old age of 170.