Glimpses of Varanasi (Part I)

Ganges Varanasi

Ganges Varanasi

To begin my travelogue with Varanasi might seem like a very pious thing to do but with all due respect to Kashi Vishwanath(Lord Shiva) I did not feel one bit religious in the ‘Holy City’. It might have been entirely my fault I was not able to connect to any religious aspect of the place or experience it (other than a few minutes in the ghat) but what I witnessed in Manikarnika Ghat where the dead are cremated made me wonder as in WONDER why so many Hindus in Nepal are gung ho about ‘wanting’ to die in Kashi inspite of the Moksha assurance. But let me spare the ghat details for later and plan my Varanasi travelogues for now. I wish to divide my writing into three segments: The Gallis, The Ghats and The Ganges in Varanasi and hopefully I will be able to stick by this plan. However I can’t end this blog, as I have already started it, without writing anything further so here is a peek into the ‘my’ Banaras.

The main gate leading to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The main gate leading to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Dashashwamedha Ghat in Varanasi

Muslim men passing by Dashashwamedha Ghat in Varanasi

Varanasi Ghats

Requested By God 🙂


Literature on Varanasi never forgets to mention what Mark Twain had to say about this city- “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” But a touristy stroll around the city like mine will do little to help one understand the ‘age’ of this oldest continuously inhabited city. Perhaps, ‘बनारसको महिमा वाणीमा होइन अनुभव गर्नै कुरा हो ‘ (The glory of Banaras is a matter of experience and not words) like one Nepali student in Sampurnanand Sanskrit University had to say. 🙂 But every experience counts and I did not feel I was in such an ancient place though I always wondered if Laxmi Prasad Devkota ever walked in the gallis we walked in.

Gallis of Varanasi

The famous alleys or Gallis of Varanasi

Varanasi for me was a city filled with impatient drivers who honked continuously; where  cows, goats, dogs, bulls, rickshaws, motorbikes all composed the traffic and the ‘Suddha Sahakari’ ( Pure vegetarian) eateries in abundance which made me smile every time I passed by 🙂 I finally found a city which seemed to be extremely vegetarian friendly.

Cows roaming free in the streets of Varanasi

Cows roaming free in the streets of Varanasi

I still have the Godaulia hangover, the market where the loud noise of the generators never stops and definitely wish I had more ‘Thandai’ and been of more help during the haggling sessions every time we had to travel. And how can I forget the auto rickshaw drivers’ always ready with their “Hello friend. You need auto? My auto I have.” Other ‘Hello Friends” will want to shake hands with you on the ghats if you are a man and of course give you a massage. And thankfully, ‘Massage’ will mean hands-on-lie-down-beside-the-ghat actual massage. A city full of life , that’s Varanasi…  I know its a cliche 😛 but its true!

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. very nicely written. loved those photos.
    the gallis of baranasi one the most.
    as i am from india, i found it really interesting reading this post and other posts.
    thanks.

  2. The place varanasi which is also known as kasi located in INDIA is a holy place and people who come there has a belief they will become sinless when they dip in the kasi river.

  3. I spent two years at BHU in Varanasi …………… Great Campus …. but city was never inspiring to me . If u do not have Ganges and BHU in Varanasi , Varanasi has nothing to offer ………….the filth ….the sewage the criminals who hold back industrialization in and around the area …..and the pervasive Indian attitude everywhere …. from meandering auto-drivers to muslim ppl selling beef biryanis around Godhulia Bazaar …. .Overall I miss three things of Varanasi : Ganges -the ghat itself,rabdi at lanka and chaya beneath the peepul tree in front of the Church at Godhulia …… Your writing refreshed my memories …

  4. You really lived Banaras….felt so nostalgic reading your post…m from Banaras and when someone says “my” Banaras…it gives me such a goosebump! And, as your frn said, Banaras is to experience! So true…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s