Sunday, November 3, 2013

holy land and holy colors

I used to read about it a lot; I used to see them in photographs; I used to hear from people about it and finally I made it to the place. Its the holy land of Varanasi or Banaras or Kashi that attracts perhaps most number of tourists in India to make sure they watch the best of the worst in the history of mankind. Its a very unique tourism that projects both Indian filth and Indian wealth. I still wonder why people from all over the world visit this place full of filth and dreadful activities happening all the time. At least I wanted to witness for sure all that I had read and was curious to know about.

I took a boat ride for 30 minutes across the ghats and saw all the drama of spirited people working hard enough to make sure the dead people reach heaven. Its the act of cleaning up bodies in the river Ganga and burning them till the ashes mix up with the river. And at the same time people take bath in the river and drink up the holy water to make sure their lives are cleansed off the sins they've committed (or will be committing). I feel sad for gorgeous Ganga having consumed most number of dead bodies in the history of any river and being a carrier of dead bodies till where ever it flows ~ A river so lively with the dead.

Talking about people, Varanasi is full of people, a random look with both the eyes anywhere on the streets of Varanasi can capture a minimum of 1000 people in the frame I guess. Its people everywhere; people walking in the holy costumes; people riding bicycle rickshaws with 2 foreigners sitting and watching the whole drama around; people trying to imitate priests on the street to make sure the visitor drops a penny or two in their pocket before entering the temple; people who are busy making money by selling everything and anything on the streets; people who are urinating right across the streets not noticing others who are trying to ignore the sight; people with long beards who are spirited enough so that they can sit on the banks of river in the holy costumes and smoke the holy drugs to get high; people who carry dead bodies to the river bank and make sure the dead gets a good place on the ghats-of-their-choice till their spirits gets washed away in the holy river; people who can row a boat and convince a foreigner or a tourist to pay 1000 bucks to see the ghats burning dead bodies; and people who are living in the town from ages who doesn't care a damn about what is happening around; holy cow! I can go on and on. Varanasi is absolutely jam packed and is a live river of people.

Here are some photographs from my trip:

Reserved for the dead

Flower vendor waiting for the bodies to arrive so that he can decorate them with flowers

Tourists taking a pleasure boat ride watching the ghats burning dead bodies

Boat men working hard to make sure tourists like the ghats. They ensure they take you to the ghat where you can see bodies burning. 

The smoke and the river - a very symbiotic relationship

The ghats on the banks of the Ganges

A submerged temple

For some reason the place was full of sky-baskets

The one who posed at the right time

They smile at every tourist and make a living

Crowded streets of Varanasi

Sunrise over the Triveni Sangam where Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet

Yamuna river so serene in the morning

Sunrise over the holy sangam

The new Yamuna bridge at Allahabad

Boats returning from Sangam early in the morning

Where you see the congregation of boats, that's the Sangam point


Narasim said...

As usual the photographs are excellent. It is a treat to see them at leisure.

I am most grateful to you for enabling the sadhu to bless me. Blessed are the sinners who are blessed by the sadhus.

Technically I find the photograph of Yamuna with the boats in the foreground at dawn most pleasing. Aesthetically it is wonderful.

It is a shame that the most holy place of Hinduism is also the filthiest. Wonder whether the sight of unmitigated filth makes Europeans and North Americans feel superior to Indians who desecrate Mother Ganga with dead bodies.

It is time for a Dashashwamedha Yagna to burn off all the filth that violates Mother Ganga.

Taher Kagalwala said...

Very nice post, Srikkanth. Thank you for sharing those lovely photos. The text complements the photos very nicely. I wonder if you got any chance to take snaps inside the garbh-grihas of any temples, and if not, why. Another suggestion would be to take more pictures of common people -- esp. those that belong to the minorities juxtaposed against the temples and the sadhus. Would make for an eye-engaging experience.

Srik said...

Dear Narasim,

thank you very much for your comment. Glad you liked the photographs. Yes! now that I am blessed, I wanted all of you to be blessed too... for the life time! ;)

Dear Dr. Taher,

Thank you for visiting my post and am very glad you liked the photographs. Thank you for your suggestions as well.

Well, I did not get into any temples or could click any more photographs because I was at Varanasi only for about 1 hour. I somehow managed to make it to the ghats for about 30-40 minutes and clicked some pictures.


Unknown said...

As usual, a very good post. I liked the vividity in your description of Varanasi. And glad that you were able to get the depths of the city's activities in only an hour's time of visit to the holy apex of India.
As always enjoyed your photographs. I guess the dawn of winter helped you with good lighting and touring experience.
People, people and people everywhere is all we can expect in most of our contry's tourist hubs. And that's our strength. We shall someday-oneday encash that strength. I hope that someday-oneday happens in my lifetime.