In the day 2 post where i mentioned i met a few photographers and travelers while i was having my late lunch at the Cafe Zoe near Assi Ghat. We discussed a lot on traveling, photography and life in general, among other things. Life in their countries and life here in india. It was then that i started loving my travels more, cause they made me meet people from across the world who thought like i did.
We met in the evening again on the same day. While bidding goodbyes for the night they invited me to their place for breakfast the next morning. I was so psyched to meet them again. The best part! we didn’t exchange our numbers, they just gave me their address and told me to be their in the morning.
The next morning, i was up at 7 o’clock. Got my shower and ready to go in the next half hour. Then, I started for their hotel where few of them had been living from the past few days.
It was a Welcome Heritage hotel on the far north side of the Main ghat. As i walked towards this hotel, i had to go through two really scary and shocking spots, which i didn’t know were there on my way. First was the living area of the Aghori Babas.
Oh boy! That place scared the living shit out of me. But as i digested all that was going around while crossing that spot, i made peace with it. These Aghori monks are said to be an mysterious ancient tribe who feast on human flesh as part of their rituals, as well as drinking from human skulls, chewing the heads off live animals and meditating on top of cadavers in search of spiritual enlightenment.
Here a picture of an Aghori Baba taken by an Italian photographer Cristiano Ostinelli who spent time with the tribe to discover more about their way of life. Here’s the complete article.
Aghori Baba | Photo credits – Italian photographer Cristiano Ostinelli
I wasn’t even back to my wits yet, then came the scariest moment of my Benares Trip. It was a heavy feeling of weird kind of energy when i passed by the “Manikarnika Ghat”*. I’m getting goosebumps even right now, as i’m writing this. I couldn’t even take my camera out, when i was crossing this place.
This post is the progression of my earlier travelogue posts (Day 1, Day 1 Continued and Day 2) on Benares trip, Hope you enjoy it.
Benares – Day 2 Continued…
Once i crossed the Flower boat, i started heading towards north again. Then as i was just crossing an area where a pundit was doing a ceremony, just after a family arrived back to the Ghats from a boat which had gone to immerse ashes of their deceased beloved in holy Ganges. It looked like a rural south Indian family, I tried to capture a few portraits of them.
I was expecting intense emotion of grief, but most of them were having happy faces except for the wife of the deceased. I tried to talk to them and found out the deceased was in pain and suffering due to a long hold malady. So the whole family was having a relief that at least now their beloved will not have to suffer through that pain which he was experiencing from a long time. Here are a few portraits:
I call these photographs collectively – “The Faces”.
This post is the progression of my earlier travelogue posts (Day 1 and Day 1 Continued) on Benares trip, Hope you enjoy it.
Benares – Day 2
“Subah-e-Banaras” is the local term (originated from Urdu) used for Benares Sunrise! Which is one of the many exciting charms of Benares. I didn’t know what to expect. But regardless, i had set my alarm at 4:30AM to wake up early in the morning, to get up, shower and make it in time till the Ghats.
The eve before i had asked a boatman if he could take me to the Ganges banks on the other side of the Ghats. He agreed and was to be found at 5AM on the main ghat as promised. When i reached there, neither i could find him nor his boat. The first disappointed of the evening.
Then i started walking north from the Main Ghat into the early twilight of the morning while sun was still below the Horizon. Here is the picture of the particular moment.
While walking back i came across an old man¹, he had a magical smile.
As i was crossing him, looking at me he stopped me and said ‘Son! You don’t look from around here! Where have you come from?’
If a total stranger would ask you something like this, you’ll just ignore and walk away. But this old man just didn’t seem like one! That’s the magic of Benares! This old man seemed like an indistinguishable part of Benares! So i couldn’t help myself but reply with a gentle smile.
‘Uncle! I’ve come from Bombay. Indeed not around from here.’ ‘Are you a local?’ I asked.
‘Yes, Here from past 18 years almost. I was in Kolkata² for a long period of time, then destiny took me here and i never left.’ He replied.
All of his more than 50 years of life experiences were reflecting in his talks. We kept on talking for 15 minutes almost. Then i thought to take a picture with him. I asked a passing by foreign lady to take it for me. Luckily she knew, how to operate the camera. In fact more than i did.