Benares – Day 1 Continued…
The sun just set. I started walking back!
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.
Here is our picture and this dog never left –
The mural behind was awe-fucking-inspiring. Made by an artist from USA – Jonny Popovich. Here is the clean shot of the painting taken by me.
Just right next to this mural was another mural of Swami Vivekananda with an upside down mirrored text as ‘TIME WILL REFLECT‘. Artist credit: Sangram Soni. Here is the clean shot of that taken by me.
It was almost 6:15 PM. I started walking again. Just after 5 minutes i crossed a boat which was just merely finished building and in the backdrop there was Ganges. I couldn’t stop myself from popping my camera out and take a picture! Here is that picture –
It became a little coincidental as the guy who fueled my already burning ambition of traveling solo to Benares, turned out (later when i got back to Bombay) that he had also taken a picture of this same boat when the boat crafter had just started building it. Here is his picture –
How insane is that! Crazy right? First i couldn’t believe it was the same boat. But after closely inspecting the photo of my friend, i was sure this was the same boat. When he went on his journey, we didn’t even know each other! But then these co-incidental pictures. Experiencing this co-incident it was pretty dope. I was so fascinated by this co-incident that i created a short story about it and put it on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
While i was in Benares, i passed by this Boat couple of times and in eventually ended up taking a picture of this Boat which was just ready by the local Boat makers. [See the lower picture taken by me] The boat was pretty neat. Still, I felt there is something missing here. May be not in the boat itself. But the story!!? Guess what! That feeling was true!! After i came back and was sharing my stories with one of my work friends. Who initially sparked the idea of Benares in my mind, even though i had it in the back burners of my mind from so long. But yes, he catalyzed it. Next thing, he shows me his trips pictures from few months back and I was shocked to see one picture of the same boat at the same spot. [See the upper picture taken by my friend Sameer]. Now i was able to connect the dotes and get the complete story of this Boat. Its like my friend took it when they had just began to build. I took it just when it was finished. How perfect timing. It's like a time window. The Boat is complete now with the story. #benares #boat #ghats #ganges #boatbuilding #varanasi #story #travelingpants #india #incredibleindia #postingafteralongtime
I started my walk back towards the main ghat again. After 10 minutes of walk across the ghat stairs i reached to the main Ghat (Dashasvamedh Ghat³). I had heard about the daily prayers of the local priest groups for the Deity ‘Mother Ganges‘. But it was now that i realized how huge this was. A platform set up for each priest and there were 5 like that.
Big crowd consisting of local devotees and people from all over the world was there. Crowd was split in two. Half was sitting behind the platforms where priests were offering prayers to the Mother Ganges.
The other half which was more fascinating to me was in the Ganges itself. On the boats. Clapping and chanting rigorously. The view was extravagant.
For a moment my feet were frozen into the ground beneath me and my jaw dropped wide open after getting the first glances of this ceremony so enormous. It took me few gasp to come back to my wits.
If you are reading this travelogue and ever happen to be in Benares in future, mark this Aarti ceremony in your bucket list. You can thank me later.
Here is another raw shot of the Aarti ceremony in action. Snake-head burning candelabras, mantras and an atmosphere filled with enchanting sounds of ritualistic brass bells. I had never experienced energy of this magnitude.
When the ceremony was about to finish i saw another local old guy whom i saw in afternoon as well. He was dressed up in an ancient traditional red attire and was dancing like a spelled being. It was wondrous, just seeing this old guy dancing. I took a couple of shots of him too. Here they are –
After i took the above picture, he saw me and he was so generous that he posed upfront for the below picture:
Today’s Ceremony was over.
I started heading back to my hotel which was 2 minutes walk and that was the end of my first day in Benares.
Day – 2…To be continued…
Thanks for reading.
- First Old Man – Great charming man he was. Unfortunately i didn’t ask his name. You know, sometimes when names don’t matter. It was that type of conversation. Still, i regret not asking his name. May be i need to go to the Benares Ghats again to know his name. How is that for an idea?
- Kolkata – Another fascinating old city in India from my Travel Bucket List. Find more about it here.
- Dashashwamedh Ghat – This is the main ghat in Varanasi on the river Ganges. Find more about it here.
Credited Artists –
- Jonny Popovich – An artist from USA – Check him out on Instagram. Jaw-Dropping Art work.
- Sangram Soni – Check him out on Instagram. Some great work by an Indian artist.
A Quote I’m pondering on lately –
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
My Travelogues Archives:
Do you have any solo traveling experiences?
Please share it in the comments below, i will love to hear about it.