Benares! Day – 2 Continued…

This post is the progression of my earlier travelogue posts (Day 1Day 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”.

The Couple!

The short hair lady.

The ferocious face.

I had tears in my eyes, while i was taking this photograph. I had stopped once, before i took the photograph. But eventually i did. I call this photograph – “The Mourning”. It was powerful with grief.

Note:- I asked their permission before taking the below photograph. But still i don’t want to show this individual, hence I’ve blurred out the face.

Right next to this place was this big rectangular passage going under. It looked to me like “A hole of darkness?”.

A lady watering the Sivalinga ceremoniously.

The father of the deceased taking the dip in the holy Ganges for asking for peace for their beloved son’s soul.

At the same place right next to the dipping place, on a high pier another Brahmin was drying his modest rob. These Brahmins, wear modest and negligible robs with a piece of thread, which is called Janeu. They help people do the last rituals of their beloved deceased. I found this shot thoughtfully eclectic.

One of the boats served for the last rituals. The below shot represents the last passage of the deceased from one the Ghats into the Ganges. Metaphorically, from the world of the living to the heaven.

After taking a few moments, feeling the grief and looking into the waters of holy Ganges. I prayed for the soul to let him rest in peace, then wished the family before i embarked onto my path again.

I walked along two three more Ghats and reached the Chauki Ghat, there i noticed this young monk, he had this big lock of hairs on his shaved head. Traditionally, Hindu men shave off all their hair as a child in a sanskāra or ritual known as the chudakarama. A lock of hair is left at the crown which is called – Sikha or Shakha or Choti! This young Brahmin too had a different kind of lock which was pretty big. I tried to take his picture while he was looking at me curiously. Here is that photograph.

I started to walk again, after crossing a few more Ghat’s a was about to reach my destination ‘Assi Ghat’. But right before it i found this juvenile group. They were curious but at the same time were singing Bollywood songs. It was funny but entertaining.

There i also found a staircase. I don’t know what is it with staircases, they get my attention pretty quick. This particular staircase’s color scheme looked pretty different too.

But the thing which got more of my attention this time was this mysterious painting of a small kid on the overlapping side wall. I found this paintings all over Benares Ghats and the inside streets and even markets. I will share more of it in the next day’s blog post.

Tip – zoom out on the below picture and the painting of the kid is on the right wall.

I was just 100 meters away from destination now. I started walking again towards it.

With 2-3 minutes of brisk walk, i was at The famous “Assi Ghat“. Took me a few minutes to get all of it into me. The enormousness of this Ghat was breathtaking. This Ghat is related to Siva in the ancient times and also Hindus believe that it was at Assi Ghat that Tulsidas (The famous poet-saint) left for his heavenly abode.

Kashinath Singh‘s (A Famous Indian Writer and a Hindi scholar) Hindi novel Kashi Ka Assi is set in the mohalla near the ghat. The novel has been adapted as Mohalla Assi, a 2015 Bollywood film starring Sunny Deol and directed by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, which is set in the mohalla (locality) around Assi Ghat. But unfortunately this film was banned by a Delhi court for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Prior to its release Mohalla Assi leaked online on 11 August 2015.

Raanjhanaa, a 2013 film which is also a Varanasi-based story, also has scenes of the “Assi Ghat”.

Here is a Panorama of The “Assi Ghat”.

Here is another serene photograph from Assi of line of these Light Green colored Boats.

After staying on a bench on the “Assi Ghat” for half an hour i started to explore a few streets in the nearby locality.

As i walking through the streets, I discovered an old abandoned building. It consisted a lot of wooden doors with the architraves having old carvings. A rickshaw puller was taking an afternoon nap sitting on the verge of narrow porch.

I call this picture “Siesta”.

Here is a wide front shot of that old abandoned building. With the rickshaw in front.

It was almost 4:30PM. I was starving. I walked a little into the streets but couldn’t find any open restaurant or eatery nearby. I spent almost 20 minutes in the search of a place to eat.

Just when i was about to give up, i found the word cafe written somewhere in the right side. I started heading towards the sign.

On first look i thought the cafe was might be closed. But to my relief it was open. I didn’t take much pictures inside the Cafe as i forgot that due to the hungry stomach. So below two pictures are from TripAdvisor. Just to give a glance of this Cafe. I still remember the food was great. Got an amazing vegetable Sandwich, a cucumber and tomato salad and last but not the least a cappuccino which got me through the rest of the day.

The face of The Cafe Zoe.

This photo of Zoe Cafe is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Inside and the interiors of The Cafe Zoe.

This photo of Zoe Cafe is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Below two are the only pictures i took from my phone.

‘A camera of a foreign traveler’, with whom i chatted for a while. It was a great conversation. Her camera had this amazing custom orange strap with a photographer’s pass tagged on it.

The menu of the Cafe Zoe.

After filling my stomach it was time to head back to my hotel. I tried searching an auto rickshaw but couldn’t find any. But after walking a little i found a manual rickshaw. I hopped on. As the guy pulled the rickshaw the whole street was watching me like an alien. It was publicly gross, but an experience! Here is a photograph of that moment.

A mosque.

Entrance to the Bazaar.

The famous Lucknow Chikan street View!

I got down on this street to capture the market hustle.

As i was crossing the street, i found this sweet shop where they were serving Golgappa. I gave in to the temptation. Here is the plate of my Golgappa’s with a different style of serving. Usually in Mumbai (West India) or in cities of North India it’s called Panipuri and Golgappa respectively. Everywhere it is served in a smaller plate one by one. But this shop served in a different fashion. 8 pieces at once.

I remember getting my face red after eating just two Golgappa’s It was so furiously spicy.

After having the above Indian appetizer, i started surfing the street which took almost 1 and a half hour. It was already 8:30PM and it was dinner time.

I was so tired that i didn’t have any energy to come back for dinner again. So i got into a good restaurant, for my dinner. Which was over this Golgappa shop. To my surprise, i was greeted with a garland of flowers. Later on i found out only foreign travelers use to come to this restaurant as it was on the higher side of the meal cost. But their treatment, oh boy it was good. Here are a few photographs from the dinner time.

The flower garland.

Dal Fry in a traditional Indian Bucket made with Bell Metal.

Dinner Plate with some onions dipped in the beetroot water, Dal Fry, Malai Kofta and Chapati. This Dinner was one of the bests i had in Benares. Simply Delicious!

After filling my tummy. I started heading towards my hotel, but as i was so full, i thought to take a little stroll on the main ghat before the bedtime.

I found this amazing group of students, one of them was playing guitar and singing this song from a shahrukh khan bollywood flick – Pardes from the nineties (1997 to be specific).

Do dil mil rahe hain!

On this musical note, the eve of my day – 2 in Benares ended.

Day – 3…To be continued…

Thanks for reading.


Footnotes –

*Shivalinga – The Lingam, which is also called linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, symbol of phallus. It’s an abstract or an iconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva. It’s used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy.

The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

A few noteworthy lines from the book I’m currently reading –

“Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors. It is Scylla and Charybdis.”

― Ryan Holiday, Ego Is the Enemy

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