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.
Just as i crossed third or forth pier from the Main Ghat, i saw the two men with a red umbrella. There were looking like brothers but weren’t. The blue guy would come under the umbrella whenever rain was pouring in and was out when the rain stopped pouring.
Here is another shot of them (Picture Below). I call this picture “The Umbrella Brothers”. I loved how the picture came out, the composition of life, happiness, old Kashi buildings, the green creepers on the building and a Dog! “Just awesome”, i thought while taking this photograph.
Even in this twilight time, many boats already started sailing in the Ganges and there was this line of boats locked tightly with ropes and anchored to a pier. It was simply beautiful. Here is the picture of it below.
As I moved forward i saw three old friends who were US citizens*. When i heard a gist of their story, i thought how amazing that can be? Three friends re-uniting after so many years on their quest to find themselves in the spirituality of Benares. Here is the picture of them? Can you guess what they were talking about? (Let me know in the comment section below).
This below photograph is one of my favorite views of benares! This picture feels like composed of elements like the old, wise, gigantic, free flowing and the opaque mystery which is Benares! I was just standing still looking at this view for many moments. I felt serenity.
I wasn’t even out of the this transcendental state after seeing this view, but as soon as a looked to my right standing on the same place. I saw a boat, full of monks wearing Bhagwa (Orange) attires, going at a moderate pace. Hustle on the boat seemed completely non-chaotic. Few of the monks were sitting and few of them were standing, not doing anything but gazing into the serene waters of the Ganges. Some of them were wearing masks, probably to filter out the smog. But there was no smog this morning, it was just pouring rain.
One guy who was from the boat crew, was sitting on the bow of this flat-bottomed (seemingly a dory) boat. He was playing a single string instrument (usually called Ektara in India). As this was the early morning, so there was no noise except for the sound of the cool Ganges breeze, i could hear the faded tune of the Ektara playing in the distance. It was just so calming.
Here is the photograph of that moment.
After standing still and experiencing those amazing moments for sometime, I started walking up north. Just as i crossed the Harishchandra Ghat (which i mentioned in my Day – 1 post Benares the Beginning), I saw this wall with an amazing art work of a mutant girl with two sharp horns on her forehead, mustache grown on her face and hands like a man. But the aspect which i liked the most was her serene eyes with an unattached emotion looking down at her hands. I call this photograph ‘Mona Lisa’ inspired from the ad words of a cafe called ‘Monalisa Cafe’ painted right next to it. Though it not comparable to the original ‘Da Vinci’ masterpiece ‘Mona Lisa‘ but still this mural seemed to have it’s own mystery.
Here is the full frontal photograph of ‘Mona Lisa’ which i posted on Instagram later on that evening. But the photograph which i took right at that moment is the below one.
After crossing 2-3 piers i saw another Amazing graffiti work on a rusty wall.
Letter ‘h’ and ‘k’ seemed to have elephant feet. The letter u had a peanut face and figure on top of it.
I just loved how the local and the international artists have added up in the aura of the oldest city of India. Without this graffiti this wall would have been a shame amongst the other cleanly maintained ghat walls. But this graffiti made it look cool even though the wall itself is still a mess. Here is the photograph.
I started walking again thinking about the city, the artwork. I thought i will do a small project of 10 photos for Instagram purely on graffiti works. Which i did in the upcoming few weeks of that trip. Here is the link to the first photograph on my Instagram from that project. You can navigate up and see all the 10 photographs.
Just after a few steps i noticed few boats making an inconsistent flotilla formation. Few foreign citizens were on-board those boats being rowed by the local boatmen.In the foreground there was a laundry man. He was doing laundry on the shore. Soaking a few pieces of white clothes, then twisting them hard one by one. Then smashing them on the mid-size flat rock ashore. His actions were so flawless and powerful which reflected his many years experience and the perfected skill. I could imagine if he did the swing with a watermelon it would be smashed in a single stroked.
This laundry man was wearing a bright orange patka (headwear) which was matching the orange colored starboard of one the boats in the backdrop.
Here is the photograph of that moment.
Just opposite to it was the drying place for the laundry men community. Below are a few photographs from that place.
I really loved the bright colored line of cloths hung for drying. The inconsistently wet but symmetrical ghat stairs added up to the simple spark of the moment. Below is that photograph.
Another photograph of the line of clothes and in the backdrop the idle boats anchored ashore in the serene Ganges.
Then onto the next platform i noticed a beautiful reflection of this piece of cloth hung on to the rope tied to two bamboo sticks. This is one of the very first reflection photographs i took.
I couldn’t be in more awe of this colossal view of Ganges. It was enlightening.
Then the moment came. Sun was finally above the horizon. I was anxious to see the sunrise. But the consistent down pour had faded my excitement. But now was the moment. Sun-rays came out of the dense clouds. It gave me hope to see the sunrise but i knew inside that it will not be a glorious one. Below is the photograph of the first light of the sun from that morning.
‘Will the clouds clear now?” that’s what i was thinking. But sun was going higher visibly through a few holes in the dense sheet of clouds.
A few other photographers like me had come so that they could capture the ‘Benares Sunrise’ but till now it was clear that this was not the day for that. Though i loved how the below photograph came out with stillness of life and the backdrop of the Ganges bank on the other side with the boats crossing the reflection of the sun on the Ganges.
In the all we could get was the beautiful light shafts. Where sun-rays penetrated the clouds through another whole and light came down till the land. It was beautiful. Here is the photograph of the light shafts coming through the cloudy sky.
Then the sun was gone, clouds took over once again and also took away our hope of the sunrise. But still it was worth it.
Then just right on the next pier from where i had setup my camera and tripod, i got one of the beautiful shots. The boatmen rowing the boat with the tourists. Sun hidden behind the thick sheet of clouds. An elder taking a dip in the cold water of the Ganges and the beautiful line of boats with their prominent shadows on the surface of the water. I call this photograph ‘Life in motion’.
Here is a more elaborate photograph of the elder taking the dip.
I started walking again.
I approached a big Ghat building which had a beautiful staircase going up. I saw this woman wearing bright yellow Saree, stepping down the staircase. I immediately wanted to take that shot. It came out better than i expected. Composed of bright colors, old stones, a long staircase and the thoughts reflecting in the mind of the couple sitting there. Here is that photograph.
At the same time just looking left i got this another shot of another woman in a bright yellow Saree. The backdrop consists of the routine daily hustle starting on the Ghats.
Just after crossing the Ghat pictured above, i was about to reach the Prachin Hanuman Ghat. Just before it saw a house high up on the upper side of the Ghat. Painted in a brick red colored, it was standing on the edge like an outcast. I was fascinated by this structure. It also had a Shiva Mural on it’s left side. Here is the photograph of it.
Then as i was heading ahead, i saw this big green boat, which reminded me of the ferry boats at the Gateway of India in Bombay. But it was smaller in size but looked more elegant.
Just right at that moment i saw this young priest doing his morning rituals at the Ghat.
This flowered boat caught my eye because of all the flower decor on it. Not sure what it was but it looked to me like serving for the last rituals purposes like taking people inside Ganges so that they can immerse the ashes of their loved ones who deceased, into holy waters of Ganges.
I can’t now believe there is so much happened in a day. But those days in Benares feels like a lifetime now. So there is still more to the day 2.
Day – 2…Still to be continued…
Thanks for reading.
- Three old friends who were US citizens* – I’ve given this photo as a #PhotoChallenge to few of my writer friends. To think and give their perspective on the dialogue between the 3 old friends. I would love to hear from you (my readers) to about their perspective on this particular picture. Please share it in the comment section below.
- Instagram references –
A Quote I’m pondering on lately –
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”– Lao Tzu
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