It has been two days since I landed in Varanasi, the stench of Mumbai is beginning to subside as a new odour of religious fervour begins to engulf me. The Sleaze the Dirt and the negativity of Dubai have finally come off my skin as I feel more relaxed trying to soak up the atmosphere of a pious town which has been home to me for many winters.
I took refuge in a semi-urban hotel near a place called Durga Kunda, near the blood-red walls of the temple I get the peek of the Ganges as well. Nights are filled with the festivities and songs that this town is so famous for. The ghats fill up with a sea of people enjoying the sight of the great Arti that takes place late in the evening it compares to the Arti that takes place in Haridwar.
I lost myself in the ghats the sounds of bells and drums formed a melodious reverberation, which filled the air, I managed to catch a glimpse of the river bed full of boats and a large iron ship which took the pilgrims around the Ganges, this way they could watch the Arti on the banks from the river itself. The entire baht was full of sages and pilgrims, little kids old key chains, balloons, as Pooja was performed with the loud chanting of the mantras.
I went into a trance for a while and went into deep meditation for almost 20 min my eyes opened to get a young man wearing tiger skin dressed up as Shiva, he had black Kajal in his eyes and was painting my forehead with yellow and orange tilak. I was in a daze for a while has a man played with fireballs on the side of the ghats. I then bumped into a Sadhu dressed up as a Tantrik his forehead smeared with ash.
I walked near the Ganges water and was then started by the sound of a boatman asking me for a boat ride, to which I declined. Then I walked further up the ghats stairways feasting my eyes on popcorn stalls, stalls selling flowers and garlands, there were paan shops, and across the alleyways where showrooms of the choicest Banarasi Sarees. It was a festival of sorts a religious outing for people from other cities, for the locals it was an evening outing at the ghats enjoying the Arti and its chants.
There were local cops loitering around with pistols and guns trying to keep the peace. I was in a good mood now more at ease with myself. I travel too and fro by electric rickshaws that cost about Rs 50, this city is cheap my accommodation a modest Rs 1500/-. Food, as usual, is vegetarian and that’s a welcome change from the prawn curry and chicken I have been having at Dab’s The Shorma joint in Mumbai.
Saach muucch aaj to ghat ghat ka pani pe liya meine …….