VARANASI, A CITY IN PICTURES
Jan 15, 2011
Mar 19, 2011
There were so many pictures I took in this exotic and mystical city of Varanasi, that I thought I'd devote a couple of entries primarily to the pictures alone. The site wouldn't auto-weave the pictures into the text, so you'll find them below. It also only allows me five or six pics per entry. I may have to do the one or two videos I want to share separately, since it takes them so long to upload. Then we'll travel to Kharajaho, home of the erotic temples!
The period of three days during which I was there, a lot of commotion and abuzz was in the air because the Chief Minister of State, a woman named Mayawati, was due in Varanassi on Thursday to make a big speech. Thursdsay was the day I was to depart, thus an early trip to the airport to avoid all the anticipated traffic jams.
The streets of Varanasi were alive on my last night here, but I'm told this is every night. Aman had told me the previous evening that the way to experience Varanasi is to 'get lost in it.'" I had planned to do exactly that on this final outing but because record crowds were expected at the Ganga Aarti on that evening, the company wouldn't allow that. So, they sent the representative, a fine young gentleman who quite capably maneuvered us through the crowds (you'll see him on th video about heading for the Ganga Aarti (Video 299) but what he lacked was a the patience to allow me to really stay around and feel it. So, we rushed into the scenario and long prior to its ending we were climbing out of the boat and were, as far as I was concerned, prematurely ascending the ghats back into the streets of the old town and into a taxi.
Driving through the streets from the back of a car is not the best way to experience life here. It was difficult for a foreigner to differentiate between the political, the religious and the wedding processionals. Driving along the main streets we encountered, among other things, Hindu wedding processions mixed in with political revellers dancing to beating drums and shouting (cadences?) to get their messages across alongside religious floats preaching to the more esoterically inclined. A not uncommon thing to see are four or five people crammed onto a motorbike vying for traffic space with sacred cows excercising their rights of free roam. They seem to go wherever they want, in fact the first thing I saw was a bull in a shop! But I'm told that in the cities, at least, they are taken to their stables for a good night's rest so they can begin their daily routine wandering the city streets bright and early the next day. Relentless hawkers that you're instructed to simply ignore and they eventually go away (but not easily) follow you around forever once you've been targeted. They have not learned to take 'no' for an answer. In this entry I will try to include both pictures and movies of street scenes (in case you hadn't noticed, I love the street scenes because they tell so much about the lifestyle). I may have to include the one or two movies on separate entries because they take so long to upload. This and some other shots I took of this magical city of light: Kashi... Benares...Varanasi.
LOTS OF PICTURES AND VIDS BELOW