BANARASIYAA…walk through the streets
Banaras…varanasi….banarasiya…. always fancied the traveler in me!
And like me, all travelovers ( read travel lovers) would wish to once visit this much spoke about city of temples, ghats and food. after an year long struggle to take up this journey me and my group of friends decided to land at the city with a present thought of focusing at the best in the city as we were always pulled back by the reviews of past travelers about the city being like any other pilgrim city and crowded and not too clean….
All read and heard we planned a three-day trip, collected all our enthusiasm, prepared a special itinerary with Roobaroo walks(they specialise in Varanasi on foot)
Banaras has so much to reveal that I am presenting my tale in parts and this part would take you through the streets of Banaras through a common man’s eye.
We arrived at Banaras and straight headed to Banaras Hindu University ( Kashi Hindu Vishwavidalaya). Completely loved the serenity of the place, lush green campus, simple age-old building architectures. Hostels with a herd of cycles in the compound drew our attention, to the students sitting on Takhat wood planked Beds) outside in varandahs and holding discussions/gossips( can’t decide as we saw them from a distance).
The Darshan at New Vishwanath Temple in the campus was concluded with a Kulhad Kee Chai (Tea in Earthen cups) and samosa ( Indian veg pie filled with potatoes)
Despite trying to keep food out of this introductory part it seems to be so fine spun with this place that it shows up.
Then we drove to Lallapura, A hub of weavers and seeing heirloom for some reality check. It tells what goes in making of any mmasterpieceat these heirlooms. Each loom looks like a network of colourful threads going through the templates of patterns and it takes anywhere from 15-30 days to weave a saree. Weavers have such a fine job to do before we possess one of those masterpieces!!
We then geared up to reach our meeting point at the Church Crossing .We met Ayush there and straight got into our explorer mode!! As soon as we started to stream ourselves through the narrow lanes of Banaras we started to feel the old city and its heritage with temples all around.In Hustle bustle of shops, rickshaws, food carts, we entered a Gate in Gadowlia street which lead us to an old Kali Temple. No fancy colors, no elaborate background yet this temple had something magnetic about it. The structure was built in 1886 after multiple invasions by mughals and thus kept simple without use of gems and expensive stones for the fear of demolition. Before we could head to yet another galli(lane) we spent some time in the courtyard of the temple, which felt very peaceful. This temple was that of Godess Kali still there was a statue of Nandi ( The messenger of Lord Shiva) and that’s is when we were told that for banaras it is famous to say ” Kashi Ke kan kan mein shankar ” Its a city of Shiva and his presence can be felt in each pebble of the city!
We then with all excitement walked into another galli full of fragrance of flowers. The local flower market “the Bans Phatak”had lotus, hibiscus, majda, motia, genda,roses, jasmine …….You could see mounds of any of these flowers, hands laden with garlands to be offered in the temples in and around the city.
Then we were led to thathera bazaar..an utensil market and it just brought back the memories of huge brass and copper vessels we saw in our granny’s kitchen…and the word thathera we heard only after our Hindi lessons of “TH se Thathera” which means Coppersmith.
The excitement was on all time high and we landed in a shop to have Samosa chaat. The only thing which stopped us to have a second helping was the urge of eating many such delicacies during the walk…else each of these were worth a few more servings!!
Despite keeping all the food tales for my concluding section, it seems to pop out from a foodie in me.
I promise to have it all in the coming posts.
Around a corner we saw an old Haveli called Palki Waala ghar( A house with sedan parked in the courtyard) The palki used to be the luxurious BMW of the olden times. It comprise of a comfortable seat being carried on shoulders of 4-6 men.
This house belonged to the family of famous literature genius Bharatendu Das, now a favourite amongst artists and poets to have a peaceful stay in varanasi.
We also came across kids playing Gilli Danda cricket in the narrow streets of Dhoodh Vinayak. We could see elders sitting and playing Chess in some corners.
We soon saw ourselves next to the ganges and the first view of beautiful Ganges was from A beautiful Mosque made by Aurangzeb The Mughal Emporor. This is called Alamgeer Mosque at the Panchaganga Ghat. ( Ganga Jamuna Saraswati Dhupapapa and Kirana) This Ghat also symbolises Hindu Muslim harmony.
In my next blog I would take you through the serenity of Ganges and