The opposite side of Ganga in Varansi.
Continued from last entry...
We sat on the stairs of Assi Ghat
for a few minutes looking at the calm
river sipping tea in kulhads
(small clay utensil). I decided to show
Kunal some of the other ghats and so we started walking along the
ghats. As we reached Bhadaini
, a mallah
(boatman) approached us and
insisted on taking a boat ride. Since boat ride was among one of the
entries in our 'things to do' list, it was settled there. We got on to
the boat at around 2:30 - 3:00 pm. I myself was taking a boat ride in
Varanasi after at least 12 years (such a shame) and it was a wonderful
experience. It was a medium size boat made of wood where 5 people can
sit on each side and 1-2 on the ends. There were two boatmen and two of
us on the boat.
View of Ghats from the boat.
First it was decided to go to the opposite bank. It was
a great conversation with boatmen and insightful as well about how
the economy of boat business works. Apparently the boat in which we
were sitting was made around 30 years before with time to time repair.
Of course all the information was supposed to be taken with a pinch of
salt. Opposite bank is more like a beach with sand spreading deeper
into the land. All that area gets submerged in monsoon but at the time
of our visit it was all sand and barren but beautiful in its own way.
We spent half an hour on the other side and then decided to go till
t, then come back to Dashashwamedh
and get down there
and wait to see the Aarti
which is performed at 6 pm every evening. The
view of ghats from the middle of the river was majestic.
Aarti in progress.
Kunal and I,
both tried our hands at rowing the boat for some time and I must
that it can be really tiring if you have to do it long enough. As we
approached Manikarnika Ghat
we saw a few dead bodies burning. Boatmen
told us that taking pictures was not allowed but at the same time told
me that I could take snaps from a distance and luckily there was enough
zoom in my lens to capture that. While going towards Dashawamedh
a chance to fly kite on the boat in the middle of the river. There was
enough string with the kite and I was lucky to get hold of it as it was
going above our boat. It was one of the unforgettable moments, partly
because I was flying kite after 12 years and also it never occurred to
me that I will get a chance to do this and what a way to do it!!!
Finally we got down at Dashashwamedh Ghat
It was almost two and a half
hours of boat ride and we paid Rs 300. There was still an hour to go
before the Aarti so we decided to have some chaat
. We made our way
through the bazaar
(local market) and reached Kashi Chaat Bhandaar
. After we were done
with an awesome aaloo tikki
(small mashed potato cakes with lots of
spices, chillies etc) followed by gulab jamun
we headed back for the
. The ghat was quite packed with people both locals and tourists
to see the Aarti
. It goes on for like an hour and I must confess
that it has become more of a tourist attraction and defeats the purpose
of worship. It is conducted on grand scale where 7 priests, all in
their 20s and early 30s (may be adding glamor to the whole procedure)
stand on the platform made for each of them. Nine priests conduct this
grand ceremony every evening. We had our dinner in a local restaurant
and stuffed ourselves with Dosa and finally headed back