Saturday, March 09, 2013

Flowing city

Varanasi or Kashi as it is known became a big part of our itinerary without us planning that way. We found ourselves in Varanasi at the end of a long, rattling, bus ride through much of the afternoon. As we made our way to Godowlia crossing to see the Ganga ghats, we were quite excited. And there is a particular point, when the river becomes visible as you walk - that was quite a moment. We walked down to the ghats which, as usual (as we were to discover later) was filled with people. Pilgrims, wanderers, photographers and many other sub categories.

First we watched the river from the city, then we watched the city from the river - morning and evening. And then walked around the little streets of the city. We sat on the ghats and marvelled at the flow of the city. There is a lot of apparent chaos, but there is also order. Depending on whether you want chaos or order, you get them. Or if you want silence, that is there too. We watched the sun rise over the city from the other side, watching the sun bathe the city in its golden glow - as it has done for centuries. The gentle swaying river as we boated back and forth had a calming effect.

The Ganga aarti is perhaps the closest we have to an 'event'. In many international destinations, there are shows put on for tourists and visitors. The Ganga aarti as it is today is quite a visual spectacle. And it attracts quite a few people and it is done very well. 

Yes, this is how the worlds oldest living city would have been. For 3500 years. Where chaos and order intermingle. Where pilgrims would have bathed in the Ganga for millenia. Where the samosa sellers and the shops would have hawked their wares for ages. To think that this city is basically unchanged over all these years was mindblowing to think of. Except for the dresses and perhaps the shopfronts, the city would have been the same. Seekers, pilgrims, wanderers...all of those who make this city a city of flow.

The Flowing city of Varanasi has left quite an indelible impression on my mind...

In a way, the Kumbh mela and life is also about flow. Flow with life as they say, like a river. Is it a coincidence that much of human civilization was riparian to begin with...

1 comment:

purple pitara said...

something about water that makes us all introspective...

beautifully written - river from the city, city from the river - my favourite part :)