Thursday 26 April 2018

Travelogue-Varanasi Ke Ghats:The City of Kaal Bhairav, the City of Nirvana

I use to hear the beauty of Subh-e-Banaras, since my childhood, and read much in literature books. Varanasi “The City of Kaal Bhairav, the city of Nirvana” and Ghats along River Ganges was engraved in my heart like a love song since my student life.
So one day, I packed my bag and reached there, and started to uncover the: Travelogue-Varanasi Ke Ghats: The City of Kaal Bhairav, the City of Nirvana.
Varanasi ke Ghat--A Man practicing Yoga
Call it Varanasi, Benaras or Kashi: The City of Kaal Bhairava, Kotwal of city, the city of Nirvana. It is said that without his permission no one can stay in Kashi. It is said that, death too is afraid of Kaal Bhairav. The city where faith is intoxicating.
The Burning Ghats of Varanasi--Search of Nirvana
It is faith that if a person’s ashes are scattered here, then their soul will finally achieve nirvana. But to liberate the soul to achieve nirvana, the worn-out body must first be burned. 
Foreign Tourists -Boating in Ganga in Varansi
The story of Kaal Bhairava: goes that Shiva took the form of Bhairava to behead Brahma who became arrogant after creating the world. Brahma’s head seared into Shiva’s palm and he wandered the earth chased by Brahma-hatya, the infamy of killing the creator.
Women at holy dip in Ghats of River Ganga in Varansi
Shiva finally descended from Kailas southwards along the river Ganga. A point came when the river turned north. At this point, he dipped his hand in the river, and Brahma’s skull became undone and Shiva was thus liberated form Brahma-hatya. 

My main charm to visit Varanasi was to watch the Sun Rise: The famous “Subh-e-Benaras”. Hotel staff already informed me the timing of sun rise that was 6:00 AM. So I left hotel room at 5:00 AM in curiosity to beat site well in time

Subh-e-Banaras--Sun Rising
On way to Ghats first I packed my stomach with special Kachauris of Varanasi, jalebi and chai. Ghats were at walking distance from hotel.

 A reddish-white ball of light that we call the sun god was seemed emerging from the Ganges.The Eastern horizon was changing its color rapidly; a golden sheet of Yellow was spread over Ganges flowing water. A new hope was born on this sunrise.I was witness of this golden hour of the day.

Pilgrims were busy in spiritual rituals.Bathing in Ganges with a belief to wash away their lifetime sins, meaning attainment of nirvana as opposed to being endlessly reincarnated. These ghats are life line of Varanasi.

A solo travellor, I was feeling comfortable with my camera. Moving alone on foot step by step with a peaceful mind was a treat for me. New mystics appeared before me. These Ghats proved paradise for my camera. People were accustomed and habituated with photographers around the ghat. 

I realized that people feel proud to be photographed.Every baba, sadhu, tantric, and locals relaxing at ghat were used to be in alert mode, seeing a camera man specially a SLR camera.

The whole area in front of me, as far as my look worked, was open as a huge theater screen. Every few steps and stairs ahead, new action, new story, new way of life was there. 
A Naga Sadhu at Ghats of Ganga in Varanasi
Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. Some where on stairs, pilgrims from all walks of life were busy in bathing, taking a holy dip; some were washing clothes.Some European ladies in group were seen reciting some religious book. 
In some corner of stairs, Young, old, foreigners and sadhus were intoxication of chilum filled with marijuana. On moving further I met a local who was busy in various yoga modes.He gave my camera some wonderful yoga shots.On one ghat: a feast of Pandits was going on as a religions part, they call it Pind Dan.
A Naked Baba (Sadhu)at Harish Chandra Ghat in Varansi
At Harish Chandra ghat I met a naked Naga Sadhu, asked his permission for a smile please to my camera.He hinted me to wait. To my surprise that Naga sadhu took 30:00 mt for his makeup.

He rubbed and polished whole body with ashes.Garlanded himself with hundreds of beads of rudraksha mala, from neck to touching floor, tilak on the forehead and a crown type cover over his guthee jata. After a photo session I gifted him Rs 500:00 as dikhshna and got his blessings.
Sitting in corner of a stair, sipping kulhad chai and watching the stretch of ghat: Dozen of sailing boats in smooth water of Ganga. Pilgrim's cum tourists enjoying boating rides.Water Guls were hovering over there; all were lost in mystic and peaceful magic. 

Opposite to it, burning fires of the Manikarnika Ghats have been burning for thousands of years.The burning Pyres: Breaking the Death and Rebirth cycle. Attainment of Nirvana. I realized that there is not only one mystery, many still to discover.
My two days stay passed away as a dream.Filled with memories of city, where people don’t wish to hurry up, they are fine with what they do. 
They are bindaas in nature and always think that Lord Shiva will take care of them. This ends the blog titled Varanasi Ghats: the City of Kaal Bhairav, the city of Nirvana.

Ending This Travelogue on Varanasi Ke Ghats with a poem of Nazir Banarsi over बनारस की गली: The City of Kaal Bhairav, the City of Nirvana
 बनारस की गली
हर गाम पे हुशियार बनारस की गली में
फ़ितने भी हैं बेदार बनारस की गली में

ऐसा भी है बाज़ार बनारस की गली में
बिक जाएँ ख़रीदार बनारस की गली में

हुशियारी से रहना नहीं आता जिन्हें इस पार
हो जाते हैं उस पार बनारस की गली में

सड़कों पर दिखाओगे अगर अपनी रईसी
लुट जाओगे सरकार, बनारस की गली में

दुकान पे रुकिएगा तो फिर आपके पीछे
लग जाएँगे दो-चार बनारस की गली में

हैरत का यह आलम है कि हर देखने वाला
है नक़्श दीवार बनारस की गली में

मिलता है निगाहों को सुकूँ हृदय को आराम
क्या प्रेम है क्या प्यार बनारस की गली में

हर सन्त के, साधु के, ऋषि और मुनि के
सपने हुए साकार बनारस की गली में

शंकर की जटाओं की तरह साया फ़िगन है
हर साया--दीवार बनारस की गली में

गर स्वर्ग में जाना हो तो जी खोल के ख़रचो
मुक्ति का है व्योपार बनारस की गली में।

Written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram