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Old 6th February 2010, 13:36   #16
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January 30th, 2010 - 12:30

Kashi, my cousin arrive in the room and the porch called to say that the car & driver are ready. Packed a towel, a knicker, comb & the S220 and left for the darshan.

I decided first to take a dip at the Dasashwmedh Ghat although wanted to do so at the Shiwala Ghat that was next to my "mohalla" where we used to bathe in the river in our childhood. That would have comsumed a lot of time. After the dip the piligrimage would start.

Unusually heavy traffic and after about 40 minutes drive, that should have actually taken 10 minutes reached the Godowlia Choumuhaani. Going straight would have taken us near the Ghat. But there was a barrier and the vehicular movement was prohibited. Only streetwalkers, bicycles, rikshaws and M/cycles were being allowed. I asked the reason for our car not being allowed and then I came to know what an auspicious day it was.

It was the Magh Poornima and thousands were coming in sice very early morning for a dip in the Ganges. Lucky me. Diembarked at the chowmuhaani and told the dfriver to park somewhere nearby and walked towards the Ghat. Old memories started coming back and I was looking for some familiar names on either side of the road.

I passed a gali on my right that looked so very familiar. I stopped and tried to recollect and voila, this gali led to a house that I used to dread to go. Our family GP, Dr. Chakravorty used to live there. He is no more haveing attained Moksha a long time ago. A massive, bald man, we siblings were dead scared of him and his bitter than the bitter gourd orange syrups. Yuk..

The Godowlia road to Ghat

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0304.jpg

The bustling market

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0303.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0305.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0307.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0308.jpg

The Ganga

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0292.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0296.jpg

The Ghat

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0291.jpg


To be continued......

Last edited by gd1418 : 6th February 2010 at 13:46.
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Old 6th February 2010, 14:01   #17
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Varanasi is a city that is situated on the banks of the Ganga. Almost everything happens on these Ghats. There are as many as 81 Ghats in Varanasi for different purposes. Some of them are related to particular deity while others are simply to bathe. Some of the important Ghats of Varanasi include Assi, Dasaswamedh, Manikarnika, Tulsi and Panch Ganga among others. Tulsi Ghat is named after the famous 16th century poet Tulsi Das, who spent many years on this Ghat composing the Ram Charit Manas.

A view of the river & ghats

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0298.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0297.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0300.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0301.jpg

Spiritual cleansing & washing of sins

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0293.jpg

About to take a dip

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0294.jpg

Sins cleansed..!!

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0295.jpg

Pandaji

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0299.jpg

He kept my clothes and after drying applied tilak on my forehead. I gave him Rs.50/- for his services. They don't generally ask for money but expect. There is no fixed amount - it is all your "shradhha"......

Now was the time to visit Baba Vishwanath. To reach the abode you've to go through a long winding gali called the Vishwanath Gali.

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dscn0302.jpg

Scores of shops on either side of the Gali selling everything under the roof and mostly spiritual items. And they do brisk sales as well. Located in the gali are many saree shops selling the famous Benarasi sarees. The jari work and brocade of Benaras is world famous. One of the saree shops here used to provide sarees to our household as in those days the womanfolk of the house did not go out for shopping. I remember the Lalaji of the shop wearing a Gandhi topi used to come in rickshaw stacked with long rectangular boxes of sarees that was then selected, bargained for and purchased..


To be continued.....

Last edited by gd1418 : 6th February 2010 at 14:09.
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Old 6th February 2010, 14:33   #18
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nice photos there. looking forward to more.
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Old 8th February 2010, 00:54   #19
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It is said that before having a darshan of Baba, you have to visit the "Dwaarpal" of Kashi and pay obeiscence to him. He is none other than the Mahakaal Kaalbhairav.

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-kaalbhairav.jpg

I couldn't do so due to the paucity of time. This photograph of Mahakaal is from my earlier trip to Varanasi in 2002 and that travelogue was never written.

Walking through the Vishwanath Gali we approached the entrance to Baba's abode. Now with the heightened terrorists threat, even the God is also threatened and requires protection from mere mortals. A posse of CISF is posted round the clock and rigorous body-frisking is done. Mobiles, cameras, pen, batteries, torches etc., are strictly not allowed and one has to deposit them at one of the shops near the entrance. The shopkeepers do it for a fees and some provide lockers too.

We deposited our belongings at Lalaji's shop. A known devil is better than an unknown stranger - an old saying. We went inside after frisking at 4 different points and reached the guy who mans a workstation and gives your receipt aganist payment for pooja/archanas. My cousin had already sounded him about my arrival and immediately the reciept was given and 5 Pujaris were assigned to me. At a designated place I sat on the floor and the "sankalp" and invocation of the Almighty to bless me and my family started. After 15 minutes of intense "ved paath" etc., a big thali was given to me that contained various worshipping material and I was escorted to the sanctum sanctorum. Here I worshipped the Jyotirling under the able guidance of the Pujari and after the vermillon & Vibhuti was applied on my forehead, I did a parikrama and left after collecting 'prasad'.

Now was the turn to visit Maa Annapoorna and afater performing pooja there reached the Shani temple just outside the entrance. Lit a diya there and prayed for his benevolence and it was time to leave. The stock of my sacred thread was exhausted, so purchased a bundle from there and it was time to leave. Left after collecting our belongings, called the driver to reach the place where he had dropped and walked towards the crossing.

As we reached, the driver just arrived and it was 3 pm. Time to visit Sankat Mochan.

To be continued....

Last edited by gd1418 : 8th February 2010 at 01:11.
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Old 8th February 2010, 01:21   #20
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Default Ganga Aarti

Before I write about Sankat Mochan, I must mention something about the above, else the narration would not be complete. The photographs that I'll post are from my visit in 2002.

Adjoining Dasashwamedh Ghat is the Manikarnika Ghat where a pyre or the other is always burning. It is said that the day no pyre is lit, that would be the end of this world and "pralay" or apocalypse shall happen.

Dasaswamedh Ghat

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-dasaswamedhghat.jpg

Kashi karwat

Immediately after the Manikarnika you'll see a temple tilted in the water like the leaning tower of Pisa. It is the Kashi karwat or the Bhimeshwar, where the Mahadev is submerged under water and extremely difficult to approach. People only touch the water there to attain salvation.

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-kashikarwat.jpg

Like the famous Ganga Aaarti every evening at Har ki Paudi in Haridwar, a spectacular Aarti of the Ganges is performed on all the Ghats of Varanasi, every evening amidst vedic chants by the Brahmins. Out of which the one held by Ganga Seva Nidhi at the Dasashwamedh Ghat is the most spectacular and highly attended by locals, tourists including foreigners.

The below pictures shall explain it better. I along with my family, in 2002, had the singular privilege of witnessing the Aarti seated on a platform on which the current Kashi Naresh sits after performing Ganga Pooja on Kartick Poornima to see the Aarti every year:

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati1.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati2.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati3.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati4.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati5.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati6.jpg

Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip-gangaarati7.jpg

To be continued....

Last edited by gd1418 : 8th February 2010 at 01:32.
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Old 8th February 2010, 01:25   #21
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Nice stuff. bahut dharm karm ke kaam kar liye. isii honor mai 20th ko mini-meat rakhen?
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Old 8th February 2010, 01:30   #22
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Not possible. I'm out of town on 20th & 21st..

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Nice stuff. bahut dharm karm ke kaam kar liye. isii honor mai 20th ko mini-meat rakhen?
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Old 8th February 2010, 01:50   #23
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We left for Sankat Mochan Hanumanji, reputed the world over as the name denotes to rid you of all evils and difficulties. A distance that could be covered in 15 minutes took almost 35 minutes due to heavy traffic and jams.

Being Saturday, the temple would witness huge crowds. Here too mobiles & cameras are not allowed after the bomb blast some years back. We entered the complex and the pathway to the deity is lined with primates. They are not afraid of humans and are known to be very agressive and snatch the packet of prasad out of your hands. One has to be careful.

There was a huge line for darshan and it was not possible for us to stand in line for our turn. There is a raised platform in the center, and to avoid rush people climb on the platform and have darshan. We too did the same, bowed our head, prayed for the well being of our families and us and left.

It was time to rush to the hotel to do the final packing as I had received a call from my host saying that I had to reach the airport by 5:30 to board the charter.

Though Babatpur airpot is supposed to be an International Airport with night landing & take-off facility, it closes at 5:30 pm everyday as no flights arrive or take-off after 3.40 pm. Today a special permission was taken for that charter.

Reached my room bid good-bye to Kashi and started packing. Then I realised that I had not eaten anything since morning. Called room service and asked as to what could they send to eat at the earliest. They said "khichdi" with curds would be the fastest. I ordered that and completed packing in the meanwhile. The dish arrived and it was one of the most delicious "khichdis" that I had ever eaten. Was it due to hunger, that I wouldn't know.

Checked out exactly at 5:05 from the hotel and hopped into the car off I was to the airport.

Reached Babatpur at 5:40 hoping that I would be the last. Lo behold, the airport was as deserted as it could be. Fearing the worst, called my host and to my relief he said that his friend was delayed and would be there by 6:10. His friend arrived and after the preliminary introductions, we proceeded to the tarmac after security check.

A small propellor driven aircraft was parked at one end and it a was a B-200 Beech 7 seater, excluding the two pilots. There were 6 other passengers other than me and we boarded. Take-off at 7 pm and touchdown at Delhi airport at 8:45 pm. After profusely thanking the gent for accommodating me, left for home. By 10 pm I was ready to hit the sack..

Amen.....
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Old 8th February 2010, 11:21   #24
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Wow. It's like watching virtual puja! Nice things there GD. I've keenly following your travelogue.
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Old 8th February 2010, 12:15   #25
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Now the thread has come alive, fantastic stuff!
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Old 8th February 2010, 12:34   #26
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Thanks Dada, but the narration has ended...
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Now the thread has come alive, fantastic stuff!
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Old 8th February 2010, 12:53   #27
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GD sir - quoting from your post earlier "even the God is also threatened and requires protection from mere mortals."
So true the statement is, this surely is "kalyug"; and everybody is afraid of something.

It was like watching Puja live. Good log.
BTW - any photos of the aircraft? inside /outside? Just curious.
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Old 8th February 2010, 13:33   #28
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Thanks Advait.. The day I would be allowed to take photographs of the aircarft on tarmac, shall be the day I would be PM of this country...!

With full occupancy inside the aircraft and only I being the outsider I didn't dare to take the picture of the inside of the aircraft...

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It was like watching Puja live. Good log.
BTW - any photos of the aircraft? inside /outside? Just curious.
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Old 27th February 2010, 21:45   #29
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Default Hygiene Vs Faith/Spirituality

I forgot to mention a very important aspect about Benares, its Ganga and the beliefs and myths associated. This also has a reference to my earlier post here - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ml#post1719352 (Varanasi - Business + Spiritual trip)

My dear friend Roshun (goes by the same name on TBHP), when heard about my intending dip in the river, exclaimed and cautioned me. He suggested me to have a Dettol bath afterwards in the hotel.

I laughed it off and explained that it would be an affront to the faith & spirituality associated with the bath in Ganges. Millions take a dip in the Ganges everyday somewhere or the other in plains, where the river is supposed to be highly polluted and come out happy. They do not even think for once about contracting any diesease or getting skin infection.

Being a benarasi and having frolicked in the river as a child, my faith was as firm as the Himalayas. I took a dip and came out none the worse. Till date from that day, I've not suffered dermatologically or otherwise and so do those thousands who take in dip in Benaras everyday..

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Old 27th February 2010, 21:57   #30
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Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
I forgot to mention a very important aspect about Benares, its Ganga and the beliefs and myths associated.
I laughed it off and explained that it would be an affront to the faith & spirituality associated with the bath in Ganges. Millions take a dip in the Ganges everyday somewhere or the other in plains, where the river is supposed to be highly polluted and come out happy. They do not even think for once about contracting any diesease or getting skin infection.

Being a benarasi and having frolicked in the river as a child, my faith was as firm as the Himalayas. I took a dip and came out none the worse. Till date from that day, I've not suffered dermatologically or otherwise and so do those thousands who take in dip in Benaras everyday..
+1 to that. I've always maintained it the same. It's the faith that gets you there! My one year old baby swam in two rivers.
I had a nice ablution in the Ganges in Haridwar (where the river is very very clean).
I had a dip in the same river in Dakshineshwar.
Didn't feel any difference dermatologically speaking. Ofcourse, it was not clean in dakshineshwar as in Haridwar.
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