My visit to Varanasi was for two reasons; one I haven’t gone to Varanasi so far. Two I have seen Ganges in Rishikesh and Haridwar only years back and not in famous Varanasi.
As usual I give a disclaimer for this also because these are absolutely my personal views.
To me all Indian metros look the same; congested, uneven buildings, odd merchandise everywhere, haphazard parking, unruly traffic, mindless jay walkers, unattended stinking garbage …. Varanasi have them in plenty.
Yet, we never fail to claim that we are the culturally superior and traditionally disciplined nation.
The BHU which even today stands tall with its huge campus with majestic buildings and sylvan ambiance.
Unfortunately, the gigantic, celebrated and divine Ganga was not in full spate. The access to this river was nothing but terrible. One needs to walk through crowded streets, lanes and by-lanes. When one reaches the river Ganga, she is obscured by the nonstop surge of human population. Probably, that is the reason the Ganga Aarti is so glorified and made into a grand light and hymn chanting show in different forms in all ghats; the grand one I watched was at Dashashwamedh Ghat from the boat.
OMG! The long winding endless and clueless queue to see Lord Vishwanath for less than a fraction of a second by violently jostling and pushing crowd is just unbelievable.
A short visit to Saranath and the museum of a few dilapidated idols of eons do not impress me much. The popular Ashoka Chakra alone is the one which stands out here. The Buddha temple was calm and quiet. I am sorry Varanasi, you have disappointed me.
Well, I am no one in the several millions who believe and have strong faith in the results of their misdemeanors and virtues. Here ‘Faith’ is the key word; that is the strength as well as weakness.
I was in Varanasi on the historic day of Ayodhya Judgment and the city was buzzing with normal activities.
Post Script: The young driver who received me at the airport and also taken care of all my visits was a Muslim.