‘Thus, you see, Nandi the bull is still facing its deity, even though the temple is no more there,’ I said. ‘But shouldn’t the statue of Nandi also have been moved, now that the location of the temple has changed?’, the children asked. I smiled, ready to spring one more surprise on my unsuspecting listeners.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 48: The curious case of the missing deity
‘You know’, I started, ‘long ago there were two very sacred shrines to Shiva or Shankara in Kashi, the city of light.’ Vandita, and Vatsala listened in rapt attention. ‘Actually,’ I corrected myself, ‘there were many throughout the city. But the most sacred, the most revered were the two shrines of Shiva where he was…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 47: The story of the shifting temple
‘Why is the lingam placed eccentrically to one side, Papa?,’ the elder one asked, as we filed out of the KV Dham Corridor, and started to retrace our steps to the barge which waited for us at the Lalita ghat. I smiled, delighted at where I knew the conversation was going. The walk back would…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 46: The lingam that moved….
We peered inside the garbha griha, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, the womb housing the deity. There, inside the very, very small room, placed eccentrically to one side was a small quadrangular pit, circumscribed by a low stone railing gilded with silver. Inside this pit, barely visible from outside the room, was a small…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 45: The blowing out of the candle…….
The Gyanvapi kupa, and the statue of the Nandi bull escaped demolition and desecration by the hordes of Emperor Aurangzeb when they destroyed the original Vishveshwara temple in the year 1669 CE. This was the last time the temple would be destroyed; but this was not the first time. What? The question naturally crops up…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 44: Of temples and mosques
Historical picture of the Nandi Bull at Kashi Vishwanath Shrine There on the northern side of the quadrangular enclosure around the temple was a tree – a Ficus tree!! Is it……?? My thoughts trailed off……my eyes scanning the area for the other two objects. Yes, there they were – the bull and the small octagonal…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 43: A well, a bull and a tree
The Kashi Vishwanath corridor that we walked along was seventy five meters wide, and at least several hundred meters long. Flanked by shops, museums, tourist amenities and walkways, the corridor was also decorated by several interesting statues including those of Adi Shankaracharya, the proponent of Advaita Vedanta and the architect of modern Hinduism as we…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 42: Inside the shrine
It was Krita Yuga, also known amongst the laymen as the Satayuga, or the age of truth. This was the age when man was nearest to God, and godliness, when Gods and angels, and demi-Gods walked the earth and lived amongst the ordinary mortals like normal people. Creation was young, and people honoured traditional wisdom…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 41: The Gyanvapi Kupa
The boat rocked gently as we stepped off from it, on to a floating platform built of interlocking plastic buoys. The plastic platform too jiggled a little, and looked like it would give way and drop us into the water, but then held on. More and more people disembarked from the boat on to the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 40: Lalita Ghat
Our destination was visible now, as the boat changed its course and made its way towards the western bank of the Ganga. The Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor was a pet project of the current Prime Minister of India, who also represented Varanasi as its member of parliament. He had taken the task headlong as soon…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 39: The Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
And then there was Suresh, another wizard from Andhra/Telangana who held a number of patents in his name, and was as at ease in the world of academics, as he was in the world of business – the business of medicine (I intend to come to this topic later). He had been nicknamed ‘Hyper’ by…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 38: Hyper and Shogun
After having disposed off the plates, and empty water bottles, I returned to my seat. As the boat moved along the Ganga, slowly making its way to the Lalita ghat, where we would disembark for the darshan of the Vishwanath Dham Corridor, I relaxed, and enjoyed the view, looking forward to visiting the temple again.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 37: More and more friends
‘Papa’, Shubhi shook me, disturbing my day-dream, pulling me back to the present. ‘Do you want those snacks?’, she asked, pointing to the aaloo tikkis that were being served on the boat. My tummy grumbled…..it WAS well past lunch time, and the snacks looked delicious. ‘Yes, yes,’ I replied in double affirmative. ‘Let’s have some,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 36: Back to the present
Arriving at the boat we found the boatman sleeping inside it, thankfully, and shook him awake. ‘Chalo, let’s go,’ I barked at him. Maybe it was the urgency in my voice, or maybe it was the premonition of things having gone wrong, the poor fellow sat up quickly, and jumped out of the boat in…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 35: We saved our souls
The wind howled softly……hooooooo……raising small storms of dry sand. The force of the waves hitting the sand had increased, helped, no doubt, by the full moon which shone balefully from on high. The wooden boat creaked….the boatman had disappeared! ‘Where is he?’, I asked, alarmed now. ‘Abe leave it,’ Rahul said. ‘Let’s walk around a…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 34: Escape from hell
The boat rocked, rippling the placid waters of the river, as we piled on inside it. It was a small wooden affair, pulled by a couple of oars, and suitable only for five-six people at the most. As we sat in it, me silently and Rahul and Vineet sniggering at each other, the boat man…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 33: Into the darkness…
Once it was decided that we were going to the Assi ghat, things moved fast. Neither me, nor Vineet had any vehicle, so all three of us piled on to Rahul’s scooter and off we went. The deserted university roads, lined by tall trees, shrouded by a light mist and made incandescent by the yellow…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 32: The boat to nothingness!
The night we ‘did it’ was a long one. It was so long ago that the details have started to blur now. It happened on a night when we had partied long enough, and hard enough to lose sight of right and wrong, when youthful enthusiasm, and curiosity had quelled the sane voice inside us…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 31: The trio who did it!
Let me resume the story after my minor detour……. As the boat chugged happily in mid-stream of the river Ganga, the one with the three flows (What? Patience; the explanation will come) I sat on the deck with my daughters, and looked around; breathing the crisp winter air, feasting my eyes on the landscape which…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 30: Back on Track
Cassia fistula/Amaltaas – the Chandelier of the Gods One of the trees that blossoms with beautiful flowers during this time, this season of Vasant, in the month of Vaishakh, is the Cassia fistula, commonly known as the Amaltaas, or the Golden Shower, and aptly rechristened by Vaishali, my wife, as the ‘Chandelier of the Gods’.…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 29: A Minor Detour