Varanasi Again – 14: The road to Varanasi…

Ghats of Varanasi

There are several ways one could drive from Lucknow to Varanasi, if one wanted to. One way leads through Raebareli, a small town known more for its political affiliations than anything else, then through Kunda near Pratapgarh, known for its strong arm politicians, and finally skirts Mirzapur to reach Varanasi. Mirzapur city, and district, fall…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 14: The road to Varanasi…

Varanasi Again – 13: Out of the city….

Ghats of Varanasi

A thin veil of light fog hung over the road, not enough to impede visibility dangerously, just enough to make the morning beautiful, romantic, poetic. As one moved away from the road however, and into the shrubs or trees or the occasional woods that flanked the highway, the fog intensified, cloaking the flanks of the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 13: Out of the city….

Varanasi Again – 12: On our way…

Ghats of Varanasi

Get up quickly, babies, I said, and get ready. We have a road trip ahead of us, I said, trying to rouse the sleepy girls. Road trip! They chirped, and quickly got out the bed to get ready. A flurry of activity followed as all of us got ready, finished the final packing, and descended…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 12: On our way…

Varanasi Again – 11: Getting up, getting ready

Ghats of Varanasi

I was shivering now, with the cold, and with the emotion that the dream had evoked in me. Hurriedly, I wore my sweater, and then wrapped a shawl around myself for good measure. It was, after all, December, and the peak of winters in the northern plains of India. My head covered in a cap,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 11: Getting up, getting ready

Varanasi Again – 10: Tryst with Varanasi

Ghats of Varanasi

Maybe it was the upcoming journey to Varanasi, to Kashi, the city of light, and the city where I had spent a good part of my youth, that was the genesis of this dream. Most of the time people live in cities, but sometimes cities live in people as well. It was the same with…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 10: Tryst with Varanasi

Varanasi Again – 9: Waking up…

Ghats of Varanasi

I woke up, cold and drenched in sweat, my breathing heavy. It was the middle of the night. Besides me I could see the sleeping forms of Vaishali and the girls, the sheets covering them rising and falling rhythmically as they breathed, silently, peacefully. I looked out of the window and saw the morning star…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 9: Waking up…

Varanasi Again – 8: The well of light

Ghats of Varanasi

I got up and I followed him, the Yogi with the matted locks, and blue throat. I followed him wordlessly, for words were not needed now, had ceased to exist, have any meaning. The Yogi had awakened my third eye, the aagya chakra which makes sight without eyes, and hearing without ears possible. My forehead…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 8: The well of light

Varanasi Again – 7: The Adi Yogi

Ghats of Varanasi

I looked at him wide-eyed, mouth open in wonder, unable to comprehend what he wanted me to do. There came a pause, a hiatus in time as I remained frozen, kneeling on the steps of the ghat, staring at the tall ascetic with the blue throat, and the Adi Yogi, the one with three eyes…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 7: The Adi Yogi

Varanasi Again – 6: Shivoham

Ghats of Varanasi

It IS Rudra….the Adi Yogi, a small voice whispered to me, but I did not believe it, not even when I saw his iridescent blue neck, and the fire of destruction glowing in his third eye. Suryashashankavahninayanam……. the voice inside my head intonated one of the many names of Shiva. Still I did not believe…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 6: Shivoham

Varanasi Again – 5: The blue throat

Ghats of Varanasi

Clang, came the sound as the trident hit the stone steps of the ghat. Clang! Issued the report, shattering the deathly silence of the night, reverberating across the ghat, and echoing over the dark waters of the Ganga. Clang, clang, clang, clang…..on and on, the sound of heavy metal against the aged stones of the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 5: The blue throat

Varanasi Again – 4: The ascetic with the trident

Ghats of Varanasi

I stood still in the gathering dark, rooted to the spot, frozen immobile with anticipation, not batting an eyelid, and hardly breathing. I stood still, alone on the banks of the Ganga, at the Lalita ghat, watching the dark figure materialise from nowhere. It emerged from the shimmering waters of the river which flowed slowly,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 4: The ascetic with the trident

Varanasi Again – 3: The axis mundi

Ghats of Varanasi

Varanasi – the piece of land between the rivers Varuna, and Assi, is the land chosen by the Mahadeva, the primordial ascetic Shankara, to be his abode. He resides here as Avimukteshvara, on the request of Martanda, the Sun God. It is through his inspiration that generations of pious travellers, pilgrims, scholars, kings, courtiers, sages,…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 3: The axis mundi

Varanasi Again – 2: On the ghat

Ghats of Varanasi

It is dark, and deathly silent on the ghats where I stand. I can hear the gentle lapping of the waters of the ageless river that flows on the eastern bank of the immortal city. Her waters shimmer with the cold light of the celestial disc that lights up the sky, hiding the dark innards…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 2: On the ghat

The Reunion XXXVI: The Story Continues

It has been a long time since I told this tale, or rather, continued it. The last blog in this series was written more than ten months ago. Why? Is the story over? Far from it. Then why? Maybe it is because I have said whatever I wanted to say, the pent-up emotions have been…… Continue reading The Reunion XXXVI: The Story Continues

The Reunion XXXII: The Boat Ride on Ma Ganga

The next stop in our itinerary was Goleria Kothi, a heritage property on the ghats of the Ganga, where we would have our lunch and witness Ganga Aarti, a time-honored tradition of worshipping Mother Ganga every evening with fire lamps. It was a sort of fire worship offered to the deity by the priests on…… Continue reading The Reunion XXXII: The Boat Ride on Ma Ganga

The Reunion XXXI – The Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Gyanvapi

A lot had changed in the vicinity of the temple since we were here last. The temple area was being renovated, encroachments being demolished, and a pilgrimage corridor was being built for beautification of the Gyanvapi area. The area of construction, or rather demolition, had been cordoned off but it was still possible to peek…… Continue reading The Reunion XXXI – The Kashi Vishwanath Temple at Gyanvapi

The Reunion XXX – Visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

And thus, the cars sped that morning once more, through the crowded and familiar streets of Varanasi. Crowded, but less crowded than we remembered them, and much cleaner. Familiar, but less familiar than before. It pained me to realize that I had started to forget the streets of Banaras and, if left alone, may not…… Continue reading The Reunion XXX – Visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Reunion XXIX – Jyotirlinga: The Pillar of Light

Next morning when we woke, I felt light-headed and happy. No, it wasn’t just the drink we had last night, it was something else. Yesterday, I had exorcised the ghosts of my past, made my peace with God, bowed my head in acceptance and vowed to start afresh. I could feel the bitterness of the…… Continue reading The Reunion XXIX – Jyotirlinga: The Pillar of Light

The Reunion XVIII: Night at the Assi Ghat

Some of us boys stayed back at the club however, having sent our families to the hotel in different vehicles. The night was still young, and we wanted to make the maximum of it. We were in Banaras after such a long time that we wanted to drink in every moment, savor every second of…… Continue reading The Reunion XVIII: Night at the Assi Ghat