Varanasi Again – 68: The alumni function

Vaishali started by welcoming all the former teachers one by one. The teachers were presented bouquets by the organisers, and the alumni, and then she invited the alumni to the podium one by one, by their roll numbers – their undergraduate roll numbers!! It was fun! The alumni walked down to the well of the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 68: The alumni function

Varanasi Again – 58: Yesterday once more

The car winded its way slowly through the late morning traffic, edging towards the entrance of the university, the gate known as the ‘Singh Dwaar’, or the Lion Gate. Just in front of the majestic entrance to the university is a roundabout, with a life size statue of the founder of the university, Pandit Madan…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 58: Yesterday once more

Varanasi Again – 57: Of Vespas and bicycles

It was the 1990s. Throughout the 70s and the 80s several motor companies had sprouted in India, and had given a spurt to the production of scooters and motorcycles, the mode of transport for the people in a developing nation. Lambretta, Scooters India, Bajaj …. all these companies were making scooters in India in the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 57: Of Vespas and bicycles

Varanasi Again – 55: Night is young

Spotting the mini-bus parked in the street some way off, we made a beeline to it, and clambered into it wearily; it had been a long day, and everyone was tired, most of all children. The chatter was muted, and niceties, or inconsequential talk was kept to a minimum. Once more the vehicle chugged along…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 55: Night is young

Varanasi Again – 51: Dinner at Guleria Kothi

The diesel engine powering the barge coughed into life as we made our way back on to the deck. The sun was almost gone, and darkness was closing in fast from all directions, accompanied by cold, and a light fog; it was, after all, December, one of the coldest months in North India. The upper…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 51: Dinner at Guleria Kothi

Varanasi Again – 49: The ‘other’ ghat…

The planks in the floor of the boat creaked, and the boat rocked in the water as the whole entourage got on to their respective barges. Soon we were on our way, but where? The question popped up in my mind. We had had our lunch on the boat itself, on our way from the…… Continue reading Varanasi Again – 49: The ‘other’ ghat…

Varanasi Again – 48: The curious case of the missing deity

‘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

Varanasi Again – 47: The story of the shifting temple

‘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

Varanasi Again – 46: The lingam that moved….

‘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….

Varanasi Again – 45: The blowing out of the candle…….

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…….

Varanasi Again – 44: Of temples and mosques

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

Varanasi Again – 42: Inside the shrine

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

Varanasi Again – 41: The Gyanvapi Kupa

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

Varanasi Again – 40: Lalita Ghat

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

Varanasi Again – 39: The Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

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

Varanasi Again – 38: Hyper and Shogun

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

Varanasi Again – 37: More and more friends

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

Varanasi Again – 36: Back to the present

‘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

Varanasi Again – 35: We saved our souls

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

Varanasi Again – 34: Escape from hell

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