On the banks of river Ganga is situated the ancient and the holiest city of Benaras. Also known as Varanasi or Kashi it is home to Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Buddhists alike. It is also an abode to many philosophers, poets, writers and musicians. Every year innumerous pilgrims and tourists visit this vibrant city.
Along the riverside, the Ghats of Benares are forever hustling and bustling with various religious activities. Behind these Ghats you will find many narrow and complex by-lanes dotted with small shrines, residences, tea-shops, traditional Indian sweet meat shops and lodgings for pilgrims. The maximum breadth of these by-lanes is 3 to 4 feet. At some places the breadth goes to even one foot such that only one person can walk through at a time. The by-lanes are all surrounded by buildings and for a larger part of the year sunlight doesn’t touch the ground.
Through the by-lanes one can walk from the southernmost to the northernmost tip of the city or head east to reach the river bank. Walking through these labyrinthine by-lanes there is a constant sense of discovery as they are full of bright coloured walls and doors, murals and ancient architecture. You will be amazed to find strong cultural influences of various communities like the Marathas from West and Bengalis from East in this Northern part of India.
There is never a dull moment in the by-lanes of Benares. It is like stepping into an ancient era and losing sense of time and place.
Text And Photos By Vidyavati Chandan