After staying at Lucknow for two days, we went to Varanasi (Benares/Kasi) for Lord Viswanath’s darshan. The first and foremost task at hand was to deal with the highly incredulous fares of the auto-rickshaws. From there we went to an ashram to keep our luggage. The fact being that we just wanted a safe place to keep our luggage and had no intentions to rest in the room we took on rent. Moreover, we were advised by many to go to that ashram. I don’t know what made them do that. I still don’t understand the metric based upon which they advised us.
Anyhow, it was not that bad, the way I thought it to be. Only upon reaching the ashram I came to know of the demand it had in Kasi. Then we walked all the way to the ghat. There were many ghats. So it took us some time to choose the right one to take a holy dip in the river Ganges. I can’t say anything about the holiness of the river, but I can surely say many things about its purity (not in the spiritual sense). What I mean is that the river was very dirty. We crossed the river in a boat to reach the other end of it. At least we could have some privacy there. Later, we went for darshan.
One thing I didn’t like was the roads (or should I say lanes...they were so narrow, superficially!) They were the dirtiest ones I have ever seen in my life- especially, the ones leading to the temple. I really wonder what the U.P. government is doing about it, the fact being that Kasi is the most holy place for the Hindus. And, they beefed up the security as some minister was going to come. Mobile phones and cameras were a strict no-no. In spite of having undergone security checks done by nearly ten security personnel, we were not caught with the camera in our bag! Now should I call this ignorance or lack of proper duty sense or insincerity? All right, I agree that we were wrong on our part too. But, we had no other option except to keep it with us. We didn’t know that we were not supposed to carry cameras onto the temple premises. In fact, we had no intentions of taking any photographs inside the temple. Once we reached there, we were reluctant to leave our camera in a stranger’s hands because we were advised not to trust anyone there. Lots of advices!
We had to catch a train back to Lucknow at 9:30 p.m. But, unfortunately, it got delayed by 3 ½ hrs. (It was said so by the railways) So, we ended up waiting up to 1:10 a.m. Apart from that, everything went smoothly.
In the end, it was a trouble-free Kasi yatra. :)