Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 6: Looking back with a smile

Monkey watching sunrise
5th March: Maybe it was a bit too much of the dehydrating whiskey we had the night before
or maybe it was the biological clock alerting the subconscious about the last day in Varanasi; but I woke up early at 6 a.m, freshened up and was ready for catching the sunrise from the balcony hanging over the Ganges. Enjoying a mild chill  in the breeze was one of humanity’s ancestors perched on the parapet of the dilapidated minaret to the left of the balcony.

Sunrise , Varanasi 5th March 2014
The sun rose moments later coming out of the clouds at around 15 degree to the horizon. I got my pictures of sunrise, the best till date, and was off for the Chai at Bangali Tola. The monkey too  left the place moments later.

Mulagandhakuti Vihar, Sarnath
We headed that morning to VSR , a south Indian restaurant for breakfast. Located bang opposite Bangali Tola, the place could have been called Telugu Tola , a colony of largely south Indians, stretching from Mansarawar Ghat to Shivala Ghat in the backside. It was Deepak who first pointed out the news item in the Hindustan Times paper that he had picked up from the counter. Five to six items including an idol of Buddha in standing position & nearly 60 cm tall, considered to be from the Gupta period that dates back to more than 1500 years, have been discovered yesterday in Sarnath after a recent excavation by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the site of Mulgandhakuti Vihar. The last time such an old statue has been excavated in Sarnath  was way back in 1904 and is housed in its Mauryan polished glory in the museum in Sarnath. This was a remarkable news almost too good to be true. Later in our hotel when we mentioned this to Seine Ke, the Dutch lady who has been frequenting  Varanasi since 1986, she too appeared awestruck on hearing the news.

The Ghats on the south side from hotel-roof
Amidst clinking of glasses full of left-over whiskey & standing in a room cloudy with tobacco smoke, I bid goodbye to Ganesh &  Deepak at the room door itself. Coming down , was pleasantly surprised to meet Seine at the reception. Niceties of goodbye later, just as I embarked on the half a kilometer trek through the winding lanes of Chousatti Ghat past the house of the revered yogi Shyamacharan Lahiri and intending to catch an auto to the Varanasi railway station from the main road in Madanapura.; someone cried out my name from behind. I stopped and  looked back to see Deepak & Ganesh waving from the back window . Deepak waited for me to smile and then clicked the last picture while gently reminding me to smile & turn every time someone calls me from behind.  
Blue & away

Varanasi Ghats & Ganges at night from the train

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