This family trip to Allahabad-Varanasi-Gaya was undertaken mainly for conducting shraddha ceremony ( a socio-religious ceremony performed for deceased father, grandfather and great grandfather and mother, grandmother and great grandmother) at these three places. It is expected that every Brahmin would visit at least once to Prayag (Allahabad), Varanasi and Gaya in one trip for performing sharddha ceremony for the salvation of the ancestors’ souls. Since the ceremony was required to be conducted in the forenoon, we stayed in our designated maths where these rituals were to be performed. We had afternoon free for doing some sight-seeing before embarking on to our next destinations in the mornings. As we realised later, the afternoon slot for sight-seeing was not sufficient to cover even the important tourist spots as most of these spots used to get closed by 5.00 p.m. In the milieu, we missed going inside Dhamekh Stupa area and the Archaeological Museum at Sarnath. Since I had seen these places in 2000, I have no regret except that I lost opportunity to shoot these places with a digital camera.
The roads in the old city areas of Allahabad and Varanasi were in pathetic conditions. Even Varanasi-Sarnath road which are frequented by international travellers was in bad condition at least halfway. Added to the traffic woes was the cattle population on the road which seems to be competing with pedestrian in every artery road. I even noticed that a few of the cattle shades were right on the road blocking the lane! One can easily get caught in a traffic jam in Allahabad and Varanasi at any time as it happened with us. So we had build in sufficient cushion in planning the journey back to railway stations. Since our journey to the next destination was early mornings, we took hotel rooms near the railway stations for the overnight stays.
A special word about Varanasi. Being a religious city, I always felt that there was nothing much to do here for tourists. My two day’s stay in this city made me realised as to how wrong I was. It is a mind boggling place where spirituality and commercialism coexist side by side. The real Varanasi is hidden behind narrow streets and small alleys. And to get a feel of the real Varanasi, one has to take a long walk through numerous narrow streets and alleys where, pedestrians, cows and two wheelers compete with each other to move on. Each of these narrow alleys has some architecturally superb buildings with their own history. There is a strong possibility that one may get lost in these alleys but I am sure that those who have time and inclination to know more about these alleys, would not mind as this would give them an opportunity to know more about some of the interesting views and subjects to capture in their camera. In any case, those who get lost in the alleys would be pleasantly surprised that they have, at last, made it to one of the numerous ghats at the banks of Ganga.
The pictures uploaded below cover Allahabd-Sarnath-Varanasi with detailed captions on some of the pictures. Photoblog relating to our visit to BodhGaya-Patna-Pawapuri-Rajgir is being constructed separately.
|Anand Bhavan, Allahabad. Anand Bhavan was owned by Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru in the 19th century. Jawarharlal was born here. It was donated to Government of India in 1970. Now it is a museum managed by Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust.|
|The dome of Anand Bhavan|
|Colour portrait of Kamla Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru's wife in one of the rooms of Anand Bhavan.|
|One of the rooms in Anand Bhavan where Congress Party's meeting used to take place during the Independent movements.|
|An unusual shape of ceiling fan in one of the rooms of Anand Bhavan|
|Young Jawaharlal Nehru with his sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit.|
|Colour portrait of Motilal Nehru in one of the rooms of Anand Bhavan.|
|Backside view of Anand Bhavan.|
|Unidentified flowers in the Anand Bhavan complex.|
|Jawaharlal Nehru in cricketing attire during an exhibition cricket match. Photo displayed in a museum in Anand Bhavan complex.|
|Boats at Brahma Ghat waiting for pilgrims for Ganga river cruise. We paid Rs.440/- for a full boat (Rs.,40/- per head) for 3 hours boat trip from Brahma Ghat to Lalit Ghat and back. The boat was arranged by Kashi Math Sansthan where we stayed.|
|Brahma Ghat. In the background is the Kashi Math Sansthan - one of the maths of Gowd Saraswat Brahmins where we stayed for conducting religious ceremony.|
Panchganga Ghat. In the background is Aurangzeb Mosque. On the right is Gokarn Partagali Jeevottam Math.
|Zoom shot of Aurangzeb Mosque|
|Ganesh Ghat build by Peshwas in 1807.|
|A temple behind Manikarnika Ghat.|
|A boat carries wood for funeral pyre to the burning ghat.|
|Lalit Ghat, also called Nepali Ghat where we alighted from the boat to walk down through alleys to Kashi Viswanath temple. This ghat was built by the King of Nepal.|
|A narrow path leading to Kashi Vishwanath temple.|
|A snake charmer sitting in a alley leading to Kashi Vishwanath temple.|
|Ganesh temple on way to Kashi Vishwanath temple.|
|A rail bridge over Ganga river.|