Microcosm

The ghats are where the action is. Walk alongside and you will find kids playing cricket on each stretch. In the evenings, a premier league, replete with commentators, and a crowd you have to zip past to avoid being hit. Afternoons are about cards with tea. Also, to repair the boats that will be pushed into action just before the Ganga aarti post sundown. Somewhere in the middle, you will find an ad hoc painting exhibition being put up, a lonely disheveled painter trying to capture the scene, a random chant from one of the Brahmin schools above, a quiet sermon from a sadhu sitting cross legged. But no matter the time, you will always find people taking a dip, the saffron-clad priests and the lowly fisherman alongside. Plenty of kids taking a dive, whether to learn the art, beat the searing heat or for the pleasure of the photographers milling about. Then post sundown, as the boats line up, it all stops. Only the reverberations of the aarti remain…

Ps: There are over 80 ghats in Varanasi. I would always start at Assi ghat, moving towards Dasaswamedh ghat, where the aarti happens. Manikarnika ghat, where the cremations happen is further ahead.

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