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As a child, I hardly ever travelled. My father, who took a train into the districts every morning and returned home every night to Calcutta, did not want to get out of the house on his days off, so the family never went anywhere. As a result, I have still never been to any of those eternal Bengali tourist spots like Puri or Darjeeling. (Digha I only ever visited with a school trip in 2005. I still remember being the only child in the 200-strong school group who was there for the first time.) Another such place is Benaras, where I finally went last week after years of wanting to go. I also went to Lucknow just before, and it was a long trip with lots of learning and lots of photos, so I will post about them one at a time.

The river in winter

The river in winter

There were dogs. Many dogs.

There were dogs. Many dogs. This one is Johuree Dog for the white eye you cannot see at this size.

And many sadhus in swag.

And many sadhus in swag.

And much graffiti (odd/wonderful)

And much graffiti (odd/wonderful)

Beginning of the evening river aarti at Dasashwamedh Ghat,

Beginning of the evening river aarti at Dasashwamedh Ghat,

which gets quite spectacular in music, light and colour.

which gets quite spectacular in music, light and colour.

Benaras is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, having existed since around the 1000-1200 BC. Evidence of it is all over the place. You can never tell the age of a particular ruined wall, a particular faded step, a corner or one of the many little shrines under holy trees. Everything is significant. There are layers upon layers upon layers of human touch. I did a puja at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple for my parents. I visited an ashram where old people go to die. There was so much else I did not do. This city will require a revisit.

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