What is your must do list for Varanasi ?
I guess – it will be a big list. A probable few will comprise – exploring all the ghats , visiting the temples , trying out the local food , and exploring the city. Trust me, there is a lot more, depending on the duration of the stay and time of visit as well .
Since it is a holy city, visiting the ghats is on top of the wish list of the visitors. Much has been said and written about the Ghats and the reflection of the life around them. Varanasi is a world in itself. People of all ages, from all strata of society flock in for a slice of pilgrimage. However, there is one thing that intrigued me and will perhaps do the same to everyone.
As you are on the boat ride and try to grasp all that is happening around – these are sure to seek your attention. The numerous Graffiti on the walls of Varanasi Ghats are unique and thought provoking.
The images of Shiva, Parvati and other gods and goddesses can easily be considered as omnipresent and fits the mood aptly. As you cross Dashashwamedh Ghat and start moving towards Harsishchandra ghat to Kedar Ghat and Munshi Ghat, you will come across several genres of Wall Graffiti.
In this span if one looks attentively, one will discover many interesting graffiti adorning the walls. I could not decipher most of them but I got drawn towards them. Some of them are out of place, yet somehow attractive. The colour, shape, figure and location all are individualistic, yet I could not resist the temptation of drawing a correlation between them. My second morning visit to the ghats meant that I explore them and spend some more time deciphering them.
Can these be called graffiti ? A graffiti by definition is writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. One will find Ganapati , Shiva in various avatars, which simply fit the place. Although the colour scheme is a little shocking, they stand out.
It is in the same stretch that one will find Korean restaurants’ advertisements, caricature of some local trust bodies, which is completely out of place but may still have some meaning and trying to send a message across. I still did not understand and will keep on trying to decipher.
There are abstract ones also. Like the one where Lord Shiva is in one of his avatars, smoking pot or a tantrik with a skull in his hand. Some unrecognizable figures along with random letters make an effort to form cryptic words, as if throwing up a challenge to the viewer to decipher.
When one is done with the main Varanasi Ghats and starts exploring the stretch of the ghats which is less frequented, these paintings will inspire inquisitiveness.
I came back with these questions and still struggling to get the answers –
1. What state of soul searching and nirvana would have made the artists do these ?
2. Where did they come from ?
3. When did they do this ?
4. Will the unsung hero (the artist here) ever know that his master pieces have been photographed?
5. Where is he now?
It’s a strange fusion where the walls of the century old architecture act as a canvas for this modern form of art. Next time you are at the Varanasi ghats – don’t miss this. Who knows, some new form of artwork may adorn the walls.
One can also see advertisements of Hindi tuition classes; and these promise to kick boredom out of your life. In my opinion, like the presence of brand endorsements in movies, these are also necessary evils – lets live with them.
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Anindya Basu (Pikturenama)
The original post can be found here.