Varanasi, India by Ayanava Sil

Varanasi, India

The land of Varanasi in India has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world, Older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. The River Ghats of Varanasi are connected with stone steps leading down to the River or up, towards the street side markets. The historic architecture of the Temples and the Buildings that had pillared balconies with intricate jali work and painstakingly stone carved windows. Certain types of interactions amongst people, are expected from this architecture. 

The process of demolition of this historic city has been started. A strip of land, measuring 43,636 sq.m between the 18th century shrine and the River Ganga is being cleared of all construction, many perhaps as old as the temple itself, so that pilgrims have an easier access through a wide and beautified corridor that has been planned for betterment of a Temple Project. Close to 300 houses already got demolished and 90 waiting to be razed are making way for the project, which has effectively wiped out some of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, such as Lahori Tola. The first to settle here migrated from Lahore during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who had donated the gold that adorns the temple’s dome. Today, their sixth-generation descendants find themselves uprooted quite suddenly.