via Dr.A.M.C.Menon published on April 20, 2007

This morning is devoted to the demised and ancestors. We did the sacrament as instructed by the priest and took ritual dips in Ganga. Despite the fact the water was muddy, the moment you submerged you felt cleansed and holy ; may be, an inherited divine feeling of an Indian that is passed on to generations. Standing on the banks, we watched the tremendous flow carrying everything to the destination, including the dead left unburnt; a gruesome sight at first but later got used to it. A deceased body of a child was floating around the moored boats and we watched despondently. And later, slowly it dawned on us; what else to sublime this life ; the most sanctified dead end having “Ganga Jal” out side and inside and thus purified body and soul !                          
                     The Kashi Palace is an ancient mansion situated on the banks of Ganga an elegant high rise thrusting in to the river. The entire riverside is crammed with buildings of antiquated structures facing the east to catch the sun early.                                                
                       The Kashi Viswanath temple, a tiny one amidst the over hanging buildings , was built by Rani Ahalya Bhai of Madhya Pradesh as the original one was attacked and massacred by the enemies in the early centuaries. Several gullies with shops on both sides and congested with people lead to the temple and the whole place is under the surveillance of the army personnel. We had taken a small pot of ‘Ganga Jalam’ and flowers for the ceremonial ‘Archana’ and had to wait long after the security check along with the ceaseless flow of pilgrims for the ‘Darshan’. You have to go on your hands and knees to touch the deity and the priest sprinkled the holy water on our heads and consecrated by garlanding. Taking a round of the Akhsaya Vriksha nearby, is supposed to enhance our life span but the effort was exhausting .

                            The streets of Kashi is always crowded with a variety of vehicles including cycle rickshaws and horse carts along with cattle and dogs and less significant people poorly clad, with a permanent monotonous look on their faces attained by the hard task of finding the daily bread. They travelled in both directions hustling and shouldering in the hot sun and immersed in the dusty air. In the afternoon we went to see the palace of Kasi Raja. They had kept the old carts and palanquins in display for the public. The palace is nothing much but a two-storeyed flat building .The Raja, young and handsome but dressed in an ordinary pajama and ‘kurtha’ and a less ornate cap, came down and mounted a juvenile emaciated elephant, watched by his staff and proceeded to see his people and the ‘Mela’  arranged outside.
                       The old Kashi Viswanath Temple was destroyed and divided into two parts. The front part is for the tourists and the main part was demolished and a mosque has come up in its place, but one portion of the temple wall is holding the backside of the mosque. A high and heavy fencing divides the two portions and the whole place is tightly guarded by the military, ready to shoot at any suspicious movement. The eyes of ‘Nandi’ are supposed to be fixed on his master Shiva but what he sees is the mosque right in front! The idol of Shiva was saved by the poojari during the attack and threw it into the well in the vicinity before he succumbed to the deadly injuries inflicted by a sword-wielding enemy. We tasted the holy water from the well; it is pure and sweet, and prayed for the day to come when the temple will be resurrected and gifted to devotees.

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