The Maha-Kumbh Yatra (2013) – Varanasi – Part 2

Post-lunch we desperately needed some rest to recover from standing so much. After a couple of hours we got ready and again set off to view the Ganga Aarti on the Ganga Ghats. There are many ghats along the Ganga, and the aarti is held on a select few. The one we opted for was the Rajendra Prasad Ghat. It lies at the very end, and right next to the Prayag Ghat.

teeming crowds in the evening light

teeming crowds in the evening light

Prayag Ghat

Prayag Ghat

Along the way quite a few people approached us to hire out a boat, so that we can see the Aarti. This is by far the biggest difference from the other Ganga Aartis that we have seen before. Both the Aartis that we’ve seen at Haridwar and Rishikesh have given us lovely memories, and we looked forward to this experience.

We finally joined up a boat where we shared the deck with a few other people. The great part about it was that we had a uninterupted view of the Aarti. The bad part was that we had to cross a couple of moored boats to be able to reach this boat. That’s not really a bad thing, if you’re used to water. I wasn’t – so the idea of 2 moving floorboards, especially when they move away from each other, wasn’t my idea of a great time!

Anyway, we finally made our way to the roof seating area of the boat and settled down with our cameras to record the entire program. The program started with a welcome speech, in English, hindi, and surprisingly Telugu, as a nod to the sheer number of devotees from Andhra Pradesh.

Preparing for the Aarti

Preparing for the Aarti

In all, the Aarti was a nice experience, though I felt it was a bit dragged out. Also the feeling of elation, almost joy, that we experienced during the aarti at Haridwar and Rishikesh, was quite absent here. A couple of times I thought it was at an end, only to find it continuing! 🙂

Ganga Aarti

Ganga Aarti

Once done, we finally made our way towards our hotel. The crowds were still teeming and in fact even the queue was still going strong in spite of the fact it was past 7.30pm!

For purposes of security in the teeming crowds, we’d left our phones in the room itself. So when we got back, we found that our driver had been trying to reach us. As the next day was Mahasivarathri, there would be a huge procession starting at 4.30am, featuring elephants and horses, and amazing grandeur. This would cover a 3-4km radius around the temple. The downside of this news was that all vehicles will be moved to beyond 5km radius after 10pm. Further, for this celebration, people would flood the city from Allahabad, it being the last day os the Maha-Kumbh as well. So the chances of us getting stuck in the city suddenly shot up.

The best option for us was to leave the city immediately. The original plan was to leave the next morning, and reach Lucknow airport by 2ish, and catch our flight back. But this now changed to going to Lucknow right away.

So after a quick dinner at a dosa place right outside the hotel, and a nice cup of hot milk, we made our way back to the hotel. Immediately packing our bags, we made our way outside. With the help of the really helpful staff of the hotel, we were able to get back to the Innova just about the same way we came: a cycle rickshaw with MIL and the luggage, and us walking along. It was finally 10pm when we left Varanasi.

 

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Categories: Allahabad, Lucknow, Rajasthan, NCR & UP, Varanasi (Benaras/Kasi) | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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