Photographer's Note

Benaras or Varanasi or Kashi :
The great river banks at Varanasi, built high with eighteenth and nineteenth-century pavilions and palaces, temples and terraces, are lined with an endless chain of stone steps - the ghats - progressing along the whole of the waterfront, altering in appearance with the dramatic seasonal fluctuations of the river level. Each of the hundred ghats, big and small occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city. Some have crumbled over the years; others continue to thrive, with early-morning bathers, brahmin priests offering puja, and people practicing meditation and yoga. Hindus regard the Ganges as amrita, the elixir of life, which brings purity to the living and salvation to the dead; skeptical outsiders tend to focus on all-persuasive and extreme lack of hygiene. Ashes to the dead, emissions from open drains and the leftovers from religious rites float by the devout as they go about their bathing and ceremonial cleansing.

This is a photograph taken in one of the ghats, as I look down at the boats, ‘parked’ along the shore. These boats which are pushed into frenzied action during daybreak and at sunset, when hundreds of tourists and devotees take a short voyage along the holy River Ganga, at other times lie idle. Liked the almost radial perspective of the boats and the piece of daily life as the old boatman can be seen massaging himself with oil before taking his dip in the holy waters.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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