Vidur’s Travel Diary – 13 : Varanasi


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 03 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

Varanasi or Benaras or Kasi or Kashi , this old and perennial city of India , which symbolises Hindu ethos and its timeless tradition , is a new metropolis , yet it existed and started its journey several millennium ago . As per tradition and folklore it is 5000 years old city . Its mythical and cultural name is Kashi . Rigveda mentions this city as Kasi or Kashi . During British era the name was changed and the city came to be known as Benaras . After independence the city was rechristened as Varanasi . Varuna and Assi are two rivers , which caress the city from two sides , hence the city was rechristened as Varanasi .

Varanasi predates history . It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world and the oldest city in India . As per Hindu mythology this city rests on the trident of Bhagwan Shiva . This city is closely associated with the legendary Raja Harishchandra , an ancestor of Bhagwan Ram . Harishchandra ghat still exists and bears his name and reminds us of his supreme sacrifices in pursuit of truth . Along with AYODHYA , MATHURA , MAYA [ HARIDWAR ] , KANCHI , AVANTIKA [ UJJAIN ] and DWARKA , Varanasi , for the Hindus , is the 7th Holiest Cities of India . I consider myself lucky and fortunate that I have chance to visit all the above mentioned seven cities .

I have been to Varanasi several times . I first visited this city with my parents and other siblings , while I was a toddler . It was for the MUNDAN [ Tonsure Ceremony ] of my younger brother . I still remember my first journey to Varanasi by train . I was a kid and I used to converse with my parents only in Bhojpuri . My father insisted that while in Varanasi , we all must converse in Hindi . I was finding it difficult and avoided speaking throughout the journey .

I have visited this city numerous times since then . Every year when I visit my native place Deoria , I have to make a halt either at Varanasi or Lucknow . This year in June , I took a morning flight from Mumbai on June 16 , 2012 and along with my wife , landed there in the afternoon . Varanasi now has a swanky and sprawling airport . Old airport was not worthy of the reputation of this ancient city . This new Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport is truly impressive .

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport – Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport - Varanasi

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport – Varanasi

I took a cab and drove to Hotel Gautam Grand near Varanasi Cant station .

Hotel Gautam Grand - Varanasi

Hotel Gautam Grand – Varanasi

When in Varanasi , you have to enjoy the crowded lanes and by-lanes of this mythical yet  modern metropolis . Godaulia is the nerve – centre of the city .

Godaulia - Varanasi

Godaulia – Varanasi

The world-famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the 12 JYOTIRLINGAS of Bhagwan Shiva in India . You dare not afford to miss this shrine . The old temple , built by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century , was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb , who built a mosque on the ruins of this temple , which , today , is known as Gyanvapi mosque . The present Kashi Vishwanath temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1717 . This temple was adorned by Maharaja Ranjit Singh , who donated 820 k.g. gold in 1889 .

Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Entrance

Kashi Vishwanath Temple – Entrance

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

World Famous Lane of Vishwanath Temple

 

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the t...

Gyanvapi, the original holy well between the temple and mosque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After darshan of Kashi Vishwanath temple , you proceed to Dashashwamedha Ghat , where Ganga Aarti is performed in the evening . Dashashwamedha Ghat was built by Maharaja Savai Jai Singh II in 1693 . It is one of the 100 ghats of Varanasi . Originally Ganga Aarti was started in Haridwar by Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya . Few years back it was started in Varanasi also and today it is major tourist attraction .

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Ganga Arti - Varanasi

Ganga Arti – Varanasi

Apart from Dashashwamedha ghat , Kedar ghat and Harishchandra ghat are other two major ghats of Varanasi .

Kedar Ghat - Varanasi

Kedar Ghat – Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat - Varanasi

Harishchandra Ghat – Varanasi

Godaulia - Varanasi at Night

Godaulia – Varanasi at Night

A British Era Church at Godaulia

A British Era Church at Godaulia

Sankat Mochan temple is the another famous temple of Varanasi . According to the folklore , Sant Tulsidas worshipped here and Bhagwan Hanuman gave him darshan . After Kashi Vishwanath temple , it is the 2nd most revered temple of Varanasi for Hindus .

Sankat Mochan Temple

Sankat Mochan Temple

Varanasi is famous for Sants like Tulsi Das , Kabir Das , Ravi Das , Tailang Swami and Keena Ram . Tailang Swami and his disciple Keena Ram Baba followed AGHOR PANTH . Keena Ram Baba is most famous exponent of AGHOR PANTH . I visited his Ashram also . This was my first visit . I visited it twice . First visit was in the afternoon of June 16th and the second one was next day , on June 17 , 2012 .

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba - Main Entrance

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Main Entrance

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

At The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba  - Residence

The Ashram of Keena Ram Baba – Residence

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

At Keena Ram Baba Ashram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

My Wife at The Ashram of Sant Keena Ram

I left Varanasi on June 17 , 2012 in the morning . While proceeding towards Sarnath and Aundihar , I started remembering several luminaries of Indian history , who were born in Varanasi and spent their lives in this city .

Notable residents of Varanasi

Temple of Markandeya Mahadev in Aundihar is another famous shrine of Bhagwan Shiv , which I visited with my wife , while on my way to Deoria .

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

At Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple - Aundihar

My Wife at Markandeya Mahadev Temple – Aundihar

Varanasi is not a remote place for me . It is in between Mumbai and Deoria . I can and will visit it as long as I am alive . But then being alive is the big , unknown and unanswered question . Who knows it is my last visit or not ? Who knows whether I would be able to visit it again or not ?

I started for Deoria with heavy heart . Though I do hope to visit Varanasi again in winters for Allahabad Kumbh mela . Lines of Agyeya come running in my mind :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

150 Years of Mahamana Malviya : A Forgotten Hero


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 26 , 2011           01.50 A.M.

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya was born on December 25 , 1861 in Allahabad . This year India celebrates his 150th Birth Anniversary.

President of the Indian National Congress

Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya

It is sad that this visionary is almost forgotten by the younger generation . People of my generation will know him by his title Mahamana . But today’s generation would not recognize him even if you mention his full name ; Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya .

It is sad and tells the pathetic state of our educational standards that a leader of the calibre of Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya is forgotten by today’s generation .

English: Statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya...

Mahamana's Statue at the Main Entrance of B.H.U.

Mahamana was the President of Indian National Congress on four occasions ; 1909 – 1910 , 1918 – 1919 , 1930 – 1931 and then again 1932 – 1933 . He was founder of Banaras Hindu University , the largest residential university in Asia and one of the largest in the world . He founded it in 1916 . He was Vice – Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University [ BHU ] from 1919 to 1938 . He was succeeded by none other than Dr. S. Radhakrishnan .

Banaras Hindu University

Banaras Hindu University

IIT-BHU known as IT-BHU,Varanasi,Uttar Pradesh

Banaras Hindu University

Apart from being an educationist , he dabbled in journalism also . He founded ” The Leader ” in 1909 , a very popular and influential news paper , published from Allahabad .

He was the Chairman of ” Hindustan Times ” from 1924 to 1946 . He was also instrumental for the Hindi edition of ” The Hindustan Times ” , named ” Hindustan ” in 1936 .

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

He was pioneer pf Scout movement in India .

Born in Allahabad in the family of Sanskrit scholars , he did his matriculation from Muir Central College and graduation from Calcutta University .

His ancestors hailed from Malwa , so they were called Malviya . Due to poor economic condition , he could not complete post graduation and started his career as a teacher in Allahabad District School .Later on he left his job and became editor of a nationalist daily ” Hindustan ‘ . After two and half years he left the paper to join LL. B. After finishing his law degree , he started practise in Allahabad District Court and later on in moved to Allahabad High Court .

He gave up his well stablished law practise in 1911 for education and social service . He donned the robe again only to fight the case of Chouri Choura freedom fighters . 177 freedom fighters got capital punishment . Mahamana fought their case and was successful in saving 156 freedom fighters .

He attended 2nd session of Indian National Congress in 1886 in Calcutta [ Now Kolkata ] . He was associated with The Congress long before Mahatma Gandhi became a national figure . Mahatma Gandhi began his association with The Congress in 1921 . So Mahamana Malviya was his senior by 35 years . A fact non known by present day Indians and conveniently overlooked by present day leaders of The Congress . He was an active nationalist from 1886 , when Jawahar Lal Nehru was not even born .

It is sad that a leader of such seniority and calibre is forgotten and Indian National Congress has almost banished him from the pantheon . Congress has been usurped by Gandhi – Nehru family and because of PR activities and media blitzkrieg , people associate only Gandhi and Nehru clan with the Congress Party .

Mahamana is sadly forgotten

Madan Mohan Malviya Stadium.

Madan Mohan Malviya Stadium

Today Banaras Hindu University is the sole reminder of Mahamana . Malviya Nagar in various Indian cities like ; Allahabad , Lucknow , Delhi , Bhopal and Jaipur keep his memory alive . People have forgotten that he started tradition of Aarti at Har Ki Poudi , Haridwar , which is still followed.

Banaras Hindu University

Logo of BHU

Ganga still flows in Haridwar , still slithers through Allahabad and Varanasi , Banaras Hindu University still stands tall . They all bear his testimony . They all remind his gigantic contributions . But alas , Indian National Congress has removed him from the pantheon . He has been downgraded and has no prominent place at the echelon . Though he was senior to Gandhi and Nehru , but has been relegated to irrelevance . His photos are missing from Congress literature and books and functions .

English: Panoramic View of Har ki pauri

Panoramic View of Har Ki Paudi

I am saddened . I get hurt when I see articles about the contribution of Rajiv Gandhi and / or Sonia Gandhi in the papers and magazines . It is pathetic that even Rahul Gandhi is eulogized and this giant is neglected .He is branded as communal by some pseudo – secular , while appeasement is the order of the day .

Library of Banaras Hindu University

Library BHU

New Vishwanath Temple also known as Birla Mand...

New Vishwanath Temple Conceived by Mahamana

Government of India is celebrating his 150 years with a function in Delhi . It was supposed to be held on December 25th but will now happen on December 27th . Rulers of the day has no time for Mahamana . And , in my opinion , this function is not to commemorate the memory of Mahamana . Elections are due in Uttar Pradesh . The Congress needs to win Uttar Pradesh . To lure crucial Brahmin votes , they need an icon , a Brahmin icon . So they remembered Mahamana . They need Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya . So this charade of celebration of 150 Years of Mahamana Pandit Madan Moham Malviya came into being .

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru , who usurped Mahamana’s title Pandit , now fails to help The Congress , so Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya is being tried out .After making Congress a fiefdom of Nehru – Gandhi family , after almost disowning  Sardar Patel , after branding Mahamana a communal leader and a sectarian leader of Hindus , The Indian Nation Congress is trying to pay lip service to the memory of Mahamana and trying to remember him on his 150th Anniversary , though they were the one , who obfuscated his memory and neglected his contribution .

It is sad ! It is bizarre ! It is ridiculous !!

I , through this blog , pay my obeisance to Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya . I also urge Malviya Mission , an organization dedicated to his memory , to do more .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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