Nostalgia for the galis of Varanasi

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The main road off hours

Its an experience which cannot be quiet explained. The noise, the jostling crowds and the wandering cattle, the narrow lanes with its colorful shops, the temples and the devotees, the foods…….There was a time when I used to make one and often two trips to Varanasi every year. Although my work took me to the pristine campus of Benares Hindu University, I never failed to find a couple of hours to wander through the lanes around the Lord Vishwanath temple. For me the darshan was never the primary objective of these trips – but the color and variety of the stores, the buzz of life in the galis was what attracted me. Even as one could see the changes that time brings within BHU, most of these seemed to have bypassed these galis.

While trying to organize old photos on my hard disk, I came across these from one of those visits – taken in early 2003.

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The fresh harvest
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A lot of this lovely work is still left – hidden under the signage

 

 

 

 

 

 

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step out of the congested gali into pristine shops selling the famous Benares silks

 

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Innumerable bangles. jewellery shops

 

 

 

 

 

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And of course all the paraphanelia for the pooja

 

 

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An interesting row of mannequins

 

 

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The varieties of supari is mind boggling
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And in winter, the moonfali-wala is ubiquitous. These lovely cane stands are becoming a rarity though

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And of course, Mother Cow, has the right of way here

I would love to go back – and while there cell phones and other technology would have reached these lanes, I’m sure that even today not very much would have changed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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