What are your must do list for Varanasi ?
I guess – it will be many . A probable few will comprise – exploring all the ghats , visiting the temples , trying out the local food , exploring the city . Trust me, there can be many many more – depending on the duration of the stay and time of visit as well .
It is a holy city and definitely visiting the ghats is on top of the wish list of the visitors. Much has been said and written about the Ghats and the reflection of the life around it. It is a world in itself. People of all ages, from all strata of society flock in for a slice of pilgrimage. However, there is one thing that intrigued me and will perhaps do the same to everyone.
As you are on the boat ride and try to grasp all that is happening around – these are sure to seek your attention. The numerous Graffiti on the walls of Varanasi Ghats are unique and thought provoking .
The images of Shiva , Parvati and other gods and goddesses can easily be considered as omnipresent and fits the mood aptly. As you cross Daswasemedh ghat and start moving towards Harsihchandra ghat to Kedar Ghat and Munshi Ghat, you will come across several genre of Wall Graffiti.
In this span if one looks attentively, will discover so many interesting graffiti adorning the walls. I could not decipher most of them but I got drawn towards them. Some of them are out of place, yet somehow attractive. The colour , shape, figure and location – all are individualistic, yet I could not resist the temptation of drawing a correlation between them. My second morning visit to the ghats meant that I explore them more and spend some more time on them.
Can these be called graffiti ? A graffiti by definition is writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. One will find Ganapati , Shiva in various avatar, which simply fits the place although the colour scheme is little shocking, it stands out.
It is in the same stretch that one will find Korean restaurants advertisements, caricature of some local trust bodies, which is completely out of place but may still have some meaning and trying to send a message across. I did not understand and will keep on trying to decipher.
There are abstract ones also. Like the one where Lord Shiva is in one of his avatar and is smoking pot or a tantrik with a skull in his hand. Some unrecognizable figures along with random letters make an effort to form cryptic words, as if throwing up a challenge to the viewer to decipher.
When one is done with the main Varanasi Ghats and starts exploring the stretch of the ghats which are less frequented, these paintings will inspire inquisitiveness.
I came back with these questions and still struggling to get the answers –
1. Which state of soul searching and nirvana would have made the artists do these ?
2. Where did they come from ?
3. When did they do this ?
4. Will ever the unsung hero (the artist here) know that his master pieces have been photographed and another unsung hero has tried to search and use the best of his vocabulary for them?
5. Where are they now ?
Its a strange fusion where the walls of the century old architecture act as a canvas for this modern form of art. Next time you are in Varanasi ghats – don’t miss this please, who knows some new form of artwork may be adorning the walls.
P.s. One can also see some advt of hindi tution classes, promises to kick boredom out of your life and many more. In my opinion, like the presence of brand endorsements in movies, these are also necessary evils – lets live with them.