This was a very short trip that I made alone. I wanted to do this trip, as I want to launch photography trips later in the year.
Lots of people go to Benares, and everyone thinks that they know everything about the city, and this is generally rot. There is much that you learn all the time.
For one, I learned once again, that you should never catch an Express train. Take the Mail train. My train was 4 hours late while going, and 6 hours late while returning. Still, I had some really good and entertaining conversations with my companions while going to Benares. Humbling, in a way, to learn how people shoulder their problems and move on in life.
I had been to Jaunpur 20 times before, to sell biscuits, and never realised that they have some great mosques and an old, old fort. I never took the time to walk along the Shahi Bridge and look out onto the Gomti River. Polluted. We don't really care for our rivers.
Jaunpur is about 45 km from Benares, and the road is not half bad. I was impressed by the way that they have maintained the fort. Quite nice. And, people don't litter as much as they do in Delhi. Yet, they piss on the streets with gay abandon! I could not visit the mosques. We were too late. Damn.
I could not go to the weaver's village, or the cattle farm on the way back. Instead, I made it back to the ghats. It was quiet, and so very different from the crowded place I had been to in November for the Kartik Purnima.
The driver told me that they have an exotic prayer ceremony at the Assi Ghats in the morning. Rot! They do have a small puja, and the kids do some yoga by the river side. All next to the burning ghats. Death is not considered to be impure in Varanasi. Mythologically, cremation in Benares is considered holy.
The road to Chunar is awful. I could not believe that I was driving on a National Highway. I was bumped and tossed around on a road that seemed worse than the worst village road I had ever travelled on.
The Fort at Chunar, on the banks of the river, is an old fort. It is said to be built on the footprint of Vishnu. It overlooks a graveyard containing the dead from the old British Empire. The Fort is largely closed to the public. The police occupy it. Yet, I did go down into the dungeon where Humayun, the second king of the Mughal Dynasty was imprisoned by Sher Shah Suri. It felt odd looking up at the skylight, where his food was handed down to him. Yet, he lived, escaped, made it to Persia and returned to claim the throne again. The kings of old lived dramatic lives.
The last stop was at a waterfall. There is not much water at this time of the year. The landscape is pretty, when you close your eyes to the litter.
And then back. three hours of back breaking road to Mughal Sarai where I was to catch my train.