I am lost.
I am totally, completely, hopelessly lost. I have been wandering in the alleys and lanes, which I think leads to my hotel in Varanasi for the last 30 minutes or so, and when I cross the shop selling polyester Benarasi “silk” saris for the 4th time, I realise that I have been going around in circles.
There is no doubt about it. I am lost.
It has been a lovely morning. I visited the serene and calm ruins of Sarnath with a guide, a car and a driver, and after the tour got dropped off at the Gadowlia Chauraha, from where many alleys led to my hotel. I turn down the guide’s offer of escorting me back to the hotel. He is worried that I will not be able to make my way through the twisting, narrow alleyways. But I am confident that I can find my way back as I have been in and out of those alleyways some 5-6 times in the last 3 days, albeit with an escort.
I decide not return to my hotel right away. First, I have a glass of lassi topped with some fresh malai and then another 🙂 Then I decide to go to a bookshop that I had seen in the area on my previous forays out of the alleyways. I know that it is not far, and sure enough within 10 minutes I am in the City Book Shop, one of the oldest bookshops in Varanasi, browsing through the books and picking out the ones to buy. I spend nearly an hour there.
When I come out of the bookshop, I notice an alley opposite it. I confidently enter it and start walking towards where I think my hotel is. Within seconds I am distracted by the balcony of a beautiful house (see photo on the left) and I am lost. Literally. I take a turn to photograph it better and get distracted by other sights in turn.
At that point, I am not really perturbed as I know that ultimately I would find my way to the hotel. The next half an hour is fantastic as I am too busy delighting in and photographing the sights that interest me.
Whether one believes in the mythology or history or both of Varanasi there is no doubt that it is an ancient city. A city that many have passed through. It is a rather thrilling to walk through every twist and turn and wonder about all those who have walked these lanes before me.
I might have continued wandering about in these lanes and alleys if not for a rather… er… pressing issue. I needed to use the washroom. So it was then that I finally decided to ask for directions. The shopkeeper of the polyester Benarasi “silk” sari shop obligingly pointed me in right direction and about 30 m down that way and a left turn later, I saw the by now familiar steps of Chausatthi Ghat leading to the Ganga and my hotel, Sita Guest House.
I am no longer lost 🙂
If you like to go beyond temples, the ghats and the Ganga Aarti in Varanasi; love traditional architecture; can turn a blind eye to cows, dogs, garbage, and what not; do not mind the claustrophobia-inducing narrow alleyways; then this “walk” is for you. Go on, wander about and get lost in the alleyways of Varanasi 🙂
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